Page images

vey, were rich fields of corn and rice, with such beautiful groves, seeming to rise out of the watery plains, and to shade innumerable settlements in the Delta, amidst never-ending plantations of melons and all kinds of garden vegetables, that, from the abundance of its produce, Egypt may be deemed the richest country in the world. Such is the picture exhibited to the native inhabitants, who are seasoned to withstand the disorders of the country, and can bear with indifference the attacks of myriads of all sorts of noxious animals; to whom mud and mosquitoes, or dust and vermin, are alike indifferent ; who, having never experienced one comfortable feeling in the midst of their highest enjoyments, nor a single antidote to sorrow in the depths of wretchedness, vegetate, like the bananas and sycamores around them. But to strahgers, and particularly to inhabitants of northern countries, where wholesome air and cleanliness are among the necessaries of life, Egypt is the most detestable region upon earth. Upon the retiring of the Nile, the country is one vast swamp. An atmosphere, impregnated with every putrid and offensive exhalation, stagnates, like the filthy pools over which it broods. Then the plague regularly begins, nor ceases until the waters return again. Throughout the spring, intermitting fevers universally prevail. About the beginning of May certain winds cover even the sands of the desert with the most disgusting vermin." The latest descendants of Pharaoh are not yet delivered from the evils which fell upon the land, when it was smitten by the hands of Moses and Aaron : the “plague of frogs,” the “plague of lice,” “the plague of flies,” the “murrain, boils, and blains,” prevail, so that the whole country is “corrupted,” and “the dust of the earth becomes lice, *pon man and upon beast, throughout the Hand of Egypt.” . This application of the words of Scripture affords a literal exposition of existing facts; such an one as the statistics of the country do now Warrant*.

* Sir Sidney Smith informed the Author, that one night, preferring a bed upon the sand of the desert to a might's lodging in the yillage of Etko, as thinking to be secure from vermin, he found himself, in the morning, entirely covered by them. Lice and scorpions abound in all the sandy desert Meat Alexandria,


But the most remarkable animal appearance may be noticed by merely dipping a ladle or bucket into the midst of the torrent, which is everywhere dark with mud, and observing the Swarms of animalculae it contains, Among these, tadpoles , and young frogs are so numerous, that, rapid as the current flows, there is no part of the Nile where the water does not contain them.


A singular phaenomenon engrossed all our attention. One of those immense columns of sand, mentioned by Bruce, came rapidly towards us, turning upon its base as upon a pivot : it crossed the Nile so near us, that the whirlwind by which it was carried placed our vessel upon its beam-ends, bearing its large sail quite into the water, and nearly upsetting the boat, As we were engaged in righting the vessel, the column disappeared. TIt is not probable that those columns fall suddenly upon any particular spot, so as to be capable of overwhelming an army or a caravan ; but that, as the sand, thus driven, is gradually accumulated, it becomes gradually diš. persed, and, the column diminishing in its progress, at length disappears. A great quantity of sand is no doubt precipitated as the effect which gathers it becomes weaker; but, from witness, ing such phaenomena upon a smaller scale, it does not seem likely that the whole body of the sand is at once abandoned.


On Wednesday, the twelfth of August, we were roused, as soon as the sun dawned, by Antony, our faithful Greek servant and interpreter, with the intelligence that the Pyramids were in view. We hastened from the cabin; and never will the impression made by their appearance be obliterated. By reflecting the sun's rays, they appeared as white as snow, and of such surprising magnitude, that nothing we had previously conceived in our ima. gination had prepared us for the spect. tacle we beheld. The sight instantly convinced us that no power of descrip. tion, no delineation, can convey ideas adequate to the effect produced in viewing these stupendous monuments. The formality of their structure is lost in their prodigious magnitude i the mind, elevated by wonder, feels at oncé the force of an axiom, which, howeve; 616 ever disputed, experience confirms, that in vastness, whatsoever be its nature, there dwells sublimity INTERIOR of cAIRO. To describe the interior of the city would be only to repeat what has been often said of all Turkish towns; with this difference, that there is not perhaps upon earth a more dirty metropolis, Every place is covered, with dust ; and its particles are so minute, that it rises into all the courts and chambers of the city. The streets are destitude of any kind of pavement : they exhibit, therefore, a series of narrow dusty lanes, between gloomy walls. It is well known that Europeans were formerly compelled to walk, or to ride upon asses, through these streets ; nor had the practice been wholly abandoned when we arrived; for, although some of our officers appeared occasionally on horseback, many of them ambled about, in their uniforms, upon the jack-asses let for hire by the Arabs. Horses were not easily procured. To ride these, it was necessary first to buy them. ...And even when riding upon asses, if a favourable opportunity offered, when our military were not in sight, the attendants of the rich Turks, running on foot before their horses to clear the way, made every Christian descend and walk, until the bearded grandee had passed. PLAGUES OF EGYPT. The mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer seemed at this time fixed. It remained at 90° for several days, without the smallest perceptible change. Almost every European suffered an inflammation of the eyes. Many were troubled with cutaneous disorders. The prickly heat was very common. This was attributed to drinking the muddy water of the Nile, the inhabitants having no other. . Their mode of purifying it, in a certain degree, is by rubbing the inside of the water-vessels with bruised almonds ; this precipitates a portion of the mud, but it is never quite clear. Many persons were afflicted with sores upon the skin, which were called “ Boils of the Nile;” and dysenterical complaints were universal. A singular species of lizard

made its appearance in every chamber,

having circular membranes at the extremity of its feet, which gave it such tenacity that it crawled upon panes of glass, or upon the surface of pendent mirrors. This revolting sight was Yommon to every apartment, whether

Clarke's Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa

in the houses of the rich or of the poor. At the same time, such a plague of flies covered , all things with their swarms, that it was impossible to eat without hiring persons to stand by every table with feathers, or flappers, to drive them away. , Liquor could not be poured into a glass; the mode of drinking was, by keeping the mouth of every bottle covered until the moment it was applied to the lips; and instantly covering it with the palm of the hand, when removing it to offer to . any one else. The utinost attentiou to cleanliness, by a frequent change of every article of wearing apparel, could not repel the attacks of the swarms of vermin which seemed to infest even the air of the place. A gentleman made his appearance, before a party he had invited to dinner, completely covered with lice. The only explanation he could give as to the cause was, that he had sat for a short time in one of the boats upon the canal. - BRITISH ARMY FROM IN or A. The Indian army under ‘General Baird was encamped in \the Isle of Rhouda, and presented the finest mi. litary spectacle it is possible to conceive ; offering a striking contrast to the appearance of the troops from England, which were encamped upon the Alexandrian Plaim. The Indian army, in so of abundant supplies, and having all the comforts which wealth and power could bestow, might be considered rather as an encampment of mightiest princes than of private men. The tents of its subalterns were superior to the marquees of general-officers in the English army, where the Commander-in-chief lived as the poorest soldier, and wretchedness and privation were the standing orders of the day." Every morning, at sun-rise, as in Lord Hutchinson's army, a gun was fired, and the whole line of the troops from India were under arms, amounting to 3ooo men. At this hour, we often resorted to the Isle of Rhouda, to view the magnificent parade. ARABic

* The luxury and pomp of the Indian army may be conceived, by simply stating the fact, that glass lustres, manufactured in London, exported to India, and thence conveyed, after a voyage up the Red ses, upon the backs of camels across the desert. from Cosseir to the Nile, were suspended in the audience-pavilion of the Commander. in-chief.


- ARABIC LANGUAGE. - Any Englishman hearing a party of Egyptian Arabs in conversation, and being ignorant of their language, would suppose they were quarrelling. The Arabic, as spoken by Arabs, is more guttural even than the Welsh ; but the dialect of Egypt appeared to us to be particularly harsh. It is always spoken with a vehemence of gesticulation, and loudness of tone, which is quite a contrast to the stately sedate manner of speaking among the Turks ; we were constantly impressed with a notion that the Arabs, in conversation, were quarrelling. More than once we ordered the interpreter to interfere, and to pacify them, when it †: that we were mistaken, and that nothing was further from their feelings, at the time, than anger. The effect is not so unpleasing to the ear when Arab women converse; although the gesticulation is nearly the same. st ATE of society. The effect, whether it be of climate, of education, or of government, is the same among all settlers in Egypt, except the Arabs; a disposition to exist without exertion of any kind; to pass whole days upon beds and cushions, smoking, and counting beads. This is what Maillet termed Le vrai génie Ægyptienne ; and that it may be acguired by residing among the native inhabitants of Cairo, is evident from the appearance exhibited by Europeans who have passed some years in the city. BOOK MARKET. We often visited the book-market, and found no sight more interesting than the prodigious number of beautiful manuscripts offered there for sale. We purchased many of these manuscripts. Writings of any celebrity bear very high prices, especially famous works in History, Astronomy,

in-chief. Breakfasting with a lieutenant of the sixty-first regiment, we, were regaled with white bread, and fresh-butter, made upon the spot for the occasion, (which perhaps had never been seen before in Egypt,) fruit, cream, tea, coffee, and chocolate. The impression made by external splendour, upon men, characterized as are the inhabitants of the Turkish empire, is more ef. fectual for the advancement of our political interests in the East, than the operations of war. An ignorant Moslem attaches higher ideas of power to the appear. ance of wealth, than to any effect of mili. tary strength,

