1825-28EDWARD WILLIAM LANE1835-42
THE SECOND VISIT TO EGYPT (1833―5.)
For some time after his return to England, Lane was occupied in working his Egyptian notes and diaries into the form that the manuscript of the “Description of Egypt” now wears. It has already been said that the negotiations with the publishers for the production of the book fell to the ground. But before this happened, Lane had separated from the body of the work his account of the modern inhabitants of Egypt, which it was thought would appear to greater advantage and be more widely read as a distinct book. This part of the “Description” was shown to Lord Brougham, who at once recognised its high merit, and recommended it to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, of which he was a Member of Committee. It was in consequence of the acceptance of the work by the Society that Lane determined to visit Egypt again, in order to enlarge and perfect his account of the people. This is an instance of that thoroughness which is shown in every work of his. Whatever came to his hand to do, he did it with all his might. He would never condescend to anything approaching slovenly work; and thought little of crossing the Mediterranean and staying two years at Cairo in order to bring nearer to perfection a sketch of the manners and customs of the inhabitants of Egypt, which to an ordinary writer would have seemed to stand in need of no revision. Without hesitation he went over the whole ground again, verified each statement, and added much that had been omitted from the earlier and more concise work. During the two years he spent in the Egyptian metropolis, scarcely a day passed without his going out among his Muslim friends and accustoming himself more completely to their manners, or witnessing the various public festivals of the year. Every day's experience was carefully recorded in a little library of note-books, all written in his singularly clear and neat hand, except where here and there an Egyptian friend has scribbled his own statement in Arabic. One of these note-books appears to have been kept for recording the more important scenes that Lane witnessed, and is fortunately dated, so as to form an intermittent diary. As this is the only journal he ever kept, to my knowledge, except a brief account of his first Nile-voyage, it is here reproduced. Besides the necessary suppression of a few passages relating to family matters, certain long passages have been omitted, since they occur verbatim in Lane's published works. It is not often that the pages of a diary can be transferred to a finished book like “The Modern Egyptians” without even verbal alteration. But it was the same with everything Lane wrote. If he was asked a question by letter, his answer was always fit for publication, both in style and in accuracy of matter.
London, 25th Oct., 1833.―Engaged my passage to Alexandria on board the merchant brig Rapid, Capt. Phillips, 162 tons, for 30 guineas, to be found with all necessary stores, poultry, &c.―6th Nov. Embarked at St. Katharine's Dock.―7th. Sailed.―25th. Passed Gibraltar.―5th Dec. Passed Malta.―13th (1st of Shaạbán, 1249). Arrived at Alexandria.
It had rained almost incessantly, and very heavily, during the three nights previous to our arrival at Alexandria; and the streets were consequently in a most filthy state. The general appearance of the people was also far more miserable than when I was here before. The muddy state of the streets doubtless confined most well-dressed persons to their houses; but it is rather to the severe oppression of late years, and to repeated conscriptions, which have deprived many parents of the support they received from the labour of their sons, that I attribute the difference which I remarked in the general aspect of the population of this place. A few days before my arrival, some persons from Constantinople had brought the plague there. They were put into quarantine; and the disease had thus been confined within the Lazarette, which was surrounded by a cordon of soldiers. There had been 87 cases, and 23 deaths.―I dined and slept at Mr. Harris's country-house, which is in an angle of the garden in which the house that Mr. Salt resided in is situated, where I stayed during my first visit to Alexandria. A part of this garden is converted into a burial-place for the English. Mr. Salt is buried there.―Alexandria is rapidly increasing towards the site of the old city: several large and handsome buildings have lately been erected in that quarter.
14th. Removed my luggage from the brig to a boat on the Maḥmoodeeyeh; and in the afternoon set sail for the Nile.―Paid 45 piasters for the voyage to the Nile.―15th. Arrived before sunrise at the Foom, or the mouth of the canal, where it communicates with the Nile. A bridge with gates has lately been constructed across the mouth, to retain the water in the canal during the season of low Nile.―I here had to engage another boat, on the Nile. Bargained for 80 piasters for the voyage to Maṣr (or Cairo). Proceeded to Fooweh; but could not continue our voyage in consequence of a violent contrary wind. The air was very thick; and I could hardly fancy myself in Egypt. The river still very turbid. There were many boats here conveying Turkish pilgrims on their way to join the Egyptian Caravan to Mekkeh. Fooweh seems to be falling to utter ruin and to be inhabited by the most squalid miserable people I ever beheld. I am told that I shall remark the same at all the villages we have to pass; and the reason is this:―all the best-looking young men have been picked for the army or navy, and their wives and lovers have mostly followed them; but being parted from them on their arrival at the metropolis have there betaken themselves to prostitution; and Maṣr now absolutely swarms with prostitutes. Thus the villages have been half desolated; and seem to be peopled in general with the most wretched, ugly, old, and haggard paupers. I see scarcely one good-looking young woman among a hundred; or scarcely one where I used to see a score; and almost all are in rags.―16th. In the afternoon, though the wind was still very high and from the S.W., we proceeded. Stopped for the night under the west bank, a little below Shubra Kheet. Several heavy showers of rain fell, accompanied with violent gusts of wind, which obliged many boats, loaded with Turkish pilgrims, to stop at the same part. From a boat next above ours, during a shower or rain, there poured forth a number of these pilgrims, each with his ewer in his hand, to perform the ablution preparatory to prayer; and some of them aged and decrepit. While meditating on their zeal and the hardships which awaited them and admiring their grave and venerable aspect, I was surprised to see six of them, and among these some of the most aged, run to a táboot (a kind of water-wheel used for irrigation), and, with shouts such as their children would have used on a similar occasion, amuse themselves by exerting what little strength they had to perform, all the six together, the work of one cow; and turn, which they could only do very slowly, the stiff and creaking wheel. A few minutes after, they performed their devotions, all of them together, with the utmost solemnity and decorum, ranged in ranks, four abreast, under the partial shelter of some durah about 12 feet high: one acted as Imám, in the first rank; and having previously chanted the adán, recited the prayers, chanting the farḍ-prayers in a high key and loud voice.―To-day I began to feel the effect which is often produced by first drinking the water of the Nile, and by the cool air of the night; my cabin being only furnished with blinds, like those of an English carriage, to the windows, I was much exposed to the night-air.―17th. Advanced to Shubra Kheet. The weather being boisterous and rainy, and my reiyis determined to proceed, I made a new agreement with him; to pay 20 piasters a day, and to stop when and where I desired. Accordingly I remained the rest of this day, and the following night, at Shubra Kheet.―18th. Of the prudence of the new arrangement which I had made for my boat I received a strong proof in information brought me to-day that a boat which I had first hired at the Foom, about the same size and on the same terms as that in which I now am, but afterwards left for the latter boat in consequence of an order that vessels there should take their departure according to the order in which they lay, had been capsized in the night: the crew and passengers were saved; but remained shivering in their wet clothes for many hours; no village being near. Had this been my case, in my present indisposed state, I should probably have lost my life; or, if not, my books &c. would have been lost or spoiled. My informant thanked God for my preservation; and I most heartily joined him.―19th. Proceeded to Sháboor: the wind still very violent and contrary: on the 20th, to Nadir; 21st, to Záwiyet Razeem, by the tow-rope; having scarcely a breath of wind.―22nd. Calm. Proceeded, by towing, to Wardan.―23rd and 24th. As the wind was violent and contrary during the greater part of each of these days, my reiyis absented himself from the boat. I punish him by deducting two days' pay.―25th. Arrived within five miles of Booláḳ.
26th. Arrived at Booláḳ about noon. Sent for a janisary from the Consulate to pass my luggage at the custom-house, and rode up to my old friend ʼOsmán, who had made preparations for my reception in a house belonging to him and next to that in which he resides. This house I have engaged for the period of my intended stay in Maṣr. It is situated in the most healthy part of the town, near the N.W. angle; and to me, who have suffered from ophthalmia, it is a desirable residence, as it has glass windows. I have no doubt that ophthalmia in this country is generally the effect of suppressed perspiration, which is most commonly induced by the night-air (the windows of almost all the houses in Maṣr and the other towns being merely of wooden lattice-work); and that it is aggravated by the habit of keeping the head too warm, and the feet too cool.
The aspect of Maṣr, as seen in the approach from the port, has been much improved since the period of my last visit by the removal of many of the mounds of rubbish which rose along that side, and by most of the space which these unsightly objects occupied being converted into gardens. A short time ago, European travellers, if habited in the Turkish or Egyptian dress, were not allowed to enter the gates of Maṣr without a passport (called tezkereh), which was shown to the guard. This custom is now dispensed with. It was adopted in order to ascertain the number of the population; and to insure that no one of the natives might be unknown, and so escape paying the firdeh or poll-tax. In the interior of the metropolis I observe more ruined houses than when I was last here; and in the appearance of the lower orders, more wretchedness. No change has taken place in the style of the costume of the natives; but the military officers, and the Turks in the employ of the Báshà, have adopted the Niẓámee dress, which was becoming common among them before I last quitted Maṣr. The head-dress (being merely a ṭarbooah, without the muslin or Kishmeeree shawl wound round it) has lost its elegance; and the whole dress is less becoming and graceful than the Memlook costume which it has superseded; though it is more convenient for walking and any active exertion. Formerly, a grandee of Maṣr, with his retinue of twenty or more well-mounted men, clad in habits of various and brilliant hues, and with splendid accoutrements, the saddles covered with embroidered velvet and plates of gilt and embossed silver, and the bridles, headstalls, and other trappings ornamented in a similar manner and with rows of gold coins suspended to them, presented a strikingly picturesque and pompous spectacle. Sights of this description are no longer witnessed in the Egyptian metropolis. Even the Báshà, when he occasionally rides through the streets, is followed by only three or four attendants, and is not more distinguished by the habits than by the number of his retinue. As dark colours, and partioularly black, are now fashionable among the Turks, and their dresses are generally embroidered with silk, instead ot gold lace, there is much less contrast and variety observable in the costumes of the passengers in the crowded streets; but at present there is a little more variety and bustle than is usual, from the number of Turkish pilgrims resting here on their way to Mekkeh.
My old acquaintance the sheykh Aḥmad (or seyd Aḥmad, for he is a shereef) called on me as soon as he had heard of my arrival. He has resumed his old habit of visiting me almost every day; both for the sake of getting his dinner or supper, or at least tobacco and coffee, and to profit in his trade of bookseller. I wish I could make a portrait which would do justice to his singular physiognomy. For many years he has been nearly blind: one of his eyes is quite closed: the other is ornamented on particular occasions, as the two great festivals, &c., with a border of koḥl; though he is a shocking sloven at all times. He tells me that he has taken a second wife, and a second house for her; but that he is as poor as ever; and that my usual yearly present of a dress will be very acceptable.(1) He has a talent for intrigue and cheating, which he exercises on every opportunity; being lax in morals, and rather so in his religious tenets. Notwithstanding these defects, and sometimes in consequence of his having the latter defect, I find him very useful. Much of the information that I have obtained respecting the manners and customs of his countrymen has been derived from him, or through his assistance; as he scruples not to be communicative to me on subjects respecting which a bigoted Muslim would be silent. He has just brought me a muṣḥaf (or copy of the Ḳur-án), which he wishes me to purchase; but he thinks it necessary, as he did on former similar occasions, to offer some excuse for his doing so. He remarks that by my following or conforming with many of the ceremonies of the Muslims I tacitly profess myself to be one of them; and it is incumbent on him to regard me in the most favourable light. “You give me,” says he, “the salutation of ‘Peace be on you I’ and it would be impious in me, and directly forbidden by my religion, to pronounce you an unbeliever; for He whose name be exalted hath said in the Excellent Book,―‘Say not unto him who greeteth thee with peace, Thou art not a believer’ (ch. iv., v. 96)―therefore,” he adds, “it is no sin in me to put into your hands the noble Ḳur-án: but there are some of your countrymen who will take it in unclean hands, and even put it under them and sit upon it! I beg God's forgiveness for talking of such a thing: far be it from you to do so: you, praise be to God, know and observe the command ‘None shall touch it but those who are clean.’” (ch. lvi., v. 78: these words are often stamped upon the cover.) He once sold a muṣḥaf on my application to a countryman of mine, who, being disturbed just as the bargain was concluded by some person entering the room hastily put the sacred book on the deewán and under a part ot his dress, to conceal it: the bookseller was much scandalized by this action; thinking that my friend was sitting upon the book, and doing so to show his contempt of it. There was only one thing that I had much difficulty in persuading him to do, during my former visit to this country; which was to go with me to the mosque of the Ḥasaneyn, the burial-place of the head of the Prophet's grandson, El-Ḥoseyn, and the most sacred of the mosques of Maṣr. On passing with him before one of the entrances of this building, one afternoon in Ramaḍán, when it was crowded with Turks, and many of the principal people of the metropolis were among the congregation, I thought it a good opportunity to see it to the greatest advantage, and asked my companion to go in with me. He positively refused, in the fear of my being discovered to be an Englishman, which might so rouse the fanatic anger of some of the Turks there as to expose me to some act of violence. I therefore entered alone. He remained at the door; following me with his eye only (or his only eye), and wondering at my audacity; but as soon as he saw me acquit myself in the usual manner, by walking round the bronze screen which surrounds the monument over the spot where the martyr's head is buried and then going through the regular attitudes of prayer, he came in and said his prayers by my side.―The principal subjects of the conversations which my other Maṣree acquaintances have held with me since my return to their country have been the oppression which they suffer under the present government, the monopolies ot the Báshà, and the consequent dulness of trade and dearness of provisions, &c. The sheykh Aḥmad is less querulous: he praises the Báshà for including booksellers among persons of literary and religious professions, from whom no firdeh is exacted. He and another bookseller, who is his superior, are agents for the sale of the books printed at the Báshà's press, at Booláḳ. They have a shop in the principal street of the city (nearly opposite the entrance to Khán El-Khaleelee), which will be a convenient place for me to repair to on the occasions of public processions.
Friday, 10th of January.―Last day (29th) of Shaạbán.―In the afternoon of this day I went to the booksellers' shop to see the procession of the Leylet er-Rooyeh, or Night of the Observation of the new moon of Ramaḍán, the month of abstinence. Soon after the ʼasr, the shops were mostly shut, and the maṣṭabahs occupied by spectators, old and young. The foremost persons in the procession, a company of Niẓám infantry, passed the place where I was sitting (within ten minutes' walk of the Ḳádee's house, whither they were destined) about an hour and a quarter before sunset. The whole procession consisted of nothing more than several companies of Niẓám troops, each company preceded and followed by bearers of meshʼals, to light them on their return, together with small parties of members of those trades which furnish the metropolis with provisions: a group of millers following one party of soldiers; a group of bakers, another: after all of whom came the Moḥtesib, with attendants. The soldiers were accompanied by drummers and fifers, and one band. The members of trades who took part in the procession, with several fakeers, shouted as they passed along―“O! Eṣ-ṣaláh! Eṣ-ṣaláh! Ṣalloo ʼala-n-Nebee! ʼaleyhi-s-selám!” (O! Blessing! Blessing! Bless ye the Prophet! On him be peace!). After every two or three companies there was an intenval of many minutes: so that about an hour elapsed before the procession had passed the place where I sat. After waiting some time at the Ḳádee's, the information that the new moon had been seen was brought there; and the soldiers and other persons who had formed the procession thither divided themselves into several companies, and perambulated different quarters of the town; shouting Ya ummata kheyri-l-anaʼm! Ṣiyaʼm! Ṣiyaʼm! (O followers of the best of the creation! Fasting! Fasting!). The mosques were all illuminated within; and lamps hung at their entrances, and upon the galleries of the mádʼnehs.―When the moon is not seen, the people are informed by the cry of Ghadà min shahri Shaạbán! Fiṭár! Fiṭár! (To-morrow is of the month of Shaạbán! No fasting! No fasting!).―The people seem as merry to-night as they usually do when released from the miseries of the day's fast.(2)
11th of January.―1st of Ramaḍán.―Instead of seeing, as at other times, most of the passengers in the streets with the pipe in the hand, we now see them empty-handed, or carrying a stick or cane; but some of the Christians are not afraid, as they used to be, of smoking in their shops during this month. The streets in the morning have a dull appearance, many of the shops being shut; but in the afternoon they are as much crowded as usual, and all the shops are open. A similar difference is also observable in the manners and temper of the people during the day-time and at night: while fasting, they are generally speaking very morose: in the evening, after breakfast, they are unusually affable and cheerful. As Ramaḍán now falls in the winter, the fast is comparatively easy; the days being short, and the weather cool: therefore thirst is not felt so severely. The period from the commencement of the fast (the imsák), which is at this season within two hours of sunrise, to the time when it ends, or sunset, is now (in the beginning of the month) 12 hours and 12 minutes: at the end of the month it will be 12 hours and 47 minutes. Servants who are fasting (as mine, and most others, are), if they have to bring a pipe to a person who is not keeping the fast, will not draw the smoke as usual at other times, but put a live coal upon the tobacco, and blow upon it, or wave the pipe through the air; and then present it. I take my principal meal now at sunset, in order that it may serve as a breakfast to any friend who may call on me in the evening, at or before that time. Towards evening, and for some time after sunset, the beggars in the streets are now more than usually importunate and clamorous. I often hear the cries of Faṭooree ʼaleyk ya Rabb! (My breakfast must be thy gift, O Lord !)―Ana deyf Allah wa-n-Nebee (I am the guest of God and the Prophet!)―and the following, which exhibits a union (not uncommon in similar cries) of the literary and popular dialects of Arabic―Men faṭṭar saʼim luh agrun daʼim (Who gives breakfast to a faster will have an enduring recompense). The coffeeshops are now much frequented by persons of the lower orders; many of whom prefer to break their fast with a cup of coffee and a pipe. Parties assemble at these shops a little before sunset, and wait there to hear the evening call to prayer, which announces the termination of the day's fast. Some of the coffeeshops offer the attraction of a reciter of tales, or poetical romances, during the nights of Ramaḍán. It is also a custom among some of the ʼUlama of Maṣr to have a Zikr performed in their houses, by a numerous company of faḳeers, every night during this month.(3) My almost daily visiter, the sheykh Aḥmad, the bookseller, tells me that he cannot spend much time with me this month; as he sleeps half the day, and breakfasts, and takes part in a Zikr, every evening, at the house of the late sheykh El-ʼAroosee, who was one of the four great sheykhs of Maṣr, presiding over the Ḥanafeeyeh, of whom he was also the muftee.―As I was sitting at the booksellers' shop to-day, the Báshà, Moḥammad ʼAlee, rode by, on his way to say the afternoon prayers in the mosque of the Ḥasaneyn, followed by only four attendants; the first of whom bore his seggádeh (or prayer Carpet), in an embroidered kerchief, on his lap. The Báshà was very plainly dressed, with a white turban. I should not have known him, had I not been informed that it was he; for he appears much older than when I was last in Egypt; though he looks remarkably well. He saluted the people right and left as he passed along: all rising to him.―It is the general fashion of the principal Turks in Maