A Visit to the Holy Land
by Ida Pfeiffer
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The present town of Balbeck is partly built on the site occupied by its predecessor; it lies to the right of the temples, and consists of a heap of small wretched-looking houses and huts. The largest buildings in the place are the convent and the barracks; the latter of these presents an exceedingly ridiculous appearance; fragments of ancient pillars, statues, friezes, etc. having been collected from all sides, and put together to form a modern building according to Turkish notions of taste.

We were received into the convent, but could command no further accommodation than an empty room and a few straw mats. Our attendant brought us pilau, the every-day dish of the East; but to- day he surprised us with a boiled fowl, buried beneath a heap of the Turkish fare. Count Zichy added a few bottles of excellent wine from Lebanon to the feast; and so we sat down to dinner without tables or chairs, as merry as mortals need desire to be.

Here, as in most other Eastern towns, I had only to step out on the terrace-roof of the house to cause a crowd of old and young to collect, eager to see a Frankish woman in the costume of her country. Whoever wishes to create a sensation, without possessing either genius or talent, has only to betake himself, without loss of time, to the East, and he will have his ambition gratified to the fullest extent. But whoever has as great an objection to being stared at as I have, will easily understand that I reckoned this among the greatest inconveniences of my journey.

July 7th.

At five o'clock in the morning we again mounted our horses, and rode for three hours through an immense plain, where nothing was to be seen but scattered columns, towards the foremost promontories of the Lebanon range. The road towards the heights was sufficiently good and easy; we were little disturbed by the heat, and brooks caused by the thawing of snow-fields afforded us most grateful refreshment. In the middle of the day we took an hour's nap under the shady trees beside a gushing stream; then we proceeded to climb the heights. As we journeyed onwards the trees became fewer and farther between, until at length no soil was left in which they could grow.

The way was so confined by chasms and abysses on the one side, and walls of rock on the other, that there was scarcely room for a horse to pass. Suddenly a loud voice before us cried, "Halt!" Startled by the sound, we looked up to find that the call came from a soldier, who was escorting a woman afflicted with the plague from a village where she had been the first victim of the terrible disease to another where it was raging fearfully. It was impossible to turn aside; so the soldier had no resource but to drag the sick person some paces up the steep rocky wall, and then we had to pass close by her. The soldier called out to us to cover our mouths and noses. He himself had anointed the lower part of his face with tar, as a preventive against contagion.

This was the first plague-stricken person I had seen; and as we were compelled to pass close by her, I had an opportunity of observing the unfortunate creature closely. She was bound on an ass, appeared resigned to her fate, and turned her sunken eyes upon us with an aspect of indifference. I could see no trace of the terrible disease, except a yellow appearance of the face. The soldier who accompanied her seemed as cool and indifferent as though he were walking beside a person in perfect health.

As the plague prevailed to a considerable extent throughout the valleys of the Lebanon, we were frequently obliged to go some distance out of our way to avoid the villages afflicted with the scourge; we usually encamped for the night in the open fields, far from any habitation.

On the whole long distance from Balbeck to the cedars of Lebanon we found not a human habitation, excepting a little shepherd's hut near the mountains. Not more than a mile and a half from the heights we came upon small fields of snow. Several of our attendants dismounted and began a snow-balling match,—a wintry scene which reminded me of my fatherland. Although we were travelling on snow, the temperature was so mild that not one of our party put on a cloak. We could not imagine how it was possible for snow to exist in such a high temperature. The thermometer stood at 9 degrees Reaumur.

A fatiguing and dangerous ride of five hours at length brought us from the foot to the highest point of Mount Lebanon. Here, for the first time, we can see the magnitude and the peculiar construction of the range.

Steep walls of rock, with isolated villages scattered here and there like beehives, and built on natural rocky terraces, rise on all sides; deep valleys lie between, contrasting beautifully in their verdant freshness with the bare rocky barriers. Farther on lie stretched elevated plateaux, with cows and goats feeding at intervals; and in the remote distance glitters a mighty stripe of bluish-green, encircling the landscape like a broad girdle—this is the Mediterranean. On the flat extended coast several places can be distinguished, among which the most remarkable is Tripoli. On the right the "Grove of Cedars" lay at our feet.

For a long time we stood on this spot, and turned and turned again, for fear of losing any part of this gigantic panorama. On one side the mountain-range, with its valleys, rocks, and gorges; on the other the immense plain of Caelosyria, on the verge of which the ruins of the Sun-temple were visible, glittering in the noontide rays. Then we climbed downwards and upwards, then downwards once more, through ravines and over rocks, along a frightful path, to a little grove of the far-famed cedars of Lebanon. In this direction the peculiar pointed formation which constitutes the principal charm of these mountains once more predominates.

The celebrated Grove of Cedars is distant about two miles and a half from the summit of Lebanon; it consists of between five and six hundred trees: about twenty of these are very aged, and five peculiarly large and fine specimens are said to have existed in the days of Solomon. One tree is more than twenty-five feet in circumference; at about five feet from the ground it divides into four portions, and forms as many good-sized trunks.

For more than an hour we rested beneath these ancient monuments of the vegetable world. The setting sun warned us to depart speedily; for our destination for the night was above three miles away, and it was not prudent to travel on these fearful paths in the darkness.

Our party here separated. Count Zichy proceeded with his attendants to Huma, while the rest of us bent our course towards Tripoli. After a hearty leave-taking, one company turned to the right and the other to the left.

We had hardly held on our way for half an hour, before one of the loveliest valleys I have ever beheld opened at our feet; immense and lofty walls of rock, of the most varied and fantastic shapes, surrounded this fairy vale on all sides: in the foreground rose a gigantic table-rock, on which was built a beautiful village, with a church smiling in the midst. Suddenly the sound of chimes was borne upwards towards us on the still clear air; they were the first I had heard in Syria. I cannot describe the feeling of delicious emotion this familiar sound caused in me. The Turkish government every where prohibits the ringing of bells; but here on the mountains, among the free Maronites, every thing is free. The sound of church- bells is a simple earnest music for Christian ears, too intimately associated with the usages of our religion to be heard with indifference. Here, so far from my native country, they appeared like links in the mysterious chain which binds the Christians of all countries in one unity. I felt, as it were, nearer to my hearth and to my dear ones, who were, perhaps, at the same moment listening to similar sounds, and thinking of the distant wanderer.

The road leading into this valley was fearfully steep. We were obliged to make a considerable detour round the lovely village of Bscharai; for the plague was raging there, which made it forbidden ground for us. Some distance beyond the village we pitched our camp beside a small stream. This night we suffered much from cold and damp.

The inhabitants of Bscharai paid us a visit for the purpose of demanding backsheesh. We had considerable difficulty in getting rid of them, and were obliged almost to beat them off with sticks to escape from their contagious touch.

The practice of begging is universal in the East. So soon as an inhabitant comes in sight, he is sure to be holding out his hand. In those parts where poverty is every where apparent, we cannot wonder at this importunity; but we are justly surprised when we find it in these fruitful valleys, which offer every thing that man can require; where the inhabitants are well clothed, and where their stone dwellings look cheerful and commodious; where corn, the grape- vine, the fig and mulberry tree, and even the valuable potato-plant, which cannot flourish throughout the greater part of Syria on account of the heat and the stony soil, are found in abundance. Every spot of earth is carefully cultivated and turned to the best account, so that I could have fancied myself among the industrious German peasantry; and yet these free people beg and steal quite as much as the Bedouins and Arabs. We were obliged to keep a sharp watch on every thing. My riding-whip was stolen almost before my very eyes, and one of the gentlemen had his pocket picked of his handkerchief.

Our march to-day had been very fatiguing; we had ridden for eleven hours, and the greater part of the road had been very bad. The night brought us but little relaxation, for our cloaks did not sufficiently protect us from the cold.


The Lebanon—Druses and Maronites—Illness of Herr Sattler—Djebel or Byblus—Rocky passes—Dog's-river—Return to Beyrout—Sickness— Departure for Alexandria—Roguery of the captain—Disagreeables on board—Limasol—Alarm of pirates—Cowardice of the crew—Arrival at Alexandria.

July 8th.

To-day we quitted our cold hard couch at six o'clock in the morning, and travelled agreeably for two hours through this romantic valley, which appeared almost at every step in a new aspect of increased beauty. Above the village a foaming stream bursts from the mighty rocks in a beautiful waterfall, irrigates the valley, and then vanishes imperceptibly among the windings of the ravine. Brooks similar to this one, but smaller, leapt from the mountains round about. On the rocky peaks we seem to behold ruined castles and towers, but discover with astonishment, as we approach nearer, that what we supposed to be ruins are delusive pictures, formed by the wonderful masses of rock, grouped one above the other in the most fantastic forms. In the depths on the one side, grottoes upon grottoes are seen, some with their entrances half concealed, others with gigantic portals, above which the wild rocks tower high; on the other a rich soil is spread in the form of terraces on the rocky cliffs, forming a lovely picture of refreshing vegetation. Had I been a painter, it would have been difficult to tear me away from the contemplation of these regions.