Geography, and Natural History. The Mamalukes are more fond of reading than the Turks; and some of their li braries, in Cairo, contained volumes cf immense price. ANTIENT MEDALS IN CIRCULATION. Who could have believed that antient Roman coins were still in circulation in any part of the world yet this is strictly true. We noticed Roman copper medals in Cairo, as given in exchange in the markets among the coins of the country, and valued at something less than our halfpenny. What is more remarkable, we obtained some of the large bronze medals of the Ptolemys, circulating at higher value, but in the same manner. - B L OHE | The Arabs, who generally sing during labour, use the antient Hebrew invocation of the Deity, while they are passing, in their boats, beneath a bridge: calling out Elohe Elohe ( in a plaintive singing tone of voice. CIT AD E L OF CAIRO. The most interesting parts of it to an English traveller, as connected with the history of the architecture of his country, are the splendid remains of buildings erected by the antient Caliphs of Egypt, particularly the edifice vulgary called “joseph's Palace,” built by Sultan Salah eddin, or Saladine, whose name was Joseph. Here we beheld those pointed arches, which, although constructed soon after the mid‘dle of the twelfth century, by a fanatic Moslem, (now ranked among the Mahometan Saints, for his rigid adherence to all the prejudices of Islam,) certain English antiquaries would fancifully attribute to the labours of English workmen. To increase the interest excited by the examination of Sultan Saladine's magnificent palace, Mr. Hammer had the satisfaction to discover, among many Arabic inscriptions yet remaining in the great hall of the building, one in excellent preservation, and in large characters, which he copied, with this legend : Salaheddin, Destroyer of Infidels and Heathens. JOSEPH's w ELL. ^One of the marvels of Egypt, in former times, was the fountain belonging to the Citadel, called “Joseph’s Well;” but since the country has been accessible to enlightened travellers, it is no longer considered as any thing - s:traordinary.

618 extraordinary. A regular descent, by steps, has been cut to it, through the soft calcareous rock on which the Citadel stands, to the depth of two hundred and seventy-six feet. The mouth of the well is twenty-four feet in length, and eighteen in breadth. As an example of human labour, Niebuhr considers it to be not at all comparable to the works of the antient Indians, who have cut whole pagodas in the very hardest rocks.


Among all the sights which this extraordinary country presents to the eyes of an European traveller, there is nothing more novel than the view of objects beheld from the Citadel. A very considerable district, whether the spectator regard the East or the South, is distinguished by one uniform buff colour. Towards the North, this colour is opposed by the most vivid green that imagination can conceive ; covering all the Delta. Upon the West are seen the Pyramids, reflecting the sun’s beams, and as white as snow. In order that the reader may comprehend the exact situation of all that is seen from hence, this Chapter may conclude by a detail of the relative position of the different objects, as they were observed by a mariner's compass. This mode of description was frequently used by the celebrated Wheler, in the account he published of his Travels in Greece; and it will be occasionally adopted in the remaining Chapters of this Section. Y RE W FROM THE CITAD EL OF CAIRO ,


A very unusual and striking spectacle; all the landscape being of a buff or bright stone colour; and the numerous buildings in view having the hue of the plains on which they stand. In the distance is an arid desert, without a single mark of vegetation. Nearer to the eye appear immense heaps of sand, the Obelisk of Heliopolis, and the stately mosques, minarets, and sepulchres, belonging to a Coemetery of the Caliphs in a suburb of Cairo, called Beladeensan ; a place crowded with buildings of a singular form.

South East.

Hills and broken mounds, disposed, in vast masses, with very great grandeur.

A grand scene of desolation; the

Clarke's Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa

same buff colour prevailing over every
object. In the fore-ground are the
lofty quarries of Mount Mokatam,
with ruined castles, mouldering domes,
and the remains of other edifices,
above, below, and stretching beneath
the heights, far into the plain. More
distant, appear the mountains of Up-
per Egypt, flanking the eastern bank
of the Nile, and a wide misty view of
the Said. -
South West, and West,

Immediately beneath the eye is seen the Aqueduct, supported by arches, and extending two miles in length, from the Nile to the Citadel; toge. ther with mosques, minarets, and immense heaps of sand. But the grand object, viewed in this direction, is the Nile itself. At this time, having attained its greatest elevation, extending over a wide surface, and flowing with great, rapidity, it appeared covered with barges belonging to the army, and the various vessels of the country, spreading their enormous sails on every part of it. The Ruins of Old Cairo, the Island and groves of Rhouda, enrich this fine prospect. Beyond the river appears the town of Djiza, amidst the most beautiful groves of sycamore, fig, and palm-trees; still more remote, the Pyramids of Djiza and Saccara ; and, beyond these, the great Libyan Desert, extending to the utmost verge of the visible horizon; a vast ocean of sand. w

North West, and North.

