Title: Boat Life in Egypt and Nubia [Electronic Edition]

Author: Prime, William Cowper, 1825-1905
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Title: Boat Life in Egypt and Nubia

Author: William C. Prime
File size or extent: xiv, [15]-498 p., 1 l. incl. illus., plates 19 cm.
Place of publication: New York
Publisher: Harper & Brothers
Publication date: 1874
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  • Greek (gre)
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Boat Life in Egypt and Nubia [Electronic Edition]



Author of “Tent Life In The Holy Land,” “The Old House By
The River,” “Later Years,” Etc.

To the Memory of
Charles Edward Trumbull,
Our Beloved Brother,
Who on the evening of the seventeenth day of March,
in the Year eighteen hundred and fifth-sir,
while we Iay sleeping in the Valley on this side of
the Jordan, passed over the River into
the City of our God,
Dedicate this volume.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of
New York


Have you not a house, O Braheem Effendi?” said
my friend Suleiman, on whose shop-front I was accustomed
to sit in the bazaars of Cairo. Braheem was the
nearest approach to the sound of my name, that an Arab
could effect.
“Yea, verily, O Suleiman.”
“Have you not a father and a mother?”
“Thy lips drop fragrant truth, O most magnificent of
“Then why in the name of Allah came you here to
“To see men and things. To gather knowledge by
travel. To know the world.”
“Is it not written, ‘Men are a hidden disease?’ and
elsewhere, ‘Communion with men profiteth nothing, unless
for idle talk?’ Thou mightest better have remained
at home, Braheem Effendi;” and the smoke from his
chibouk curled in the still air up to the roof over the
bazaar, and out into the sunlight, and vanished.
I sometimes wonder whether, after all, the old man
was not right.


In the summer of 1855 I left America for Egypt.
The immediate object which I had in view was the prosecution
of a favorite study. The kindness of my respected
and distinguished friend, Joseph Henry, LL.D., of the
Smithsonian Institute, and other gentlemen occupying
positions in the service of the Government at Washington,
provided me with such introductions as enabled me to
prosecute my explorations in Egypt with satisfactory
success, while the accomplished scholarship of my companion,
J. Hammond Trumbull, Esq., of Hartford, not
only contributed to this success, but added more than I
can tell to the pleasure of the voyage.
The results of my studies are but hinted at in these
pages, which are devoted almost exclusively to incidents
of travel along the Nile.
The dreams of childhood realized, the hopes of early
manhood fully accomplished, I returned home with
stories of travel for ears which, alas the day! were closed
to my voice by the solemn seal of death.
Whether, that I have seen the sunrise flush the brow
of Remeses at Abou Simbal, and touch with passionate,
yet gentle and trembling caress—as a lover would touch
the lips of his maiden love, dead in her glorious beauty—
the cold lips of Memnon at old Thebes; that I have wandered
through the stately halls of Karnak, and looked
up the stream of time from the summit of Cheops; that
I have knelt at the Sepulchre, and felt the night wind on
my forehead in Gethsemane—whether all this is sufficient

to repay me for the loss of the last gaze out of the eyes
of a young, noble, and beloved brother, and, yet more, of
the last words of lips whose utterances were the guide of
my young years, whose teachings made me love the countries
of which old Homer sang, of which old historians
wrote, old philosophers discoursed eloquently, whose
morning and evening prayers had made dear to me every
inch of land that was hallowed by the footprints of the
Lord—judge ye, who have heard the blessing of a dying
father, or ye who, like myself, have been far wanderers
when the God of Peace entered the dear home circle!
W. C. P.
NEW YORK, March 27, 1857.


1. Fra Giovanni.
ArlesMaltaCathedral of St. John, 15
2. The Classic Sea.
The Nubia The Pentapolis—A Sun-worshiperSleep and Dreams
Laughter of the WavesCape Arabat Alexandria ,
3. The Dead of Alexandria.
DonkeysPompey's PillarAn Arab GirlBuckshreshCustom-House
—A FirmanNeedles of CleopatraCatacombsOpening Tombs
Vases—A Painted Tomb—A Large Tomb,
4. Iskandereyeh.
RhacotisAn Ancient LampSant or MartyrStreet CostumesFemale
ModestyMycerinusMeshalkesRailwayThe NileMoslems
PrayingSpectres and Angles,
5. Cairo the Victorious.
Dr. AbbottSuleiman EffendiOriental Method of Reasoning
StreetsLattiorsDark EyesMosk of Sultan HassanCitadel
Mosk of Mohammed AliSuleiman Aga and the CoffeeFamily Tomb
Mohammed AliMurad BeyBazaars of Cairo Buying a Dress,
6. The Footprints of the Patriarchs.
Hajji Ismael, a DragomanFounding of Cairo Topography Memphis
Heliopolis Old Cairo RhodaMatareeyehFig-tree of Joseph
Mary Heliopolis Gateway of time of MosesObeliskAgriculture
Canals, and Methods of IrrigationShooting along the
DesertTombs of the Memlook Sultans,

7. Prayers and Coffee.
A Derweesh and an Argument—I Convert himPunch and Judy—A
Donkey DerweeshMosk of AmerThe Nilometer, and Island, of
RhodaHowling and Whirling DerweeshesDescription of their
ServicesThe American Mission.
8. La Illah Il Allah.
Mosk of TooloonShapes and ShadowsThe Destiny of Mohammedanism
English EgyptMark the Prophecy,
9. Sheik Houssein Ibn-Egid.
An Arab MareThe Old SheikMohammed Abd-el-AttiHow Sheik
Houssein came to Cairo PrisonersSheik Houssein is Arrested—I
accompany him to the Transit OfficeScene there—A Furious
Crowd—A Bail Bond—A Photograph of the Sheik,
10. Law and Liberty.
A Street RowTreaties with TurkeyTheir Injustice—A Murderer
The Blood RevengeProcession of the MakhmilThe Bab Zouaileh
and the
KutbParting with Sheik HousseinHearing of him again,
11. The Phantom.
Buying Provisions and FurnitureAbd-el-AttiContract for the
Nile VoyageThe Phantom, my BoatDescription of the Boat
ServantsFerrajjHassanHajji Mohammed, the CookMoney-changer
The DepartureAll AboardFirst Night on the Nile,
12. Southward Ho!
Sound of the Muezzin CallAn Obliging GovernmentNile Mud
First Impressions of the NileBenisoefAbd-el-Atti thrashes a Native
Wild PigsAbou-GirgGoing for MilkMoonlight Scene in a
Mud VillageRemains of Ancient Habitation,
13. Braheem Effendi El Khadi.
Kalouseneh—A Coffee ShopBoosaDancing-Girls—A Disgusting
Dish—A Law Question—I turn Khadi and Decide it—A Costly Headdress
Palm-trees and MoonlightMohammed Hassan—A Boy nearly
Drowned, and a RowConvent of the PulleySwimming Monks
Medical Advice,

14. Manfaloot and Es Siout.
CrocodilesBeni Hassan—A New PassengerAbou MeshalkReis
Hassanein and his WifeManfalootEs SioutLatif Pasha—A Reception
Bedouin ThroatsTombs near Es Siout—A Visit to them,
15. Thanksgiving Day.
Sugar-cane and CottonProducts of the Nile ValleyChibouks and
LatakeaAmericansAn American BabyBrick-makingAncient
Bricks—A very interesting Picture in a TombLatif Pasha leaves
Es SioutSalutesThanksgiving Memories—A New Postal Arrangement
—A Dromedary Express,
16. Life Along the River.
Baking BreadSheik HerreddeePelicansCrocodilesBenefits of
FirmanMensheehPipes of TobaccoHajji-MohammedHassabo's
FrightFishing in the Nile—A Long Pull—A Devil,
17. Abd-el-Kader-Bey.
The Reis Beats the CrewGhenehAbd-el-KaderHisHis Reception
The Sound of Church Bells,
18. To Love a Star.
The Story of Sheik Houssein and the Christian Lady whom he Loved
A Dead Man—and Buried,
19. The City of a Hundred Gates.
Thebes RuinsTheban TombsTurf on GravesThe Sulky Governor
The Great Temple at Luxor ObelisksMustapha Aga the American
Agent—A Christian ChapelCounterfeit AntiquesSunrise on
MemnonPilgrim FootprintsExcavations,
20. The Ancient Dead at Esne.
Thebes to EsneTemple at EsneMummies Lying in the Temple—I Examine
Priestess and PriestSummary Justice on a Native
Medicine and SurgeryDonkey Trade,
21. Buying Antiques.
Sunday on the RiverEl Kab, the Ancient EileithyasAntiques, True
FalseCost of AntiquesBuying ThemAn Arab HorseRain in
EgyptRuins of EileithyasLizards,


22. Edfou.
A Desert Mare Edfou The TempleSuleiman, the GovernorFuneral
of a
Boy who Died of a DevilBuying more AntiquesAnother
Governor—A Court of JusticeGovernment of EgyptEastern Tobacco
Latakea—A Strong Pull, thanks to Mohammed Roumali,
23. The Tower of Syene.
A Row on ShoreHagar SilsilisTemple at Koum Ombos Hassabo
Arrives at HomeArrival at Es SouanElephantineThe Cemetery
Es SousanThe American AgentThe Reises of
CataractThe Contract for Going upThe Start,
24. The First Cataract.
The RapidsAscent of the CataractIncidents of the AscentBag
Boug and the BrandyPhileMoonlight on PhilæThe Pass or
the Cataract,
25. Moonlight.
Jackals and a WolfHassan Shellalke and his MotherOld Women
EgyptMoonlight on the Ruins Nubia Miserable LifeNubian
VillagesAn Eventful History,
26. The Nubians.
Medical Advice—A Horrible Case—A Devoted WifeKoruskoDerr
Abdul Rahman and his PhysicianHassan Kasheef and his Hundred
WivesFruit and WineChameleonsAbou SimbalTombs of
the Sons of Israel—A Fight on DeckThe Second CataractChristmas
27. The Second Cataract.
Wady Halfeh—A Dromedary Ride across the DesertGazelles—A
ChaseAlone on the DesertAbou SeirThe Second Cataract of the
NileNames Cut in the RockChristmas DinnerPreparations for
the Return Voyage,
28. Abou Simbal.
Rock Temple at Ferang—I Fall into a TombAbou SimbalIllumination
of the TempleBrilliant EffectNubian FellaheenThe
ColossiThe Temples of Abou Simbal,


29. Northward in Nubia.
Derr Again and Abdul RahmanTemple at DerrOstriches, and a
MonkeyTemple at AmadaLetters from Home!—I tell my Crew
Dr. KaneSaboa—A Heavy Sea—A Nubian GirlLeft Behind
Old PeopleDakkeii,
30. Northward in Egypt.
Gerf HossaynTurbulent NativesJustice AdministeredKalabshee
New Year's Day at PhilæDescent of the CataractNew Year's
Calls at Es SouanTravelers' BoatsJessamineHagar Silsilis
The Quarries and Grottoes,
31. Arrakee and Antiques.
Edfou The Temple and its Dark ChambersAn Arrakee Distillery
Wild FlowRoman Ruins at EileithyasAncient HomsTombs at
El KabFour American BoatsTobacco,
32. Achmet the Resurrectionist.
EsneThe Mummies AgainStrolls Along Shore—A Dumb Beauty
Luxor by Night—A Light Among the TombsAn Ancient Prince
A Theban History,
33. Thebes the Magnificent.
The Tent on ShoreMedeenet HabouEvening in the TentTombs
of the AssaseefThe RemeseionTheban TombsAchmet
AgainMummiesPrivate TombsNumber 35,
34. The Palaces of the Dead.
An Unexpected MeetingMr. RighterAn Antique ShopDiscovery
of Mummy ShawlsMummies in Wrong BoxesTombs of the Kings
Belzoni's TombBruce's TombMy Friend Whitely,
35. He Sleeps Well.
Cabin of the PhantomMustapha Aga's House—A Dying Artist
Karnak Digging a GraveThe Last LookThe Funeral and Burial,
36. The Glory of Karnak.
Extent of Karnak Egyptian Ideas of ImmortalityApproach to
Karnak , Shishak and RehoboamChampollion and his Discoveries
Melek AiudahMoonlight on Karnak That Lonely Grave,


37. Memnon and his Daughter.
38. A Turkish Nobleman.
39. The Crocodile Pits.
40. Desolate Places.
41. Vision and Realities.


Fra Giovanni.

Fra Giovanni was a Franciscan. His face was one
that you loved to look at. A calm and beautiful face.
Sometimes, when the long black lashes fell over his cheek
and his mind went wandering over the hills about San
Germano in the fair land of Italy, I used to think I
was looking at the face of him of Patmos, the beloved
disciple, who, much as he loved the ascended Christ, yet
remained longest of all the twelve away from him; and
when my friend prayed, as I have seen him pray, with
tears, and yet very bright hope, in his eyes, I used to remember
the same John, and think I could see his eyes,
when he uttered the last fervent prayer that his Lord
would come quickly, from whom he had been so long
We met in the theatre at Arles, that old town of the
south of France which boasts a rival to the Roman Coliseum.
I was sitting in the twilight, with no one but

Miriam and the guardian near me, and I was dreaming,
as I suppose any enthusiastic American may be permitted
to dream the first time he finds his feet on the boards—on
the rocks, I should say—of an ancient theatre. The fading
light was not unfavorable to such an occupation. Ghosts
came at my call and filled the otherwise vacant seats.
I saw fair women, brave men, magistrates, soldiers, senators,
and an emperor, yea verily, an emperor, in the seat
between the marble columns. There were wrestlers, just
come from the games near by in the amphitheatre, standing
by the stage, and dancers, and jesters, and masked
figures flitting to and fro. All was silent. But the
silence grew intolerable, and at length I interrupted it
You need not laugh at me for talking Greek. Those
Roman ghosts could understand Greek as well as English,
or, for that matter, as well as Latin, and if they knew any
thing they should have known Æschylus. So I acted
prompter and gave them
“Χθονοςμὲν εἰς τηλουρὸν ἤκομεν πέδον
Σκόθην ἑςο ἱμον ἄβροτον εἰς ἑρημίαν,”
whereupon the ghosts vanished. In a flash, in the twinkling
of a star, the scene was one of cold bare rocks in the
gray twilight, a ruined hall, fallen columns over which
countless snails were crawling, and Kaiser and actor were
dust of a verity under my feet.
But a voice answered my voice. For in a nook among
the confused stones near the stage had been sitting, all
this time, a person that I had not seen, whose clear soft
voice came pleasantly to me as he hailed congenial company
in this place of ruins.
“Who is there, that would renew old and familiar
echoes in these walls?”
“Why? Do you think they ever heard that before?”


“The Prometheus? Yes—why not? There were
scholarly days when the fashionable Romans delighted in
Greek plays.”
We walked out, all together, and down to the miserable
forum and the hotel, where, in the evening, over a bottle
of St. Peray that I had brought from Valence with my
own baggage, we talked down the hours. Thus I became
acquainted with Fra Giovanni—and our acquaintance fast
ripened. He was an Italian, young, wealthy, of good family,
and a priest. He had not been long an ecclesiastic.
There were moments when the former life flashed out
through the fine eyes under his cowl. The memory of
other times alternately lit and darkened his face. There
was some deep grief there of which he never told me, and
which I never sought to know. He was a good, gentle,
faithful friend. That was enough.
Some time after that, we were standing in the crypt of
the cathedral of St John's at Malta. That day we were
to separate. I to go eastward, and he to travel he scarcely
knew whither, on the work of his sacred calling. Before
us, in marble silence, lay the stout Villiers de l'Isle
Adam, and a little way off the brave Valetta, sleeping
after his last great battle with the Turks, who surrounded
this, his rocky fortress.
He who goes to the East should always go by way of
Malta. It is a proper stepping-stone between Europe and
the Orient, where the last wave of the crusades rolled
back from the walls of Jerusalem, and sank in foam.
“You. will find yourself always looking back to this
little crypt in the middle of the sea, wherever your footsteps
turn,” said Fra Giovanni. “No place in the
Mediterranean is so intimately connected with the history
of the East as this island of Malta, and there is
scarcely any part of the Orient in which you will not be
reminded of it. This fact alone, that it is the place of

the death and burial of that mighty order who for so
great a period swayed the sceptre of power in Europe, is
enough to connect it with Egypt and Holy Land, indeed
with all the possessions of the Turks. Here, when Valetta
was Grand Master, the arms of the Moslem had
their first great check, and the followers of the false
prophet learned that their boasted invincibility was a
fable. Here, too, but yesterday, when the great leader
of the French had garrisoned the island, your stout cousins
of England, who followed his swift feet as the hounds
follow after the deer, drove out his soldiery. You will
think of that when you see the boastful inscription of
Desaix at the cataract of the Nile. There have been
valiant deeds done on this rock. If the sea could have
a voice, it would tell of men of might, and deeds of might
done here, that are themes for bards who love to celebrate
the great acts of men. But the sea is the only
living thing that knows them. For there are no trees,
nor ancient vines, nor any thing here but the great rock,
and the living, moving, throbbing sea around it.”
I don't know but my friend would have talked on all
day, had not a gun from the harbor announced that the
steamer was heaving up her anchor.
We left the crypt and walked over the splendid floor
of the cathedral, which is inlaid with a thousand tombstones
of knights of the Cross. I glanced once more at
the picture of the Beheading of John, which Caravaggio
painted that he might be admitted to the order, and
painted in fading colors (water some say) that the evidence
of his debasement of the art, and their debasement
of the order, might disappear; and then, rushing out into
the Strada Reale, and plunging down the steep narrow
streets to the landing-place, overturning a half-dozen commissionaires,
each of whom swore he was the man that
said good-morning the day previous, and became thereby

entitled to his five francs (for no one need imagine that
he will land at Malta without paying, at least, three commissionaires
and five porters, if he carry no baggage on
shore, or twice as many, if he have one portmanteau),
I parted from Fra Giovanni, with a warm pressure of the
hand, a low “God bless you,” and a long, earnest look
out of those eyes of John the-Saint.
When the Nubia swung up on the port-chain, with her
head to the opening of the harbor, and ran out to sea,
she passed close under the Lower Barracka, so close that
I could recognize faces on it. In the corner, by the monument
of Sir Alexander Ball, I saw my friend. As he
recognized me, he waved his hand toward me, and even
in that motion I caught his intent; for he, good Catholic
that he was, could not let me, his heretic friend, go to
sea, and especially to the East, without that last sign of
the redemption by way of benediction. I thanked him
for it, for he meant it lovingly, and so I was away for
the Orient. We met again at the Holy Sepulchre.
Such was my step from the modern world to the ancient.
From good old Presbyterian habits and friends to
the companionship and affection of a Franciscan brother
among the relics of the mediæval world, and then to the
heart of Orient; Cairo the Magnificent, el Kahira the Victorious.

[Back to top]


The Classic Sea.

There is a comfort, when traveling eastward, in meeting
Englishmen. You are very certain, in coming in
contact with the English pleasure-traveler, to meet a gentleman.
Exceptions are very rare. It is also worthy of
remark, that the English gentleman, so soon as he learns
that you are American, regards you as a fit companion,
which is a degree of confidence that he is very far from
reposing in one of his own nationality. Englishmen meeting
Englishmen, look on one another as so many pickpockets
might, each of whom was certain that each of his
neighbors meant to rob him on the first available opportunity.
This perhaps arises from the danger that foreign acquaintances
may entail unpleasant and impracticable recognitions
at home. There is no apprehension of this in
meeting Americans, and this may serve to explain a willingness
to find society for the time which will not prove
troublesome in the future.
But I am disposed to give our cousins over the water
more credit for kindred affection. I have always found
them cordial, warm-hearted, frank and hearty companions
and friends. I was, perhaps, fortunate in those whom I
met, but they were many, lords, spiritual and temporal,
soldiers, sailors, and shop-keepers; and I found the name

of American a pass to their hearts. Some had friends in
our new country, and perhaps I had seen and known
them—and once or twice I had—all had an idea that we
were a race of brave and active men, given to boasting,
but good-natured at that, nearly related to them in blood,
and allies of England as champions of freedom against the
despotisms of the world.
This last idea was one of new and startling force to me,
as I looked back from Europe and the East to England
and America. The line between freedom and tyranny
runs up the British Channel. It is not the broad Atlantic.
Our Constitution is of English origin, based on
English law, and the boast which we inherit from our
revolutionary patriots was, that Britons would never be
The sea was still. From Marseilles to Malta, in the
little mail steamer Valetta, we had experienced a constant
gale, sailing almost all the way under water. Ladies had
nearly died from the exhaustion of sea-sickness. The day
that we passed the straits of Bonifacio was the worst in
my memory of bad days at sea. All day long the sea
went over us, fore and aft. To live below deck was impossible,
the foul air of the little steamer close shut and
battened down being poisonous. The ladies who were
sea-sick were brought on deck and laid on island cushions
around which the water washed back and forth. Here day
and night for seventy hours they moaned and shrieked. One
of them we thought hourly would die. Miriam and Amy,
our American ladies, were brave and good sailors, but the
scene was almost too much for them. The gale saw us
into the port of Malta, and then flattened down to a calm,
and never was there such a beautiful sea as we sailed over
to Alexandria. No wind disturbed the profound beauty
of that water whose azure I had never before dreamed of.
It was a never-ending source of pleasure to lean over the

side and gaze into the deep blue, that surpassed the sky
in richness, on which the bubbles from the swift prow
went dancing gayly before as, white flashing and vanishing,
to be followed by others and others, all day and all
night long.
The poop cabin had been by some odd chance left vacant,
and I had secured it for Miriam and Amy. In a
season when the through India passengers crowded the
line of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, this was a
most fortunate and unexpected occurrence. The cabin
was much the pleasantest on shipboard, and they slept in
it enough to make up their losses on the Valetta.
I passed the night on deck, and could wake at any hour
and recognize the stars over me, that had so often seen
me sleeping in western wanderings. The old Englishman
who had the wheel on the starboard watch on the first
night out from Malta, when he saw the rolling a blanket
around me and lying down on a bench, grunted a disapproval
of it to himself, and even ventured to his mate at
the wheel a remark to the detriment of my eyes, expressing
also his belief that I would go below before morning.
How he came to be on the watch in the morning I don't
know, but he expressed unmitigated delight at my visual
organs being unaffected by his remarks, when he saw me
start up before the break of dawn in the east, and throw
off my blanket and sleep together, while I walked over
to the rail and watched to see the coming day.
Let him who would see the magnificence of dawn behold
it in the Levant, off the coast of the Pentapolis. It
is no matter for wonder that the ancients had such glorious
ideas of Aurora and her train. The first rays over the
blue horizon were splendid. I gazed to see if Jerusalem
itself were not the visible origin of that splendor. Then
swift in the track of his rays, came the gorgeous sun,
springing out of the sea like a god of triumph, and he

went up into the heavens with a majestic pomp that the
sun has nowhere but just here. There was on board the
ship a Pharsee, with his servants. I did not wonder at
that longing gaze with which I saw him looking at his
rising god. I, too, had I been taught as he, would die a
worshiper of that god of light.
The second-class passengers were a motley crowd.
Italian, Maltese, French, Greek, Arab, and Lascar, they
lay in heaps along the deck until the pumps sent the water
flooding over them when the decks were washed, and
then climbed into the rigging and sunned themselves dry.
I held a general levee among them every forenoon, examining
their various developments, and ended it with a
handful of cigars on deck, which transformed the crowd
into a mass of legs and arms, their heads being absolutely
invisible in the mêlée. The first day there grew four separate
fights out of this generosity of mine, and the second
day three. I omitted it the third, but there were six
combats on that morning, and I would have resumed the
practice on the fourth morning but that we were in the
harbor of Alexandria.
Among the passengers were two major-generals in the
East India Company's service, one of whom was capital
company. I usually had possession of the port side of
the after skylight deck, which being lifted up at each end
to allow air in the cabin below, made a very comfortable
lounge. As it was close to the poop cabin, I furnished it
easily with cushions and pillows, and we were accustomed
to make this our reception-room of an afternoon. The
general enjoyed a talk about America, by way of introduction
to a story, and stories, by himself about India and
the Indians, which he much delighted to relate, and to
which, I confess, I was not unwilling to listen.
The Scene on the deck of the steamer at such times
was the gayest imaginable; unlike any other great line

of travel, either by sea or land, in that the ladies on board
seemed to vie with each other in the elegance of their
afternoon dresses. Here lay on a pile of cushions a lady
of rare and delicate beauty, dressed in white from head
to foot, her dress the finest lawns and laces of exquisite
texture; while, by way of contrast or foil to her beauty,
an Indian servant, black as an African, and dressed in
crimson, with a long piece of yellow cloth wound around
his head and shoulders stood fanning his mistress. There
stood a group of young ladies, all in black, but all richly
dressed and every neck gleaming with jewels; while a
half-dozen young men, officers and civilians intermingled,
were making the neighborhood intolerable by their incessant
flow of nonsense. Two English generals, with their
families, were on deck, and a Portuguese governor-general,
with his suite, outward-bound to the possessions of
Portugal in the Indies. Children were playing everywhere,
and officers hastening hither or thither found
themselves constantly entangled in the games of the young
ones, or lost in circles of laughing girls, or actually made
fast by the endless questions of some elderly mother of a
And when the sun went down in the sea, our fellow-
passenger, the Pharsee, might be seen on the distant forecastle,
standing calmly with folded arms and steadfast
eyes fixed on his descending god, and following his course
with fixed countenance long after he had disappeared, as
if he could penetrate the very earth itself with that adoring
gaze. And it did not seem strange here that he
should worship that orb. I, too, began to feel that there
was something grand, majestic—almost like a god—in the
everlasting circuit of the sun above these seas. Day by
day—day by day—for thousands of years, the eye of his
glory had seen the waves of the Great Sea. The Phœnician
sailors, Cadmus, Jason—all the bold navigators

that are known in song and story—he had watched and
guided to port or destruction.
Is it the same great sun that looks down on American
forests? Is it the same sun that has shone on me when
I slept at noonday on the rocky shores of the Delaware,
or whose red departure I have watched from the hills
of Minnesota? The same sun that beheld the glory of
Nineveh, the fall of Persepolis, the crumbling ruins of the
Acropolis? In such lands, on such seas as this, he is a
poor man, poor in imagination and the power of enjoyment,
who does not have new ideas of the grandeur of
the sun that has shone on the birth, magnificence, burial,
and forgotten graves of so many nations. Well as men
have marked them, tall as they have builded their monuments,
broad and deep as they have laid their foundations,
none know them now save the sun and stars, that
have marked them day by day with unforgetful visitation.
And when the day was gone, and the night, with
its deep blue filled with ten thousand more stars than I
had ever seen before, was above us, I wrapped my
plaid around me, and disdaining any other cover than
that glorious canopy, I slept on deck and dreamed of
I say I slept and dreamed. It was pleasant though
fitful sleep, and I woke at dawn. It could not be otherwise.
From my childhood, the one longing desire to
visit Egypt and the Holy Land grew on me with my
growth. It entered into all my plans of life—all my
prospects for the future. I talked of it often, thought
of it oftener, dreamed of it nightly for years. One and
another obstacle was removed, and I began to see before
me the immediate realization of my hopes. It would be
idle to say my heart did not beat somewhat faster when
I saw the blue line of the American horizon go down behind
the sea. It would still be more idle to say, that I

did not weep sometimes—tears that were not childish—when
I remembered the silent parting from those dear
lips that had taught me for thirty years to love the land
that God's footsteps had hallowed, and whose eyes looked
so longingly after me as I hastened away. (God granted
never again those dear embraces.) It would be idle
to deny that in my restless sleep on the Atlantic in the
narrow cabin, my gentle Miriam, who slept less heavily,
heard me sometimes speak strange words that might
have puzzled others, but which she, as the companion of
my studies, recognized as the familiar names of holy
But notwithstanding all this, I did not, in my calm,
waking hours, feel that I was approaching eastern climes
and classic or sacred soil until I had left Malta, and felt
the soft north wind coming down from Greece. That
first night on the Nubia was full of it. I could not sleep
more than half an hour at a time, and then I would start
up wide awake, with the idea that some one had spoken
to me; and once, I could not doubt it, I heard as plainly
as if it were real, my father's voice—as I have heard it
often and often—reading from the old prince and father
of song.
Just before daybreak I crossed the deck and bared my
forehead to a soft, faint breeze that stole over the sea.
The moon lay in the west. The night was clear, and I
could read as if it were day. I leaned on the rail, and
looked up to windward, where, here and there, I could
see the white caps of the thousand waves, silvered in the
light of the purest moon I ever saw , and thinking of my
friend, Fra Giovanni, and of my first meeting with him,
and yielding to the temptation of a quotation, where no
one was near to hear me and to call it pedantic, I began
to recite that other splendid passage from the Prometheus,

which was born in the poet's brain on this identical water
which now rolled around me:
Ὠ δῖος αἰθὴρ καὶ ταχǷβπτεροι πνοιαὶ
Ποταμῶν τε πηγαὶ,ποντίων τε κυμάτων
Ἀνήριθμον γέλασμα, παμμῆτόρ τε γῆ
Καὶ τὸν πανόπτην κǷβκλον ἡλίου, καλῶ.
“And what's the use of calling on them?” said a clear,
pleasant voice behind me, as I started around to recognize
one of the English generals whom I have mentioned
as with us on the ship.
“I say, what's the use of calling on them when they
won't come? Times are changed. There are no gods
in Greece now, and, by Jupiter, no men either, and the
river nymphs are all gone; and the smiles of the waves,
look at them—they come when they will, and go where
they will; but the good old days of poetry are gone,
gone, gone! Even as the glory of yonder cities is
gone!” And he pointed to the southern horizon, where
I now saw the low line of the coast of Africa for the first
time. We were just seventeen hours from Malta when
we came up with it. It was Cape Arabat, and here were
the cities of the Pentapolis. Here was Berenice the
beautiful; Ptolemais was here and Cyrene. That long
line of sand, deserted and desolate, was all that I was to
see of their grandeur; but I was not sorry that my first
view of Africa should be connected with such associations.
In the forenoon we lost sight of land again, and were
then left to our own resources in the ship. The sea was
in a generous humor. From the hour we left Malta there
was almost a flat calm. We did not suffer a moment's
discomfort, and I think there was not a case of sea-sickness
on board.
Around our cabin doors, on the after deck, we assembled
a gay group daily. The ship's band made pleasant
music for us in the afternoons and evenings, once delighting

us with “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle,”
which sounded the more home-like for the unexpectedness
of those familiar sounds on an English ship along
the coast of Africa.
Night after night came over us with never-diminishing
wealth of beauty, and each successive dawn and sunrise
woke me from deep slumber on the deck of the vessel.
Thursday evening came. At midnight the deck was deserted,
and I was alone. In that soft air and exquisite
climate I preferred the deck to my cabin, and had made
my bed every night on the planks under the sky. This
night I could not sleep. The restlessness of which I have
spoken had increased as we approached the shore of
Egypt, and I walked the deck steadily for an hour, and
then threw myself into one of the dozen large chairs
which, in the day-time, were the private property of as
many English ladies. At one o'clock I heard the officer
of the deck discussing the power of his eyesight, and
springing to the rail, I saw clearly, on the starboard bow,
the light of the Pharos at Alexandria.
You may be curious to know what were my emotions
at the visible presence of Egypt before my eyes, and the
evidence that I should tread its soil to-morrow. I did
not pause to think of the magnificence of the old Pharos
which this one replaces, or of the grandeur that made it
one of the seven wonders of the world. The great mirror
that exhibited vessels a hundred miles at sea; the
lofty tower that shone in the nights of those old centuries,
almost on the rocky shores of Crete; the palaces that
lined the shore and stretched far out into the blue Mediterranean;
none of these were in my mind.
Enough to say that, before I thought of this as the
burial-place of the mighty son of Philip; before I thought
of it as the residence of the most beautiful of queens; the
abode of luxury and magnificence surpassing all that the

world had seen or will see; before the remembrance of
the fabled Proteus, or even the great Julius came to my
mind, I was seated in my chair, my head bowed down on
my breast, and before my vision swept a train of old men
of lordly mien, each man kingly in his presence and bearing,
yet each man in his life poor, lowly, if not despised.
I saw the old Academician, his white locks flowing on
the wind, and the Stagyrite, the mighty man of all old or
modern philosophy, and a host of the great men of learning,
whose names are lost now. And last in that visionary
procession—calmer, more stately than the rest, with
clear bright eye fixed on the heaven where last of all he
saw the flashing footsteps of the angels that bore away
his Lord, with that bright light around his white forehead
that crowned him a prince and king on earth and in
heaven—I saw Mark, the Apostle of Him whom Plato
longed to see and Aristotle died ignorant of.
With daybreak came the outlines of the shore and the
modern city of Iskandereyeh, conspicuous above all being
the Pillar of Diocletian, known to modern fame as Pompey's
Pillar. We lay outside all night waiting for a pilot.
The only benefit to be derived from the modern lighthouse
at Alexandria is its warning not to approach the
harbor, which is entered by a winding channel among innumerable
reefs and rocks. We threw rockets, burned
blue-lights, and fired cannon; but an Egyptian pilot is
not to be aroused before sunrise, and it was, therefore,
two hours after daylight before he came off to us, and we
entered the port on the west side of the city.
The instant that the anchor was dropped, a swarm, like
the locusts of Egypt, of all manner of specimens of the
human animal, poured up the sides of the ship and covered
the deck from stem to stern. It would be vain to
attempt to describe them. Moors, Egyptians, Bedouins,
Turks, Nubians, Maltese, nondescripts—white, black, yellow,

copper-colored, and colorless—to the number of two
or three hundred, dressed in as many costumes, convinced
us that we were in a new country for us. There
were many who wore elegant and costly dresses, but the
large majority were of the poorest sort, and poverty here
seems to make what we call poverty at home positive
Of a hundred or more of this crowd, the dress of each
man consisted of one solitary article of clothing—a shirt of
coarse cotton cloth, reaching not quite to the knees, and
this so thin as to reveal the entire outline of the body,
while it was usually so ragged as to leave nothing to be
complained of in the way of extra clothing. They went
to work like horses, and I never saw men exhibit such
feats of strength. The cargo of the ship was to be got
out as rapidly as possible. Five dollars a day is ample
pay for a hundred of these men. A piastre and a half
(about eight cents) is the highest rate of wages in Egypt.
With the crowd who came on board were the usual
number of anxious and officious dragomans.
The word dragoman, derived from turgoman, and
meaning simply an interpreter, has gotten to signify a
sort of courier, valet, servant, adviser, and traveling companion,
all combined, on whom the Oriental traveler must
expect to be dependent for his very subsistence from day
to day, from and after the moment he becomes attached
to him.
A friend of mine, speaking of the servants, was accustomed
to call them “the young ladies who boarded with
his mother.” The dragoman may be defined as the gentleman
who travels with you. He becomes a part of
yourself, goes where you go, sleeps where you sleep, you
talk through him, buy through him (and pay him and
through him at the same time), and, in point of fact, you
become his servant. All this, if you choose. But, if you

choose otherwise, you may make him what he should be,
a very good servant, and nothing more. He who can
not manage his own servants should stay at home and
not travel. The man whose servant can cheat him,
should not keep servants, or should submit to his own
I may as well pause here, to advise the Egyptian traveler
under no circumstances to take a dragoman until he
reaches Cairo. He will find English, French, and Italian,
spoken everywhere in Alexandria, and on the railway to
Cairo, so that he will need no assistance until he begins
to make his arrangements to go up the Nile; which he
should. not make in Alexandria.
One of the importunate, who came on board the Nubia,
may serve as an example of the rest.
He was as Nubian, black and shining; dressed in the
Nizam costume, embroidered jacket, silk vest, and flowing
trowsers, all of dark green. He offered a handful of
testimonials, but I rejected these, and asked him a question
for the sake of getting rid of him.
“What languages do you speak?”
“All de kinds. I had school went to—sixty, seventy
year. I ought know.”
“Perhaps you ought, but you won't do for me.”
I had observed a respectable-looking Maltese, who was
the commissionaire for Cesar Tortilla's Hotel d' Europe.
Placing the baggage in his charge, we made our way
down into a boat, and tall, half-naked Arab, standing up
to his oars, pulled us slowly in to the crowded landing-
place at the custom-house of Alexandria.
Here I entered Egypt; and, at this same spot, on a
moony midnight five months later, I departed for the
Holy Land.

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The Dead of Alexandria.

Alexandria is a strange medley. The West and the
East have met and intermarried in her streets. The great
square presents the most singular spectacle that can be
imagined in any city of Orient or sunset, from the strange
commingling of races, nations, costumes, and animals.
The great modern institution of Egypt is the donkey, especially
to American eyes.
The Egyptian donkey is the smallest imaginable animal
of the species. The average height is from three feet and
a half to four feet, though large numbers of them are
under three feet. These little fellows carry incredible
loads, and apparently with ease. In the square were
scores of them. Here an old Turk, fat and shaky, his feet
reaching to within six inches of the ground, went trotting
across the square; there a dozen half naked boys, each
perched between two goat-skins of water. Four or five
English sailors, full of wonderment at the novel mode of
travel, were plunging along at a fast gallop, and got foul
of the old Turk. The boys, one of whom always follows
his donkey, however swift the pace, belaboring him with
a stick, and ingeniously poking him in the ribs or under
the saddle-strap, commenced beating each other. Two
ladies and two gentlemen, India passengers, taking their
first donkey ride, became entangled in the group. Twenty

long-legged, single-shirted fellaheen rushed up, some with
donkeys and some with long rods. A row of camels
stalked slowly by, and looked with quiet eyes at the increasing
din; and when the confusion seemed to be inextricable,
a splendid carriage dashed up the square, and
fifty yards in advance of it ran, at all the speed of a swift
horse, an elegantly-dressed runner, waving his silver rod,
and shouting to make way for the high and mighty
Somebody; and forthwith, in a twinkling, the mass scattered
in every direction, and the square was free again.
The old Turk ambled along his way, and the sailors surrounded
one of their number who had managed to lose his
seat in the hubbub, and whose curses were decidedly
No one could be contented in Alexandria more than
fifteen minutes without going to Pompey's Pillar, as fame
has it, or the Pillar of Diocletian, as it is now more frequently
and properly called.
Leaving the ladies to their baths and a late breakfast,
we mounted donkeys at the door, and being joined by a
half dozen English officers bound to India, who were detained
in Alexandria for the train until evening, we dashed
off up the square at a furious gallop; furious in appearance,
but the rate of progress was about equal to a slow
trot on horseback. Nevertheless, a donkey carrying a
heavy American on his back has some momentum when
he gallops, as the guard in the gateway found to his cost;
for he was dozing, after the prescribed manner of an
Egyptian noon-day doze, and he dreamed that he heard
the Frenchmen coming again, as they came once in his
time; and before he had time to pick up his scattered intellect
he had more to do in picking up himself, for we
went over him like a thunder-storm, rattling on the draw-bridge,
across an open space, through another gateway,
across another draw-bridge, and so out into a long, broad

street, on each side of which was a row of acacia trees
(known as the sont), and so to a hill that overlooks the
city and the harbor, on which stands this solitary column,
the lonesome relic of unknown grandeur. Of what it
formed a part, whether of the great library, or of some
gorgeous temple, no one knows.
We sat down in the dust and looked up at its massive
proportions, and admired and wondered, as hundreds of
thousands have looked and admired in past years, and
commented as they had, and dreamed as they had.
Shall I confess it? There was an Arab girl, who came
from a mud village close by, and who stood at a little
distance gazing at us, whose face attracted more of my
attention than this mysterious column, in whose shade I
sat. She was tall, slender, graceful as a deer, and her
face exceedingly beautiful. She was not more than fourteen.
She was dressed in the style of the country; a
single blue cotton shirt. As it was a female who wore it,
perhaps it deserves another name; but that will answer,
since the sex did not vary the pattern. It was open from
the neck to the waist, exposing the bust, and it reached
but to her knees. She stood erect, with a proud uplifted
head, and to my imagination she answered well for a personification
of the angel of the degraded country in which
I found myself. The ancient glory was here, but, clothed
in the garb of poverty, she was reduced to be an outcast
among the nations of the earth.
As I sat on the sand and looked at her, I put out my
hand to support myself, and it fell on a skull. Bones,
whether of ancient or modern Egyptians I knew not
then, lay scattered around.
When I would have apostrophised the brown angel, she
started in affright, and vanished in a hut built of most
unromantic materials, such, indeed, as lay sun-drying all
around us. It was gathered in the streets, and dried

in cakes, which served the purpose of fuel, and occasionally
of house building. Six naked children of eight years
old and under remained. No imagination could make
them other than the filthy wretches they were. Here we
learned the sound of that word which is omnipotent in
Turkish lands, and which travelers now too much ridicule,
as if its benefits belonged to the beggar.
Before the gate of El Azhar, in Cairo, I whispered it in
the ear of the Sheik, and it opened the old college to my
profane feet. At the mosque of Machpelah, in Hebron,
I said “Bucksheesh” to the venerable guardian of the
place, and though five hundred howling Arabs were outside
the door shouting for him to bring me out to them,
he said: “Come in the night, when these dogs are sleeping,
and I will show you the tomb of Ibrahim.” I sent it
by my dragoman to the Bim-pasha of Jerusalem, and he
gave me fifty soldiers, and marched me through every
corner of the mosque of Omar, or the Mesjid El Aksa.
It is a magic word, of value to be known: spoken interrogatively,
it is offensive; spoken suggestively, it is
powerful. If you doubt it, try it, as I have.
I have said that I did not sleep on board the ship the
night before. Neither did I sleep on shore the first night
in Egypt. But the cause of my wakefulness was different.
Dogs abound in the city of the son of Philip. They
have no special owners, and are a sort of public property,
always respected. But such infernal dog-fights as occurred
once an hour under our windows no one elsewhere
has known or heard of. I counted fifteen dogs in one
mêlée the first evening, each fighting, like an Irishman in
a fair, on his own account.
Besides this, the watchmen of the city are a nuisance.
There are a large number of them, and some twenty are
stationed in and around the grand square. Every quarter
of an hour, the chief of a division enters the square

and shouts his call, which is a prolonged cry, to the
utmost extent of his breath. As he commences, each
watchman springs into the square; and by the time he
has exhausted his breath they take up the same shout in
a body, and reply. He repeats it, and they again reply;
and all is then still for fifteen minutes. But as if this
were not enough, there was a tall gaunt fellow, who had
once been a dragoman, but was a poor and drunken dog
now, and in fact, crazy from bad habits, who slept somewhere
in the square every night, and who invariably
echoed the watchmen with a yell that rang down the
square, in unmistakable English, “all right;” and once I
heard him add, in the same tremendous tones, “Damn
the rascals!”
And just before the dawn, when the law of Mohammed
prescribed it, at that moment that a man could distinguish
between a white thread and a black, there was a sound
which now came to my ears with a sweetness that I can
not find words to express. In a moment of the utmost
stillness, when all the earth, and air, and sky was calm
and peaceful, a voice fell through the solemn night, clear,
rich, prolonged, but in a tone of rare melody that thrilled
through my ears, and I needed no one to tell me that it
was the muezzin's call to prayer. “There is no God but
God!” said the voice, in the words of the Book of the
Law given on the mountain of fire, and our hearts answered
the call to pray.
My first business in Alexandria was to get on shore,
from the steamer, the various articles which we had purchased
at Marseilles and Malta for a winter on the
Nile. One of these, a cask of Marsala wine—Wood-
house's best—must necessarily pass through the custom-
house, and I was not sorry to have an opportunity of
witnessing the fashion of collecting the revenue of the
Viceroy of Egypt. The cask had been landed from the

Nubia , and, as all the other goods here landed, was in
the public stores of the custom-house. Business is transacted
in Arabic or Italian, or in the mixed Arabic and
Italian which forms the Maltese. We—that is, Trumbull
and I, accompanied by a servant and interpreter—went
first to look for the wine. Having found it, I was
amused at the simple fashion of getting it through the
business which, in other countries, is made so needlessly
A tall Nubian, black as night, looked at the barrel,
weighed it with his eye (it was over two hundred
weight), twisted a cord around it, and wound the cord
around his head, taking the strain on his forehead, and
then, with a swing of his giant body, he had it on his
back, and followed us to the inspector. This gentleman,
an old Turk, with a beard not quite as heavy as my own,
but much more gray, addressed us very pleasantly in
Italian, and passed us along to his clerk, who sat by his
side, each with his legs invisible under him. The proper
certificate of the contents was here made, and sealed—
for Turk or Copt never writes his name, impressing it
on the paper with ink on a seal—and the black carried
the wine to the scales to be weighed. This was done in
an instant, the weight noted, and another man received
the duty, whereupon it was ready to be carried up to the
hotel. All this was done in fifteen minutes or less, and
the majesty of the viceroy and ourselves were equally
well satisfied.
My next business was with the viceroy himself, and its
object to procure a firman which should enable me to
make excavations among the ruins of Upper Egypt. Mr.
De Leon, who so successfully fills the post of American
consul in Egypt, was absent on a visit to Greece. This
consulate is by far the most important foreign consular
appointment of our government, since it amounts to a

Chargéship, the Egyptian government being, in all commercial
matters, independent of the Porte, and receiving
communications through the consul direct. The
power of this functionary is absolutely startling to an
American, who suddenly finds himself in a land where he
has no protection from the government, no obedience to
render to it, where he is not liable to punishment for any
offence against its laws, and where, in fact, he may commit
wholesale murder with no penalty other than being
sent out of the country by the American consul. I
shall speak further of this in another place, and I allude
to it here only to say that Mr. De Leon is most remarkably
successful in his difficult and responsible position,
having secured the confidence of the government, and
thus enabled himself more effectually to protect travelers,
who find themselves in constant need of some strong
friend to appeal to the government in their aid.
During his absence the seal of the consulate was in the
custody of Mr. Petersen, the vice-consul of Sweden and
Norway, and I take this opportunity of expressing my
thanks to him for his unremitting kindness and attention
to us during our stay in Alexandria.
On my representing to him my wishes, and presenting
the papers on which I relied for the furtherance of my
application, he went immediately to the viceroy, and
within the forenoon of the day sent to me the desired
paper, which was a letter directed to Latif Pasha, governor
of Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia, resident at Es Siout,
requiring him to furnish me with all necessary papers and
assistance, letters to inferior governors and officers of
whatever grade, and to provide men and beasts as I
should demand, at any point on the river.
The cost of this paper was a polite “thank you,”
which I repeat here, as well to Mr. Petersen as to
the Egyptian government. How invaluable it afterward

proved to me I shall frequently have occasion to describe.
Without reference to its usefulness for the immediate
objects of my visit to Egypt, it operated as an
introduction to all men of rank in the upper country,
and enabled me to become acquainted with some whose
friendship is among the pleasantest recollections of my
winter on the Nile, as well as the pleasantest anticipations
of a return.
Alexandria has been visited by many travelers, and is
described in all the books on Egypt, but with the exception
of the Pillar of Diocletian (Pompey's Pillar) and
Cleopatra's Needles, there are no antiquities which have
attracted their attention.
The modern city stands on a neck of land, to the eastward
of which is the old and deserted harbor, and on
the west the new, and rather inaccessible, but safe anchorage
in which vessels of every nation are found. As
a port, it is one of the most important on the Mediterranean,
especially as the western terminus of the Suez
railway, which is soon to be completed across the isthmus;
and which renders the proposed canal, across the
isthmus, more than ever undesirable. The chief trade
of the port is in coals from England, and grain and cotton
But around modern Alexandria, in all directions, lie
mounds of yellow dust and sand, destitute of the slightest
vegetation, and burning in the hot sun. Under
these mounds lie the ruins of the city of the Ptolemies.
Excavations are carried on continually, but only to obtain
stone for building purposes, to be used in walls or
burned for lime. No investigations have been made by
antiquarians, as yet, among these hills, where there is,
without doubt, a rich store of treasure to be opened.
Here, indeed, but little of the very ancient is to be expected.
It was in the later days of Egypt, when the

Pharaohs had been succeeded by the Ptolemies, when
Memphis was old, and Thebes was crumbling into ruin,
that the Alexandrian splendor filled the eastern, though
it was then called the western, world.
I had no desire to spend time or money here, further
than to take one step backward in time before I found
myself treading the halls of Remeses.
The Pillar of Diocletian I have already mentioned.
The Needles of Cleopatra, as they have been long called,
are in their old sites, one standing erect where the spray
of the sea washes over it, in the eastern part of the city,
the other lying on the ground, almost under ground indeed,
near it. But not being in their original positions,
having been brought here in Roman times, they possess
but little more interest than that at Paris, scarcely so
much as those at Rome.
The Baths of Cleopatra, as they are called, ancient
tombs open and partially sunken in the sea, on the west
side of the city, are interesting only as deserted tombs,
without name or mark. Having visited these, we supposed
the antiquities of Alexandria were “done.”
But the Maltese Abrams, whom I have mentioned, and
whom I recommend as a capital servant, told us of certain
catacombs that he knew of, three miles east of the
city on the sea shore, where the natives were digging
lime-stone for building purposes and for burning. Accordingly
we rode out one day to look at them.
It proved a fortunate discovery, especially as on my return
to Alexandria I found that these catacombs were entirely
dug away and all appearance of them had vanished,
although there remain doubtless many tombs under the
ground never yet reached, for future explorers to open.
We were no novices in donkey-riding by this time;
you would have supposed that we were used to riding
them all our lives, had you seen the four which we mounted,

and the speed at which we dashed down the long
street that leads to the Rosetta gate, followed by our
four boys, shouting and screaming to the groups of people
walking before us. We raised a cloud of dust all the
way, and elicited not a few Mohammedan curses from
women with vailed faces, whose black eyes flashed contempt
on the bare faces of Amy and Miriam. Now
working to windward of a long row of camels laden with
stone, now to leeward of a gathering of women around a
fruit-stall, now passing a funeral procession that went
chanting their songs along the middle of the way—we
dashed, in a confused heap, donkeys and boys, through
the arched gateway, to the terror of the Pasha's soldiers
who sat smoking under the shade, and who had heard
doubtless of our victory over the guard on the first day,
across the draw-bridge with a thunder that you would
not have believed the donkey's hoof could have extracted
from the plank, through the second arch, and out into the
desolate tract of land, without grass, or tree, or living
object for miles, where once stood the palaces of the city
of Cleopatra.
Winding our way over the mounds of earth that concealed
the ruins, catching sight here and there of a projecting
cornice, a capital, or a slab of polished stone, we
at length descended to the shore at the place where the
men were now engaged in digging out stone for lime and
buildings in the modern city.
Formerly the shore for a mile or more must have been
bordered by a great necropolis, all cut in solid rock.
During a thousand years the entire shore has sunk, I
have no means of estimating how much, but not less than
thirty feet, as I judge from a rough observation; it may
have been fifty, or even more. By this many of the rock-hewn
tombs have been submerged entirely, and those on
shore have been depressed, and many of them thrown out

of perpendicular, while the rock has been cracked, and
sand has filled the subterranean chambers. Of the period
at which these tombs were commenced we have no means
now of judging. It is sufficiently manifest, however, that
they have served the purposes of successive generations
of nations, if I may use the expression; and have in turn
held Egyptians, who were removed to make room for
Romans, who themselves slept only until the Saracens
needed places for their long sleep.
Already great numbers of tombs had been opened and
their contents scattered. The fellaheen who were at work
proceeded rapidly in their Vandalish business. Some long
corridors stood open in the white limestone of the hill,
and broken pottery and innumerable bones lay scattered
around. An afternoon was consumed in the first mere looking
at these catacombs. Returning the next morning, we
selected a spot where the workmen had gone deepest,
and hired a dozen men to work under our direction.
Miriam and Amy sat in a niche of an open tomb, shaded
from the sun, and looking out at the sea, which broke
with a grand surf at their very feet.
After breaking into three in succession of the unopened
niches, we at length struck on one which had evidently
escaped Saracen invasion. It was in the lowest tier of
three on the side of an arched chamber, protected by a
heavy stone slab inlaid in cement. It required gunpowder
to start it. The tomb was about two feet six inches
wide by the same height, and extended seven feet into
the rock. The others on all sides of the room were of
the same dimensions. There were in all twenty-four.
Upon opening this and entering it, we found a skeleton
lying at full length, in remarkable preservation, evidently
that of a man in the prime of life. At his head stood an
alabaster vase, plainly but beautifully cut, in perfect preservation,
and as pure and white as if carved but yesterday.

The height of the vase is seventeen and a half
inches, the greatest diameter nine and a half inches.
It consisted of four different pieces—the pedestal, the
main part of the vase, the cover, and the small knob or
handle on the top; not broken but so cut originally.
This vase Mr. Trumbull subsequently shipped to America,
where I am happy to say it arrived safely. (The cut
at the end of this chapter exhibits the form of this vase.)
Pursuing our success, we removed the bones of the
dead man, reserving only a few to go with the vase, and
then searched carefully the floor of the tomb, which was


covered with fine dust and sand. Here we at length hit
on the top of another vase; and after an hour of careful
and diligent work, we took out from a deep sunk hole in
the rock, scarcely larger than itself, an Etruscan vase,
which on opening we found to contain burned bones and

ashes, as fresh in appearance as if but yesterday deposited.
This vase or urn is fifteen inches high, and its largest
diameter is eleven inches. It is of fine earthenware ornamented
with flowers and devices.
This vase was too fragile to attempt to send to America,
and I left it with Mr. De Leon. The reader will observe
the peculiar position of this vase, in the bottom of a
tomb under the bones of a dead man. There was another
similar hole in the same tomb, but no vase in it. In the
bottom of another tomb were found another alabaster urn
similarly sunken. It was of ungraceful shape, being
simply a tub with a cover.
In one of the lowest excavations we found a tomb
which was painted in ancient Egyptian style, but it was
so filled with damp sand that nothing remained of the
paintings except near the roof which was arched and
plastered. There was nothing to indicate the period of
its occupation, but it is interesting as being the only tomb
I have ever heard of as discovered at Alexandria which
was of ancient Egyptian character. All the sarcophagi
and tombs hitherto found here have been considered of
Greek or Roman period. This, however, was unmistakable,
the heads and upper parts of the figures being as
brilliant and fresh as the tombs at Thebes. Being on a
much lower level than any other that we penetrated, it
was possibly of ante-Greek times; but it may have been
the tomb of an Egyptian who retained ancient customs
after Greek dates.
With this we finished our day's labor, then strolled
along the shore, and looked at the gorgeous sunset, right
over the Pharos, and then mounting our donkeys, and carrying
our vases and sundry pieces of broken pottery in our
hands, we rode slowly into the city. I wondered whether
the old Greek or Roman whose burned bones I was shaking

about in the vase on the pommel of my donkey-saddle
had any idea of the curious resurrection he was undergoing
in modern Iskandereyeh, or whether it disturbed
him beyond the Styx when I shook out his ashes on a copy
of the London Times spread on the floor of Cæsar Tortilla's
Hôtel d'Europe. Cæsar is a good fellow by-the-by,
and his hotel admirable for the East.
The next morning we were up and away at an earlier
hour, but fearing to fatigue the ladies too much by a second
long ride, we took a carriage to drive out as near as
possible to the catacombs. It was not the Oriental fashion.
We had no right to try it. The driver said he could
do it easily, he had done it before, and lied like an Italian
about it, so that we trusted him. We had hardly gone
out of the Rosetta gate, and turned up the first hill over
the ruins of the ancient city, when one of the horses
baulked, and the carriage began backing, but instead of
backing straight, the forewheels cramped, and the first
plunge of the baulky horse forward took him and us over
the side of the bank and down a steep descent into an excavation.
The pole of the carriage snapped short off, the
other horse, dragged into the scrape by his companion, fell
down, and the carriage ran directly over him, and rested
on his body. The ladies sprang out as it stopped, and we
all reached the ground safely; but there was another ruin
on the top of the old ruins. It was, in point of fact, what
we call in America a total smash, and we sent back for
donkeys, while we amused ourselves with wandering over
the site of the old city.
This day I determined to go deeper into the vaults
of the catacombs, if possible, than before, and I commenced
on the side of the sea in the room that was
painted in the brilliant colors of the Egyptians. Setting
my men at work here by the light of candles, I was not
long in penetrating the bottom of the chamber by a hole

which opened into the roof of a similar room below. I
thrust myself through the hole as rapidly as possible, but
found that the earth had filled it to within three feet of
the top. Two hours' work cleared it out; but I found
nothing, for the dampness of the sea had reached it, and
all was destroyed except the solid walls.
A few moments later one of the men came to tell me
that they had opened a new gallery of tombs, and I hastened
to see it. Though not what I expected from their
description, it was sufficiently strange to be worth examining.
Crawling on my hands and knees about twenty feet
through an arched passage cut in the stone, and measuring
thirty-two inches in width by thirty-six in height
at the centre, I found myself in a chamber twenty-one feet
long by fifteen broad. The roof was a plain arch. Its
height it was impossible to tell, for the earth had sifted
into it through huge fissures in the rock, and by the slow
accumulation of two thousand years or less, had filled it
on one side to within eight feet of the roof. But the
earth had come in only on that side, and had run down in
a steep slope toward the other side, which was not so full
by fifteen feet. Nevertheless there was no floor visible
there, but the lowest stones in that wall were huge slabs
of granite, and on digging down I could see that the slope
of the earth ran under them, into what I have no doubt
was a stone staircase, arched with granite, leading down
into the catacombs below. The room was plastered plainly
with a smooth whitish-gray plaster on three sides. The
fourth side, that over the granite stairway, and, as I have
explained, the side where the earth was lowest, was solid
rock, with two immense shelves of rock, one six feet above
the other, left there in the excavation, and evidently intended
as places on which to stand funeral urns and vases.
But what struck me as most remarkable, was that a rough

projecting cornice was left across the chamber, corresponding
with the fronts of the shelves, in which were five
immense iron nails, or spikes, with heads measuring two
inches across. The heads of but two were left, the others


having rusted off. I could not imagine any object to
which these nails were applied, unless to hold planks
which may at some time have covered these shelves.
Upon the shelves were lying masses of broken pottery
and vases; but nothing perfect or valuable. I then proceeded
to strike the plastered walls with my hammer, and
at length found a place that sounded hollow. Two fellaheen
went to work instantly, and soon opened a niche
which had been walled up and plastered over. It was in
the usual shape, two feet eight inches wide, by three feet
high in the centre, and seven feet deep. In it lay a skeleton
and the dust of a dead man, nothing more. I proceeded,
and in an hour I had opened twelve similar niches,
or openings, some larger, and containing as many as three

skeletons each. It was a strange sensation that of crawling
into these resting-places of the dead of long ago on
my hands and knees, feeling the soft and moss-like crush
of the bones under me, and digging with my fingers in
the dust for memorials of its life and activity. My clothes,
my eyes, my throat, were covered and filled with the fine
dust of the dead, and I came out at length more of an
ancient than modern in external appearance.
During the process of my investigations the passageway
by which we had entered was darkened, and I soon
saw Miriam on her hands and knees, guided by an Egyptian
boy, creeping into the cavern to see what was going
on. Having opened all of three tiers of graves that were
above ground, I found between the tops of the niches
smaller niches, plastered over like the others, and containing
broken urns and the remains of burned bones. I
found nothing in all this gloomy series of graves but a few
lamps of earthenware, blackened about the hole for the
wick, sad emblems of departed light and life.
We came out from the vaults and walked down to the
beach, where the cool wind revived us. Four hundred
feet from the shore was a curious rocky island. Trumbull
and myself went out to it. It was full of open tombs, a
part of the great necropolis sunken in the sea, and all the
way from the shore we found traces of the same great
We left the catacombs again at sunset, and rode home
slowly over the hills. As we entered the gate of the
city we met a marriage procession, the bride surrounded
by her female friends on the way to her husband's house.
She carried on her head a huge box, or chest, containing
all her dower, and her friends shouted and sang as they
passed us. We quickened our speed as we approached
the great square, and dashed up to the door of the hotel
at a furious gallop. There the scene in the evening was

always the same. A crowd of donkey boys quarreling
with their employers for extra fees, shouts, curses in
countless languages, a perfect Babel of tongues, from
which it was a pleasure to escape to the cheerful dining-room
and the capital dinners that we always found there.


