A Visit to the Holy Land
by Ida Pfeiffer
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Though I had escaped from one description of vermin, I became a prey to innumerable gnats. I had passed many uncomfortable nights during my journey, but this was worse than any thing I had yet endured.

However, this was only an additional inducement for rising early, and long before sunrise I was ready to continue my journey. Before daybreak I took leave of my kind host, and rode with my servant towards the gigantic structures. To-day we were again obliged frequently to go out of our route on account of the rising of the Nile; owing to this delay, two hours elapsed before we reached the broad arm of the Nile, dividing us from the Libyan desert, on which the Pyramids stand, and over which two Arabs carried me. This was one of the most disagreeable things that can be imagined. Two large powerful men stood side by side; I mounted on their shoulders, and held fast by their heads, while they supported my feet in a horizontal position above the waters, which at some places reached almost to their armpits, so that I feared every moment that I should sit in the water. Besides this, my supporters continually swayed to and fro, because they could only withstand the force of the current by a great exertion of strength, and I was apprehensive of falling off. This disagreeable passage lasted above a quarter of an hour. After wading for another fifteen minutes through deep sand, we arrived at the goal of our little journey.

The two colossal pyramids are of course visible directly we quit the town, and we keep them almost continually in sight. But here the expectations I had cherished were again disappointed, for the aspect of these giant structures did not astonish me greatly. Their height appears less remarkable than it otherwise would, from the circumstance that their base is buried in sand, and thus hidden from view. There is also neither a tree nor a hut, nor any other object which could serve to display their huge proportions by the force of contrast.

As it was still early in the day and not very hot, I preferred ascending the pyramid before venturing into its interior. My servant took off my rings and concealed them carefully, telling me that this was a very necessary precaution, as the fellows who take the travellers by the hands to assist them in mounting the pyramids have such a dexterous knack of drawing the rings from their fingers, that they seldom perceive their loss until too late.

I took two Arabs with me, who gave me their hands, and pulled me up the very large stones. Any one who is at all subject to dizziness would do very wrong in attempting this feat, for he might be lost without remedy. Let the reader picture to himself a height of 500 feet, without a railing or a regular staircase by which to make the ascent. At one angle only the immense blocks of stone have been hewn in such a manner that they form a flight of steps, but a very inconvenient one, as many of these stone blocks are above four feet in height, and offer no projection on which you can place your foot in mounting. The two Arabs ascended first, and then stretched out their hands to pull me from one block to another. I preferred climbing over the smaller blocks without assistance. In three quarters of an hour's time I had gained the summit of the pyramid.

For a long time I stood lost in thought, and could hardly realise the fact that I was really one of the favoured few who are happy enough to be able to contemplate the most stupendous and imperishable monument ever erected by human hands. At the first moment I was scarcely able to gaze down from the dizzy height into the deep distance; I could only examine the pyramid itself, and seek to familiarise myself with the idea that I was not dreaming. Gradually, however, I came to myself, and contemplated the landscape which lay extended beneath me. From my elevated position I could form a better estimate of the gigantic structure, for here the fact that the base was buried in sand did not prejudice the general effect. I saw the Nile flowing far beneath me, and a few Bedouins, whom curiosity had attracted to the spot, looked like very pigmies. In ascending I had seen the immense blocks of stone singly, and ceased to marvel that these monuments are reckoned among the seven wonders of the world.

On the castle the view had been fine, but here, where the prospect was bounded only by the horizon and by the Mokattam mountains, it is grander by far. I could follow the windings of the river, with its innumerable arms and canals, until it melted into the far horizon, which closed the picture on this side. Many blooming gardens, and the large extensive town with its environs; the immense desert, with its plains and hills of sand, and the lengthened mountain-range of Mokattam,—all lay spread before me; and for a long time I sat gazing around me, and wishing that the dear ones at home had been with me, to share in my wonder and delight.

But now the time came not only to look down, but to descend. Most people find this even more difficult than the ascent; but with me the contrary was the case. I never grow giddy, and so I advanced in the following manner, without the aid of the Arabs. On the smaller blocks I sprang from one to the other; when a stone of three or four feet in height was to be encountered, I let myself glide gently down; and I accomplished my descent with so much grace and agility, that I reached the base of the pyramid long before my servant. Even the Arabs expressed their pleasure at my fearlessness on this dangerous passage.

After eating my breakfast and resting for a short time, I proceeded to explore the interior. At first I was obliged to cross a heap of sand and rubbish; for we have to go downwards towards the entrance, which is so low and narrow that we cannot always stand upright. I could not have passed along the passage leading into the interior if the Arabs had not helped me, for it is so steep and so smoothly paved that, in spite of my conductor's assistance, I slid rather than walked. The apartment of the king is more spacious, and resembles a small hall. On one side stands a little empty sarcophagus without a lid. The walls of the chambers and of the passages are covered with large and beautifully polished slabs of granite and marble. The remaining passages, or rather dens, which are shown here, I did not see. It may be very interesting for learned men and antiquarians thus to search every corner; but for a woman like myself, brought hither only by an insatiable desire to travel, and capable of judging of the beauties of nature and art only by her own simple feelings, it was enough to have ascended the pyramid of Cheops, and to have seen something of its interior. This pyramid is said to be the loftiest of all. It stands on a rock 150 feet in height, which is invisible, being altogether buried in sand. The height of the vast structure is above 500 feet. It was erected by Cheops more than 3000 years ago, and 100,000 men are said to have been employed in its construction for twenty-six years. It is a most interesting structure, built of immense masses of rock, fixed together with a great deal of art, and seemingly calculated to last an eternity. They look so strong and so well preserved, that many travellers will no doubt repair hither in coming generations, and continue the researches commenced long ago.

The Sphynx, a statue of most colossal dimensions, situate at no great distance from the great pyramid, is so covered with sand that only the head and a small portion of the bust remain visible. The head alone is twenty-two feet in height.

After walking about and inspecting every thing, I commenced my journey back. On the way I once more visited Herr Klinger, strengthened myself with a hearty meal, and arrived safely at Cairo late in the evening. Here I wished to take my little purse out of my pocket, and found that it was gone. Luckily I had only taken one collonato (Spanish dollar) with me. No one can imagine what dexterity the Bedouins and Arabs possess in the art of stealing. I always kept a sharp eye upon my effects, and notwithstanding my vigilance several articles were pilfered from me, and my purse must also have been stolen during this excursion. The loss was very disagreeable to me because it involved that of my box-key. I was, however, fortunate in finding an expert Arabian locksmith, who opened my chest and made me a new key, on which occasion I had another opportunity of seeing how careful it is necessary to be in all our dealings with these people to avoid being cheated. The key locked and unlocked my box well, and I paid for it; but immediately afterwards observed that it was very slightly joined in the middle, and would presently break. The Arab's tools still lay on the ground; I immediately seized one of them, and told the man I would not give it up until he had made me a new key. It was in vain that he assured me he could not work without his tools; he would not give my money back, and I kept the implement: by this means I obtained from him a new and a good key.


Christian churches at Cairo—The Esbekie-square—Theatre—Howling dervishes—Mashdalansher, the birthday of Mahomet—Procession and religious ceremony—Shubra—Excursion through the desert to Suez— Hardships of the journey—Scenes in the desert—The camel—Caravans— Mirage—The Red Sea—Suez—Bedouin camp—Quarrel with the camel- driver—Departure for Alexandria.

I visited many Christian churches, the finest among which was the Greek one. On my way thither I saw many streets where there can hardly have been room for a horseman to pass. The road to the Armenian church leads through such narrow lanes and gates, that we were compelled to leave our asses behind; there was hardly room for two people to pass each other.

On the other hand, I had nowhere seen a more spacious square than the Esbekie-place in Cairo. The square in Padua is perhaps the only one that can compare with it in point of size; but this place looks like a complete chaos. Miserable houses and ruined huts surround it; and here and there we sometimes come upon a part of an alley or an unfinished canal. The centre is very uneven, and is filled with building materials, such as stones, wood, bricks, and beams. The largest and handsomest house in this square is remarkable as having been inhabited by Napoleon during his residence at Cairo: it is now converted into a splendid hotel.

Herr Chamgion, the consul, was kind enough to send me a card of invitation for the theatre. The building looks like a private house, and contains a gallery capable of accommodating three or four hundred people; this gallery is devoted to the use of the ladies. The performers were all amateurs; they acted an Italian comedy in a very creditable manner. The orchestra comprised only four musicians. At the conclusion of the second act the consul's son, a boy of twelve years, played some variations on the violin very prettily.

The women, all natives of the Levant, were very elegantly dressed; they wore the European garb, white muslin dresses with their hair beautifully braided and ornamented with flowers. Nearly all the women and girls were handsome, with complexions of a dazzling whiteness, which we rarely see equalled in Europe. The reason of this is, perhaps, that they always stay in their houses, and avoid exposing themselves to the sun and wind.

The following day I visited the abode of the howling dervishes, in whom I took a lively interest since I had seen their brethren at Constantinople. The hall, or rather the mosque, in which they perform their devotions is very splendid. I was not allowed here to stand among the men as I had done at Constantinople, but was conducted to a raised gallery, from which I could look down through a grated window.

The style of devotion and excitement of these dervishes is like that I had witnessed at Constantinople, without being quite so wild in its character. Not one of them sank exhausted, and the screeching and howling were not so loud. Towards the end of their performance many of the dervishes seized a small tambourine, on which they beat and produced a most diabolical music.

In the slave-market there was but a meagre selection; all the wares had been bought, and a new cargo of these unfortunates was daily expected. I pretended that I wished to purchase a boy and a girl, in order to gain admittance into the private department. Here I saw a couple of negro girls of most uncommon beauty. I had not deemed it possible to find any thing so perfect. Their skin was of a velvety black, and shone with a peculiar lustre. Their teeth were beautifully formed and of dazzling whiteness, their eyes large and lustrous, and their lips thinner than we usually find them among these people. They wore their hair neatly parted, and arranged in pretty curls round the head. Poor creatures, who knows into what hands they might fall! They bowed their heads in anguish, without uttering a syllable. The sight of the slave-market here inspired me with a feeling of deep melancholy. The poor creatures did not seem so careless and merry as those whom I had seen on the market-place at Constantinople. In Cairo the slaves seemed badly kept; they lay in little tents, and were driven out, when a purchaser appeared, very much in the manner of cattle. They were only partially clothed in some old rags, and looked exhausted and unhappy.

During my short stay at Cairo one of the chief feasts of the Mahommedans—namely, the Mashdalansher, or birthday of the Prophet— occurred. This feast is celebrated on a great open space outside the town. A number of large tents are erected; they are open in front, and beneath their shelter all kinds of things are carried on. In one tent, Mahommedans are praying; in another, a party of dervishes throw themselves with their faces to the ground and call upon Allah; while in a third, a juggler or storyteller may be driving his trade. In the midst of all stood a large tent, the entrance to which was concealed by curtains. Here the "bayaderes" were dancing; any one can obtain admission by paying a trifling sum. Of course I went in to see these celebrated dancers. There were, however, only two pairs; two boys were elegantly clothed in a female garb, richly decorated with gold coins. They looked very pretty and delicate, so that I really thought they were girls. The dance itself is very monotonous, slow, and wearisome; it consists only of some steps to and fro, accompanied by some rather indecorous movements of the upper part of the body. These gestures are said to be very difficult, as the dancer must stand perfectly still, and only move the upper part of his person. The music consisted of a tambourine, a flageolet, and a bagpipe. Much has been written concerning the indecency of these dances; but I am of opinion that many of our ballets afford much greater cause of complaint. It may, however, be that other dances are performed of which the general public are not allowed to be spectators; but I only speak of what is done openly. I would also by far prefer a popular festival in the East to a fair in our highly-civilised states. The Oriental feasts were to me a source of much enjoyment, for the people always behaved most decorously. They certainly shouted, and pushed, and elbowed each other like an European mob; but no drunken men were to be seen, and it was very seldom that a serious quarrel occurred. The commonest man, too, would never think of offering an insult to one of the opposite sex. I should feel no compunction in sending a young girl to this festival, though I should never think of letting her go to the fair held at Vienna on St. Bridget's day.

The people were assembled in vast numbers, and the crowd was very great, yet we could pass every where on our donkeys.

At about three o'clock my servant sought out an elevated place for me, for the great spectacle was soon to come, and the crushing and bustle had already reached their highest pitch. At length a portly priest could be descried riding along on a splendid horse; before him marched eight or ten dervishes with flags flying, and behind him a number of men, among whom were also many dervishes. In the midst of the square the procession halted; a few soldiers pushed their way among the people, whom they forced to stand back and leave a road. Whenever the spectators did not obey quickly, a stick was brought into action, which soon established order in a most satisfactory manner.

The procession now moved on once more, the standard-bearers and dervishes making all kinds of frantic gestures, as though they had just escaped from a madhouse. On reaching the place where the spectators formed a lane, the dervishes and several other men threw themselves down with their faces to the ground in a long row, with their heads side by side. And then—oh horror!—the priest rode over the backs of these miserable men as upon a bridge. Then they all sprang up again as though nothing had happened, and rejoined the advancing train with their former antics and grimaces. One man stayed behind, writhing to and fro as if his back had been broken, but in a few moments' time he went away as unconcernedly as his comrades. Each of the actors in this scene considers himself extremely fortunate in having attained to such a distinction, and this feeling even extends to his relations and friends.


One afternoon I paid a visit to the beautiful garden and country- house of the Viceroy of Egypt. A broad handsome street leads between alleys of sycamores, and the journey occupies about an hour and a half. Immediately upon my arrival I was conducted to an out- building, in the yard belonging to which a fine large elephant was to be shewn. I had already seen several of these creatures, but never such a fine specimen as this. Its bulk was truly marvellous; its body clean and smooth, and of a dark-brown colour.

The park is most lovely; and the rarest plants are here seen flourishing in the open air, in the fulness of bloom and beauty, beside those we are accustomed to see every day. On the whole, however, I was better pleased with the garden at Rodda. The palace, too, is very fine. The ceilings of the rooms are lofty, and richly ornamented with gilding, paintings, and marble. The rooms appropriated to the viceroy's consort are no less magnificent; the ascent to them is by a broad staircase on each side. On the ground- floor is situate the favourite apartment of the autocrat of Cairo, furnished in the style of the reception-halls at Damascus. A fountain of excellent water diffuses a delicious coolness around. In the palace itself we find several large cages for parrots and other beautiful birds. What pleased me most of all was, however, the incomparable kiosk, lying in the garden at some distance from the palace. It is 130 paces long and 100 broad, surrounded by arcades of glorious pillars. This kiosk contains in its interior a large and beautiful fountain; and at the four corners of the building are terraces, from which the water falls in the form of little cataracts, afterwards uniting with the fountain, and shooting upwards in the shape of a mighty pillar. All things around us, the pavilion and the pillars, the walls and the fountain, are alike covered with beautiful marble of a white or light-brown colour; the pavilion is even arranged so that it can be lighted with gas.

From this paradise of the living I rode to the abode of the dead, the celebrated "world of graves," which is to be seen in the desert. Here are to be found a number of ancient sepulchres, but most of them resemble ruins, and to find out their boasted beauty is a thing left to the imagination of every traveller. I only admired the sepulchre of Mehemet Ali's two sons, in which the bones of his wife also rest: this is a beautiful building of stone; five cupolas rise above the magnificent chambers where the sarcophagi are deposited.

The petrified date-wood lies about eight miles distant from Cairo; I rode out there, but did not find much to see, excepting here and there some fragments of stems and a few petrifactions lying about. It is said that the finest part of this "petrified wood" begins some miles away; but I did not penetrate so far.

During my residence in Cairo the heat once reached 36 degrees Reaumur, and yet I found it much more endurable than I had expected. I was not annoyed at all by insects or vermin; but I was obliged to be careful not to leave any provisions in my room throughout the night. An immense swarm of minute ants would seize upon every kind of eatable, particularly bread. One evening I left a roll upon the table, and the next morning found it half eaten away, and covered with ants within and without. It is here an universal custom to place the feet of the tables in little dishes filled with water, to keep off these insects.


It had originally been my intention to stay at Cairo a week at the furthest, and afterwards to return to Alexandria. But the more I saw, the more my curiosity became excited, and I felt irresistibly impelled to proceed. I had now travelled in almost every way, but I had not yet tried an excursion on a camel. I therefore made inquiry as to the distance, danger, and expense of a journey to Suez on the Red Sea. The distance was a thirty-six hours' journey, the danger was said to be nil, and the expense they estimated at about 250 piastres.

I therefore hired two strong camels, one for me, the other for my servant and the camel-driver, and took nothing with me in the way of provisions but bread, dates, a piece of roast meat, and hardboiled eggs. Skins of water were hung at each side of the camels, for we had to take a supply which would last us the journey and during our return.

If we ride every day for twelve hours, this journey occupies six days, there and back. But as I was unable to depart until the afternoon of the 26th, and was obliged to be in Alexandria at latest by the 30th, in order not to miss the steamer, I had only four days and a half to accomplish it in. Thus this excursion was the most fatiguing I had ever undertaken.

At four in the afternoon I rode through the town-gate, where the camels were waiting for us; we mounted them and commenced our journey.

The desert begins at the town-gates, but for the first few miles we have a sight of some very fruitful country on the left, until at length we leave town and trees behind us, and with them all the verdure, and find ourselves surrounded on all sides by a sea of sand.

For the first four or five hours I was not ill-pleased with this mode of travelling. I had plenty of room on my camel, and could sit farther back or forward as I chose, and had provisions and a bottle of water at my side. Besides this, the heat was not oppressive; I felt very comfortable, and could look down from my high throne almost with a feeling of pride upon the passing caravans. Even the swaying motion of the camel, which causes in some travellers a feeling of sickness and nausea like that produced by a sea-voyage, did not affect me. But after a few hours I began to feel the fatigues and discomforts of a journey of this kind. The swinging motion pained and fatigued me, as I had no support against which I could lean. The desire to sleep also arose within me, and it can be imagined how uncomfortable I felt. But I was resolved to go to Suez; and if all my hardships had been far worse, I would not have turned back. I summoned all my fortitude, and rode without halting for fifteen hours, from four in the afternoon until seven the next morning.

During the night we passed several trains of camels, some in motion, some at rest, often consisting of more than a hundred. We were not exposed to the least annoyance, although we had attached ourselves to no caravan, but were pursuing our way alone.

From Cairo to Suez posts are established at every five or six hours' journey, and at each of these posts there stands a little house of two rooms for the convenience of travellers. These huts were built by an English innkeeper established at Cairo; but they can only be used by very rich people, as the prices charged are most exorbitant. Thus, for instance, a bed for one night costs a hundred piastres, a little chicken twenty, and a bottle of water two piastres. The generality of travellers encamp before the house, and I followed the same plan, lying down for an hour in the sand while the camels ate their scanty meal. My health and bodily strength are, I am happy to say, so excellent, that I am ready after a very short rest to encounter new fatigues. After this hour of repose I once more mounted my camel to continue my journey.

August 27th.

It may easily be imagined that the whole scene by which we are here surrounded has over it an air of profound and deathlike stillness. The sea, where we behold nothing but water around us, presents more of life to divert the mind. The very rushing and splash of the wheels, the bounding waves, the bustle of bending or reefing sails, and the crowding of people on the steamer, brings varied pictures to temper the monotony around. Even the ride through the stony deserts which I had traversed in Syria has not so much sameness, for there we at least hear the tramp of the horse and the sound of many a rolling stone; the traveller's attention is, besides, kept continually on the stretch in guiding each step that his horse takes, to avoid the risk of a fall. But all this is wanting in a journey through a sandy desert. No bird hovers in the air, not a butterfly is here to gladden the eye, not even an insect or a worm crawls on the ground; not a living creature is, in fact, to be seen, but the little vultures preying on the carcasses of fallen camels. Even the tread of the heavy-footed camel is muffled by the deep sand, and nothing is ever heard but the moaning of these poor animals when their driver forces them to lie down to take off their burden; most probably the exertion of stooping hurts them. The driver beats the camel on the knee with a stick, and pulls its head towards him by a rope fastened to it like a halter. During this operation the rider must hold very fast in order not to fall off, for suddenly the creature drops on its fore-knees, then on its hind legs, and at length sits completely down on the ground. When you mount the animal again, it becomes necessary to keep a vigilant eye upon him, for as soon as he feels your foot on his neck he wishes to rise.

As I have already said, we see nothing on this journey but many and large companies of camels, which march one behind the other, while their drivers shorten the way with dreary inharmonious songs. Half- devoured carcasses of these "ships of the desert" lie every where, with jackals and vultures gnawing at them. Even living camels are sometimes seen staggering about, which have been left to starve by their masters as unfit for further service. I shall never forget the piteous look of one of these poor creatures which I saw dragging itself to and fro in the desert, anxiously seeking for food and drink. What a cruel being is man! Why could he not put an end to the poor camel's pain by a blow with a knife? One would imagine that the air in the vicinity of these fallen animals was poisoned; but here this is less the case than it would be in more temperate regions, for the pure air and the great heat of the desert rather dry up than decompose corpses.

From the same cause our piece of roast beef was still good on the fifth day. The hard-boiled eggs, which my servant packed so clumsily that they got smashed in the very first hour, did not become foul. Both meat and eggs were shrunk and dried up. On the third day the white bread had become as hard as ship-biscuit, so that we had to break it up and soak it in water. Our drinking water became worse day by day, and smelt abominably of the leathern receptacles in which we were compelled to keep it. Until we reached Suez our poor camels got not a drop to drink, and their food consisted of a scanty meal of bad provender once a day.

At eight in the morning we set off once more, and rode until about five in the afternoon. At about four I suddenly descried the Red Sea and its shores. This circumstance delighted me, for I felt assured that we should reach the coast in the course of another hour, and then our laborious journey to Suez would be accomplished. I called to my servant, pointed out the sea to him, and expressed my surprise that we had sighted it so soon. He maintained, however, that what I beheld was not the sea, but a fata morgana. At first I refused to believe him, because the thing seemed so real. But after an hour had elapsed we were as far from the sea as ever, and at length the mirage vanished; and I did not behold the real sea until six o'clock on the following morning, when it appeared in exactly the same way as the phantom of the previous evening.

At five in the afternoon we at length halted. I lay down on the earth completely exhausted, and enjoyed a refreshing sleep for more than three hours, when I was awakened by my servant, who informed me that a caravan was just before us, which we should do well to join, as the remainder of our road was far less safe than the portion we had already traversed. I was at once ready to mount my camel, and at eight o'clock we were again in motion.

In a short time we had overtaken the caravan, and our camels were placed in the procession, each beast being tethered to the preceding one by a rope. It was already quite dark, and I could barely distinguish that the people sitting on the camels before me were an Arab family. They travelled in boxes resembling hen-coops, about a foot and a half in height, four feet in length, and as many broad. In a box of this kind two or three men sat cross-legged; many had even spread a light tent over their heads. Suddenly I heard my name called by a female voice. I started, and thought I must be mistaken, for whom in the world could I meet here who knew my Christian name? But once more a voice cried very distinctly, "Ida! Ida!" and a servant came up, and told me that some Arab women, who had made the voyage from Atfe to Cairo in company with me, were seated on the first camel. They sent to tell me that they were on their way to Mecca, and rejoiced to meet me once more. I was indeed surprised that I should have made such an impression on these good people that they had not forgotten my name.

To-night I saw a glorious natural phenomenon, which so surprised me that I could not refrain from uttering a slight scream. It may have been about eleven o'clock, when suddenly the sky on my left was lighted up, as though every thing were in flames; a great fiery ball shot through the air with lightning speed, and disappeared on the horizon, while at the same moment the gleam in the atmosphere vanished, and darkness descended once more on all around. We travelled on throughout the whole of this night.

August 28th.

At six o'clock this morning we came in sight of the Red Sea. The mountain-chain of Mokattam can be discerned some time previously. Some way from Suez we came upon a well of bad, brackish water. Notwithstanding all drawbacks, the supply was eagerly hailed. Our people shouted, scolded, and pushed each other to get the best places; camels, horses, asses, and men rushed pell-mell towards the well, and happy was he who could seize upon a little water. There are barracks near this well, and soldiers are posted here to promote peace—by means of the stick.

The little town of Suez lies spread out on the sea-shore, and can be very distinctly seen from here. The unhappy inhabitants are compelled to draw their supplies either from this well, or from one on the sea-coast four miles below Suez. In the first case the water is brought on camels, horses, or asses; in the second it is transported by sea in boats or small ships.

The Red Sea is here rather narrow, and surrounded by sand of a yellowish-brown hue; immediately beyond the isthmus is the continuation of the great Libyan Desert. The mountain-range of Mokattam skirts the plain on the right, from Cairo to the Red Sea. We quite lose sight of this range until within the last ten or twelve hours before reaching Suez. The mountains are of moderate elevation and perfectly bare; but still the eye rests with pleasure on the varied forms of the rocks.

After an hour's rest beside the well, we were still unable to procure water for our poor beasts, and hastened, therefore, to reach the town. At nine in the morning we were already within its walls. Of the town and its environs I can say nothing, excepting that they both present a very melancholy appearance, as there is nowhere a garden or a cluster of trees to be seen.

I paid my respects to the consul, and introduced myself to him as an Austrian subject. He was kind enough to assign me a room in his own house, and would on no account permit me to take up my quarters in an inn. It was a pity that I could only converse with this gentleman by means of a dragoman; he was a Greek by birth, and only knew the Arabic language and his own. He is the richest merchant in Suez (his wealth is estimated at 150,000 collonati), and only discharges the functions of French and Austrian consul as an honorary duty.

In the little town itself there is nothing remarkable to be seen. On the sea-coast they shewed me the place where Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea. The sinking of the tide at its ebb is here so remarkable that whole islands are left bare, and large caravans are able to march through the sea, as the water only reaches to the girths of the camels, and the Arabs and Bedouins even walk through. As it happened to be ebb-tide when I arrived, I rode through also, for the glory of the thing. On these shores I found several pretty shells; but the real treasures of this kind are fished out of the deep at Ton, a few days' journey higher up. I saw whole cargoes of mother-of-pearl shells carried away.

I remained at Suez until four in the afternoon, and recruited my energies perfectly with an excellent dinner, at which tolerably good water was not wanting. The consul kindly gave me a bottle, as provision for my journey. He has it fetched from a distance of twelve miles, as all the water that can be procured in the neighbourhood tastes brackish and salt. In the inn a bottle of water costs two piastres.

The first night of my homeward journey was passed partly in a Bedouin encampment and partly on the road, in the company of different caravans. I found the Bedouins to be very good, obliging people, among whom I might wander as I pleased, without being exposed to injury. On the contrary, while I was in their encampment they brought me a straw-mat and a chest, in order that I might have a comfortable seat.

The homeward journey was just as monotonous and wearisome as that to Suez, with the additional fact that I had a quarrel with my people the day before its termination. Feeling exceedingly fatigued by a lengthened ride, I ordered my servant to stop the camels, as I wished to sleep for a few hours. The rascals refused to obey, alleging that the road was not safe, and that we should endeavour to overtake a caravan. This was, however, nothing but an excuse to get home as quickly as possible. But I was not to be frightened, and insisted that my desire should be complied with, telling them moreover that I had inquired of the consul at Suez concerning the safety of the roads, and had once more heard that there was nothing to fear. Notwithstanding all this they would not obey, but continued to advance. I now became angry, and desired the servant once more to stop my camel, as I was fully determined not to proceed another step.

I told him I had hired both camels and men, and had therefore a right to be mistress; if he did not choose to obey me, he might go his way with the camel-driver, and I would join the first caravan I met, and bring him to justice, let it cost me what it would. The fellow now stopped my camel, and went away with the other and the camel-driver. He probably expected to frighten me by this demonstration, and to compel me to follow; but he was vastly mistaken. I remained standing where I was, and as often as he turned to look at me, made signs that he might go his way, but that I should stay. When he saw how fearless and determined I was, he turned back, came to me, made my camel kneel down, and after helping me to alight, prepared me a resting-place on a heap of sand, where I slept delightfully for five hours; then I ordered my things to be packed up, mounted my camel, and continued my journey.

My conduct astonished my followers to such a degree, that they afterwards asked me every few hours if I wished to rest. On our arrival at Cairo the camel-driver had not even the heart to make the customary demand for backsheesh, and my servant begged pardon for his conduct, and hoped that I would not mention the difference we had had to the consul.

The maximum temperature during this journey was 43 degrees Reaumur, and when it was perfectly calm I really felt as if I should be stifled.

This journey from Cairo to Suez can, however, be accomplished in a carriage in the space of twenty hours. The English innkeeper established at Cairo has had a very light carriage, with seats for four, built expressly for this purpose; but a place in this vehicle costs five pounds for the journey there, and the same sum for the return.

On the following day I once more embarked on board an Arabian vessel for Alexandria. Before my departure I had a terrible quarrel with the donkey-driver whom I usually employed. These men, as in fact all fellahs, are accustomed to cheat strangers in every possible way, but particularly with coins. They usually carry bad money about with them, which they can substitute for the good at the moment when they are paid, with the dexterity of jugglers. My donkey-driver endeavoured to play me this trick when I rode to the ship; he saw that I should not require his services any more, and therefore wished to cheat me as a parting mark of attention. This attempt disgusted me so much that I could not refrain from brandishing my whip at him in a very threatening manner, although I was alone among a number of his class. My gesture had the desired effect; the driver instantly retreated, and I remained victor.

My reader would do me a great wrong by the supposition that I mention these circumstances to make a vaunt of my courage; I am sure that the fact of my having undertaken this journey alone will be sufficient to clear me from the imputation of cowardice. I wish merely to give future travellers a hint as to the best method of dealing with these people. Their respect can only be secured by the display of a firm will; and I am sure that in my case they were the more intimidated as they had never expected to find so much determination in a woman.


Return to Alexandria—Egyptian burials—Catacombs of Alexandria— Viceroy's palace—Departure from Alexandria—The steamer Eurotas— Candia—Syra—Paros and Antiparos—The Morea—Fire on board—Malta— Quarantine—St. Augustine's church—Clergymen—Beggars—Costumes— Soldiers—Civita Vecchia.

September 5th.

At five o'clock in the evening of the 2d of September I commenced my journey back to Alexandria. During the fortnight I remained at Cairo the Nile had continued to rise considerably, and the interest of the region had increased in proportion. In three days' time I arrived safely at Alexandria, and again put up at Colombier's. Two days had still to elapse before the departure of the French steam- vessel, and I made use of this time to take a closer survey of the town and its environs.

On my arrival at Alexandria I met two Egyptian funerals. The first was that of a poor man, and not a soul followed the coffin. The corpse lay in a wooden box without a lid, a coarse blanket had been spread over it, and four men carried the coffin. The second funeral had a more respectable air. The coffin, indeed, was not less rude, but the dead man was covered with a handsome shawl, and four "mourning women" followed the body, raising a most dolorous howl from time to time. A motley crowd of people closed the procession. The corpse was laid in the grave without the coffin.

The catacombs of Alexandria are very extensive, and well worth a visit. A couple of miles from them we see the celebrated plain on which the army of Julius Caesar was once posted. The cistern and bath of Cleopatra were both under water. I could, therefore, only see the place where they stood.

The viceroy's palace, a spacious building inclining to the European style, has a pleasing effect. Its interior arrangement is also almost wholly European.

The bazaar contains nothing worthy of remark. The arsenal looks very magnificent when viewed from without. It is difficult to obtain admission into this building, and you run the risk of being insulted by the workmen. The hospital has the appearance of a private house.

I was astonished at the high commission which is here demanded on changing small sums of money. In changing a collonato, a coin very much used in this country, and worth about two guilders, the applicant must lose from half a piastre to two piastres, according to the description of coin he requires. If beshliks {261} are taken, the commission charged is half a piastre; but if piastres are wanted, two must be paid. The government value of a collonato is twenty piastres; in general exchange it is reckoned at twenty-two, and at the consulate's at twenty-one piastres.


September 7th.

At eight o'clock in the morning I betook myself on board the French steam-packet Eurotas, a beautiful large vessel of 160-horse power. At nine o'clock we weighed anchor.

The weather was very unfavourable. Though it did not rain, we continually had contrary winds, and the sea generally ran high. In consequence we did not sight the island of Candia until the evening of the third day, four-and-twenty hours later than we should have done under ordinary circumstances.

Two women, who came on board as passengers to Syra, were so violently attacked by sea-sickness, that they left the deck a few hours after we got under way, and did not reappear until they landed at Syra. A very useful arrangement on board the French vessel is the engagement of a female attendant, whose assistance sometimes becomes very necessary. Heaven be praised, I had not much to fear from the attacks of sea-sickness. The weather must be very bad—as, for instance, during our passage through the Black Sea—before my health is affected, and even then I recover rapidly. During our whole voyage, even when the weather was wretched, I remained continually on deck, so that during the day-time I could not miss seeing even the smallest islet. On

September 10th,

late in the evening, we discovered the island of Candia or Crete, and the next morning we were pretty close to it. We could, however, distinguish nothing but bare unfruitful mountains, the tallest among which, my namesake Mount Ida, does not look more fertile than the rest. On the right loomed the island of Scarpanto. We soon left it in our wake, and also passed the Brothers' Islands, and many others, some of them small and uninhabited, besides separate colossal rocks, towering majestically into the sea. Soon afterwards we passed the islands Santorin and Anaph.

The latter of these islands is peculiarly beautiful. In the foreground a village lies at the foot of a high mountain, with its peak surmounted by a little church. On the side towards the sea this rock shoots downwards so perpendicularly, that we might fancy it had been cut off with a saw.

Since we had come in sight of Candia, we had not been sailing on the high seas. Scarcely did one island vanish from our view, before it was replaced by another. On

September 11th,

between three and four in the morning, we reached Syra. The terrible contrary winds with which we had been obliged to contend during almost the whole of our passage had caused us to arrive a day behind our time, to make up for which delay we only stayed half a day here, instead of a day and a half. This was a matter of indifference to those of us who were travelling further, for as we came from Egypt, we should not have been allowed in any case to disembark. Those who landed here proceeded at once to the quarantine-house.

Syra possesses a fine harbour. From our vessel we had a view over the whole town and its environs. An isolated mountain, crowned by a convent and church, the seat of the bishop, rises boldly from the very verge of the shore. The town winds round this mountain in the form of several wreaths, until it almost reaches the episcopal buildings. The background closes with the melancholy picture of a barren mountain-chain. A lighthouse stands on a little neighbouring island. The quarantine establishment looks cheerful enough, and is situate at a little distance from the town on the sea-shore.

It was Sunday when we arrived here; and as Syra belongs to Greece, I here heard the sound of bells like those of Mount Lebanon, and once more their strain filled me with deep and indescribable emotion. Never do we think so warmly of our home as when we are solitary and alone among strange people in a far-distant land!

I would gladly have turned aside from my route to visit Athens, which I might have reached in a few hours; but then I should once more have been compelled to keep quarantine, and perhaps on leaving Greece the infliction would have to be borne a third time, a risk which I did not wish to run. I therefore preferred keeping quarantine at Malta, and having done with it at once.

On the same day at two o'clock we once more set sail. This day and the following I remained on deck as much as possible, bidding defiance to wind and rain, and gazing at the islands as we glided past one after another. As one island disappeared, another rose in its place. Groups of isolated rocks also rose at intervals, like giants from the main, to form a feature in the changing panorama.

On the right, in the far distance, we could distinguish Paros and Antiparos, on the left the larger Chermian Isles; and at length we passed close to Cervo (Stag's Island), which is particularly distinguished by the beauty of its mountain-range. Here, as at Syra, we find an isolated mountain, round which a town winds almost to its summit.