The #. plains of the Delta oc-. cupy alf the distant perspective in this direction, like so many islands, covered with groves and gardens, and adorned with white edifices; among these the djerms, the canjas, and other beautiful boats of the Nile, are seen sailing.

North East.

The whole City of Cairo, extending from the North towards the North East, and surrounded, in the latter direction, by heaps of sand. . Immediately beneath the spectator is seen a grand and gloomy structure, called The Mosque of Sultan Hassan, standing close to one of two lakes, which appear among the crowded buildings of the city. F *

Such is the surprising and highly diversified view from the Šaj of Grand Cairo. . It will not be too muchto affirm of this extraordinary prospect, that a scene unore powerfully affectin the mind, by the singularity of its as:


[blocks in formation]


Upon the twenty-third of August we set out for the Pyramids, the inundation enabling us to approach within less than a mile of the larger pyramid, in our djerm. Messrs. Hammer and Hamilton accompanied us. We arrived at Djiza by day-break, and called upon some English officers who wished to join our party upon this occasion. From Djiza, our approach to the Pyramids was through a swampy country, by means of a narrow canal, which however was deep enough ; and we arrived without any obstacle, at nine o'clock, at the bottom of a sandy slope, leading up to the principal pyramid. Some Bedouin Arabs, who had assembled to receive us upon our landing, were much amused by the eagerness excited in our whole party, to prove who should first set his foot upon the summit of this artificial mountain. As we drew near its base, the effect of its prodigious magnitude, and the amazement caused in viewing the enormous masses used in its construction, affected every one of us; but it was an impression of awe and fear, rather than of pleasure. In the observations of travellers who had recently preceded us, we had heard the Pyramids described as huge objects which gave no satisfaction to the spectator, on account of their barbarous shape, and formal appearance : yet to us it appeared hardly possible, that persons susceptible of any feeling of sublimity could behold them unmoved. With what amazement did we survey the vast surface that was presented to us, when we arrived at this stupendous monument, which seemed to reach the clouds ! Here and there appeared some

Arab guides upon the immense masses

above us, like so many pigmies, waiting to shew the way up to the summit. Now and then we thought we heard

voices, and listened ; but it was the

wind, in powerful gusts, sweeping the

immense ranges of stone. Already some of our party had begun the ascent, and were pausing at the tremendous depth which they saw below. One of our military companions, after having surmounted the most difficult part of the undertaking, became giddy in consequence of looking down from the elevation he had attained ; and being compelled to abandon the project, he hired an Arab to assist him in effecting his descent. The rest of us, more accustomed to the business of climbing heights, with many a halt for respiration, and many an exclamation of wonder, pursued our way towards the summit. The mode of ascent has been frequently described ; and yet, from the questions which are often proposed to travellers, it does not appear to be generally understood. The reader may imagine himself to be upon a staircase, every step of which, to a man of middle stature, is nearly breast high ; and the breadth of each step is equal to its height ; consequently, the footing is secure ; and although a retrospect, in going up, be sometimes fearful to persons unaccustomed to look down from any considerable elevation, yet there is little danger of falling. In some places, indeed, where the stones are decayed, caution may be required ; and an Arab guide is always necessary, to avoid a total interruption ; but, upon the whole, the means of ascent are such that almost every one may accomplish it. Our progress was impeded by other causes. We carried with us a few instruments; such as, our boat-compass, a thermometer, a telescope, &c.; these could not be trusted in the hands of the Arabs, and they were liable to be broken every instant. At length we reached the topmost tier, to the great delight and satisfaction of all the party. Here we found a platform, thirty-two feet square; consisting of nine large stones, each of which might weigh about a ton ; although they be much inferior in size to some of the stones used in the construction of this pyramid. ' Travellers of all ages, and of various nations, have here inscribed their names. Some are written in Greek; many in French ; a few in Arabic ; one or two in English ; and others in Latin. We were as desirous as our predecessors to leave a memorial of our arrival; it seemed to be a tribute of thankfulness, due for the sucCess

« PreviousContinue »