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Alexandria , or Iskandereyeh, will amply repay the
traveler who visits it and goes no further. To find himself
in the land of bananas and palms, of prickly pears,
and almonds, and oranges, is enough alone to make the
trip across the Mediterranean worth while, and to this is
added the immediate association with the East, and the
intermixture of the oriental with the western, which is
sufficiently amusing to repay one for a week of sea-sickness.
Beside all this he is in the old world here—the
older world than Greece and Rome—for it is undeniable
that, long before this city of Alexandria was adopted by
the Greeks, there was a powerful and opulent city of the
Egyptians on this ground; and, underneath the mounds
around it, lie the remains of men and their achievements,
not alone of the centuries immediately prior to the
Christian era, but of the far remote ages of which we
can only hope to know the faintest outlines of history.
Perhaps, hereafter, some excavator, more fortunate
than I, may find in Alexandrian catacombs the history
of Rhacotis, the city which preceded Alexandria.
My time here was limited by engagements at Cairo.
To the traveler who wishes to see only the external appearance
of things, or to look only at the ground which
overlies old cities, or on which they once stood, one or

two days will suffice, as well as a month or a year, to see
the city of the Ptolemies. But we caught ourselves
often standing for an hour before a modern Egyptian
house, in the wall of which was worked a piece of old
marble, whose exquisite carving and polish proved it to
be a part of the old city; possibly from the pediment of a
temple; possibly from the boudoir of a lady; possibly
from the throne-chamber of a king. To me Alexandria
was deeply interesting. Conjecture—or, if you prefer
the phrase, imagination—was never idle as I passed
along the streets of the modern city, or over the mounds
that cover the ancient. It was most active in the tombs,
where we found the ashes of the men of Alexandria of
all periods in its eventful history, and the memorials of
their lives and deaths.
There was one small earthen lamp, one of a dozen which
we found in the catacombs, all alike in general form, and
every one blackened about the opening for the wick,
with the smoke of the last flame that went out in the
closed tomb.
Over that lamp I wasted, if you choose to call it waste,
many hours in the evening and night, sitting at the open
window of my room on the grand square, and listening
to the cry of the watchmen and the call of the muezzin
at the late hours of prayer. There was nothing peculiar
about it except a monogram on the top. It was
of the simplest form of ancient lamps, with a hole for the
oil and a smaller one for the wick; but there was on the
surface a cross, on one arm of which was a semicircle
rudely forming the Greek character Rho, the cross and
the letter together signifying the Xρ, the familiar abbreviation
of the name of our Lord. I know not how
many centuries that peaceful slumberer in His promises
had remained undisturbed; but when I saw that we had
broken the rest of one who slept in hope of the resurrection,

that we had rudely scattered on the winds of the sea
the ashes of one over whom, in the long gone years, had
been read the sublime words, “I am the resurrection
and the life,” perhaps by Cyril the great bishop, perhaps
by Mark himself—when I saw those crumbling bones
under my feet, and thought in what strong faith that
right arm had been lifted to heaven in the hour of extremity,
I felt that it was sacrilege to have opened his
tomb and disturbed his rest.
True, the Arabs would have reached him next year;
but I would rather it had been the Arabs than I. True,
he who promised can find the dust, though it be scattered
on the deserts of Africa. But I have a more than
Roman veneration for the repose of the dead; and,
though I felt no compunctions of conscience in scattering
the dust of the Arabs, who had themselves robbed
the tombs of their predecessors to make room for themselves,
yet I did not like the opening of that quiet place
in which a Christian of the early days was buried.
Who was he? Again imagination was on the wing.
He was one of those who had heard the voices of the
apostles; he was one of those who had seen the fierce
faith of the martyrs in their agony; he was one who had
himself suffered unto death for the love of his Lord and
Master. Or possibly that were too wild a fancy, for such
a man would hardly have a tomb like this. If so it were,
they must have buried him by night, with no torch, no
pomp, no light save the dim flickering light of this funereal
lamp guiding their footsteps down the corridors
of this—vast city of the dead; and this they left beside
him—sad emblem of his painful life—the light of faith,
pure though faint, in the darkness that was all around him.
Men were sublime in faith in those days. It was but
as yesterday, to them, that the footsteps of their Lord
were on the mountain of Ascension—it was but as yesterday

that the voice of Paul was heard across the sea.
Perhaps those dusty fingers had grasped the hand that
had often been taken lovingly in that hand which the
nail pierced. Perhaps—perhaps—I bowed my head reverently
as the thought flashed across me—for I do reverence
to the bones of the great dead, and though I would
not worship, yet I would enshrine in gold and diamonds
a relic of a saint—perhaps, in some far wandering from
his home, this man had entered Jerusalem, and stood
within the porch of the temple when He went by in all
the majesty of his lowliness.
You smile at the wild fancy. Why call it wild? Turn
but your head from before the doorway of the sepulchre,
and you see that column, at the foot of which Mark
taught the words of his Lord; and turn again to yonder
obelisk, and read that the king, who knew not Joseph,
but whom Moses and Aaron knew, carved it in honor of
his reign. Why, then, may not this tomb, which I have
opened, a hundred feet below the surface of the hill, contain
the dust of one who has traveled as far as the land
of Judea, only eighteen hundred years ago; who had
seen the visible presence of him whom prophets and
kings desired to see; and who, won by the kingly countenance,
the holy sweetness of that face, went homeward,
bearing with him enough of memory of that face and
voice to rejoice at the coming of “John, whose surname
was Mark,” and to listen to the teaching of the gospel
of the Messiah?
It startles those unused to Egyptian antiquities to hear
the far past spoken of as thus present with us. But the
facts are powerful and undeniable.
One grows terribly old in visiting Egypt.
It is a fact little thought of, scarcely known at all out
of scientific circles, that Colonel Howard Vyse, the eminent
Englishman whose excavations in the pyramids at

Ghizeh and Sakkarah have contributed to science nearly
all that we know concerning those stupendous remains,
found in the third pyramid at Ghizeh, the broken coffin
of its builder, and the remains of a mummy, bones and
flesh, and clothes, that we have every reason to believe
are those of Mycerinus.
Any Englishman strolling down Regent street of a
winter morning, may turn aside a few blocks and look in
a glass case, in the British Museum, on those bones and
sinews, and believe with reason that the world knew no
greater monarch, in the twenty-first century before Christ,
than he whose dust and bones lie there! By their side,
is the coffin board bearing his name, and we know from
Herodotus, that his period was long before the date of
any dynasty that we can connect with known history.
If, then, the bones of the almost immediate successor
of Cheops are in a museum in England, why may I not
imagine that some of these bones in Alexandria were
living even a few brief centuries ago?
The inhabitants of modern Alexandria are of all nations
and kinds. Many of the Europeans are wealthy, and live
in considerable style, driving handsome equipages, with
elegantly-dressed footmen running before and crying,
“Clear the way,” in the day-time, or at night carrying
huge torches made by burning light-wood in an iron
frame on the end of a pole, and technically known as
Meshalks. Much business is done here, and many men
are employed in various ways, earning the low wages of
the Egyptian fellaheen, which never exceed a piastre
and a half, or about eight cents per day. The large
standing army of Said Pasha, of which a considerable detachment
is always here, is necessarily attended by the
wives and children of the soldiers, who lounge about the
streets, especially in the sunny and dusty suburbs, in all
stages of nakedness.


It is difficult to say what constitutes poverty in Egypt.
We should say, were they in America, or in Europe, that
the large mass of inhabitants were in squalid, abject,
hopeless poverty. But on examination they seem fat,
and certainly far happier, than the lower classes of any
other nation I have seen, and this when (I speak literally
now) the poverty of the most degraded, begging outcast
in New York, would be positive wealth to them here.
One solitary ragged shirt is the sole property, the entire
furniture, estate, and expectancy, of ninety-nine out of a
hundred of the inhabitants of Egypt in the cities of Alexandria
and Cairo. A man and his wife, or his two or more
wives, will possess a shirt to each, and a straw mat, old,
worn, and muddy, and have no other possession on earth
except naked children without a rag of clothing.
Nakedness is no shame here. Children up to ten and
twelve years of age, go about the streets with either one
ragged, filthy cloth wound around them, or, as frequently,
entirely naked. Groups of ten or a dozen play in the sunshine
here and there, without a rag of covering from head
to foot. The older people are scarcely more clad. A
single long blue shirt suffices for a woman of any ordinary
class. It is open in front to the waist, and reaches below
the knees. A piece of the same cloth, by way of vail
around the head, is the substitute for the elegant head,
coverings of the wealthy classes. The upper part of the
body is, of course, entirely exposed, and no one seems to
think of covering the breast from sun, wind, or eyes.
The face is usually hidden by the cloth held in the hand,
while the entire body is exposed without the slightest
attention to decency. Not unfrequently, when the woman
has not the extra covering for her head, she will
seize and lift her solitary garment to hide her features,
thereby leaving her person uncovered, it being in her
view a shame only to exhibit her face.


The women of Egypt are by nature magnificently
formed, and the habit of carrying burdens on their heads
gives them an erect shape and high cast of the head which
continues to extreme old age. I never saw a bent old
woman. I remember seeing one woman carrying a small
piece of bread on her head from which she occasionally
bit a piece, replacing it immediately on its shelf, and Mr.
Williams of the Indian Hotel, in Cairo, told, me that he
had seen a hawk take a piece of meat from the head of a
servant as she was carrying it home, an incident that reminded
me forcibly of the story of Saad and Saadi in the
Arabian Nights, and the loss of the turban.
The men wear whatever they possess in the way of
cloth. Doubtless one garment lasts a lifetime, and is
ignorant of water oftener than once a year. Their costume
is various. Some wear the single shirt; others, a
mass of dirty cloth wound round the body, neck, and
head; others, a coarse blanket made of camel's-hair, which
they throw rather gracefully over their shoulders, leaving
a corner to come over the head. The costumes vary so
much that I think I counted over thirty entirely different
and distinct styles of dress, in the square, in Alexandria,
before my windows, at one time.
These remarks, of course, are understood as applying
to the middle and lower classes. The wealthy Orientals
wear gorgeous dresses. The men usually adopt the
Nizam dress, and the ladies revel in silks and jewels that
would craze a New York belle.
I obtained admission into one hareem, of which, and
the splendor of the dresses, as well as the beauty of a
Greek girl that I saw there, I shall speak when writing
of the Holy Land.
The railway was completed only to Kafr-el-Aish, on
the Nile, and thence we went to Cairo by steamboat.
Constructed by English engineers, and under the superintendence

of a Scotch gentleman, I think I am safe in
saying that there is no railway in America so complete,
well constructed, and safe as this of Egypt. It is the
private property of the viceroy, and with this fact in
view, and the additional fact that it is already nearly
complete to Suez, capitalists may judge how probable it
is that Said Pasha is sincere in forwarding the canal project,
which would cut off all freight-travel to either Cairo
or Alexandria. I am convinced that his opinions have
been misrepresented to induce capitalists to embark in
the scheme of the Suez ship-canal, and that the true interests
of the Egyptian government are most decidedly
against it.
It was somewhat strange, as may well be imagined, to
see a train of cars, surrounded by a hundred guards in
turban and tarbouches, starting out of a city of mud
houses, through groves of palms and bananas, winding
it way around the Pillar of Diocletian and off into the
dismal waste that separates Lake Mareotis from the sea.
The speed was at first but slow, even slower than the
usual starting rate with us at home; but on reaching the
open country we made some thirty miles an hour steadily
until we came to Kafr-el-Aish, which was then the terminus
of the road on the Rosetta branch of the Nile,
eighty miles below Cairo. Here we were transferred to
the steamer in waiting for us, the first and second class
passengers going on the steamer, and the third class taking
an ordinary river boat, which was to be towed three
hundred feet astern.
It was impossible to get up any enthusiasm about the
Nile. This was indeed one of the branches of the great
river, but only one of them, and it was hardly more the
Nile than was the Mahmoud Canal in Alexandria, whose
waters are the same. The stream was muddy, flowing
high between its banks, and sometimes overflowing them,

and it was out of the question to admire such a mass of
mud. The hot sun shone fiercely on it, and the banks,
uninteresting in all respects, seemed to be broiling out a
patient existence, while here and there a collection of
mud huts, bee-hive like, gave the sole evidence of the life
of man in the Delta.
As the sun went down, the deck of the boat began to
present a strange spectacle. One by one the Mussulmans
went out on the little guard behind the wheel-house and
performed their ablutions in the prescribed style, and
then ascended the wheel-houses, kitchens, state-room
decks, and every other elevated place, and went through
the postures and prayers. It was certainly curious to
see a row of ten or fifteen men on each side of the deck
bowing in the strange but graceful forms of the Mohammedan
worship. We lay and looked at them till the
evening had passed into night, and then wrapping our
shawls around us, slept on the deck till roused by the
passage of the barrage .
This, it is not necessary to explain, is the magnificent
stone bridge intended to operate as a dam, which Mohammed
Ali projected, and his successors have continued
to its present state, across the Nile, at the point of the
Delta where it separates into different mouths, the object
being to raise the water somewhat higher and increase
the annual inundation. The wild appearance of the stone
piers, between which we passed, lit by immense torches
of blazing wood, and swarming with half-naked Arabs,
whose swarthy countenances glared on us in the flickering
light like the faces of so many fiends, roused us from
slumber; but we relapsed instantly into deeper sleep,
which remained unbroken until we arrived at Boulak,
the port of the modern city, and thence we drove swiftly,
by the light of a torch in the hands of a swift runner, up
the long avenue and into the gate of the Ezbekieh, and

were at, last in the city of the Mamelukes, Cairo the Victorious,
Cairo the Magnificent, Cairo the Beautiful, and
the Blessed.
Shall I confess it? There were two trains of thought
struggling for precedence in my mind during the first
half hour after my arrival, nor did the one gain entire
ascendancy until I was in bed and nearly asleep, as the
day was breaking over the red hills. The one was full
of all the wonderful creations of the Arabian Nights.
The heroes and all the natural and supernatural personages
of those exquisite imaginations were around me in
troops the moment I was within the city of Salah-e'deen.
With these spectres angels strove. I could call it nothing
else. Sublime and solemn memories, that forever linger
in this spot, of all the mighty men of that ancient religion,
of which our own is but the new form, of patriarchs
and holy men of old, of prophets and priests in later
days, who came down with the scattered remnant of the
line of Abraham; and last of all, of the mother of our
Lord, and his own infant footsteps; all these came to
drive away the genii that were around me, and before I
slept the seal of Solomon was over them again.

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Cairo the Victorious.

After four weeks in Cairo I began to feel at home.
With a reasonable amount of curiosity and perseverance,
one may accomplish a good deal in the way of studying
geography in that time.
What I did, and how I did it, it would be difficult, nay,
impossible even, in many instances, to describe. There
were morning rides along interminable narrow lanes,
where I would often lift my stick, just three feet long,
and holding it horizontally show Miriam, whose donkey
kept close behind mine everywhere, that that was the
exact width of the passage, called here a street, while the
overlapping lattices of the opposite houses shut out the
sunshine from above us. There were afternoon sittings
in the bazaars, on the shop front of Suleiman Effendi or
old Khamil the silk and embroidery merchant. One day
I was in the unknown depths of the well of Yusef in the
citadel, and another I was discussing history with Sheikh
Hassan in the Mosk el Azhar, and almost every morning
I smoked a sheeshee with Dr. Abbott, and talked of
ancient Egypt.
The modern Orient and the ancient East were thus
daily before me, and picking up a little Arabic for common
uses from day to day, I had soon but little need of a
dragoman, except as a guide to spots I desired to visit.


Some months later than this I saw Damascus. I was
disappointed in my hopes of reaching Bagdad, but I have
little doubt of the universal truth of my remark, that
Cairo is the most oriental city of the East. I use the
word in a sense in which most persons will understand
me without explanation. Damascus was more European
in external appearance; Cairo is the heart of the Orient.
During our first week in Cairo we had tried various
donkeys, and at length selected four which were much
the best, and these remained in our service for, a month.
I commend Mohammed Olan to all travelers as a
donkey-boy, if he be not already grown out of that position:
for he seemed in a fair way to emerge into a dragoman's
servant, that being first step toward being dragoman.
Donkey-boys pick up a little English and French,
and thus become fit for servants to travelers.
Every morning, therefore, our donkeys stood before
the door of the Indian Hotel, under the large lebbek
trees, on the side of the Ezbekieh, and a general shout
of good, morning welcomed our first appearance. The
ladies' saddles were English. All visitors to Egypt will
do well to provide themselves with these at Malta. In
Egypt, they will find them scarce, poor, and high-priced.
We took a regular morning gallop up the Mouski,
which is the chief Frank street, and leads directly to the
Turkish bazaars. In the latter our faces were well
If you visit them, O traveler, remember Suleiman
Effendi, for my sake. He is the oldest man, with the
longest and whitest beard, and he smokes the most delicious
Latakea of all the merchants in the bazaars within
the chains, which chains forbid the entrance of camels or
donkeys among the jewels and amber and rare silks and
broideries that there abound. Many summery noons I lost
in clouds of forgetfulness, seated in dreamy langour, with

Suleiman the Magnificent on his little shop front,
discoursing in words that were less frequent than the volleys
of smoke, subjects of profound interest: such as the
reason why the smoke went upward, and why the fire
seemed brighter in the shade than the sunshine, and
why the sunshine was pleasant, and why we liked what
was pleasant more than what was not pleasant, and many
other marvelous and inexplicable things, in regard to all
which we arrived at much the same conclusions, and
always with complete satisfaction.
Ah, my friend, you may not know the luxury of such
discussions—you who waste golden hours in idle words,
raising what you call theories, and disputing and annihilating
them, and sharpening and hurting one another's
intellects with useless and sounding words.
Not so we who have learned the mystery of things in
the cool shades of the Cairene bazaars, from whose lips,
blue smoke issues in place of theories; and is not the
smoke of equal value? For this was the style of our discussion:
“O Suleiman Effendi, wherefore is it that the sunshine
falls into the bazaar, and why does it not pause up
yonder above the, roof of the wakalla?”
And Suleiman heard me, but he was not the man to
bother himself about a matter which he could explain in
one word, and so he sent a cloud of blue smoke up into
the sunshine, and, after a pause of some minutes, uttered
the word,
“But, O Effendi, wherefore is it that you Mohammedans
do not look into these things? One would suppose
you did not care how soon the old roof over the
bazaars up yonder fell and crushed you. Will it not fall?
—look at it?”
The old man poured out a long sunbeam of smoke, for

the window in the crazy roof let the rays fall just before
him, and again ejaculated a guttural “Inshallah.”
“O Suleiman the honorable, listen to me. I, Braheem
Effendi, owe you a thousand piastres for the amber
mouth-piece I bought of you yesterday. I am American,
and there is no law in Musr to make me pay you. I
shall go without paying you.”
“I am going now.”
I dismounted from the shop front, shuffled on my
red slippers, and, as I bade him good-morning, the old
man uttered for once a somewhat disturbed “Bismillah,”
as if he were astonished that I was in earnest; and then
as I vanished in the crowd beyond the chains, he relapsed
into his ancient kief and left it all to God.
There is something comfortable about all this to a man
who has lived in fast America, and who has always had a
lazy inclination to leave matters to take care of themselves.
Sometimes we rode hour after hour around the streets
of Cairo, looking at old lattices, quaintly and elaborately
carved, catching once in a while the vision of a beautiful
face through some small opening, and carrying away with
us the blessings of smiles fro dark eyes. Ah me, how
many smiles I have had from unknown beauties that I
shall never see again; and yet, if one meets a fair woman
in the street, or on the steamer, or even but sees her on
the other side of a Cairene lattice, and exchanges a smile
with her, it is a thing of beauty to be remembered forever;
for who knows that we shall not meet again somewhere.
I wonder if I shall ever meet again that black-eyed
girl that looked at me in the street just inside the
Bab el Nasr. She was riding on a high-saddled donkey,
between two slaves, following three other women, who

looked all alike, and all like her. For a woman of Cairo,
who belongs to a wealthy hareem, is, when abroad, but a
huge bundle of black silk, with a thick white vail, through
which two eyes flash like stars.
I was last of our party—she last of hers—and, as she
went by me, suddenly her white hand threw back the
vail, and all the lustre of her magnificent countenance
shone on me. It was like those visions that we have in
drams that remain forever impressed on the memory. I
can never forget that face—nor would I, if I could. She
was not so exquisitely beautiful as the Greek girl I afterward
saw in a hareem in Syria, of whom I shall have somewhat
to say there, but her calm white face, her regular
features moulded in the most perfect manner, her red
lips ripe, full, and overflowing with fun, and, above all, her
eyes of deep, splendid beauty were enough to remember
for a day or a lifetime.
In one of our rambles about town, going up one street
and down another, without heeding whither they led us,
we found ourselves one day at the great entrance of the
mosk of the Sultan Hassan, and dismounted to enter
it. Outside the door were venders of trifles of various
sorts; a kind of old junk dealers, second-hand clothiers,
and sellers of paste and imitation jewelry. Among
them were venders of Meccan curiosities—sandal-wood
beads, and the wood, dipped in the holy well of Hagar,
which they use to clean their teeth with. All, or nearly
all, the Moslems have good teeth, kept white with this
wood, a small stick of which, chewed at one end, forms a
soft brush, which they use till the whole is worn away.
The mosk is a grand structure, chiefly interesting from
being built of the stone which was the casing of the
great Pyramid of Ghizeh. It is the most imposing structure
in all the Mohammedan countries I have visited, and
probably the most so in the Moslem world. The lofty

walls surround a rectangular court, one side of which
opens by a grand arch into an immense alcove, in the
rear of which is the inclosed chamber around the tomb of
the Sultan Hassan, who was murdered and buried here.
The guide shows the traveler the blood stains on the
pavement here, and says something unintelligible about
its being the blood of Mamelukes murdered by the sultan;
but I am inclined to think the fact is that the Mameluke
blood is of the times of Mohammed Ali.
On the tomb lie, as is the custom, a copy of the Koran
in a strong box, and sundry old coverings of silk, that
were once heavy and gorgeous. The days are past
when any one lived to cover the Sultan Hassan with
Immediately above the mosk, on the end of a projecting
spur of the Mokattam hills, stands the citadel of
Cairo, a small city in itself. The vast extent of the walls
must inclose ten or fifteen acres of ground, in which are
mosks, palaces, and government-houses.

High over all towers the white mosk of Mohammed
Ali, built of unpolished alabaster, from the quarries at
Tel el Amarna. Within the gorgeous building, which
can not be even approached except by first putting off
the shoes, the old viceroy lies quiet in a corner untroubled
by visions of Mamelukes. He sleeps on the very spot
that he once flooded with red blood, when he annihilated
that race which had so long ruled Egypt.
Standing by his tomb, I heard a story of his later years
that I have not seen printed. Whosoever has read that
story of the slaughter of the Mamelukes by Mohammed
Ali, has observed, that in whatever volume it occurs, it
invariably closes with the friendship that the viceroy
always afterward had for Suleiman Aga, who escaped
the massacre in the dress of an old woman. The viceroy
professed to doubt the method of his escape. Suleiman

tried the disguise on his master again, and successfully
begged from him in the same costume.
The alleged affection of the viceroy was not uniform,
however. He hated a Mameluke, and not even Suleiman
escaped his hatred.
One morning as they sat cozily together as of old, Suleiman
saw something that disturbed his quiet of soul,
either in the face of his master. or in the cup before him.
“Why don't you drink your coffee?” said the old
“Do you wish me to drink it?”
“Certainly. Drink it, man—drink.”
The Mameluke tucked back the voluminous folds of his
dress, and exhibited to the viceroy the gold handles of a
half dozen pistols, on one of which he laid his finger,
while his eye sparkled silently all that he would have
“‘It is well to die in good company,’ saith the tradition;
shall I drink?”
There was no one near to seize him. It was literally a
case of life and death. The wily monarch saw that he
was caught.
“Tush! nonsense, Suleiman! don't make a fool of
yourself. If you don't like your coffee, here, I'll pour it
behind the cushion;” and he did so. Then they sent for
the Koran, and laid it down between them, and swore
good faith each to the other across it. After that Suleiman
lived to see his master buried in his great mosk
standing on the spot once red with the blood of his
slaughtered friends.
Another day's ride brought us to the southernmost
gate of the city; and thence we pushed on to the tombs
of the family of Mohammed Ali, which are not far southwest
of Cairo, in the sandy plain between it and old
Cairo or Fostat. Here the great viceroy built a mosk

for a burial-place, and before he died saw many of his
valiant children laid there; but himself sleeps elsewhere,
in the great mosk within the citadel.
Here Abbas and Toossoon, and the great Ibrahim are
buried. The tomb of the latter is a most superb sepulchral
monument; and probably, with the solitary exception
of that of Napoleon, it is the most splendid in the
world. It is a monumental structure of marble, over
which a rich mazarine blue enamel is laid, covering the
entire monument. This is broken by the various inscriptions,
which are in relief, sharply cut from the marble, in
all the styles of character known to the Arabic, and all
gilded. The effect is rich and dazzling.
Here and there, in the mosk, men were praying and
reading aloud from the Koran, but none seemed disturbed
by our entrance. It was with no common emotion that
I found myself standing by the tomb of the man whom
history will consider as the rival of Napoleon among the
great warriors of the past seventy years. From it I
walked a little distance across the hot sand to the grave
of Murad Bey, the rival of Le Beau Sabreur himself. His
tomb is in a sort of inclosed grave-yard, in the dry sand,
covered with a rude stone structure that will not outlast
this century. If a voice could be found that had power
to open these graves and show these dead, as they lie
with their hands under their cheeks, and their faces
toward the Prophet's tomb, what a scene would the dead
of Egypt present! What mighty califs of the old lines,
what fierce soldiers of later days, with closed lips, and
sightless eyes, and shrunken features—all with their thin
faces toward Mecca!
Every one has read of the beautiful and airy structures
east of Cairo, known as the tombs of the Mameluke sultans.
Some on has spoken of them as exhalations from
the sand. They are in sadly ruinous condition now,

chiefly surrounded by mud huts, and their doorways
thronged by begging fellaheen and naked children. They
were our favorite resorts in the afternoons, when we had
nowhere else to ride to, and thither, going out of the
Bab el Nasr, the gate of victory, we would ride slowly
and watch the changing lights on their graceful minarets
as the sun went down behind the pyramids.
Such, from day to day, was our employment in Cairo.
Think of looking up your banker at the bottom of a
street four feet wide and four hundred long, or of buying
a coat over a chibouk and a cup of coffee!
The bazaars of Cairo have been frequently described.
The streets are a little wider where the shops abound,
and are usually roofed over, admitting sunshine by windows
in the matting or close roof, only at mid-day. Business
hours are from about eleven to three. No shop is
open longer in the principal bazaars. I have more than
once found a merchant closing his shop and have been
refused an article I wished to purchase.
“Come to-morrow. I am going home now.”
“But I shall not be here to-morrow.”
“Inshallah!” and he looked up and departed.
At mid-day the bazaars are crowded, jammed, with
passers-by or purchasers, women with vailed faces, and
donkeys loaded with water-skins, Turks, Bedouins, camels,
dromedaries, and horses, all mingled together, for sidewalk
or pavement there is none, and it is therefore at the
risk of constant pressure against the filthiest specimens
of humanity, and constant collisions with nests of fleas
and lice, that one passes through the narrow streets.
I remember well the purchase of a common traveling
dress which Miriam effected, and which will serve to
illustrate the Cairene and Eastern style of business. We
went to the silk-merchants in the wealthiest bazaar of
Cairo. One and another showed his small stock of goods,

but it was with difficulty that Miriam hit on such as
suited her. When this was found, commenced the business
of determining the price. The shop of the Turkish
merchant is but a small cupboard. The front is invariably
about the size of an ordinary shop window in America,
say six feet wide by eight high. The floor of the
shop is elevated two feet above the street, and on a carpet
in the middle of the floor sits the merchant. His
shop is so small that every shelf is within reach of his
hands. Of these shops there are thousands in Cairo, and
whatever the business, the shop is of the same description.
Miriam sat on the right hand of the merchant, with her
feet in the street over the front of the shop; I on his left.
The silk goods lay piled on the carpet between us, the
pieces she had selected being uppermost. The first step
toward price was a cup of coffee and a pipe. She took
coffee; I smoked quietly a few minutes, and the Turk
smoked as calmly and coolly as if there was no silk on
earth, and he was dreaming of heaven. For some minutes
the silence was unbroken, while he looked at the opposite
side of the street, and we blew a tremendous cloud
of smoke. At length I broke the silence.
“How much?”
He smoked calmly awhile, sent the cloud slowly up,
and the words came from his lips as gently as the smoke
“Three hundred and seventy-five piastres.”
“I will give you one hundred and fifty.”
“It cost me more money than twice that.”
“It is not worth any more.”
“It is very beautiful. I sold one like it yesterday for
three hundred and eighty.”
“I will not give it.”
Five minutes of smoke and silence. Miriam most decidedly

impatient, and yet full of fun at this novel mode
of buying a dress. A fresh pipe and a fresh start. I
asked him the least he would take. It was three hundred.
I laid down the pipe, sighed heavily, and walked
away down the bazaar toward the donkey-boys. He followed
us out and down the street, calmly and quietly assuring
us that he was honorable in his statements, and
offering a reduction of ten piastres more. I offered him
two hundred. He exclaimed in despair and retired.
Having, made one or two other purchases, we returned
to the charge. He had spread his praying carpet, and
was kneeling in his shop engaged in his devotions. A
dozen other Mussulmans were in sight, doing as he. It
was the hour when the voice of the muezzin called to
prayer, and though in the din and bustle of the crowded
bazaar I had not, heard it, yet on the ears of these sincere
worshipers it had fallen from the minaret of Kalaoon, and
they obeyed the summons.
We waited till he had finished, and then resumed our
seats and negotiations, which were finally terminated by
our coming together on an intermediate point, and the
sale being closed, we mounted our donkeys and rode
homeward. This was but the first of a dozen similar
negotiations, and is a fair specimen of the Cairene manner
of doing business.
But let no one therefore imagine that my friend Suleiman
Effendi is not as respectable a merchant as any man
on 'change in Gotham, or because he smokes a pipe and
not a cigar think him either low in his tastes or susceptible
of ignoble influences. Suleiman is a merchant-prince,
and his Latakea is of irreproachable fragrance.

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The Footprints of the Patriarchs.

We had not yet decided on a dragoman for the Nile.
Abrams, our Maltese servant, had accepted an offer from
some gentlemen, and was preparing to go up the river
with them. Meantime we had for a daily attendant and
guide a stately-looking Arab, Hajji Ismael, by name,
whose chief virtue consisted in his splendid outfit. Every
morning he made his appearance in a new suit from head
to foot, now flashing in silk and now dignified in broadcloth.
The fellow must have worn some hundred pounds'
worth of clothing, but failing thereby to impress us with
a sense of his desirableness as a permanent dragoman, he
gave up in despair, having at last been reduced to appear
twice in the same shoes, although in all other respects
his change was as complete as usual.
Marshalled by Hajji Ismael, Hajji (pilgrim) by virtue
of having visited the Prophet's tomb at Medina and the
holy Kaaba at Mecca, we penetrated all manner of places
and saw all manner of sights.
Cairo in itself possesses no interest by reason of any
great antiquity. It does not stand on ground that is hallowed
by any ancient name, story, or ruins. The founding
of Cairo, known formerly as Musr-el-Kahira, was in
the year 969, but the city received its greatest embellishments,
and became most powerful and wealthy, under the

reign of Yusef Salah-e'deen, known to all readers of the
history of the crusades.
Ancient Memphis stood on the west side of the Nile,
and some four to eight miles higher up than Boulak.
Cairo stands on the desert edge, its eastern gates opening
on the sand, and its western on the rich fields of sugarcane
and groves of palms and acacia, which, in a belt two
miles wide, separate the city from the river. On the river
edge, stretching a mile and a half north and south, is
Boulak, from which two broad avenues run up to the
city. At the southern part of Boulak commences a row
of palaces on the bank of the river, which is here divided
on two sides of the island of Rhoda, and these continue in
unbroken succession two miles southward, to the head of
Rhoda, where, on the mainland, is Old Cairo , or Fostat.
This occupies the site of the Roman station Babylon, and
in its neighborhood are certain ancient Christian churches,
of which I shall speak hereafter. Prior to Roman times
the cities in this part of Egypt were Memphis, on the
west bank, and Heliopolis, on the east, the latter lying six
miles north of the site of Cairo, on the desert edge.
Once for all, let me say to those few who do not already
know it, that Egypt south of the Delta (which
commences about twenty miles north of Cairo) is on an
average four miles wide. The hills on the two sides of
the river are about that distance apart, sometimes approaching
on one side to the very river's edge, and sometimes
on the other. Between the bases of these hills the
land is for the most part a dead water level, annually
covered by the rising Nile. The villages are usually
built at the foot of the mountains. Where otherwise,
they are on artificial mounds in the plain, or on the ruins
of ancient temples. These hills are rocky cliffs, utterly
destitute of vegetation. Yellow sand pours down over
them from the Arabian and the Libyan deserts, and sometimes

encroaches on the cultivated land. The hills on
the eastern side of the Nile, after following the course
of the river as far as to Cairo, send a single low spur into
the city, on the point of which is the citadel, and then
sweep off to the eastward and disappear. From Cairo
eastward, the desert reaches in general on a level to
Suez, and north of this Egypt grows broader, the Nile
separating into many streams, and rain not being so unfrequent.
The Nile being now high, for it was yet early in October,
the country was still overflowed, and it was impossible
to arrange for a visit to the pyramids without taking
tents and remaining there over night. The ladies
were not yet accustomed to hardship, and we were unwilling
to break into nomadic life thus suddenly.

Heliopolis was almost as difficult of access, except by a
route along the desert edge, which was some miles longer
than the direct route by Matareeyeh. Nevertheless, we
tried it one pleasant morning with success.
Hajji Ismael was out in a new dress. It was his
eighth morning, I think, and his eighth dress. The
donkey-boys were rejoicing in the prospect of a good
day, for a long expedition always made necessary a luncheon,
which they were very certain of sharing. I
can not too highly commend Mr. Williams's Indian Hotel
to travelers; though small, it is by far the best and most
comfortable in Egypt, and the stranger will find himself
there most perfectly at home. They always provided us
with a capital luncheon when we went away for a day's
ride, and so to-day.
We rattled along the Ezbekieh and through innumerable
narrow streets, and at last ont of a gate on the
north side of the city, and across the country toward the
ancient city on On.
Our route lay just within the edge of cultivated land;

we should have done better to keep out on the sand of
the desert, for we found ourselves at length in a field
from which there was no dry outlet but on the back
track. The appearance of the water was not very deep,
and we ventured in. But we had not calculated for the
mud underneath. Nearly a fourth of a mile we advanced
through the water, and then the mud deepened. Miriam's
donkey slipped, and but for the boys who caught
her, she would have been worse than drowned. They
carried her on their shoulders across the rest of the flood,
and we then continued our way, through all kinds of
paths, wet and dry, mud and sand, sunny and shady, till
we arrived at Matareeyeh and the fig-tree of Joseph and
The tradition that the Saviour rested under this tree is
very ancient, but of how early a date it is impossible to
say. The Copts and Armenians, I believe, both adopt it.
It stands in a fenced garden, and the well of water near
it is said to be a fountain that burst out to satisfy the
Virgin's thirst.
Passing this, we saw at some distance from us, rising
over the dense mass of trees and shrubs that surrounded
it, the solitary obelisk of Heliopolis. Just before reaching
it we passed three great pieces of stone, evidently
parts of a gateway, on which we found the cartouche of
Thothmes III. the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
It was the first of the great antiquities of Egypt that I
had seen, and I paused here with perhaps somewhat more
of respect than I should give those stones now after five
months among the mighty ruins of this oldest countries.
But there is nevertheless a something about those
stones which give them an interest that scarcely any others have.
If, as we believe, Thothmes III. was the Pharaoh of the
days of Moses, then this may well have been part of the

gateway to his palace temple through which the great
lawgiver passed and repassed, in the days of the captivity
and deliverance of the children of Jacob. It was no idle
fancy, strangely as it may strike the ear of one unaccustomed
to the antiquity of Egypt. A few paces more
brought us to the obelisk, the solitary memorial of the
grandeur of the great city of the times of Joseph.
This monument bears the name of Osirtasen, and the
date of this monarchs probably not far from the time of
Abraham. As I shall elsewhere speak of the chronology
of Egypt, I shall not pause here to speak of the chronological
differences among Egyptian scholars. For our
present purposes it is enough to believe that this magnificent
column stood here when Jacob blessed his children
and departed, and when Joseph charged them to carry
his bones into the Land of Promise. Around it then
gathered the most splendid palaces of Egypt; and here,
perhaps, was held the court to which the old wanderer of
Canaan came. But of that old glory nothing remains.
The obelisk stands ten feet below the surface of the surrounding
earth, in an excavation made to exhibit its base,
and under the mounds that lie here and there about it
are the buried ruins of the City of the Sun. We sat in
the shadow of the obelisk and spread before us our lunch.
It was of bread, figs, dates, pomegranates, and oranges,
and each of these fruits was growing, in profusion within
twenty yards of us, as well as olives, custard apples, bamia,
and melons of every kind. The obelisk stands in the
centre of a garden of perhaps twenty acres of good land,
and around this the desert rolls barren and hot. It would
seem that the peculiar interest attached to this spot as
the City of Joseph, as well as the chief seat of learning
in later years, where Plato and the other great philosophers
studied and taught, has been specially provided for
in the luxuriance of the fruits and products of its soil; so

that, instead of the shining sand that covers Memphis
and lies around the pyramids, we have the grove of the
Academy to rest in while we listen to the voice of its
great teacher.
In the neighborhood of Heliopolis I had opportunity
to see the method of cultivation adopted by the modern
No land is under cultivation which is not reached by
the Nile overflow, or by simple machines for raising water
and pouring it on the soil. Rain being no dependence,
irrigation is continued throughout the growing season.
So soon as the Nile retires the surface of the ground
bakes hard. This is broken up by the rude plow of ancient
and modern times, unchanged since the days of
Sesostris, and the soil then planted and steadily watered
till the fruit is ripe.
Canals, large and small, intersect the country everywhere.
Let it be remembered that the arable land of
Egypt is almost a perfect level, so that when the Nile
rises to a certain height it flows over all the land in every
direction, and canals continue the supply as the river falls.
Some lands, rescued from the desert, are on a level a few
feet higher, and others are not so low as to be covered
by the Nile in a year like this, when it does not reach its
full height. Every field, high or low, is intersected by
little canals, made by heaping the dirt up and hollowing
a trench in it, so that the field is divided, like a chessboard,
into a number of small squares. These trenches
are supplied with water by two processes. The larger
trenches, which run several miles, are supplied by wheels
at the Nile or in the canals, which are turned by cattle,
and which raise an endless chain of earthen pots of water.
A pump is unknown in Egypt. The smaller canals are
supplied by a shadoof, which is arranged precisely like
an old-fashioned well-pole in America, except that the

swing is so short that the man holds the bucket almost
constantly in his hand, and dips and empties, dips and
empties, all day long. Up the river the shadoof is used
on the side of the Nile instead of the water-wheel; and
everywhere for the purpose of lifting water from one
trench to another that will water a few acres of land that
is higher in grade.
A very simple contrivance for the same purpose is often
found in the fields. It is a basket, made of palm-leaves
or some other stout substance, swung on four ropes, two
in the hands of one man and two of another. The men
sit on opposite sides of the stream or pool of water supplied
from a canal or trench, and drop the basket into the
water. Then they raise it rapidly, swinging it at the
same time over the top of the higher trench into which
they wish to lift the water, and at the same instant slacken
two of the ropes so as to allow the water to fall
out. The rapidity and ease with which they continue
this labor from morning till night is no less a source of
surprise than the quantity of water they raise, keeping a
steady stream running from their place of work
Oftentimes a piece of land is rescued from the desert
and made into a beautiful garden. Almost as often the
desert covers over a garden and reclaims it for part of
its empire of desolation. Thus at Heliopolis it would appear
that the basin, which may be formed by the ruined
wall of an ancient temple, over which the sand has heaped
itself up, suggested to some one the idea of bringing the
Nile into it and watering the sand. With the Nile came
alluvial deposit, and with the deposit fruitfulness—such
fruitfulness as we seldom see even on our western prairies.
In this small farm, around the old stone, grows
every variety of eastern fruit. Oranges swing in clusters
against its very sides, and pomegranates, and figs, and
olives, are all found in the grounds, while vines and vegetables

abound. A mud village stands on the edge of the
desert, two or three hundred yards from the obelisk, and
is the modern successor of the great On. Alas! for the
difference. A crowd of women and children followed us
through the narrow winding street, shouting for money,
until we were fairly out of their district, and they regarded
us as within the “right of begging” of the next
On the way home, I found good shooting along the
edge of the desert. I had my gun with me, and having
missed a shot at a flock of ibis, I loaded my barrels more
carefully, and had afterward better success. It is a curious
fact, that the air of Egypt is so very light and clear
that the same quantity of gunpowder carries shot and
ball much further than elsewhere, and the load of a gun
is to be reduced nearly one-third for correct shooting.
This I found instantly by the peculiar ring of the barrels
on firing, and I learned afterward that such is the case in
Desert partridges, so called, abound in this neighborhood.
They have but one characteristic which should
entitle them to be called partridges. That is the feathered
legs. In other respects they are more like a large
pigeon in shape, and their color is of a nondescript,
desert-sand sort of a color, not marked regularly in any
specimens that I have seen. I had two or three shots at
them, and had some half dozen to bring home for dinner.
Add to these a large hawk, and an eagle, as the boys
called it, but in fact a vulture, measuring about four feet
from tip to tip, and you have the contents of my game-bag,
which, by-the-by, was the loose bosom of the shirt
of one of the boys, which was our constant receptacle for
articles to be carried.
Returning homeward, we diverged somewhat from the
direct path, and crossed the hills to look again at the

tombs of the Mameluke sultans. Sadly ruinous, and as
sadly beautiful, they seemed in the sunset light like representatives
of the religion of Mohammed, sprung gloriously
from the desert, and fast falling again into the
wastes of sand. The most beautiful of these, that of the
sultan, Ghait Bey, who died in 1496, is worthy of preservation,
as the most exquisite specimen of eastern architecture
which the East can produce. Within the
mosk which is attached to the tomb, and under the
dome, stands a block of black stone, bearing the impress
of a human foot, said to be the foot of the Prophet.
Another stone in the same mosk bears the perfect impression
of two feet, also attributed to the same great
origin, but I think the, two footprints rather stagger the
faith of the Mussulmans. They were very earnest in
pressing their kisses on the single footprint, but they
only glanced at the other stone, although its casing of
silver was as rich, and its impressions were quite as deep.
We entered the city by the Bab el Nasr, the gate of

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Prayers and Coffee.

I have met all sorts of derweeshes (I am particular in
spelling this word as it is pronounced) in the East, and
have been alternately blessed and cursed by an infinite
number. There was one fellow in Cairo who cursed me
regularly. If there is any virtue in his anathemas my
case is hopeless. I met him daily, he was daily impertinent
in his demands, thrust his wooden plate, smelling
vilely, under my nose, utterly heedless of my refined sensibility
of nerve in that region, and stopped my donkey
with new impudence every successive day. As soon
as I picked up enough Arabic for the purpose I cursed
him back, and, after that, almost any pleasant day, you
might have seen a funny group at the corner of the
Mouski, by the police office. He cursed by Mohammed,
and I by St. Simeon Stylites; he invoked Allah, and I
hurled at him the anger of Juggernaut. He never
dreamed of half the gods and prophets that I showered
on his unlucky head, and, at last, I converted him. That
is to say he ceased cursing and began to question, and
then I had him.
We sat down together on a mat, under the shade of
one of the great lebbek trees, on the east side of the
Ezbekieh (which, be it known, is a vast open square,
once a lake, now filled up, and luxuriant with all manner

of trees and herbs). A curious crowd gathered around
us, while I informed him of some of the deities I had invoked,
their history and powers, and thereby endeavored
to enlighten him in the general subject of natural religion
as a groundwork to true revelation.
I think I got more out of him than he from me, for I
learned somewhat about derweeshes.
A derweesh is a man who has vowed to lead a religious
life. This may be esteemed a general definition.
There are many classes of them. A sort of freemasonry
exists among each of these, but no man because a derweesh
is therefore obliged to renounce his business. I
know of nothing to prevent the sultan himself becoming
one, and retaining his throne. Many classes of them profess
to perform miracles, thrusting swords through their
bodies pins through their cheeks, spikes into their eyes,
and all this without leaving wounds. The most squalid
wretches in the streets of an eastern city are derweeshes,
naked, with the exception of a piece of sheepskin around
the loins, who go about begging, or lie in stupid inanity
in the crowded markets.
My new acquaintance invited me to visit the college
to which he belonged, but this was out of my power
then. We parted pleasantly, and after that, he looked
calmly at me, as a man whose prodigious learning he was
bound to respect, and I paid him liberally for his silent
As we separated, I observed a Punch and Judy tent
near by, and, paying five paras (one cent), went in. The
scene was undeniably the most ludicrous I ever saw at a
theatrical performance, Neapolitan or of a higher grade.
Twenty Egyptians, old and young, sat on the ground,
with large open eyes fixed on the puppets. Punch beat
Judy, and shouted bad Arabic, and Judy screamed in
the most horrible of dialects. But it was all Hebrew to

these poor devils. They enjoyed it. It was a sort of
miracle of wonderment; but as to fun—that never entered
their heads: and when it was over, they retired as
solemnly as if they had heard preaching in a mosk.
Voluntary religious meetings, gotten up by the derweeshes,
are of hourly occurrence in the streets and
coffee shops. A few of them will erect a pole, with
flaunting silk flags on it, and begin to surround it with a
monotonous dance or motion of the body. Volunteers
enter, and join the increasing circle, until it not infrequently
numbers from fifty to a hundred persons.
As we were returning one afternoon from the citadel,
and entered the Ezbekieh square, near the Oriental Hotel,
I caught sight of one of these assemblies surrounding a
pole, and commencing their devotional service of dancing
and singing. We paused to see them, and sat on our
donkeys outside of the ring, in which some fifty men,
dressed in various costumes, were swinging their heads
and bodies from side to side, and giving utterance, at
each jerk, to a hoarse guttural exclamation. This
movement became very rapid. Not infrequently one of
them would cry out “Allah!” in a voice of thunder.
They then formed two rings, those in the inner facing
those in the outer, and swinging toward each other, they
shouted the same strange sound at each swing. Their
faces became convulsed; they foamed at the mouth, they
screamed, tossed their hair, embraced each other, and
called on God with the same hoarse cry.
We were deeply impressed with the scene. We had
gone as closely up to the outside of the ring as we could
ride, and the crowd of spectators had made way for us,
so that we were directly behind the outer ring, and our
donkeys' heads were close to the performers, when suddenly
—imagine our horror!—Miriam's donkey, being
evidently taken with the scene and affected by it, elevated

his head and nose between the heads of two of the
derweeshes—one an old man with flowing gray hair and
beard, the other a young man with long dark locks—and
gave utterance to such a cry as none but an Egyptian
donkey can imitate. It was like the blast of a hundred
cracked trumpets or fish-horns. Never were men so
frightened as were the two derweeshes. They nearly fell
into the ring with terror, Mohammed, the boy, in an
agony of despair, sprang to his donkey's head and seized
his jaws with both hands. Vain endeavor! He but interrupted
the terrific sound, and made it tenfold worse
as it escaped from second to second, and at length he
gave it up and fell to the ground. It was too much for
Mussulman gravity. They looked at us furiously at first,
but the next instant a universal scream of laughter broke
from the surrounding crowd, and we rode off in the midst
of it. Even Mohammed Olan, superstitious Arab that he
was (for he told me that very day that he had seen an
Efrite the night before) enjoyed the fun of the things, and
muttered to his mistress as he ran by her side, “He good
Mussulman donkey.”
Our Friday is the Moslem seventh day of rest, or of
special devotion. We selected one Friday to visit the
chief college of the derweeshes on the Nile where we
could see the whirling, and hear the howling. Leaving
the hotel at an early hour in the morning, provided with
luncheon in case of necessity, we went first to Old Cairo ,
and visited the Mosk of Amer, which is the most
ancient of the buildings of the modern Egyptians. It
was erected about A.D. 860, and there is a tradition connected
with it, and firmly relied on the Moslems,
that when it falls the crescent will wane. If it be true,
the fall of the Moslems can not be far distant. Already
the great walls have fallen in, and lie in crumbling
heaps within the sacred inclosure; and splendid columns

and gorgeous capitals are here and there in the sand and
dust, miserable emblems of the fading glory of the power
that has so long controlled the East. Near the entrance
are two marble columns of somewhat amusing history.
They stand close together on the same pedestal; and, in
former times, when the mosk was in its glory, these
two pillars were the shibboleth of the faith. If a man
could pass between them he might hope to pass the gates
of Paradise. If he were too great in body—if the good
things of the world had so increased his rotundity that
he might not squeeze his mortal parts through the narrow
passage—then it was very certain that his immortal soul
could never hope to see the houries. Alas! for the decay
of the mosk and the trembling of the old faith. There
was no one of us that could not readily pass between the
pillars, though they stand firmly as ever, and do not seem
worn by the myriads who have tried themselves here. I
did stick at first. I confess that the flesh-pots of Egypt
have added to my usually respectable size so much that
my vest buttons caught on the inner post, and for a
moment I thought my anti-Mohammedanism settled.
But doubtless these later years of Frank innovations have
tended to relax the strictness of the faith, for I went
through without difficulty after one vigorous attempt,
and the others followed me.
The service, if I may so call it—the Zikr—at the derweesh
mosk was to commence at one o'clock. We had
an hour before us, and so we took a boat at the ferry
from Old Cairo to Ghizeh, and went over to the island of
Rhoda to see the Nilometer.
It is on the upper end of the island, adjoining the
palace of Hassan Pacha, and consists of a graduated stone
pillar in the centre of an open well. Its age has been a
subject of much discussion; but no one, I believe, thinks
of placing it before Mohammedan times.


We saw but little of it, for the Nile was up to within
three inches of the top. But here, on the upper end of
Rhoda, for the first time, we saw the Nile, the great
river, and our enthusiasm was now at the fullest. We
stood on the marble portico of the palace facing up the
stream, which is divided here, and saw the lordly river
come down in all its majesty, and roll its waves to either
side of us, and away to the great sea. Here it was the
Nile. No dream, no half river, no small stream of dashing
water, but that great river of which we had read,
thought, and dreamed; the river on which princes in
long-forgotten years had floated palaces and temples from
far up, down to their present abode; the river which
Abraham saw , and over which Moses stretched out his
arm in vengeance; where the golden barge of Cleopatra
swept with perfumed breezes, and when, but a few years
later, she was dead and her magnificence gone, the feeble
footsteps of the Son of God, in infancy on earth, hallowed
the banks that the idolatry of thousands of years had
cursed; the river of which Homer sang, and Isaiah prophesied,
and in whose dark waters fell the tears of the
weeping Jeremiah; the river of which all poets wrote,
all philosophers taught, all learning, all science, all art
spoke for centuries. The waters at our feet, murmuring,
dashing, brawling against the foundation of the palace,
come by the stately front of Abou Simbal, had loitered
before the ruins of Phiæ, had dashed over the cataracts
and danced in the starlight by Luxor and Karnak. From
what remote glens of Africa, from what Ethiopian plains
they rose, we did not now pause to think, but having
looked long and earnestly up the broad reach of the
river, we turned into the palace, and after pipes and
coffee, the universal gift of hospitality here, we returned
to our boat.
We drifted slowly down the river by the spot where

tradition says that Moses was hid in the rushes, to the
village of the derweeshes, that stands on the bank, among
the palaces that stretch from Boulak to Old Cairo .
They received us with the utmost politeness. There
was no bigoted hatred of Christians visible. On the contrary,
they gave us seats in the cool court-yard, under
the trees, and brought us coffee, and talked as pleasantly
as heart could desire. Fifty wild looking men stood
around us, gazing indeed somewhat curiously at our
costume, but not in the least offended at our visit; and
when the hour for commencing worship arrived, they
brought us coffee again, and then conducted us into their
mosk, where we took our seats on the matting at the
western side. About eighty men stood in a semicircle,
with their faces to the south-east, the centre of the circle
being the arched niche which is always left in a mosk
on the side toward Mecca, by way of guiding the prayers
of the faithful in that direction. Musical instruments
hung on the wall, and some of the worshipers used them,
taking down one and putting up another from time to
time. The service consisted in swinging backward and
forward in time with the leader, a noble-looking man,
who walked around the inner side of the circle, and uttering
at each swing a violent groan, or rather a deep,
strong sob. For half an hour this motion was steady;
then it became more rapid. They swung the body forward,
leaning down until their hair swept the floor in
front, and threw themselves backward with a sudden,
swift bend until it again touched the floor behind them.
The velocity of this motion may be guessed at from the
fact, that for the space of more than an hour the hair
never rested or fell on the head, but continually described
a larger circle than the head in this motion.
In the mean time a man dressed in a long white hooped
dress, tight at the waist, and some twenty feet in circumference

at the bottom of the skirt, slid into the centre of
the half circle, and commenced a slow revolution, apparently
as gentle and easy as if he stood on a wheel turned
by machinery. After a minute, during which he swung
out his skirts and started fairly, his speed increased. His
hands were at first on his breast, then one on each side
of his head; and when the full speed was attained, they
were stretched out horizontally, the right hand on his
right side, with the palm turned up, and the left hand on
its side, with the palm down. For twenty-four minutes,
without pause, rest, or change of speed, he continued to
whirl around like a top. The velocity was exactly fifty-five
revolutions to the minute. I timed it frequently, and
was astonished at the regularity. This was not a long
performance. It is oftentimes an hour, and even two or
three hours, in duration. After this man retired, another
took his place, and all the time the excitement in the
outer circle was increasing. Some shouted, some howled
out the name of God. “Allah! Allah!” rang in the dome
of the mosk from eighty voices; and now all the musical
instruments, including a dozen large and small drums, added to the terrible noise.
Suddenly the noble-looking man, the leader of the
revel, turned and faced the city of the prophet, and instantly
all was silent. Some fell on the pavement in convulsions,
others stood trembling from head to foot, evidently
past all self control, while others pounded their
heads in the stones and gnashed their teeth. Those who
were in fits—for it was nothing else—of epilepsy, were
taken care of by attendants, who also advanced to those
who were still standing, and, placing their arms around
them, bent them gently down to their knees, and left
them so. It was a scene not a little touching, after, the
terrible confusion, to see those silent frames bowed down

before their God in the dim mosk. We came away and
left them there.
All this seems to the reader a story of incredible fanaticism.
We think so of such stories when the scene is laid
in remote countries; but I can not forbear remarking,
that the whole scene was startlingly like to many, very
many, that I have seen in America, in religious assemblies,
even to the minutest particulars. The excitement,
the throwing of the head backward and forward, foaming
at the mouth; the loud shouts—“O Lord!” “God!”
“God help us!” and the like; the faintings; the epilepsy;
every thing was familiar to us, and will be so to
many who read this. It is certainly a remarkable fact,
and it is a fact, that in a zikr of the howling derweeshes
of Cairo I saw a scene more like familiar scenes in American
than any other that I saw in Egypt.
I can not close this chapter without contrasting this
with another worship that we joined in frequently in the
city of Salah-e' deen.
The American mission, by what societies sustained I do
not know, is doing its work silently, but successfully, in
the city. In the cholera season, when all others, including
the English missionary, fled in dismay, these young
men, and their young wives, remained at their posts,
buried the dead, and consoled, as well as they were able,
the living, winning a position that they will never lose.
The English residents presented them with a handsome
testimonial of their gratitude; and I could wish some
more enduring record of their bravery than these pages.
Sometimes a half dozen; sometimes ten persons, always
more or less, assembled on Sunday afternoon in the
rooms of Rev. Mr. Martin; and here we worshiped God
in the old home fashion, with the Psalms of David to
sing; and hence I am afraid that I must confess my
thoughts oftener than heavenward went wandering back

to the old meeting-house in the up-country, and the beloved
voices that sang the Psalms there in the long-gone
years, and that sing them now with David in the upper

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La Illah Il Allah.