September 12th.

As I came on deck to-day with the sun, the mainland of the Morea was in sight on our right,—a great plain, with many villages scattered over its surface, and a background of bare hills. After losing sight of the Morea we sailed once more on the high seas.

This day might have had a tragical termination for us. I was sitting as usual on deck, when I noticed an unusual stir among the sailors and officers, and even the commander ran hastily towards me. Nevertheless I did not dare to ask what had happened; for in proportion as the French are generally polite, they are proud and overbearing on board their steamers. I therefore remained quietly seated, and contented myself with watching every movement of the officers and men. Several descended to the coal-magazine, returning heated, blackened by the coals, and dripping with water. At length a cabin-boy came hurrying by me; and upon my asking him what was the matter, he replied in a whisper, that fire had broken out in the coal-room. Now I knew the whole extent of our danger, and yet could do nothing but keep my seat, and await whatever fate should bring us. It was most fortunate for us that the fire occurred during the daytime, and had been immediately discovered by the engine-man. Double chain-pumps were rigged, and the whole magazine was laid under water,—a proceeding which had the effect of extinguishing the flames. The other passengers knew nothing of our danger; they were all asleep or sitting quietly in the cabins; the sailors were forbidden to tell them what had happened, and even my informant the cabin-boy begged me not to betray him. We had three hundredweight of gunpowder on board.

September 14th.

We did not come in sight of land until this evening, when the goal of our journey appeared.


We cast anchor in the harbour of Lavalette at seven o'clock.

During the whole of our journey from Alexandria the wind had been very unfavourable; the sea was frequently so agitated, that we could not walk across the deck without the assistance of a sailor.

The distance from Alexandria via Syra to Malta is 950 sea-miles. We took eight days to accomplish this distance, landing only at Syra. The heat was moderate enough, seldom reaching 28 or 29 degrees Reaumur.

The appearance of Malta is picturesque; it contains no mountains, and consists entirely of hills and rocks.

The town of Lavalette is surrounded by three lines of fortifications, winding like steps up the hill on which the town lies; the latter contains large fine houses, all built of stone.

September 15th.

This morning at eight o'clock we disembarked, and were marched off to keep quarantine in the magnificent castle of the Knights of St. John.

This building stands on a hill, affording a view over the whole island in the direction of Civita Vecchia. We found here a number of clean rooms, and were immediately supplied with furniture, bedding, etc. by the establishment at a very reasonable charge. Our host at once despatched to every guest a bill of fare for breakfast and dinner, so that each one can choose what he wishes, without being cheated as to the prices. The keepers here are very obliging and attentive; they almost all know something of Italian, and execute any commission with which they are entrusted punctually and well. The building for the incarcerated ones is situate on an elevated plateau. It has two large wings, one on each side, one story high, containing apartments each with a separate entrance. Adjoining the courtyard is the inn, and not far from it the church; neither, however, may be visited by the new-comers. The requisite provisions are procured for them by a keeper, who takes them to the purchasers. The church is always kept locked. A broad handsome terrace, with a prospect over the sea, the town of Lavalette, and the whole island, forms the foreground of the picture. This terrace and the ramparts behind the houses form very agreeable walks. The courtyard of our prison is very spacious, and we are allowed to walk about in it as far as a statue which stands in the middle. Until ten o'clock at night we enjoy our liberty; but when this hour arrives, we are sent to our respective rooms and locked up. The apartments of the keepers are quite separate from ours.

The arrangements of the whole establishment are so good and comfortable, that we almost forget that we are prisoners. What a contrast to the quarantine-house at Alexandria!

If a traveller receives a visitor, he is not separated from his guest by ditches and bars, but stands only two steps from him in the courtyard. The windows here are not grated; and though our clothes were hung on horses to air, neither we nor our effects were smoked out. If it had not been for the delay it caused, I should really have spent the eighteen days of my detention here very pleasantly. But I wished to ascend Mount Etna, and was a fixture here until the 2d of October.

October 1st.

The quarantine doctor examined us in a very superficial manner, and pronounced that we should be free to-morrow. Upon this a boisterous hilarity prevailed. The prisoners rejoiced at the prospect of speedy release, and shouted, sang, and danced in the courtyard. The keepers caught the infection, and all was mirth and good-humour until late in the night.

October 2d.

At seven o'clock this morning we were released from thraldom. A scene similar to that at Alexandria then took place; every one rushed to seize upon the strangers. It is here necessary that the traveller should be as much upon his guard as in Egypt among the Arabs, in the matters of boat-fares, porterage, etc. If a bargain is not struck beforehand, the people are most exorbitant in their demands.

A few days before our release, I had made an arrangement with an innkeeper for board, lodging, and transport. Today he came to fetch me and my luggage, and we crossed the arm of the sea which divides Fort Manuel from the town of Lavalette.

A flight of steps leads from the shore into the town, past the three rows of fortifications rising in tiers above each other. In each of these divisions we find streets and houses. The town, properly speaking, lies quite at the top; it is therefore necessary to mount and descend frequently, though not nearly so often as at Constantinople. The streets are broad and well paved, the houses spacious and finely built; the place of roofs is supplied by terraces, frequently parcelled out into little flower-beds, which present a very agreeable appearance.

My host gave me a tiny room, and meals on the same principle—coffee with milk morning and evening, and three dishes at dinner-time; but for all this I did not pay more than forty-five kreutzers, or about one shilling and sixpence.

The first thing I did after taking up my quarters here was to hasten to a church to return thanks to the Almighty for the protection He had so manifestly extended to me upon my long and dangerous journey. The first church which I entered at Lavalette was dedicated to St. Augustine. I was particularly pleased with it, for since my departure from Vienna I had not seen one so neatly or so well built. Afterwards I visited the church of St. John, and was much struck with its splendour. This building is very spacious, and the floor is completely covered with monumental slabs of marble, covering the graves of the knights. The ceiling is ornamented with beautiful frescoes, and the walls are sculptured from ceiling to floor with arabesques, leaves, and flowers, in sandstone.

All these ornaments are richly gilt, and present a peculiarly imposing appearance. The side-chapels contain numerous monuments, mostly of white marble, and one single one of black, in memory of celebrated Maltese knights. At the right-hand corner of the church is the so-called "rose-coloured" chapel. It is hung round with a heavy silk stuff of a red colour, which diffuses a roseate halo over all the objects around. The altar is surrounded by a high massive railing. Two only of the paintings are well executed—namely, that over the high altar, and a piece representing Christ on the cross. The pillars round the altar are of marble; and at each side of the grand altar rise lofty canopies of red velvet fringed with gold, reaching almost to the vaulted cupola.

The uncomfortable custom of carrying chairs to and fro during church-time, which is so universal throughout Italy, begins already at Malta.

The predilection for the clerical profession seems to prevail here, as it does throughout Italy; I could almost say that every fifteenth person we meet either is a clergyman or intends to become one. Children of ten or twelve years already run about in the black gown and three-cornered hat.

The streets are handsome and cleanly kept, particularly the one which intersects the town; some of them are even watered. The counters of the dealers' shops contain the most exquisite wares; in fact, every where we find indications that we are once more on European ground.

When we see the Fachini here, with their dark worked caps or round straw hats, their short jackets and comfortable trousers, with jaunty red sashes round their waists, and their bold free glance,— when we contrast them with the wretched fellahs of Egypt, and consider that these men both belong to the same class in society, and that the fellahs even inhabit the more fruitful country, we begin to have our doubts of Mehemet Ali's benignant rule.

The governor's palace, a great square building, stands on a magnificent open space; next to it is the library; and opposite, the chief guard-house rears its splendid front, graced with pillars. The coffee-houses here are very large; they are kept comfortably and clean, particularly that on the great square, which is brilliantly illuminated every evening.

Women and girls appear dressed in black; they are usually accustomed to throw a wide cloak over their other garments, and wear a mantilla which conceals arms, chest, and head. The face is left uncovered, and I saw some very lovely ones smiling forth from the black drapery. Rich people wear these upper garments of silk; the cloaks of the poorer classes are made of merino or cheap woollen stuffs.

It was Sunday when I entered Lavalette for the first time. Every street and church was thronged with people, all of whom were neatly and decently dressed. I saw but few beggars, and those whom I met were less ragged than the generality of their class.

The military, the finest I had ever seen, consisted entirely of tall handsome men, mostly Scotchmen. Their uniforms were very tasteful. One regiment wore scarlet jackets and white linen trousers; another, black jackets and shoulder-knots,—in fact, the whole uniform is black, with the exception of the trousers, which are of white linen.

It seemed much more the fashion to drive than to ride here. The coaches are of a very peculiar kind, which I hardly think can be found elsewhere. They consist of a venerable old rattling double- seated box, swinging upon two immense wheels, and drawn by a single horse in shafts. The coachman generally runs beside his vehicle.

October 3d.

To-day I drove in a carriage (for the first time since my departure from Vienna, a period of six months and a half) to Civita Vecchia, to view this ancient town of Malta, and particularly the celebrated church of St. Peter and St. Paul. On this occasion I traversed the whole length of the island, and had an opportunity of viewing the interior.

Malta consists of a number of little elevations, and is intersected in all directions by excellent roads. I also continually passed handsome villages, some of them so large that they looked like thriving little towns. The heights are frequently crowned by churches of considerable extent and beauty; although the whole island consists of rock and sandstone, vegetation is sufficiently luxurious. Fig, lemon, and orange trees grow every where, and plantations of the cotton-shrub are as common as potato-fields in my own country. The stems of these shrubs are not higher than potato- plants, and are here cultivated exactly in the same way. I was told that they had been stunted this year by the excessive drought, but that in general they grew a foot higher.

The peasants were every where neatly dressed, and live in commodious well-built houses, universally constructed of stone, and furnished with terraces in lieu of roofs.


is a town of splendid houses and very elegant country-seats. Many inhabitants of Lavalette spend the summer here, in the highest portion of the island.

The church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a spacious building, with a simple interior. The floor is covered merely with stone slabs; the walls are white-washed to the ceiling, but the upper portion is richly ornamented with arabesques. A beautiful picture hanging behind the high altar represents a storm at sea. The view from the hall of the convent is magnificent; we can overlook almost the entire island, and beyond our gaze loses itself in the boundless expanse of ocean.

Near the church stands a chapel, beneath which is St. Paul's grotto, divided into two parts: in the first of these divisions we find a splendid statue of St. Paul in white marble; the second was the dungeon of the apostle.

Not far from this chapel, at the extremity of the town, are the catacombs, which resemble those at Rome, Naples, and other towns.

During our drive back we made a little detour to see the gorgeous summer-palace and garden of the governor.

The whole excursion occupied about seven hours. During my residence in Malta the heat varied from 20 to 25 degrees Reaumur in the sun.


The steamer Hercules—Syracuse—Neapolis—Ruins—Catanea—Convent of St. Nicholas—Messina—The Duke of Calabria—Palermo—The royal palace—Church of St. Theresa—St. Ignazio—Catacombs of the Augustine convent—Skeletons—Olivuzza —Royal villa "Favorite"—St. Rosalia—Brutality of the Italian mob—Luxuriant vegetation—Arrival at Naples.

October 4th.

At eight o'clock in the evening I embarked on board the Sicilian steamer Hercules, of 260-horse power, the largest and finest vessel I had yet seen. The officers here were not nearly so haughty and disobliging as those on board the Eurotas. Even now I cannot think without a smile of the airs the captain of the latter vessel gave himself. He appeared to consider that he had as good a right to be an admiral as Bruys.

At ten o'clock we steamed out of the harbour of Lavalette. As it was already dark night, I went below and retired to rest.

October 5th.

When I hurried on deck this morning I found we were already in sight of the Sicilian coast, and—oh happiness!—I could distinguish green hills, wooded mountains, glorious dells, and smiling meadows,—a spectacle I had enjoyed neither in Syria, in Egypt, nor even at Malta. Now I thought at length to behold Europe, for Malta resembles the Syrian regions too closely to favour the idea that we are really in Europe. Towards eleven o'clock we reached


Unfortunately we could only get four hours' leave of absence. As several gentlemen among the passengers wished to devote these few hours to seeing all the lions of this once rich and famous town, I joined their party and went ashore with them. Scarcely had we landed before we were surrounded by a number of servants and a mob of curious people, so that we were almost obliged to make our way forcibly through the crowd. The gentlemen hired a guide, and desired to be at once conducted to a restaurateur, who promised to prepare them a modest luncheon within half an hour. The prospect of a good meal seemed of more importance in the eyes of my fellow- passengers than any thing else. They resolved to have luncheon first, and afterwards to take a little walk through the city.

On hearing this I immediately made a bargain with a cicerone to shew me what he could in four hours, and went with him, leaving the company seated at table. Though I got nothing to eat to-day but a piece of bread and a few figs, which I despatched on the road, I saw some sights which I would not have missed for the most sumptuous entertainment.

Of the once spacious town nothing remains but a very small portion, inhabited by 10,000 persons at most. The dirty streets were every where crowded with people, as though they dwelt out of doors, while the houses stood empty.

Accompanied by my guide, I passed hastily through the new town, and over three or four wooden bridges to Neapolis, the part of ancient Syracuse in which monuments of the past are seen in the best state of preservation. First we came to the theatre. This building is tolerably well preserved, and several of the stone seats are still seen rising in terrace form one above the other. From this place we betook ourselves into the amphitheatre, which is finer by far, and where we find passages leading to the wild beasts' dens, and above them rows of seats for spectators; all is in such good condition that it might, at a trifling expense, be so far repaired as to be made again available for its original purpose. Now we proceeded to the "Ear of Dionysius," with which I was particularly struck. It consists of a number of chambers, partly hewn out of the rock by art, partly formed by nature, and all opening into an immensely lofty hall, which becomes narrower and narrower towards the top, until it at length terminates in an aperture so minute as to be invisible from below. To this aperture Dionysius is said to have applied his ear, in order to overhear what the captives spoke. (This place is stated to have been used as a prison for slaves and malefactors.) It is usual to fire a pistol here, that the stranger may hear the reverberating echoes. A lofty opening, resembling a great gate, forms the entrance to these rocky passages. Overgrown with ivy, it has rather the appearance of a bower than of a place of terror and anguish. Several of these side halls are now used as workshops by rope-makers, while in others the manufacture of saltpetre is carried on. The region around is rocky, but without displaying any high mountains. I saw numerous grottoes, some of them with magnificent entrances, which looked as though they had been cut in the rocks by art. In one of these grottoes water fell from above, forming a very pretty cataract.

During this excursion the time had passed so rapidly that I was soon compelled to think, not of a visit to the catacombs, but of my return on board.

I proceeded to the sea-shore, where the Syracusans have built a very pretty promenade, and was rowed back to the steamer.

Of all the passengers I was the only one who had seen any thing of Syracuse; all the rest had spent the greater part of the time allowed them in the inn, and at most had been for a short walk in the town. But they had obtained an exceedingly good dinner; and thus we had each enjoyed ourselves in our own way.

At three o'clock we quitted the beautiful harbour of Syracuse, and three hours brought us to


This voyage was one of the most beautiful and interesting that can be imagined. The traveller continually sees the most charming landscapes of blooming Sicily; and at Syracuse we can already descry on a clear day the giant Etna rearing its head 10,000 feet above the level of the sea.

At six in the evening we disembarked; but those going farther had to be on board again by midnight. I had intended to remain at Catanea and ascend Mount Etna; but on making inquiries I was assured that the season was too far advanced for such an undertaking, and therefore resolved to set sail again at midnight. I went on shore in company with a Neapolitan and his wife, for the purpose of visiting some of the churches, a few public buildings, and the town itself. The buildings, however, were already closed, though the exteriors promised much. We could only deplore that we had arrived an hour too late, and take a walk round the town. I could scarcely wonder enough at the bustle in the crowded squares and chief streets, and at the shouting and screaming of the people. The number of inhabitants is about 50,000. The two chief streets, leading in different directions from the great square, are long, broad, and particularly well paved with large stone slabs: they contain many magnificent houses. The only circumstance which displeased me was, that every where, even in the chief streets, the people dry clothes on large poles at balconies and windows. This makes the town look as though it were inhabited by a race of washerwomen. I should not even mind so much if they were clean clothes; but I frequently saw the most disgusting rags fluttering in front of splendid houses. Unfortunately this barbarous custom prevails throughout the whole of Sicily; and even in Naples the hanging out of clothes is only forbidden in the principal street, the Toledo: all the other streets are full of linen.

Among the equipages, which were rolling to and fro in great numbers, I noticed some very handsome ones. Some were standing still in the great square, while their occupants amused themselves by looking at the bustle around them, and chatted with friends and acquaintances who crowded round the carriages. I found a greater appearance of life here than either at Naples or Palermo.

The convent of St. Nicholas was unfortunately closed, so that we could only view its exterior. It is a spacious magnificent building, the largest, in fact, in the whole town. We also looked at the walks on the sea-shore, which at our first arrival we had traversed in haste in order to reach the town quickly. Beautiful avenues extend along each side of the harbour; they are, however, less frequented than the streets and squares. We had a beautiful moonlight night; the promontory of Etna, with its luxurious vegetation, as well as the giant mountain itself, were distinctly visible in all their glory. The summit rose cloudless and free; no smoke came from the crater, nor could we discover a trace of snow as we returned to our ship. We noticed several heaps of lava piled upon the sea-shore, of a perfectly black colour.

Late in the evening we adjourned to an inn to refresh ourselves with some good dishes, and afterwards returned to the steamer, which weighed anchor at midnight.

October 6th.

We awoke in the harbour of Messina. The situation of this town is lovely beyond description. I was so charmed with it that I stood for a long time on deck without thinking of landing.

A chain of beautiful hills and huge masses of rock in the background surround the harbour and town. Every where the greatest fertility reigns, and all things are in the most thriving and flourishing condition. In the direction of Palermo the boundless ocean is visible.

I now bade farewell to the splendid steamer Hercules, because I did not intend to proceed direct to Naples, but to make a detour by way of Palermo.

As soon as I had landed, I proceeded to the office of the merchant M., to whom I had a letter of recommendation. I requested Herr M. to procure me a cicerone as soon as possible, as I wished to see the sights of Messina, and afterwards to continue my journey to Palermo. Herr M. was kind enough to send one of his clerks with me. I rested for half an hour, and then commenced my peregrination.

From the steamer Messina had appeared to me a very narrow place, but on entering the town I found that I had made quite a false estimate of its dimensions. Messina is certainly built in a very straggling oblong form, but still its breadth is not inconsiderable.

I saw many very beautiful squares; for instance, the chief square, with its splendid fountain ornamented with figures, and a bas-relief of carved work in bronze. Every square contains a fountain, but we seldom find any thing particularly tasteful. The churches are not remarkable for the beauty of their facades, nor do they present any thing in the way of marble statues or finely executed pictures.

The houses are generally well built, with flat roofs; the streets, with few exceptions, are narrow, small, and very dirty. An uncommonly broad street runs parallel with the harbour, and contains, on one side at least, some very handsome houses. This is a favourite place for a walk, for we can here see all the bustle and activity of the port. Several of the palaces also are pretty; that appropriated to the senate is the only one which can be called fine, the staircase being constructed entirely of white marble, in a splendid style of architecture: the halls and apartments are lofty, and generally arched. The regal palace is also a handsome pile.

In the midst of the town I found an agreeable public garden. The Italians appear, however, to choose the streets as places of rendezvous, in preference to enclosures of this kind; for every where I noticed that the garden-walks were empty, and the streets full. But on the whole there is not nearly so much life here as at Catanea. In order to obtain a view of the whole of Messina and its environs I ascended a hill near the town, surmounted by a Capuchin convent; here I enjoyed a prospect which I have seldom seen equalled. As I gazed upon it I could easily imagine that an inhabitant of Messina can find no place in the world so beautiful as his native town.

The promontory against which the town leans is clothed with a carpet of the brightest green, planted with fruit-trees of all kinds, and enlivened with scattered towns, villages, and country seats. Beautiful roads, appearing like white bands, intersect the mountains on every side in the direction of the town. The background is closed by high mountains, sometimes wooded, sometimes bare, now rising in the form of alps, now in the shape of rocky masses. At the foot of the hills we see the long-drawn town, the harbour with its numerous ships, and beyond it groups of alps and rocks. The boundless sea flows on the spectator's right and left towards Palermo and Naples, while in the direction of Catanea the eye is caught by mountains, with Etna towering among them.

The same evening I embarked on board the Duke of Calabria, for the short trip of twelve or fourteen hours to Palermo. This steamer has only engines of 80 horse-power, and every thing connected with it is small and confined. The first-class accommodation is indeed pretty good, but the second-class places are only calculated to contain very few passengers. Though completely exhausted by my long and fatiguing walk through Messina, I remained on deck, for I could not be happy without seeing Stromboli. Unfortunately I could distinguish very little of it. We had started from Messina at about six o'clock in the evening, and did not come in sight of the mountain until two hours later, when the shades of night were already descending; we were, besides, at such a distance from it that I could descry nothing but a colossal mass rising from the sea and towering towards heaven. I stayed on deck until past ten o'clock in the hope of obtaining a nearer view of Stromboli; but we had soon left it behind us in the far distance, with other islands which lay on the surface like misty clouds.

October 7th.

To-day I hastened on deck before sunrise, to see as much as possible of the Sicilian coast, and to obtain an early view of Palermo. At ten o'clock we ran into the harbour of this town.

I had been so charmed with the situation of Messina that I did not expect ever to behold any thing more lovely; and yet the remembrance of this town faded from my mind when


rose before me, surrounded by magnificent mountains, among which the colossal rock of St. Rosalia, a huge slab of porphyry and granite, towered high in the blue air. The combination of various colours unites with its immense height and its peculiar construction to render this mountain one of the most remarkable in existence. Its summit is crowned by a temple; and a good road, partly cut out of the rock, partly supported on lofty pillars of masonry, which we can see from on board our vessel, leads to the convent of St. Rosalia, and to a chapel hidden among the hills and dedicated to the same saint.

At the foot of this mountain lies a gorgeous castle, inhabited, as my captain told me, by an English family, who pay a yearly rent of 30,000 florins for the use of it. To the left of Palermo the mountains open and shew the entrance into a broad and transcendently beautiful valley, in which the town of Monreal lies with magical effect. Several of these gaps occur along the coast, affording glimpses of the most lovely vales, with scattered villages and pretty country-seats.

The harbour of Palermo is picturesque and eminently safe. The town numbers about 130,000 inhabitants. Here, too, our deck was crowded with Fachini, innkeepers, and guides, before the anchor was fairly lowered. I inquired of the captain respecting the price of board and lodging, and afterwards made a bargain with a host before leaving the ship. By following this plan I generally escaped overcharge and inconvenience.

Arrived at the inn, I sent to Herr Schmidt, to whom I had been recommended, with the request that he would despatch a trustworthy cicerone to me, and make me a kind of daily scheme of what I was to see. This was soon done, and after hurrying over my dinner I commenced my wanderings.

I entered almost every church I passed on my way, and found them all neat and pretty. Every where I came upon picturesque villas and handsome houses, with glass doors instead of windows, their lower portion guarded by iron railings and forming little balconies. Here the women and girls sit of an evening working and talking to their heart's content.

The streets of Palermo are far handsomer and cleaner than those of Messina. The principal among them, Toledo and Casaro, divide the town into four parts, and join in the chief square. The streets, as we pass from one into another, present a peculiar appearance, filled with bustling crowds of people moving noisily to and fro. In the Toledo Street all the tailors seem congregated together, for the shops on each side of the way are uniformly occupied by the votaries of this trade, who sit at work half in their houses and half in the street. The coffee-houses and shops are all open, so that the passers-by can obtain a full view of the wares and of the buyers and sellers.

The regal palace is the handsomest in the town. It contains a gothic chapel, richly decorated; the walls are entirely covered with paintings in mosaic, of which the drawings do not display remarkable taste, and the ceiling is over-crowded with decorations and arabesques. An ancient chandelier, in the form of a pillar, made of beautiful marble and also covered with arabesques, stands beside the pulpit. On holydays an immense candle is put in this candlestick and lighted.

I wished to enter this chapel, but was refused admittance until I had taken off my hat, like the men, and carried it in my hand. This custom prevails in several churches of Palermo. The space in front of the palace resembles a garden, from the number of avenues and beds of flowers with which it is ornamented. Second in beauty is the palace of the senate, but it cannot be compared with that at Messina.

The town contains several very handsome squares, in all of which we find several statues and fountains.

Foremost among the churches the Cathedral must be mentioned; its gothic facade occupies one entire side of a square. A spacious entrance-hall, with two monuments, not executed in a very fine style of art, leads into the interior of the church, which is of considerable extent, but built in a very simple style. The pillars, two of which always stand together, and the four royal monuments at the entrance, are all of Egyptian granite. The finest part of the church is the chapel of St. Rosalia on the right, not far from the high altar; both its walls are decorated with large bas-reliefs in marble, beautifully executed: one of these represents the banishment of the plague, and the finding of St. Rosalia's bones. A splendid pillar of lapis-lazuli, said to be the largest and finest specimen of this stone in existence, stands beside the high altar. The two basins with raised figures at the entrance of the church also deserve notice. The left side of the square is occupied by the episcopal palace, a building of no pretensions.

Santa Theresia is a small church, containing nothing remarkable except a splendid bas-relief in marble, representing the Holy Family, which an Englishman once offered to purchase for an immense sum. The neighbouring church of St. Pieta, on the contrary, can be called large and grand. The facades are ornamented with pillars of marble, the altar is richly gilt, and handsome frescoes deck the ceiling. St. Domenigo, another fine church, possesses, my cicerone assured me, the largest organ in the world. If he had said the greatest he had seen, I could readily have believed him.

In St. Ignazio, or Olivazo, near a minor altar at one side, we find a painting representing the Virgin and the infant Jesus. The sacristan persisted that this was a work of Raphael's. The colouring appeared to me not quite to resemble that of the great master, but I understand too little of these things to be able to judge on such a subject. At any rate it is a fine piece. A few steps below the church lies the oratory, which nearly equals it in size, and also contains a handsome painting over the altar. "St. Augustine" also repays the trouble of a visit; it displays great wealth in marble, sculptures, frescoes, and arabesques. "St. Joseph" is also rich in various kinds of marble. Several of its large columns have been made from a single block. A clear cold stream issues from this church.

I have still to notice the lovely public gardens, which I visited after dining with the consul-general, Herr Wallenburg. I cannot omit this opportunity of gratefully mentioning the friendly sympathy and kindness I experienced on the part of this gentleman and his lady. To return to the gardens,—the most interesting to me was the botanical, where a number of rare trees and plants flourish famously in the open air.

The catacombs of the Augustine convent are most peculiar; they are situate immediately outside the town. From the church, which offers nothing of remarkable interest, a broad flight of stairs leads downwards into long and lofty passages cut in the rock, and receiving light from above. The skeletons of the dead line the walls, in little niches close beside each other; they are clothed in a kind of monkish robe, and each man's hands are crossed on his chest, with a ticket bearing his name, age, and the date of his death depending therefrom. A more horrible sight can scarcely be imagined than these dressed-up skeletons and death's-heads. Many have still hair on the scalp, and some even beard. The niches in which they stand are surmounted by planks displaying skulls and bones, and the corridors are crowded with whole rows of coffins, their inmates waiting for a vacant place. If the relations of one of the favoured skeletons neglect to supply a certain number of wax- tapers on All-Saints' day, the poor man is banished from his position, and one of the candidates steps in and occupies his niche.

The corpses of women and girls are deposited in another compartment, and look as though they were lying in state in their glass coffins, dressed in handsome silks, with ornamental coifs on their heads, ruffs and lace collars round their necks, and silk shoes and stockings, which however soon burst, on their feet. A wreath of flowers decks the brow of each girl, and beneath all this ornament the skull appears with its hollow eyes—a parody upon life and death.

Whenever any one wishes to be immortalised in this way, his friends and relations must pay a certain sum for a place on the day of his burial, and afterwards bring wax-tapers every year. The body is then laid in a chamber of lime, which remains for eight months hermetically closed, until the flesh has been entirely eaten away; then the bones are fastened together, dressed, and placed in a niche.

On All-Saints' day these corridors of death are crowded with gazers; friends and relations of the deceased resort thither to light candles and perform their devotions. I was glad to have had an opportunity of seeing these audience-halls of the dead, but still I rejoiced when I hastened upwards to sojourn once more among the living.

From here I drove to Olivuzza, to view the Moorish castle of Ziza, celebrated for the beauty of its situation and of the region around. Not far from the old castle stands a new one, with a garden of much beauty, containing also a number of fantastic toys, such as little grottoes and huts, hollow trees in which secret doors fly suddenly open, disclosing to view a nun, a monk, or some figure of the kind, etc. Here I still found a species of date-tree growing in the open air; but the fruit it bears is very small, and never becomes completely ripe: this was the last date-tree I saw.

The royal villa "Favourite," about a mile from the town, is situated in a lovely spot. It is built in the Chinese style, with a quantity of points, gables, and little bells; its interior is, however, arranged according to European design, in a rich, tasteful, and artistic manner. We linger with pleasure in the rooms, each of which offers some attractive feature. Thus, for instance, one apartment contains beautiful fresco paintings; another, life-size portraits of the royal family in Chinese costume; in a third, the effects of damp on walls and ceiling are so accurately portrayed that at first I was deceived by the resemblance, and regretted to find a room in such a condition among all the pomp and splendour around. One small cabinet is entirely inlaid with little pieces of all the various kinds of marble that are to be found in Sicily. The large tables are made of petrified and polished woods, etc. Besides these minor attractions, a much greater one exists in the splendid view which we obtain from the terraces and from the summit of the Chinese tower. I found it difficult to tear myself from contemplating this charming prospect; a painter would become embarrassed by the very richness of the materials around him. Every thing I had seen from on board here appeared before my eyes with increased loveliness, because I here saw it from a higher position, and obtained a more extended view.

An ornamental garden lies close to the palace. It is flagged with large blocks of stone, between which spaces are left for earth. These beds are parcelled out according to plans, bordered with box a foot in height, and arranged so as to form immense leaves, flowers, and arabesques; while in the midst stand vases of natural flowers. The park fills up the background; it consists merely of a few avenues and meadows, extending to the foot of Mount Rosalia.

This mountain I also ascended. The finest paved street, which is sufficiently broad for three carriages to pass each other, winds in a serpentine manner round the rocky heights, so that we can mount upwards without the slightest difficulty.

The convent is small and very simply constructed; the courtyard behind it, on the contrary, is exceedingly imposing. It is shut in on all sides by steep walls of rock, covered with clinging ivy in a most picturesque manner. On the left we find a little grotto containing an altar. In the foreground, on the right, a lofty gate, formed by nature and beautified by art, leads into a chapel wonderfully formed of pieces of rock and stalactites. A feeling of astonishment and admiration almost amounting to awe came upon me as I entered. The walls near the chief altar are overgrown with a kind of delicate moss of an emerald-green colour, with the white rock shining through here and there; and in the midst rises a natural cupola, terminating in a point. The extreme summit of this dome cannot be distinguished; it is lost in obscurity. Here and there natural niches occur, in which statues of saints have been placed. To the left of the high altar I saw the monument of St. Rosalia, beautifully executed in white marble. She is represented in a recumbent posture, the size of life; the statue rests on a pedestal two feet in height. In the most highly-decorated or the most gorgeous church I could not have felt myself more irresistibly impelled to devotion than in this grand temple of nature.

From the 15th to the 18th of July in every year a great feast is held in honour of St. Rosalia, the patron saint of the city, in the town and on the mountain. On these days a number of people make a pilgrimage to the grotto above described, where the bones of the saint were found at a time when the plague was raging at Palermo. They were carried with great pomp into the town, and from that moment the plague ceased.

The road from the convent to the temple, built on the summit of a rock, and visible to the sailors from a great distance, leads us for about half a mile over loose stones. Its construction is extremely simple, and not remarkable in any way. In former times its summit was decked by a colossal statue of the saint. This fell down, and the head alone remained unmutilated. Like the statue, the fane is now in ruins, and its site is only visited for the sake of the beautiful view.

On our way back to the convent, my guide drew my attention to a spot where a large tree had stood. Some years before, a family was sitting quietly beneath its shade, partaking of a frugal meal, when the tree suddenly came crashing down, and caused the death of four persons.

The excursion to St. Rosalia's Hill can easily be made in four or five hours. It is usual to ride up the mountain on donkeys; these animals are, however, so sluggish, compared with those of Egypt, that I often preferred dismounting and proceeding on foot. The Neapolitan donkeys are just as lazy.

I wished still to visit Bagaria, the summer residence of many of the townspeople. One morning I drove to this lovely spot in the company of an amiable Swiss family. The distance from Palermo is about two miles and a half, and the road frequently winding close to the sea, presents a rich variety of beautiful pictures.

We went to view the palace of Prince Fascello: the proprietor appears, however, seldom to reside here, for every thing wears an air of neglect. Two halls in this building are worthy of notice; the walls of the smaller one are covered with figures and ornaments, beautifully carved in wood, with pieces of mirror glass placed between them. The vaulted ceiling is also decorated with mirrors, some of which are unfortunately already broken.

The walls of the larger hall are completely lined with the finest Sicilian marble. Above the cornices the marble has been covered with thin glass, which gives it a peculiar appearance of polish. The immense ceiling of the great hall is vaulted like that of the smaller one, and completely covered with mirrors, all of them in good preservation. Both apartments, but particularly the large one, are said to have a magical effect when lighted up with tapers.

I spent a Sunday in Palermo, and was much pleased at seeing the peasants in their festive garb, in which, however, I could discover nothing handsome; nor, indeed, any thing peculiar, save the long pendent nightcaps. The men wear jackets and breeches, and have the before-mentioned caps on their heads; the dress of the women is a spencer, a petticoat, and a kerchief of white or coloured linen round the head and neck.

The common people appeared to be neither cleanly nor wealthy. The rich are dressed according to the fashions of London, Paris, and Vienna.

In all the Sicilian towns I found the mob more boisterous and impudent than in the East, and frequently it was my lot to witness most diabolical quarrels and fights. It is necessary to be much more on one's guard against theft and roguery among these people than among the Arabs and Bedouins. Now I acknowledge how falsely I had judged the poor denizens of the East when I took them for the most thievish of tribes. The people here and at Naples were far worse than they. I was doubly pained on making this discovery, from the fact that I saw more fasting and praying, and more clergymen in these countries than any where else. To judge from appearances, I should have taken the Sicilians and Neapolitans for the most pious people in the world. But their behaviour towards strangers is rude in the extreme. Never had I been so impudently stared out of countenance as in these Sicilian towns: fingers were pointed at me amidst roars of laughter; the boys even ran after me and jeered at me—and all because I wore a round straw hat. In Messina I threw this article away, and dressed according to the fashion which prevails here and in my own country; but still the gaping did not cease. In Palermo it was not only the street boys who stood still to gaze at me, the grandees also did me the same honour, whether I drove or walked. I once asked a lady the reason of this, and requested to know if my appearance was calculated either to give offence or to excite ridicule; she replied that neither was the case, but that the only thing the citizens remarked in me was that I went about alone with a servant. In Sicily this was quite an uncommon circumstance, for there I always saw two ladies walking together, or a lady and gentleman. Now the grand mystery was solved; but notwithstanding this, I did not alter my mode of action, but continued to walk quietly about the town with my servant, for I preferred being laughed at a little to giving any one the trouble of accompanying me about every where. At first this staring made me very uncomfortable; but man can adapt himself to every thing, and I am no exception to the rule.

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