Below the greater waterfall a narrow stone bridge, without balustrades or railing, leads across a deep ravine, through which the stream rushes foaming, to the opposite shore. After having once crossed, we enter upon a more inhabited tract of country, and travel on between rows of houses and gardens. But many of the houses stood empty, the inhabitants having fled into the fields, and there erected huts of branches of trees, to escape the plague. The Maronites, the real inhabitants of these mountains, are strong people, gifted with a determined will; they cannot be easily brought under a foreign yoke, but are ready to defend their liberty to the death among the natural strongholds of their rocky passes. Their religion resembles that of the Christians, and their priests are permitted to marry. The women do not wear veils, but I saw few such handsome countenances among them as I have frequently observed in the Tyrol.

On the first mountain-range of Lebanon, in the direction of Caelosyria, many Druses are found, besides a few tribes of "Mutualis." The former incline to the Christian faith, while the latter are generally termed "calf-worshippers." They practise their religion so secretly, that nothing certain is known concerning it; the general supposition is, however, that they worship their deity under the form of a calf.

Our way led onwards, for about six miles from Bscharai, through the beautiful valleys of the Lebanon. Then the smiling nature changed, and we were again wandering through sterile regions. The heat, too, became very oppressive; but every thing would have been borne cheerfully had there not been an invalid among us.

Herr Sattler had felt rather unwell on the previous day; to-day he grew so much worse that he could not keep his seat in his saddle, and fell to the ground half insensible. Luckily we found a cistern not far off, and near it some trees, beneath which we made a bed of cloaks for our sick friend. A little water mixed with a few drops of strong vinegar restored him to consciousness. After the lapse of an hour, the patient was indeed able to resume his journey; but lassitude, headache, and feverish shiverings still remained, and we had a ride of many hours before us ere we could reach our resting- place for the night. From every hill we climbed the ocean could be seen at so short a distance that we thought an hour's journeying must bring us there. But each time another mountain thrust itself between, which it was necessary to climb. So it went on for many hours, till at length we reached a small valley with a lofty isolated mass of rock in the midst, crowned by a ruined castle. The approach to this stronghold was by a flight of stairs cut in the rock. From this point our journey lay at least over a better road, between meadows and fruit-trees, to the little town which we reached at night-fall. We had a long and weary search before we could obtain for our sick comrade even a room, destitute of every appearance of comfort. Poor Herr Sattler, more dead than alive, was compelled, after a ride of thirteen hours, to take up his lodging on the hard ground. The room was perfectly bare, the windows were broken, and the door would not lock. We were fain to search for a few boards, with which we closed up the windows, that the sick man might at least be sheltered from the current of air.

I then prepared him a dish of rice with vinegar; this was the only refreshment we were able to procure.

The rest of us lay down in the yard; but the anxiety we felt concerning our sick friend prevented us from sleeping much. He exhibited every symptom of the plague; in this short time his countenance was quite changed; violent headache and exhaustion prevented him from moving, and the burning heat added the pangs of thirst to his other ills. As we had been travelling for the last day and a half through regions where the pestilence prevailed, it appeared but too probable that Herr Sattler had been attacked by it. Luckily the patient himself had not any idea of the kind, and we took especial care that he should not read our anxiety in our countenances.

July 9th.

Heaven be praised, Herr Sattler was better to-day, though too weak to continue his journey. As we had thus some time on our hands, the French gentleman and I resolved to embark in a boat to witness the operation of fishing for sponges, by which a number of the poorer inhabitants of the Syrian coast gain their livelihood.

A fisherman rowed us about half a mile out to sea, till he came to a place where he hoped to find something. Here he immersed a plummet in the sea to sound its depth, and on finding that some thing was to be gained here, he dived downwards armed with a knife to cut the sponge he expected to find from the rocks; and after remaining below the surface for two or three minutes, reappeared with his booty, When first loosened from the rocks, these sponges are usually full of shells and small stones, which give them a very strong and disagreeable smell. They require to be thoroughly cleansed from dirt and well washed with sea-water before being put into fresh.

After our little water-party, we sallied forth to see the town, which is very prettily situated among plantations of mulberry-trees in the vicinity of the sea-coast. The women here are not only unveiled, but frequently wear their necks bare; we saw some of them working in their gardens and washing linen; they were half undressed. We visited the bazaar, intending to purchase a few eggs and cucumbers for our dinner, and some oranges for our convalescent friend. But we could not obtain any; and moderate as our wishes were, it was out of our power to gratify them.

By the afternoon Herr Sattler had so far regained his strength, that he could venture to undertake a short journey of ten miles to the little town of Djaebbehl. This stage was the less difficult for our worthy invalid from the fact that the road lay pleasantly across a fruitful plain skirting the sea, while a cool sea-breeze took away the oppressiveness of the heat. The majestic Lebanon bounded the distant view on the left, and several convents on the foremost chain of mountains looked down upon the broad vale.

We seemed to have but just mounted our horses when we already descried the castle of the town to which we were bound rising above its walls, and soon after halted at a large khan in its immediate neighbourhood. There were large rooms here in plenty, but all were empty, and the unglazed windows could not even be closed by shutters.

Houses of entertainment of this description barely shield the traveller from the weather. We took possession of a large entrance- hall for our night's quarters, and made ourselves as comfortable as we could.

Count Berchtold and I walked into the town of Djaebbehl (Byblus). This place is, as I have already mentioned, surrounded by a wall; it contains also a small bazaar, where we did not find much to buy. The majority of dwellings are built in gardens of mulberry-trees. The castle lies rather high, and is still in the condition to which it was reduced after the siege by the English in 1840; the side fronting the ocean has sustained most damage. This castle is now uninhabited, but some of the lower rooms are converted into stables. Not far off we found some fragments of ancient pillars; an amphitheatre is said to have once stood here.

July 10th.

To-day Herr Sattler had quite recovered his health, so that we could again commence our journey, according to custom, early in the morning. Our road lay continually by the sea-shore. The views were always picturesque and beautiful, as on the way from Batrun to Djaebbehl; but to-day we had the additional luxury of frequently coming upon brooks which flowed from the neighbouring Lebanon, and of passing springs bursting forth near the seashore; one indeed so close to the sea, that the waves continually dashed over it.

After riding forward for four hours, we reached the so-called "Dog's-river," the greatest and deepest on the whole journey. This stream also has its origin in the heights of the Lebanon, and after a short course falls into the neighbouring sea.

At the entrance of the valley where the Dog's-river flowed lay a simple khan. Here we made halt to rest for an hour.

Generally we got nothing to eat during the day, as we seldom or never passed a village; even when we came upon a house, there was rarely any thing to be had but coffee: we were therefore the more astonished to find here fresh figs, cucumbers, butter-milk, and wine,—things which in Syria make a feast for the gods. We revelled in this unwonted profusion, and afterwards rode into the valley, which smiled upon us in verdant luxuriance.

This vale cannot be more than five or six hundred feet in breadth. On either side high walls rise towering up; and on the left we see the ruins of an aqueduct quite overgrown with ivy. This aqueduct is seven or eight hundred paces in length, and extends as far as the spot where the Dog's-river rushes over rocks and stones, forming not a lofty, but yet a fine waterfall. Just below this fall a bridge of Roman architecture, supported boldly on rocky buttresses, unites the two shores. The road to this bridge is by a broad flight of stone stairs, upon which our good Syrian horses carried us in perfect safety both upwards and downwards; it was a fearful, dizzy road. The river derives its name from a stone lying near it, which is said to resemble a dog in form. Stones and pieces of rock, against which the stream rushed foaming, we saw in plenty, but none in which we could discover any resemblance to a dog. Perhaps the contour has been destroyed by the action of wind and weather.

Scarcely had we crossed this dangerous bridge when the road wound sharply round a rock in the small but blooming valley, and we journeyed towards the heights up almost perpendicular rocks, and past abysses that overhung the sea.

The rocky mountain we were now climbing juts far out into the sea, and forms a pass towards the territory of Beyrout which a handful of men might easily hold against an army. Such a pass may that of Thermopylae have been; and had these mountaineers but a Leonidas, they would certainly not be far behind the ancient Spartans.

A Latin inscription on a massive stone slab, and higher up four niches, two of which contain statues, while the others display similar inscriptions, seemed to indicate that the Romans had already known and appreciated the importance of this pass. Unfortunately both statues and writing were so much injured by the all-destroying hand of time, that only a man learned in these matters could have deciphered their meaning. In our party there was no one equal to such a task.

We rode on for another half-hour, after which the path led downwards into the territory of Beyrout; and we rode quietly and comfortably by the sea-side towards this city. Mulberry trees and vineyards bloomed around us, country-houses and villages lay half hidden between, and convents crowned the lower peaks of the Lebanon, which on this side displays only naked rocks, the majority of a bluish- grey colour.