Days, weeks, and months, go dreamily along in this
old land, and the evenings and nights have holier starlight
and profounder depths of beauty than in any other
country that my feet have wandered through.
For the day-time, whether in the street among the
dark-browed, liquid-eyed sons of Ishmael, or wandering
over the hills around the city, and surveying the proud
sites of old glories, life was like a long dream.
Shall I ever forget that first evening after our arrival,
when Miriam and I, far wanderers together through life,
and to be yet farther wanderers together on hills of Holy
Land, stood on a mound to the northward of the city,
one of those inexplicable mounds of broken pottery, fifty,
a hundred feet high, and broken earthenware all of it,
which surround Cairo on the north and east, and looked
at the setting sun beyond the desert? A cool north wind
was blowing freshly. The donkeys stood facing it, their
sharp ears erect. The boys lay on the sand chattering in
Arabic to each other. The dragoman, in full and flowing
dress, a short distance in the rear, stood in that attitude
of grace that no one but an Oriental can hope to attain
to. We four, the only Americans in all the land of Egypt
who do not call this their home, stood close together,
watching the sun go down the western sky. It was high

noon at home. New York was bustling, shouting, noisy
New York; and in our homes—how much we would have
given to know of them at that instant—who can tell us
of the beloved ones there? The moon came out from the
sky, silver as never moon was silver to our eyes before.
The muezzin calls had ceased, and the faithful had ceased
to pray. As the night deepened, object after object disappeared,
and only Cairo the Blessed was before us, shining
in the soft light; but away on the horizon, standing
on the Libyan desert edge, calm, silent, solemn, and awful,
we still saw the majesty of the pyramids.
I was off, one morning, among the mosks of Cairo.
We directed our way first to the Mosk of Tooloon, which
is the oldest in the modern city.
This is said to be the precise copy in miniature of the
great mosk at Mecca, and it is certainly the most imposing
of the Mohammedan structures of Cairo. Its very
age makes it the more stately, though it is now desecrated
into a poor-house. It surrounds a square, each side of
which is perhaps four or six hundred feet long, and is
built with pointed arches, being the earliest known specimen
of the style. Its date is about A. D. 880, and its
huge columns stand as firmly as they stood a thousand
years ago. The minaret, on the western side of the
court, is constructed somewhat singularly, having a winding
stairway outside the tower. Whereof the tradition
is, that the founder, being reproached by his Grand
Vizier for wasting his time in twisting a piece of paper,
replied that he was planning a minaret to his new mosk
up which he might ride on horseback; and so it was
made. But it is not very similar, for the staircase makes
but one turn around the tower.
Nevertheless, it is profoundly interesting to stand in a
spot where, daily, for a thousand years, the prayers of
men have been offered up; where the stones are worn

with the knees of sincere if mistaken believers; where
there has never been a day, since the ninth century, when
the voice of the muezzin was not heard across the court
and through the shadowy arches, uttering that simple
and sublime passage that has been so often uttered above
this city, and all the East, that one might think the air
would sound it with its own morning winds forever after:
“God is great. There is no deity but God. Mohammed
is God's apostle. Come to prayer, come to prayer; prayer
is better than sleep; come to prayer. God is most great.
There is no god but God.”
At noonday and at sunsetting the same chant has filled
these arches with solemn melody. One can not stand and
hear it now without feeling that the voice is the same
voice that uttered it ten centuries ago, though the men
through whose thin lips it escaped on the air are the dead
dust of those centuries. Age is sublime. A creed, though
false, is nevertheless magnificent if it be old; and I can
not look on these tottering walls, these upheaving pavements,
these crumbling towers, without a melancholy regret
stealing in along with other feelings, that this worship,
this creed, is approaching its end, and that the day
is fast coming when Islam and the creed of the Prophet
will be to men like the memories of Isis and Apis—shadows
flitting around the ruins of old Egypt. In broad
daylight, when eyes and intellects are wide awake, the
shadows are as clouds dark with memories of crime and
wrong; shapes of hideous deeds, blackening the very
name of humanity.
But in night time and the moonlight, when we do not
see these, there will be shapes like halos around the fallen
minarets of Tooloon and Amer as around the obelisk of
Heliopolis and the unchanging pyramids; memories of
simple but grand faith in the hearts of old men that worship
God, and died in every year and month of all the

thousands that have shone upon these stones; shadows
that will forever haunt the places that are sanctified by
man's holiest emotions—sincere and prayerful trust in
God, though it were in a false god; shadows that are
changeful, but always there; long shapes and forms cast
on the walls by the altar-flames, that remain and appear,
and flit here and there on pavement and wall, though
altar-fires be long extinguished, and the wall lie in dust
on the broken pavements of the temple.
But is this so, and is the end approaching?
I asked myself the question in the city of Victory,
seated at my open window in the night-time, the moon
shining gloriously—a dazzling moon—my table drawn to
the window, and the flame of my candle rising steadily,
and without a flicker, in the profoundly silent air. Two
hundred thousand people were lying around me, and I
asked who and what they were, and what part they
formed in the grand sum of human valuation? Literally
nothing. They are not worth the counting among the
races of men. They are the curse of one of the fairest
lands on this earth's surface.
I had been conversing that same day with intelligent
Mussulmans who not only expressed their belief, but
added their anxious hope, that the advance of English
power in the East would soon make Egypt an English
possession. I heard this everywhere among them.
If they knew any thing about it—and Turks ought to
know more of it than Americans—they would see that it
is their manifest destiny. England begins to see it, as
before she has only wished it.
I answered my question, Yes, the end is not far distant.
The mosk of Amer, traditional metre of the duration of
the faith, is falling. I saw with my own eyes a huge piece
of its wall go crashing down into the dusty court, where

the still sunshine fell on it as if it had been waiting for it;
and no one will ever disturb its ruin.
Just before break of day, from the mosk of Mohammed
Ali at the citadel the morning call to prayer sounds over
the city. The Sultan Hassan, old Tooloon, and another
and another take it up, and three hundred voices are filling
the air with a rich, soft chant, that reaches the ear of the
Mussulman in his profoundest slumber, and calls him up
to pray. Does he obey? There was a time when, at that
call, the city of Salah-e'deen had no closed eye, no unbent
knee in all its walls. But the Mussulman is changed now.
He heard the call in his half drunken sleep, stupefied
with hashish, and he damned the muezzin, and turned
over to deeper slumber. He heard it in his profound repose,
after counting over the gains he had made by cheating
his neighbors, and he did not feel like praying. He
heard it on the perfumed couch of his slave, and he forgot
the prophet's in the present heaven. He heard it—yes,
there were a few old men, who remember the glory of
the Mamelukes; who heard their fierce shouts when the
Christian invaders met them at the pyramids; and who,
wearied with long life, look now for youth and rest in
heaven, and they, when they heard the call, obeyed it,
and theirs were the only prayers wasted on the dawning
light in all of Cairo, and when they cease there will be
none to pray.
This is no fancy picture. Mark the prophecy. Our
days may be few, but there are men living now who will
see the crescent disappear from the valley of the Nile,
and who will build their houses from the sacred stones of
the mightiest mosks in Grand Cairo. The beginning of
this end is visible already, but who can foresee what is to


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Sheik Houssein Ibn-Egid.

Who that has read eastern travel books for the last
half century has not heard the fame of the great Sheik
of the Alaween? I remember when I was a boy that I
sympathized deeply with some one, of whose robbery by
the redoubted sheik I read a sorrowful history, and after
that, in book after book, as I heard of this and that traveler
driven away from Petra by this old man, or robbed
by his extortions, I used to think it would be a pleasant
morning's walk to meet him and rid the desert of such an
enemy of safe journeying. What a capital shot it would
be at the robber sheik, with a cut rifle and a well-greased
ball! These boyish notions never left me, and I frequently
caught myself wondering whether I should ever meet the
sheik and fight him or fly him.
I met him when I least expected it.
As we were riding up the Mouski, Miriam and myself,
on our way to the bazaars one afternoon, we were startled
and arrested by an apparition that was not to be allowed
to pass unnoticed.
Seated on a splendid sorrel mare, whose quick roving
eye was ill at ease in the street of the city, was an old
man, whose face was the face of a king. His dress was
rich and elegant, but such as we had not yet seen in
Cairo. He wore no shoes, stockings, nor trowsers. The

dust of the desert was on his bare feet and ankles. Over
a shirt of the richest brocade was worn a cloak of crimson
cloth worked with gold, and over this a cloak of black,
concealing all that was under it, except when it was exposed
by accident. A cashmere sash was wound around
his waist, binding the shirt only, in the folds of which
gleamed pistols and knives more than I could count. His
head was covered with a shawl of brown silk, the heaviest
work of the looms of Damascus, and it was held in its
place by a woolen cord, heavy enough to hang a man,
wound around the crown of his head above the forehead
and ears.
But the dress, strange and elegant as it was, was a
matter of subsequent observation to us. It was the face
of the man that struck us, and riveted our attention. He
was an old man. I did not then know how old. But his
eye was brighter than the eye of a young eagle. The
suns of the desert for a hundred years had not served to
dim one ray of its brilliance. I never saw such an eye.
It pierced me through and through. His features were
chiseled with the sharpest regularity, and his eye lit them
up so that he seemed every inch a prince. And yet he
was of diminutive form, small, slender, and his naked foot,
that rested in the shovel stirrup, was thin and bony to the
We had with us Mohammed Abd-el-Atti, a young
Egyptian dragoman, with whom we were about closing
an arrangement for our voyage southward. As we approached
the Bedouin sheik, Abd-el-Atti sprang from his
donkey and rushed up to him, seizing his hand and kissing
it, and the two exchanged the long series of Oriental
blessings, with alternate touches of the breast and forehead,
which invariably signalize a meeting between friends
long parted.
Meantime we stood looking curiously at the scene, and

in a few moments the old sheik turned his horse toward
us, and Abd-el-Atti informed me that he was my old enemy
the Sheik Houssein Ibn-egid, the most powerful of
the Bedouin chiefs from Cairo to Mecca.
The old man touched my hand, and as we each lifted
our fingers to our lips after the grasp, we exchanged a
long, steadfast gaze, which seemed to satisfy him, for he
laughed quietly to himself, and he asked me if I were
going to Wâdy Mousa. Probably he thought me worth
robbing, as he saw a lady in my company, and such parties
are usually best stocked with plunderable articles.
Sheik Houssein is an old man. Here men say that he is
over a hundred years of age, and that his descendants of
the fourth generation are full grown men, stout and strong
on the desert. Be this as it may, he is a man well known
in the world, and his fame has gone from Europe to
America in the letters of travelers who have met him on
the desert among his five thousand followers. There he
is a chieftain to be dreaded. He has but to lift a handful
of dust and blow it into the air with his thin old lips, and
three thousand Bedouins are in the saddle at his call. He
is the guardian of Petra, with whom all who desire to see
the Rock City must make peace and friendship.
But how came the Sheik Houssein within the walls of
a city, and how came his mare to be treading the filthy
streets of Cairo, through the narrow passages shut out
from the sky—for where we met them there was no sky
visible, the street itself being roofed over with reeds to
keep out the sun? The story is somewhat long, but I
will make it as brief as possible.
Some time ago the caravan from Suez to Cairo was
robbed of a camel loaded with indigo. The Sheik Ibn-sh-deed,
who rules the desert from Cairo to the Red Sea,
is responsible to the government of Egypt for the safety
of the caravan. He has hostages in the city to secure

that responsibility. It was immediately evident that none
of his tribe had committed the theft, and it was soon as
evident that it was the act of two men belonging to a
tribe nearer to Akaba, and bordering on the tribes that
owe allegiance to the Sheik Houssein. Indeed, some evidence
was given that they were actually men under that old Sheik's power.
Among the Arabs still prevails that patriarchal form of
government which makes the sheik the father of his entire
tribe. If one of them is in trouble—it matters nothing
whether it be his son or the poorest wretch of his
retainers—he will sacrifice his life for him, and every man
of the entire tribe is bound to do the same. The veneration
for the sheik, and his care over them, is in every
respect like that of a father for his sons, and children for
their parent. Accordingly, when one is known to have
committed a crime, no trouble is taken to catch him.
Any one of the same tribe is quite the same thing. Arrest
him if you can, bring him to Cairo, and send word
to his sheik that he will remain in prison till the thief is
produced at the prison-door, and all the tribe are at work
instantly to secure the right man, taking care at first to
exhaust all means of effecting the escape of the one who
has been taken.
Ramadan Effendi, one of the officers of government in
high standing, the third officer in the Transit Department
—who is the cousin and the brother-in-law of Abd-el-Atti
—went on an expedition to catch one of the tribe at
whose door lay the charge of this robbery. How adroitly
he managed his business; how he inveigled two of
them into an ambuscade, and then sprang on them and
bound them; how the whole tribe dogged his returning
way with his captives; how he took them in one of the
passenger vans to cross from Suez among the English
passengers, and thus escaped the vigilance of the Bedouins;

and how he deposited them in chains, under bolt
and bar, in Cairo, had been the subject of town talk for
a month past among those who had known the circumstances.
Still there remained a doubt as to whether
the robbers were of this tribe, and it was desirable to
catch a man from the tribes that acknowledge the supremacy
of the Sheik Houssein, and thus make the matter
I went to the prison to see these caged eagles—call
them rather vultures—but they were splendid fellows.
One of them was the son of the sheik of his tribe, and
is celebrated as the man who dared to brave Mohammed
Ali. Not many years ago, when that bold man had imprisoned
the Sherreef of Mecca in the citadel of Cairo,
this Bedouin came under the wall of the citadel on the
desert side—where it is fifty feet high—and, with ropes
and his own sharp wit to aid him, entered the citadel,
liberated the sherreef, lowered him to the desert sand,
placed him on his own dromedary, and, with a shout of
triumph, dashed away into the desert. Eighty horses, of
the swiftest that the viceroy possessed, in vain followed
the escaped captive.
He sat and smoked his pipe calmly as I stood and
looked at him. It was strongly suspected that he was
one of the robbers himself. It was very certain that he
would hang at the Bab Zouaileh if some one else were
not speedily taken.
But the caravan of the pilgrims from Mecca was coming
over the desert. This is the annual event of Cairo.
The departure and the return of the Hadg are the two
great festivals of the year, and the caravan had just
arrived on the desert outside the city on the day of which
I speak—and was waiting the order of the pasha to enter
the gates and march in procession to the citadel. Three
thousand camels were scattered here and there over the

sand-hills, and the scene was one of the finest and most
picturesque pageants that we have ever witnessed.
A glance at the map will show any reader that the pilgrims,
in crossing from Mecca to Cairo, pass immense
deserts, and, of course, through the dominions of various
Bedouin tribes. To each of these tribes the Hadg pays
a certain sum for protection and safe passage. By special
instructions sent to them this year, the officers in
charge of the caravan made a dispute with Sheik Houssein,
on passing through his country, as to the kind of
dollar to be paid to him—the rate having been fixed in
piastres. The Hadg offered the sheik French dollars at
current rates, and he demanded, as no doubt he was entitled,
to receive them at government rates, which would
give him about three piastres more on every twenty.
The result was that they refused to pay him any thing
until they should arrive at Cairo, and settle the dispute
there. To this he agreed, and accompanied the caravan
to Cairo; and he was just entering the city when we met
him in the Mouski.
A fate that he little anticipated awaited him. While
we talked in the street, some fifty soldiers had gathered
around us, and the old man found himself arrested.
But he was not the man to exhibit emotion. No one
would have supposed that the occurrence was other than
what he had come for, as he quietly asked me to go with
him to the diwan of Mustapha Capitan.
It was impossible to desert him under such circumstances.
Indeed I had no objection to seizing an opportunity
of befriending this universal enemy of travelers:
Accordingly we rode with him, two hundred yards, to
the Transit office.
We were shown into an upper room, where sat Mustapha
Capitan, the chief officer of the Transit Department
at Cairo, and Ramadan Effendi, who is the next in rank.

Mustapha occupied the corner of the diwan, and room
was immediately made for Miriam and myself on his
right, where we sat while coffee was served. Ramadan
sat on our left, Abd-el-Atti being at hand to interpret in
case of necessity. The room was crowded to suffocation
with men in every variety of eastern costume, not less
than fifty of them being Bedouins of every tribe between
Jerusalem, Mecca, Akaba, and Cairo; the Sheik
Ibrahim, whose tribe is between Gaza and Heliopolis,
with a dozen of his followers—dark, swarthy fellows, in
blankets and shawls; Ibn-sh-deed, whom I have before
mentioned, with as many of his retainers; Suleiman,
from Akaba, a noble-looking man, with a fine, intelligent
face, clothed in a brown robe, over a brown silk shirt,
with a shawl of the same color on his head, the ends of
which hung to his feet, and with him three darker and
more devilish-looking Bedouins than I have elsewhere
seen. If one met them on the desert, one would commence
turning his pockets wrong side out before they
had opened their lips.
The diwan extended across the upper end of the room.
In front of it was a small open space, in the centre of
which the old sheik stood, and behind him those that I
have named, in a semicircle, and then the dense mass in
the lower part of the room.
It was not necessary to explain to Sheik Houssein why
he was detained. He heard them speaking of the lost
camel, and he knew the story well, for every Bedouin in
Arabia knew it a month ago. But he strode forward
into the semicircle, and while he gathered his cloak
around him with his left hand, raised his thin right
hand over his head, and stood in an attitude of grace
that I have never but once seen equaled. The resemblance
to the North American Indian was startling.
Every gesture was similar; and the eloquence was the

same natural flow of fierce, biting, furious words, yet full
of imagery and beauty. I understood but little Arabic
as yet, but I could follow him through nearly all that he
said—asking Abd-el-Atti occasionally for a word or an
idea—so perfect was his gesture, and in such perfect
keeping with his subject.
Occasionally Mustapha interrupted him with a question,
and he replied. The substance of what he said was
that he knew of the robbery, knew who did it, knew
where the man, camel, and indigo all were, but that they
were all out of his jurisdiction; they were in the adjoining
tribe, and he would not undertake to catch the thief,
simply because it was none of his business. If he should
do it, his own life would not be worth an hour's purchase;
and there was no reason why he should throw it away for
Said Pasha, a man to whom he owed nothing, and whom
he did not love, respect, or fear. If the government of
Egypt wanted the man enough to send an officer for him
who would take the responsibility of catching him, then
he would aid him; but he would not risk his life to do
that in which he had no interest.
Some severe expressions were used by Mustapha Capitan,
which roused the old sheik's anger, and he shook his
fore finger, while the room rang with his deep, guttural
voice. “I am an old man; I knew Said Pasha's father;
and long before Mohammed Ali sat on the diwan in Cairo I
was sheik in Wâdy Mousa. Said Pasha may think him
self somewhat of a man, because he is in the seat of his
father. My son, you are a boy. You have caught me
in Cairo; but if I meet you outside the gates of your
city—if I meet you on the desert sand—I will show you
who is Sheik Houssein! Kill me here now, if you dare:
and I have five sons, old men all, who will seek my blood
on the stones of Cairo. No, no, Mustapha Capitan; no
no, Hassan Pasha; Sheik Houssein is not to be treated

like a boy! What will become of your caravan next
year, and the year after that? Send ten thousand men
with it to guard it by the mountains of Sheik Houssein,
and from every rock and hiding-place, will he rain
death on them, and the ten thousand men will lie on the
sands. You dare not harm this old head! I am not
afraid of you, though I stand here in your strong house,
in the heart of your great city. The man does not live
who dares to harm me. Woe be to you, Mustapha Capitan,
wee be to Said Pasha, if I go not out free from
Cairo and unharmed!”
The room was silent for a moment, as the old man
took breath after this burst of defiance, and then every
voice rang at once in a storm of dissension, dispute, demand,
refusal, defiance, anger, and fury. This subsided
as Sheik Houssein again raised his voice, and hurled
his anathemas on Said Pasha and the Egyptian government.
Meantime Mustapha Capitan sat calmly in the
corner of the diwan, and Miriam and myself sat as calmly
by his side. I confess that I thought once or twice that
if this storm of words should result as it would have been
likely to result in any other part of the world, our chance
would have been poor to reach the door through a hundred
Arabs, every one of them fully armed.
But the audience was over. Mustapha had had enough
of the sheik, and he broke up the sitting by a nod. We
went out with the crowd; and as the room opened out
on the large roof of the lower building, the Bedouins sat
down on the stones of the roof, and we sat down in a circle
composed of the four sheiks that I have mentioned
and ourselves, attended by Abd-el-Atti. Here we remained
an hour longer, listening to the wily attempts of
the others to persuade the old man into a promise to
produce the thief. It was in vain; he was not to be
caught. Accordingly I proposed to Abd-el-Atti to take

the old man with us and visit the other prisoners. I was
anxious to see their meeting. He went with us.
As he entered the prison-door they advanced to meet
him; and the first one, the son of a sheik, met him with
outstretched arms, kissing him on each cheek, and receiving
his kiss in return, then pressing his forehead against
the old man's forehead, both standing silent and motionless
for thirty seconds in that graceful and strange position,
their eyes fixed on the ground. The other prisoner
received a similar salute, but not so impressive. The first
prisoner was dressed in the plainest and most common
gray blanket of the Bedouins. It was wound around his
body, and the corner was thrown over his head; and
yet his slave, who had come to him from his far-off
home across the desert, was as richly dressed as any man
in the assembly, in silk and cashmere, and I might also
have remarked, was one of the loudest talkers in the
audience-room; for here slaves talk freely before their
masters, and dispute with them fearlessly.
Mustapha Capitan ordered the Sheik Houssein to be
detained in the prison all night. Woe to Mustapha if he
sets his foot on the desert sand east of Suez after this.
I asked Abd-el-Atti if there was not such a process as
giving bail known to Moslem law. There was, but it was
only honor. If a man of reputation would promise on
his religion to produce the prisoner, he might be given
into his custody.
So we arranged it. I never knew exactly how much
my word had to do with it, or whether it was Abd-el-Atti's
religion or mine that Mustapha Capitan depended
on. Abd-el-Atti arranged it with Mustapha Capitan,
guarantying his appearance when the government should
call for him. The sheik was handed over to him and
he brought him down to me at the hotel.
After this he remained for two weeks our constant attendant,

passing the nights with Abd-el-Atti at his house
and reporting himself every morning to the authorities.
He was all this time like a caged tiger, quiet, but with a
furious eye. His gratitude to Abd-el-Atti, for saving him
from that worst affliction known to an Arab, a night under
bolt and bar, knew no bounds. He prayed God that
he might see him at Wâdy Mousa, and as he was old he
promised the gratitude of his sons and descendants to remote
“What will you do to Abd-el-Atti, when he comes to
your tent?” I asked.
He turned his eye up to Abd-el-Atti with a good-natured
laugh, and drew his finger across his throat.
I laughed at his jesting threat, and asked him what he
would do to Mustapha Capitan if he ever came to Wâdy
Mousa. His face sobered in an instant; he looked
with his flashing eyes at me, and was silent for a moment.
Then he growled rather than spoke,
“You know very well what I will do to Mustapha
Capitan or to Said Pasha, if either of them comes within
my reach.”
“How old are you?” I asked him, as we sat smoking
our chibouks in affectionate proximity one morning at the
front door of Williams's hotel under the shade of the lebbek
“My children's grand-children ride on horses,” was the
While he remained with us, I had his photograph taken
by an artist who was passing through Cairo on his way
to India. The old man sat like a statue. The first impression
taken proved a failure, and, after an interval of
ten minutes, the artist proposed to seat him again. It
was unnecessary. He was in the chair, and he had not
moved hand or foot—I don't think he had winked—since
the first sitting.


This picture is an accurate likeness of a Bedouin sheik
in full costume, precisely as we were accompanied by him
from day to day; the reader may rely on the accuracy
of the camera, and not suppose that fancy has added a

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Law and Liberty.

The administration of justice in Egypt is a curious affair.
As I was riding homeward that day, after leaving
the old man of the desert, I met a camel carrying a large
box which contained a huge tiger. The animal was
growling furiously, as every swing of the camel sent him
now to one end of the cage and now to the other. I was
comparing him to the old chief. Never were two more
alike. While I was looking at him, two tall stout men,
Europeans, dismounted from donkeys which they had
hired, and refused to pay the owner for them. On his
insisting, one of them struck him. Whereat he became
more earnest in his demands for his money, but, was still
perfectly respectful, though he held the Frank firmly by
the folds of his dress. The latter, enraged at the pertinacity
of the Arab, struck him with his cane, and then
gave him a terrible beating. I never saw a man so
thoroughly thrashed. He struck him over his head and
back, his legs and his bare arms, bringing blood at every
blow. He beat him across the street and actually into
the open court of the police office, where sat fifteen or
twenty police officers, smoking sedately and calmly. No
one of them moved from his seat, or spoke. Twenty
other donkey men rushed in to the rescue, and the Frank
broke his cane over the head of his victim, and then took

to European swearing. The next instant he rushed out
into the street, around the corner of the building, to an
old man who sells bamboo and rattans, bought a stout
bamboo for a piastre, and returned to the charge. Again
the poor Arab took it, and when he was thoroughly tired
the Frank left the crowd and walked along the street as
coolly as if he had but been whipping a dog.
This is an every day occurrence in the streets of the
city, and I mention it in connection with the arrest of
the Sheik Houssein as showing what experience I had in
one afternoon of the manner of administering justice in
Cairo the Blessed.
The explanation of this strange scene in the police office
is this.
By our treaty with Turkey, and by the treaties of all
civilized nations, it is provided that no American, Englishman,
or in general no citizen or subject of either of the
powers so protected by treaty, shall be tried for any offense
by Turkish law, but every offender shall be tried by
the law of his own land. The substance of this is, that he
shall be handed over to the consul of his government, and
he sends him home for trial without witnesses—of course
without possibility of conviction.
Hence foreigners may commit crime with absolute impunity,
except for the blood revenge, which authorizes
and requires relatives to avenge the death of their connections.
As a result of this, every consul in Egypt has, what are
called protegés, the list varying from hundreds up to
thousands. I beg especial attention to this enormity of
fraud, in which our government is an innocent participator,
a fraud on the Egyptian and Turkish governments
which all civilized nations are combined in perpetrating.
Our present consul, Mr. De Leon, is, I believe, totally
free from any blame in the matter. He found a list of

American subjects, entitled to protection, left him by his
predecessors, and he has done what he could to diminish
the extent of the injury to the nation which this system
brings about. But what is he alone among the crowd
of foreign consuls, each one a petty sovereign by virtue
of this system. Its ramifications extend everywhere in
Turkish dominions. I found it at Jaffa, at Jerusalem, at
Smyrna, and at Constantinople.
Out of this system wholly arose the Kosta difficulty,
and though this has given us a terrible reputation in the
East, and one which secures profound respect for Americans,
because the Mediterranean nations have gotten the
idea that we are a filibustering nation, ready to come and
seize on their ports, palaces, and thrones, yet this whole
thing was wrong from beginning to ending.
No one in America understood precisely how the
thing could occur, or how the commodore and consul
dared to act as they did. But this system explains it.
If Kosta had been a full-blooded Turk, and never out of
Turkey in his life, had his name been found on the consul's
lists of protegés, the same course would have been
taken in carrying out the system. There are hundreds
of such names on our consuls' lists! Men who never
breathed any freer air than that of Mohammedan countries
—whose forefathers, to the days of Esau, were
Asian, and whom their own government dare not lay
finger on, because of this claim of protection on the part
of the American government. Observe how it works.
A Jew, doubtless direct in his line of descent from the
Jews of the time of Jeremiah in Egypt, whose father,
and grandfather, and great grandfather, were money-
changers in the Jews' quarter of Cairo, killed a man in
the street, and was arrested and imprisoned. An Englishman
who saw him kill the man, and who caused his
arrest, is my informant.


His conviction was certain; his guilt clear as daylight.
But, two days after his arrest, he sent for the French
consul, had a long interview with him, and the next day
the consul showed his name in his list of protegés, and
demanded his delivery to him. The government, of
course, yielded to the demand.
As a necessary consequence of this system travelers
have no protection against each other, and, on the river,
every man looks to his arms as his only guard.
The time has arrived when this system should be
changed. It is iniquitous, from first to last, and it is
only in the fact that our present consul, Mr. De Leon, is
an able, upright, and trustworthy man, that Americans
can have any confidence for safety while in Egypt.
In connection with this subject, I may here speak of
the general administration of justice in Egypt.
The days of Mohammed Defterdar are passed, and
better times are come; still the wheels of justice move
much on golden axles, and there is room for great reforms
in justice and in practice.
The viceroy is an autocrat. He says kill, and they
While I was in Cairo, he gave Mohammed Bey, chief
of the police in Cairo, seven days in which to detect a
murderer, and on the eighth morning, the murderer being
still at large, his friends had permission to bury Mohammed
Bey's headless trunk.
The religion is the only law of the country. By it the
Khadee rules and judges as he did in the days of Haroun
el Rasheed.
I heard one day that a murder had been committed in
the broad street of the city, and I went over to the police
office to see the process of justice in such a case.
It was a curious scene. On the floor of the room sat
the prisoner, literally loaded with chains. He had a chain

on each wrist, and one as heavy as a small ship's-cable
going around his body and over his shoulders. It was a
ridiculous formality, too; for it was very manifest that
he had but to shake himself and they would drop off,
even to the last link.
Opposite to him sat four women, facing him. They
were heavily vailed, but they watched him with flashing
eyes. They were the relations of the dead man, attending
here to see that he was avenged. The law of blood
for blood is omnipotent.
I inquired into the process of the law with such a man.
“When will he be tried?”
“In a month or two.”
“Do you make up any calendar of cases for trial?”
“Oh, no.”
“How do you remember that such a case is to be
“They (the women) will see that we don't forget him.”
“Is there no other way of remembering it?”
“None; the blood revenge will keep them active.
We shall need no other reminder.”
“Where will he remain meanwhile?”
“In prison.”
“At whose expense?”
“His own.”
“Do you feed prisoners?”
“Not a mouthful.”
“Who does feed them?”
“Their friends.”
“If they have none?”
“If they have no friends?”
“Never heard of such a case.”
“But if it did occur?”
“I suppose he must starve.”


Such is the simple routine of justice. Primitive, and
certainly effective. I have no doubt that justice is as
evenly administered in this same Cairo, as in Christian
New York or London. Look ye to it, who would make
Christian lands better than Moslem!
Shortly after my first interview with Sheik Houssein,
the procession of the Makhmil took place, which is the
final breaking-up of the annual pilgrimage, by depositing
the Makhmil in the mosk of Mohammed Ali at the citadel.
This procession is ordinarily one of the grandest events
of the Cairene year. The departure of the pilgrims is
the time for more display, but the scene is not more interesting,
perhaps not as interesting.
The caravan had been waiting on the desert, outside
the city walls, for the pasha's order that it should enter,
and this at length was issued at a late hour on the evening
before. No one knew of it, and we should not
have heard of it but for the faithfulness of our servant,
who was up at his prayers before daylight, as every good
Mussulman should be, and saw the soldiers passing on
their way out of the city to meet the caravan; so he came
and roused me, and called a carriage instanter. It had
been decided beforehand that we should have a carriage
instead of going on donkeys, because, in the first place,
we should be better able to see in a crowd, and in the
second place, should be less liable to insult from the crowd.
For on the day of this procession, from time immemorial,
Mussulmans have been permitted to insult Christians with
impunity, and the boys are accustomed to do so.
The Makhmil is a somewhat curious affair. Few Mohammedans
can tell you what it is, though they venerate
it, and look forward and back to its arrival as the great
event of the religious year.
Long years ago—let us not be particular about dates—

a certain royal lady, a queen, made the pilgrimage to
Mecca, and for her use had a gorgeous car or camel litter
made, in which she rode all the way. The next year she
did not go on the pilgrimage, but she sent her camel and
her litter, and it was carried by the pilgrims each successive
year, until they forgot the origin of the custom and
made it a religious rite. Each year a most gorgeous
canopy is made—a new one every year—at the expense
of the government, and this goes and returns empty. On
its return, it is held most sacred. The people rush to
touch it with their fingers. They press their foreheads
and lips to the fringe, and rejoice at the blessing their
eyes have in looking at it.
We were effectually insured against insult when we
met Sheik Houssein and took him into the carriage. The
old man did not exactly like to sit in such an affair. He
said he preferred to be on his horse, and when Miriam
explained to him that we much preferred carriages in
our cities, he promised that when she came to Wâdy
Mousa, he would give her such a horse as would make
her forswear all wheeled vehicles thenceforth. He looked
anxiously around him as we went along through the
crowd that was pouring to the part of the city where the
procession was to pass. We drove on rapidly, a runner
preceding us and clearing the way. I wished to reach
the Bab el Nasr, the gate of victory, before the entrance
of the procession, but I was too late for it. We met
them in the narrowest part of the way, and the officers
who preceded the procession turned our horses' heads,
so that we were obliged to head the procession and drive
back till we came to a convenient turn out, where we
could stop and let them pass. This place we found and
there saw them.
The Procession was headed by the camels which had
accompanied the Hadj to Mecca and back. Then followed

the escort of cavalry and foot sent out to meet theme
Behind these came the sacred camel, bearing the makhmil.
It was indeed a gorgeous affair, blazing with the purest
gold. No tinsel work about this. Its value was incalculable.
The camel was almost hidden by the fringe of
precious metal, and the balls and crescents shone like suns
and moons. The whole crowd shouted and did reverence
to it as it passed.
The Mohammedan sign of reverence is made by placing
the palm of the open hand on the forehead, and drawing
it down to the chin; every man, woman, and child did
this, and then shouted. The air rang with the peculiar
cry of joy which the women utter on all festive occasions,
a long gurgling sound that no one can imitate who is not
born in the East. Behind the makhmil, on a camel, sat a
derweesh, naked to the waist, who is a somewhat celebrated
character, and an important part of the procession. His
head rolls as if it were not attached to his shoulders, but
only lay there, and every motion of the camel sent it
around. This motion is never known to stop from the
time the makhmil leaves the citadel of Cairo on its way to
Mecca until its return. Possibly in the night time, when
no one is near, he may rest and sleep, but this is denied,
and it is asserted and believed that he never rests an instant
or ceases this strange motion.
Following him are the camels of the pilgrims, with
their canopies and their families in them. The camel litter
is composed of two boxes, swung on opposite sides of the
camel, covered with one tent-like canopy. In each box
are some of the riders, or possibly they balance the person
on one side by the baggage on the other, if the family is
not large enough to fill both.
These are the desert ships of old fame. Five thousand
of them were in the caravan when they left Suez, but
more than two thousand hastened on, and had been scattered

to their various homes a week or more before the
arrival of the main body. Hence the procession was not
as full as usual.
After the camels came the guard of the caravan, a regiment
of wild-looking rascals of every nation under the
eastern sun, dressed in more costumes than there are
countries in Asia and Africa, and these closed the procession,
which was altogether the strangest that we have
ever been witnesses of. They passed us and went on
through the Bab Zouaileh, which is one of the most
stately edifices in the city, and so on up to the citadel.
The Bab Zouaileh is, as its name imports, a gate. Before
the days of Salah-e'deen it was the most southern gate
of Cairo, but when that prince extended the city, and
built the citadel, this gate was left in the midst of the
houses, and stands to this day a monument of the greatness
of that celebrated warrior.
It is withal one of the most sacred places in Cairo, and
while superstition even among Mussulmans shrinks from
public gaze, here it is displayed to the utmost.
The Kutb is the most holy of the Mohammedan saints.
No man can tell who, what, or where he is. His residence is
always in the flesh, always in some Mussulman. That man
knows it, and only he. When he dies, it passes to another.
This Kutb, or Wellee, has the gift of ubiquity, or rather
the power of instantaneous change of place. One gate of
the Bab Zouaileh is never closed, but has stood for hundreds
of years shut back against the wall of the archway.
Behind this is the place of the Kutb, where oftentimes the
passing Mohammedan casts a sudden look, hoping to see
Upon this gate every Mohammedan who has had a
tooth-ache, hangs the extracted tooth, thinking thereby
to be insured against a recurrence of the malady. Hence
the gate presents, as may well be imagined, a curious appearance.

Some hundreds of grinders of every size and
sort are placed in the cracks, or attached by strings to
various parts of the massive portal; and a dentist might
make his fortune by selecting from them. Some of them
are inclosed in small bags, but the large majority are in
their native purity, or impurity.
Over the gate did hang until it fell away in the winds,
the rope by which Toman Bey, the last sultan of the
Baharite dynasty, was hung in 1517, and until very recently
the ghastly heads of the slaughtered Mamelukes
grinned on the turrets above it. Without the gate is the
spot still used for the execution of certain criminals, although
it is now a crowded bazaar.
The procession over, I drove back to the hotel, dropping
the sheik on the way. His release at length came.
The government paid him off, and allowed him to depart.
He came down to bid me good-by, and urged me to visit
him in Wâdy Mousa.
We parted excellent friends. He promised me all manner
of attentions in Wâdy Mousa, if I would come, and
I have no doubt he would have treated me nobly. But I
never saw him again, and the old man will be dead when
I go to Wâdy Mousa. I heard of him in the following
spring. As I was groping my way by torchlight through the
grand caverns that underlie the north-east corner of Jerusalem,
a gentleman who was with me on that curious
exploration, and who was one of an English party just
arrived across the desert from Cairo, happened to mention
“Did you go to Petra?”
“Why not?”
“Why, the old Sheikh of the Alaween—”
“Sheikh Houssein Ibn-egid?”
“Yes—do you know him?”


“I think I do;” and I laughed loud and long, without
waiting for his story, for I knew that my old friend was
at his work again. He had scared them away from
Wâdy Mousa. But I had faith to believe that he would
be glad to see me there.

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The Phantom.

How I wandered about the streets of Cairo; how I
visited the citadel, and again and again explored that
deep rock-hewn well of Yusef Salah-e'deen, known as the
well of Joseph; how I stood, hour by hour, on the front
of the unfinished palace of Mohammed Ali, and looked
off at the Nile and the pyramids; how, day by day, we
rode down to the boat, and watched her progress in
fitting up, and bargained here and there for provisions
and powder, flags and frying-pans, hams and hammers;
how, in one of my hasty gallops up the Mouski, my
donkey slipped and plunged me into the open arms of an
old Turk, whom I was compelled to console by buying of
him a half dozen of brandy, which brandy, O friend, bear
in mind when I come to tell of the ascent of the cataract;
how Trumbull and myself consulted all night about the
comforts for the ladies, and worked all day on little
nothings which seemed of huge importance then; how
we smoked pounds of Latakea over our volumes of
Champollion, and the maps of Jacotin which Trumbull,
with infinite skill, had copied in America, and brought
with him; how we rode out to the superb Shoubra
gardens of Halim Pasha, the viceroy's brother, and
sunned ourselves in the corridor that ran around the
great fountain wherein foolish and false tradition saith

Mohammed Ali was accustomed to keep pet crocodiles,
and overturn boat-loads of his wives; how we did not
see the fair odalisques in these bowers, as one fanciful
author describes his own good luck, for the reason that
they are never open when the ladies are abroad in them,
but then rigorously shut even to men slaves of the pasha;
how we dreamed away a month of luxurious life in El
Kahira the Victorious: are not all these things for our
own memories, and too much and too many to be recited
Abd-el-Atti was a young, well-built, active Egyptian,
with a face much like a North American Indian's. His
complexion was copper-colored, his eyes black and rather
unsteady. After the Nile voyage I took him with me to
Syria; and, having had him for a servant during nearly
eight months of constant travel, I think I know the man
His temper was violent, but I had no difficulty with it.
Like all dragomans, he was anxious to make money, and
could see but one view of a money question. I had no
trouble with him on that score either. If I yielded to
him in one instance, I made him yield in the next. If the
traveler will look out for his temperament, and treat him
kindly, as a good servant should be treated, I have no
hesitation in recommending him as the most accomplished
dragoman in Egypt or the East.
He had lived some years in England and France, spoke
the language of those countries, Italian, Turkish, and
his own, the Arabic—read and wrote Arabic well, which
was a great desideratum for our purposes, and had seen
travel and adventure enough to be able to tell and manufacture
large stories for our amusement, when there was
nothing better to do. I give here our contract with him


We, the undersigned, J. Hammond Trumbull, and W.
C. Prime, with Mrs. Trumbull and Mrs. Prime, have this
day agreed with Mohammed Abd-el-Atti for a trip up the
Nile, on the following conditions:
  • 1. Mohammed Abd-el-Atti engages to provide a comfortable
    boat, with awning and jolly boat; to furnish said
    boat with beds, bedding, tables, china, glass, water filters,
    and all and every requisite necessary for the convenience
    and comfort of first-class passengers.
  • 2. Mohammed Abd-el-Atti agrees to provide all stores,
    provisions, candles, lights, etc., as shall be necessary for
    the entire voyage. Also to provide as many courses for
    breakfast, dinner, etc., as shall be required by the above
  • 3. Mohammed Abd-el-Atti agrees to provide and pay
    for one cook, one servant, and one assistant, to wash
    clothes, etc., during the entire voyage.
  • 4. Under the above conditions Mohammed Abd-el-Atti
    agrees to take Messrs Prime and Trumbull, and party, to
    Es Souan, and back again to Cairo, for the sum of two
    hundred and twenty-five pounds in gold, giving them fifteen
    days' stoppage on the voyage, at any place or places
    they may wish to stop or remain at, and providing donkeys
    and guides for visiting any such places.
  • 5. For the first fifteen days of stoppage, exceeding the
    above period, that they may wish to remain below the
    first cataract, they will pay to Mohammed Abd-el-Atti the
    sum of three pounds fifteen shillings per diem.
  • 6. For any period they may wish to remain below the
    first cataract, after the expiration of the above provided
    period, they shall pay Mohammed Abd-el-Atti the sum of
    three pounds per day for each day.
  • 7. Should the above parties, after their arrival at the
    first cataract, wish to proceed to the second cataract, Mohammed
    Abd-el-Atti agrees to take them on in the same
    boat, and same style, and they shall then pay him the
    sum of sixty-seven pounds ten shillings for the trip between
    the two cataracts and back, and they shall have
    three days for stoppage, for visiting such places as they
    may desire. And if they shall desire to stop more than

    three days above the first cataract, then, for every day
    of stoppage above three, they shall pay him at the rate
    of three pounds per day.
  • 8. It is, moreover, fully understood that Mohammed
    Abd-el-Atti is to pay all presents on the voyage; to pay
    all donkey hire, guides, guards, etc.; to pay the expenses
    of taking the boat up and down the cataracts, and all and
    every present to crew, sailors, reis, pilot, or persons on
    shore, during, and at the end of the voyage.
  • 9. It is understood that, if the party should go to the
    second cataract, then the provision for days of stoppage
    over fifteen days below the first cataract is altered, and
    they shall pay Mohammed Abd-el-Atti, in that case, only
    three pounds per day over the first fifteen days provided
    for, for every day more than such fifteen that they may wish to stop.
Dated, at Cairo, this 27th day of October, 1855.
N. B. The boat is to be procured and equipped, and
the trip to commence as soon as possible.
Signed by the Americans.
Sealed by Mohammed Abd-el-Atti.
Under this contract he selected a boat, which we examined
and approved, and he proceeded to fit and furnish
her. When this was done we hoisted the American
flag, and, for a signal, a white flag with one large blue
star in the centre, and named her from the name of a
boat not unknown to fame in our home circles, The
There was something pleasant in the idea of calling our
Nile boat, that spread her lofty wings on the air, white
and very ghost-like in the light of a November moon
in Egypt, by the name of that gallant boat which has
weathered so many Atlantic gales along the coast of
America, and with which many recollections of pleasant
days, and pleasant life, and beloved friends, are connected.
But she was a very different craft. Seventy feet long
by thirteen broad, she carried a mast stepped away forward,

about thirty feet high. On the top of this, swinging
by a rough rope tackle, was the long yard, tapering
from one heavy end below to a point sixty or seventy feet
above the deck, and this carried the large triangular sail.
Another smaller mast, stepped at the extreme stern, on
the after-rail, carried a small sail of the same shape, which
was managed by ropes rigged out on a pole projecting
ten feet behind the boat.
The cabins occupied all the after part of the boat, and
rose five feet above the deck, the floor being sunk two
feet below it. Thus we had ample height of ceiling, and
with a dining-room, one large and two small sleeping-rooms,
closets, and wash-room, we had a small house in
which four persons could live very comfortably. The
furniture of the boat was oriental, of course; but two
American rocking-chairs, part of a Yankee importation
into Alexandria two years ago, made things look somewhat
natural within the cabin, and no one could suggest
an improvement on our arrangements.
Darkest of Nubians externally, and brightest in intellect,
was Ferraj, our first cabin servant. Never was there
a blacker or a better fellow. Ten years ago, Abd-el-Atti
found a crowd of slaves at Wâdy Halfeh, in the slave-pen
on the bank of the river. He took a bag of dates in his
hand, went among them, and sprinkled them on the
ground. The black crowd sprang after them, and gathered
them up gladly. He saw one small boy of seven or
eight that was unable to get any, and he was struck with
his appearance. Eight pounds bought him. He named him
Ferraj (Trusty), and took him to Cairo. From that time
they have been inseparable, and their affection for each
other is an excellent illustration of that ordinarily subsisting
between master and slave in oriental countries. He
taught him to read—an accomplishment in this country
which but one in a thousand can boast of—and having

brought him up with the utmost care, made him a good
Mussulman and a first-rate servant. He gave him fifty
pounds and his freedom two years ago. But they are as
inseparable as ever, and the Nubian always accompanies
his master on his expeditions with travelers. He is not
more than eighteen, but would pass for twenty-two, and
stands six feet in his stockings.
Ferraj remained with us as long as Abd-el-Atti, and it
would be almost impossible to say how much we became
attached to him. Seek him out, Q traveler to Egypt, and
thank me for telling you of a treasure to a wandering
Hassan, the boy, was about fifteen, with a face of perfect
beauty, even for a woman's. It was a luxury to look
at his dark olive complexion, and into his deep thoughtful
eyes. He, too, spoke a little English, but not so much as
Ferraj. The latter could think English, if he could not
speak it always.
“What's that?” I asked him one morning, as he
brought in a dish and placed it on the table at breakfast.
“I not know what you call it. It's what—is—in my head,”
and he laid his hand on his wool, thereby to signify
that it was a dish of brains!
One morning, as we sat smoking at the door of the
hotel, Abd-el-Atti brought up a little shut-eyed, laughing
Egyptian, dressed in flowing trowsers and embroidered
vest and jacket, with a turban of voluminous folds
on his head, and red slippers, with sharp up-turned toes,
on his feet.
“This is Hajji Mohammed Mustapha, the cook.”
I looked at him and at Trumbull. Trumbull looked at
him and at me.
I was faithless, but submissive. How gloriously I was
converted. What royal dishes, what inventions of genius

worthy of Ude, what gastronomic powers that wily
little Egyptian possessed. I took him to Syria, too. I
would have brought him here if I could. His resources
were inexhaustible, and he needed thrashing only once
in all my dealings with him; that was when an English
gentleman, who had dined with me at Nazareth, made
him a laughing offer, and he actually deserted me then
and there, and left me to starve on a frying-pan and an
Arab boy. I reformed him back in a twinkling after I
caught him, and I think there was a tear in his eye when
I parted from him at Beyrout.
But I linger too long in Cairo. My last piece of work
was to sit three mortal hours by a Jew money-changer,
who did ten pounds of gold into copper money for me,
which we carried, or a man for us, to the hotel, to furnish
small change on the upper river. This, and about
four times as much more, belonging to Abd-el-Atti, stood
on our boat in open baskets during our whole voyage—accessible
to any fingers, but always safe.
At four in the afternoon the last cart, car, van, break,
or whatever may be the proper name of the Egyptian
vehicle drawn by a single bullock, was at the door of the
Indian Hotel, where we had now been for six weeks. A
half dozen loads had previously gone down to Boulak to
the boat, and on this we piled our trunks and small articles,
and then surveyed our empty rooms with no regret.
We were glad to be away, although every hour had been
pleasantly employed, and a year would not suffice to show
the stranger all the graceful minarets, strange, quaint
lattices, exquisite arches, and lofty mosks of the city of
Salah-e'deen. But the Nile was forever flowing by, laden
with stories of Karnak, of Philæ, and of Abou Simbal,
and we grew anxious to be away on its waters.
The Phantom lay at the bank of the river in the rear
of the house of its owner. Passing through the house

by an arched passage and climbing down a filthy bank,
the rubbish-heap of the family, we reached the deck and
took possession of the vessel.
The “monarch of all I survey” idea was the prominent
one at first; but there was too much work on hand to
allow of its being enjoyed. Trunks, boxes, crates of
turkeys, coops of chickens, carpets, mats, oranges, fruits
of all kinds, guns, pistols, coats, shawls, and the hundred
et ceteras of a winter outfit lay in indescribable confusion
everywhere. Out of this chaos we proceeded to extract
order, and having at length accomplished our design in a
measure, we discharged our donkey-boys with the customary
bucksheesh, and wrapping around us our cloaks
and shawls, for the air was chilly as we came out of the
cabin, we went up on the cabin deck and ordered all
clear for the start.
I could for a moment fancy myself on the deck of the
old Phantom in western waters, but only for a moment.
“Are you all ready there?” That's the English of
my question, which in Arabic was a single interrogative
word, “Hadah?
The answer was tolerably good English, if it was pure
Arabic—“Aiowah,” not unlike an American sailor's
“Aye, aye.” “Cast off then—go ahead Reis Hassanein.”
This last command, profane as it sounds, had no reference
to the Reis's visual organs. The order in Arabic is
Godam Ya Reis Hassanein,” literally, “Forward, Captain
Hassanein.” We fired thirteen guns, and the Phantom
fell off on the current from the shadow of the houses
into the glorious moonlight on the Nile.
Never was such an hour for departure on the voyage.
The sky was fathomless in its deep blue beauty. The Nile
was yellow gold under us. Minaret and dome stood up
in the silent air, and shed a softer light than the moon's
own rays, while far away, solemn and majestic, the solemnity

that of immortality, the majesty that of centuries,
stood the pyramids of Ghizeh, gray and solemn in the
light of their old companion. How contemptuously the
moon and the pyramids looked down on us sexagenarians
of the nineteenth century after the coming of
our Lord! How swiftly the river rushed by us, on to
the sea that had received it for so many ages, heedless of
the passing travelers whose lives would be as brief as the
shadow of the sail passing between the moon and the
It was an hour for dreams, if dreaming were possible
where all that was real was dreamy—where the trees
were lofty palms, waving their crowns to and fro on the
starry sky—where the shores were the dust of dead Pharaohs
and the children of Jacob and Joseph—where the
buildings were domes and minarets, and over all the ancient
pyramids—where the stars, calm and steadfast, have
looked down on a hundred dynasties of kings, on the
graves of a score of nations—where Moses taught and
Plato learned, and where the infant eyes of the Son of
God looked up to His and our home.
I wrapped my Syrian cloak closely around me, for it
was cold at first, and sitting on the cabin deck watched
the curious operations of my new crew, and endeavored
for an hour to learn the philosophy of their ways of doing
things. But I was puzzled beyond endurance. When
they wished to turn the boat's head, they pulled precisely
the oar I should have let alone; and when they
wished to take the wind, they flattened the sail to it with
as sharp an edge as they could possibly manage. This was
the fashion with every thing, and so continued throughout
the voyage. The boat, in fact, managd itself sailed
and steered itself and did every thing but, make itself
fast and cast off. Indeed it did cast off once in a while,
and I woke to find her drifting quietly to a sand-bank

or a rock, while every man on the boat was sound
An hour passed, and the wind had failed us. We lay
under the Ghizeh shore of the river, with lofty palms
over our heads, a boat with an English party on board
lying a hundred yards from us, and profound silence resting
on the river and shore. Even the soft ripple of the
river seemed but to make the silence audible, and no one
could imagine a city with two hundred thousand inhabitants
on the bank of the stream by our side.
This is a strange characteristic of Cairo in the night.
With the sunset every one goes home. Here and there
a lantern is visible in the evening, as some belated pedestrian
hurries along; but there are no street-lamps, no
windows to the houses shining out on the passers-by, no
sparkling shop-lamps, no shoppers, theatre-goers, diners-out,
or other late walkers along the highway; the city is
in profound darkness, and the river flows by as silent a
shore as where the desert comes down to it on east and
west in Nubia. The oldest Egyptian that lay in stone
sarcophagus, or painted mummy-box at Sakkara, slept
not more profoundly than I that first night on the river.

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Southward Ho!

Like the music of a dream, like
the sounds one hears in waking
hours that are given to visions,
sweeter than the voices of birds,
far sweeter than sound of organ
in cathedral or choir, be it ever so
triumphant, came over the river, at
the break of day, the muezzin's call
to prayer. From the mosk of
Mohammed Ali, at the citadel, high up above all Cairo, it
came first. The Sultan Hassan took it up, and old Tooloon,
and far-off Ghalaoon and El-Azhar, and I even
heard, or thought I heard, the old man's voice who sings
to the sands of the desert that roll around the tomb of
Ghait Bey. It came swelling like the sound of a harp-string,
until the four hundred mosks of the City of
Saladin took it up, and it filled the charmed air with
sweet and holy melody. “Prayer is better than sleep—
awake and pray.”
It was not yet light, but the footsteps of the day were
in the east; and he came on, now with a faint gray light
over the Mokattam hills, now with a flush of crimson on
the white and gossamer-like minarets of the mosk of
Mohammed Ali, and now with the full burst of sunlight
on the valley of Memphis and On.


A light breeze now stole up the river, and we made
sail. Running slowly along on the west side of the island
of Rhoda, and passing the palace of Hassan Pasha
and the busy scene at the ferry of Old Cairo , we lost the
city, and were on the most lordly of rivers. We were
stopped by a hail from the shore, and on approaching
found a messenger from the government-office which had
sent us the carriage the day previous. It is worth relating,
as an illustration of the constant anxiety of this government
and its officials to please foreigners. We had
left in the carriage a small pasteboard almanac, value
three cents on the 1st of January, and much less now that
it was the middle of November. When the carriage was
cleaned in the morning it was found, and a cawass was instantly
dispatched after us with two horses and a government
He went to Boulak, and learned that we had sailed in
the evening. Then he went to Old Cairo , and crossed
the ferry to Ghizeh, where he learned that we had passed
early in the morning. Returning to the east bank, he
drove four miles up the river and overtook us as I have
related. We sent the small boat on shore for it, and
then squared away—if the word is allowable, with a
lateen sail—and the wind having now freshened, the
boat seemed verily as if she had wings, and flew on, the
water parting with a rush and ripple on each side of her
In the afternoon, we passed a boat lying at the shore,
and carrying an American flag. It was the boat of Rev.
Mr. Martin, one of the American missionaries at Cairo,
just starting on a voyage of inspection to determine
whether it was desirable to locate a mission at any point
up the river. We met them frequently, and had great
pleasure in their pleasant companionship.
The pyramids of Gizeh, of Saccara, and of Dashour,

appeared in succession as we approached them, and
watched our departure with changeless aspect; nor was
it till late in the afternoon that we lost sight of the lofty
citadel of Cairo and the white mosk that shines from it.
It was not to be supposed that we should find ourselves
entirely at home on our boat within the first twenty-four
hours, and yet I fancy that any one who saw us that day,
stretched on diwans, smoking our chibouks, and reading
or talking, would have imagined us old voyagers on the
return from a long journey; so perfect was every provision
for comfort and luxury. The hotel in Cairo was nothing
to it, though that was excellent.
The Nile itself, at first, sadly disappointed me. I confess
to ideas of a clear and glorious river, like the swift
Ohio, flowing over golden sand and shining stones. I
had never paused to ask myself whence came its fertilizing
powers, or whence the vast deposits of soft mud that
enrich the lower part of Egypt; and when I saw the
strong stream in the hot sunshine, looking more like flowing
mud than water, I was unwilling to call this the Nile.
Utility was not what I wanted to see in the river. Beauty,
majesty, power, all these I had looked for, and there was
nothing of them until the sun went down, and the moon
gilded—not silvered—the stream. Then it was the river
of my imagination—a strong, a mighty flood, glorious in
its deep, strong flow, and the unsightly banks, which, in
the day, are abrupt walls of black mud, in layers, looking
like huge unbaked brick, become picturesque and fairly
beautiful with waving groves of sont and palms, and glistening
fields of doura.
We were all awake before the sun rose next morning,
and saw him come up after the short morning twilight,
which is beautiful beyond words. The sharp outlines of
the hills, in morning and evening twilight, surpass belief.
Before the sun was above the mountains, Trumbull and

myself were off on the plain, shooting partridges, for the
wind was gone and the boat was lying at the bank. In
half an hour Ferraj came off to us with cups of hot coffee,
exquisitely made, for therein Hajji Mohammed did excel,
and having taken these, gun in hand, we strolled up the
river, and the Phantom followed us before a light northern
breeze. As this increased she picked us up, and we
ran on with the lofty sail swinging in the strong, full
breeze, and pulling her by the nose through the rushing
current of the river.
We reached Benisoef at noon on the third day, and while
strolling through the narrow bazaars, with their cupboard
shops, I was not a little amused at the dragoman's method
of treating his countrymen. Travelers should take a native
dragoman in preference to a Maltese on this account,
that the inhabitants have no fear of a Maltese before their
eyes, and insult travelers without hesitation and without
being punished, when they are attended by a foreigner.
But the presence of a native dragoman does not always
protect from insulting language.
I did not, but Abd-el-Atti did, overhear a remark made
by one of three men seated in a shop front, somewhat
derogatory to the character of Christians in general, with
particular reference to me. He wheeled in an instant,
but the Arab was too quick for him, and vanished around
a corner, leaving his shoes on the ground in front of the
shop, and his two companions sitting within it. With one
of the shoes Abd-el-Atti beat one of the scoundrels, and
with the other shoe he thrashed the other, finishing each
castigation by throwing the shoe into the face of the victim,
adding a little advice to keep better company. Abd-el-Atti
was by no means satisfied with the escape of the
chief offender, and ten minutes afterward, as we returned
that way, proposed to surround him. It was probable he
had by this time returned to talk over the affair with his

friends. Abd-el-Atti walked on unobserved, and having
passed the shop, gave me a signal. We closed up, and
he sprang like a cat on his prey.
Never was man more astounded. Abd-el-Atti had
snatched a stick from a by-stander, and showered blows
on the back and head of the offender, until he made a
sudden bolt to escape, and, in his intense haste, stumbled
over a boy, and went six feet into the dirt, taking a piece
of skin off from his nose—quite large enough to keep him
employed in better business for some days, than insulting
travelers. Fifty turbaned shop-keepers looked on all this
with motionless countenances, neither approving nor
disapproving, by word or gesture, though I thought I could
detect a smile of satisfaction in some of their dark eyes as
he bit the dust.
We left Benisoef with a rattling breeze, but it failed
us toward evening, and a dead calm followed. In the
morning I went ashore, on the eastern side, to look for
game, and found myself on a large island several miles
in extent. A native, at work in the fields, assured me
that I should find wild hogs in the thickets back of the
doura fields, and signaling the boat for two sailors to
help me, I went into it with the determination to have
them out if they were there.
It was a warm day, but the air was clear and rich, like
wine to the lungs, and I scarcely felt any fatigue after a
five-mile walk at a fast rate.
Here, I found a thicket that had all the appearance of
being a fit place for the game I was after. I had no
knowledge whatever of the animal's habits; had never
shot one in my life, but I guessed at his taste from his
cousins in America, and plunged into the mud swamp
with full expectation of seeing my game before me.
Nor was I disappointed. I had not advanced ten rods,
when one-eyed Mustapha shouted furiously, and a small,

dark pig dashed through the thicket, close to Abdallah's
feet. I shot. Abdallah threw himself on him,
they rolled and floundered together in the mud ten seconds,
and then—presto—the pig was gone, and Abdallah
nearly gone. Never was poor devil so muddy. He was
a mass of mud. His hair was mortar. His nose was
stopped. His mouth was full of his native earth, and his
clothes—he had but one shirt, and that could not be
harmed or dirtied.
I saw no more pigs or hogs, or tracks of any sort. I
shot four rabbits, four partridges, a dozen and a half
pigeons, and shot at a curlew that I didn't hit; and have
always been sorry since that I missed, as he was different
from any other that I have ever seen. I returned to the
river four miles above where I left it. The boat was
slowly approaching, and I sat down to rest while the
men tracked her up. From this time till we reached Es
Souan, nearly thirty days afterward, we continued most
of the time to track.
The Nile has along each bank a tow-path as well
beaten as that of a canal in America. At times, when
there are sand-banks near one shore, the boat is rowed
across, and the men resume their tracking on the opposite
bank. The speed made depends of course on the
velocity of the current against which they are pulling,
and varies from eight to twelve miles a day with a boat
as large as ours.
On the next evening we were at the little village of
Abou-Girg, on the west bank; and as Abd-el-Atti was
going into the village for milk, I accompanied him. The
low water would not, allow the boat to reach the bank,
and we had directed her to anchor in the middle of the
river, as well for the sake of avoiding thieves as for convenience.
Nor could the small boat reach the shore;
and having pulled up in the mud, I mounted the shoulders

of an Arab sailor, who carried me safely to dry
The mud village was as quiet as a grave-yard in the
moonlight until we approached, and then fifty dogs made
the night hideous with cowardly barking. Milk is not as
easily procured as might be imagined in a country where
cattle, goats, and camels are plenty. Butter brings them
so much better prices, that few are willing to sell milk;
and hence the propriety of applying to a man in authority
to compel the production of the article we wished. I had
been furnished with all the necessary authority for this
purpose, having with my firman a sort of roving letter of
credit from the government, directed to all sheiks of villages,
and officials, great and small, requiring them, at all
times, to give me whatever I wished, in the way of provisions,
at government prices.
It was a mud village, and the streets were but narrow
alleys between the walls of the low, windowless houses,
whose roofs were corn-stalks or palm-branches. The
moon shone very quietly down in those streets. I had
never seen it more so. There was an aspect of repose
about it that I could account for only in one way, and
that was by supposing that the rays of light, having fallen
into this vile and dirty spot, had lain down there in the
repose of absolute despair.
“Where is the sheik?” we demanded of a naked boy
who made himself visible in the moonlight an instant.
But he vanished with a howl of terror, and made no reply.
We met a woman face to face, as she came around
a corner, carrying a calabash on her head. She stopped,
drew her dress around her face, set down her calabash on
the ground, never removing the gaze of her eyes from
my face, and then wheeled, and darted away.
At length we caught a man, and he took us up a street
to a point where it made a short angle to the left for

thirty feet, and then continued its course. The moon
shone up it, but this angle was in the shade; and on a
diwan made of dried mud, the customary bench in all the
Egyptian villages, sat the sheik and a half dozen of his
friends in the shade, with their backs to the moon, looking
up the street, where it shone clearly again. Our errand
was soon stated, and the pail, which one of the sailors
had brought; was placed on the broad bench in front
of the sheik, while I sat on one side of it, Abd-el-Atti
stood on the other, and a dozen men, women, and boys
sat down in the dusty street, just within the line of
The old sheik puffed his pipe in silence a moment, then
handed it to me. One soon forgets prejudices. It would
be some time before I could be induced at home to take
a pipe from the lips of a white or black man; but I had
not been in Egypt a month before I had learned that my
Nubian servant always brought me my pipe between his
own large lips, and I had accepted the hospitality and
wet mouth-pieces of a dozen Turks and Arabs. I did
manage at first to get a sly wipe over the mouth-piece
with my thumb as I took it; but I gave up this notion at
length, and therefore I took the sheik's chibouk unhesitatingly,
and puffed as contentedly as his vile Beledi tobacco
would permit, while he summoned up his followers.
“Hassan! Hassan! Hassan!” The village rang with the
voice. No house was there that did not hear it. But
Hassan did not appear. Hassan was wide awake. All the
village knew that we wanted milk, and Hassan, for the
first time in his worthless life, was away from home.
“Some one bring Hassan!” growled the sheik; and
while some one was about it, he shouted for “Mohammed.”
Mohammed was on hand. He had no milk, and
was safe in appearing, while they endeavored to convince
him that he had a gallon of it. Hassan was brought into

the ring, and the sheik ordered him to bring the desired
article. Hassan swore he had no milk. He did not know
what milk was. If you would believe him, he never drew
milk from his mother's breast; and, in fact, on looking at
the intense darkness of his countenance, it seemed probable
that he was right. He was innocent of the article.
But the sheik knew Hassan. A storm of words commenced
that resounded through the village, and Hassan
departed growling. The moonlight fell quietly in the
narrow street, and the group, which had steadily increased
in number, sat in the edge of the light, striving
in vain to pierce the darkness that enveloped my corner,
and catch a sight of my countenance. The sheik was
silent, and I followed his example, puffing industriously
at his vile chibouk, which I twice handed back to him
with my hand on my forehead, and which he as often returned
to me wet from his lips, with his hand most impressively
plunged into his loose robe, in the region where
ordinary humanity carries its heart, but where an Egyptian
carries either a stone or nothing.
It was not so much the mouth-piece as the tobacco
to which I objected; but I resigned myself to it after
fruitless efforts to get rid of it, and kept at it with commendable
perseverance, until I discovered a sleepy-looking
Arab on the other side of the sheik, who looked as if
he would be glad of a chance at it, and I passed it to him.
He seized it and made fast to it, while I yielded myself to
a profound sense of satisfaction, and, leaning back, looked
up toward the stars. I say toward the stars, but not at
them, for not less than twenty heads intercepted my
vision. The roofs of the houses were crowded with
women, who were looking over into the open space below
to see the stranger. I stared at them unobserved, and,
though they were villagers living in mud huts and clothed
in blue cotton, still they had as beautiful faces among them

as I have seen in splendid halls, and eyes that outshone
the stars themselves. Ah, those lustrous eyes of the
Arab women! one can not imagine the possibility of all
the extravagances of the Arabian Nights until he has
seen their depths of beauty, and then he understands it
all. The dark lines of kohl, drawn around the edges of
the lids, make them appear like diamonds set in ebony,
and their laughing expression is the soul of fun and delight.
I asked the sheik what fruit grew on the house-tops in
Abou-Girg? Every head was raised instantly, and the
eyes disappeared in a twinkling, while a hearty laugh ran
around the circle. At this moment Hassan made his appearance
with a bowl containing less than a pint of milk,
which he poured into the pail in front of the sheik. Then
came a tempest. The sheik groaned, and Abd-el-Atti
waxed eloquent. Hassan was overpowered with the
storm of words that ensued, and departed to squeeze his
calabash or his cows for a little more. Meantime Mohammed
had been dispatched to raise some milk under penalty
of a thrashing if he failed; and when he was gone,
the sheik shouted for female assistance: “Serreeyeh!
She came, wearing the invariable blue cloth wound
around her body, head, and face, the eyes alone being
visible, and was dispatched on the same errand, while the
sheik asked news from the war, and we launched into the
sea of politics. The scene was enlivened by the arrival
of an Arab mounted on a white horse, and a half dozen
tall fellows in red tarbouches, who had been sent for to sit
on shore all night and watch our boat. Every village is
responsible for the safety of a boat lying over night at or
near its banks, and, if robbery occurs, must make good
all losses.
At length Hassan returned with another pint of milk,

and poured it into the pail with an air of satisfaction that
seemed to claim the approval of his neighbors. The
sheik looked in, took up the pail, shook it, looked at
Hassan, and set it down with a groan of disgust that was
irresistible. I think Hassan's chances for a well pair of
feet were poorer at that moment than they had been in
some weeks. But Mohammed arrived in the nick of time
with a good supply, and filled the pail. As for Serreeyeh,
Serreeyeh is doubtless looking for it yet, for we saw no
more of her. I took my leave of the sheik and went
back to the Phantom, followed by the guard, who spread
their mats on the bank while I pulled off to the boat,
which was anchored fifty yards from the shore. For an
hour the men on board exchanged hails every ten minutes
with the guard on shore; after that our hails were
unanswered, and from the appearance of the three mats
and six dark spots on them, I was convinced that they
were keeping watch after the most approved Turkish
The next day we tracked again all day. But there was
nothing tedious in this way of progressing, for it gave us
an opportunity of going on shore and walking, shooting,
gathering shells, agates, and cornelians, or meeting the
natives and talking with or looking at them.
We strolled along a sandy beach, the ladies looking for
specimens of the Nile shells, and J — and myself carrying
our guns and shooting an occasional plover or pigeon.
We came to a point on the east bank not far below the
village of Sheik Hassan, where the desert came down to
the edge of the river, and from the Nile to the Red Sea
the sand rolled everywhere. There was a rocky point
projecting into the river, and on its top the remains of a
foundation hewn in it. Nothing but these lines was
there. No fallen wall, no blocks of stone, no column,
only the trench in the solid rock that marked the outline

of the building which had once stood there. There was
nothing strange in this, for almost every rock from Cairo
to Wâdy Halfeh has interesting memorials about it; but
no American, accustomed as we are to the modern, can
look on the foundation-wall of a building of three thousand
years ago without pausing to analyze the new
thoughts and emotions that crowd into his brain. Possibly
our monuments are older. Perhaps the mounds that
I opened on the banks of the Ohio may be the graves of a
race that had grown old when Egypt was young—of a
people whose monarchs were mighty men of renown long
centuries before the valley of the Nile rang to the sounds
of war under the Shepherd Kings. I have looked on
those mounds with reverence, but reverence more for the
mysterious and unknown than for the ancient and great.
I have slept in solemn nights, when the wind was wailing
through the forest, wrapped in my blanket, in the turf
inclosure that contained one of those strange heaps, and
every night ghostly visitors surrounded me, giant men,
like trees walking, and with voices like the wind. But I
never felt in those dark communions with the unknown
past any of that profound awe with which I stand among
the relics of a nation whose history I know, and whose
age is recorded on granite.
It was but a line on the stone, but it told of the days
of princes and kings. We sat down on the rock,
Miriam and I, and the sun shone pleasantly down on us,
and the river passed on at our feet as we read the story.
It was of kingly footsteps on the floor, of the light tread
of the fairy feet of princesses, of the tramp of men-at-arms,
the sound of music, and laughter, and song, and
dance, and revel. Soft passages were not wanting, that
told of pure and gentle love; and those we paused to
read, for human love hallows the earth more than any
other incident in all the life of man. I care not where it is

—though in the hut of an Egyptian Fellah or the hovel
of a miserable Berber, if the sanctifying influence of love
have been there, it has made it a sacred place. And the
thought that arms had been twined around each other
here, that lips had wooed each other's kisses here, that
hearts had beaten against hearts, and strong embraces
held young beauties, and voices whispered low soft words
of human fondness, and eyes looked love here—this
thought hallowed the rock, though arms, lips, and young
beauties were all dead dust a thousand years ago—dead
dust carried away on the river to the sea, and by the sea
scattered to the islands and continents of an unknown
world. If all the dust of all the earth could but start
into life and clear perception for an instant where it now
lies, what strange, wild countenances of affright and horror
would men see staring on them from the earth beneath
their feet in every land!

[Back to top]


Braheem Effendi El Khadi.

We reached Kalouseneh that day. When within four
miles of it, I left the boat, and crossed the country on
foot, gun in hand, shooting along the way.
At the village I found it market-day. There are about
a hundred acres of palm-grove here—it might almost be
called a forest—and in the shade sat literally hundreds of
men, women, and children, with their various wares and
merchandise. All the fruits, grains, and products of the
country abounded, and there were long rows of temporary
shops, consisting only of shawls spread on the ground,
covered with beads and other trinkets, to tempt the
Bedouin or Egyptian women. I sat down under a palm,
tired out, and endeavored to cool and rest myself; but a
gaping crowd, scores and scores of the people, surrounded
me, stifling the air, and nearly suffocating me. I left the
market and entered the village. It was the usual mud
structure of Egypt, and but for the beauty of its palm-grove,
would have been as detestable as any other. I
found a coffee-house on the bank of the river, where I
sat down to wait the coming of my boat. It was already
occupied, but they vacated the coolest diwan on my arrival,
and I took it.
Do not imagine a coffee-house on the European or
American plan. Far from it. A mud wall in the rear,

seven feet high, and two posts at the front corners, supported
a roof of reeds or of corn-stalks. This is the
Egyptian coffee-shop, found in every village of any size,
and furnishing coffee at ten paras the cup, araka at a little
more, and boosa at five paras for enough to get sick upon.
Forever be the memory of Egyptian boosa detested! It
was here that I first encountered it, and, unsuspicious
man that I was, invested my paras—five of them constituting
almost the smallest coin known in Egypt—in ordering
a cup of beer—Arabic, boosa. It came, and I looked at it,
and elevated my gaze to the faces of the group around
me. They did not understand my horror, except only a
ghawazee, a dancing-girl, whose intense black eyes flashed
her fun as she saw me posed by the earthen dish full of a
vile abomination that—on my faith it did—smelled as if
it had already served the purposes of two Arabs, and
refused to stay on their stomachs. I tasted it. I taste
every thing, clean or unclean, that Arabs taste. No, I
am wrong: there is a dish that Abdul Rahman Effendi,
the governor of Nubia from Es Souan to Wâdy Halfeh,
called my attention to, and which I did not taste.
It was the entrails of a sheep, chopped fine, with the
gall broken and sprinkled on them, which a half dozen
Berbers were eating raw, with a gusto that might
have tempted a less fastidious man; as I said, I did
not taste that. But I did taste the boosa, and I handed
back the dish, cup, bowl, whatever its name was—it
held a quart—and I begged the proprietor of the shop,
as a special favor to me, to pour it all back into his
reservoir, and shut the cover down. I shudder as I remember
it now!
I sat for two hours in the coffee-shop, and I am sorry
to say that my company was none of the most reputable.
There were three filthy-looking Arabs, half-civilized Bedouins,
belonging to a tribe that Mohammed Ali persuaded

to occupy arable land and raise camels for his
uses, and whom Said Pasha has converted into enemies
by attempting to tax. There was a great rascal, in the
shape of an owner of a boat, who was endeavoring to
extract a sum of money out of a poor reis by a summary
process, not unlike some attempts that I have seen
in other countries, in which attempt there were some ten
or twelve villagers deeply interested, while two ghawazee
—dancing girls—dressed in the voluptuous, half-naked
style of their profession, swindled the various parties out
of successive cups of coffee, or the money to buy them,
by the same arts that women of their character practice
all the world over.
The dispute about the boat, between the owner and the
reis, grew furious. All shouted at once, and now I
learned that the sheik of the reises was present endeavoring
to settle the difficulty.
This is a feature of Egyptian government. Every trade
or business has its sheik. In Cairo you will hear constantly
of the sheik of the donkey-owners, and, on any
dispute arising among your boys as to the division of the
day's pay, you had nothing to do but to throw down your
money, and let them go to their sheik and settle it.
Achmet, the boat owner, had contracted with Reis
Barikat to let him his boat for a year at a fixed rate per
month, and he had had it a year and a half, and paid
regularly. Just at this time freights were very high, and
the boat was loaded with grain, and ready to go down
the river, when the rascally Achmet demanded the boat,
on the ground that his contract was for a year and no
longer, and although it ran on six months longer, that
was no reason why it should six months more.
The dispute waxed furious, and came at last to the
true western style.
“You lie.”


“You lie yourself.”
And then they went at each other. Loud shouts
arose on all sides, and the ghawazee danced in uproarious
fun at the idea of a fight, and ran up to me with the
most decided indications of their intent to embrace me
as they had embraced every body else.
I was sitting on a bench of mud a little elevated from
the mud floor of the coffee-shop. I drew my feet up
under me, and felt for the handle of a friend in my
shawl-belt as the roaring, screaming mass came over toward
me, and just then Abd-el-Atti made his appearance
with koorbash in hand. A koorbash is Arabic for cowhide,
the cow being a rhinoceros. It is the most cruel
whip known to fame. Heavy as lead, and flexible as India
rubber, usually about forty inches long and tapering
gradually from an inch in diameter to a point, it administers
a blow which leaves its mark for time.
I had not been on the Nile a week before I learned
that the koorbash was the only weapon of defense necessary
to carry, and we soon gave up knives and pistols
and took to the whip, of which all the people had a salutary
Abd-el-Atti made the crowd fly as he swung his weapon
among them, and silence ensued with astonishing suddenness.
“How dare you make such a row in the presence of
Braheem Effendi?”
“Who is Braheem Effendi?” asked the reis of the
boatmen, for up to this moment he had not observed
that the stranger in the coffee-shop was a Howajji.
This was owing not to my oriental appearance so much
as to the extremely shabby costume that I happened to
have on that morning.
“Yonder he is.”
The reis advanced immediately to pay his respects

and apologise for the row. I had to be frank and tell
him it needed an apology. Then he stated the difficulty,
and Achmet interrupted him, and Reis Barikat sat silent
on the ground just outside the shade of the coffee-shop,
sullen as if he expected, as a matter of course, that, now
that his affair was referred to a rich man and his turgoman,
the decision would be against him, a poor devil
without friends, right or wrong.
Abd-el-Atti interpreted rapidly and fluently, much to
my admiration, and when I expressed surprise that any
doubt could arise on so clear a case as this, and asked if
they had no law to punish the man who had sat, day after
day, on the bank and seen his boat loaded while he
waited for the opportunity to attempt extortion like
this, old Reis Barikat looked over his shoulder at me in
astonishment gradually changing into delight, and then
I proceeded to deliver a lecture on the doctrine of bailments,
contracts, executory and executed, and all the
law that could be applied remotely or nearly to this case,
or any case like it. The crowd around the coffee-house increased
to not less than a hundred persons, all profoundly
silent, while I amused myself by watching their dark
faces, among which the bright countenance of one of the
ghawazee girls, white as a Circassian's, and rosy as a
Georgian's, shone conspicuous with delight, for she had
all along favored the old reis, who had, doubtless,
given her a free sail down to Cairo once in a while.
The scene was worth remembering. I sat on the
bench, over which a straw mat, crowded with fleas, had
been spread. Abd-el-Atti stood before me. The sheik
of the boatmen sat on the ground in front, Achmet by
his side, and the villagers stood crowded behind them.
By the time I had finished my address the Phantom was
in sight, and rising from the seat of justice, I gathered
my robes about me with as much dignity as might be,

and quietly walked down to the boat, leaving the reis
and Achmet to the tender mercies of the sheik enlightened
by American law.
Abd-el-Atti remained behind, and informed me that
the sheik's decision was based on the profound views
that I had suggested, although, to say truth, he didn't
remember the precise order of them or what they were
about. But he gave Reis Barikat the boat on the same
terms for the voyage as before, and administered justice
to the feet of the extortionate owner.
While we were lying here, I saw a woman sitting on
the bank tearing sugar-cane to pieces with her teeth, and
feeding it to her child. The mother's beauty of teeth attracted
my attention, and I approached her to look at
them. Her head-dress was of the shape common in her
country, consisting, as I supposed, of round pieces of
brass attached to each other. Her form was not ungraceful,
and most liberally exposed by the single blue
shirt, open to the waist, which alone covered it. Abd-el-Atti
asked her something about her head-dress, and
told her he would give her five paras apiece for the ornaments.
I looked at him in surprise, and told him he was
making her a large offer.
“Do you think so? Look at them,” said he—and I
walked up and took hold of them. They were gold
pieces, Constantinople money, worth twenty odd piastres
each, and the woman had on her head actually more than
a hundred dollars' worth of gold coin. This style of headdress
is everywhere common. Women wear all they possess
on their heads, and nearly every coin in circulation
in Egypt has a hole in it, showing that it has been used
for this purpose. The young children of the poorer
classes wear the base metal coins of the value of a half
piastre and upward, and it is an evidence of the general
honesty of the people, that young children of five and ten

years old are seen everywhere with head-dresses covered
with these coins.
It was not yet evening, but there was no other village
for some distance above, and we thought it best to pass
the night here. Accordingly we laid the boat up at the
bank, and spread our carpets under the palm-trees. Here
we sat till the sun went down, and the moonlight came
gloriously over us. Never was there such a moon, never
such skies, never such stars as these. And when the
night comes, and I sit in the holy light that sanctifies
even this apparently God-forgotten land, I think there
can be no life in all the world like this. Palm-trees,
moonlight, and the Nile! What more? Sometimes—
sometimes, I say—not often—on such nights as these, I
remember a distant land of cold storms and biting frosts.
Often—how often! how earnestly, how fondly, I remember
a land of gleaming firesides and beloved faces; and I
see, the sad countenances of two who look for my coming,
and then I long to be away. God keep us all to meet in
a land that I love better than Jerusalem itself, for all my
darling memories of childhood and of you!
At break of day we glided away from the shadow of
the palm-trees, and pursued our course slowly up the
river—I, as usual, taking my gun and one of the men
with me, and walking on shore, in advance of the crew
who were at the tracking-rope. The current was strong,
and we had not advanced far when we met a boat in
which were a man, his wife, and two boys coming down
on the stream. It was heavily loaded and near the
shore, and the man was unable to row off and give our
boat the track, as was our right. It was manifest that
unless he stopped her we should be afoul, and that with
force enough to sink one or the other, or both. The usual
Arab shouting commenced, and the eldest boy plunged
into the stream with a rope for the shore. He reached

it, but the current swept him by the steep bank. I gave
him the end of my gun, and my man caught the rope,
and between us we swung the boat in to the shore. At
the moment that her bow struck, the other boy jumped
for the shore, and missing his footing, fell into the stream
just in time for the boat to close over him and absolutely
extinguish him. I thought he was done for. But Mohammed
sprang to the rescue, pushed off the boat, and
seized him literally in extremis.
All Arabs, men and boys, have their heads shaved,
leaving only a scalp-lock, said by some to be left in imitation
of the Prophet, who wore his own thus; and by
others said to be for the convenience of the angel who
will pull them out of their graves when the day of rising
shall come. The tuft of hair served the boy's purposes
at an earlier date than had been anticipated. Mohammed
lifted him bodily by it, his feet and hands spread
out like a frog. I thought his scalp must be pulled off;
but no. He picked himself up from the mud into which
Mohammed threw him, and stood, without a whimper, an
unconcerned spectator of the scene which followed. His
father was indignant at Mohammed for saving the boy's
life so rudely. He should have been more polite about
it. The old man struck a good blow, but got a better
one in return. By this time the crew had come up with
the tracking-rope, and some natives had run down to the
shore. The mêlée became general. I was the only one
not in it, and I amused myself with seeing their harmless
blows, which were showered furiously on each other,
while the shouts were hideous. Blows and shouts at
length became milder, and the difficulty was ended. The
crew resumed their tracking-rope, turning occasionally to
hurl a general volley—sort of company-fire of words—
in the rear, until Reis Hassanein, who had been foremost

in the fray, resumed his walk by the side of his men, and
gave the time for the invariable towing chorus—
“Ya Allah! ya M'hammed!”
which they continued right cheerily until afternoon, when
we were under the Jebel e' Tayr, or “Mountain of
Birds,” which, saith tradition, the birds annually visit
for the purpose of leaving one of their number imprisoned
until their next return. The why and the
wherefore who knoweth?
But the mountain is better known as the site of the
“Convent of the Pulley,” or of “Sitteh Mariam el
Adra” (our Lady Mary the Virgin), and, more briefly,
“Dayr el Adra.” It is a long range of cliffs, singularly
broken, and full of rifts and chasms, rising perpendicularly
from the east side of the river for four miles. The
convent, which is in fact but a Coptic village within mud-brick
walls, occupies the highest part of it, and access to
it is had by a well-hole, a natural break in the rock, up
which men may climb from the river's edge. Otherwise
one must go some miles around to reach it.
Coptic convents are not such places as we are accustomed
to imagine convents. Marriage not being forbidden
to the priests, their wives and families necessarily
form part of the inhabitants of a convent, which thus becomes
a village, often of no small dimensions. A church,
surrounded by mud huts, and all inclosed in a wall to
protect them from the incursions of Bedouins, who have
no fear of the church before their eyes, composes the
residence of the monks. They live as they best can—by
begging, cultivating land, and possibly in less honest
ways. I have not much admiration for the Copts. A
Mussulman is worth a dozen of them, and a much safer
companion. The Dayr el Adra boasts a church built by

the Empress Helena, but it is nearly in ruins, and there
is nothing interesting outside of it.
Long before we were up with it, two black heads were
visible on the surface of the water under the hill, and
two of the monks came off to the boat, swimming more
than two miles to meet us. Their robes were not according
to any monastic order that I have before heard of,
nor could any opinion be formed from them of the rank
of the individuals. In point of fact, the only opinion one
could form was of their physical developments, and these
were magnificent. They were naked, and two more
stout, brawny, heavily-built specimens of humanity were
never seen in or out of a monastery. They made the air
ring and the cliffs echo their shouts from the time they
took to the water until they reached us, “Howajji, Christiano;
Christiano, Howajji,” and would doubtless have
added the demand for bucksheesh in the approved Egyptian
style if I had not anticipated them. I was on the
upper deck sketching the hill, and when they were within
two hundred yards of us, rapidly approaching, throwing
their long arms out of the water and drawing themselves
along, I called to them to give me bucksheesh. I
begged more vociferously than an Arab—I shouted, I
howled it out: “Edine Bucksheesh, Edine Bucksheesh,
Khamsa, Ashera, Bucksheesh, Bucksheesh!”
They were taken aback. It was not what they came
for. I had mistaken them. It was they who wanted
money. They had not come on a benevolent mission to
the travelers' boat; so they dropped astern very quietly
and swam ashore on the west bank, along which we were
tracking, where they held a small council and took each
other's advice according to priestly rule. It appeared to
be a new question in their experience. For something
like a thousand years the monks of the monastery of the
Sitteh Mariam had been accustomed to ask gifts from

passing travelers, but never before had one demanded
aid from the convent; and yet it looked proper; even
their thick skulls felt the penetrating power of the idea.
Five minutes closed the council, and they advanced
along the sand to the side of the boat.
“Howajji,” commenced the leader. I have an idea
that he was the father abbot; he was six feet in—no—
not in his stockings. His tone was subdued. It was by
way of introducing a conversation that he called our attention.
I was busy over my sketch with my head bent
down, though I watched him steadily.
“Howajji mafish,” replied Trumbull. “There's no
Howajji here. What do you mean by calling me a shopkeeper?”
Again he paused to consider. There was a point in
the remark. The term Howajji, or Howaggi, as it is pronounced
in Egypt, is applied indiscriminately to all travelers,
originally as an expression of contempt, though
it has become the common phrase for a foreigner who
travels for pleasure. The Turks consider all other nations
mere shopkeepers, but the Christian monk had no
excuse for using the word. At length he began again.
“Sidi” (gentleman), and proceeded to state his case.
It was a somewhat unecclesiastical affair altogether, but
I think he did not appreciate that. When he had explained
his wishes, which resolved themselves into the
usual demand for charity, only it was somewhat novel to
hear it asked in the name of the Saviour, we invited the
monks alongside. They swam off to the boat and held
on to the rail, with their mouths open and heads thrown
back, and we administered the silver in due form, laying
it on their tongues. But the ceremony was incomplete,
and the next instant they shouted for “wine, wine,” with
mouths yet wider open. This exhausted our respect for

the church, and I swung a whip over their heads so suddenly
that they disappeared like divers, and swam ashore
again. They walked by our side three miles or so up the
river, and then took to the water again, and swam across
to the convent, where, I trust, for the benefit of future
travelers, they referred the question I had suggested to a
chapter of the worthy brethren of the Dayr el Adra—a
forlorn hope verily.
In the afternoon, while I was away shooting geese, one
of the men cut his hand badly, and I found on my return
that Miriam had bound it up skillfully, and it was doing
well. But he insisted on my examining it, and I did so.
Every man on the boat thereupon presented himself with
a wound, bruise, or sore of some sort to be attended to,
excepting one only, who, after diligent search over his
body, could find nothing but an ancient wart on his finger
that he begged to have removed.
Medical advice and medicine are the most frequent demands,
next to the invariable bucksheesh, which we have
to reply to, not alone from our men, but from men along
shore. Women bring their children with sore eyes and
bruised bodies, and beg medicine, advice, and bucksheesh.
In the evening the deck of the boat presented a scene
that I much wished to have before me for preservation
on canvas. Reis Hassanein had an old uncle who came
with us from Cairo, by permission, as far as Manfaloot,
where he resides. He was an ancient reis himself, having
navigated the Nile for fifty years, and was fifty times
the man that his nephew was. All the evening he was
sitting on one side of a lantern, while Abd-el-Atti read
aloud to him from a ponderous volume of the Arabian
Nights, and the old man's face would light up with a glow
that was positively fine, as some passages of special beauty
or spirit struck his ear. Abd-el-Atti read well, and his
volume of the Arabian Nights proved a valuable addition

to our library. Thereby hangs a story, too, which is
worth the telling, as illustrating the manner in which
things are sometimes done in the East.
Mohammed Ali, among his other good deeds, published
a large number of books at the government press in
Boulak, and among other books he printed an edition of
the Arabian Nights, and another of geometry, both
large books, the former in two volumes. But who in
Egypt could be found to purchase books? The edition
lay unused, unsold, and unread, till the government
issued an order requiring every person in their employ
to take five or more copies of each. A capital way of
disseminating information this. Some hundreds of men
who could not read a letter were thus supplied with several
copies of valuable books. The result was that they
were glad to sell them for whatever they could get, and
for a while books were cheap in Cairo.

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Manfaloot and Es Siout.

Braheem Effendi,” said Reis Hassanein, as we left
Minieh, after examining the sugar factories there and
tasting Said Pasha's rum which he distills “in spite of
Mohammed's law.” The effendi was in his usual place
with his chibouk, on the larboard side of the cabin deck,
and acknowledged the low voice of the reis by a look.
“The wely yonder, under the fig-trees, is death to
It was a Moslem tomb standing on the river bank in
the village of Minieh.
“Why so?”
“Inshallah! They never pass it. If they do they turn
wrong side up and float down dead.”
Such is the story. Certain it is that the first crocodile
I shot at going up was a little way above here and the last
one coming down was near the same place.
The river now began to grow more interesting. The
hills on either side were more or less pierced with tombs,
and early the next morning we were abreast of Beni
Hassan, one of the most interesting points on the Nile.
But a breeze from the north is never to be thrown away,
and we did not stop now even to see the reputed tomb
of Joseph.
At evening, under the foot of a lofty bluff we passed a

small Moslem wely, or saint's tomb, with a white dome
over it, known as that of Sheik Said. A superstition of
the river leads all sailors passing this to throw into the
water some bread for the birds, of which there are hundreds
here. They are a common white gull, called by
the sailors Abou Nouris, and are said to inhabit the
tomb. No boat refusing the gift of bread can hope for a
safe passage. The birds swooped down in clouds to pick
up the floating pieces, and we saw the ceremony repeated
by four boats in succession descending the river as we
went up.
Reis Hassanein had a new passenger on deck that morning.
It appeared that while we were lying up in the
night a downward going boat had stopped near us and
proved to be in command of Hassanein's father, and to
have his own little daughter on board, going down to see
her father in Cairo. He took her out and was now conveying
her back to Manfaloot, her and his home; that is to
say as much his home as any place, for these Nile reises
are roving people and have wives and families, sailor
fashion, in every port. The fact was that his Manfaloot
wife became uneasy at his absence of more than a year,
and had packed off this child to hunt him up.
Hassanein applied, for permission to remain in Manfaloot
over one night. I warned him that I didn't like
this sort of thing, a wife sending a child to look after her
father's habits and haunts, and that he must look out for
squalls at Manfaloot. But the misguided wretch insisted
on his desires, and after due consultation Trumbull and
myself agreed to leave him to his fate, and promised to
stop at Manfaloot for a night.
Next day we passed the cliffs of Aboufayda, celebrated
for wild and furious tempests, but we found them calm,
and went ingloriously by at the end of a tow rope.
Trumbull and myself went ashore in the afternoon, and

walked some miles along the foot of the cliffs, examining
empty tombs with which the hills were honey-combed.
Bones and mummy cloths abounded. The dead had been
here, but were gone on the winds. I climbed one hill
two or three hundred feet, and looked into innumerable
tombs on terraces, but found nothing. I found one narrow
cavernous entrance which penetrated far into the
hill. I had not then adopted a plan I learned soon, never
to be without a candle in my pocket. I went in two hundred
feet by the light of successive pieces of paper, and
then my supply was exhausted, and I was obliged to retire.
I have little doubt that an exploration of this cavern
would repay well. It is not mentioned in any of the
books. It was about three feet wide by an average of
six high, and seemed to have been worked in the rock.
A little way above this we passed a great collection of
modern Christian graves in a ravine that came down to
the river, and which I suppose to be near the village Ebras.
Descending from a hillside where I had been in tomb
after tomb, I found myself almost literally on the top of
the wely of Sheik Abou Meshalk (Father of the Torch),
wherein for nearly or quite a hundred years one man
lived and grew old and fat on the bucksheesh of passing
boatman. He always left a light burning in the dome
or wely, and however fierce were the winds around Aboufayda,
the sailor was secure who caught sight of the
steady gleam of Abou Meshalk.
The old man died about six years ago, and his grandson,
a brawny Arab, has succeeded him. As I leaped to
the ground at the very door of the tomb he demanded
bucksheesh, and I gave him some coppers, whereat he
retired, and I marked him as the first and last man in
Egypt I have seen satisfied with a gift.
Reis Hassanein left the boat to cut across lots and
reach Manfaloot early in the day. We arrived at evening,

and he was already satisfied. He stood on the bank
waiting our arrival, and he did not venture to raise his
eyes to mine.
“Was all right, Reis Hassanein?” I shouted.
“You are always right, O Braheem Effendi,” was his
melancholy reply.
He had found not only a squall but a tempest in his
“She said she knew I had another wife in Cairo,” said
he the next evening as we sat on deck together, smoking
quietly, as he told me his wrongs and afflictions; “and
when I denied it, she beat me, and she called in her father
and her mother and her brothers and all her family, and
they put me in a corner and kept me there till the boat
came. And when I went back in the evening, they cornered
me again, and one or another talked to me all night
and abused me, and called me all manner of names; and
if you please, O Howajji, I will not stop at Manfaloot
when we go down the river.”
We could not oblige the reis in this request, for one of
my most interesting adventures in Egypt occurred in the
crocodile pits at Maabdeh on the opposite shore, and at
Manfaloot, when we were descending the Nile. I believe
that the reis made it right with the family on the second
visit by virtue of cash and presents of dates from Nubia.
We awoke early in the morning on our approach to Es
Siout, the chief city of Upper Egypt.
The city lies back from the river, but the palace of
Latif Pasha, the resident governor, is directly on the
bank. A row of stone steps, designed especially for the
use of the viceroy, descends from the palace gate to the
water, and at the foot of these Abd-el-Atti laid up the
Phantom, assuming that the American Howajjis were sufficiently
noble to walk up such steps, especially as they
carried the firman of the viceroy himself.


We fired some guns on approaching the land, and a few
moments after touching the stakes two officers in uniform
came down by the side of the steps—to ask the names
and character of the new arrivals. Abd-el-Atti received
them on deck while we were at breakfast, and we
had scarcely finished when another officer in full Nizam
costume, attended by two aids, came on board and announced
that the governor himself would visit us.
We could not consent to this, and hastened up to the
court of the palace, where we met him just coming out,
and he returned with us to the boat.
The reception of guests in the East has been so frequently
described that I may run the risk of a repetition.
Yet I think I may venture, once for all, on a minute account
of this visit as an illustration of eastern manners.
Latif Pasha is one of the finest-looking men I have ever
seen. His complexion is white and clear, eyes black and
roving, and exquisitely-cut lip over which was a moustache,
closely trimmed, and his beard, in Turkish style,
also cut short; for a well-dressed Turkish gentleman never
wears a long beard. He was dressed in the Nizam costume,
all his clothing being of black cloth, his shawl a
heavy Damascus silk, wound around his waist, and a red
tarbouche on his head, with white takea showing under it.
As he entered, two officers took their position at the
door of the cabin, one on each side, and his pipe-bearer
advanced with his pipe ready-filled and lighted.
He seated himself on the starboard diwan, and Abd-el-Atti
stood in the centre, while we sat opposite, and then
commenced the usual salutations, repeated in various
forms. Latif Pasha understood French and English, but
he would not converse except in Arabic or Turkish,
through Abd-el-Atti as interpreter.
Coffee was served instantly on his taking his seat.
Oriental coffee is a dense, dark decoction, sweetened

and served in tiny cups, each cup fitting in a silver or
gold cup a little larger. The receiver touches his hand
to his breast and forehead as he takes it, and the host at
the same moment goes through the same form. The
coffee is sipped with a loud noise of the lips, and the
empty cup returned to a servant, who receives it on the
palm of one hand and covers it with the other. A wealthy
Turkish gentleman carries his own pipe with him, having
his pipe-bearer as a constant attendant. We were abundantly-well
provided with chibouks, and not unfrequently
filled ten or twelve at a time in the cabin.
The conversation, which began in the usual formal
style, gradually ran into general politics, and then into
general matters, and his excellency, finding our tobacco
and coffee and conversation all agreeable, sat the morning
I am under very great obligations to Latif Pasha for a
pleasant winter in Egypt, and I passed a morning with
him afterward at Minieh, where I had opportunity to thank
him for his kindness. He furnished me with full letters
of credit on all Upper Egypt, by virtue of which I was
able to command all the assistance I desired at any time,
and was enabled to make my journeyings rapid, pleasant,
and successful.
He smoked splendidly, lipping his jeweled amber
mouth-piece as if he knew what a superb lip he had, and
sending clouds of smoke through his moustache and
around his fine face.
He apologized for not returning our salute in the morning,
as he had no gun loaded. He made up for it in the
When he left us we accompanied him up to the top of
the steps, the distance the host goes with his guest being
the measure of his respect.
A few minutes afterward ten donkeys, of the most rare

and elegant breeds, made their appearance, being placed
at our service, and several officers having orders to accompany
us and see that we wanted nothing. We mounted
for a ride to the city and the mountain beyond.
As we were riding up the long avenue, an officer,
splendidly mounted, rode up to us, and with profound
respect handed me a package of letters to various officials
on the upper Nile, which had been instantly prepared by
the governor's directions, and at the same time informed
us that Latif Pasha was fearful he should not see us again,
as he had received despatches calling him down the river.
We knew what this meant, and not long afterward
heard the result of his mission. I have already mentioned
the Bedouins, whom Mohammed Ali reduced to civilization
and Said Pasha has driven into revolt.
Latif was the man for them, and was sent to look after
them. Our gentlemanly friend has the reputation of a
devil among the Arabs. Some time after this I met a
Bedouin near Abydos, and heard of the manner in which
he suppressed this revolt. The Bedouin cursed him with
all the curses of his race.
“What did he do?”
The fellow's wild eye flashed at me, as he drew the
back of his hand across his throat for answer.
“How many?”
“One hundred and fifty!”
I could not think it possible, but I learned that it was
probably true. The law requires him to report a sentence
of death to Said Pasha. He obeys the law, but only after
executing the sentence.
As I before remarked, the city lies more than a mile
from the river, near the foot of the mountain; but it is
separated from the latter by a branch of the river, which
makes the site of the city in fact an island. Over this
branch stands an arched stone bridge, and below it the

picturesque ruins of an older one similar to it; while immediately
after crossing the bridge commences the abrupt
ascent of the mountain, which is filled with tombs
and grottoes. From the river to the city the road is
raised some feet above the level of the plain, which is
overflowed at high Nile. The approach by this curving
route is very picturesque, and the appearance of the city
is, in all respects, more beautiful than any thing I have
seen in Egypt. Fifteen or twenty mosks lift their graceful
minarets among groves of palms; and the private
houses of the city, which are built in much better style
than in Cairo, present an appearance that is refreshing to
the eye so long accustomed to mud and crude brick.
Es Siout occupies the site of the ancient Lycopolis,
“the City of Wolves,” so called from the worship, by the
ancient Egyptians, of the god to whom the wolf was sacred,
and a consequent respect to the animal, evinced by
the immense number of them found mummied in the
catacombs among the hills. Of the ancient city little
or nothing now remains, and of its ancient inhabitants
no memorial, except their empty tombs, which darken
the mountain-side like melancholy eyes looking over the
plain that once gleamed with art, and arms, and wealth,
and magnificence. Sometimes, indeed, an industrious
Arab, mindful of the value which is set on the bones of
his dead predecessors, excavates a new tomb, and dislodges
the occupant who has slept so many thousand
years in its gloomy silence. But this is not often, and
most travelers who have visited the catacombs of Es
Siout record the sight of wolves prowling among them,
and Mohammedan funerals in the cemetery below, as the
only things worthy of record that they saw from the hill.
We saw the funerals, but no wolves. Perhaps those
who have been before us have seen foxes, which we
did see, and mistook them for wolves; or possibly they

did see wolves, which are not so very uncommon on
the Nile. We rode rapidly through the city. The
bazaars were very busy, and the people were apparently
less accustomed to the sight of a Christian than those in
other cities of Egypt, for they crowded around us as
children around a menagerie, so that at times the cawass
had difficulty in clearing our passage. On the hill we
paused awhile to survey the magnificent view over the
plain, and then entered the Stabl Antar, the great tomb
of some unknown grandee of the old time, whose dust
was long ago scattered on the Nile.
It is an immense chamber, cut in the rock, having a
lofty doorway opening out on the side of the mountain.
The vaulted roof of the room is nearly or quite fifty feet
in height, and from this chamber arched passages lead in
various directions, now nearly filled with sand and the
crumbling stone of their roofs.
Into one of these passages I crawled on my hands and
knees for two hundred feet, where it spread out into an
immense chamber, but I could not stand upright anywhere
in it. Under one side of it there was a lower
chamber, into the roof of which some rude hands had
broken an opening in former years, and around it lay
dead men's bones and the relies of ancient humanity.
My feet crushed them at every step. I held my candle
down in the chasm, and could see indistinctly the bottom
ten feet below. I let myself down, and dropped, safely
indeed, but with a fearful rattle of bones around my feet.
The spoiler had been here long ago, nor was there any
evidence who, or how many, had slept out the centuries
here in darkness, nor when their slumber was disturbed.
There was evidence, indeed, of nothing, save only that,
somewhere in God's great universe, there are souls,
spirits of light or gloom, who once wielded these bones
for earthly uses, and who now know nothing and care

nothing for their fate. Perhaps this is not so. In fact
it does violate one of our dearest fancies—call it belief,
for I believe it—that the dead do linger with somewhat
of affection around the clay homes they once inhabited,
and best love the flowers that spring from the dust
which was once their own. If so, what ghostly companies
are in this valley of the Nile! for here there is
little trouble in finding their bodies. In other lands
they pass into grass, and trees, and all the mutations
that are the course of nature; but here, in black hideousness,
they lie in rocky sepulchres, millions on millions,
the dead of two thousand years of glory such as no nation
before or since has equaled; and could we but
speak into visible existence their haunting spirits, what
room above this narrow valley would there be to let the
moonlight through their crowded ranks? What maidens
would sit on white rocks over the burial-vaults of lovers!
what mothers, in white-robed sorrow, would bow their
heads over the forms of beloved children! what angel-watchers
would be seen at head and foot of countless
fathers and friends!
We ate our lunch in the large room, spreading our
carpets in the centre, where we could look out across
the valley and feast our eyes with the glorious view. In
the foreground was the city; beyond, its groves of
palms, and then the lordly river, on which the only
visible flag was our own—the only memorial before us of
home. While we ate, the cawass and ten or a dozen attendants,
men and boys, sat outside the doorway, and
one of them chanted to the others a chapter from the
Koran. It rang in the vault of the room, and, closing
our eyes, we could imagine ourselves in a cathedral of
Europe, so priest-like was the sound.
Lunch over, I left the ladies and climbed to the top of
the bill, looking into a hundred tombs on the sides of the

rocky terraces, and finally crossing the summit, where I
descended into a wild ravine, the habitation of desolation
itself. Here, musing as I walked, I started a fox from
his hole in some recess of a tomb, and as he dashed down
the side of the hill I sent a ball after him. It did not
stop him, though it killed him, for he went a hundred
feet down and fell into the ravine, while the sound rang
through the rocky chasms with a hundred echoes that
might well have startled the sleepers under those gray
hills. Descending to secure my game, I returned to the
party by a path around the hill, and came upon a crude
brick ruin, which may be Christian or possibly Roman.
It was remarkable only for the abundance of scorpions
which were in the walls, and I killed a dozen within a
minute, perforating two of them with a thorn for exhibition
to the ladies, who had heard much of them, as
common in Egypt, but who had never yet seen any.
I found them still sitting in the doorway of the Stabl
Antar, looking out on the valley view, and on a mournful
procession that carried a dead man to the burial-place
in the sand near the foot of the hill. The loud cries of
the mourners, mingled with the chant of the bearers,
came up to us with peculiar effect. We sat silent in the
broken entrance of an ancient prince's tomb, to watch
the burial of the poor fellah, and wonder how many days
the wolves and jackals would let him repose.

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Thanksgiving Day.

From the hill above Es Siout we obtained one of the
finest views of agricultural Egypt, that the country offers.
I have already spoken of the simple method of cultivation.
Here we began to learn the nature of the crops of
Sugar-cane began to abound, and above here cotton
was plenty. At Es Siout as indeed throughout Egypt the
great crop is corn, doura and wheat being most plenty.
Doura is of two kinds, and but two. The millet, growing
one large ear on the top of the corn-stalk, and the Doura
Shamee, or Syrian doura, as it is called, which is our ordinary
Indian corn. The latter is of poor quality as to
the yield, but is sweet, and makes excellent meal. The
antiquity of the millet, or native doura, is great, as is evident
from the monuments, where we find it often represented
in farming scenes. It is not, however, to be
supposed that these are the only products of Egyptian
soil. Beans grow in great quantities, lupins and lentils
abound, and immense fields of bamia, the edible hybiscus,
(sometimes called ocre), are found near all the large
towns. Onions abound, and a large bulbous root, known
as the ghoulghas, or oulas, is used as a substitute for
the potato, which does not flourish here.
There is but one form of tool for hand use by one man

that I have seen in Egypt. It is a species of hoe, but
more like a broad pick, very heavy and unwieldy, known
as the gedoom. It is in fact a carpenter's adze, and is
used as ax, hammer, hoe, rake, spade, and shovel. Another
form of hoe or scraper, used for making the small
squares which I have described, is a flat piece of board,
with a handle held by one man, and two ropes held by
two others, who draw it while the one guides it over the
ground. Thus three men do less work than one would
do with a good tool.
Threshing is done, as of old, by the oxen treading out
the grain, and it is winnowed in the wind. Some instruments
are in use to assist in this work; but they are
simple and rude, and but little advantage is derived from
them, most of the natives preferring the simpler process.
I wish a thousand Yankee farmers could be in Egypt for
ten years, and I believe it would be the garden of the
We took a shorter path down the hill than that which
we had ascended, and made some heavy plunges over
steep places, where two Arabs to a lady and a third to
the donkey were hardly sufficient to keep them safe from
accident. But the foot of the hill was safely reached at
length, and we trotted rapidly across the bridge and into
the city again.
Before returning to the boat we paused in the bazaars
to make some purchases, and especially to replenish our
stock of pipe bowls, which had become low.
Forever to be remembered are the chibouks of Egypt,
and the tobacco called Latakea, from the city that was
the ancient Laodicea, not the Laodicea once celebrated
for the Christian Church, but its namesake in Syria.
The chibouk, O my friend! is not very different from
the pipe that you and I used to smoke in college days,
when we had reeds bored, some six feet long, and

rested the bowl on the other side of the room. It is but
a long stick with a clay bowl for the tobacco, and the
wealth of the owner determines the elegance of the ornaments.
The amber mouth-piece is a necessity on an
eastern chibouk, and on this are set jewels of every description.
The stick itself is common dog-wood, or
cherry, or jessamine; and as the pipe-maker is always at
hand, and will bore a stick in two minutes at any time, it
is not uncommon for a host to have branches of roses or
other plants loaded with fragrant blossoms bored for
pipe-sticks, and handed to his guests fresh from the garden.
Es Siout is celebrated for its manufacture of pipe-bowls,
whence come the best in Egypt; and besides
these, the workers in clay make many small affairs—
match-boxes, cups, and plates, vases, and like articles,
which are curious and even beautiful in appearance, and
with which we loaded ourselves as we returned to the
On our way back we met a party of Franks whom, on
approaching, we with pleasure recognized as our missionary
friends whose boat we had passed on the first day
out from Cairo.
It was a keen pleasure to meet American faces in such
a spot, and the sight of an American baby, born in Cairo
indeed, but no less American for that, in the streets of
Es Siout, is a sight that Upper Egypt does not often furnish
to the eyes of a traveler tired of gazing on the
miserable, squalid, and filthy scarabœi, that are called
children in Egypt. The missionary boat continued in
company with us as far as Es Souan, and I shall hereafter
describe our parting with them in the moonlit gorges of
the cataract.
Near the landing was a brick yard, which attracted our
attention, as had numerous others in Egypt.
The manufacture of brick in the land of bondage will

always be an interesting subject of investigation to travelers.
It was not common among the ancients to burn brick.
It is no more common now. It is almost incredible, to
one who has not visited this country, that immense ruins
remain of buildings and walls, composed entirely of these
unburned brick—mere Nile mud sun-dried—which date
quite as far back as the time of the children of Israel.
Large structures remain, of which every brick bears the
name of Thothmes III., the supposed Pharaoh of the Exodus,
and he who is incredulous of the genuineness of
these may convince himself by visiting Egypt, where he
may turn hundreds of them over with the toe of his boot,
and read the ancient legend.
The making of brick, in those days, was much more of
a business than now, for the great population of the country
doubtless required a constant supply of building
material, and the mud was probably then, as now, the
chief article in use for this purpose. But aside from this,
kings built pyramids of brick, which yet stand, and inclosures
of temples, and residences for priests, and city fortifications,
and all the other massive structures for which
other countries use wood and stone. There was, therefore,
employment enough for the miserable sons of
Doubtless the modern process of brick-making is
similar to that then in use, and a brief explanation of
the method, which we saw here and often elsewhere
along the river, will serve to make the history of the
Israelites mere intelligible to many readers. The mud
of the Nile is the sole article now in use for Egyptian
house-building, and this is either roughly plastered up in
mud walls, or shaped in the form of brick, and dried in
the sun.
I passed by some men who were building a tomb. It


was made of crude brick, and they paused in their work
to make their bricks, which was done by preparing a bed
to hold water, into which they threw mud, and, over all,
large quantities of cut straw. This they trod into the
mud with their feet; and when the whole was thoroughly
mixed, they took out large lumps with their hands, which
they dexterously shaped into bricks, and laid down to
dry. At another place I saw two men at the same work,
with only this difference, that they held in their hands a
rude mould, into which they thrust the mud, and from
which they almost instantly shook out the brick, and left
it to dry in the sun. The tenacity of the Nile mud
almost passes description; and until one has his foot in it,
he can not fully understand it. That a similar process
was used by the ancient Egyptians, and probably by the
Israelites, we are not left to doubt. We are fortunate
in an illustration of the ancient manufacture, copied by
Wilkinson from a tomb at Thebes, which is known there as
number 35, and of which I shall speak fully when describing
Thebes. On the wall of that tomb we find all the
process of brick-making, from the gathering of the mud
to the drying and counting of the tale.
Of course great interest has been felt in this tomb and
representation, very many persons supposing the captives
here laboring under the lash to be Israelites. This, however,
is not the case, as appears from various reasons, of
which the style and character of the faces, the color of
the hair, and eyes, and beard, and the name of the captive
people given on the tomb, are sufficient.
As I sat at my table writing at midnight that night I
was startled by the flashing of brilliant lights on the bank,
and looking out saw Latif Pasha coming from his palace,
on the way to his dahabeeh, which lay a few rods astern
of ours. Twenty or thirty glaring meshalks, each one a
furnace of flame, on a long pole, glared on the white wall

of the palace, and on the boats at the shore, as he came
out, attended by a guard of not less than two hundred
soldiers. He rode a white horse; and catching sight of
me at the cabin window, waved a graceful bow as he
passed on.
A steamer was waiting to tow his boat. He had been
detained until this late hour. As the steamer turned
her wheels, he commenced firing a salute, and as I had
some thirty odd barrels loaded, I began a reply. Every
one else on the Phantom was sound asleep, except Abd-el-Atti,
and he re-loaded as fast as I fired. So we kept it
up till the pasha was far down the river; and I could
hear the faint sound of his guns from miles away in the
still air of the Nile.
The next morning was Thursday, November 29th.
We knew very well that it must be Thanksgiving day in
some of the States at home, and we had tolerable certainty
that it was so in New York and Connecticut. As
we were to leave at noon, our American friends accepted
an invitation to breakfast with us, and we made our
Thanksgiving feast at about the time that you were
sleeping your hardest in America.
And with the day came thronging all the memories
that hallow that day. Who has not pleasant, who is so
happy as not to have sad memories of the annual feast?
What table is full, without one empty chair?
In my Nile boat I sat down alone at sunrise to watch
the coming of the day on this strange land; and with his
coming I seemed to have new light poured on the dim
and distant past, by which I read the story of my first
affliction over and over.
How often have I thought of him here, my boy-companion,
my guide, my brother, counselor, friend!. It was
always the saddest thought I had in connection with this
visit to the East, that he had died without seeing it. I

could not bring my mind to the idea that he has seen a
city whose foundations, in adamant and gold, surpass the
splendor of the Jerusalem toward which I travel. But
since I have come here—since I have looked up into
these skies, whose deep blue beauty and unfathomable
glory seem to bear the memory of the days when they
received our ascending Lord into their radiant depths—
since I have breathed the east wind from Bethlehem,
and begin to see clearly my pathway to the cross and the
tomb of our Master and Saviour, I say now I realize that
he whom I so loved in boyhood, whom I have so mourned
in secret in all my years of wandering life; whose lips
have whispered to me a thousand times in the solemn
nights—that he has seen, with clearer eyes than mine,
the grandeur of Egypt, and the olives of the hills of Jerusalem.
Did I not tell you once, my friend, that I thought the
sky must be lower down over the Holy Land than elsewhere,
from the crowding thitherward of the footsteps of
the angels, and that heaven must be nearer there than our
cold western clime? It is so, I think; and already I am
where the arch is lower, for I never felt so near him as
here. He sleeps—not where we laid him then, but where
we laid him last, on the forest hill, near our great city, in
the congregation of the dead. He does not hear aught of
the long, loud roar of the city, the tramp of the thousands,
the sounds of warring, wrangling life there. He hears
not that, but he did hear me, as the morning sun rose up
above the Arabian desert and poured his flood of light
on this slavish land—he did hear me praying for a blessing
on the ‘old folks at home’ on that Thanksgiving
morning, and I heard his voice, too, from the deep sky.
It was not till the sun was far up, and the sounds of
Arab life were heard on all sides of me, that I lost the influence
of that morning reverie.


The coolness of these Arabs is amusing. It was not
enough that we should occupy the viceroy's steps with
our boat, but our men erected their poles on lines at the
top of them in front of the palace gates, and all manner
of clothing, unmentionable articles of ladies' and gentlemen's
apparel, were floating in the wind before the door
of the governor of Upper Egypt, doubtless much to the
edification of the ladies of his hareem, who had an opportunity
of studying Christian styles of dress and American
costumes. Nor was this all. One-eyed Mustapha, the
cook's servant, killed a sheep on the steps themselves,
and when I went out to see what was going on, I found
the Arab hound actually skinning the animal before he
was dead. I was strongly inclined to have him flogged
till he understood the meaning of flaying alive.
The mails of Egypt go by a curious sort of post. All
Egypt is on the Nile, as every one knows, and one line
of mail service up and down the river goes through every
city and village from Cairo to Es Souan. This line is cut
into sections, and on each section is a foot runner, who
goes over his course three or four times a day, back and
forward, meeting the next runner at each end of his section,
and passing along from one to the other any letter
he may receive. Thus no mail-bag is made up, but letters
are passed singly. I sent my letters to the local governor
at Es Siout, to be posted in this way; but he had orders
to take special care of me and my wishes, and forthwith
despatched an express with them. This is the method
with all government letters. They go by dromedary,
crossing the desert and avoiding the long bends of the
river. It was somewhat strange to follow with my imagination
those letters on their wanderings, and I sat that
evening thinking of the dromedary carrying an Arab
charged with those precious words of affection, crossing
the desert back of the lofty hills of Aboufayda, guided

by the stars as he hastened northward. In what wild and
dark pass of the mountains he might lie down to sleep,
who could tell? What howling wolves or fierce hyenas
would follow his steps, who might know? On what sandy
plain, in what Arab tent or hut of fellah, might they rest!
What moonlights would look down on their swift course
across the desert—what hot suns would weary the carrier
before they reached the city of Victory! It was something
to have a dromedary express despatched with one's
letters, hoping only that the envelopes would be kept at
home in some safe place, that I might look on them and
endeavor thereby to learn something of their eventful

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Life along the River.

The bread was ready. Have I or have I not mentioned
that the object of a stay of two days at Es Siout was to
give the crew of the boat an opportunity to bake bread,
which is their sole article of food, and which is always
renewed at this point, and again at Esne?
The Nile boatman is sui generis. There is no other
race of men in the world like this. They live a miserable
life of hard labor without enough pay to be able to
save a farthing, and yet they seem to be always happy.
Their songs make the night musical, and all day long, at
oars or the tow-rope, they go chanting and singing as
cheerfully as if they received thirty instead of three dollars
a month, and were well fed and clothed, instead of
having to feed and to clothe themselves out of this miserable
pay. Their food is but the poorest sort of bread,
baked and broken into pieces and dried on deck in the
sun. A heap of several bushels of it always lies on the
cabin deck, and this is boiled in Nile water, making a sort
of mush or soft mass, which the men surround three times
a day, and eat with their hands, dipping out of the one
wooden bowl, which is their sole possession in the shape
of plate or dish.
At Es Siout they stopped, as I said, to renew their supply.
This would seem to be an easy matter. But it is

not so easy. They arrived at eight in the morning, and
went instantly to purchase wheat. This they took to a
mill to have ground. When ground, they took the flour
to the baker's, where they mixed the bread themselves,
and then handed it over to the baker, who is in fact only
a baker, and not a maker, of bread. At twelve at noon
on the next day the bread had arrived on board, and we
sailed from Es Siout, and were now fairly on the upper
The dôm palm-tree now appearing on the shore, changes
the hitherto uniform aspect of the palm groves, and the
shadoof poles seem to grow more abundant. The irrigation
of the land is kept up by steadfast, hard labor, and
it is remarkable that no pumps or other improved hydraulic
machines are used in Egypt. No improvement
has been made on this in three thousand years. I have
no doubt that the banks of the Nile present now in many
places the exact aspect which they presented so many
centuries ago.
At evening of the next day we were under the cliffs
of Sheik Herreddee, whereof the tradition saith that a
serpent resides there, gifted with miraculous powers to
heal all manner of diseases. It would cure a blind man,
could he but have a momentary glimpse of the splendor
of the hill in the light of a setting Egyptian sun. This
was the last night of the autumn, and the winter came on
us next morning right gloriously with a flush of gold in
the east, and the full-orbed splendor of the sun, and an
air balmy as June, and a sky that tempted one heavenward.
Pelicans began to be plenty. That morning we
shot two, and in the course of the day half a dozen geese
and as many ducks. We made no count of the pigeons
that we shot; they were innumerable. There was one
day, when we were at Negaddeh, that we shot three hundred
and six, which we distributed to our neighbors in

other boats, giving our men as many as they could eat
for three days.
All along the river game began to abound, and crocodiles
were frequently seen on the sand-banks. I shot at
several, as all travelers must do; but I killed none, as all
travelers must say. There was one which I came very
near to killing. Had he waited for me, I should have hit
him. He was sunning himself on a bank, and I crawled
quietly toward him; but when I got there, he was not
there. The trochilus, the bird celebrated as the watching
friend of the crocodile, who is said to warn him of the
approach of enemies, flew before me with a loud cry, and
perhaps alarmed him. I can not say that I verified the
story of this bird's habits and friendship for the huge
water monster, but I have no doubt that in this case he
did act as ancient and modern writers say he is in the
habit of doing. But he also acted precisely as he and a
thousand like him have done every day that I have been
on the Nile, and I am quite certain that if there had been
no crocodile there, he would have gone along before me
in the same way, with the same sharp, shrill cry.
As we approached Mensheeh, I had walked along
the shore ahead of the boat, and on reaching the village
met Suleiman Aga, the local governor, taking a walk
with his old uncle on the bank. He was apparently
delighted at seeing the face of a stranger, for he said
he led a life of imprisonment in his village, and was
glad of any relief to its monotony. He walked up the
bank with me, and when the boat came to the land
near the upper end of the village, he came on board
and spent an hour with us. While we were lying here,
our friends, the American missionaries, who were lying
near us, had a difficulty with their servant, who was
an impertinent scoundrel, and whom it became necessary
for them to discharge. The governor begged hard to be

allowed to thrash him into respectability, but to this, of
course, our friends would not consent. I have seldom
seen a more disappointed man than was Suleiman, after
sitting for an hour and hearing the fellow complain of his
master, when he was not permitted to put on the bastinado.
It is a luxury to some of these governors to thrash a
man; and it is even related of the Defterdar, Mohammed
Ali's son-in-law, that he often whipped men to death for
his amusement. But this is not all. It is also a luxury to
the men oftentimes to be whipped, if one may judge from
the headlong manner in which they rush into the necessity
of being punished. “You may give me a hundred
if these eggs are not fresh,” says the fellah, and the clerk
of the market breaks three spoiled eggs in succession, and
down goes the fellah and gets his hundred, with fifty to
A roving letter of credit on the Nile is a marvelous assistant
to one's traveling comforts, and at the same time
affords much amusement in the way of incident. I was
not a little amused that same evening at Mensheeh by
overhearing a conversation on deck between Abd-el-Atti
and the sheik of the village. When we left Cairo, among
other articles of boat furniture we were particular in
ordering a good cat; but we were sent away with two
worthless kittens, both of which found their way into the
river within the first week after sailing, and we repeated
the order to provide another. It seemed that Abd-el-Atti
had directed one to be brought down to the boat, and
the sheik, who very naturally didn't want to be bothered
about it, was protesting that there was no such animal in
the town—no, not a kitten, not a piece of the skin or tail
of a feline animal.
The war of words grew furious, and at length the
dragoman rushed into the cabin for the firman, and infinite
was my amusement to see the government seal exhibited,

and condign punishment threatened if the cat
were not forthcoming. It had the desired effect, and the
sheik instantly and silently departed, and an hour later a
row and general outcry on deck called me out to see five
cats, black, white, and yellow, each led by a string, and
all now tangled in an inextricable knot, fighting, spitting,
and uttering all manner of Arabic sounds, brought for us
to select from.
We took three; and I may as well pause to record
their fate. The yellow one took a flying leap from the
boat to the bank, about thirty feet, struck heavily, and
fell back into the water. I have forgotten what was the
immediate impulse which induced this catastrophe, but
the cat was worthless. The next, a small black kitten,
met with an unhappy fate. We found a dead rat in a
closet, and, from the appearance of Miriam's Indian rubber
overshoes, we concluded he died of caoutchouc. He
lay on deck dead, when the kitten caught sight of him,
and made a dash at him, seized him by the neck, and
swung him up and over the rail, and, presto! rat and cat
fell overboard together, and we swept on, leaving them
to their fate. The last one was a furious wretch, with
the eye of an arch devil, and one day in Nubia I loosened
the rope by which he had been tied, and gave him a
chance to run. The last I saw of him he was crossing the
desert twenty miles below Abou Simbal.
I have said but little thus far of our manner of life on
the river, preferring rather that it should be guessed at
from what I might write. But I find that nothing I have
yet said will convey any idea of the perfect dolce far
niente of the Nile boat. The day is one long dream of
delight, the night a paradise of beauty. We never weary,
yet we do nothing. We have books, but we do not read.
We have paper, but not the courage to write. If there
be no wind, and the boat was tracking, we walked along

the shore, and shot whatever we could find. Game is
plenty everywhere, for there is almost no one in Egypt
to disturb it. If the wind sprang up, a hail from the boat
called us; we jumped on board, and were off, perhaps
for only a mile or two, when we again tracked and again
walked. We eschewed all manners of dress. It would
be impossible to say what style or national costume I
wore, unless it was a remote approximation to the French
blouse-man: I wore but a thin pair of linen pants and a
blue shirt—nothing else, on my word—that is, when the
weather was warm. On my head, I always wore the tarbouche.
With this dress it was not difficult to follow the
example of the Arab sailors and jump overboard at any
moment, or wade in deep water after game. Sometimes
I followed the men at the tracking-rope, and crossed the
branches of the river which came down around islands,
wading where it was up to my waist; and, never thinking
of changing my clothes, I pushed on through villages and
fields, to the manifest astonishment of the natives, who
were not accustomed to see a Howajji so nearly on a
parallel with themselves in dress. Oftentimes I was far
in advance of the boat, and then, if near a village, I
usually sat down in front of a coffee-shop—which is very
certain to occupy a prominent point on the river-bank—
and while the ghawazee sang and danced, and the natives
smoked silently and looked on, I took the first pipe
offered me, and curled my legs under me as well as I was
able (I soon began to have a knack that way), and waited
the coming of the boat, while the fumes of the beledi
tobacco ascended in the still sunshine. How many pipes
of tobacco I have smoked in such spots in Egypt!
At other times, I would push the reis from his place,
which is the top of the kitchen on the extreme bow of
the boat, and, as this was altogether the best look-out,
Ferraj would bring me cushions from the diwan and my

chibouk, and, with my gun close at hand, I smoked and
watched the river and the shore. From this point I have
gotten not a few shots at crocodiles that lay basking in
the sunshine; and if I did not hit them, it was worth
the shot to see the splendid start the fellows made as they
heard the crack of the gun, and how they leaped into the
air and the water with a grand flourish of the tail and a
tremendous plash. Hajji Mohammed, the cook, was a
great hand for a shot at a crocodile, and never sent word
to the cabin that he saw one, but on the instant that
he got sight of him, whether near or far off, sent a bullet
after him, if it were half a mile. He wasted an awful
amount of lead and powder, and got nothing. But not
seldom I have gotten geese and duck from my seat on
the kitchen, and Halifa, a capital swimmer, stood always
ready to swim off and bring them to me.
It is vain on the Nile to attempt late sleeping in the
morning. I was usually on deck at break of day, and
almost always on shore before sunrise. The mornings
are delicious beyond expression, and the beauty of the
dawn is only equaled by the brief evening twilight. But
early as I was out, I was never ahead of my prince of
cooks, who sent me a cup of coffee the instant he heard
my footstep, and then went to work at breakfast, which
he made a meal fit for the most fastidious of tastes or appetites.
The twilight always found us on deck, and there we
remained till midnight. There is enough to see in air
and sky, whether it be or be not moonlight. There were
sofas on the cabin-deck, well-cushioned and perfect, and
here we lay, looking up at the stars. We talked little,
and when we did speak it was mostly of the dear ones at
home, of the pleasure they would have with us there—never
of the glorious past, the fallen grandeur of Egypt,
the march of history, the trampling feet of time. Of all

those we would think—think—think—till thought became
soul, and we were bodiless, and the moon and stars looked
down on a silent, verily a phantom boat, floating slowly
along the river of Egypt, surrounded by the princes and
priests of Osirian days.
The blackest and the best-looking man on the boat was
Hassabo, the mestahmil or steersman. One evening, I
was writing a letter at the table. It was late, all was
silent outside, and I supposed every one was sleeping,
when I was startled by the abrupt entrance, rather say
rush, into the cabin of Hassabo, supported on either side
by Ferraj and Hassan, the two cabin servants. Black
as he ordinarily is, Hassabo was now blue with fright or
pain, I could not tell which. Blood was running from his
finger, which Hassan and Ferraj held in their hands,
grasping it as if they thought it would get away from
them. From something that he muttered about fish, I
understood that he had run a fish-hook through his finger,
and I proceeded to wash the wound and put on some
common plaster. In the midst of this, Hassabo, who was
by far the most pious Mussulman on the boat, was constantly
muttering, “Allah! Allah!” and trembling and
growing weaker, until suddenly he turned from me with
a bolt toward the door, which was open, and threw the
contents of his stomach on the deck. Unfortunately a
deck plank was up, and, as he rushed out, he tripped in
the hole thus left and went down on deck with a tremendous
fall just as he heaved a second time; and then
the poor fellow lay frightened and badly hurt in the
scuppers. I soon learned the cause of his fright, for I
saw that the wound was a trifle. Hajji Mohammed, the
cook, had invited Hassabo to an extra good supper, and
the poor fellow, glad as they all are of a chance to get
any thing better than sour bread to eat, had accepted the
invitation, and overfed himself at the kitchen with sundry

relics of fowls and mutton. Now Hassabo was rigid in
his observances, and always washed before and after eating,
so that when he had finished his supper he stepped
into the small boat, which lay alongside, to wash, and, as
he dipped his hands in the water, a huge fish seized his
finger. Hinc illœ lachrymœ. The fright and the over-feeding
were too much for him.
I had fishing-tackle for the river ready on deck at all
times, but had as yet hooked nothing, having been unable
to get any idea from books or persons of the habits
of Nile fish. The natives take them in a way peculiar to
the river. They have a rope, two hundred feet long,
armed with large hooks at every few inches, which is
sunk by weights, and dragged up or down the river. By
chance they sometimes hook a large fish in this way, and
only by chance.
This accident of Hassabo's gave me a clew to the ways
of at least one species of fish, and in ten minutes I was
diligently trolling for him, and in ten more I had him.
He struck my hook as a blue-fish would strike, from below,
with a sharp, swift blow, turning on his tail as he
took hold, and carrying away my line with him, which I
gave him for six fathoms before I struck him. I needed
not to wait, as it afterward appeared. He had swallowed
the hook instantly. I had him fast, but that was very
little indeed toward getting him into the boat. He was
a strong swimmer, and tried my tackle severely; but it
had held heavier fish than he in American waters, and
landed them, too, and I did not give him up when he had
fifty fathoms of line out, and was pulling straight down
the river. Jumping into the small boat, I cast her loose
myself and drifted down stream, helped not a little by his
pulling. It was nearly an hour before I killed him, and
during that time I had never for an instant thought of
where I was or whither I was drifting. And now I found

myself alone on the Nile, the night dark, the moon not
yet risen, my boat four miles away, a strong current
against me, and an uncommonly lively fish raising the
devil in the bottom of the boat. I had no time for consideration.
Every minute was a loss, and carried me
further away. I sat down to the oars. I remembered
all the heavy pulling I had done in my life as I leaned to
those clumsy sticks which they called oars, any one of
which will outweigh two long boat sweeps. I thought
especially of two scenes in my past life; one when I rowed
against a fierce gale off the north point of Block Island,
and the other when, with Miriam wrapped up in oil-clothes
and India-rubber, seated in the stern of my boat,
I pulled up from the ferry-stairs at Niagara to the foot of
the American Fall, and across to the milk-white basin of
the Horseshoe. But in neither of these instances, said I
to myself, did I hear these hungry jackals that are barking
on the shore to-night. Then I sang, and I made the
Egyptian darkness ring to Yankee songs, until it occurred
to me that I was inviting the Ababdee scoundrels, who
are all along that part of the river, and always awake
at night, watching for chances to rob passers-by on the
water; and so I kept myself quiet, and pulled steadily,
and counted stars.
There were never half so many visible to my eye in the
heavens. That night, and every clear night since I have
been in Egypt, I have seen eleven stars in the constellation
of the Pleiade, and one night I saw twelve distinctly.
But I did not pause long to count stars. I
looked northward and pulled southward with a will.
In an hour I saw the red light which we always carried at
the end of the high yard, and in half an hour more I
was pretty much used up, alongside the boat, where
every one was sound asleep. No one knew of my

lonesome adventure until they saw the fish lying on deck
the next morning.
Administering to the diseases of the crew became an
every-day matter. Hajji Hassan, the cook's mate, a tall,
bony Arab, had never before been in the upper country,
and the sun effectually skinned his face, so that he was as
miserable an object in appearance as one will meet in a
year, and, I have no doubt, was equally miserable in feeling.
His head, bones, back, all parts of him, and a number
of other parts, that he imagined he had, ached
unendurably, as well they might. I applied cooling
lotions (I believe that is the phrase), and the next morning
he was much better, only needing a mild dose of medicine
to complete the cure. My stock of drugs was small,
for we eschew the use of them; a Seidlitz powder would
fit the case tolerably well, and I gave him one, explaining
before he took it the effervescing character of it. But he
did not understand it. And as he held one glass in his
hand, while I poured the acid in from the other, telling him
to drink quick, he raised it to his lips, but the foam touched
his nose, and he was astounded beyond measure. He
dropped the glass as if he were shot, cried out, Efrit!
Efrit!—“A devil! a devil!” and no persuasion could induce
him to try another. I substituted the half of one
without the acid, which answered all the purpose.
That same evening I shot, for the first time, a bird that
the Arabs consider almost sacred. It is much like our
curlew, in size, shape, and habit; but its peculiarity is
that it utters a note that the Arab understands to be a
distinct address to God: El moulk illak, La shareek
illak—“The universe is thine; thou hast no partner!”
This cry is remarkably distinct and musical, and we heard
it all the evening, in the twilight, across a waste of halfeh
grass, which marked the position of a forgotten city. I
know no picture on all the earth's surface more striking

than that of this bird, standing erect, in the gloaming, on
a mound that covered the palace of a long-forgotten prince,
and uttering, on the desert wind, that simple and sublime
tribute of praise to Him who alone knew the history of
the dead that lay below.

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When on shore, two days after passing Girgeh, in the
morning I came on the ruins of a village which was evidently
Arab, and whose destruction was manifestly violent.
Such village scenes are not uncommon in this
miserable land. Not infrequently the inhabitants of one
of these mud heaps—they can hardly be called any thing
else—rebel against the authority of the viceroy. More
foolish or mad conduct could not be imagined. Entirely
destitute of arms, they have no hope of success, and their
fate is inevitable; yet village after village, galled by the
enormous loads of taxes imposed on them, resists and is
destroyed, and such ruins as this mark their sad history.
I asked an old man, who was at work near the ruin,
who destroyed this place, and when? He answered,
“Ibrahim Pasha, two years ago.” Now Ibrahim Pasha
rendered his account to an avenging God some eight or
more years ago, and the old man was, of course, mistaken,
in his date or the person. Ibrahim Pasha had a way of destroying
villages, a sort of passion that way, and I supposed
it possible that the people might attribute every thing
of the kind to him as a sort of matter of course. There
is a town not far from New York where, it is said, on
good authority, that the people at the last presidential
election supposed they were voting for General Jackson,

and I fancied this was much the same way. I learned
afterward that it was the date only that was wrong. This
was one of the monuments of the terrible Ibrahim, and
yet I have no doubt the verdict of impartial history will
be that the same Ibrahim was one of the greatest men of
this age. But I contrasted this ruined village, these deserted
houses, fallen roofs, burned thatches of doura, and
silent streets, with the gorgeous tomb in which he lies at
Cairo, surpassing in its splendor of marble and gold any
work of modern art that I have seen or expect to see;
and I felt—who could avoid it?—a shudder at the thought
of the meeting beyond the grave of the spoiler and the
As I was walking by the men on the shore, one morning,
shortly before reaching Gheneh, an incident occurred
which, while it illustrates the brutal character of an Arab
who has a little power, serves also to introduce more particularly
than heretofore to the reader's notice, Reis Hassanein,
as stupid and poor a specimen of a Nile captain as
could well be found on the river.
I do not yet know what is the process of promotion on
the river, or what stages a man should go through to become
captain or commander of a dahabeeh. This much I
know, that there are fourteen men on our boat, any one
of whom is more competent for the office than the man
who fills it, and we have been often tempted to hand him
over to a governor, and take another in his place.
Some difficulty occurred at the tow-rope. I do not
know the nature of it; the first that I saw of it was
when Hassabo, the steersman, by the direction of the reis,
turned the boat to the land so as to allow the latter to jump
on shore, with a nabote, a large club, in his hand, wherewith
to make a rush on the row of men who were hauling
on the tow-rope, and strike two of them, bringing one to
the ground. Had this one been any other man, I do not

know that my sympathies would have been so strongly excited,
but it was Mohammed Hassan, who was altogether
the best man on the boat, and the regular attendant of
the ladies when they walked on the shore.
At first I thought his knee-pan broken, and I had a
strong notion of administering summary punishment on
the reis, then and there. He was himself much frightened,
and on my advancing to the scene he retired, leaving
Mohammed to me. I had him removed to the boat,
where his wound was attended to, and it fortunately
proved to be but a bad bruise. Nevertheless, the reis
was left to understand that on our arrival at Gheneh, we
should hand him over to the governor, to determine
whether it was proper for him to beat the men in that
way; and in the mean time he was forbidden to punish
them with any similar weapons, under penalty of a broken
head himself. This filled to overflowing the cup of Reis
Hassanein's afflictions, and thereafter he was a milder
and a better man.
We reached Gheneh in the afternoon, and I proceeded
immediately to pay my respects to Abd-el-Kader Bey,
the Governor of Upper Egypt, and next in rank to Latif
Pasha, to whom I had letters.
I have met many men of high rank in Egypt, and have
been fortunate in making the acquaintance of several
of the most distinguished officers of the viceroy, but
I have seen no one with whom I was so well pleased,
or whose acquaintance I was so glad to have made. The
letters would not have been necessary. I found an accomplished
gentleman—a Turk, indeed, but affable, polite,
and dignified; a pleasant man in conversation, a good
soldier, and a grateful protégé of Mohammed Ali, whose
name he almost revered.
I found him in his audience-room, a large chamber,
forty feet by forty, with a high ceiling and a stone floor.

Across the upper end of the room was a diwan, covered
with rich cushions, and this also extended down one side;
while opposite was a row of chairs, of eastern pattern,
heavily gilded. He led me to a seat on his left, at the
upper end of the room, and gave me a chibouk of magnificent
pattern. The stick was carved ebony, and the amber
mouth-piece was loaded with diamonds. Four young
Nubian slaves, handsome in countenance and elegantly
dressed in the Nizam dress, brought coffee and sherbet,
and then retired, one standing on each corner of the carpet
to await further orders. They were manifestly favorites,
and a fifth, who had been absent on some errand,
entered while the governor was talking, and walking directly
up to him, took his hand, kissed it and pressed it to
his forehead, and retired to the corner of the room.
Persian carpets covered about one-fourth of the room,
across the upper end, and the next fourth was covered
with Nubian mats, the remainder being bare. No one
stepped on the mats with slippers on his feet, but every
one who approached the governor left his slippers on the
stone floor, and advanced over the mats as far as the edge
of the carpet, but no further unless the governor gave
leave. My visit did not interrupt the usual course of
business, but he continued to affix his seal to papers that
were presented, and to hear petitions and administer justice
as usual. He turned from me with a polite excuse
each time, completed his business rapidly, and resumed
the conversation, which was chiefly on political subjects,
with all of which he was more familiar than any man I
have met in Egypt.
One poor wretch who had deserted from the army was
brought before him by his soldiers, and he turned to look
at him. There was a world in his eye, but he did not
give the order then. If the power of life and death had
not been taken from the governors by recent changes, I

have little doubt that I should then and there have heard—what
I have so often, and always with deep emotion,
heard in America—the sentence of death passed on him.
The man held up a bleeding hand, from which he had
lately cut two fingers, hoping thereby to render himself
unfit for military service. I believe I have already remarked
that this is so much the custom in Egypt, that
nearly every man has lost a finger or an eye. But this
did not avail him now, and he was remanded to await examination.
On my return down the river I passed two
days at Gheneh, and of the pleasant friendship which I
then established with Abd-el-Kader Bey, and of the favors
he did me, I shall have occasion to speak fully at another
time. He now forwarded letters to every inferior governor
on the river, informing them of my progress, and
gave me copies to deliver in case of needing any assistance,
and so I left Gheneh and approached Thebes.
That night the wind wailed around us, and December
voices came flying on it. The starry sky was like the
skies of our home-land, but the air was pure, soft, and
delicious to the cheek, though the blast was terrible.
Once there came on it, from down the river, a long, wild
cry—a shriek of women in agony. It was the death-cry
of some poor wretches whose boat went down in the
tempest. Our men took the small boat and went to their
rescue, but in vain. They found the floating evidences
of a lost boat, but nothing more.
And in the night I heard the sounds of a distant land
come to me distinctly on the gale. You may laugh at
me; you may say I write it because others have said
and written the same; you may tell me I dreamed it. I
care not what you say, but I know that on that stormy
Saturday night I heard the church bells of my old home
sounding over the tossing waves of the Nile. Yes, I
heard them. I, too, laughed when I read in the books

of travels of others that they heard such sounds on the
desert, but I did not laugh now, for I have learned the
truth of those sounds right well.
I was sitting just here where I now sit, writing a letter
home, to be mailed when we should reach Luxor. Profound
silence for a moment rested on every thing. There
was a lull in the wind. The flow of the river was swift
and noiseless. Miriam was sleeping. All the others on
the boat were sleeping. It was midnight, I say; but far
away, in that pleasant land that I call home, it was just
sunset, and the hour of prayer. I leaned my head forward
on my hands a moment, and perhaps—I will not
say it was so, but perhaps—perhaps there were some
tears in my eyes; for on a winter evening like this, in the
long-gone years, I saw the light of life fade out of eyes
that I loved, and deep gloom take its place forever, and
so, perhaps I wept as I remembered it—and then I heard
those bells. They sounded sweetly—clearly, and I sprang
to the door of the cabin, and out into the starry night,
and leaned my head forward to listen to the melody.
Soft, soft and sweet they came over the swift river;
clear, rich, and full. There could be no mistaking them.
I might have doubted, but the tones were all the same.
There was the Presbyterian bell, deep, stern, and solemn
in every stroke; the Episcopal church bell, more musical
and silvery; the old Scotch church bell, that was forever
chanting the Psalm, “They that go down to the sea in
ships”—all clear and loud; and then the wind arose, and
they went away over the desert, and I heard them far off,
and then no longer.
There was an hour when, before I left America, I stood
with a friend—the best friend of all my years of life, the
companion of boyhood, youth, and mature years—and
talked with him of the same subject.
He had been in Egypt, and had once heard that same

sound, and with all the calm thoughtfulness of his nature,
he believed that the bells did verily sound in his ears
with their own metallic notes. We were speaking then
of Eothen, and the same story as related by its author, in
his own inimitable style; but I had little faith then in my
friend or in Eothen. I have more now. You may tell
me it was the wailing over a dead man in a village along
the bank, or you may say that it was a creaking sakea, or
a palm-tree moaning in the wind, or whatsoever you
please to believe it. I am content to know that my ears
heard the church bells, and since my feet might not tread
the accustomed path, my heart went there with those
that trod it, and the old altar had a worshiper there that
none knew who surrounded it that evening, but whose
worship was sincere and fervent, though the waters of the
Nile were under him, and the skies of Egypt, starry and
clear, over his head.

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To Love a Star.

It was one of those glorious nights of which I have
spoken, such as no land knows but Egypt, and no river
but the Nile. Strangest of all things, in the economy of
nature, is this waste of glory on the degraded race that
are unable to enjoy it, or to thank God for it. Night
after night, for a thousand years, the undimmed moon
and stars have seen themselves reflected in the river,
have silvered the hills and mellowed the otherwise haggard
face of nature; and no one has thought of its exquisite
beauty, its holy splendor, except, perhaps, some
lonely traveler who beheld in it the melancholy memorial
of ancient grandeur, or a dying Bedouin, who looked
longingly up to the deep beyond, and wondered whether
he should hold a star in his hand when he should have
shaken off his clay bonds.
I was seated on deck alone, for all the rest of the party
were sleeping, and I was revolving in my mind all the
traditions and legends of the stars that I had heard in
former years.
Pleasantest of them was that which I somewhere read
or heard long ago, that some of the wandering tribes believe
that the stars are torches, held in the hands of the
beloved dead, who light with soft rays of love the pathway
of the living over the desert hills of life. And

thereby hangs a story which in long gone years I heard
or read, and which I now believe must have had some
foundation in truth, so exactly are all the particulars in
accordance with the truth of scene and character.
In a valley among the hills of the Arabian desert,
where a spring of water kept living a few palms to relieve
the otherwise barren aspect of the visible world,
lived a small family or tribe of Bedouins, consisting of a
hundred persons or thereabouts, possessing ten or a
dozen black tents, and as many horses and camels as
men. From this point they made their excursions over
the plains, and sometimes returned with strange goods
for such a place. Costly silks, rare and splendid jewels,
the richest cashmeres, were common articles in their
household furniture; and he who saw the outer appearance
of the dark camel's hair cloth, which kept the sun
off from their heads, would never have dreamed of the
magnificence and elegance within those low huts. We
will not pause to ask whence these treasures came.
There was in this tribe a young man of higher mental
structure than his companions, who was the son of a
sheik dead long before, and who had been educated in
the City of Victory. Education, by-the-by, in this part
of the world has a peculiar meaning. It does not consist
in the learning that is hidden in books, in amassing stores
from the brains of the dead sages, in drawing curious
lines on paper, and proving strange and incredible things
to be true by mathematical calculations. It is little more
than teaching the boy to read and write the language of
the Koran, and then teaching him the Koran so well
that he will not need to read it to be able to quote any
chapter or verse. And, besides the Koran, there are
hosts of unwritten traditions in the Mohammedan religion
handed down from lip to lip, which are always
part of the finishing accomplishments. In all these the

young Sheik Houssein was learned, but he was not satisfied
with these. He knew nothing of that hackneyed
story—hackneyed by the school-boys and school-girls of
ancient Rome, and ever since—of an indescribable longing
after “the far-off unattained and dim;” but he felt
within him a thirst that no fountain of Arabia could
allay—a thirst that many have felt, and none have
quenched until their lips were wet with the waters of
the river of the throne! His world was a small one,
and he had searched it through. From the Nile to the
Euphrates, from Akaba to the Bosphorus, in Mecca, and
in Jerusalem, he had looked with earnest eyes, had
sought with feverish lips, and sought in vain.
Do not expect me to describe what it was that he
sought. He did not know; how should I? He but
knew that his life was not all that it should be; that he
had capabilities beyond the narrow boundary of a Bedouin's
wanderings; that there was something more in
existence than the fray of the desert, the midnight descent
on the unarmed village, the dastardly robbing of
the peaceful caravan; something more in death than the
sensual paradise of the Prophet, and the traditions of his
There is a moment, in every man's existence, on which
turns his future destiny. There are many such moments;
for oftentimes life hangs on a thread, and if the thread is
not cut it requires but a touch to change the whole direction
of the future. But in every man's life there is at
least one, and in his it occurred thus:
It was not often in those days that travelers crossed
the great desert. Few Europeans came to Egypt, and
fewer still went on to Sinai. But there was a time when
Houssein was called to Cairo to meet a noble party of
western travelers, a gentleman and two ladies, who were
making a pilgrimage to Sinai and the Holy Land, and

who wished his protection in crossing the desert. He
saw but the gentleman, and readily engaged to perform
the desired service.
It was not till the party had left the Birket-el-Haj
that he met them, where they were encamped, by moonlight,
on the sand that stretches away to Suez. As he
sprang from his mare, before the tent-door, he was
startled by such a vision as he had never seen before,
but thought he had dreamed of in his waking dreams.
She was slight, fair, and, in the moonlight, pale as a
creature of dreams. Was this one of the houris of his
fabled paradise? No; he rejected the thought if it rose.
There was no spot in all the heaven of Mohammed fit for
an angel like this. Away, like the sand on the whirlwind,
like the clouds before the sun, like the stars at daybreak—away
swept all his faith in Islam, and, in an
instant, the Sheik Houssein was an idolater, worshiping,
as a thousand greater than he have done, the beauty of
a woman. Perhaps he might have quenched his thirst
for the unknown at some other fountain, but this was
enough now. He had found that wherewith to fill the
void, and he was content.
Love was a new emotion, a sensation he had never before
experienced, and it satisfied him. Did she love
him? That was a question which never occurred to him.
What did he care for that? He was not seeking to be
loved. He was looking for employment for his own soul,
and he had found it, and that was enough.
The tradition goes on to describe his long crossing of the
desert. How he lingered among the hills of Sinai; how
he led them by Akaba and Petra, and detained them
many weeks in the City of Rock; how the fair English
girl faded slowly away, for she was dying when she came
to Egypt; and how, weary, well-nigh dead, he carried
her to the Holy City, and pitched their tents by the

mountain of the Ascension. And all this time he watched
over her with the zealous care of a father or a brother,
and the quick heart of the lady saw it and understood it
all. And sometimes he would try, in broken words, to
tell her of his old belief and his ideas of immortality, and
she would read in his hearing sublime promises and glorious
hopes that were in a language he knew nothing of,
but which he half understood from her uplifted eye and
How he worshiped that matchless eye! He worshiped
nothing else, on earth or in heaven.
It was noon of night under the walls of Jerusalem,
and in a white tent close by the hill on which the last
footsteps of the ascending Lord left their hallowing
touch, an English girl was waiting his bidding to follow
Outside the tent, prone on the ground, with eyes fixed
on the everlasting stars, lay a group of Bedouins, and
apart from them a little way their chief, silent, motionless—to
all that was earthly, dead. A low voice within
the tent broke the stillness of the night, but he did not
move. A voice was uttering again those words, of which the
sound had become familiar to him already, the Christian's
“Sheik Houssein!”
He sprang to his feet. It was her voice, faint, low, but
silvery. The tent-door was thrust aside, and as a hand
motioned to him to enter he obeyed.
She lay on the cushions, her head lifted somewhat from
the pillow by the arms of her sister; her brother, who
spoke the language of the desert well, stood by her
as the young sheik approached. His coofea was gathered
around his head; only his dark eye, flashing gloriously,
was visible. She looked up into it and whispered; he
half understood her before the words came through her

brother's lips, as she told him the story of Calvary and
Christ, and the cloud that received the King and Saviour
returning to his throne.
It were vain to say he understood all this. He only
knew that she was telling him of her hope are long to be
above him, above the world, above the sky; and his active
but bewildered mind inwrought all this with his
ancient traditions, and having long ago rejected the
creed that did not teach him that she was immortal, as
he fell back on the idea that the immortals had somewhat
to do with the stars, and as he lay down on the ground,
close by the side of the tent, listening for every sound
from within, he fixed his eyes on the zenith and watched
the passing of the hosts of the night until she died.
There was a rustling of garments, a voice of inexpressible
sweetness suddenly silent, a low, soft sigh, the
expiration of a saint, and at that instant, far in the depths
of the meridian blue, a clear star flashed on his eye, for
the first time, its silver radiance, and he believed that she
was there.
For three-score years after that, there was on the desert,
near that group of palm-trees and lonely spring, a
small turret built of stones, brought a long distance, stone
by stone, on camels. And in this hut, or on its summit,
lived a good, wise man, beloved of all the tribes, and especially
followed by his own immediate tribe, who, with
him, rejected Mohammed, and worshiped an unknown
God, through the medium of the stars, and especially one
star, which he had taught them to reverence above all
And at length there came a night when the wind was
abroad on the desert, and the voice of the tempest was
fierce and terrible. But high over all the sand-hills, and
over the whirling storms of sand, sedate, calm, majestic,
the immutable stars were looking down on the plain, and

the old man on his tower beheld them, and went forth on
the wind to search their infinite distances.
That night, saith the tradition, another star flashed out
of heaven beside the star that the Arabs worshiped, and
the Sheik Houssein was young again in the heaven of his
Let us leave him to the mercy of the tradition, nor
seek to know whether he reached that blessed abode.
All this story, that I have perhaps wearied you in relating,
passed through my mind that night as I lay on
deck on the softly-cushioned sofa, and looked out of the
cape of my Syrian cloak at the sky. In the midst of
my endeavors to recall such parts as had faded from my
memory, I was roused by a deep groan near me.
One of my crew, a man from the upper country, black,
but with finely-cut features and straight hair, had been ill
from the time of our leaving Cairo, and steadily rejected
any Christian remedies. One case of bilious fever I had
managed with my small stock of medical knowledge and
medicines, and had cured. But Abd-el-Kerim refused
medicine, preferring to die a natural death, and I did not
much blame him. I was of opinion from the first that his
case was hopeless; and as these Arabs lay all cures to
their own charms, and not to our medicine, but charge
all deaths on the unlucky adviser, and call it poisoning, it
is quite as well to let their diseases alone, unless one is
tolerably certain of being able to effect a complete cure.
He was dying. Delirium had set in with high fever
three days before, and two of the men had been detailed
to watch him constantly. It was as much as they could
do to keep him quiet until that afternoon, when the fever
abated, and he began to sink. I had forgotten him entirely
during my reverie, and was startled, and even
alarmed, by the groan. He lay on his back, wrapped in
cloaks and blankets, which we had provided for our own

uses, but yielded readily to his greater necessities. I
have seldom seen as fine a countenance. The Nubians
are not all like the colored population of America, but
many of them have finely-chiseled Grecian faces, with
high foreheads, and sharply-cut outlines. He was a man
of thirty-five, stout and athletic in body—in fact, Herculean
when he was well, but he was weak as a child now.
Religion he had none—positively none. Of the Mussulmans
four fifths, or five sixths, are infidels. On my boat,
which had nineteen professed Mussulmans on board, there
were but three who prayed.
This man had never shown the slightest knowledge of
Moslem faith or doctrine; and what were his thoughts at
this moment of departure I have no idea. He died like a
dog, and his companions treated him as such. It was a
strange scene, to say the least of it, that on the deck of
the Phantom, at midnight. Stretched at full length, his
dark face glistening in the moonlight, lay the dying Nubian.
Around him sat four of the crew, his companions.
The rest were forward, sleeping. These were smoking a
goza, a water-pipe, made of a cocoa-nut shell, in which
they smoked tombak, breathing enormous quantities of it
into their lungs, and ejecting it in clouds. I stood at his
feet, looking down on his huge form, and wondering, as
usual, as I shall never cease to wonder, as men will wonder
till they know more than here and now, that life
could leave such splendid machinery mere dead clay.
He breathed slowly, and with difficulty. His eyes roved
from face to face of his companions with a sort of wistful
expression or longing for life, or shrinking from the terrible
unknown into which he was plunging, and then he
looked up at the sky. But he saw nothing there. To
him the stars were but lights, the moon a greater light;
and he had no thought of them as I had at that moment,
as marks along the way his swift soul would travel to the

place of judgment. No hope of immortality was in his
eye or heart; no looking beyond the gloom. The swift,
dark river that flowed below him was to him no emblem:
he saw nothing on the moonlit bank that spoke of heaven
or God, but shuddering fearfully, he lifted his stout arms
twice into the air, clenched his fists, muttered in a hoarse
voice, “Allah!” and was gone.
His companions smoked on in silence, passing the goza
from mouth to mouth, and I stood and looked at them,
and at him, and the night hastened on apace. I could
not sleep below that deck; so wrapping closer the cloak
around my face, I lay down on the sofa and slept and
I awoke at sunrise. The deck was clear. The dead
man was gone. I asked for him, for this hasty resurrection
surprised me. He was buried. They had taken
him at daybreak to a burial-place near a village, dug
his grave a few inches deep, and left him for the wolves
and jackals. I little thought to see such a scene on the
Nile. How much less one that I saw later, when I felt
the quivering pulse fail in the white temple of a fellow-Christian,
who had lain down to die in the great temple
of Luxor, and with my own hands closed forever his eyes,
whose last gaze was on the magnificent columns of the
great Amunoph. But of that hereafter.

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The City of a Hundred Gates.

It was a quiet Sunday morning when we
reached the great city of Egypt, Thebes of a
hundred gates. We had tracked from about
daylight; and after the sun rose I took my
position on the upper deck to watch the appearance
of the hills and the banks of the river.
It was not difficult to imagine ancient Thebes,
still mighty and magnificent, guarded by those
lofty mountains. It was more difficult to imagine
Thebes gone, dead, departed, buried in caverns
and unknown sepulchres of these dark ravines
that come down to the water from among
the rocky piles. I could more easily expect
to find a million men living in the valley that opened
luxuriantly before me, than I could believe that unknown
millions lay in the earth below, or the rocks
around it. Nowhere in all Egypt do such rugged hills
embrace so beautiful a plain, and nowhere is there a
spot so well suited for the capital of a great nation.
The mountains are here, and the river flows between
them, and Memnon sits calmly on his throne, and looks
over the plain and the river with stony eyes, unused to
tears, and nothing appears to lament the dead glory.
Not even the sun, not even the moon shines less brilliantly,

less joyously, that kings and princes, matrons and
virgins, wise and foolish, weak and strong, are all alike
dead in the past, dead in the valley, dead in rock-hewn
sepulchres; the palaces ruins, the temples ruins, the
homes gone, the hearth-fires ashes long ago, the hearts
of the men of Thebes dust—insensible, still, silent dust.
I do not know that you understand what I am endeavoring
to express. It is, in plain language, this, that
before approaching the valley of Thebes you can readily
expect to find there a great city, but on seeing it a broad
plain, level as subsiding water can level it, and covered
with corn and grain, you can not believe that it is the site
of a ruined capital, once the wonder of the world for
magnificence. There is nothing to indicate it. You expect
to find mounds, heaps of rubbish, or some of the
usual marks of an ancient town. But there is nothing of
the sort, except immediately around Luxor and Karnak.
Fields of waving grain, of lupins, lentils, and doura, or
Indian corn, cover the flat expanse of the valley, broken
nowhere by ruin, rock, or mound, except in these localities,
and excepting also the two colossi, who sit in lonesome
majesty among the fields of green on the west bank
of the river. That temples and palaces have been here,
their vast remains indicate; but those on the west side
of the river are at the foot of the mountain, and not on
the cultivated land; and Karnak stands solitary on the
eastern side, a majestic solitude indeed, among heaps of
earth that may cover the floors of ancient habitations.
In fact, I am induced to believe that Thebes never was
a city of large population. It was, probably, a city of
temples, possibly of colleges—an Oxford or a Cambridge,
and a place to which men were carried for sepulture
in holy ground. But I do not believe that any great
crowd of inhabitants were ever found here.
We saw , first of all the ruins of Thebes, the old temple

at Goornou on the west bank, and then the Remeseion,
the colossi, and Medeenet Habou, all distant; and at
length, on the east, over the high banks along which we
were tracking, the obelisks and the lofty towers of the
propylon of Karnak looked down on us.
The valley of the Nile widens at this point. I have no
means of comparing it with other places on the river, but
it is as wide, I should imagine, as at any point above the
Delta. On the western side the plain is from two to three
miles wide, and on the eastern at least five, perhaps eight
or ten.
The mountains on the west are higher than at any
other place in Egypt, and their character is so peculiar
that no one can form a just idea of the appearance of
Thebes until he understands this.
I think I have before remarked that all Egyptian hills
and mountains are absolutely destitute of vegetation.
No shrub, or tree, or blade of grass takes root on their
rocky sides. They are, in fact, only vast piles of rock,
the sides being either precipitous or formed of the débris
of the stone. The hills of Thebes are intersected by
numerous ravines, which wind their way through them
in almost cavernous gloom. Frequently the hills are
nearly a thousand feet high on each side of these ravines,
ascending by terraces of several hundred feet each. On
the front of the hills overlooking the valley they show
the openings of tombs, hundreds and thousands, while
hundreds and thousands remain unopened. On these
hills the eye of the traveler rests with more intense interest
than on the ruins of temples and palaces, for there,
during a thousand years of royal prosperity, the Theban
princes, priests, and people, buried their dead,
“And there the bodies lay, age after age,
Mute, life-like, rounded, fresh, and undecaying,
Like those asleep in quiet hermitage
With gentle sleep about their eyelids playing;


And living in their rest, beyond the rage
Of death or life; while fate was still arraying,
In liveries ever new, the rapid, blind,
And fleeting generations of mankind.”
It is always so. Men will turn their eyes from a palace
at any time to look at a tomb, and in a landscape will
forget the beauty of hill and forest to gaze on the white
stones of a grave-yard. I remember well that once in
my life I fell upon a grave in a grand old forest. The
trees were lofty and majestic, and the sky, seen through
their branches, was far away and deep, and winning and
glorious. The voice of the mountain wind was musical,
and the voice of a stream that wound its joyful way
around that solitary grave was even more melodious.
But I forgot the sky, and trees, and wind, and sat down
among the dead leaves of the last autumn to hold communion
with the unknown spirit of him who slept below.
I did not know whether he was Indian or white man;
nay, I did not know that he was a man, saving only that
I did not think any human being would have laid a
woman there to sleep alone in the forest through all the
days and nights of the dismal years; but I knew by that
strange consciousness that every one has felt, but no one
can describe, that human dust lay in its kindred dust below,
and I paused to look on the turf that hid it.
The turf! It is comforting when the cold is coming
over one, when the eye is dimming, the hand failing, the
lip trembling, the heart hushing—it is comforting, I say,
to think that one will be laid under green sods, whereon
violets may grow, and that this vile dust of humanity may
have a resurection in roses or myrtle blossoms. There is
no such comfort here. No grave in Egypt has turf on it,
nor grass, nor flower, nor tree, nor creeping plant. It is
but sand, or the decaying dust of ancient houses in which
they laid their dead, and the winds sweep over them,

and mounds increase to gigantic size or wholly disappear
in one night's blasts. I do not think I could sleep here
at all. I do not think that my dust would consent to
mingle with this soil. Those ancient Thebans doubtless
felt all this, for I have less faith than formerly in the idea
that they wished to preserve their bodies till they should
come to reclaim them. The Nile plain was no place to
lay their dead. It was annually flooded by the river,
and no man would be laid there. The sandy desert was
a wild spot, and hyenas could find their way into deep
graves. It was horrible to think of it. Only the rock
was left, and the rock they chose, and cut their tombs in
it, and wound their bodies in spices and gums, and slept
well. Yea well. Blessed is he who can find a grave in
Egypt that will last him a century; more blessed far if it
last him three thousand years.
We had ordered our letters to be forwarded from
Cairo to Luxor, and Abd-el-Atti left us slowly tracking
up the river, and hastened on to the village to get them
for us. He was disappointed, and unwilling to see our
disappointment, sent a messenger back to meet us, with
intelligence that we had no letters, and on my word we
thought but little of Thebes after that until we found
ourselves at the shore by the great temple of Luxor.
We were scarcely at the shore when Mustapha Aga,
the American agent, came down, and after him Islamin
Bey, the governor or nazir of this section, a bad-looking
Turk, ignorant and stupid, whom we received without
much attention and left to smoke and drink coffee alone
on the upper deck while we strolled up to the temple.
Perhaps this inattention on our part was the cause of his
subsequent rudeness to us, but as it cost us nothing and
him his governorship he had the worst of it, and it is to
be hoped he learned better manners for the next time.
The first idea that I received, when a boy, of the magnitude

of the ruins of Egyptian temples was from hearing
that one of them was so large that a modern Arab village
stood on the roof of it. I had not retained the locality,
but the moment that I looked up at Luxor I recognized
the ruin of which the story was told. Doubtless this was
the temple, though afterward I found the same thing true
of Edfou, and of one or two others, but they were small
temples compared with this.
Luxor, or El Uksorein—“The Palaces,” is on the east
bank of the Nile, and the ruins of its great temple rise
among the crude brick and mud houses of the modern
village. Nothing remains here of the ancient except only
this temple. Karnak lies two miles from it on the north,
but the fields between contain no memorials or relics of
the city that once connected them.
The temple, or those portions of it which now remain,
are on a line parallel with the main part of the river as it
flows by them, but a branch or arm of the Nile, which
flows around a large island above Luxor, comes into the
main channel again here, and the rear of the temple is on
this branch. The total length of the temple is about a
thousand feet. The front was originally connected with
Karnak; how or when, it concerns not my purpose now
to discuss. But the great entrance to the temple is now
surrounded by the mud and brick houses of the inhabitants.
Nevertheless they have had the decency, unknown
in some places, to leave an open space before the great
propylon, where the astonished traveler may pause in
awe before the vast entrance, or lie down in the dust and
look up at the obelisk and the huge towers sculptured all
over with the representations of the valiant deeds of kings
long dead and forgotten.
But if any one were inclined to lie down there, let him
be warned that it is a Coptic neighborhood, and fleas
love Coptic blood and Christian blood of all kinds, and

fleas are plenty here. He will do well not to lie down,
but to stand and rather break his neck with looking up
at the obelisk and trying to read its large characters.
The other obelisk is gone to Paris. It stands in the
Place de la Concorde, on a pedestal, whereon are graven
in gilded letters the deeds of Louis Philippe, King of the
French, and the old gray granite looks down scoffingly
on the gilded lines and figures below. The remaining
obelisk, solitary but stately, is far more grand and imposing
in its appearance than its ancient companion, and
rumor said that the wandering obelisk of the Place de
la Concorde was not to be allowed to remain in its present
place. The view of the Arch of Triumph from the
Tuileries is obstructed by it, and Louis Napoleon loves a
long prospect, especially when he can secure it by removing
monuments of the reign of his predecessor. It is sorrowful
to think that the stone had remained almost four
thousand years on its base at Luxor, and now has begun
an existence of changes. The next Louis Somebody will
find it obstructing his view in some other direction. Nothing
remains stationary in Paris.
The doorway is guarded by colossal statues of granite,
of which the heads only are above the earth. But these
are highly polished, and enough is visible to show their
former grandeur and beauty. Passing between these,
you enter the doorway, and find yourself in a narrow,
dirty street or alley, of the modern Arab village. The
splendid columns which once flanked the court of the
temple are yet standing, many of them, but the huts of the
village inclose and cover them. Entering these miserable
hovels, you find the women and children, with sheep, dogs,
and goats, in promiscuous heaps, and all manner of filth
and dirt around the sides of these half-buried columns;
whose glorious legends of ancient princes stare solemnly
on the entering stranger, as if to ask him what hard

decree of fate has led him into the same prison in which
they are doomed to darkness and oblivion.
This court of the temple was about two hundred feet
long by a hundred and seventy wide, and another propylon
here opened into the grand hall or colonnade. The
hovels are closely packed here, and the alley turns to the
right, and again to the left, bringing you to the great
pillars beyond.
Up to this second propylon the temple was built by the
second Remeses, the great Sesostris of Greek history, and
the builder of almost all the most magnificent temples and
palaces of Egypt. He added these portions to the older
parts, which were built by Amunoph III., whose period
was about 1430 b. c., and within the century after the exodus
of the Israelites. Remeses II. was within a century
later. I am now following Wilkinson's chronology.
Passing through the second propylon, as I have remarked,
you would enter the great colonnade; but this
you are now compelled to avoid, and re-enter the temple
at the great pillars, of which two rows, of six in each row,
are standing. The earth covers their pedestals, and the
columns themselves, to a height of perhaps twenty feet,
and as much more remains uncovered, with the immense
stone architrave on each side.
These columns are among the largest known in Egypt,
but they are small in comparison with those of the grand
hall at Karnak. In the midst of these massive columns,
stands the house of Mustapha Aga, the American consular
agent, of whom I may be pardoned for pausing here
to say something.
Mustapha is getting to be an old man, but a better, or
more capable one for his place and position, could not be
found. There is no place in the East where a consular
agent is more necessary than at Luxor. A large number
of American travelers annually visit the place, and every

one needs advice, assistance, and protection from the rapacity
of dragomans, sailors, or Coptic antique dealers.
Mustapha fulfills these duties admirably; and the only
regret about it is that he does it gratuitously, receiving
no pay whatever, except in the way of presents which
travelers may think of giving him, and these are never in
money, and therefore generally mere nothings. Ordinarily
they are wine, and as Mustapha drinks no wine himself,
the stranger who leaves it is only supplying the
others who follow him, for Mustapha gives it all away
again. Can not this be improved? The old fellow would
be made abundantly happy by an allowance of five hundred
dollars a year, and it is sincerely to be desired that
our government might direct this to be made. I am
confident that no American traveler on the Nile has
failed to experience his hospitality and kind attentions,
and I know that every one would join in a request of this
kind to the government. I have paused to speak of him
in my description of the temple because he is now a part
of it, and from your boat you scarcely ever look up at the
grand columns without seeing Mustapha seated on the porch
of his house, between two of these massive pillars, under
the gigantic architrave, quietly smoking his chibouk, and
entertaining some friends, either foreign or native.
His house is the most comfortable private house in
Upper Egypt. It is all on one floor, and covers a large
space. The halls are roomy and airy, the chambers papered,
dark and cool, the furniture plain and comfortable,
while the grand front of ancient columns gives it a more
royal appearance than the citadel of Cairo.
The remainder of the temple, after passing this colonnade,
is inclosed in or covered by the modern houses,
and the rear chambers, the adytum, and the holy rooms,
are still perfect, while on their roof stands a large part of
the village. I shall not attempt any description of these

various halls, courts, and chambers, which cover a space
of nearly five hundred feet in length. One observation
alone will suffice to convey an idea of the splendor of
these buildings. Every stone in an Egyptian temple
which exposes a surface to the eye, whether within or
without the temple, is elaborately sculptured with pictures
or hieroglyphics. No wall is without its legends
and representations. Outside the temple on the lofty
walls are often represented battle scenes elaborately
carved, in which the builder shows himself as a victor,
usually of gigantic size as compared with those whom he
conquers. The same, or similar scenes, cover the inner
walls, on which are also found mythological representations
which are a puzzle to the student, and are likely to
remain so forever. Of the minuteness and beauty of
these sculptures no idea can be given by description, nor
would those who have not seen them be ready to believe
that three thousand years have left them so exquisitely
perfect as we now find them.
The rear, or southern part of the Temple of Luxor, is
divided into several apartments, each covered with sculptures
indicating its peculiar design. The roof of this part
is now occupied by the huts of the natives, and filth and
vermin abound in the silent rooms below. One of the
rooms, now open to the sky, was used in early times by
the Christians as a chapel for the worship of Christ, and
around it are the remains of their paintings on plaster,
which covered and preserved the hieroglyphics on the
stone walls. This is the case with many of the temples
of Egypt; and while the early Christians defaced and destroyed
much which they regarded as idolatrous and profane,
they have preserved much else by covering it with
plaster and mud, which being now removed, leaves the
sculptures as fresh and clear as they were a thousand
years ago.


Of the grandeur of the Temple of Luxor, no adequate
idea can be formed, even by the visitor who stands among
its ruins. From its great propylon, or from some portion
of its massive walls, an avenue stretched away to
Karnak, ornamented with all the splendor of ancient art,
and guarded on each side by colossal rams, the emblems
of the deity of Thebes. Of this avenue only the northern
end remains, in ruins, but majestic even in ruins, and
a lofty gateway, of Ptolemaic times, closes it. Thus Karnak
was, in some sort, a continuation of the Temple of
Luxor, and, in fact, all the temples of Thebes were connected
by avenues, and possibly by bridges, so that it
was a city of temples.
I left the Phantom and walked around the village, my
footsteps dogged by twenty donkey-doys, and as many
donkeys, each of the former hoping that I would grow
tired and patronize one of them. At every corner and
turn a Coptic scoundrel would produce a lot of antiques
for sale, and I amused myself by asking prices. At
Luxor rates, Dr. Abbott's collection is worth a million.
O! confident Howajji, beware in Luxor of Ibrahim the
Copt, and on the western shore of Achmet-el-Kamouri,
the Mussulman. Skillful manufacturers of every form of
antique are plenty in the neighborhood, and these men
have them in their employ, and sell to unwary travelers
the productions of the modern Arabs as veritable specimens
of the antique. Achmet is the chief manufacturer
himself, and has a ready hand at the chisel.
The manufacture of antiques is a large business in
Egypt, and very profitable. Scarabæi are moulded from
clay or cut from stone, with close imitation of the ancient,
and sold readily at prices varying from one to five dollars.
At Thebes is the head-quarters of this business. Still, no
antiquarian will be deceived; and it requires very little
practice to be able in an instant to determine whether an

article is ancient or modern. When the Copt finds that
you do know the distinction, he becomes communicative,
and readily lets you into the secret of his business; and
while he is confidentially informing you of the way in
which the Arabs do it, and how this is modern and that
is not, beware lest you become too trusting, and he sells
you in selling a ring, or a vase, or a seal. He is a wily
fellow and sharp, and he knows well how to manage a
A strong breeze from the northward was not to be lost
on our upward voyage, and after one night at Luxor we
pressed on.
But I could not go without one view over the plain,
and at break of day I went up the hill to the foot of the
propylon towers of the temple, and looked up to their
summit. There must be a way to climb them, and while
I was looking for it, a bright Arab boy made his appearance
and offered to show me. I followed him readily,
and he led me through the propylon to the narrow alley
already spoken of, and around the corner into a low door
in the mud wall. This opened into a yard or court, full
of sheep and doura, or corn-stalks, and passing through
another like it, I climbed a mud wall and walked along
this to the corner of the tower, which was somewhat
broken. Climbing this some twenty feet and going around
the end, I discovered an opening into the body of the
tower, where, crawling in, I found a stairway, encumbered
with huge masses of fallen stone, and up this I ascended,
with no little difficulty, to the top of the tower. Here I
sat and watched the coming of the sun. The Libyan hills
were first lit, and the golden line of light came slowly
down their rugged sides—down, down, until it reached
the tombs that open to the east, and the Memnonium and
Medeenet Habou, and then it touched the lips of Memnon
and his old companion. I saw the red flash on the giant

head, and I bent my head forward to hear the sound of
the salutation; but there was no sound—Memnon is vocal
only in tradition.
A peculiarity of the tower on which I was standing I
have never seen noted by any travelers. Every stone on
the summit is covered with footprints, cut more or less
deep in the surface. By whom these were cut no record
remains to tell.
It has been supposed that they are the marks of pilgrim
feet, but who were the pilgrims that thus recorded
their accomplished vows? Afterward I found similar
marks on stones on the river bank in Nubia, but always
on elevated bluffs, where perhaps pilgrims standing could
catch a view of some far shrine. Sometimes they were
simple parallelograms, two side by side, with four short
marks at the end of each, to signify the toes of the foot,
but oftener they were well-drawn feet, large or small, as
if marked out around the foot itself.
They are not the rude scratchings of the modern
Arabs, or of those who drew the boats and animals that
are found on the rocks of Nubia and elsewhere. That
there was a design in their being placed here is evident
from the number of them, and from their being only on
the summit of the lofty tower, and only on the topmost
course of stones. There are none below this. Was there
any idea of the footsteps of angels here, or of departing
souls, or of departing prayers?
It is not the intention of this book to record any of the
results of study in Egypt, and I shall therefore pass entirely
over that subject. As we remained at Luxor but
one day, reserving a long visit for our-return trip, the time
that I had was, of course, too brief to make any examinations
of places or things; but I had informed myself previously,
as well as books and papers and charts could assist
me, and after a hasty inspection of a few spots, I directed

the commencement of some excavations to be continued
during my trip up the river. The governor, on my requisition,
furnished me with fifty men for work; but, alas! for
Egyptian excavations, they had no tools of any sort or
kind save only the fingers God gave them, or as many of
them as each man had not cut off. For I have before remarked,
that the natives are thus mutilated to save themselves
from the conscription. With their hands and palm-leaf
baskets these fifty men might do as much in a day as
five Irishmen with shovels and wheel-barrows, and their
pay was about the same, being a piastre and half to each,
or about eight cents American per day, making the whole
pay about four dollars for the fifty. Placing them under
the direction of Mustapha Aga, the worthy consular agent,
and giving him a letter to the governor as my agent, I
left. Luxor to seek more remote antiquities.

[Back to top]


The Ancient Dead at Esne.

We left Thebes with regret. I believe
that almost any one of us would most
willingly have paused here and rested,
going no further up the river. But there
was much to be seen beyond, and it is best, as a general
rule, to reserve all stoppages for the return trip, especially
if the wind blows.
We had no incidents of voyage between Thebes and
Esne worthy of record. To us the most important was
the supply of fresh vegetables and fruits, which we had
from the garden of Mustapha Pasha, at Erment. We
were two days between the two places.
At Esne I awoke in the morning early, and walked up
into the town, intending to see the bazaars only, and return
to breakfast. To my surprise, I found myself at the
door of the temple, which is one of the most beautiful
remains in Egypt, and I entered it.
It is not my intention, as I have already said, to describe
the various ruins of Egypt as I see them. Books
are already full of these descriptions. It will be enough
if I succeed in giving a general idea of them, sufficient
for the reader's convenience in following my personal
Esne stands on mounds, the accumulated heaps of an

ancient city. The temple itself is totally buried in these
piles of rubbish, and the city is built over them, so that
its former extent or appearance is now unknown. Only
the portico remains, and this being some feet higher than
other parts of the building, remained standing above the
earth. A few years ago the visitor could walk into it,
just under the roof, and see the capitals of the columns
and the splendidly carved ceiling. Mohammed Ali, being
one day at Esne, and having nothing better to do, ordered
the excavation of this portico, and a thousand fellahs
were set to work, with hands and baskets, to carry out
the earth which lay between the columns, and find the
pavement, which was thirty feet below. It has been insinuated
that the pasha wanted a powder magazine, and
that this, and not respect for antiquity, induced him to
undertake this laudable enterprise. Be this as it may,
the result was the exposure of one of the most beautiful
buildings, ancient or modern, in the world.
The earth in front remains at the old level, kept by a
brick wall from falling into the inclosure. You enter a
small yard or inclosure, among the houses, which stand,
with their walls, not more than fifteen feet from the front
of the temple, and passing along this narrow alley, descend
by wooden steps into the excavated area of the
portico, finding yourself then in an immense chamber,
the lofty stone ceiling supported by rows of massive
columns, and the walls and columns alike covered with
a profusion of sculpture characteristic of the late period
at which this temple was built.
The light which comes in through the narrow space
left between the cornice and the ground, greatly diminished
by the proximity of the houses, leaves a sepulchral
rather than a “dim, religious” gloom within; but to this
the eyes at length become accustomed, and then the
forms of gods and men start from the walls and salute

the stranger with their cold, calm eyes. Strange figures,
hideous forms of gods and sacred beasts, unknown even
to old Pliny, are found here on the stones, and on the
ceiling is a zodiac, with curious representations of the
heavenly bodies.
Three doorways, opening formerly into the chambers of
the temple, are now closed with stone to keep out or in the
earth on which the city stands, and we are left to imagine
the secrets which the earth covers. Perhaps some national
expedition may hereafter excavate these rooms, and show
their treasures of legend and pictures to the world.
The temple portico does not antedate the time of the
Cæsars, and is therefore comparatively a recent affair. It
is a matter of chronological interest that possibly and
probably these columns were carved during the lifetime
of Christ on earth, and perhaps while he was in Egypt.
I came out of the temple after a brief visit, and hastened
back to the boat to breakfast, after which I returned
with the ladies.
There were lying in the alley, or small yard of which I
have spoken, five or six mummies, badly broken to pieces.
They had been here for ten or fifteen years, being government
property, taken from the Arabs who had found
them. The government monopolizes all antiques here.
It was manifest that these were considered worthless and
would soon be scattered, and I felt at liberty to investigate
their condition and contents
But two proved to be of any interest. One was probably
a woman, doubtless of the priestly order, and from
the same circumstances by which we ordinarily judge the
age of a horse, I judged that she was young. One of
her teeth, beautifully shaped, white, and perfect, lies now
by me as I write, and I am wondering what kisses were
pressed on them, what words of love escaped through


She lay in a coffin that had been elaborately painted,
but the paint was now covered with mud and filth. On
raising her body from its position, I found that she was
laid on a bed of flowers. The bottom of the case was
filled with them, worked in wreaths and garlands. There
were more than a peck of them, lying precisely as they
were laid when she was placed upon them, and I never
felt more profound regret at the disturbance of a repose
than that. If I had known the tomb from which she
came, I would have been strongly tempted to carry her
back, and close it up, and in some way forbid entrance to
it thenceforth forever. As it was, I but laid her back on
the wreaths of ancient leaves, dry now and dead as her
name and memory, and turned to another of her companions.
He was a stalwart man, full six feet high, and the
shawls in which he was wrapped were of rare and costly
fabrics, decayed now, and worthless. Outside of all his
wrappings had been a shawl of beads, not uncommon
as an ornament of mummies. The beads were earthen, of
various colors, blue predominating; some of them long,
such as ladies call bugles, and others small. They were
arranged in a diamond-shaped figure, the centre of the
back being a large scarabœus. The scarabæus, let me
remark, for the benefit of the unlearned in Egyptian
antiquities, is the common black beetle of the country,
which was sacred to the sun, and was itself an emblem of
that God. It became the most common form of religious
ornament, worn, perhaps, as some moderns wear a
charm, and always buried with the dead. On the faces
of the earthen or stone scarabæi are often found inscriptions
—either the name of the king in whose reign it was
made, or of the person, or of some religious object. Thus
a scarabæus often determines the age of a mummy; and
the curious in this subject will be interested in Dr. Abbott's

collection, on seeing the small and beautiful mummy
of a female which stands there, to learn that from its
broken case a scarabæus fell, marked with the name of
Thothmes III., the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
I found the beads and the scarabæus in a mass at his
feet, but there was no vestige of the threads that had
formed the shawl. Gathering nearly a quart of them, I
examined the localities of his feet and head and breast for
other antiques. Alas! feet and head were gone. Some
plunderer like me, less scrupulous than I, had cut them
off and carried them away, and the breast—a huge fissure
was where his breast had been, and vacancy—nothing
Miriam and I sat over him, while an Arab attendant,
sent by the governor, sat at a little distance, growling
and grumbling at a furious rate. I paid no attention to
it, but Mohammed Hassan, one of our sailors, who is our
constant attendant when on shore, and who was helping
me to overhaul the priest of old time, took careful notes
of all the fellow's remarks, which were far from complimentary.
I did not think that Mohammed observed it,
but on leaving the temple I passed the governor's diwan,
which was near the exit. I exchanged a few words with
him, and went on, but missing Mohammed, I turned back
to find him. Imagine my surprise at seeing the Arab
on his back before the governor, his feet upturned to
the tenth blow, as I arrived to put a stop to it. Mohammed
had pocketed all the insults on my account, and produced
them seriatim to the governor after I had gone
by, and the governor had proceeded, in the summary
manner to which the Turks are accustomed, to administer
the ordinary form of punishment. A great nation that!
The scene presented on the shore near our boat was
curious and amusing. I believe I have heretofore mentioned
the custom of the modern Egyptians of shaving

their heads. One might imagine it to have originated in
some ideas of cleanliness, were it not for the amount of
filth and the number of vermin found elsewhere on their
persons. While we were at the temple the men had sent
for a barber, and he came down to the boat, bringing his
instruments with him, and on our return we found them
seated in a row undergoing the shaving process.
In this, as in so many other of the customs of the
modern Egyptians, we find the ancient usage still preserved.
In one of the tombs at Beni Hassan is a representation
of a barber at his work, which has been, not unnaturally,
mistaken for a doctor and his patient. Whether
the same effect is produced by the same process in modern
Egypt as in ancient, I am unable to say. Herodotus
tells us that it hardened their skulls, and in this respect
contrasts them with the Persians. I have never seen men
so susceptible to the influence of a hot sun as were the
sailors on our boat. There was scarcely a day in which
there was not one or more of them on his back from the
effects of it, and the effects of the treatment he received
from his fellows by way of medical assistance.
I was astonished one afternoon at finding Yusef, one of
the crew, administering a severe pounding to Hassan
Hegazi, another; and, on inquiry, learned that it was
medical treatment for a stroke of the sun. He pommeled
him terribly about the shoulders and breast. Then he
pulled his two ears nearly out of his head, laid him down
on one side and filled his ear with salt and water, and
shook his head to shake it in, pulled his ears again, then
seized him by the solitary scalp-lock on his head, and
twisting it severely, gathered his hands around the back
of his head, and rubbing them forward as if he were
scraping the disease off from the surface to the forehead,
he suddenly bit off the imaginary lump of illness which
he had collected, and pronounced the patient cured. Perhaps

he was, but Yusef had pounded him into a fever, of
which I had to cure him. And he did not thank me for
it, but did attribute his final recovery to Yusef's nonsense.
Esne was the last point on the passage up the river at
which the men might bake bread, and here they laid in a
supply to last them to the second cataract and back again.
After two days of delay, we were ready to be away;
and now, think of my surprise at finding myself in a new
trade. I never imagined that I should be in the donkey
line; but Abd-el-Atti was very desirous of procuring a
good donkey, and Esne is the best point on the river for
those useful animals. Abd-el-Atti might have looked in
vain for a donkey to suit him, but the Howajji, with the
firman of the viceroy, was another sort of person, and he
begged me therefore, on his account, to write to the resident
governor at Esne, and direct him to have in readiness
on our return a number of first-class donkeys, from which
we should select one that might suit us. I consented,
and the order was despatched, and his excellency did me
the honor to assure me in reply that it should receive his
profound consideration and devoted attention, or words
to that effect in Arabic diplomacy.

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Buying Antiques.

It was late in the afternoon when the bread was
brought on board, and the shaving operation being finished,
Hassabo resumed his position at the tiller, and the
men shook out the sail, and pushed off from the shore.
The wind was fresh, and the foam dashed up before us as
the crew gathered on deck near the mast, and sang to the
music of the darabooka, which is but an earthern jar,
over the large end of which a skin, or the loose bag of a
pelican's bill is stretched. So with a long chorus and a
lively repeat, and an occasional shout of “Allah!” (for
they are profane dogs, those Mohammedans, though
commonly called religious) we were again off on our
Above Esne the game on the river became more plentiful,
and I devoted myself to it with considerable zeal.
Pelicans abounded, especially on Sundays, when we did
not shoot. Every one knows that an American crow
is thoroughly acquainted with the succession of days, and
the return of the seventh brings him down with fearless
boldness on the cornfield. It would be difficult to suppose
that in this worse than heathen land, where the Sabbath
is unknown, the birds keep the run of the day; and
yet it was a stubborn fact that every Sunday on the river,
the game was not only more plentiful than on other days,
but approached the boat as fearlessly as if the animals

knew that we kept the day of rest. One Sunday evening
a flight of quite two hundred pelicans sailed around us,
and lit at length on a sand-bank close by our boat, and
within a near gun-shot.
But whether or not the animals and the inhabitants
know the Sabbath day, I do verily believe that the land
knows it, and the winds and the sky. Beautiful as they
are on other days, calm and clear as are the skies, they
have, nevertheless, on this day a glory and a quiet that I
can not describe, except by saying that it is like a Sabbath
morning at home in the country, and the air like
that still, soft air that a summer Sunday morning brings
in at the open windows of the church on the green; and
no heart can fail to keep in unison with sun and sky on
such a day.
We enter the sand-stone country now, and the appearance
of the hills along the river totally changes.
They slope away from the banks, leaving their sides and
bases covered with immense boulders. The country is
narrower, and cultivation is becoming more difficult.
The day after we left Esne I shot a pelican from the
boat with a pistol-ball; and the same afternoon, while on
shore after pigeons, I found myself close on a flock of
wild geese before I knew it, and got one of them with
each barrel as they flew away. They proved to be the
best we had found on the river. Their color was precisely
like our common American tame goose, white and
lead-color mingled. That night we slept at El Kab , the
site of the ancient Eileithyas, and one of the most interesting
points on the river.
Waking early in the morning, I sprang ashore and up
the bank, to find where we were. The plain stretches
away two miles to the mountains, in parts of it much
more. Only the edge of the river is cultivated; the
rest of the broad level is a sand and gravel barren, extending

up and down the river some ten miles. The site
of the ancient city was considerably to the north of the
point at which we lay, and I saw at the base of the hill
the modern village, toward which I immediately determined
to direct my way.
My object was simply to purchase antiques, which the
fellahs who cultivate this plain find in large quantities.
I have already warned the traveler against the frauds of
the antique manufacturers at Thebes or Luxor. It is easy
to imagine how important the business of purchasing curiosities
has become in Egypt. Hundreds of travelers going
up and down the river demand them wherever they stop;
and the natives, who formerly thought of them as trifles,
have now begun to learn their value. The scarabæus,
which is usually more highly valued than any other of the
small antiques, on account of its possessing a religious interest,
as well as because it usually bears a name on its
face, was formerly sold at a few paras, while now it commands
from five piastres to a dollar, according to its style
and preservation. Other and larger antiques bear proportionate
prices, and there is no limit to the demands
of an Arab who finds a gold ring or a jewel. There are
plenty of foolish. Howajjis who will pay him ten times its
value for it, and he knows this well enough to wait for
a purchaser, who is sure to come in time. But there is
really no necessity whatever for paying such prices as
these, and the knowing traveler will never be deceived
by a modern, or in the price of an antique. I very soon
learned at Luxor that the Copt was not to be deluded
into parting with any of his stores at their fair price; but
that by stealthily asking every Arab, fellah, or boy, and
especially every woman that I met, if they had antiques
or coins or scarabæi, I frequently found them, and purchased
them for mere trifles. Thus at Karnak I bought
a scarabæus for a piastre and five paras, for which the

Copt offered me ten piastres the same day, and told Mustapha
that he would readily give a dollar, to sell it for
I had learned from Abd-el-Atti that El Kab was a favorable
place for such purchases, as the village lay four
miles from the site of the ancient city, and hence no travelers
are apt to visit it. I started at sunrise across the
plain, hailing every Arab that I met with the usual question,
“Mafish goouran, mafish gedid, anteeka?” (Have
you no scarabæus, or coins, or antiques?) Abd-el-Atti accompanied
me, and we made the same demand on each
side, picking up small affairs here and there, until we
reached the village, which was on a rocky mound near
an isolated mass of stone that had been left from the
ancient quarrying.
Here, seating myself on the ground in an open space
among the mud houses, I dispatched every boy and
woman I could find to call up their friends and tell
them to bring me whatever they had in the way of antiques.
In a few minutes I was surrounded by the
men, women, and children of El Kab, in all the various
degrees of nakedness, and all in one state of filth. The
nameless vermin that I found on me after that expedition
were intensely disgusting. The animals themselves partook
of the filthy appearance, as well as the dark color of
the skins they had fed on.
Naked children presented handsfull of pieces of ancient
pottery, or coins, or broken images of gods and sacred
objects. Women leaned down to show their necklaces,
on which were strung beads and scarabæi, and pieces of
agate and cornelian, cut into strange shapes known only
in old mythology. A small coin satisfied the most anxious
of them; and they expressed aloud their regret that
they had sold a great many—all that they had—a few
weeks before to the Copt from Luxor, who had been up

here on a purchasing expedition. They said I gave them
twice what he did. They had nothing that was very
valuable, for this reason, and what they had were what
had been found within a few days. Some scarabæi, two
or three small vases for toilet purposes, and one ring of
the time of Amunoph III., the Memnon of Thebes—or,
rather, him whose statue is called that of Memnon—and
a handful of coins, and curious small images and earthen
objects were all that I obtained.
One very curious antique which I picked up here, was
a die, of ivory, resembling modern dice in all respects but
one. The well-known power of the die, which is commonly
called seven, from the fact that the sum of the opposite
sides is always seven, and out of twenty throws of
a pair the average result will be seven to a throw or very
near it, was in this instance lost. The ace was not opposite
to the six nor the two to the five.
The crowd became thicker and more noisy. One man
was loud in his remarks which were not complimentary
to the Howajji. I paid no attention to him but, continued
my purchases. The press increased, and when at length
a half naked woman with a quite naked baby in her arms,
tumbled over my feet and almost into my embrace, to the
detriment of my personal feelings, and the baby's as well,
I rose and decamped leaving the crowd in glorious confusion
over a half dozen coppers that I scattered among
The sheik, I have forgotten his name, but the chances
are that if it was not Achmet it was Mohammed, was
waiting for me at the upper end of the village where he
knew I must pass in going out, and had two horses ready
saddled for me and my servant. He knew that the boat
had gone on so far that to attempt to overtake it on foot
was out of the question. I accepted his offer with gratitude,
and was preparing to mount, when a tremendous

row arrested my attention. Some twenty or thirty of the
villagers were approaching, vociferating a demand for
more bucksheesh, based on the fact that they had failed
in getting any of my scattering. Foremost among them
was the huge rascal who had been personal in his remarks.
He came to a sorrowful fate. Abd-el-Atti seized
him by the back of the neck and walked him up to the
sheik. He was strong enough to throw the dragoman
over the sheik's head, no hard job, indeed, for the sheik
was lamentably small, but the big fellow walked up to
him with sufficient humility and my astonishment was
immense when the little sheik ordered him to be laid
down on his face and administered to his back about thirty
blows of a tolerably large cane. Up to this moment I had
not, in the confusion of tongues, understood what it was
about, but now the thrashed man rushed up to me and
attempted to seize my hand with a view to defile it with
his dirty lips, a ceremony which I always preferred to
have honored in the breach.
The sheik renewed his proffer of the horses. One of
them was wicked-looking but a magnificent animal, and
stood eyeing the crowd with furious countenance, while
two Arabs held him by the nose.
I advanced to mount, and set my foot on the shovel
stirrup. A shovel stirrup is—a shovel stirrup; nothing
else; a flat shovel of iron, sides turned up, and four
sharp points turned out, on which the whole foot rests.
The Arabs ride with short stirrup-straps and knees up to
their chins. As I touched the stirrup it touched his side,
and—presto—his heels flew into the crowd behind him,
and Abd-el-Atti, struck full on the breast, went a rod backward,
and howled as if Sathanas himself had struck him.
I never saw a horse's heels fly so fast and so many ways
at once. I vanished through the open doors of the nearest
mud hut, and found myself in the hareem of a worthy

of El Kab, among all sorts of women and children, in all
sorts of dresses and no dresses. When I looked out the
scene was more quiet. Abd-el-Atti was moaning and groaning.
The sheik was looking in horror of mind for the
vanished Howajji, and wondering if he were really annihilated
by the furious animal, whom the two Arabs still
held by the nose, around which one of them had twisted
a halter.
I glanced at the saddle-girths and the reins. They did
not look over strong, but I resolved to risk them. I had
boasted from childhood that no horse had ever mastered
or thrown me, and I was unwilling to give up the attempt
on this wild specimen of the Prophet's own breed.
My precipitate retreat had not given my Arabian
friends any exalted ideas of my courage, but they did
not appreciate as fully as I that I had not come to Egypt
to have my brains kicked out by a horse, and that discretion
is sometimes valor. I shouted to them now to
clear the way, and with a short run went into the saddle.
It had a back-board eight inches high, and a short post
or handle four inches high from the pommel. It was no
small operation to settle myself between these two in the
short space of time allowed. As I struck the saddle the
Arabs flung him off, and went rolling heels over head as
they scattered out of the way of the first plunge.
It was a magnificent leap; another, and we were out
of the village, a third and we were at full speed on
the plain which stretched away five miles, a dead, hard
level of gravel, without a break or a blade of grass. For
twenty rods the pace was tremendous. The peculiarity
of an Arab horse is that he is at full speed on the third
leap. I became alarmed at the first, and checked him
with a sharp rein. He came down in a heap, nearly
thrown, and nearly pitching me over his head. After trying
this once or twice more, I learned that he would not

bear the lightest drawing on the rein. Then I talked to
him, and for a wonder he understood my Arabic, and
then we began to understand each other, and, at length,
went along at an easy gallop over the plain toward the
ancient city of Eileithyas. I saw nothing more of Abd-el-Atti
till I reached the boat. He was entirely distanced.
The site of the old city is still surrounded by the crude
brick wall which incloses the ruined brick houses, and the
remains of stone temples and palaces that were once the
habitations of men, but are now the homes of wolves and
The size, height, and thickness of this wall are a source
of astonishment to the stranger, and illustrate the remarks
I had occasion to make in a former chapter, on the
subject of the enduring nature of crude, unburned brick
in this country. This is the more astonishing when one
is informed, that the common story that it never rains in
Egypt is entirely destitute of truth, a remark exemplified
by the fact that I have seen on the Nile, sixty miles
above Cairo, as hard a rain-shower as one is apt to see
in America. It is true that this is not a frequent occurrence,
but there is more or less of rain in Upper
and Lower Egypt every year, and mountain-torrents are
formed that have left their dry rocky beds in every
ravine on the side of the Nile. And through these
storms, for thousands of years, the brick walls have
stood, decaying, indeed, but massive yet, and are likely
to outlast the storms of thousands more, if they are not
carried away by the Arabs; for the only manure I have seen applied to land in Upper Egypt is the old dust of
ancient brick walls. These they dig down, and loading
panniers on donkeys with the dust, scatter it on the
plains, to add richness to the soil, which is not sufficiently
enriched by the overflow of the river.
Leaving the tombs to be visited hereafter, I rode

around the wall, and overtook the boat three miles
above. At the instant of approaching it I saw three or
four large lizards in the river, much like a crocodile in
appearance, but destitute of scales. I shot one, and
Abd-el-Atti another. The one measured four feet eight
inches in length, the other three feet six. These are the
monitor lizard, I suppose, celebrated as the enemy of the
crocodile, whom they destroy by crawling into his open
mouth and down his throat, whence they eat their way
out through the animal and destroy him.
A picture of the scene on shore that evening was worth
preserving. We lay at the bank, near a small village
called Kella, and as usual a guard was sent down to
watch the boat, lest robbers should make free with our
property, and we should thereupon hold the village responsible.
The guard spread their dark boornooses on the ground
and slept profoundly. I glanced out of the window late
in the evening, and saw Ferraj and Halifa busy, with earnest
countenances flashing in the light of a lantern, over
the bodies of the lizards, which they were skinning for

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Mohammed Hassan had been sent on from El Kab to
Edfou to order sundry provisions that were necessary,
and especially charcoal, which we could not obtain above
here. In the morning after leaving El Kab when I awoke
I saw a group of horses on the bank, keeping along with
the boat, which was tracking slowly. It appeared that
the governor had sent them down for us to ride up to
Edfou in advance of the boat; and accepting them willingly,
I mounted one and was off over the fields, attended
by Abd-el-Atti and the governor's messenger.
We rode some two miles through the fields of doura,
now leaping the trenches, through which the Nile water
ran over the fields, and now pushing our way through
the standing corn, until at length we struck the dry bed
of a canal, full only at very high Nile, and followed this
up to the village, high over which we saw the lofty propylon
towers of the vast temple.
Speaking of horses; as we rode along, one of the governor's
officers told me a story of an old sheik of the
Bedouins that I have seen in print in two or three forms,
but never precisely in this:
He was old and poor. The latter virtue is common to
his race. He owned a tent, a Nubian slave, and a mare;
nothing else. The mare was the fleetest animal on the

desert. From the Nile to the Euphrates, fame of this
animal had gone out, and kings had sought in vain to
own her. The love of a Bedouin for his horse is not that
fabled affection that we read of in books. This love is
the same affection that an American nabob has for his
gold, or rather that a poor laborer has for his day's
wages. His horse is his life. He can rob, plunder kill,
and destroy ad libitum if he have a fleet steed. If he
have none, he can do nothing, but is the prey of every one
who has. Acquisition is a prominent feature of Arab
character, but accumulation is not found in the brain of a
son of Ishmael. The reason is obvious. If he have wealth
he has nowhere to keep it. He would be robbed in a
night. He would, indeed, have no desire to keep it; for
the Bedouin who murders you for a shawl, or a belt, or
some gay trapping, will give it away the next day.
Living this wandering life, the old sheik was rich in
this one mare, which was acknowledged to be the fleetest
horse in Arabia.
Ibrahim Pasha wished the animal, as his father had
wished her before him. He sent various offers to the old
sheik, but in vain. At length he sent a deputation, with
five hundred purses (a purse is five pounds), and the old
man laughed at them.
“Then,” said Ibrahim Pasha, “I will take your mare.”
“Try it.”
He sent a regiment into the desert, and the sheik rode
around them, and laughed at them, and the regiment
came home.
At last the sheik died from a wound received in a fray
with a neighboring tribe. Dying he gave to his Nubian
slave all that he had—this priceless mare—and the duties
of the blood revenge.
The faithful slave accepted both, and has ever since
been the terror of the eastern desert. Yearly he comes

down like a hawk on the tents of that devoted tribe, and
leaves a ball or a lance in man or woman. No amount
of blood satiates his revenge; and the mare and the black
rider are as celebrated in Arabia as the wild huntsman
in European forests, and much better known.
But one incident interrupted our morning ride. We
met two tall men riding on one miserable donkey, and
held a temporary court to inquire into the proper punishment
that should be administered in the case. It was
decided that they should be made to carry the donkey;
but the donkey wouldn't be carried, until I made one of
them tie his legs together, and take him up, sheep fashion,
on his shoulders, with the legs before him. After
they had each carried him a hundred yards, we dismissed
them with a lecture and rode on to Edfou.
Old Suleiman—that was his name—every body was
named Mohammed, or Selim, or Suleiman, or Abdallah,
or some derivative of one of these names—old Suleiman,
the governor of Edfou, was not at the temple. He had
an idea, perhaps, that I would ride to his house and wait
on him; but I had a temple in my eye that shut out all
governors and governors' houses.
I rode around the rear of the temple, followed by my
train, which had now increased to a larger number, and
dismounted on the top of the inclosing wall of the grand
court, for the earth was banked up to this height on the
west side. Entering the stairway of the great tower
west of the grand door of the temple, I forbade any human
foot to follow me, for I was tired out by the Arabic
gabble, and climbed, lonesome, and sole possessor for
the time, that grand propylon. At length, coming out
on the lofty summit, I threw myself down on the vast
stones that crown its top, gazing in silence and profound
awe on the court, and corridors, and temple below me.
Where, where are they now? Hackneyed old question,

indeed, but I tell you, man, that when you stand on
the tower of the temple at Edfou, or in the awful hall of
Karnak, you will ask the question with new and overwhelming
interest. Gone! gone! and whither? Where
are the men, when their works stand here sublime? Where
are the maidens, when their voices have not ceased to echo
here in choral hymns? Where are the worshipers, when
the gods sit yet on their seats, and the altars wait the
kindling of the fire and the victims?
It was a golden morning. The sunlight lay like a
dream on the Nile valley. Five miles down the river I
saw the flag of the Phantom slowly tracking up the
stream, which approaches within about a mile of the village
and temple.
After a little I saw the governor and his suite approaching
the temple through a street or lane in the mud village
which reached up to the front of the propylon, and after I
had finished my inspection of the country I descended to
the court where he was waiting me.
Suleiman was a hard-looking old Turk, much the worse
for wear and arrakee. When I came back to Edfou I
found where he got his arrakee, but of that hereafter.
He was attended by a one-eyed scribe, an eight-fingered
cawass, and half a dozen minor officials. I was obliged
to walk down into town with the old fellow, and to his
seat of justice, a bench in an archway on the side of the
only mosk at Edfou. I sat on his bench awhile, drank
two or three cups of coffee, and smoked a chibouk, and
then, very fortunately for my purposes, a funeral procession
came up into the open square before the mosk, and
the loud wails of the women drowned all conversation
and afforded me a chance to escape.
It was the funeral of a child, who was carried on an
open bier, and followed by seventy-five or a hundred women.
Fresh mourners poured in from every corner and

by way and joined them. Each one as she came walked
up to the mother of the child, placing one hand tenderly
on her head and pressed the forehead gently to the forehead
of the old woman, and then looked in her face and
uttered a low wail, to which the mother answered.
The latter was a tall, gaunt woman, with one of those
faces of Egyptian old women, utter abject woe incarnate.
She carried in her hand a stick seven feet long, which she
used byway of support as she stalked back and forth in
the square, exchanging those mournful salutations and
uttering loud laments and praises of her dead boy.
“Is it a boy?” I inquired of the one-eyed scribe of the
governor, as the face of the child, calm and unearthly, as
are the faces of all dead children, passed my seat after
the procession went around the square twice or three
“Yes; and he died of a devil.”
“Of a devil?”
“Yes; he was well, playing about the house, and he
suddenly sprang up and spat on the ground, and fell down
“He choked, did he not?”
“No, it was a devil; a devil entered into him and
killed him.”
So be it, thought I. It will do you no good to argue
the matter. I told the governor I was minded to follow
the funeral and see the burial; and as this was out of his
line and quite beneath his dignity, he let me go, and I
mounted my horse again and joined the procession, which
now left the village and wound around the rear of the
temple. Here I deserted the funeral, rode back to the
sunny side of the temple, and, dismounting, sat down in
the dust of old and modern Egypt and called for antiques.
In five minutes I was surrounded by a motley crowd, of
various colors, and chiefly naked. One girl, a well-shaped

child of ten or eleven, improved on the general style of undress
by having a single string of beads around her waist.
Nothing else on her from head to foot. Her appearance
was novel if not picturesque.
I bought the usual quantities of trinkets and coins, and
one very beautiful vase, or plate, of clear, translucent
stone, much like an agate, but not so hard, with two
cupids holding a heart between them. It was as modern
as possible in design, but I had sufficient evidence of its
antiquity in the place and the price.
The sheik of the field men, that is of the agricultural
part of the community, who could always control the discoveries
of antiques, promised me to preserve any new
treasures that might be dug up until my return, and having
exhausted the stock on hand, I remounted and rode
through the town again, to go down to the river and rejoin
the Phantom.
Suleiman was waiting for me. The wily old fellow
was not to be baulked of a bottle of brandy, which he
made sure he would receive if he hung on, and he fell in
behind me on the way to the boat.
I gave him a run of it. His politeness made it necessary
for him to keep up with me, and I gave the horse
the rein, taking the fields instead of the winding path that
led through them to the usual landing-place. The old
fellow stuck to his saddle like a cat, and went over trenches
where I made sure I should shake him off, as if he had
done nothing else but ride steeple-chases all his life, nor
did he pull up till I did, at the bank of the river, where
the Phantom lay along the shore, near a boat which evidently
belonged to a man of distinction. Suleiman's face
grew some inches longer when he recognized his superior,
Mohammed Romali, the nazir of this section. Him I
found, seated on a carpet under a sont tree, with Trumbull,
and the two were discussing sherbet and chibouks

as confidentially as if they had known each other from
He had arrived a short time before, and had summoned
the resident khadi before him to hear a report of the late
litigations which he had decided. The khadi had come
down, attended by several litigants, and Trumbull, on his
arrival, had found the nazir listening to the statements,
and affirming or reversing decrees, as the eases were severally
laid before him. But he interrupted his court on
the arrival of the Phantom, and between them they had
drank some half-dozen cups of coffee each, and had finished
nearly as many pipes of tobacco.
The form of government of Egypt is somewhat of a
puzzle to the natives, and to the governors themselves,
but Mohammed Roumali, the governor with whom I
found Trumbull, informed me of its general nature, and
it is somewhat thus:
Every thing here is autocratical. The viceroy is supreme,
and makes laws as he pleases, appointing and disappointing,
moving and re-moving, as his will inclines.
Next to him are the superintendent governors of the three
great sections of Egypt. The first section reaches from
the sea to a point not far above Cairo. The second section
from this point to Semneh, just above the second cataract,
and the last from Semneh as far south as the viceroy
can collect taxes. Of the second section, which covers all
that part of the Nile that travelers ordinarily go over,
Latif Pasha is the superintendent governor, exercising
supreme power. Although the law requires all sentences
of death to be submitted to the viceroy, he does not wait
for this, but executes when he pleases. Under him, and
as a sort of associate officer, is Abd-el-Kader Bey, who is
governor of the same section, under the superintendence
of Latif Pasha. Under him again are governors of minor
sections, as, for example, Abd-el-Rahman, who is governor

from Wâdy Halfeh to the first cataract, and Suleiman
Effendi, who is governor from the first cataract to
Thebes. Under these governors are traveling governors,
who go along the river from place to place, examining
the conduct of various villages and cities, hearing appeals
from the local magistrates and judges, and attending to
similar business. Besides these, each village and city has
its local governor, whose power extends only to the next
village; every city and village has its sheik, as also has
each separate trade or business. Thus the boatmen have
their sheik in every large place; the laborers in the field
have their sheik; the merchants, the donkey owners, and
the water carriers. The office of the sheik is hereditary,
descending from father to son.
The interpreter and judge of the law is in the first instance
the khadi, who is a sort of clergyman, thoroughly
acquainted with the Koran and its provisions. Any man
dissatisfied with the decision of a sheik, may go to the
khadi, and from him to the nazir. Thus far an appeal is
safe. But to carry it further, is risking lands and life, in
an autocratical country like this.
The khadi, in this instance, was a sort of chief justice
among the khadis hereabouts. He was a plain, elderly
man, dressed in the simplest costume—shirt and turban—
but a man of dignity, and apparently much respected.
He, too, came on board the boat, and, shortly after,
took me aside and begged a prescription for a chronic disease
with which he was affected, and which I gave him as
cautiously as I could, knowing nothing about the proper
treatment. I recommended what I knew would not hurt
him, and, as it afterward turned out, I was very fortunate,
for on my return to Edfou, three weeks later, he pronounced
himself a well man, and, wonderful to relate,
attributed it to the medicine.
The charcoal was all in, and still they sat. Old Suleiman

had received his congé long ago. The nazir
knew what he came for, and found business for him elsewhere;
and when he was gone, frankly told us why he
sent him away.
I believe it was the first time that Trumbull and myself
acknowledged ourselves smoked out. I counted pipes until
I was on my eleventh and he must have been on the
seventeenth, and there was still no sign of the nazir yielding.
He was a very intelligent man, and talked freely of the
state of affairs in Egypt. We picked up much information
from him. “Don't be in haste about going,” said
observing certain signs of impatience. “There is no
wind, and I will see that you lose nothing by chatting
with me an hour or two longer. It's a comfort to meet
some one from the lower country. I pass the summer
here among these people, and don't see an intelligent
man till the travelers begin to come up the river in the
winter.” And so we filled up our pipes again, and went
at it afresh.
I like tobacco moderately and immoderately, nor have
I any hesitation in pronouncing myself a judge of tobacco.
And, strange as it may seem, although on first tasting it,
I condemned Latakea as no tobacco at all, I became at
length inordinately fond of it, and smoked it in quantities
The tobacco of the East is of many varieties. The
Turkish, or Stambouli, found in Constantinople bazaars, is
strong, somewhat sharp, and not pleasant. It is now imported
to America in quantities, and may be bought anywhere
in New York. It is of light color, and very finely
cut, so as to appear almost like threads. In flavor, to lips
that have been pleased with genuine Latakea, the Stambouli
is detestable.
Next comes Syrian Jebeli, or mountain tobacco—a

fine-flavored article, but acrid, and although preferable to
Stambouli, it is stronger than Latakea, and inferior in
delicacy. My American taste led me to mix it with the
Latakea, and thus bring the latter up to the strength of
good Cuba tobacco; but, as I grew to liking the Latakea,
I dropped the Jebeli entirely. Egypt has its beledi tobacco,
that is the native tobacco of the country, and it is
of the lowest grade. The common people use it, and not
infrequently it is inflicted on guests by village sheiks and
petty officials, as I remember to my cost at Abou Girg.
There are two cities of old times known to history as
Laodicea: the one Laodicea of Asia Minor, celebrated as
the site of one of the seven churches; the other in Syria,
on the sea coast, not far from the north-east corner of the
Mediterranean. In wandering through that country I
found the place, a modern Syrian village, in the heart of
which stood two stately ruins of Roman glory, a temple
and perhaps a tomb. In this latter city, Latakea, as it is
now called, much tobacco is sold. It is carefully prepared
in a way not elsewhere known, by hanging the
leaves in a smoke-house, and burning under them chips
of a fragrant wood. This it is which gives to the tobacco
that slight taste of smoke which Burton and other travelers
mention without knowing its origin, and which leads
them to condemn it. It is mostly sent to Egypt, where
the demand is never supplied. Little of the best Latakea
travels elsewhere, and I have sent to Cairo for all that I
have imported since my return, being certain of getting
the best there. Its fragrance is ambrosial, its effects on
brain and nerves beyond description calm.
Come and see me some evening, O my friend, and we
will close the windows, and drop the curtains, and shut
out the sight, if not the sound, of the rattling, driving,
furious western world, and you shall wrap my old and
travel-stained boomoose around you, crown your head

with my tarbouche that has been wet with the spray of
the second cataract of the Nile, the sea of Galilee, the
frozen dews of Hermon, and the waters of the Pharpar,
and you shall sip mocha (veritable akwa of the orient),
black and fragrant as the drink of gods, while we make
the air blue with the delicious aroma of Latakea, fit for
the shapes and shades that haunt my memories of the
East, which you shall share.
Mohammed Roumali kept his promise, that we should
not suffer by our delay. While he talked, his messengers
had collected the people in all directions, and he had at
length a hundred fellaheen waiting his orders. At three
in the afternoon he went ashore, and they took hold of
the tow-rope, and went up the bank with a will. It was
child's-play to them, so many on one boat, and they drew
us in two hours further than our own men would have
been able to track in a day. The current above Edfou is
very strong, and the assistance was most timely. Toward
evening a light breeze sprang up, and, taking in the
tow-rope, we shot ahead of the dusky group, who stood
in a body on the shore, and watched us for a long time as
we went up the river.

[Back to top]


The Tower of Syene.

I was roused from a sound sleep by a terrible row on
shore. My room was six feet by four, of which four two
feet were occupied by my bed. Trumbull's room, of the
same size, was opposite to mine, and the entire stern of the
boat was in one room, which was occupied by the ladies.
I raised myself on my elbow high enough to look out of
my window which stood open day and night, and seeing a
general skirmish going on between the crew and some
natives, I seized my koorbash and sprang from the window
to the bank.
The appearance of the Howajji suspended hostilities, and
I now learned for the first time that Mohammed Roumali
had placed an officer on the boat with orders, whenever
the wind failed, to press fellaheen into service on the tow-rope,
so that our lost time at Edfou should be fully made
up. We could not, without incivility, refuse this aid, and
yet it was by no means pleasant, except in the result.
Leaving the cawass to exercise his authority, I turned
back to the boat and we pushed, or rather they pulled
us, on. Ten minutes later there was a loud outcry on
the bank; Abd-el-Atti rushed into the cabin for his pistols
and I followed him out with mine, under a sort of
imagination that not less than a thousand Bedouins must
be in the neighborhood waiting to attack us.


The crew, taken mightily with the notion of getting
help on the tow-rope, had organized in a sort of roving
party, and with the cawass at their head were marching
about three hundred yards from the river, where they
could cut off all natives who attempted to escape inland
and drive them down to the tow-rope. By this means they
had now about fifty and were in high spirits, as indeed
were hose that were caught, who the moment they were
at work, entered into the pleasure of catching others.
The rascals so much enjoyed entrapping their friends that
I lost all pity for them. But the crew had met their
match in a group of nearly forty natives who were assembled
in an opening among the standing corn, and who
had gotten the idea that a government boat was coming
to catch and press them for soldiers in the army of Said
Pasha. Death has no such horror for Egyptians as this
fate of being pressed as a soldier. To avoid it they cut
off their fingers, pluck out their eyes, and mutilate themselves
in every way.
The little group were assembled with all the determination
of rebels in a brave cause, and as the cawass made
his appearance through the corn, a lance went by his head
within an inch of it, and struck the shoulder of Hassan
Hegazi, but being nearly spent wounded him but slightly.
A tremendous yell from both sides announced the determination
of both to fight out the battle thus commenced,
and Abd-el-Atti hearing it rushed to the rescue with the
Howajji close behind him. The combatants were still
facing each other when we arrived, and Hassan brought
me the spear which I preserved as a trophy and have
with me now. The arrival of fire-arms put an end to the
contest. The poor feellaheen dropped on their knees and
begged for mercy.
Abd-el-Atti explained to them what was wanted of
them, and their faces lit up with delight, while the scoundrels

instantly proposed to inveigle all the men of a
neighboring village into the trap. But at this moment a
breeze came and we hastened on board, drew in the
track-rope, scattered a liberal bucksheesh on shore, and
were away. News flies swiftly even in Egypt. For miles
up the river the shadoofs were deserted, the corn fields
empty, nor could we see man, or woman, or child, so that
you would have thought the land deserted of its inhabitants,
such was their terror of the government boat.
I regretted the whole circumstance as exceedingly
painful, nor have I yet forgiven myself the pain of apprehension
that I unwittingly inflicted on these poor wretches
already weighed down with the oppression of their miserable
Toward evening the breeze freshened and blew a steady
gale. In a clear laughing moonlight we entered the narrow
pass at Hagar Silsilis, and swept with a full sail and a
long swinging roll through this rocky gate of the upper
country, catching in dim outline the carved grottos that
adorn the western shore, and the high rock from which
the gorge derives its name.
Of this more when I come down the river.
As we rushed out of the pass into a broad, moonlit,
lake-like sheet of water, we saw a boat lying at the shore,
and then with a thump that sent every thing flying over
the deck, we struck a sand bar, and were fast aground.
Perhaps this was the twentieth time since we left
Cairo, and, as in each former instance, a dozen of the
crew were overboard in an instant, heaving under the
side of the boat. It was an hour before we got off and
dropped down stream again to stand up another channel.
We passed a boat that was lying at the shore,
little dreaming then, that by the light that flashed out
on the Nile were sitting two Americans, although we
might have guessed it had we reflected that our friends,

Mr. and Mrs. Martin, had left Es Siout a day before us,
and where somewhere hereabout.
Early the next morning we were under the high bluff
on which stands the temple of Koum Ombos, and we
climbed the hill before breakfast, all four of us, to see the
ruins and the view up the river.
The temple was founded in the time of Ptolemy Philometor,
B. C. 180, and continued and completed during
the reigns of his successors, and is singular in being, as it
were, a double temple, having two shrines, in which two
contemplar gods were worshiped, the one in each.
There is a gateway of another temple standing, but
the stone of the temple itself is fallen down the hill, and
lies in irregular masses even to the edge of the water.
No one can even trace the former shape of this building.
The chief interest in looking at the large temple consists
in the fact that its sculptures were never wholly finished,
and the marks of the artists, the outline drawings of the
figures, and the squares into which the surface of the
stone was marked out before drawing the figures, all remain
freshly visible, even to the places where the chisel
had but touched the rock. There is something melancholy
in the unfinished painting of a dead painter, the
half-hewn marble of a dead sculptor, the half-written
song of a dead poet. How much more oppressive the
melancholy, where the painter and sculptor have been
dead two thousand years, and the stone remains as it was
left, and the lines still stand on the surface!
While we stood looking out alternately to the south and
to the north-west, the boat of our American friends came
up the river with a fair breeze, and we ran hastily down
the sloping side of the hill, plunging our feet into the
loose desert sand, and were on board as the first breath
of wind reached us. We dashed up the river rapidly,
and as the breeze freshened to almost a gale, we flew before

it. The golden sands now came down to the edge
of the water on both sides of us, often seeming ready to
overflow and destroy the groups of palms that stood on
the shore. As we approached Es Souan the villages improved
in appearance, and every thing seemed to be
smiling. Even the desert was beautiful, exceedingly,
and the sky was glorious.
Hassabo, the steersman, the best man on the boat, had
his family in a small village below Es Souan, and of
course must take this opportunity to see them. As we
could not ascend the cataract till the next day, we gave
him leave of absence to rejoin us above the cataract, and
he made ready his baggage and the little presents he had
brought from Cairo.
All along the bank of the river, for miles before we
reached the village, his acquaintances hailed him, and he
exchanged with them the graceful phrases of eastern
salutation. The news of his approach ran along the
shore faster than we flew, and many voices out of the
fields and villages hailed us with shouts of “welcome
Hassabo!” At length we came up to a group of dark
faced persons (for Hassabo is a Nubian, and black), and
here we let the sheet fly, and the boat's keel scraped the
sand. Over flew all his baggage far up the bank, and
then Hassabo sprang into his mother's arms. The old
woman stood trembling on the shore, looking wistfully
for him till he left the boat. Then she threw her arms
around him, and clasped him close, and wept over him,
and kissed his cheeks, and all the time he stood silent
and motionless, only looking at her and the surrounding
group, She touched his cheeks and his hands as if, like
old Isaac, her eyesight were dim, and she would know
him by the softness of his shining skin, and then she laid
her withered hand on the top of his head, and leaned

forward and threw herself again on his breast. Yea–
verily—it was her boy.
O, Philip, my friend, who will read these lines as if you
heard my voice speaking them, you will understand how
my heart yearned to that mother, though she was black
and poor. There was a day, long, long after that, when
another wanderer reached his mother's house, and found
her alone where he had left her with his father's presence.
And when the far-traveled boy pressed her quivering
lips, though it was in a sunny American home,
among trees and vines, and with fair white faces around
them, his heart went back to the cataract and black
Hassabo and his glad old mother.
We stood on deck in front of the cabin doors, and
looked admiringly on the scene. The crew entered into
it with keen delight, and as the sheet was hauled home,
and they heaved her bow from the shore, they gave three
genuine hurras, as we had taught them how, for Hassabo,
and on rushed the Phantom to far Syene. It was three
in the afternoon when we dashed by the hill on which
stands the ruined citadel, and among the rocks which
here fill the bed of the river, and fired our salute to the
cataract as we came to the land at its foot under the
tower of Syene.
Here, again, was a point in my wanderings that was
full of interest, as one of the ancient boundaries of the
world. Here, in old days, men paused, and hesitated, and
turned back. The dwellers beyond Syene were unknown
heathen. But here were four travelers from a land beyond
the Pillars of Hercules, who had come thus far to look at
Syene, and pass its rocky barriers, and go on to a more
distant point, whose feet had already traveled six thousand
miles from home, and would walk many thousand more
before they returned to that threshold again. The world
ended here, and the world ends not far from here now;

but men live beyond, and temples and palaces lie in ruins
beyond, and the palm-trees flourish, and the Nile flows,
and yet, if all that lies beyond Syene were blotted out of
existence, swept off from the chart of the world and the
page of history, who would miss any thing? Verily the
world ends just here.
A crowd were waiting for us at Es Souan. Being the
first boat of the season, we were likely to be victimized
by all the venders of curiosities, and they manifestly regarded
us as legitimate prey. There were sellers of
gigantic ebony clubs, the weapon of the Abyssinians, and
rhinoceros hide shields, wherewith to ward off the blows
of the clubs, and there were naked children with baskets,
curiously plaited, and pipes of clay well made and well
burned, and koorbashes, and dates, and ostrich eggs, and
all sorts of antiques from Elephantine.
The crowd beset the shore, alongside the boat. When
I went ashore, hearing my name called out in good English,
they turned it into Arabic precisely as all others
had done, and shouted, “Braheem Pasha, buy our wares.”
After a vain attempt to stroll quietly along the shore,
we took refuge in our small boat, and pulled across to
the island of Elephantine.
The glory of Elephantine has departed long ago. In
ancient days its temples and palaces surpassed in splendor
all the fables of antiquity. No wealth could again rear
such buildings; no nation of modern times, with all the
wealth of modern days, could erect one such temple,
much less the hundred that crowded this sacred island.
Here magnificence and beauty held their court and swayed
the hearts of men. Here alternate love and hate, and all
the passions of the human breast, held for their brief times
the reins of power. Here men reigned, women loved,
kings and priests and princes lived and died, and the
change came, and time trod on them and crushed the

palaces, and the avenging angel swept his wing over
them, and their very dust went away on the wind. Elephantine
lay in the Nile, and other nations took the place
of Egypt in the roll of time. There is, perhaps, no place
in Egypt that, could it have a voice, would utter more
strange and splendid histories of men and kings than this
It lies in the river, from the foot of the cataract,
stretching down in front of Es Souan about a mile, and is
nearly half a mile in breadth. It surface is a mass of
ruins, shapeless and hideous. Ruin sits triumphant here.
Not even the plowshare of ancient history, which has run
over so many ruins, could prevail here to penetrate the
mass. A small part of the island is cultivated, but a large
portion still remains in the condition I have described, and
so will remain so long as the world stands. Fragments
of statues, a gateway of the time of the mighty son of
Philip, an altar whose fire was long ago extinguished in
the blood of its worshipers; these and similar relics remain;
but nothing to indicate the shape, extent, or
date of any of the buildings that formerly covered the
On the shore a group of Nubian girls met us with
their small worked baskets and mats, and a few antiques,
for sale. They were the first specimens of the Nubians
we had seen at their homes, and they were as different
a race from the Egyptians as we ourselves. Black in
color, but with sharply-cut features and beautiful eyes,
they are as fine-looking a people as the world can
produce. Nor do they hide their beauties. The full
costume of the unmarried females is a simple leathern
girdle around the waist, with a fringe hanging a few
inches below it. There was one girl among those at
Elephantine that was exceedingly beautiful. She was
tall, slender, and graceful as a deer, and quite as timid.


She would not approach us near enough to offer her mats
for sale, but coming within ten feet would start suddenly,
and spring into the air like a fawn and dart away, and
then coming slowly back approach us as nearly again,
only to retreat in the same way. Her face was the soul
of fun, and her eyes were brimful of laughter. We
watched her for half an hour, offering her money to induce
her to come nearer, but we were obliged at length
to lay it down and let her take it up when we had gone
three or four yards away, and then she stooped with her
eyes fixed on us, never removing her gaze. We wandered
over the island until sunset and dark, and then, when the
moon was bright, we rowed up the river into the gorge
between the island and the rocky bluff above Es Souan,
and let our boat drift slowly down by the ruined temples
and the dark rocks.
I found the cabin of the Phantom in possession of a
fat and comfortable looking Copt, in a rich dress, who
called himself American agent at Es Souan. I knew that
Mustapha at Luxor was the only agent on the Nile above
Cairo, but the fellow was so sincere about it that I couldn't
doubt his own belief that he held some such official appointment.
As he wanted the opportunity to make a little money
out of us, and as I wanted nothing at Es Souan so much as
three or four handsome koorbashes as ladies' riding-whips
(for they carve them very skillfully), I requested him to
bring some down early the next morning, as we were
going to leave in the forenoon; and so getting rid of him,
we had time for dinner, coffee, and profound slumber.
Early in the morning Trumbull and myself walked out
alone into the vast cemetery that almost surrounds Es
Souan. The tombs extend over miles square of desert,
and date from the very earliest periods of Islam. It is the
largest and the most desolate burial-place in the world.


No tree sheds its leaves on the mounds, no blade of grass
springs up to cheer the mourners with the emblem of
resurrection. Not one solitary palm looks heavenward
from this dry, sandy waste of death.
Near the village, just at sunrise, we saw a funeral ceremony,
but did not pause. We wandered an hour in the
hollows and over the hills of this curious Golgotha, and
then climbed a hill that overlooks the outlet of the cataract,
and lay down on the sandy summit to gaze on
Elephantine and the Nile.
“Ya Braheem Effendi—Braheem Effendi.”
The shout came as if from the tombs themselves. Deep
down in the hollow we saw two Arabs leading horses,
and they seeing us, came up the hill to say that the
governor of Es Souan was at his diwan, and had sent
horses to request us to honor him with a morning visit.
We had not yet breakfasted, but promising to see him
after breakfast (he had called on us the evening previous,
and wasted a half-hour of his and our time in dull formalities
of talk), we cantered down to the boat.
The soi-disant American agent was waiting for us outside
the cabin with his pile of koorbashes. Ferraj had
wisely kept him out lest he should spoil by his presence
one of Hajji Mohammed's inimitable breakfasts. He
apologized for not coming earlier, as he said his son had
died in the night and he was detained in the morning to
bury him. He was as cool about it as if he had spoken
of a dog, and this sudden change in his family since he
had parted from us the evening before—a son sick in bed
then, but buried three feet deep now—did not appear to
him a matter worth mentioning except by way of apology
for his delay. Such hasty burial is the eastern custom.
Doubtless this was the burial we had seen.
The expense of taking the boat up the cataract was, as
the reader already knows, no concern of ours, but, Abd-

el-Atti was in a fair way to be swindled unless we would
aid him in person, and we consented.
Every one who has read books on Egypt is familiar
with the fact, that the first cataract of the Nile has been
from time immemorial under the charge of a reis or captain,
who monopolized the fees for dragging boats up its
rapids. Of late years the increase of travel has been so
great that there are four reises in partnership who attend
to the business; and it is so profitable withal that
they have a great many other persons in the partnership,
even to the governor at Es Souan himself, who, for the
sake of having his own boat taken up free, as well as for
the sake of part of the pay, never interferes with the reises
of the cataract in their rapacity.
But we were fortified with a firman from his highness;
and if it were of no use here, it was not likely that it
would be any where. Besides this, a letter from Latif
Pasha to the governor at Es Souan, and another from
Abd-el-Kader Bey, instructed him to pay special attention
to us. We accordingly sent him word to have the
reises of the cataract at his diwan, where we would meet
them. As soon as breakfast was over we went up to the
residence, where we found the governor already in conclave
with the shellalee, or men of the cataract.
Old Reis Hassan was conspicuous for his gray beard
and broad shoulders. He is celebrated in story, as was his
father before him. Bag Boug was a giant, a bony Nubian,
gaunt and stout-framed, with an eye like a devil's,
and an arm like a Titan's. The other two, Ibrahim and
Selim, were younger and more silent; but the four looked
abundantly able to lift the boat on their shoulders and
carry it over the hills. We had manifestly broken in on
a consultation among the worthies, in which the governor's
son-in-law, a sharp-looking Greek, had taken a conspicuous
part. He was apparently governor of the old man.


We sat down on dingy cushions, and accepted pipes
and coffee before the conference began, and at length
opened the subject by requesting the governor to inform
us what the reis of the cataract proposed to do for us.
The governor hesitated a moment, and his ready son-in-law
answered for him, that the reis said our boat was
too heavy and large to go up the cataract at all.
We smoked a while in silence, deliberating on this communication,
and, in the mean time, I was looking over the
faces of the four reises, and studying out their separate
capacaties and influence with each other.
“Our boat has been up the cataract every year for four
This was no answer. That a thing has been done once
or four times is no reason that it can be done again in
“She will break. The water is very low this year. It
was earlier when she went up before.”
“It was February last.”
This was a point-blank difference, but it produced no
effect. We conversed a few moments in English, and
then smoked silently a while.
“Very well; we have given up the idea of going up
the cataract.”
“There are very good boats to be had at Es Souan
that will go up the cataract easily.”
This meant that the governor or his son and the shellalee
had a boat that they would like to force us to hire.
“There isn't a boat within five hundred miles of Es
Souan fit for an American to go in. We are going
This was a poser.
“Perhaps, if you took out the kitchen, the stores, and
all the baggage, she might be light enough.”
“Perhaps she would; but if we go up at all we go as

we are. But we have given up going. We will go down
the river this afternoon. Perhaps the governor will forward
a letter for us to Abd-el-Kader Bey?”
There was a strong hint in this suggestion, and the
governor felt it. There was another brief time of smoke
and silence, and Bag Boug then growled out his opinion.
He did not see any difficulty in taking the boat up if there
were men enough to pull her. But it would cost a great
“How much?”
A long silence. Hassan spoke suggestingly, “Fifteen
hundred piastres.”
I looked at him, at the governor, at his son-in-law, laid
down my chibouk, gathered my shawl around me, and
walked toward the door.
“Tell the governor I will send a letter for Abd-el-Kader
Bey, which I wish him to despatch immediately,
and we will sail as soon as possible.”
The governor sprang to his feet, and the reises united
in making a new proposition. One thousand piastres
would cover it all. I came out and left them. Then
Abd-el-Atti thundered at them.
“What is the use of the effendi having his highness's
letter if this is all he gets by it? When did you ever
get a thousand piastres for taking a boat up the cataract?
You are all a set of thieves together. I understand you,
and Braheem Effendi understands you, and I can tell you
that when Abd-el-Kader Bey hears of it he will make you
move up here. He will understand, it, too, eh? What
do you think he will say, eh? when he hears that the
gentleman with his highness's letter could not go up the
cataract, eh?”
They endeavored to soothe him, and gradually came
down in their offers, and at length he got a chance to
speak to old Hassan alone, and whispered to him a promise

of an extra bucksheesh above the contract price, unknown
to the others. This converted Hassan, and he yielded
slowly to the offer of four hundred piastres, which the
others finally came to most reluctantly, and then it was
closed, and I returned to the room.
The next question came to be discussed: this was the
when. It was now eleven o'clock, and of course too late
to go up to-day.
“Why too late?”
“No one can go up without starting very early in the
“How long does it take?”
“Two days; one day to go up to the foot of the last
fall, the next to go up the gate (which is the first great
fall at the head of the cataract).”
“Two days! In the name of the Prophet what is the
use of taking two days? It ought to be done in four
hours, and it can and must.”
“There's no such word in America. The thing must
be done. It is now eleven—not yet noon. We must be
at Philæ by sunset. We will not spend another night
here, or in the cataract. Up the river or down, whichever
the reises please,” and I left them disputing.
At length they came to it, and then the troop came
down to the river, the old governor leading, and the procession
following. We had crossed to Elephantine again,
but returned when we saw the procession, and instantly
made all ready for a start. The governor remained long
enough to smoke a pipe, and endeavored to retrieve his
character by telling all sorts of stories of the shellalee,
laying the blame of the slow contract to them. I suspected
him the more for his anxiety to be rid of the imputation,
and having bowed him ashore, we were ready
to start.


For the benefit of travelers who pay their own way
up the Nile, I record the terms of the contract as concluded.
For four hundred piastres they were to take-us up and
down the cataract, but in addition to this there was a
private agreement with old Hassan to give him a hundred
and fifty more. Half the money to be paid on the
safe delivery of the boat at Philæ, and the other half on
her safe return to Es Souan after the completion of our
Nubian voyage.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin were going no further than Es
Souan, but joined us on board the Phantom to go up the
cataract with us, and return from Philæ on donkeys.
The reises were in good spirits, and as well satisfied as
if their utmost demands had been yielded to. They only
begged us to inform every body, as they would, that we
had paid a thousand piastres, and help them raise the price
this year.
We stowed away all glass and movables, lashed every
thing that was likely to be thrown down, and then, with
a shout and a salute of ten guns, we dashed away before
a grand breeze, and, rounding the bluff of black basalt,
which frowns over the upper end of Elephantine, we
breasted the last rush of the rapids, which are called the
Cataract of the Nile.

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The First Cataract.

The cataract is not a cataract in any sense to Americans.
It is but a rapid, broken up by thousands of boulders
of granite and black basalt. One might well imagine
that here occurred the battle between Jupiter and the
Titans, and that the rocks hurled against the throne of
the Thunderer fell back here, shattered and broken, but
gigantic still. Every where through the cataract these
rocks lie, piled on each other, or singly, black and polished,
above the foaming river. The cataract is not narrow.
The river, in fact, spreads out as wide as in any
other part of its length, and the rocks lie across its entire
breadth. The length of the cataract is not more than
four miles. The principal descent of water is at its head,
where the river comes down through a narrow pass called
the Gate. Below this it is broken up, and turned, and
vexed, and dashed hither and thither, but there is no
great fall at any point.
Still the water was black, and dashed furiously against
our bows, as if to warn us back from the far-famed barriers
of Syene. A moment later we swept around the
point, the rocks closed before and behind us, and we were
in a lake-like inclosure. But there was nothing lake-like
in the waves that dashed around us as never lake was
vexed. The wind was now a gale, and howled over our

heads, and drove the boat into the current, whose strength
increased at each moment. Two miles of this navigation,
turning frequently short around rocks, now skirting the
edge of a foaming mass, now sliding with a grating jar
over a smooth stone that lay hidden under the boiling
foam, brought us to a point where the river came down
several passages through the rocks into the one broad
stream up which we had come.
Selecting the easternmost passage, down which the
waters poured in yellow foam, we breasted the current
with a full sail and straining spars. The Phantom rushed
at it as if she knew what was before her, and enjoyed the
contest. Just so I have seen her gallant namesake breast
the rushing ebb-tide off Watch-hill, in a stiff north-easter,
coming up before it,. and rolling heavily, but plunging
through bravely.
The water flew from the bow, and the short ascent was
almost won, when she hesitated, trembled, and then,
slowly yielding, she paused.
We were all on deck among the men, the three ladies
seated in front of the cabin door, and the gentlemen
standing by them. There was just wind enough to hold
us where we were; and we stood in the middle of the
stream, neither progressing nor receding.
Reis Hassan looked up stream and down stream, now
on this and now on that side. Selim was steadfast at the
tiller, Ibrahim was on the look-out forward, and Bag
Boug was every where at once.
The old man watched the full and straining sail; and
as he saw her slowly yield and give back to the heavy
rush of the river, he shouted for a rope, and, seizing the
coils of the heavy liban (the tow-rope), dropped his turban,
two tarbouches, and all his clothes, quick as lightning,
and sprang into the furious current. Ten strokes
of his powerful arms, and he was on a black rock, around

which the water was raging. From this he dived again,
up stream, and disappeared. The next instant he came
above water, far up stream. No human power could
swim that distance in that current. He had, doubtless,
helped himself along by rocks on the bottom of the
stream; but he had never let go his hold on the heavy
rope. A dozen Nubians followed him, made the rope
fast around a rock directly ahead of us, and then,
throwing themselves into the stream, came flying down
to the boat, which they caught as they swept by, and
swung themselves in, and all hands commenced hauling
with a tremendous chorus of “Hah, Allah!” All this
occupied a briefer time than I have taken to describe it,
and the boat was still breasting the stream; but now she
began to go up, up, with every repeat of the chorus, until,
just as she was on the very crest of the rapid, and entering
the smooth water, crack! The rope flew high in
the air as it parted, and she sagged over to the side of
the passage, and thumped heavily on the rocks, where
she rested.
The shouts that arose from fifty Arab throats drowned
the roar of the waters as this mishap occurred; but in
a moment twenty men were in the water, other ropes
were carried forward, and then, with a long, steady haul,
she was swung off the rocks into the stream, and up into
a safe eddy at the top of this part of the cataract, the men
swimming to her from all directions, and she flying on before
the wind to the next place of trial.
Again, as before, the wind carried us half way up this;
and then the black skins flashed through the water, and
ropes were sent out to the rocks, and she was drawn into
an eddy half way up, where she rested again a moment.
Here I was not a little surprised to see her headed into a
narrow passage, not ten yards wide, down which the
water fell a foot or eighteen inches in a hundred feet.

The broader stream foamed and dashed high up on the
rocks, around which it flowed. This passage seemed
deeper, and Reis Hassan knew his business. It was evident
that sheer lifting alone could get the boat up this
fall, and three ropes were got out while we lay in the
eddy. Old Hassan sprang to the rocks, and threw a
handful of dust into the air. In an instant men started up
in every part of the rocky bed of the Nile. The valley
that a moment before had seemed to be only the abode
of rocks and the great river, where from hill to hill there
was only black stone and white foam, now swarmed with
life, and three hundred men, women, and children, rushed
down to the boat to aid in the hauling, and claim their
share of the reward. The children, whose name was
Legion, stood on the shore and shouted “Bucksheesh
Howajji!” in every tone conceivable, while some threw
themselves into the current, and came dancing down the
water, and went by us in a twinkling, soon coming up,
with their logs or floats on their shoulders, to claim their
We were ready for another attempt. Bag Boug made
his appearance at the cabin door, where I was standing.
He was wet, and cold, and shivering. He begged hard.
Bag Boug is always wet, and cold, and shivering, and always
wants brandy. We had a lot on board, reserved
for such purposes. Possibly the reader remembers my
purchase of it in the Mouski from the ancient gentleman
into whose arms my donkey threw me. Old Hassan
never drinks, and I did not care how drunk the others
were, for he was, after all, the man of the party. I
handed Bag Boug the glass—a large tumbler—and a
bottle to pour for himself. He filled the tumbler to the
brim, and poured it down his throat as if it were water,
and while I looked on in astonishment he repeated the
dose. On my honor that shellalee drank a full pint of

raw brandy without a wink, and there was not in his conduct
afterward the slightest indication that he was affected
by it. His throat must be copper to stand such
stuff as that was.
We were now all ready; and fifty men took hold of
the ropes, and as many more stood on the rocks to keep
her off and push when they could. Up, up, up! But she
paused again. Twenty good steady men to haul would
have sent her up; but the Arabs pulled one at a time,
and they could not move her. As she went back, we all
sprang to the ropes, and three Americans hauling did
more than thirty Arabs. She went forward, the water
parted over her bow, she shot up the fall and on into the
eddy before the gate of the cataract.
Down this gate the Nile pours in one solid stream,
parting instantly around a hundred rocks. As we shot
forward in the eddy before the strong wind, we struck a
rock, and ran high up on it. Fifty men were under her
instantly, swimming till they found points of rock on
which to rest their feet, and then lifting and pushing, and
as she sank off and floated, they swam hither and thither
like fish, and we ran on to the foot of the gate.
Here large and strong preparations were necessary for
the final pull, and while these were in process we went on
shore to see how the boat looked in the current. This
was a view not to be lost; and we clambered on the
rocks to a high point overlooking the boat and the crowd,
which was steadily increasing. I think there were a hundred
naked boys and girls around us vociferating for
bucksheesh. Whips and clubs were of no use whatever.
They thronged us.
The boat certainly looked gallantly, and most gallant
of all was Hajji Mohammed, our prince of cooks. I think
I have mentioned that the kitchen occupies the extreme
bow of the boat, forward of the mast; and as there is no

TEMPLE OF ISIS on the island of Philae, Egypt, is seen here partially submerged > as a result of the heightening in 1912 of the Assuan dam and Assuan, Egypt. The heightening of the dam will result in the complete submersion of the temple during high water. --Acme Photo

bowsprit or forward rigging, there was nothing to interrupt
the view forward from his stand. But he was
steadily at work boning a fowl, and attending to his
usual duties as quietly as if she were lying at anchor in a
calm. A dozen naked Nubians were sitting forward of
the kitchen, and clinging to its sides, but he paid no attention
to them whatever, nor did he once cease his
work in all the passage of the cataract. Enough for him
that we had ordered an early dinner, and he was hastening
it as fast as possible.
Now they announced the boat ready for her last
trial. An immense hawser was made fast literally around
the boat, and this was long enough for two hundred men
to take hold of. The sail was stowed away; no one could
manage it in this place. And now with a long steady
song, and as steady a pull as they could make, the
Phantom entered the gate and mounted the rapid, and
emerged from Egypt into Nubia up the last reach of the
cataract. Tumbling overboard every body but the reises
and their immediate attendants, with the sails shaken out
to the breeze, we swept on, now to the left, around a
lofty pile of rocks, and now to the right, opening before
us the loveliest view in all Egypt, perhaps in all the world,
the burial-place of Osiris, the beautiful Phiæ.
The island of Philæ, lying at the head of the cataract
of the Nile, is in one of the most wild and picturesque
spots on the face of the earth. High black rocks, heaped
up to the sky, lie all around it; and from any point of
view, it is a jewel set in a rough inclosure, to make it the
more beautiful by contrast. The entire surface of the
island is covered with ruins, the great temple of Isis,
which is the most perfect among them, occupying the
western side. It is not of a very ancient period. One
learns in Egypt to call every thing modern that is not
three thousand years old; and the temples of the Ptolemies

are of less interest after one begins to learn the history
of the Pharaohs of older times, and look on their
monuments. It is a strange passion this that men have
for the old. What is it in the intellect of man that makes
him do such homage to age—to great age? Is it because
we always admire the inaccessible, and that we,
whose dust holds together but seventy years, therefore
admire the dust that has outlived thirty centuries? Not
so; because the hills and mountains of our own country
are old enough for all that. It is not age alone. It is
something in the fact, that human hands wrought on
these rocks; that human intellect shaped and planned
their order. It is the memorial of dead men's thoughts
to which we bow in reverence; and perhaps it is somewhat
akin to our own desires after immortality. Perhaps
the feverish thirst of the boy for fame—the thirst
that long life can never satisfy—is somewhat similar
to the profound awe with which he looks on the carved
name of an ancient king, or the exquisite sculpture of an
ancient artist. And men are but grown-up boys; and
the boy's anxiety for fame may have vanished among
the more immediate and practical desires of manhood,
but the admiration for the fame of others, and the veneration
for the mere approximation to immortality which he
fancies he sees in the ruins of old temples and palaces,
lingers with him; nor does it leave him ever.
But there is something more than all this, which we all
feel, but which none of us can well explain, when we look
on an ancient ruin, and which makes the difference between
old hills and old houses. If one fell on the ruin of
an ancient shop, wherein men of old times bought and
sold goods and wares, there would not be any very profound
admiration excited, nor would he sit down long to
reflect on the scenes which had occurred within those
walls. Still less did he discover a butcher's stall or a

drinking-shop. The ordinary employments of men in
former ages interest us, but only momentarily.
We stroll through Pompeii with interest, astonishment,
and melancholy delight, if I may use the expression, and
we remember its shops and counters as curious places, but
we scarcely think of the men that stood in those shops
and bought and sold by those weights and measures.
But what thrilling imagination does that mould of a
young breast arouse! The memorials of the hearts of
ancient men and women, of their great emotions, their
passions, most challenge our respect and fix our minds.
The houses in which they lived remind us of these, in
that we recall the home scenes, the thousand affections of
home; and man's love always sanctifies a place. But the
palaces in which they reigned, where all day long, and
all the year long, were heard the sounds of royalty, with
which are always mingled the fiercest emotions of humanity,
the temples in which their altar fires burned,
and their hearts burned as well, these are the places in
which the foot of the thoughtful man lingers, from daylight
and sunshine till sunset and moonlight hallow them
with softer rays, and around which he sees always in sunshine
or moonlight the flitting shadows of ancient memories.
Altars are crumbled, and altar fires have long been
quenched, but the memory of men's worship remains to
sanctify, and the impress of their tears is visible in the
crumbling pavements.
Philæ was the most sacred spot in Egypt. Hither,
from all directions, men came for worship. But none
were admitted to set their feet on the sacred island except
by special order. Here was the fabled burial-place
of Osiris, or near here, for antiquarians dispute much on
this point. But in the temple of Isis is now found a remarkable
subterranean vault, near the holy of holies, from
which a concealed stairway passes through the solid walls

of the temple up to the roof, and which gives every indication
of having been used by the priests for their secret
purposes, possibly to show to strangers as the grave of
the great Osiris.
But for the present I have nothing to do with ancient
Philæ. It is only the modern; the palm-trees and the
ruins; the fallen altars and columns that I have to speak
of. They lay in the utmost beauty of desolateness as the
moonlight came over them that night, and we wandered
about among their wastes.
Again I might write, as I have written before, never
was such moonlight—certainly never was such a place for
moonlight. It fell on the columns of the ancient temple
at the upper end of the island, and the small obelisk
seemed to grow larger in the silver light. It lingered in
the great court of the temple of Isis, as if it loved the
memories that resided there. But purest, holiest of all,
it fell in the open temple on the eastern side of the island,
where Miriam and I sat silently as the night swept along
with its load of glory, while the others wandered up and
down the island looking vainly for one spot more beautiful
than another.
Our American friends were with us still, and it was
now time for their return to Es Souan. Donkeys had
been ordered to be ready for them on the opposite side
of the river, and, taking them in the small boat, I pulled
across to the main land. The boys stood under the palmtrees,
but when they were mounted and ready to be
away, I could not permit them to go alone and unattended
through the wildest and perhaps the most dangerous
mountain pass in Egypt; for the men of the
cataract—the shellalee, as they are called—are not much
more merciful or human in disposition than the wolves
and hyenas which abound among their hills, and I felt
unwilling to trust my friends—one of them a young

and delicate lady—to the mercy of either class of brutes.
So I accompanied them myself, with a six-barrelled Colt
and an endless volcanic repeater. I walked along by
their side in pleasant talk across the arm of the desert
on which stands the village, under a branching sycamore
that grew up from the very sand itself, and then into the
wilderness of rocks that lie as the hands of the Almighty
cast them, here and there and everywhere, on the east
bank of the river. It was a strange group that, for such
a scene and such a night. Sometimes the donkeys
climbed the sides of rocks on which their feet seemed
scarcely able to retain foothold; often they passed
through narrow chasms, that seemed impassable till we
had tried them. The hills grew higher on the right, the
noise of the cataract louder on the left, the scene more
wild, the moonlight more beautiful. And so we continued
until I had accompanied them beyond the mountain
pass and into the more open and safe country which
lies along the line of the portage from Es Souan around
the cataract, and here I left them to pursue their way
downward to their boat, and thence to Cairo, while I
turned my back and again resumed my way southward
toward the tropic, toward Abou Simbal and the second
I know no point in my wanderings at which I felt so
much the distance from home, or that I was leaving all
that bound and connected me to that home as here.
Behind me lay Egypt. Close behind me the only two
Americans (except ourselves) within almost a thousand
miles, had their faces turned northward, and were leaving
us to our lonesome journey. Around me was desolation,
its very abode, where the rock and desert held every
thing. At my right the roar of the rapid, sounding as
when the Greeks heard it, warned me, as it warned the
Romans of old, that I had passed “far Syene,” and that

the world lay behind me and unknown wastes before,
Grim, silent, solemn rocks, lifting their dark countenances
in the air, looked on me with stern gaze, that sometimes
seemed, in the clear moonlight, to change into a smile of
contempt, and sometimes into a sneer of derision. What
was I, a puny mortal of six feet, in these slow-coming
years, what was I, that I should be walking so carelessly
and recklessly along that mighty river, by the far-famed
cataract, in that light that had guided the footsteps of
kings and priests ages ago, among those stately rocks
that had been the witness-bearers of forty centuries?
What was I, that I should look with unshrinking eyes on
all these ancient memorials, and troll a song—a dashing
modern song—as I walked among them? For an instant
a shudder came over me, and I verily feared lest
the old guardians of the barrier should stop me there.
But that was a momentary half-defined feeling that vanished
on the instant, and I gathered my wits together as
well as I was able, and walked on over sand and stone, as
I fancied millions had walked, in years when there was a
shrine for devout worship on the beautiful island, on
moonlight pilgrimages to Philæ.

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I was weary. I know not why,
but I was weary that night, and I
thought, as I trod the wild path
among the cliffs, of a fireside in a
far off land, by which could I but
have warmed my feet, I would have
lain down content to sleep such
sleep as God giveth his beloved, and
wander never again. I wondered
whether I really knew what sleep was. Sometimes I
thought I had not slept for months, and I had not, save
only that dreamy, restless sleep that is filled with visions
of dear faces looking on me through impassable bars, or
out of unapproachable distances. And that night, as I
walked along, the moonlight falling all around me out of
that fathomless sky, I felt as if to lie down on the sand
would be blessed, and to sleep there glorious, if I could
but dream once more of home.
For an instant, lonesome and weary, though I had with
me the dearest company in all the world—for an instant I
thought of proposing to turn the boat, and go down the
cataract, and northward to the sea; but the next instant
drove all such thoughts far off
I have described the pass. The high black rocks,

seamed and riven with ancient convulsions of nature in
the childhood of this old world, now towered on my left,
and the river ran blackly and with a heavy roar on the
right. A low, long, snarling bark or yell startled and
stopped me.
It came from the river-side, five hundred yards before
me, and was followed by the quick barking of the jackals,
of whom I saw three or four dash across the path and
disappear in the direction of the sound.
The first bark was not a jackal, nor was it a fox. So
far as I can learn there is no distinction now made in
Egypt between those two animals, unless in the Delta. I
have shot a number of them, and the people call them
taleb (fox), and abou l'houssein (jackal), indiscriminately;
nor am I able to learn that there is any other animal
known to them as a jackal than this, which is but a small
But that the voice did not proceed from one of these I
was very certain, and the more so as their sharp, piercing
bark now arose furiously and increased in noise; so that
I imagined a council of the little rascals disturbed in a
banquet by a wolf or hyena. The prospect of getting a
shot at either of these animals was too good to be lost,
and I examined my pistols and advanced cautiously in the
direction of the angry disputants.
I had proceeded two hundred yards or so when a
second loud and now more fierce yell or howl interrupted
the sounds, which were then renewed with tenfold
earnestness; but one of the foxes was snarling, howling,
and yelping in a broken, disconnected way that could
not be mistaken. Some strong compression was on his
lungs. He was, in fact, in other hands than his own. I
judged, as it afterward proved correctly, that the wolf
had made a dash among his foes and seized one of them.
I started on now at a fast run, and at length the ascent

of a rock over which the path led brought me in sight of
the battle. A large wolf—large here, but what I should
call at home a very small one—was standing over the
body of a dead donkey on the shore of the river, and half
a dozen foxes were fighting him in true Arab style, with
terrible voices, but at a safe distance. One poor little
villain of a fox was in his jaws, and he would shake him
for amusement occasionally. There was no need of it.
He was dead, or shamming dead, and I do not think there
was any sham about it. There certainly was none when
he dropped him, as he did a moment afterward, when a
ball from my Colt went down through his shoulder and
broke the bone. The howl that he uttered on that night-air
rings in my ear this moment. It made the rocks of
Biggeh echo. It filled the whole pass with its unearthly
sound. It was a long wild cry of intolerable anguish and
He threw up his head as it escaped him, as if he were
invoking the gods of Lycopolis to avenge him, and then
leaped into the water. A second ball bounded from the
stone as he left it, and went glancing over the river in the
moonlight, leaving a sparkling track; and a third dashed
the water about him, if it did not hit him, as he swam out
for the current, which swept him downward, and I lost him.
The silence that followed was as startling as the cry
had been. Only the river among the rocks sounded as
steadily as it had sounded through the centuries, and the
moonlight seemed to be in harmony with the sound.
Ten minutes afterward I came out by the village on
the sand above the pass, and we entered it in search of
our new pilot, a shellalee, who was to take charge of the
boat to the second cataract, and back to Philæ.
Under a tree, the sycamore fig, in the middle of the
village, was a curious seat which is not uncommon in
Nubia. It was circular, made of mud, on a raised platform

of the same material. A seat or diwan ran round
this platform, having a high back, so that a dozen or
twenty persons could sit here in a circle, all facing the
centre. It was occupied by women, who were busy talking
over the village gossip, and who answered very
pleasantly our inquiries after Hassan. He had gone to
the next village, which, like this, consisted of two rows
of mud houses, a hundred yards apart, with the moonlight
on the yellow sand between them. We walked
through them, shouting “Hassan! Hassan!” and at
length he emerged from a low doorway, and replied to
his name.
He was six feet two at the least, and black as ebony.
He did not know that we expected to sail that night or
he would have been on board; so, hastening off for his
baggage (a pipe, and an empty bag in which to bring
home dates from the upper country), he promised to join
us at the small boat, and we walked on. We found her
where we left her, and Hajji Hassan and Abdallah both
asleep in the bottom. What did they care for the moonlight
and Philæ? And yet, I dare to say, that nowhere,
on the face of the earth, is there a moonlight scene more
rich in all that reaches and rouses the heart of man than
was that same view. I looked on it as one looks on the
faces of a dream when he knows he is dreaming, and fears
to move or approach lest they vanish.
At length Hassan Shellalee, made his appearance, accompanied
by his mother. She was an old woman, and
though it was but a two weeks' parting, she wept bitterly,
and embraced him again and again. When we
pushed off, she begged me to treat him kindly, and then
knelt on the moonlit bank and prayed for him: “God
bless him! God keep my son! Allah, Allah, bring him
back safe!” and, as we crossed, we could hear her mournful
voice sounding over the river.


I know not what comfort there is in all the universe for
an old woman among these miserable people, or what
hope there is in her heart to keep out the cold. To the
young, life is always bright, and the future presents joys
in anticipation, as well to the poor as to the rich, which
are enough to make them glad. But to the old, with
dim eyes gazing on the sand, and feeble footsteps scarce
prevailing to pass through it, without love, without God,
without heaven, saving only the uncertain belief that it is
remotely possible that they may have souls—a belief utterly
rejected by half their teachers—and, even when
trusting to that belief, entirely forbidden to expect, in
any future life, to meet the beloved of this; hopeless of
ever renewing the embraces that death has unlocked;
hopeless of ever opening their eyes again on son or husband,
daughter or mother; to them I know not what
spirit there can be to live, what endearment to life, unless
it be the horror of death itself.
For if the grave were pleasant, they might long for its
repose. To lie down in some pleasant spot under the
trees and find rest, even though it were dreamless and
eternal; to sleep where the breath of the wind would be
laden with odors of roses; to have resurrection in the
sweet scent of flower and shrubs; to have sunlight love
to linger over one's place of rest, and moon and starlight
fall with delight among myrtle leaves—all this would be
delicious hope to them, if this might be. But a grave
here! God forbid that I die here! to be laid, coffinless,
three feet deep in the dry sand, and to-night disentombed
by the jackals, or to-morrow by the wind. Such burial,
and no immortality, who would not abhor?
We strolled an hour longer on the island. The moonlight
was brighter each moment. Trumbull and Amy sat
down in the front of the great Temple of Isis, and I could
hear him occasionally discoursing to the ruins and the

moon in almost every language with which those hallowed
spots were familiar. Miriam and myself sat near
them; but we selected the shade, and looked out of it on
the wild scenery with indescribable admiration and awe.
We could not tear ourselves away. It was midnight;
but still we lingered in front of the Temple of Isis; still
gazed up the shining river from the corridor near the
small obelisk; still sat on the terrace and looked over at
Biggeh and its lofty rocks. Yielding at length to the
persuasive breeze that freshened every hour, we came
down to the boat, and while we slept she sprang away
before it, and in the morning was far up among the
mountains of Nubia.
We were told by the reises of the cataract, that our
boat was the first which had been taken up the cataract
in a single day. They solemnly asseverated the truth of
this, but I did not believe them. Nevertheless, at noon
the next day, just twenty-four hours after leaving Es
Souan, we were fifty-two miles from that place, having
ascended the cataract and passed the evening at Philæ
in the meantime. This, I have no doubt, surpasses any
thing ever before done by a traveler's boat. The wind
failed us in the afternoon, and I walked a while on shore
taking my first view of Nubia.
The difference between Egypt and Nubia is marked
and great. Not alone in the color of the inhabitants, but
in almost every respect. Egypt may perhaps average
five miles in width, exclusive of the river. Nubia averages
just about as many rods. This is seriously true.
The mountains of rock rise abruptly a few yards, or at
most a few hundred feet, from the river's edge, and in
large portions of Nubia nothing is cultivated but the
actual slope of the bank, one or two rods in width. The
inhabitants live on the scanty supply of beans and doura
(corn) which their small amount of land yields, but chiefly

on dates, for palm-trees abound, and their produce is most
excellent. The people are generally industrious. They
must work or starve. Their clothing is simple, many of
them being nearly naked, and all the unmarried females
wearing the fringe around their waists, and in cold
weather wrapping a piece of cotton cloth loosely about
The women plait their hair in heavy folds, which they
soak with castor-oil and with butter. Hideous shining
masses cover their heads, which they exhibit with all the
pride of a city lady, and they like the intensely disgusting
odor quite as well as we like the most delicate geranium.
The people are quarrelsome, notwithstanding their industry,
and many Nubian villages have been burned, and
many Nubian bodies have swung between trees and
ground for this bad trait of character, without producing
very great effect.
One of the features of Nubia is the sakea, or water-wheel,
for raising water from the river to irrigate the
land. It is seen at every hundred rods, and heard all
day and all night long, creaking a most melancholy and
mournful creak. The small amount of land which each
sakea waters, makes the contrast with Egypt more
forcible in this respect, and shows the greater amount
of labor required of the Nubian to produce the same
I know no part of the world in which life is so very
small and worthless a matter as here, nor do the inhabitants
themselves appear to set any high value on their
own existence or that of each other. Life is but existence;
nothing more. They rise from the ground on
which they sleep, or the heap of doura stalks, or mat
which keeps their naked bodies from it, and eating a
coarse lump of corn meal, half baked, if they are so fortunate

as to have it, but generally eating a dozen dried
dates for breakfast, they go out to the bank of the river
and work in the scanty soil, or watch the sakea, relieving
their companions who have kept it going all night. And
when the day is done, and work is done, they sit in
groups in the dark or in the moonlight, and talk at intervals,
but mostly keep silence, passing around from lip to
lip the small pipe of native tobacco, and one by one rolls
himself up in his own nakedness, curling his knees up to
his head, and sleeps profound and dreamless sleep till
Their huts are miserable substitutes for even the vile
huts of the Egyptians. Many travelers mention the contrast
between the Egyptian villages and the neat cottages
of the Nubians among the trees, speaking of the beauty
of the latter, and one traveler even calls them “neat white
cottages.” He must have been far away from Nubia when
he wrote that, and had doubtless forgotten the low piles
of Nile mud, never, or scarcely ever, high enough for a
man to stand erect in, which constitute a Nubian village;
and as to trees, I saw none in Nubia that were near the
houses. On the contrary, without exception, so far as
my observation went, the Nubian villages were built on
land where trees or plants would not grow. Soil is too
valuable there to be wasted for building purposes. Hence
the houses, which are of the rudest form and smallest
possible dimension, are usually built in a honeycomb mass
at the foot of the mountain, and it requires a quick eye
to detect them, their color being similar to the sand and
One night I went into some of these huts at a late
hour. No doors prevented intruders, nor was there any
safeguard against robbers. The inhabitants lay on the
ground, huddled together in masses, sound asleep like so
many hogs, and grunted, as hogs would, when we stirred

them up with our feet and voices. Life in such a country
has no great amount of variety, as one might well imagine.
There was an old man that I found one day on shore as
I walked by the boat, whose history was strange and
worth the hearing.
He was a puny, dried-up old fellow, whose weight, I
think, might come within seventy pounds. He sat on the
end of the pole of the water-wheel, immediately behind
the tails of the bullocks, and followed them around the
little circle which they walked, his knees up to his chin,
which was buried between them, and his blear eyes gazing
listlessly on the cattle and the outer wall of the sakea,
for it was inclosed in a stone and mud wall. The ever-lasting
creaking of the wheels—that strange sound that
no other machinery on earth emits—seemed, and was
to him, the familiar music of his life.
I questioned him, and his story was simply this: He
was born just there. It was long before the days of Mohammed
Ali, when Hassan Kasheef was king, that he
was a boy, sitting on the pole of the sakea, and following
the bullocks around. He sat there more years than he
knew any thing about, and grew to be a man. Life was
to him still the same round. His view was bounded by
the mountains around him, and he never went beyond
them. He rode the sakea, and at every circle he caught
through the open doorway a vision of one mighty hill,
with a grove of palms at its foot. In the night he saw it
still and solemn among the stars, and sometimes he had
seen tempests gathered around it. It was the one idea
of his life, and it was something to find in such a brain
one idea, though it was but a rock. He looked out at it
as he told me of it with a sort of affection that I well
understood, but which surprised me none the less. But
so he had lived. He grew heavier as he grew older, and

then he could not ride the pole, but sat down in the doorway
and watched his bullocks, looking behind him often
at the hill, and so the years slipped along, and age came
and he wasted away, and when his second childhood was
on him, he mounted the pole again, and was riding to his
He had been a great traveler. I know not how many
thousand miles he had been carried around that centre
pin. Had he never been away from the valley? Yes,
once; he climbed the hill yonder, and from its summit
saw the dreary wastes of sand that stretched far away in
all directions, and he came back contented. Did nothing
occur in his lifetime that he now remembered as marking
some one day more than another? Nothing. Yes! one
day the wheel broke, and he was startled and frightened;
but they came and mended it, and all went on as before.
I left him there to follow his weary round till death
overtake him; and if I find life oppressive at any time
hereafter, I shall know where to seek a hermitage and
undisturbed calm.

[Back to top]


The Nubians.

I did not stop to look at any ruins in Nubia on my upward
voyage, until we reached Abou Simbal.
We tracked a little toward noon of the day after leaving
Philæ; that was December 19th, and I walked on
shore for a while, crossing the tropic on foot.
Medical treatment had been demanded from time to
time, along the river, by the natives, who imagine Franks
omnipotent in medicine, but now the demands were oppressively
As I was walking along, gun in hand, looking after game,
which was very scarce in Nubia, a dozen applicants presented
themselves for the treatment of ophthalmia, sprains,
and some bad wounds. I directed them, one after another,
to follow up the river with the boat, which was
tracking a half mile behind me. Arriving at a convenient
spot, I sat down till the party arrived, and stopping the
boat for my medicine-chest, proceeded to administer to
their wants as I knew how. It was always a dangerous
business, for if a man were not cured, his friends would
be certain to lay it to the medicine, and if he died, would
seek revenge on his supposed murderer.
There was one case presented to me here that was intensely
horrible. I beg pardon of my gentler readers for
asking them to pass over this page or two, unless they

wish to be shocked by an instance of womanly affection
that surpassed, in my view, any story of ancient or modern
history or romance that I have read.
A tall, slender, and graceful woman, erect as a queen,
but naked as a Nubian (great, indeed, was the contrast
between her carriage and her costume), led down to the
boat a man of thirty or thereabouts, whom she called her
husband. He was a splendidly-formed fellow, black as
charcoal, but with a frame that looked as if he could
carry a world on his shoulders. Its developments were
manifest, for he wore nothing but a cloth around his waist,
and a bundle of rags on his right hand.
This hand she unbound, and exposed to me a most horrible
wound. In a fray with some neighboring village,
he, holding one of the heavy Nubian clubs in his hand,
had received a blow on the back of it from another, which
crushed the small bones to a pulp. This was some
weeks before, and the hand had now no semblance of a
hand. The fingers were one solid mass of flesh, the whole
swollen to enormous size, and in the centre of the back,
was a hole, an inch in diameter, from which oozed foul
matter that made me sick to look at.
Now pass over what I am about to describe, I beg you,
fair lady.
The wound had not been washed. The whole hand
was a mass of dirt. Miriam threw me a cake of soap from
the window of the boat, and I made the wife wash the
She did it as gently as a mother could handle a dying
child. Her fingers could not cause him pain, so lightly
did she move them over the wound, and after a few minutes
I could see the skin.
It was a hopeless case. Mortification followed within a
week, I have no doubt. But I could not tell her so. The
lightest touch pressed out foul discharges from the opening.

I told her to clean it out. She did so till I could
look in it. There were stringy pieces of white substance
looking like pieces of the tendons. They were accumulations
of ropy discharges, and I told her to get them out.
She tried with her fingers, but they were too slippery,
and she could not. Then she took up the hand and put
her lips down to the wound, and took one of these foul
pieces between her teeth and—I suppose she drew them
out—I didn't see her.
When she told me it was done, I was leaning against a
palm-tree, a little way up the bank, with my tarbouche
off, trying to get a little fresh air.
I tell you, my bachelor friend, that woman was worth
her weight in diamonds, and she was a widow within
a fortnight.
There was a boy, who professed to have some disease,
and after thorough examination of him, I gave him the
old remedy, a bread pill. He took it, and then followed
what he had really come down to the boat for, a demand
for bucksheesh.
“What?” said I.
I seized him by the loose shirt that enveloped his active
limbs, and threw him into the river. He swam like
a fish, was ashore in a twinkling, and, as he shook himself,
demanded, with an air of perfect certainty that he had
now a right to it, “Bucksheesh, Ya Howajji.”
Toward evening, of the next day, we came up to Korusko.
Korusko figures largely in the geography of Upper
Egypt, and I had expected to find there a village of considerable
size, if not a flourishing city. But there was
nothing of the sort. There was not even an ordinary
village. A few scattered huts along the foot of the
mountain were the only residences of the natives. Along

the shore were tents, and camels, and piles of goods, and
bales of various sorts of merchandise, for this is the point
at which the caravans leave the Nile to go to Upper
Nubia. The river here returns to its course after a
great bend to the westward, which bend the caravans
avoid, as well as the many cataracts which forbid navigation.
We approached it in the evening, just at sunset,
and, sending the boat on ahead, we went ashore to walk
through the grove of palms which covers the bank. We
found groups of traders around their camp-fires, and the
effect of moonlight on them became very picturesque.
One party of Europeans surprised us not a little. It appeared
that they were going to the upper country on a
trading expedition, and their camels were ready for the
We lay all night here, and in the morning tracked up
to Derr, the chief city of Lower Nubia.
We had sent on word that we were coming, as the
course of the river from Derr to Korusko is nearly southeast,
and it was necessary to track all the way, no wind
blowing against that current, and we wished additional
men to take the ropes.
Abdul Rahman Effendi, the governor of this section,
who resides at Derr, sent us down a small army of nearly
a hundred men, under charge of Mohammed, one of the
sons of Hassan Kasheef, the old king of Nubia, and they
took us up at a flying rate. About eight miles from
Derr, Abdul Rahman himself met us on horseback, and
came on board the boat.
He is a young man, who has been a favorite with
Latif Pasha, and has been steadily promoted by him until
he has reached his present elevation. But he is not
exactly contented, for he is in a place of exile to a man
of his peculiar tastes. He was accompanied by his physician,
who was a keen old fellow, full of fun, and sharp

as a razor. In reply to his inquiry whether in America
the law made any distinctions in favor of the rich over
the poor, I enlightened him by the history of some medical
men, of good position and connections, who had
recently suffered its penalties, and he seemed greatly astonished.
I think he gathered from what I said that
medical men in America were not the most safe class in
the community, and were somewhat given to killing
other people. But I disabused his mind on that score
very soon.
Abdul Rahman was sent to Derr some time ago to settle
the division of the property of old Hassan Kasheef,
the last king of Nubia before its subjugation by Mohammed
Ali. Having successfully accomplished his mission
he was sent back as governor of Lower Nubia, not precisely
to his own liking, for he would have much prefered
a place below the cataract.
He told me afterward the history of the old king and
his property. Hassan Kasheef was a giant in his day.
He was seven feet high, could eat a lamb for his breakfast,
and a sheep for his dinner, had over a hundred
wives, and left more children than could be counted.
He was in the habit of marrying every girl that he
fancied, his ceremony being simply to ride up to the
door of the hut in which she lived and fire his gun. The
people shouted instantly, “the Kasheef is married!”
and after remaining a day or two with his wife he went
away, and she never heard of him again. Thus he had
wives everywhere. The first Turkish governor endeavored
to reform his morals; but Hassan could be a Mussulman
in all but that. He got, rid of all but seven of
the women, and when he died, seven years ago, these
appeared to claim a share in the property. But there
were three more than the Mohammedan law could recognize,
it allowing only four wives to one man. It was

this knotty subject that Abdul Rahman was sent here to
untwist, and he succeeded admirably, by inducing them
all to submit to his arrangement and make an equitable
division of the property.
His sons, in the regular line, now living, are fifteen.
Their names are almost a complete catalogue of the
names of all Moslems. Suleiman, Ali, Daoud, Rashwan,
Mohammed, Houssein, Ibrahim, Abdul-Rahwan, Khalil,
Achmet-Asim, Mohammed-Manfouh, Mohammed-Dahib,
Mustapha, Shahin, and Mohammed-Defterdar.
Abdul Rahman and his physician proved jolly companions.
They smoked, talked, laughed, and joked, with
the ease and freedom of western society. Wine they,
both declined. Every one knows that the Moslem religion
forbids wine.
They ate freely of pomegranates. “Doctor,” said
Trumbull; “don't you think that a little wine or brandy
with his fruit would be proper for the governor to take
by way of medicine?”
“No—I don't think wine agrees with Abdul Rahman's
constitution,” said the doctor; “but I find that I need
it myself with fruit, and it is good for me.” He filled a
tumbler with Marsala, and poured it down with a sly
wink of eye at the laughing governor, and after that
the doctor stuck to the decanter till it was empty.
I had heard all along the river that the great temple
at Abou Simbal was closed with sand and had not been
open for two years. I accordingly requested Abdul Rahman
to send up an order to the nearest sheiks, to have
hundred men there on the day I expected to be there
coming down the river, for it was out of the question to
leave Nubia without seeing the interior of this, the
greatest curiosity in Egypt—perhaps greater than Cheops
or Karnak.
Abdul Rahman was most hearty and earnest in his attentions.

I regretted the impossibility of staying a day
or two with him at Derr, where he promised us all sorts
of jollifications. But I had work to do at Thebes, and
every day was important. He sent a cawass with us to
hasten our progress above Derr, and after making us
promise to call on our way down, he suddenly discovered
that we had carried him two miles above his house, on
the river bank at Derr, and shouted to be put ashore.
His train of fifty or more horses and men had kept along
the bank by our side, and we now turned up to the
shore. Chief among the followers was Suleiman, eldest
son of Hassan-Kasheef, a noble man, nearly seven feet
high, heir to his father's fallen throne.
We lay a couple of hours at the bank. The boys
brought us lots of chameleons which abounded on the
bean vines along the shore, and we bought them at a
copper each till we had more than we wanted. They
were a source of great amusement to us afterward, fighting
one another with most furious slowness, biting as an
iron rail-shears opens and shuts its jaws, once in half a
minute, swelling and changing their colors, now brilliant
green, now dull gray, now straw yellow, now, when angry,
covered with a hundred shining spots, and then relapsing
into their natural brilliant green. They remained on the
boat for a month, and then as we came northward died
one by one until all had disappeared.
Toward evening we left Derr, tracking slowly. Abdul
Rahman and his suite rode along shore three or four miles
with us, and then a breeze springing up, we left him and
dashed on a mile or two further. Here the breeze died
away, and we came to the land under a precipitous mountain,
on which all night long the moonlight lay in silent
splendor. We sat, all four of us, on the rocks till nearly
midnight, and the boat of an English gentleman and lady
(residents of Cairo), who had been all the fall on the

river, joined us here, and remained with us to the second
It was on the afternoon of the 23d of December that
we came in sight of the grand front of Abou Simbal, the
most impressive of the monuments of Egyptian grandeur.
I say the most impressive, because here is all that can
impress the heart. Here are the remains of ancient
wealth, splendor, and taste united. Here the sublime
idea of the great Sesostris stands graven on the rock, and
the men of the nineteenth century after Christ respond
with their hearts to the call which the man of the fourteenth
before Christ utters on the face of the mountain.
Human power may not hope to accomplish more than
this, or to equal again the magnificence and beauty of
this temple. It was the thought of a kingly intellect to
hew down the face of the mountain, leaving four colossal
statues sitting before it, and then to excavate a temple in
its very depths, and leave the statues of the gods looking
from its inmost chamber out to the bank of the swift
Nile. The thought has long outlasted the man—outlasted
his dynasty—outlasted his race and nation. The desert
sands have in vain sought to hide it and cover it up. It
is the grandest remaining monument of old Egypt.
Three colossal statues sit silent and majestic in a niche
cut in the face of the mountain. The fourth has fallen
into ruin, and only his throne remains. The sand of the
desert, yellow as gold, flowing around the end of the
mountain and across the front of the temple, has covered
the northernmost statue to his neck, the second to his
knees, the throne of the third, which is vacant, and the feet
of the fourth. The doorway, between the two middle
statues, is not now filled with the sand, though it appears
to be so. The highest ridge of the sand is thirty feet in
front of the doorway, from which it slopes each way, to
the river on one side and into the temple on the other.


It had not been our intention to stop at all on the way
up the river, but I could not pass those stupendous statues
There are two temples at Abou Simbal, alike hewn in
the face of the mountain. The smaller one is two hundred
feet from the greater. A ravine of sand comes down between
Trumbull and myself looked longingly as we slowly
forged by them, with a light breeze blowing, and I saw
that he felt as I did.
“What say you?”
“Let us stop.”
Hassabo put his helm down, and we ran up to the land
between the two temples. To our surprise we found that
the great temple was not closed, as we had heard, and
access to the interior was not impossible though difficult.
We could sit down on the loose sand, and slide, feet foremost,
under the top of the doorway, and lying down on
our backs, let ourselves down the hill of sand that sloped
into the great chamber.
Eight immense pillars of square stone support the roof.
In front of each pillar is a statue seventeen feet high, with
folded hands and countenance of calm majesty. Beyond
this is a second and a third room, opening at last into the
holy of holies, where the altar yet stands, before four
seated statues of gods, to which the great Sesostris offered
his sacrifices three thousand years ago. A screen has
formerly crossed this room in front of the altar, but it has
gone long ago; doubtless it gleamed with gold and jewels
once. Nine other chambers opened in various directions
in this strange subterranean temple, whose walls are
every where covered with legends and paintings of old
triumphs of the great king.
The smaller temple of Abou Simbal is also hewn in the
rock like this, and presents a front much smaller but

more elaborately executed. Seven large buttresses, sloping
backward from the base, have between them six
colossal statues standing. The temple itself consists of
five rooms, on a smaller scale than the great temple, but
possessing quite as much interest historically.
We paused a very short time here on our way up the
river. Wâdy Halfeh and the second cataract were close
before us, and we were anxious to be there and on our
return. So as the breeze freshened, toward evening, we
again shook out the canvas, and the Phantom again sprang
forward to the gale. The mountains of Nubia now assumed
a new appearance. Solitary hills rose out of the
desert plain like sugar-loaves. Others had long levels on
their summits, and some were covered with ruined villages.
Behind one ruined town, which the men called
Diff, we saw strange tombs with domes, like the ordinary
skeik's tomb of the Mussulmans; but which they (the
Mussulmans) say are not of their faith. I think they are.
Some of the men, when we asked about them, said they
were tombs of the Beni-Israel (children of Israel).
We passed the ruins of Ibreem, which gives its name
to the finest dates in Nubia, much prized in the lower
country, and as the evening came down we were in a
country whose scenery had totally changed. The desert
views were distant and fine. The hills scattered and
In the night the breeze freshened, and as we dashed
swiftly up the river, Hassan Shellalee, the pilot, trusting
entirely to his good luck and nearness to the end of the
journey, went to sleep, and the boat brought up on the
rocks with a terrible thump. Then ensued a scene. Such
a row as we had on deck! We rushed out and found
Abd-el-Atti laying on his whip. Every one who came
within his reach took a full share, and the poor pilot got
most of all.


An hour afterward we again grounded with a tremendous
crash. I thought the Phantom was done for. Abd-el-Atti
dashed out on deck and cursed the unlucky pilot
with all the phrases known to the Orient. He stood it all
until he was called a Jew and a hog, and then he struck
at the dragoman, and they clinched with a yell and rolled
on deck together.
I don't know exactly how we managed it. Trumbull
dragged the shellalee out by his bare legs, and I hauled
Abd-el-Atti aft by his coat—for he wore a European
overcoat. They clung to each other like dogs, and it was
like tearing flesh apart to draw them asunder.
We had a midnight session of the court to consider the
case, which we adjourned to the next day at Wâdy
Halfeh, warning Hassan Shellalee that if the Phantom
struck again, he might address himself to the Prophet,
for nothing short of Mohammed himself could save
The day rose clear and glorious on the desert, and we
were flying on. The white wings of the Phantom were
stretched on the fresh air as she swept gracefully up by
hill and island and village until at two o'clock after noon
we fired a salute of ten guns to ourselves as she folded
her wings for the last time at Wâdy Halfeh, the ultima
thule of our Nubian travel.
That night was the birth-night. In what countries of
the round world were not Christians singing carols as the
sun going westward left the holy twilight of Christmas
eve with blessings on every land?
Wherever a man may be on Christmas eve it is pardonable
in him to give at least one hour to memory.
And if there be not the broad fireside and the flashing
logs in the chimney, if his far-wandering feet are hot with
desert sands, and his forehead is burning with the sunshine
of Sahara, he will be excused for remembering

with even more distinctness the forms of old times, on
which the blaze of the Christmas log shines so gloriously.
A few rods from the boat, on the sand, lying down and
looking starward, I was able for awhile to forget Nubia
and recall America.
Able!—I couldn't help it—voices called to me out of
distances that I did not try to fathom. Eyes looked at
me, but I didn't think to ask whether they were this
side or beyond the stars. Lips kissed me—and I never
dreamed of their being ghostly lips, for they were not
cold—and arms enfolded me—warm embraces—and hearts
were throbbing loud against mine as one and another of
the beloved ones of old times and all times lay on my

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The Second Cataract.

Wâdy Halfeh (the valley of halfeh, a coarse species of
grass) is on the east side of the Nile four miles below the
last rapid of the second cataract. It is a small village
scattered among the palm-trees which abound here. The
west shore of the river is barren, the yellow sand of Sahara
pouring down to the water's edge. To see the
cataract it is necessary to ride about seven miles on the
western shore, either directly along the water's edge, or
behind a range of hills that are here much broken and
scattered. Small boats can approach very near the foot
of the cataract. But the Phantom could not. The
khadi, who was resident post-master, governor, and whatever
other official might be necessary at Wâdy Halfeh,
had received from Abdul Rahman Effendi, by express,
news of our coming, and was on board with proffers of all
manner of attentions so soon as we came to land. But
we did not see him ourselves, for, having taken the small
boat and crossed to the west bank of the stream we were
lying on the golden sand, picking up splendid agates and
other beautiful stones, until the sun went down.
Early on Christmas morning, however, he came down,
with from thirty to forty dromedaries, horses, and donkeys,
offering us choice from among them for our ride to
Abou Seir, and such as we selected were immediately sent

across the river, to await our time of starting. When we
were ready he announced his intention of accompanying
us for the day.
We mounted on the west bank near a curious crude
brick ruin which stands like a church tower on the very
edge of the river. The English gentleman and lady had
arrived in the night and joined us this morning, so that
we were six Franks and about twenty Arabs, forming no
small caravan. I rode a fine white dromedary, and the
khadi kept close at my side on a capital horse. Our route
lay back of the mountains over the yellow desert, and
after traveling slowly a couple of miles we were in the
sand hollows as far from any sign of life or vegetation
as if we had been a thousand miles distant in the heart
of Sahara.
“Will the Howajji try the Haggin?”
Certainly I would try him, if the khadi thought him a
good animal (and so I began to get his paces out of him).
He was not as good a dromedary by much as I have seen,
but he could travel fast enough, and when he proposed a
race I beat him easily. Possibly, probably, he let me do
it, but the dromedary is a swift animal. We were going
fast, I leading the khadi by about a length, both animals
warming up to it, and one of the attendants, on another
dromedary, close behind, when five gazelles sprang up,
three hundred yards ahead of us, and were off like the
wind. I shouted to the khadi, never thinking of a gazelle
chase on a dromedary, and pulled up.
“I have no gun,” said he.
“Here is one,” said I, reaching out to him my larger
What notion the dromedary had I know not. Perhaps I
used a word that he misunderstood, for down went his fore
legs and off went pistol and Braheem Effendi together,
striking some twenty feet or less from the camel's nose.


I was not on the ground any sooner than the khadi
who was horrified at the idea of a dead Howajji on his
hands to answer for, but as he sprang from his saddle I
rebounded, and leaping into his place, shouted and shook
the reins, and away we went after the game that was fast
vanishing over the sand hills: all this had occupied but an
instant. I looked back, however, and beheld the usual
winding up of such a scene, the poor camel driver on his
back, the khadi pronouncing sentence and the other
Arabs around ready to execute it. Miriam interfered to
save the poor devil's soles, and I went on after the gazelles.
I rode three miles on a full gallop, but the drove
of gazelles kept just ahead of me, pausing occasionally,
as if in wonderment at what I could be riding so
furiously for, and then going on with their long, easy
leaps, that put to shame my poor horse in the heavy
Once I had got within two hundred yards of one of
them, and sent a pistol-ball after him, but he only leaped
into the air, I think quite ten feet high from the sand, and
was off like the wind.
Still I followed them, mile after mile; and suddenly I
looked around me, and the desert had closed in, and I
was alone. There was an excitement in it I had never
before felt. On—on! I drove the shovel stirrups into
the sides of the horse, and we went like the desert storm
over the hills and through the hollows. Sand, sand, sky,
and sand—nothing else was visible! It was my first realization
of the solitude of the desert, of its desolation and
loneliness. I saw at length something white lying among
the yellow gold around me, and riding toward it I found
an empty basket, a broken water-gourd, the pieces of a
jar, and some rags. Was this the spot where some
desert wanderer, having exhausted his last drop of water,
lay down and died, never dreaming that the Nile, with

its glorious flow, was within ten miles of him? I picked
up the basket, remounted, and rode slowly to the southeast,
hoping ere long to catch sight of my companions
from some hill-top on the desert.
In a few minutes, four of the Arab attendants came
over the hills to the eastward, in search of me, and rode
up swiftly. As we went on, one of them, thinking that I
might be disposed to try another race, challenged one of
his companions, and they went ahead at a furious gallop.
My horse looked at them awhile, and then pricked up his
ears and went off at a bound after them. I was close on
them when I saw one of them stagger in his seat. His
saddle-girth had broken, and the next moment he and his
saddle rolled over on the sand. I went over him at a
leap. He swore I had killed him, and made it a plea for
a large bucksheesh that evening, which, I am happy to
say, restored the erectness of his back, which had been
lamentably bent before its bestowal.
Five miles brought me to a hill-top, where I saw the
party as many miles distant, moving slowly over the
sand, and in an hour more I rejoined them at the hill of
Abou Seir, on the second cataract of the Nile.
This cataract is less a cataract than the first. But the
river spreads wider among more minute islands, and is
broken up into a thousand streams, up which no large
boat can be taken. The rapids extend through twelve
miles, and the breadth of them may be from three to
five, but in this space little of the river is visible. The
rocks and islands are covered with a low shrub, or bush,
somewhat like the sont, or acacia nilotica, in appearance,
but I think it is not the same, though I did not examine
it, and it may be. The green appearance of this makes
the view over the cataract exceedingly fresh and beautiful,
contrasting forcibly with the desert around. Under
the rocky bluff of Abou Seir, the last plunge of the Nile

is seen and heard, and it ascends, with solemn roar,
around the hill, as it has since the rift was made and the
waters let through.
Here we spread our carpets and our luncheon, the
wind blowing over our heads. We read the names of
travelers carved here and there on the stones. They
were numerous, and we found among them many friends.
We carved our own here. It was the only place in
all my Nile travel that I had been willing to cut my
name; but I enjoyed the pleasure of reading those of
my friends so keenly, that I could not forego the hope
that in some future day some one would come to this spot
who would find a momentary pleasure in looking at mine.
It is under the edge of an overhanging piece of the rock,
and Miriam's is by it. If they last but half as long as
some that we found there, they will be read when we are
dust, and when the stones that friends shall carve at our
heads will long ago have crumbled in our stormy land.
Eliot Warburton's was cut near Belzoni's. Before the
former some one has cut, “Alas! poor,” and no one could
read the name without a passing shadow of sadness at the
memory of his fate.
The romance of travel is well-nigh over. We had no
discomforts to boast of in Egypt. We spread Persian
carpets, rich enough to win the heart of a lady of gorgeous
tastes in New York, on the rocky bluff at Abou Seir,
and opened a bottle of Chateau Lafitte, of sparkling St.
Peray, and of Bass's pale ale. A luncheon-bag from the
back of one of the camels furnished metal drinking-cups
that improved the ale, if they did spoil the claret, but we
lunched on cold turkey and sandwiches, and the only romance
about it was, that we threw the foam out of our
cups into the air, and it went down two hundred feet
into the cataract of the Nile.
Luncheon ended, the moment was somewhat serious.


There was nothing beyond that point that had any
attractions for me. It would have been pleasant to loiter
month after month along the great river, but there were
pleasanter loitering places in the great world we had yet
to travel over, and I could not regret that I was to turn
my back on the South. One long gaze into the distance
above the cataract, that distance so imperfectly explored,
though so many have visited it, a half-uttered promise
that when the world had nothing else to be seen of more
interest, we would return and find our way up to Dongola,
and on to Kartum, and on—on—on. And then—
“Miriam—we turn our faces now to Jerusalem.”
Standing on the lofty hill at Abou Seir, we sent westward,
over the desert that stretched away across Africa
to the shores of the sea, westward over desert and sea,
our messages to the waiting hearts at home, and then,
with willing steps, turned on our way toward Holy Land.
We found the boat dressed by Abd-el-Atti for Christmas.
She was covered with green palm branches from
stem to stern, and the cabin was a bower fit for a queen.
And such a dinner-table as Hajji Mohammed got up that
day who shall be able to describe! There was a turkey,
made drunk on brandy before he was killed, and consequently
as tender as a partridge—so said the cook—and
I saw the brandy administered myself, but I can't say it
was that which made him tender, though tender he was.
There was a roast goose, wild and delicious; four roasted
teal, and chickens in three forms. There was a pigeon-pie
made of macaroni, and one whole lamb, with folded
arms and bent legs, and head and tail complete, every
inch of him, stuffed with almonds, raisins, and rice, and
done to a turn. There were innumerable dishes of kabobs
and small bits of meat and game, and there was a
curry of chicken that would have suited an Indian general.
Then there were calves'-feet jelly and blanc-mange

in moulds, and mish-mish and apple and mince and pumpkin
pies, and there was a cake made of sugar and almonds,
which you struck with a stick or a knife, and when you
broke it, out flew a white pigeon; and this was but half
the variety wherewith our indefatigable dragoman had
loaded our Christmas table.
That night the weather changed. We had been on
deck always before this until nearly midnight, and now
we went up to see the boat illuminated. Fifty colored
lanterns, crimson and blue, yellow and green, were hung
out from all the spars and ropes and awning-posts. Blue-lights
sent their glare over the surface of the water, and
altogether it was about as strange a scene as Wâdy Halfeh
is likely to have in the next half century.
The boat was rigged for the return voyage; the great
yard was taken down, and laid fore-and-aft over the cabin,
while the small yard from the mast at the stern was
placed on the fore-mast, and the deck-planks were taken
up, leaving the seats for the men to row. At midnight,
when the wind had gone down, the boat was cast off, and
with a long shout and a new chorus she swung her head
to the current, and the downward voyage had commenced.
It was cold and clear, and looking upward one
might imagine that the night was a Christmas night at
home, when the stars hold their most joyous revel. I sat
on deck till long after the voyage commenced, and then
slept. So ended Christmas at Wâdy Halfeh.

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Abou Simbal.

The next afternoon, as the sun was setting, we approached
the rock-hewn temple at Ferayg, a few miles
above Abou Simbal.
It was nearly sunset, and, to avoid delay, we took the
small boat and pulled down the river ahead of the large
boat to land and examine it. The entrance is a plain,
lofty doorway in the rock-face of the hill, without ornament.
The boat grated alongside the rocks, and springing
out we climbed the terraces, some thirty feet, to the
Entering the hall, the roof of which is supported by
four square pillars, we were astonished at finding the
principal object in view a picture of the Saviour on the
ceiling, his head surrounded by a halo. This, like many
other of the Egyptian temples, has been used in later
years for Christian worship, but not in late years. I have
much veneration for these evidences of the faith of the
early Christians. Here martyrs worshiped in days when
martyrs suffered for the name of their Lord, and in many
of these places martyrs died with eyes fixed on the image
of their Saviour. There was an inner room, opening
from this hall, and I walked into it, tapping the floor in
front of me, as was my custom, with a long stick which I
carried in my hand when exploring a dark place. I found

a solid floor, as I supposed, and advanced, but as I entered
the dark doorway I stepped on nothing.
There are moments when one thinks the thoughts of
years. I had sounded some of these graves in rock-hewn
chambers, and found them thirty and forty feet deep. As
I began to descend I thought of those, and gave up all for
lost. It was not the fate I had hoped for, to die in a hole
like that. I wondered what sort of a paragraph it would
make in the newspapers at home under the head of “melancholy
occurrence,” among steamboat explosions, railway
smashes, suicides, and swindles. I wondered whether
they would ever get me out, dead or alive, or whether
they would not come tumbling after me one on another
into the same trap; and then my feet struck bottom and
I shouted, “Miriam, stand back—don't come in here,”
and she, hearing a voice from the tombs, was terribly
startled, as well she might be. It was but ten feet deep.
It might have been fifty. It had been much deeper than
now, but it was filled up with rubbish. I struck on my
feet, in the corner, standing upright. I put my hand in
my pocket, took out a candle and lit it with a match,
caught the end of Mohammed Hassan's turban, which he
let down to me, and he and Trumbull lifted me out. Till
then I did not suppose that I was hurt, but when this was
accomplished my left arm fell powerless, and I was not
able to use it for a month.
I stowed myself in the bow of the boat, my shoulder
aching intensely. The others took the stern. It was a
calm, delicious evening. The sun was just gone, the
swift twilight had come down on us, and in a few moments
starry darkness followed. The men pulled slowly,
and the oars made the only noise that broke the profound
stillness of the scene. Silence, the deep silence of
ancient countries, that which every one has noticed
among ruins, and which was majestic always on the

lordly Nile, the stillness of that repose which ages
have but deepened, never disturbed, was on land and
Resting awhile without rowing we lost count of time,
and suddenly began to wonder if by any possibility we
had passed the Phantom, which had gone on while we
were in the temple, and was to wait for us at Abou Simbal.
She always carried a crimson light at the peak in
the night time, but we could not see it any where. Trumbull
fired his pistol three times, and a moment afterward
we heard three discharges in reply, and saw the red light
going up. Pulling for it, in a few moments we saw her
lying at the shore, but our eyes were instantly directed
elsewhere. For in the light of the stars, calm, unearthly
in their majesty, we saw the forms of the three colossal
statues of Remeses, and as we came nearer they grew in
size, and looked upon us with that cold and stately smile
that has been wasted so many centuries on the fast flowing
river—and that seems to signify in those rocky
watchers some conception of the destiny of human life
and national grandeur, which they behold aptly typified
in the everlasting flow of the drops to a distant and unknown
Mindful of the brilliant illumination of the boat the
evening previous, at Wâdy Halfeh, it occurred to us
that we might realize somewhat of the ancient glory of
Abou Simbal by lighting it with our colored lanterns.
Abd-el-Atti entered into the idea with his accustomed
alacrity, and although my shoulder was exceedingly painful
I went up into the temple to advise and assist in the
disposition of candles and lanterns, while the ladies, who
did not go into the temple on our passage up, waited on
board until the illumination was complete.
The sand hill was almost impassable. It was like
climbing a snow bank fifty feet high, the feet going

in deep and slipping far back at every step, so that we
had to lie down and breathe several times before we
reached the top and descended into the doorway of the
When our arrangements were complete we returned
and brought the ladies up. The procession was picturesque.
Two blazing torches led the way, and four more
brought up the rear. Our English friends had arrived
just after the Phantom, and joined us.
Never since the days of Remeses has his great temple
shone so brilliantly. Every status held bright lanterns,
and for two hundred feet through the long rooms we
placed them—rows of every color, shining on painted
walls and lofty statues. The altar was in the shadow—
for so we arranged it—hiding the lights behind it that
they might shine on the faces of the gods, and not on the
altar front. When all was ready we called in the ladies,
and, as they entered, the sailors, who had busied themselves
about the lamps, suddenly disappeared, and the
temple was apparently empty. But at the moment of
our re-entering, in place of the chorus of priests and attendants
that was wont to arise in the hall, deep, sepulchral
voices, from unknown recesses, uttered in loud and
terrible unison the well-known cry, “Bucksheesh, Howajji!”
It was vain to resist such an appeal, and we answered
it instantly; whereat the voices changed, and the men
emerged from their hiding-places with shouts of thanks.
It was a gorgeous scene, worth visiting Egypt to look
on that illumination; and we sat for hours in the hall,
gazing with never-ceasing wonder and awe on the splendid
statues and lofty walls. Then we wandered with
torches through all the chambers, scaring the owls and
bats from their hiding-places; and when it was nearly
midnight we came out into the air, and there lay on the

river and on the temple front such a moonlight as we
dream of in other lands, but never see except just here.
The hoary rocks looked like silver, and the gray statues
gleamed in the mellow light, and seemed to know its
beauty. We threw ourselves down in the sand, and
drank in all the beautiful scene; and at last, when the
ladies were gone down to the boat and were sleeping, I
re-entered the temple, and sat down in the centre of the
great hall alone, and watched the fading lights, and pondered
on the old, old story of the decay of empire.
That altar seemed waiting the sacrifice, but who shall
supply the victim or kindle the flame? The silent gods
sat on their thrones and invited worship, but who will
kneel to rock-hewn gods in Egypt now? There were
times, said I to myself, when the tramp of armed men
and the rustle of soft silks were heard in these halls;
when priests and princes were here with maidens and
matrons. There were times when men worshiped at
that altar; when this stone was worn with the knees of
devotees. Where are they all? One by one my failing
candles answered the question. One by one they went
out in gloom. A flicker, a spark, a little smoke, and all
was over; and at length all were gone but three that
stood behind the altar, and all was gloomy except in
the holy room; and then, suddenly, as if a bat or an owl
swept over them, they too vanished, and the blackness
of darkness was around me.
One can hardly imagine a place on earth where a man
could be more emphatically alone than I then was at midnight,
two hundred feet from the air, in the deep caverns
of Abou Simbal. Bats were flitting around me, and certain
sounds were not pleasant to hear, sharp rattling
noises that were much like scorpions. I had killed one
in the temple that evening. But I have felt more alone
in my own country many a dark night than I did here.

It was but a few paces in a direct line, and when I had
taken them the hill of sand was before me, and up this,
creeping on hands and knees through the doorway, I
emerged into the pure atmosphere. My shoulder had
by this time become exceedingly painful, and sleep was
out of the question. So I managed to get myself up into
the corner, under the ear of the great statue at the north,
and here I sat and waited till fatigue well-nigh overpowered
me, and then, hastening down to the boat, I lay
in my bed all night, restless and in pain, and glad to welcome
the dawn.
While we were at breakfast a confused sound of voices
outside puzzled us not a little; and on going out we ascertained
its cause in the presence of about seventy fine
stalwart Nubians, sent over by the sheik of the village
opposite to dig out the temple, in obedience to my instructions
at Derr. We had countermanded the order
when we found the interior accessible on our upward
trip; but Abd-el-Atti had failed to transmit the direction,
alleging as his reason a desire to impress the people with
the importance of his masters. The next travelers whom
our worthy dragoman takes up the Nile will find that it
was his desire to magnify his own importance for future
The poor fellahs were most glad to be excused. A
holy horror exists in their minds toward digging out this
temple. They have been several times compelled to it at
severe loss of life in hot weather; and they laid their
hands on the tops of their heads with profound gratitude
when I sent them back to their boats to re-cross the
The mountain, in which the great temple is hewn,
slopes down to the river at an angle of perhaps forty-five
degrees. It is solid rock. In the front of this mountain
a niche is hewn out about one hundred and twenty five

feet wide, and deep enough to allow of a perpendicular
face of ninety feet. Across the top of this perpendicular
face is carved a cornice. In the niche, when it was hewed
out, were left four gigantic blocks of stones, which were
cut into sitting statues of the monarch whose was this
great work, the Remeses, known to fame as Sesostris.
Between the two middle statues is the great doorway,
over the top of which, in a niche, is a colossal statue of
one of the gods of Egypt, which seems less than life-size
in contrast with the giants in front of it.
Some idea of the size of the colossi may be gathered
from a few of the dimensions of the face and head of one
of them. The length of the nose is three feet five inches;
height of the forehead, to the edge of the cap or crown,
twenty-eight inches; width or length of the eye, twenty-nine
inches; width of the mouth, four feet; distance
from the nose to the bottom of the chin, three feet;
length of the ear, three feet. The entire length of the
head is about twelve feet, including an estimate of that
part of it concealed by the cap or head-dress. A remarkable
circumstance in connection with one of the colossi,
the second from the north, is a fracture of the right arm,
probably contemporary with the making of the statue, for
the elbow is supported by a stone wall under it, on which
are carved many hieroglyphics.
The smaller temple stands two hundred yards to the
north of the large one, the ravine, down which the
sand pours, being between them. Both temples are of
the same period—that of the great Sesostris, whose name
is carved on every pillar and portion of the walls. This
great monarch appears to have devoted much of his
wealth to beautifying this spot. Why he chose it for such
expenditures tradition or story saith not. No mounds
remain to mark the site of an ancient city, nor is there
evidence of a palace or royal residence near it. Possibly

some great event occurred on the Nile at this point,
which led him to mark the bank in this manner; and
future ages may succeed in reading the story on these
We passed the forenoon in measuring and examining
the temple, of the interior of which I have already said
sufficient. I would suggest to future explorers the examination
of the wall on the left as you enter, that is on the
south side of the great hall. I am convinced that there
are undiscovered chambers within this wall, which may
contain matters of great interest.
As we left Abou Simbal, shooting rapidly down stream,
we passed a niche in the rock in which is a seated statue.
Had I seen it before, I should have paused to examine it.
None of the books mention it, but it is worth stopping
to look at. It was late, however, and we were literally
by it before I caught sight of it, and it was too late to
return, and I was, withal, suffering too much from my
wounded arm to climb up to it.

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Northward in Nubia.

We reached Derr again on the 28th, and Abdul Rahman
was on the shore, with his suite, to receive us. The
large boat could not approach the city for want of water,
and we accordingly took the small boat, and the ladies
sat in that, and dropped slowly down stream, while we
walked with the governor and his attendants along the
shore to his residence, under a large sycamore fig-tree,
the largest, with the exception of one near it, that I have
seen in Egypt. Here we had pipes and coffee, and here,
to our surprise, Abdul Rahman produced various presents
which he had been collecting for us since we went up the
river. Foremost among them he literally trotted out two
ostriches for which he had sent off to the desert, and
which stood up in the square as proudly as desert lords.
It was something to own ostriches, but what to do with
them? Either they or we must move off from the boat
if we took them on board. We felt very much like the
celebrated individual who became suddenly possessed of
an elephant. A small and beautiful monkey was much
more acceptable. He was just what we had been wishing
for, and we received him with no little delight. The
ostriches we retained in our possession during our stay at
Derr, but when we left we were obliged to return them
to the governor. He had also provided sheep, and fowls,

and Nubian mats, and indeed loaded us with presents, for
all of which we could make no return then, but which I
had it in my power afterward in some measure to repay,
by procuring for Abdul Rahman a transfer to a post
which was much more to his taste.
We formed a procession to go to the temple of Derr,
not very similar to ancient religious processions. Trumbull,
Abdul Rahman, and myself followed the ladies, and
a motley crowd of naked Nubians followed us. The entire
city turned out to look at us.
The temple is in sadly ruinous condition, and of little
interest except for its great antiquity. Amada, few
miles below Derr, on the opposite side, is of much more
interest, as well as possessing much beauty of painting
and sculpture. We passed some hours very pleasantly at
Derr, and then returned to our small boat, with the governor
in company, and pulled down to Amada, where the
large boat was awaiting us.
Let no traveler miss this beautiful gem of antiquity,
which lies on the sand a little way from the river. The
paintings are beautifully preserved, and the period of the
temple, not far from the date of the Exodus of the Israelites,
makes it especially interesting.
Here we parted with Abdul Rahman and the doctor
and resumed our downward passage. As we went swiftly
down the river, nearly at Korusko, while seated at
dinner table, there was suddenly a cry that came in at the
window with startling effect.
“Ya Reis Hassanein?”.
It was from a boat upward bound, and the demand
was interrogative, that he might know if this were the
boat he wished to speak.
“Ya Reis Abdallah,” went back.
“Stop, O Hassanein—we have writings for Braheem Effendi!”


Letters! Braheem Effendi and his friend were in the
small boat before the reis had time to shout that the
letters were on shore where the Howajji of that boat was
shooting. We pulled to the land, and in a palm-grove
met a gentleman in an English shooting-jacket and otherwise
loosely appareled, for the weather was warm. We
did not pause to exchange names. He handed me a
package of letters and I thanked him heartily, sprang into
the boat and pulled back as rapidly as possible to gladden
those who had suffered more than we who were stouter,
from this long delay in hearing home news.
I had an opportunity at Thebes of thanking Lord
Paulet, for it was he who had found this package lying at
Luxor on Mustapha's table. Knowing how welcome its
contents would be he brought it up the river, directing
his men to look out night and day for our boat and under
no circumstances allow us to pass them.
Who shall describe the keen pleasure of letters from
home in such unexpected places.
When they had been read and re-read, I went out and
took my place on the cabin deck, where I usually sat
facing the crew at their oars. Every eye was full of
delight, for every man enjoyed our pleasure. There was
never a Nile boat where the, crew became so strongly
attached to their employers. This was the effect of constant
kind treatment and attention to their comfort.
“Have you heard from your people, O Braheem Effendi?”
asked Hassan Hegazi, who pulled the stroke oar,
standing up to it at every pull.
“Yes; this paper has come to me from my city.”
Alas! that I knew not enough of Arabic to give them
the idea that is in that English word of words, home.
“How many mahatta is it?”
Mohammed Ali established Khans along the Nile for
his army or his caravans going to and from Upper Nubia,

to rest in. They are at variable distances apart, but
average about twelve miles, and that is the only measure
of distance, except by hours, that they know of here.
“It is many mahatta—more than five hundred.”
“Mashallah! Tell us the news from your city, Braheem
“I will. Do you know that there is a country away
north of this where it is always cold, and ice and snow?”
“We have seen snow.”
“Yes; but there it is always snow. The water is all
ice, and the land all white with snow; and, years ago,
there was a brave Englishman sailed to that country in
his ship, to find a way through the ice to countries beyond,
and he never came back.”
“And before I left my city, there was an American, a
young man of most excellent heart and exceeding brave
spirit, who went out in a ship to find the Englishman, and
bring him to his own city and his wife; but he was not
heard of again, for he too did not come back from the
country of cold.”
“And then the government in my city (beled is the
only Arabic word to express city, country, or state, to the
intelligence of the common classes) sent out another ship
to find them; and when I came from America, they had
gone to the land of cold!”
“Mashallah! another!”
“And these writings tell me that the last ship; sailing
in the great ocean, saw another ship lying in a harbor,
which had in it the very men they were seeking, who
had traveled far over snow and ice, and found this ship,
and were going to England, all safe and well.”
“Allahu Akbar!” and they shouted all together over
the safety of Kane and his companions.


It was nearly midnight when we reached Saboa—the
Valley of Lions, so called from the lion sphinxes, an
avenue of which was in front of the temple. The moon
was up, and we determined to see the temple and go on.
Coming to the land near the village, we climbed the
bank, and found profound stillness among the huts. Not
even a dog barked at us. There was a donkey tied near
the houses, and Abd-el-Atti mounted him and performed
some feats of riding for general amusement, but no one
awoke. They sleep soundly, these poor dogs of Nubians.
So we walked up to the temple and around it, and viewed
its ruins, and returned to the boat and were away. These
moonlight views are, after all, the pleasantest memories
we shall have of Egypt. The temple at Saboa dates from
the time of the great Remeses, and around it hang the
memories of thirty centuries. It is as well to have seen
such a spot in the silver light of the moon, and not by
broad day, for one can thus better imagine it the abode
of ancient stories. The men had other ideas of night and
moonlight, and on our return to the boat we found each
one of them loaded with fuel for their cooking, which they
had stolen in and near the village.
Next morning I awoke with the boat rolling and pitching
as if we were on the Atlantic in a small gale of wind.
I hurried out on deck and found that we were in a narrow
part of the river where the current was rapid, and the
wind blowing against it strong from the north made a
heavy sea, while, of course, we made no progress, but, on
the contrary, rather drove up stream. The reis and crew
were invisible. Every man of them was rolled up, head
and heels, in his bournoose, and sound asleep. I turned
in again and slept an hour, and went out again. We had
gone a mile up stream, and they were all asleep as before.
I shouted to the reis, woke him up and asked him why
he didn't attend to his boat, and how long he intended to

pitch us about in that way; and on the crew coming to
their senses, we laid her in shore and made fast to the
I passed the day among the hills and in the villages on
the shore, learning what I could of the domestic life of
the poor Nubians. Their houses and furniture were simple
enough, and their dress even more so.
The purchase of milk had been a source of amusement
as well as difficulty all along the river, and while waiting
here we endeavored to secure a supply. Abd-el-Atti sent
for his pail, and we sat on the rocks among the huts on
the hillside, and told the women to bring their milk and
pour into it. Singularly enough the great objection which
they had to parting with it originated in their love of
butter. Not for eating purposes. That would be a waste
of precious material. It was for their heads only, to soak
their black locks withal. Hence one brought but a pint,
and another half as much, and another but a little more.
Before they would pour the milk into the common receptacle
they must have the money; and as for copper, they
would not touch it. No, it must be silver. But we had
no silver coin small enough to pay for such small amounts
of milk, and after a long parley, Abd-el-Atti made a dash
at the calabashes and poured them all into the pail together.
Then arose a cry, and while three or four of them
shouted their indignation, one, a tall and beautiful girl,
one of the most elegantly-formed women that I have seen,
and displaying her beauty in unvailed freedom, seized the
handkerchief which Abd-el-Atti had laid on a rock, and
in which was a dollar or so of money, and sprang like a
deer up the side of the rocks to a high point, where she
turned and shook it at us with a shout of delight. Abd-el-Atti
raised his gun and pointed it at her, but she knew
well that it was only a threat, and she did not fear it.


The entire fearlessness of the women in this part of the
world is remarkable, and appears to be an evidence that
they are well treated. In all the blows that I have seen
struck here I never saw a man strike a woman; and often-times
when I have observed a man putting to flight a
crowd who surrounded a doorway or who annoyed travelers,
the women remained undisturbed, never apprehending
violence. It was a long time before we could
induce the girl to return with the money, but when she
did, she approached without a moment's fear of personal
A woman near this scene was grinding the castor-bean
between two stones, and obtaining the oil for anointing
purposes. Others were pounding corn into meal and
making bread; and all were stout, fat, sleek women, looking
as if fed on the fat of the fattest of lands, instead of
the dry meal of Egypt. One man in America could not live
a day on what will keep a Nubian family in good feed
for a week.
While I was wandering over the hills in search of foxes
the wind went down, and the reis, with a stupidity for
which he had become somewhat remarkable, cast off the
fasts and went on down the river without looking for his
passengers. I saw this from a hill-top nearly a mile away
from the river, and had the pleasant consciousness withal,
that every one on the boat had probably gone to sleep,
and I might follow them till night in vain. Abd-el-Atti
was somewhere among the mountains also, and I determined
instantly to look him up, and at that moment saw
him a mile below the boat, hurrying to the bank of the
river. He stopped them, and I came up an hour afterward,
foot weary and glad to get on board again.
At nearly midnight that night we were at Dakkeh, and
determined to see it, as we had seen Saboa, by the light
of the moon, which in fact had not yet risen. The villagers

were sound asleep, and did not hear us as we
pulled the dry corn stalks from the roofs of their houses,
wherewith to build a fire in the desolate court of the
By their light I copied a quaint picture of a man, or a
devil, or a god, playing on a harp. It is on one of the
pillars at the left of the door as you enter. This temple
is well worth a visit, if only for the exquisite state of perfection
in which many of the sculptures remain, especially
those in the small sepulchral chamber on the east of the
adytum, where, but for the smoke and blackness, one
might almost imagine every thing fresh from the builders'
Returning from the temple, we found some of the villagers
awake, and pushed into their houses. There were
the usual strange groups lying on the ground in profound
slumber, forgetful for the time of the labors and the ills of
life. An old man and an old woman, very old, lay by the
embers of a fire, and when I entered rubbed their eyes at the
strange vision that interrupted their slumber, and looked
piteously at me, as if they thought I had come to disturb
them in their few remaining days. I dropped money into
their hands, and they looked like new beings. Some antiques
were here, a few broken vases, a coin or two, and
some trifles of that kind; and having bought all that were
of any value, we left them to sleep again, and hastened
back to the boat. It was a grand night again. The moon
lay in the east with an air of majesty and calmness that I
never saw surpassed, and I had blessed sleep that night
and the dreams that most of all I longed for. Thank
God again for dreams!

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Northward in Egypt.

In the morning after we left Dakkeh we were
approaching Gerf Hossayn. We were
welcomed at the shore by a crowd of
hostile looking Nubians, and a demand of
money for the privilege of landing. This is
one of the spots in Nubia celebrated for
outrages and rebellions. It is the Lyons
of Egypt, where the government has more or
less to do every year, in putting down insurrections
and punishing not a few bold an
daring offenders against its authority.
The temple at Gerf Hossayn is like that at Abou Simbal,
cut out of the rock of the hill. The remains of a
colonnade in front of it lead to the doorway, which admits
the visitor to a large chamber, the roof of which is
supported by six colossal statues, all of which have been
brilliantly painted, of which paint much brilliancy yet remains.
In the walls of the chamber behind the openings
between the statues, are eight niches, four on each side,
in each of which are three seated figures. The second
chamber has the wall supported by four large square pillars,
and beyond this is the adytum with its altar and
four seated statues behind it, the gods that have waited
for thousands of years the return of the devout of old

times—who, alas, are wandering in shades of darkness,
seeking vainly the abodes of their deities. There is a
sublimity in the appearance of these stone gods sitting
behind their cold altars, in the profound stillness of the
mountain's very heart, which awes the careless stranger.
I stand before them as before the very embodied
thoughts of olden times. I look at them as I would
look at the visible presence in the flesh of one of Homer's
heroes. nay, more than that—men's throbbing
hearts have been hushed in awe before this stone.
Woman's breast has been bared to seek a blessing
from their cold, calm eyes. Red lips have trembled in
convulsive prayer, have quivered in the agonies of hope
deferred and failing faith, before the silent gods. The
eyes of millions, generations after generations of the
changing races of men, have been fixed with adoring
gaze on their voiceless lips, and the faith of those generations
had given sanctity to what might otherwise
pass for stone and nothing more. If the voice of The God should but speak into life those silent companions,
and bid them utter their histories, what bones would
shake in the vaults of old Egypt as the fearful stories of
century after century came from those eloquent lips!
We did not leave Gerf Hossayn in peace. One native,
blacker than any dream of darkness, grew specially insolent
to me, and I was compelled to order the crowd
outside of the front colonnade, and forbid their entrance,
placing Mohammed Hassan on guard with a pistol to enforce,
obedience. This one rascal, however, threw stones
at my sentinel, which was more than he could put up
with. It was a miracle that he did not use the pistol.
Instead of that he threw the pistol to Hassan Hegazi,
another of the sailors who was with us, and sprang at his
foe. The yell of the spectators brought me out of the
temple in an instant, and I found the Nubian on his back

under his powerful assailant. I cleared a ring, and
commanded Mohammed to drag him into the colonnade,
which done, I allowed him to administer such justice as
left our Gerf Hossayn friends convinced of the impropriety
of interfering with the pleasures of a Howajji.
When we returned to our boat we found alongside of
her a small boat which proved to belong to Abdul Rahman,
and was then upward bound to Derr. I wrote him
a note, suggesting one of the annual visitations to Gerf
Hossayn which the government were accustomed to
make, and, before I left Egypt had the pleasure of hearing
that he had acted on my recommendation, caught
the especial offender, whom he would have no difficulty
in recognizing by his sore head, and administered a
proper amount of justice in the regular way.
We passed Dendoor in the afternoon, going ashore
only for an hour to examine the heap of ruins that
mark the site of a temple, once beautiful and, elevated
on a fine terrace above the river, and that night we laid
the boat up at Kalabshee.
The next morning was the last day of December and
of the year.
The large temple of Kalabshee is interesting, as having
been once very gorgeous, and still retaining remains of
its golden chambers; but the small rock-hewn temple on
the hill-side is more interesting, as built or hewn by Remeses
(Sesostris), and as having in its front two columns or
pillars, which are among the oldest in the world, since
they must date between. 1300 and 1400 B.C., and whose
simple polygonal shafts are very like the Grecian Doric
in appearance. The representations of the deeds of Remeses,
which were on the sides of the court in front of this
temple, are defaced, but enough still remains to enable us
to trace much of interesting history from their ancient


At noon we were again on the river, and as the old
year died along the Nile and the new one came with curious
eyes to gaze on the wonders of Egypt of the ancient
days, we were falling quietly into the little bay under the
shadow of the temple that overhangs the eastern bank
of Philæ the beautiful.
All day long that New-year day we wandered among
the stately ruins of Philæ. We had a sort of claim to
possession of the island, for we had been its discoverers
this winter, being the first travelers up from the lower
country; but we found an English gentleman in actual
possession, and in the course of the day an American
party came up on donkeys from Es Souan to see the
most beautiful of islands. Three ladies, dressed in black,
and wearing the broad black English fiats on their heads,
looked down on us from the summit of the lofty tower
of the propylon of the temple of Isis, and we, sitting
among the ruins at the north end of the island, considered
them as in some respects interlopers on our domains.
Nevertheless it was pleasant to see females from civilized
lands once more, and to know that we were returning
into the company of fellow Christians.
We sent the Phantom down the river early in the
morning. Of her fearful passage of the cataract we had
great accounts in the evening at Es Souan, when we rejoined
her. How she went bravely down the first great
rapid, danced like a bird through the foam and wild dash
of the long reach of the cataract; how thereupon Bag
Boug sprang at Reis Hassanein and seized his turban,
which is by custom the fee of the reis of the cataract on
a successful descent; how old Reis Hassan seized the
other end, and a fight ensued between the four cataract
reises, during which the boat struck a rock and went over
on her side, and a loud yell rose from fifty throats; how
Abd-el-Atti threw Bag Boug into the river and knocked

Selim overboard after him, and made terrible work generally
among them, till the Phantom swung off into deep
water; all these things we heard in the evening from
Reis Hassanein, who sat contented on the top of the
kitchen watching the preparation of our New-year's dinner,
and from Hassan, the bright-eyed cabin boy, whose
heart had been in his mouth a dozen times between Philæ
and the foot of the cataract.
As the sun was going westward, we hailed an old boat
that lay under the bank of the main land, and a naked
boy and a miserable old man with a ragged cloth around
his loins paddled it across. It had an awning of coarse
straw matting across the stern, and under this we lay
down while they ferried us over to the main land, where
we met donkeys which Abd-el-Atti sent up from Es
Souan on his arrival there.
I have before spoken of the road to Es Souan. I had
walked part of it with our missionary friends on a moonlight
night some time before, and now by daylight the
road was scarcely less picturesque and wild.
Our donkeys were none of the best. I had not used
mine five minutes before it became evident that he had a
weakness in his hinder parts, incapacitating him for carrying
a hundred and seventy odd pounds of American
flesh and blood, and I took to my own means of locomotion.
It was evening when we reached Es Souan, and here a
gay scene awaited us.
There were seven boats here, besides our own, carrying
American, English, French, and Prussian flags, and after
dinner, when it was about noon at home, we followed the
illustrious custom of the Knickerbocker city, and made
calls, while the ladies on the Phantom received. When
we returned, we found some twelve persons in the little
cabin, and a merry evening that was for us, returning, as

it were from exile, suddenly into all the refinements of
When our friends had left the boat, we amused our-selves
and the natives with a few fire-works, and the various
boats saluting, we made the rocks of Elephantine
echo all night to the sound of fire-arms.
Next day, at eight, we left, with a chorus of the rowers,
as they lay down to their oars.
It was a dark and threatening day, but we went swiftly
down stream, pausing nowhere, and at nine in the evening
passed under the hill on which stands Koum Ombos.
I was shooting along shore, next morning, for a head
wind kept the Phantom back, when Mohammed Hassan,
my constant attendant, shouted, “Yasmin! Yasmin!”
and dashed at a bunch of green leaves, with a zeal that
aroused, if it did not surprise me. Jessamine is a wood
most highly prized by the Orientals for pipe-stems, and
here was a quantity of it.
Reis Hassanein, seated on the cabin deck of the Phantom,
a mile away, saw us and shouted aloud to know
what we were doing. The distance at which these
Arabs talk is incredible. Mohammed replied, and I saw
the reis tumble down into the small boat in a great hurry.
He hastened ashore to share the plunder. We secured
as much as would have cost eight or ten dollars to purchase
in Cairo, and this I sent on board, with bunches of
the fragrant blossoms, for Amy and Miriam. I went on
shooting along the bank of the river, getting sundry rabbits,
pigeons, and partridges.
I arrived, at length, at the vast sand-stone quarries of
Hagar Silsilis. Their extent is very great, and their
chief feature of interest consists in deep, narrow, rock
cuts, roads hewn from the river back into the hills, not
more than twenty feet wide, and having sides often from
fifty to a hundred feet high, perpendicular. I was lost in

one of these, and found my way to the river just in time
to hail the boat as it drifted by. They put me across
to the other side, where we all landed to see the various
rock-hewn tablets, and small temples, or praying places,
which here abound. Many of these are of the deepest
interest to the Egyptian scholar, and the attention of
Egyptiologists is just now directed very carefully to the
inscriptions at Hagar Silsilis.
Many of these open chapels are exceedingly beautiful,
and on some the brilliant painting remains with very
much freshness. Perhaps the most interesting is the most
northern corridor, where we find repeated often the cartouche
of Horus, the successor of the great Amunoph
who is the original of the vocal Memnon. These chapels
were probably used by the laborers. The quarries, which
are of very ancient date, furnished the stone for most,
if not all of the great temples along the river below this
point. Thebes and Karnak were doubtless hewn out of
these hills. I looked in vain for a cartouche of Remai,
which Wilkinson saw on the rock somewhere near here,
a king who was of a very early period, if he be, as that
learned gentleman has thought possible, identical with
The place derives its name from a large rock standing,
column like, near the river, which is here very narrow.
The word hagar, or hajjar, as it would be pronounced in
Syrian Arabic, signifies a rock, and Silsilis a chain, there
being a tradition that in some ancient time a chain was
stretched across the river here as a barrier against southern
I walked on down the river until dark. An Arab had
shot two crocodiles, and wanted to sell me their skins,
but it was not in my line. Toward evening I hailed the
boat, and the small boat came and put me across the river,
where Abd-el-Atti was shooting along shore a I had

been. While waiting for him, I observed that the shore
was covered with cornelians and agates in large quantities.
I filled my pockets, and threw nearly a half
bushel into the boat, from which to let the ladies make
selections, and then returned on board.
A loud cry, and a sudden thump on a sand-bank, interrupted
our quiet, in the evening, and the next moment
the reis nearly broke his neck as he fell off the front of
the cabin to the main-deck. He had been dozing there,
as usual, droning out a chorus for the men to row by, and
when she struck, he toppled over forward, and came
down in a heap in front of the door. Then ensued the
usual demand for medicine and surgery, and so the night
passed on.

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Arrakee and Antiques.

Early next morning we were near Edfou; and as I
had visited the temple alone on the upward passage we,
of course, had a stop to make here.
The reis, being in a desperate hurry to get to land before
another boat which was close behind us, plunged the
Phantom on a sand-bar, where the pelicans and cranes
laughed at us for three hours of a bright morning, and
the Breeze, the other boat, following us blindly, fell on
the same shoal, and stuck fast on the same bar. The
men heaved, and pulled, and braced their backs under
the boat, and strained their brawny limbs, and looked wistfully
at their breakfast on deck, which the reis wouldn't
let them have until they got the boat off; and so the sun
went up high, and the chances were that we should lie
there till the next flood of the Nile.
Trumbull, who had been sitting on deck, quietly smoking
his chibouk, and had now finished it, called out to
Hajji Hassan to make a rope fast to her stern, and take
it off across the stream, where three of the men took
hold, standing nearly up to their necks in water. A few
easy pulls in that direction started the sand under the keel,
and she swung gently off, while the poor wretches who
had been working under the sides, swung themselves in
with an exclamation, “Mashallah!” and took to their
breakfast as if starving. Fifteen minutes more brought

us to the land, at the same spot in which we lay on our
way up the river; whence we started on foot, while the
ladies rode donkeys, up to the village and the temples.
The travelers from the other boat were a party of four
from Albany, three ladies and a gentleman, and they soon
arrived, so that there were five American ladies and three
gentlemen in the temple at Edfou together. I have
spoken of this old and magnificent building on my way
up the river, and I shall not pause here to describe it.
It is one of those wonders of Egypt best described
by saying that a large part of the modern village, a
part containing several hundred inhabitants, is situated
on the roof of the rear portion, the adytum, of the temple.
The filth of centuries is accumulated within; and I
record here the fact, that I did not enter the adytum, as
this was the only hole, large or small, in Egypt, which
there was any object in entering, that I shrunk from. It
occurred on this wise. I was loitering around the entrance,
looking at the vast towers of the gateway, while
the ladies sat in a picturesque group in the grand court,
under the shade of the western corridor.
“Antika; antika kebeer, antika tieb keteer minhenna!”
said an Arab boy to me.
I had heard it from so many that I thought there must
be something worth the seeing, and shouting to Miriam
that I would return soon, I pushed on after the boy, who
led me, with a motley train behind me, up to the village,
which was on the roof of the adytum, and through two
or three of its dirty alleys. The crowd of women and
children began to increase around me, and at length my
leader pushed open the board entrance of a mud hut,
and told me to follow him. I followed him, and they
followed me. They were of all grades and colors, and
stages of nakedness and filth; some fifty Arab or Egyptian
women and children, not a man among them; and I

looked around me in the dim hut, thinking myself the
centre of altogether the worst-looking group of humanity
that ever radiated around my person. Up to this
time I entertained the idea that I was to find an antique
for sale, and I had some doubts whether it would turn
out to be a mummy or a vase; for every valuable curiosity
is most diligently concealed from the government
officers. But the boy demanded now whether I had a
candle, and on my replying yes, and producing my never-failing
companion and some matches, he seized the candle,
lit it, while I looked on patiently, and then dropping flat
on his face on the floor, vanished out of sight.
It was magical. I was for an instant in astonished
silence, till the group began shouting, “Antika tieb, tieb
keteer!” and pointing downward, directed my attention
to what I had not before observed, that the side wall of
the hut was the upper part of the wall of the temple, and
that the boy had crawled through a hole about a foot
high, by two or two and a half wide, and was actually
gone, by this “hole in the wall,” into the holy of holies,
which priests and princes of ancient days were accustomed
to enter in lordly processions of solemn grandeur.
I stooped and looked in. The boy was calling me. I
lay down and worked my way in, snake fashion, far
enough to see that I was in a sculptured room, half filled
with dust, and straw, and filth, and then seven fleas attacked
my feet, seventeen my waist, and sevenscore my
neck, and I returned to outer light, and the stifling presence
of the women and children, who vociferously demanded
if it was not a magnificent antique, and if my
bucksheesh would not be proportionably grand. I scattered
some coppers on the floor, whereupon there ensued
the usual rough-and-tumble scene, a confused heap of
heads, arms, legs, and bodies in the middle of the room;
and I came out into the air. As I passed the front of the

temple on my way back to the ladies, a hard-looking old
case of an Arab whispered in my ear that if I wanted to see
some good arrakee he was just the man who could gratify
me. I thought he was, from his personal appearance.
He was, in fact, the one-eyed scribe whose close attachment
to the old governor I described in a former chapter;
and I now had an additional explanation of the red
face and blear eyes of that functionary, of whose diligent
pursuit of my brandy I before wrote.
Willing to see all that was to be seen, I assented, and
the old fellow led me to the spot. For the benefit of
future travelers who may wish to drink at Edfou, I will
inform them that it is in the street running from the front
of the temple, third door on the left; knock once and say
something low about bucksheesh, and an old woman—if
she is not dead, as she seemed likely to be soon—a facsimile
of the old man, will open the door, lead you
through a court into a smaller court, and exhibit altogether
the most primitive still that your eyes will ever
rest on, wherein, by aid of dates and fire, there is manufactured
wherewith to poison the poor devils who lie lazily
around the temple to pick up travelers' coppers, and insure
them a poor reception from the Prophet after they are
dead. On the whole, however, it was good arrakee that
the old man made, although the stuff is detestable. The
taste is anise seed, the effect that of the lowest grade of
whisky. I tasted and departed. As I came out of the
hut into the street, where were now at least a hundred
natives crowded around our party, who were purchasing
antiques, I saw the old man slide up to Mr. R—, the
Albany gentleman aforesaid, and whisper as he had to
me, and a few minutes later Mr. R— came out of the
hut with a comical expression of countenance, and it was
difficult to say whether it was owing to the oddity of the
circumstance or the vileness of the tipple.


There was a little girl in the crowd, innocent of drapery,
who came up to me repeatedly with four coins at a
time in her hand, which I repeatedly purchased before I
observed that it was the same child each time. I then
saw that there must be a treasury of them somewhere.
Obviously she could not carry them about her person,
that was too manifest, and I made her take me to her
home, a mud hut a little way off. It was inhabited by an
old woman, who denied entirely that she had any more;
but persuasion and promises produced the result at
length, and she brought me out some hundreds of coins,
chiefly of the eastern empire, but many more valuable.
I selected and purchased all that I wished; but the stock
will last her for years, and any one wishing for coins may
find her there. Street and number I can't give.
It was a delicious afternoon. The memory of it haunts
me. I can not say why, except that earth, air, and sky
were in more perfect unison of beauty that day than ever
before. We dined early, and after dinner I took my gun
and strolled down the river, leaving the boat to follow
when it would. The evening came on, and I found myself
on the beach, where a long point of mud or sand, running
two miles down the river, completely shut me off from
communication with the boat if she should come along,
but as yet I saw nothing of her. Retracing my steps
with Mohammed Hassan, my constant companion in such
walks, close behind me, I took to the point and followed
it down, shooting an occasional wild fowl, for Edfou
abounds in every species of duck, and the river is filled
with geese and various other water fowl, which find excellent
feeding-ground in the lake and flats back of the
A boat coming slowly up the river with full sail set,
passed close to me, and I exchanged salutes with her
owners. She carried English colors. The last rays of

the sun lit them joyously as she swept on up the stream,
and I was left alone with my Arab attendant on the sandy
point, and the swift night was coming down on us, as it
always comes in that land of clear air and deep skies.
At length it became manifest that it was unsafe to walk
further. The bar on which I was walking was of mud
and sand mingled, and had now narrowed to less than
two hundred feet, while it oozed and sank under my feet
at each step that I made in advance. It was that peculiar
mud, too, which reminds one of what, when boys, we
called leather-ice, which was apparently tough and strong,
and yet would yield under a steady pressure, so that we
could run across it, but could not rest on it. I could
strike the breach of my gun down heavily and firmly on
it, and it would not give, but by tapping it gently I would
change the consistency of it to mere loose mud, and then
a small circle would sink and leave clear water in its place.
Taking our position on the highest point of the ridge, a
foot or two above the river level, and changing our feet
constantly from place to place, we waited impatiently the
coming of the boat. The Breeze, Mr. R—'s boat, shot
by us, and sent me a halloo and a salute, to which I replied
by waving my hat, and a few minutes later the
Phantom was visible leaving the land. It was now a
question whether they would see us or not, as it was
growing so dark; but the voice is heard an incredible
distance over these still waters. Our call was heard
and answered more than a mile away, and the small boat
came down rapidly for me. But it could not approach
within thirty feet of the land, and I waded off to it, declining
the proffered shoulders of the man, lest by contact I
should take off what is as bad as disease, and much worse
than dirt.
As I came on board the men lay down to their oars
with a will, and it appeared that they had agreed on a

race with the crew of the Breeze, which was now far
ahead of us. In the evening, as we were seated quietly
at our round table, we felt a sudden increase in the velocity
of the boat, and, looking out, saw that we were alongside
of the other boat, whose crew had waited for us. Then
the swarthy Arabs sprang to their oars and the reis,
seated at the top of the ladder to the upper deck, led
them in a song, to which they gave a stout and hearty
chorus, while the other boat sang another refrain; and
the two flew through the water at a peed far surpassing
any thing I had supposed possible with such heavy objects.
Now one boat was ahead, and now the other.
Now the Breeze led us half a length, and now we came
up with her and edged slowly by her. It was impossible
to write at the table, so fast did we go, and so much did
the boat spring to the strokes of the oars, and the race
was not over till we both came to the land under the
shade of the sont trees that line the bank at El Kab , the
ancient Eileithyas, of which the reader will remember I
spoke in a former article.
Here we had proposed to pass a day, and here we found
one of the most interesting points in Egypt. The ruins of
the ancient city are more extensive than of any other in
Egypt, but these consist almost solely of crude brick remains,
walls, and heaps which cover a great space, included
within the circuit of a gigantic wall, whose height
and thickness must have been cyclopean. It is not in
these, however, that the interest of a stay at Eileithyas
consists, but in the tombs of the Egyptians with which
the hill back of the plain is perforated, some of which are
among the most curious and instructive in Egypt.
One or two of these are among the most ancient known
in the Nile valleys containing very curious chronological
tables of kings' names which are, as yet, a puzzle to the
scholar. The ruins are chiefly of Roman times.


I was awake, as usual, at day break. Trumbull was
never behind me. We were always out with the first
rays of light, and I commenced my day invariably with a
plunge in the ancient river. The Breeze lay close by us,
and all was profoundly still on board of her, as we went
out with our guns for an hour's shooting among the ruins
of the old city.
It was a scene of indescribable desolation. The only
spot in all Egypt where there are remains of the house of
the ancient inhabitants. These, being built of crude brick,
have elsewhere disappeared, but Eileithyas was inclosed
in an immense wall of the same material, not less than
twenty feet thick and forty or fifty high. The remains
of this wall have acted as a preserver of the dusty walls
of houses within its circuit, at least from winds, and
they are, therefore, left, in ruins, but enough of them
standing to show that here the people of ancient days had
habitations. Here families lived, children played, mothers
bore offspring; all the home passions, emotions, incidents,
affections, and sorrows of life had succession here; and
any one of these little inclosures has held a world of
thought and hope two thousand years ago, all gone now
—all utterly vanished—all as pure dreams now as is yonder
blue sky, beautiful, glorious, distant, intangible, unapproachable.
In a hollow, where was once a sacred lake connected
with one of the temples, we started a fox, and in the low
water that filled the bottom of the hollow, we put up a
dozen snipe and shot three or four of them.
As the sun came up pigeons began to fly, and we
stationed ourselves on the highest point of the old wall
and shot two or three dozen as they went over.
Meantime, on board the boat, Hajji Mohammed was
busy at his breakfast arrangements, which were kept in
abeyance till the ladies came out of their cabin, and then

Ferrajj was despatched to find and call us. Such was the
morning routine always when the boat was not sailing.
Never were two ladies in brighter condition than Amy
and Miriam, and never were donkeys more miserable
brought for ladies to ride on than now awaited them on
the bank above the boat. But these were the best that
the country afforded, and they mounted, while Trumbull
and myself declined the proffer of similar conveyances,
and started on foot across the plain, which stretched away
to the foot of the mountain, shooting as we went at whatever
wild animals we found haunting the ruins of the
ancient palaces of the Romans. Half an hour brought us
to the foot of the hills, and lending our own assistance to
the donkeys, we succeeded in carrying the ladies up the
steep ascent to the platform in front of the first and chief
row of sepulchres, when they dismounted, and we proceeded
together to examine the empty chambers that
were once fitted up for the long abode of mortality awaiting
I shall not pause to describe these tombs. We sat in
one of them and welcomed the arrival of the party from
the Breeze, who now came up, and we looked out on the
flow of the river, and up toward Edfou, and down toward
Thebes, and again we talked of the grandeur of the
sepulchral spots which the men of old time selected, as if
they designed to look out on the flow of their lordly river
in the solemn nights, when ghosts of all ages have been
permitted to walk abroad.
I believe that I mentioned, in my description of my
voyage up the river, that I passed a morning at this place
searching for antiques. We desired to do so again, and
having given directions to our boat to drop down the
rivers we went on to the village, which lay a few miles
down the plain, crossing the same broad plateau on which,
a few weeks before, I had my fast run on an Arab

horse. I was now on foot, and went along very quietly
in the hot sunshine. At the village we were surrounded
by the inhabitants in an instant, and, their curiosity having
been first satisfied, they brought us what they had
collected during our absence up the river.
The stranger to Egypt perhaps wonders what sort of
antiques we can expect to find in such places. Certainly
it must be something smaller than a statue or sphinx, for
these are plenty, and whoever wishes to load a ship with
one or a dozen may do so. But the tombs of Egypt in-close
unknown treasures of antiquity. Of these, to the
traveler, jewelry and articles of personal ornament are
usually most curious and desirable, and the tombs often
furnish these of great beauty and value.
It was in hopes that we might find something valuable
that we made constant purchase of all the trifles that the
people brought to us; and, after loading ourselves with
earthern figures, images of various sorts, and coins in profusion,
of various ages and conditions, we came down to
the boat, which had dropped down the river to a point
opposite the village. On the broad plain of El Kab that
day we had a perfect mirage; so perfect, that with a full
assurance of the impossibility of seeing the river, we disputed
the possibility of a mirage on so small a plain, and
refused to believe it was not water until we marked its
boundary, and rode up to that boundary.
That afternoon we cast off from the shore, the Breeze
being ahead of us, and Mr. R—having come on board
our boat. After dinner, while we were quietly sipping
our wine, we were roused by the Arabs crying out that
there was an American flag ahead, and rushing out on
deck we saw a boat coming up with a fresh breeze, and
behind it yet another, carrying also the stars and stripes.
It was a sight worth seeing that, and not very common
any where in the eastern world. Four American boats

together on the Nile! Of course we all shouted—every
body must shout under such circumstances. Trumbull,
Mr. R—, and myself sprang into our small boat
and boarded the other boats—the ladies having only
waved their hands and helped the shouting a little. The
Phantom and the Breeze went drifting down the river,
and we went up with the new-comers, who could give us
late news from home and from the civilized world, to
which we had so long been comparative strangers; and
at length, as evening approached, we suddenly remembered
that the Phantom and the Breeze were gone.
We sprang ashore and hastened down the bank of the
river. A mile below, we found our small boat waiting
for us, and into this we hastened. The sun was setting—
short twilight followed. The night came down, dark and
cold. There were pipes in the boat, and tobacco plenty,
that universal solace. Let me see the man that dares
talk to me of the “deleterious effects of nicotine,” when
I am recalling its delicious consolations in such times as
was that.
Eight—nine—ten o'clock, and still the men rowed, and
still no signs of the Phantom or the Breeze.
“Now, men—lay on well—pull, pull—you shall have
Tombak to-night;” and they sent her through the current,
six of them pulling well, until my pistol was answered
far down the river, and the red light flashed
out at last. The boats were side by side, their bright
cabin lights shining on each other.
Were you ever abroad on a cold night of autumn, and
driving homeward over weary hills? and do you remember
the delight of the warm room, the cheerful lamp, the
hissing tea urn, and the welcome of pleasant lips? Such
was ours in the cabin of the Phantom.

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Achmet the Resurrectionist.

At midnight we were at Esne, and in the morning I
went again up to the temple.
The mummies lay as I had left them some weeks before,
no traveler having ventured to disturb their repose.
There were several boats at Esne, and while I sat in the
portico of the temple, one, and another, and another
stranger came in and voices of various lands disturbed
the quiet of Ptolemaic times.
The governor had no donkey that suited me or Abd-el-Atti,
whom I represented. He came down to the boat
with a drove of them, large and small, gray and black,
male and female, but he said himself that he could not
scare up one that he could recommend, and I left a general
order to have one sent down by boat to Cairo, and
so we departed.
I was dozing on the upper deck after an evening chibouk,
discussing with Trumbull the shape of some hieroglyphic
about which our memories differed, when the
Phantom brought up with a plunge on a sand bank that
sent the rowers over backward into each other's laps, and
disturbed Reis Hassanein's stupidity to an alarming degree.
He raved, stormed, swore, called on Allah, and
vowed over and again that there was no Illah but Allah,
but it was all of no use. Three hours she lay there, and

two more on other banks before the morning, and then
as we approached the Gebelein it was blowing a hurricane
up the river and he couldn't get along an inch, and we
lay-to from morning till nearly sunset. Two or three
boats dashed up the river in glorious style, exchanging
salutes with us as they passed. Seeing one with American
colors coming up, we pulled out toward her, and as
they saw our flags, for the Breeze was lying near us, they
let their sheet fly and rounded to close by us, and made
a call on the ladies. It proved to be the boat of two
gentlemen from New Orleans, who had met some of the
party on the Breeze some where in Europe months before.
These pleasant reunions are among the most inspiriting
incidents of foreign travel. They made a half-hour call,
and then flew on before the breeze, of which we could
not wish them a continuance, for we were by it kept back
from Thebes, which lay half a day from us.
I strolled off over the fields with Abd-el-Atti and a
milk-pail. Among my pleasantest recollections of Egypt
are those adventures with Abd-el-Atti among the fellaheen.
While he sought some one who would sell him
milk, I sat down in a sunny place and chatted with the
crowd of curious people who came around me. Once in
a while I bought a valuable antique, and many rare coins
I picked up in those places. There is but one memory of
that day that is specially fixed on my mind.
On the bank of the river, near this village, I sat down
and watched the women coming for water. One and
another came, each helping the one before her to lift the
enormous jar to the top of her head.
At length there appeared one of the noblest specimens
of feminine beauty that I remember. A tall and splendidly
formed girl came down close by me, the wind blowing
back her single thin cotton garment so as to reveal
the outlines of a perfect form, one that Praxiteles might

have dreamed, one such as it is seldom permitted human
eyes to see. Her tunic was open from neck to waist, and
her bust, contrary to the common appearance of the
Egyptian women, was full and of delicate outline. Her
face was Greek, her lips classical in their severe beauty.
Imagine my astonishment as this vision swept by me,
not three feet distant, and paused within a rod to dip
water in a heavy jar. I gazed admiringly at her, as
who would not? She returned my gaze with cold curiosity,
and eyes devoid of interest, but dark, lustrous eyes
withal, that had fire in them which might be made to
She had on her neck a string of antiques, chiefly scarabæi.
I had seen them thus before, and had purchased
some curious antiques from the necks and wrists of the
women. I walked up to her and took hold of them.
She stood like a statue, motionless, with her black eyes
fixed on mine, but was silent, and allowed my examination
without fear or objection.
“How much shall I pay you for your necklace?”
She looked, but made no reply, and stooping down,
lifted her jar; a friend helped her swing it to her head,
and then, dropping her hands, she walked up the bank in
stately style, nor looked back, nor seemed to have the
slightest interest in the fate of Braheem Effendi. To be
cut thus by an Egyptian! On reflection, I have thought
that she was perhaps deaf and dumb—possibly idiotic,
but I think not that, for she was too splendidly beautiful.
It was after midnight—a calm, still night—when we
swept around the lower point of the island, and swinging
into the branch which comes down from the eastward,
laid our boat at the land close under the columns of the
Temple of Luxor. The men were very still in all their
movements, for the ladies were sleeping, and we had a

crew that were remarkably intelligent for Arabs, and remarkably
attentive to our wishes.
Trumbull and I sat on the cabin-deck, wrapped in our