At a little distance from Beyrout we came upon a second giant bridge, similar to that over the Dog's-river. Broad staircases, on which four or five horsemen could conveniently ride abreast, led upwards and downwards. The steps are so steep, and lie so far apart, that it seems almost incredible that the poor horses should be able to ascend and descend upon them. We looked down from a dizzy height, not upon a river, but upon a dry river-bed.

At five o'clock in the evening we arrived safely at Beyrout; and thus ended our excursion to the "lovely and incomparable city of the East," to the world-renowned ruin, and to the venerable Grove of Cedars. Our tour had occupied ten days; the distance was about 180 miles; namely, from Beyrout to Damascus about 60, from Damascus to Balbeck 40, and from Balbeck across the Lebanon to Beyrout about 80 miles.

Of four-footed beasts, amphibious creatures, birds, or insects, we had seen nothing. Count Berchtold caught a chameleon, which unfortunately effected its escape from its prison a few days afterwards. At night we frequently heard the howling of jackals, but never experienced any annoyance from them. We had not to complain of the attacks of insects; but suffered much from the dreadful heat, besides being frequently obliged to endure hunger and thirst: the thermometer one day rose to 40 degrees.

In Beyrout I once more put up at the house of the kind French lady. The first piece of news I heard was that I had arrived twenty-four hours too late, and had thus missed the English packet-boat; this was a most annoying circumstance, for the boat in question only starts for Alexandria once a month (on the 8th or 9th), and at other times it is a great chance if an opportunity of journeying thither can be found. On the very next day I hastened to the Austrian consulate, and begged the Vice-consul, Herr C., to let me know when a ship was about to start for Egypt, and also to engage a place for me. I was told that a Greek vessel would start for that country in two or three days; but these two or three days grew into nineteen.

Never shall I forget what I had to endure in Beyrout. When I could no longer bear the state of things at night in the Noah's ark of my good Pauline, I used to creep through the window on to a terrace, and sleep there; but was obliged each time to retire to my room before daybreak lest I should be discovered. It is said that misfortunes seldom happen singly, and my case was not an exception to the rule. One night I must have caught cold; for in the morning when I hastened back to my prison, and lay down on the bed to recover from the effects of my stone couch, I experienced such an acute pain in my back and hips that I was unable to rise. It happened to be a Sunday morning, a day on which my kind Pauline did not come to the house, as there was no school to keep; and so I lay for twenty-four hours in the greatest pain, without help, unable even to obtain a drop of water. I was totally unable to drag myself to the door, or to the place where the water-jug stood. The next day, I am thankful to say, I felt somewhat better; my Pauline also came, and prepared me some mutton-broth. By the fourth day I was once more up, and had almost recovered from the attack.


It was not until the 28th of July that a Greek brig set sail for Alexandria. At ten o'clock in the evening I betook myself on board, and the next morning at two we weighed anchor. Never have I bid adieu to any place with so much joy as I felt on leaving the town of Beyrout; my only regret was the parting from my kind Pauline. I had met many good people during my journey, but she was certainly one of the best.

Unhappily, my cruel fate was not yet weary of pursuing me; and in my experience I fully realised the old proverb of, "out of the frying- pan into the fire." On this vessel, and during the time we had to keep quarantine in Alexandria, I was almost worse off than during my stay in Beyrout. It is necessary, in dealing with the captain of a vessel of this description, to have a written contract for every thing—stating, for instance, where he is to land, how long he may stay at each place, etc. I mentioned this fact at the consulate, and begged the gentlemen to do what was necessary; but they assured me the captain was known to be a man of honour, and that the precaution I wished to take would be quite superfluous. Upon this assumption, I placed myself fearlessly in the hands of the man; but scarcely had we lost sight of land, when he frankly declared that there were not sufficient provisions and water on board to allow of our proceeding to Alexandria, but that he must make for the harbour of Limasol in Cyprus. I was exceedingly angry at this barefaced fraud, and at the loss of time it would occasion me, and offered all the opposition I could. But nothing would avail me; I had no written contract, and the rest of the company offered no active resistance—so to Cyprus we went.

A voyage in an ordinary sailing-vessel, which is not a packet-boat, is as wearisome a thing as can be well conceived. The lower portion of the ship is generally so crammed with merchandise, that the deck alone remains for the passengers. This was the case on the present occasion. I was obliged to remain continually on deck: during the daytime, when I had only my umbrella to shield me from the piercing rays of the sun; at night, when the dews fell so heavily, that after an hour my cloak would be quite wet through, in cold and in stormy weather. They did not even spread a piece of sailcloth by way of awning. This state of things continued for ten days and eleven nights, during which time I had not even an opportunity to change my clothes. This was a double hardship; for if there is a place above all others where cleanliness becomes imperative to comfort, it is certainly on board a Greek ship, the generality of which are exceedingly dirty and disgusting. The company I found did not make amends for the accommodation. The only Europeans on board were two young men, who had received some unimportant situation in a quarantine office from the Turkish government. The behaviour of both was conceited, stupid, and withal terribly vulgar. Then there were four students from Alexandria, who boarded at Beyrout, and were going home to spend the vacation—good-natured but much-neglected lads of fourteen or fifteen years, who seemed particularly partial to the society of the sailors, and were always talking, playing, or quarrelling with them. The remainder of the company consisted of a rich Arab family, with several male and female negro slaves, and a few very poor people. And in such society I was to pass a weary time. Many will say that this was a good opportunity for obtaining an insight into the customs and behaviour of these people; but I would gladly have declined the opportunity, for it requires an almost angelic patience to bear such a complication of evils with equanimity. Among the Arabs and the lower class of Greeks, moreover, every thing possessed by one member of the community is looked upon as public property. A knife, a pair of scissors, a drinking-glass, or any other small article, is taken from its owner without permission, and is given back after use without being cleaned. On the mat, the carpet, or the mattress, which you have brought on board as bedding, a negro and his master will lie down; and wherever a vacant space is left, some one is sure to stand or lie down. Take what precautions you may, it is impossible to avoid having your person and garments infested by certain very disgusting parasitical creatures. One day I cleaned my teeth with a toothbrush; one of the Greek sailors, noticing what I was about, came towards me, and when I laid the brush down for an instant, took it up. I thought he only wished to examine it; but no, he did exactly as I had done, and after cleaning his teeth returned me my brush, expressing himself entirely satisfied with it.

The diet on board a vessel of this kind is also exceedingly bad. For dinner we have pilau, stale cheese, and onions; in the evening, we get anchovies, olives, stale cheese again, and ship-biscuit instead of bread. These appetising dishes are placed in a tray on the ground, round which the captains (of whom there are frequently two or three), the mate, and those passengers who have not come furnished with provisions of their own, take their places. I did not take part in these entertainments; for I had brought a few live fowls, besides some rice, butter, dried bread, and coffee, and prepared my own meals. The voyage in one of these agreeable ships is certainly not very dear, if we do not take the discomforts and privations into account; but these I can really not estimate at too high a price. For the voyage to Alexandria (a distance of 2000 sea- miles) I paid sixty piastres; the provisions I took with me cost thirty more; and thus the entire journey came only to ninety piastres.

In general the wind was very unfavourable, so that we frequently cruised about for whole nights, and awoke in the morning to find ourselves in almost the same position we had occupied the previous evening.

This is one of the most disagreeable impressions, and one which can scarcely be described, to be continually driving and driving without approaching the conclusion of your journey. To my shame I must confess that I sometimes shed tears of regret and annoyance. My fellow-passengers could not at all understand why I was so impatient; for, with their constitutional indolence, they were quite indifferent as to whether they spent their time for a week or a fortnight longer in smoking, sleeping, and idling on board or on shore—whether they were carried to Cyprus or Alexandria. It was not until the fourth day that we landed at


This place contains pretty houses, some of which are even provided with slated roofs, and resemble European habitations. Here, for the first time since my departure from Constantinople, I saw a vehicle; it was not, however, a coach, but simply a wooden two-wheeled cart, and is used to transport stones, earth, and merchandise. The region around Limasol is barren in the extreme, almost like that of Larnaca, except that the mountains are here much nearer.

We stayed in this port the whole of the day; and now I learnt for the first time that the captain had not put in here so much on account of scarcity of provisions, as because he wanted to take in wine and endeavour to take in passengers. Of the latter, however, none presented themselves. The wine is very cheap; I bought a bottle containing about three pints for a piastre. As soon as we were again at sea, our worthy captain gave out that he wished to call at Damietta. My patience was at length exhausted. I called him a cheat, and insisted that he should bend his course to no other port than to Alexandria, otherwise I should have him brought before a judge if it cost me a hundred piastres. This remonstrance produced so much effect upon the captain, that he promised me not to cast anchor any where else; and, marvellous to relate, he kept his word.

One other circumstance occurred during this journey which is interesting as furnishing a sample of the heroism of the modern Greeks.

On the 5th of August, about noon, our sailors discovered a two- masted ship in the distance, which altered her course immediately on perceiving our vessel, and came sailing towards us. It was at once concluded by all that this ship must be a pirate, else why did she alter her course and give chase to us? The circumstance was indeed singular; yet these maritime heroes ought to have been used to all kinds of adventures, and not at once to have feared the worst, particularly as, so far as I am aware, the pirate's trade is very nearly broken up, and attempts of this kind are unprecedented—at least in these regions.

A painter like Hogarth should have been on board our ship, to mark the expression of fear and cowardice depicted on the several countenances. It was wonderful to behold how the poor captains ran from one end of the ship to the other, and huddled us travellers together into a heap, recommending us to sit still and keep silence; how they then hurried away and ran to and fro, making signs and gestures, while the pale sailors tumbled after them with scared faces, wringing their hands. Any one who had not witnessed the scene would think this description exaggerated. What would the Grecian heroes of antiquity say if they could throw a glance upon their gallant descendants! Instead of arming themselves and making preparations, the men ran about in the greatest confusion. We were in this enviable state when the dreaded pirate came within gunshot; and the reason of her approach turned out to be that her compass was broken. The whole scene at once changed, as though a beneficent fairy had waved her wand. The captains instantly recovered their dignity, the sailors embraced and jumped about like children, and we poor travellers were released from durance and permitted to take part in the friendly interview between the two heroic crews.

The captain who had spoken us asked our gallant leader in what latitude we were, and hearing that we were sailing to Alexandria, requested that a lantern should be hung at the mainmast-head, at which he might look as at a guiding-star.

With the exception of Cyprus, we had seen no land during all our weary journey. We could only judge when we arrived in the neighbourhood of Damietta by the altered colour of the sea; as far as the eye could reach, the beautiful dark-blue wave had turned to the colour of the yellow Nile. From these tokens I could judge of the magnitude and volume of that river, which at this season of the year increases greatly, and had already been rising for two months.

August 7th.

At eight o'clock in the morning we safely reached the quay of Alexandria.


Alexandria—Keeping quarantine—Want of arrangement in the quarantine house—Bad water—Fumigating of the rooms—Release— Aspect of the city—Departure by boat for Atfe—Mehemet Ali—Arrival at Atfe—Excellence of the Nile water—Good-nature of the Arab women—The Delta of the Nile—The Libyan desert—The pyramids— Arrival at Cairo.

At first we could only perceive the tops of masts, behind which low objects seemed to be hiding as they rose from the sea. In a little time a whole forest of masts appeared, while the objects before mentioned took the shape of houses peering forth amongst them. At length the land itself could be distinguished from the surrounding ocean, and we discerned hills, shrubberies, and gardens in the vicinity of the town, the appearance of which is not calculated to delight the traveller, for a large desert region of sand girdles both city and gardens, giving an air of dreariness to the whole scene.

We cast anchor between the lighthouse and the new hospital. No friendly boat was permitted to approach and carry us to the wished- for shore; we came from the land of the plague to enter another region afflicted with the same scourge, and yet we were compelled to keep quarantine, for the Egyptians asserted that the Syrian plague was more malignant than the variety of the disease raging among them. Thus a compulsory quarantine is always enforced in these regions, a circumstance alike prejudicial to visitors, commerce, and shipping.

We waited with fear and trembling to hear how long a period of banishment in the hospital should be awarded us. At length came a little skiff, bringing two guardians (servants of the hospital), and with them the news that we must remain in the hospital ten days from the period of our entrance, but that we could not disembark to-day, as it was Sunday. Excepting at the arrival of the English packet- boats, the officials have no time to examine vessels on Sundays or holidays,—a truly Egyptian arrangement. Why could not an officer be appointed for these days to take care of the poor travellers? Why should fifty persons suffer for the convenience of one, and be deprived of their liberty for an extra day? We came from Beyrout furnished with a Teshkeret (certificate of health) by the government, besides the voucher of our personal appearance, and yet we were condemned to a lengthened imprisonment. But Mehemet Ali is far more mighty and despotic in Egypt than the Sultan in Constantinople; he commands, and what can we do but obey, and submit to his superior power?

From the deck of our ship I obtained a view of the city and the desert region around. The town seems tolerably spacious, and is built quite in European style.

Of the Turkish town, which lies in the background, we can distinguish nothing; the proper harbour, situate at the opposite side of the city, is also invisible, and its situation can only be discerned from the forest of masts that towers upwards. The eye is principally caught by two high sand-hills, on one of which stands Fort Napoleon, while the other is only surmounted by several cannon; the foreground is occupied by rocky ridges of moderate elevation, flanked on one side by the lighthouse, and on the other by the new quarantine buildings. The old quarantine-house lies opposite to the new one. In several places we notice little plantations of date- palms, which make a very agreeable impression on the European, as their appearance is quite new to him.

August 8th.

At seven o'clock this morning we disembarked, and were delivered with bag and baggage at the quarantine-house. I now trod a new quarter of the globe, Africa. When I sit calmly down to think of the past, I frequently wonder how it was that my courage and perseverance never once left me while I followed out my project step by step. This only serves to convince me that, if the resolution be firm, things can be achieved which would appear almost impossible.

I had expected to find neither comfort nor pleasure in the quarantine-house, and unfortunately I had judged but too well. The courtyard into which we were shewn was closely locked, and furnished on all sides with wooden bars; the rooms displayed only four bare walls, with windows guarded in the same manner. It is customary to quarter several persons in the same room, and then each pays a share of the expense. I requested a separate apartment, which one can also have, but of course at a higher charge. Such a thing as a chair, a table, or a piece of furniture, was quite out of the question; whoever wishes to enjoy such a luxury must apply by letter to an innkeeper of the town, who lends any thing of the kind, but at an enormously high rate. Diet must be obtained in the same way. In the quarantine establishment there is no host, every thing must be procured from without. An innkeeper generally demands between thirty and forty piastres per diem for dinner and supper. This I considered a little too exorbitant, and therefore ordered a few articles of food through one of the keepers. He promised to provide every thing punctually; but I fear he cannot have understood me, for I waited in vain, and during the whole of the first day had nothing to eat. On the second day my appetite was quite ravenous, and I did not know what to do. I betook myself to the room of the Arab family who had come in the same ship with me, and were therefore also in quarantine; I asked for a piece of bread, for which I offered to pay but the kind woman not only gave me bread, but pressed upon me a share of all the provisions she was preparing for her family, and would not be prevailed upon to accept any remuneration; on the contrary, she explained to me by signs that I was to come to her whenever I wanted any thing.

It was not until the evening of the second day that, perceiving it was hopeless to expect any thing from my stupid messenger, I applied to the chief superintendent of the hospital, who came every evening at sunset to examine us and to lock us in our rooms. I ordered my provisions of him, and from this time forward always received them in proper time.

The keepers were all Arabs, and not one of them could understand or speak any language but their own; this is also a truly Egyptian arrangement. I think that in an establishment of this kind, where travellers from all parts of the world are assembled, it would at least be advisable to have a person who understands Italian, even if he cannot speak it. An individual of this kind could easily be obtained; for Italian, as I afterwards found, is such a well-known language throughout the East, but particularly at Alexandria and Cairo, that many people are to be met with, even among the lowest classes, who understand and can speak it.

The supply of water is also very badly managed. Every morning, immediately after sunrise, a few skins of water are brought for the purpose of cleaning the cooking utensils; at nine o'clock in the morning and five in the afternoon a few camels come laden with skins of fresh water, which are emptied into two stone tanks in the courtyard. Then all fill their cooking and drinking vessels, but in such an untidy way that I felt not the slightest inclination to drink. One man was ladling out the water with a dirty pot, while another dabbled in the tank with his filthy hands; and some even put their dirty feet on the run and washed them, so that some of the water ran back into the tank. This receptacle is moreover never cleaned, so that dirt accumulates upon dirt, and the only way to obtain clear water is by filtering it.

On the second day of my residence here I was exceedingly surprised to observe that the courtyard, the staircases, the rooms, etc. were being cleaned and swept with particular care. The mystery was soon solved; the commissioner appeared with a great stick, and paused at the threshold of the door to see that the linen, clothes, etc. were hung up to air, the books opened, and the letters or papers suspended by strings. No idea can be formed of the stupid nervous fear of this commissioner. For instance, on passing through the first room on his way to my apartment, he saw the stalk of a bunch of grapes lying on the ground. With fearful haste he thrust this trifling object aside with his stick, for fear his foot should strike against it in passing; and as he went he continually held his stick in rest, to keep us plague-struck people at a respectful distance.

On the seventh day of our incarceration we were all sent to our rooms at nine o'clock in the morning. Doors and windows were then locked, and great chafing-dishes were brought, and a dreadful odour of brimstone, herbs, burnt feathers, and other ingredients filled the air. After we had been compelled to endure this stifling atmosphere for four or five minutes, the windows and doors were once more opened. A person of a consumptive habit could scarcely have survived this inhuman ordeal.

On the ninth day the men were drawn up in a row, to undergo an examination by the doctor. The old gentleman entered the room, with a spy-glass in one hand and a stick in the other, to review the troop. Every man had to strike himself a blow on the chest and another in the side; if he could do this without feeling pain, it was considered a sign of health, because the plague-spots appear first on these parts of the body. On the same day, the women were led into a large room, where a great female dragoon was waiting for us to put us through a similar ceremony. Neither men nor women are, however, required to undress.

A few hours later we were summoned to the iron grating which separated us from the disinfected people. On the farther side were seated several officers, to whom we paid the fee for our rooms and the keepers—the charge was very trifling. My room, with attendance, only cost me three piastres per diem. But how gladly would every traveller pay a higher price if he could only have a table and a few chairs in his apartment, and an attendant who understood what was said to him!

So far as cleanliness is concerned, there is nothing to complain of; the rooms, the staircases and the courtyard were kept very neatly, and the latter was even profusely watered twice a day. We were not at all annoyed by insects, and we were but little incommoded by the heat. In the sun the temperature never exceeded 33 degress; and in the shade the greatest heat was 22 degrees Reaumur.

August 17th.

At seven o'clock this morning our cage was at length opened. Now all the world rushed in; friends and relations of the voyagers, ambassadors from innkeepers, porters, and donkey-drivers, all were merry and joyous, for every one found a friend or an acquaintance, and I only stood friendless and alone, for nobody hastened towards me or took an interest in me; but the envoys of the innkeepers, the porters, and donkey-drivers, cruel generation that they were, quarrelled and hustled each other for the possession of the solitary one.

I collected my baggage, mounted a donkey, and rode to "Colombier," one of the best inns in Alexandria. Swerving a little from the direct road, I passed "Cleopatra's Needles," two obelisks of granite, one of which is still erect, while the other lies prostrate in the sand at a short distance. We rode through a miserable poverty-stricken village; the huts were built of stones, but were so small and low that we can hardly understand how a man can stand upright in them. The doors were so low that we had to stoop considerably in entering. I could not discover any signs of windows. And this wretched village lay within the bounds of the city, and even within the walls, which inclose such an immense space, that they not only comprise Alexandria itself, but several small villages, besides numerous country-houses and a few shrubberies and cemeteries.

In this village I saw many women with yellowish-brown countenances. They looked wretched and dirty, and were all clothed in long blue garments, sitting before their doors at work, or nursing children. These women were employed in basket-making and in picking corn. I did not notice any men; they were probably employed in the fields.

I now rode forward across the sandy plain on which the whole of Alexandria is built, and suddenly, without having passed through any street, found myself in the great square.

I can scarcely describe the astonishment I felt at the scene before me. Every where I saw large beautiful houses, with lofty gates, regular windows, and balconies, like European dwellings; equipages, as graceful and beautiful as any that can be found in the great cities of Europe, rolled to and fro amid a busy crowd of men of various nations. Franks, in the costume of their country, were distinguished among the turbans and fez-caps of the Orientals; and tall women, in their blue gowns, wandered amidst the half-naked forms of the Arabs and Bedouins. Here a negro was running with argile behind his master, who trotted along on his noble horse; there Frankish or Egyptian ladies were to be seen mounted on asses. Coming from the dreary monotony of the quarantine-house, this sight made a peculiar impression upon me.

Scarcely had I arrived at the hotel before I hastened to the Austrian consulate, where Herr von L., the government councillor, received me very kindly. I begged this gentleman to let me know what would be the first opportunity for me to continue my journey to Cairo; I did not wish to take passage on board an English steamboat, as the charge on this vessel for the short distance of about 400 sea miles is five pounds. The councillor was polite enough to procure me a berth on board an Arabian barque, which was to start from Atfe the same evening.

I also learnt at the consulate, that Herr Sattler, the painter, had arrived by the packet-boat a few days previously, and was now at the old quarantine-house. I rode out in company with a gentleman to visit him, and was glad to find him looking very well. He was just returning from his journey to Palestine.

I found the arrangements in the old quarantine-building rather more comfortable than those in the new; the establishment is moreover nearer the town, so that it is easier to obtain the necessaries of life. On my return, my companion was so kind as to conduct me through the greater portion of the Turkish town, which appeared to be better built and more neatly kept than any city of the Turks I had yet seen. The bazaar is not handsome; it consists of wooden booths, displaying only the most ordinary articles of merchandise.

On the same day that I quitted the quarantine-house, I rode in the evening to the Nile Canal, which is twenty-four feet broad and about twenty-six miles long. A number of vessels lay there, on one of which a place had been taken for me (the smaller division of the cabin) as far as Atfe, for the sum of fifteen piastres. I at once took possession of my berth, made my arrangements for the night and for the following day, and waited hour after hour till we should depart. Late in the night I was at length told that we could not set out to-night at all. To pack up my things again, and to set off to walk to the inn, a distance of two miles, and to return next morning, would have been a rather laborious proceeding; I therefore resolved to remain on board, and sat down among the Arabs and Bedouins to eat my frugal supper, which consisted of cold provisions.

Next day I was told every half-hour that we should depart immediately, and each time I was again disappointed.

Herr von L. had wished to supply me with wine and provisions for the passage; but as I had calculated upon being in Atfe to-day at noon, I had declined his offer with many thanks. But now I had no provisions; I could not venture into the town on account of the distance, and found it quite impossible to make the sailors understand that they were to bring me some bread and baked fish from the neighbouring bazaar. At length hunger compelled me to venture out alone: I pushed through the crowd, who looked at me curiously, but suffered me to pass unmolested, and bought some provisions.

In Alexandria I procured beef and beef-soup, for the first time since my departure from Smyrna. In Alexandria and throughout the whole of Egypt the white bread is very delicious.

At four in the afternoon we at length set sail. The time had passed rapidly enough with me, for there was a great deal of bustle around this canal. Barques came and departed, took in or discharged cargo; long processions of camels moved to and fro with their drivers to fetch and carry goods; the soldiers passed by, to the sound of military music, to exercise in the neighbouring square; there was continually something new to see, so that when four o'clock arrived, I could not imagine what had become of the time.

With the exception of the crew, I was the only person on board. These vessels are long and narrow, and are fitted up with a cabin and an awning. The cabin is divided into two little rooms; the first and larger of these contains two little windows on each side. The second and smaller one is often only six feet long by five broad. The space under the awning is appropriated to the poorer class of passengers and to the servants. It is necessary to take on board, besides provisions, a little stove, wood for fuel, kitchen- utensils and articles of this kind, a supply of water. The water of the Nile is, indeed, very good and thoroughly tasteless, so that it is universally drunk in Alexandria, Cairo, and elsewhere; but it is very turbid and of a yellowish colour, so that it must be filtered to render it clear and pure. Thus it happens that even on the river we are obliged to take water with us.

Handsome country-houses with gardens skirt the sides of the canal; the finest of these belongs to a pacha, the son-in-law of Mehemet Ali. As we passed this palace I saw the Egyptian Napoleon for the first time; he is a very little old man, with a long snow-white beard; his eyes and his gestures are very animated. Several Europeans stood around him, and a number of servants, some of them clothed in Greek, others in Turkish costume. In the avenue his carriage was waiting, a splendid double-seated vehicle, with four beautiful horses, harnessed in the English style. The Franks are favourably disposed towards this despot, whose subjects cherish a very opposite feeling. His government is very lenient to Christians, while the Mussulmen are obliged to bend their necks beneath a yoke of iron slavery.

This view of villas and gardens only lasts for two hours at the most. Afterwards we continue our journey to Atfe through a very uniform and unsatisfactory region of sandy hills and plains. On the right we pass the Mariotic Sea; and on both sides lie villages of a very wretched appearance.

August 19th.

At eleven in the forenoon we reached Atfe, and had therefore travelled about 180 sea-miles in sixteen hours. Atfe is a very small town, or rather a mere heap of stones.

The landing-places were always the scenes of my chief troubles. It was seldom that I could find a Frank, and was generally obliged to address several of the bystanders before I succeeded in finding one who could speak Italian and give me the information I required. I requested to be taken at once to the Austrian consulate, where this difficulty was usually removed. This was also the case here. The consul immediately sent to inquire how I could best get to Cairo, and offered me a room in his house in the mean time. A ship was soon found, for Atfe is a harbour of some importance. The canal joins the Nile at this place; and as larger vessels are used on the stream itself, all goods are transhipped here, so that barques are continually starting for Alexandria and Cairo. In a few hours I was obliged to re-embark, and had only time to provide myself with provisions and a supply of water, and to partake of a sumptuous dinner at the consul's, whose hospitality was doubly grateful to me as I had fasted the previous day. The chief compartment of the cabin had been engaged for me, at an expense of 100 piastres. On embarking, however, I found that this place had been so filled with goods, that hardly a vacant space remained for the poor occupant. I at once hastened back to the consulate and complained of the captain, whereupon the consul sent for that worthy and desired him to clear my cabin, and to refrain from annoying me during the voyage, if he wished to be paid on our arrival at Cairo. This command was strictly obeyed, and until we reached our destination I was left in undisturbed possession of my berth. At two in the afternoon I once more set sail alone in the company of Arabs and Bedouins.

I would counsel any one who can only make this journey to Cairo once in his lifetime to do it at the end of August or the beginning of September. A more lovely picture, and one more peculiar in its character, can scarcely be imagined. In many places the plain is covered as far as the eye can trace by the Nile-sea (it can scarcely be called river in its immense expanse), and every where little islands are seen rising from the waters, covered with villages surrounded by date-palms, and other trees, while in the background the high-masted boats, with their pyramidal sails, are gliding to and fro. Numbers of sheep, goats, and poultry cover the hills, and near the shore the heads of the dark-grey buffaloes, which are here found in large herds, peer forth from the water. These creatures are fond of immersing their bodies in the cool flood, where they stand gazing at the passing ships. Here and there little plantations of twenty to thirty trees are seen, which appear, as the ground is completely overflowed, to be growing out of the Nile. The water here is much more muddy and of a darker colour than in the canal between Atfe and Alexandria. The sailors pour this water into great iron vessels, and leave it to settle and become clearer; this is, however, of little use, for it remains almost as muddy as the river. Notwithstanding this circumstance, however, this Nile-water is not at all prejudicial to health; on the contrary, the inhabitants of the valley assert that they possess the best and wholesomest water in the world. The Franks are accustomed, as I have already stated, to take filtered water with them. When the supply becomes exhausted, they have only to put a few kernels of apricots or almonds chopped small into a vessel of Nile-water to render it tolerably clear within the space of five or six hours. I learnt this art from an Arab woman during my voyage on the Nile.

The population of the region around the Nile must be very considerable, for the villages almost adjoin each other. The ground consists every where of sand, and only becomes fruitful through the mud which the Nile leaves behind after its inundation. Thus the luxuriant vegetation here only commences after the waters of the Nile have retired.

The villages cannot be called handsome, as the houses are mostly built of earth and clay, or of bricks made of the Nile mud. Man, the "crown of creation," does not appear to advantage here; the poverty, the want of cleanliness, and rude savage state of the people, cannot be witnessed without a feeling of painful emotion.

The dress of the women consists of the usual long blue garment, and the men wear nothing but a shirt reaching to the knee. Some of the women veil their faces, but others do not.

I was astonished at the difference between the fine strongly-built men and the ugly disgusting women and neglected children. In general the latter present a most lamentable appearance, with faces covered with scabs and sores, on which a quantity of flies are continually settling. Frequently also they have inflamed eyes. In spite of the oppressive heat, I remained nearly the whole day seated on the roof of my cabin, enjoying the landscape, and gazing at the moving panorama to my heart's content.

The company on board could be called good or bad; bad, because there was not a soul present to whom I could impart my feelings and sentiments on the marvels of nature around me; good, because all, but particularly the Arab women who occupied the little cabin in the forepart of the vessel, were very good-natured and attentive to me.

They wished me to accept a share of every thing they possessed, and gave me a portion of each of their dishes, which generally consisted either of pilau, beans, or cucumbers, and which I did not find palatable; when they drank coffee in the morning, the first cup was always handed to me. In return I gave them some of my provisions, all of which they liked, excepting the coffee, which had milk in it. When we landed at a village, the inhabitants would inquire by signs if I wished for any thing. I wanted some milk, eggs, and bread, but did not know how to ask for them in Arabic. I therefore had recourse to drawing; for instance, I made a portrait of a cow, gave an Arab woman a bottle and some money, and made signs to her to milk her cow and to fill my bottle. In the same way I drew a hen, and some eggs beside her; pointed to the hen with a shake of my head, and then to the eggs with a nod, counting on the woman's fingers how many she was to bring me. In this way I could always manage to get on, by limiting my wants to such objects as I could represent by drawings.

When they brought me the milk, and I explained to the Arab woman by signs that, after she had finished cooking, I wished to have the use of the fire to prepare my milk and eggs, she immediately took off her pot from the fire and compelled me, in spite of all remonstrances, to cook my dinner first. If I walked forward towards the prow to obtain a better view of the landscape, the best place was immediately vacated on my behalf; and, in short, they all behaved in such a courteous and obliging way, that these uncultivated people might have put to shame many a civilised European. They certainly, however, requested a few favours of me, which, I am ashamed to say, it cost me a great effort to grant. For instance, the oldest among them begged permission to sleep in my apartment, as they only possessed a small cabin, while I had the larger one all to myself. Then they performed their devotions, even to the preliminary washing of face and feet, in my cabin: this I permitted, as I was more on deck than below. At first these women called me Mary, imagining, probably, that every Christian lady must bear the name of the Virgin. I told them my baptismal name, which they accurately remembered; they told me theirs in return, which I very soon forgot. I mention this trifling circumstance, because I afterwards was frequently surprised at the retentive memory of these people during my journey through the desert towards the Red Sea.

August 21st.

Although I felt solitary among all the voyagers on the barque, these two days passed swiftly and agreeably away. The flatter the land grew, the broader did the lordly river become. The villages increased in size; and the huts, mostly resembling a sugar-loaf, with a number of doves roosting on its apex, wore an appearance of greater comfort. Mosques and large country-houses presently appeared; and, in short, the nearer we approached towards Cairo, the more distinct became these indications of affluence. The sand-hills appeared less frequently, though on the route between Atfe and Cairo I still saw five or six large barren places which had quite the look of deserts. Once the wind blew directly towards us from one of these burning wastes with such an oppressive influence, that I could easily imagine how dreadful the hot winds (chamsir) must be, and I no longer wondered at the continual instances of blindness among the poor inhabitants of these regions. The heat is unendurable, and the fine dust and heated particles of sand which are carried into the air by these winds cannot fail to cause inflammation of the eyes.

Little towers of masonry, on the tops of which telegraphs have been fixed, are seen at intervals along the road between Alexandria and Cairo.

Our vessel was unfortunate enough to strike several times on sand- banks, besides getting entangled among the shallows—a circumstance of frequent occurrence during the time that the Nile is rising. On these occasions I could not sufficiently admire the strength, agility, and hard-working perseverance of our sailors, who were obliged to jump overboard and push off the ship with poles, and afterwards were repeatedly compelled to drag it for half an hour together through shallow places. These people are also very expert at climbing. They could ascend without ratlines to the very tops of the slanting masts, and take in or unloose the sails. I could not repress a shudder on seeing these poor creatures hanging betwixt earth and heaven, so far above me that they appeared like dwarfs. They work with one hand, while they cling to the mast with the other. I do not think that a better, or a more active, agile, and temperate race of sailors exists than these. Their fare consists of bread or ship-biscuit in the morning, with sometimes a raw cucumber, a piece of cheese, or a handful of dates in addition. For dinner they have the same diet, and for supper they have a dish of warm beans, or a kind of broth or pilau. Roast mutton is a rare delicacy with them, and their drink is nothing but the Nile water.

During the period of the inundation, the river is twice as full of vessels as at other times. When the river is swollen, the only method of communication is by boats.

On the last day of this expedition a most beauteous spectacle awaited me—the Delta! Here the mighty Nile, which irrigates the whole country with the hundreds of canals cut from its banks through every region, divides itself into two principal branches, one of which falls into the sea at Rosetta, and the other at Damietta. If the separate aims of the river could be compared to seas, how much more does its united vastness merit the appellation!

When I was thus carried away by the beauty and grandeur of nature, when I thus saw myself placed in the midst of new and interesting scenes, it would appear to me incredible how people can exist, possessing in abundance the gifts of riches, health, and leisure time, and yet without a taste for travelling. The petty comforts of life and enjoyments of luxury are indeed worth more in the eyes of some than the opportunity of contemplating the exalted beauties of nature or the monuments of history, and of gaining information concerning the manners and customs of foreign nations. Although I was at times very badly situated, and had to encounter more hardships and disagreeables than fall to the lot of many a man, I would be thankful that I had had resolution given me to continue my wanderings whenever one of these grand spectacles opened itself before me. What, indeed, are the entertainments of a large town compared to the Delta of the Nile, and many similar scenes? The pure and perfect enjoyment afforded by the contemplation of the beauty of nature is not for a moment to be found in the ball-room or the theatre; and all the ease and luxury in the world should not buy from me my recollections of this journey.

Not far from the Delta we can behold the Libyan Desert, of which we afterwards never entirely lose sight, though we sometimes approach and sometimes recede from it. I became conscious of certain dark objects in the far distance; they developed themselves more and more, and at length I recognised in them the wonder-buildings of ancient times, the Pyramids; far behind them rises the chain of mountains, or rather hills, of Mokattam.

Evening was closing in when we at length arrived at Bulak, the harbour of Cairo. If we could have landed at once, I might, perhaps, have reached the town itself this evening; as the harbour is, however, always over-crowded with vessels, the captain is often compelled to wait for an hour before he can find a place to moor his craft. By the time I could disembark it had already grown quite dark, and the town-gates were shut. I was thus obliged to pass the night on board.

The journey from Atfe to Cairo had occupied two days and a half. This passage had been one of the most interesting, although the heat became more and more oppressive, and the burning winds of the desert were sometimes wafted over to us. The highest temperature at midday was 36 degrees, and in the shade from 24 to 25 degrees Reaumur. The sky was far less beautiful and clear than in Syria; it was here frequently overcast with white clouds.


Cairo—Quarrel with the captain—Rapacity of the beggars—The custom-house—The consulate—Aspect of Cairo—Narrow and crowded streets—Costumes—The mad-house—Disgusting exhibition—Joseph's well—Palace of Mehemet Ali—Dates—Mosques at Cairo—Excursion to the pyramids of Gizeh—Gizeh—Eggs hatched by artificial heat— Ascent of the pyramids—The sphynx—Return to Cairo.

August 22d.

The aspect of this great Egyptian metropolis is not nearly so imposing as I had fancied it to be; its situation is too flat, and from on board we can only discern scattered portions of its extended area. The gardens skirting the shore are luxuriant and lovely.

At my debarcation, and on the road to the consulate, I met with several adventures, which I relate circumstantially, trifling as they may appear, in order to give a hint as to the best method of dealing with the people here.

At the very commencement I became involved in a dispute with the captain of the vessel. I had still to pay him three dollars and a half, and gave him four dollars, in the expectation that he would return me my change. This, however, he refused to do, and persisted in keeping the half-dollar. He said it should be divided as backsheesh among the crew; but I am sure they would have seen nothing of it. Luckily, however, he was stupid enough not to put the money in his pocket, but kept it open in his hand. I quickly snatched a coin from him, and put it into my pocket, explaining to him at the same time that he should not have it back until he had given me my change, adding that I would give the men a gratuity myself. He shouted and stormed, and kept on asking for the money. I took no heed of him, but continued quietly packing up my things. Seeing, at length, that nothing was to be done with me, he gave me back my half-dollar; whereupon we parted good friends. This affair concluded, I had to look about for a couple of asses; one for myself, and another for my luggage. If I had stepped ashore I should have been almost torn in pieces by contending donkey-drivers, each of whom would have lugged me in a different direction. I therefore remained quietly for a time in my cabin, until the drivers ceased to suspect that any one was there. In the meantime I had been looking upon the shore from the cabin-window, and speculating upon which animal I should take; then I quickly rushed out, and before the proprietors of the long-eared steeds were aware of my intention, I had seized one by the bridle and pointed to another. This concluded the matter at once; for the proprietors of the chosen animals defended me from the rest, and returned with me to the boat to carry my baggage.

A fellow came up and arranged my little trunk on the back of the ass. For this trifling service I gave him a piastre; but observing that I was alone, he probably thought he could soon intimidate me into giving whatever he demanded. So he returned me my piastre, and demanded four. I took the money, and told him (for fortunately he understood a little Italian) that if he felt dissatisfied with this reward he might accompany me to the consulate, where his four piastres would be paid so soon as it appeared that he had earned them. He shouted and blustered, just as the captain had done; but I remained deaf, and rode forward towards the custom-house. Then he came down to three piastres, then to two, and finally said he would be content with one, which I threw to him. When I reached the custom-house, hands were stretched out towards me from all sides; I gave something to the chief person, and let the remaining ones clamour on. When, after experiencing these various annoyances, I rode on towards the town, a new obstacle arose. My Arab guide inquired whither he should conduct me. I endeavoured in vain to explain to him where I wanted to go; he could not be made to understand me. Nothing now remained for me but to accost every well-dressed Oriental whom I met, until I should find one who could understand either French or Italian. The third person I addressed fortunately knew something of the latter language, and I begged him to tell my guide to take me to the Austrian consulate. This was done, and my troubles concluded.

A ride of three quarters of an hour in a very broad handsome street, planted with a double row of a kind of acacia altogether strange to me, among a crowd of men, camels, asses, etc., brought me to the town, the streets of which are in general narrow. There is so much noise and crowding every where, that one would suppose a tumult had broken out. But as I approached, the immense mass always opened as if by magic, and I pursued my way without hindrance to the consulate, which lies hidden in a little narrow blind alley.

I went immediately to the office, and presented myself to the consul, with the request that he would recommend me a respectable inn of the second class. Herr Chamgion, the consul, interested himself for me with heartfelt kindness; he immediately despatched a kavasse to an innkeeper whom he knew, paid my guide, and recommended the host strongly to take good care of me; in short, he behaved towards me with true Christian kindliness. His house was ever open to me, and I could go to him with any petition I wished to make. It is a real pleasure to me to be able publicly once more to thank this worthy man.

I had been furnished with a letter of recommendation to a certain Herr Palm. The consul kindly sent at once for this gentleman, who soon appeared, and accompanied me to the inn.

I requested Herr P. to recommend me a servant who could either speak Italian or French, and afterwards to tell me the best method to set about seeing the lions of the town. Herr P. very willingly undertook to do so; and after the lapse of an hour, the dragoman had already been found, and two asses stood before the door to carry me and my servant through the whole town.

The animated bustle and hum of business in the streets of Cairo is very great. I can even say that in the most populous cities of Italy I never saw any thing I could compare to it; and certainly this is a bold assertion.

Many of the streets are so narrow, that when loaded camels meet, one party must always be led into a by-street until the other has passed. In these narrow lanes I continually encountered crowds of passengers, so that I really felt quite anxious, and wondered how I should find my way through. People mounted on horses and donkeys tower above the moving mass; but the asses themselves appear like pigmies beside the high, lofty-looking camels, which do not lose their proud demeanour even under their heavy burdens. Men often slip by under the heads of the camels. The riders keep as close as possible to the houses, and the mass of pedestrians winds dexterously between. There are water-carriers, vendors of goods, numerous blind men groping their way with sticks, and bearing baskets with fruit, bread, and other provisions for sale; numerous children, some of them running about the streets, and others playing before the house-doors; and lastly, the Egyptian ladies, who ride on asses to pay their visits, and come in long processions with their children and negro servants. Let the reader further imagine the cries of the vendors, the shouting of the drivers and passengers, the terrified screams of flying women and children, the quarrels which frequently arise, and the peculiar noisiness and talkativeness of these people, and he can fancy what an effect this must have on the nerves of a stranger. I was in mortal fear at every step, and on reaching home in the evening felt quite unwell; but as I never once saw an accident occur, I at length accustomed myself to the hubbub, and could follow my guide where the crowd was thickest without feeling uneasy.

The streets, or, as they may be more properly called, the lanes of Cairo, are sprinkled with water several times in the day; fountains and large vessels of water are also placed every where for the convenience of the passers-by. In the broad streets straw-mats are hung up to keep off the sun's rays.

The richer class of people wear the Oriental garb, with the exception that the women merely have their heads and faces wrapped in a light muslin veil; they wear also a kind of mantilla of black silk, which gives them a peculiar appearance. When they came riding along, and the wind caught this garment and spread it out, they looked exactly like bats with outstretched wings.

Many of the Franks also dress in the Oriental style; the Fellahs go almost naked, and their women only wear a single blue garment.

Here, as throughout all the East, the rich people are always seen on horseback. I was not so much pleased with the Egyptian as with the Syrian horses, for the former appeared to me less slim and gracefully built.

The population of Cairo is estimated at 200,000, and is a mixed one, consisting of Arabs, Mamelukes, Turks, Berbers, Negroes, Bedouins, Christians, Greeks, Jews, etc. Thanks to the powerful arm of Mehemet Ali, they all live peacefully together.

Cairo contains 25,000 houses, which are as unsightly and irregular as the streets. They are built of clay, unburnt bricks, and stones, and have little narrow entrances; the unsymmetrical windows are furnished with wooden shutters impenetrable to the eye. The interiors are decorated like the houses in Damascus, but in a less costly style; neither is there such an abundance of fresh water at Cairo.

The Jews' quarter is the most hideous of all; the houses are dirty, and the streets so narrow that two persons can only just push by each other. The entire town is surrounded by walls and towers, guarded by a castle, and divided into several quarters, separated from each other by gates, which are closed after sunset. On the heights around Cairo are to be seen some castles from the time of the Saracens.

As I rode to and fro in the town, my guide suddenly stopped, bought a quantity of bread, and motioned me to follow him. I thought he was going to take me to a menagerie, and that this bread was intended for the wild animals. We entered a courtyard with windows all round reaching to the ground, and strengthened with iron bars. Stopping before the first window, my servant threw in a piece of bread; what was my horror when I saw, instead of a lion or tiger, a naked emaciated old man rush forth, seize the bread, and devour it ravenously. I was in the mad-house. In the midst of each dark and filthy dungeon is fixed a stone, with two iron chains, to which one or two of these wretched creatures are attached by an iron ring fastened round the neck. There they sit staring with fearfully distorted faces, their hair and beard unkempt, their bodies emaciated, and the marrow of life drying up within them. In these foul and loathsome dens they must pine until the Almighty in his mercy loosens the chains which bind them to their miserable existence by a welcome death. There is not one instance of a cure, and truly the treatment to which they are subjected is calculated to drive a half-witted person quite mad. And yet the Europeans can praise Mehemet Ali! Ye wretched madmen, ye poor fellahs, are ye too ready to join in this praise?

Quitting this abode of misery, my dragoman led me to "Joseph's well," which is deeply hewn out of the rock. I descended more than two hundred and seventy steps, and had got half-way to the bottom of the gigantic structure. On looking downward into its depths a feeling of giddiness came over me.

The new palace of Mehemet Ali is rather a handsome building, arranged chiefly in the European style. The rooms, or rather the halls, are very lofty, and are either tastefully painted or hung with silk, tapestry, etc. Large pier-glasses multiply the objects around, rich divans are attached to the walls, and costly tables, some of marble, others of inlaid work, enriched with beautiful paintings, stand in the rooms, in one of which I even noticed a billiard-table. The dining-hall is quite European in its character. In the centre stands a large table; two sideboards are placed against one side of the wall, and handsome chairs stand opposite. In one of the rooms hangs an oil-painting representing Ibrahim Pasha, {236} Mehemet Ali's son.

This palace stands in the midst of a little garden, neither remarkable for the rarity of the plants it contains, nor for the beauty of their arrangement. The views from some of the apartments, as well as that from the garden, are very lovely.

Opposite the palace a great mosque is being built as a mausoleum for Mehemet Ali. The despot probably reckons on having some years yet to live, for much remains to be done before the beautiful structure is completed. The pillars and the walls of the mosque are covered with the most splendid marble, of a yellowish-white colour.

The before-mentioned buildings, namely, Joseph's well, the palace and gardens, and the mosque, are all situate on a high rock, to which a single broad road leads from Cairo. Here we behold a threefold sea, namely, of houses, of the Nile, and a sea of sand, on which the lofty Pyramids rise in the distance like isolated rocks. The mountains of Mokattam close the background, and a number of lovely gardens and plantations of date-palms surround the town. With one glance we can behold the most striking contrasts. A wreath of the most luxurious vegetation runs round the town, and beyond lies the dreary monotony of the desert. The colour of the Nile is so exactly similar to that of the sand forming its shores, that at a distance the line of demarcation cannot be traced.

On my way homewards I met several fellahs carrying large baskets full of dates, and stopped one of them, in order to purchase some of this celebrated fruit. Unfortunately for me, the dates were still unripe, hard, of a brick-red colour, and so unpalatable that I could not eat one of them. A week or ten days afterwards I was able to procure some ripe ones; they were of a brown colour like the dried fruit, the tender skin could easily be peeled off, and I liked them better than dried dates, because they were more pulpy and not so sweet. A much more precious fruit, the finest production of Egypt and Syria, almost superior to the pine-apple in taste, is the banana, which is so delicate that it almost melts in the mouth. This fruit cannot be dried, and is therefore never exported. Sugar melons and peaches are to be had in abundance, but their flavour is not very good. I also preferred the Alexandrian grape to that of Cairo.

The bazaars, through which we rode in all directions, displayed nothing very remarkable in manufactures or in productions of nature and art.

From first to last I spent a week at Cairo, and occupied the whole of my time from morning till night in viewing the curiosities of the town.

I only saw two mosques, that of Sultan Hassan and of Sultan Amru. Before I was permitted to enter the first of these edifices, they compelled me to take off my shoes, and walk in my stockings over a courtyard paved with great stones. The stones had become so heated by the solar rays, that I was obliged to run fast, to avoid scorching the soles of my feet. I cannot give an opinion touching the architectural beauty of this building, which is built in such a simple style that none but a connoisseur would discover its merits. I was better pleased with the mosque of Sultan Amru, which contains several halls, and is supported on numerous columns. The mosques in Cairo struck me as having a more ancient and venerable appearance than those of Constantinople, while the latter, on the other hand, were larger and more elegant.

I also visited the island of Rodda, which is worthy the name of a beautiful garden. It lies opposite to old Cairo, on the Nile, and is said to be a favourite walk of the townspeople, though I was there twice without meeting any one. The garden is spacious, and contains all kinds of tropical productions: here I saw the sugar- cane, which greatly resembles the stem of the Indian maize; the cotton-tree, growing to a height of five or six feet; the banana- tree, the short-stemmed date-palm, the coffee-tree, and many others. Flowers were also there in quantities which must be cultivated with great care in the hot-houses of my native country. The whole of this collection of plants is very tastefully arranged, and shines forth in the height of luxuriant beauty. It is customary to lay the entire island under water every evening by means of artificial canals. This system is universally carried out throughout the Egyptian plantations, and is, in fact, the only method by which vegetation can be preserved in its freshest green in spite of the burning heat. The care of this fairy grove is entrusted to a German ornamental gardener; unfortunately I was informed of this fact too late, otherwise I should have visited my countryman and requested an explanation of many things which appeared strange to me.

In the midst of the garden is a beautiful grotto, ornamented within and without by a great variety of shells from the Red Sea, which give it a most striking appearance. At this spot, towards which many paths lead, all strewed with minute shells instead of gravel, Moses is said to have been found in his cradle of bulrushes(?). Immediately adjoining the garden we find a summer residence belonging to Mehemet Ali.

The well shewn as that into which Joseph was thrust by his brethren lies about two miles distant from the town, in a village on the road to Suez. Half a mile off a very large and venerable sycamore-tree was pointed out to me as the one in the shade of which the holy family rested on their way to Egypt; and a walk of another quarter of a mile brings us to the garden of Boghos Bey, in the midst of which stands one of the finest and largest obelisks of Upper Egypt: it is still in good condition, and completely covered with hieroglyphics. The garden, however, offers nothing remarkable. The ancient city of Heliopolis is said to have been built not far off; but at the present day not a vestige of it remains.

The road to this garden already lies partly in the desert. At first the way winds through avenues of trees and past gardens; but soon the vast desert extends to the right, while beautiful orange and citron groves still skirt the left side of the path. Here we continually meet herds of camels, but a dromedary is a rare sight.


August 25th, 1842.

At four in the afternoon I quitted Cairo, crossed two arms of the Nile, and a couple of hours afterwards arrived safely at Gizeh. As the Nile had overflowed several parts of the country, we were compelled frequently to turn out of our way, and sometimes to cross canals and ride through water; now and then, where it was too deep for our asses, we were obliged to be carried across. As there is no inn at Gizeh I betook myself to Herr Klinger, to whom I brought a letter of recommendation from Cairo. Herr K. is a Bohemian by birth, and stands in the service of the viceroy of Egypt, as musical instructor to the young military band. I was made very welcome here, and Herr Klinger seemed quite rejoiced at seeing a visitor with whom he could talk in German. Our conversation was of Beethoven and Mozart, of Strauss and Lanne. The fame of the bravura composers of the present day, Liszt and Thalberg, had not yet penetrated to these regions. I requested my kind host to shew me the establishment for hatching eggs that exists at Gizeh. He immediately sent for the superintendent, who happened however to be absent, and to have locked up the keys. In this place about 8000 eggs are hatched by artificial warmth during the months of March and April. The eggs are laid on large flat plates, which are continually kept at an equal temperature by heat applied below the surface: they are turned several times during the day. As the thousands of little chickens burst their shells, they are sold, not by number or weight, but by the measure. This egg-hatching house has the effect of rendering poultry plentiful and cheap.

After chatting away the evening very pleasantly I sought my couch, tired with my ride and with the heat, and rejoicing at the sight of the soft divan, which seemed to smile upon me, and promise rest and strength for the following day. But as I was about to take possession of my couch, I noticed on the wall a great number of black spots. I took the candle to examine what it could be, and nearly dropped the light with horror on discovering that the wall was covered with bugs. I had never seen such a disgusting sight. All hopes of rest on the divan were now effectually put to flight. I sat down on a chair, and waited until every thing was perfectly still; then I slipped into the entrance-hall, and lay down on the stones, wrapped in my cloak.

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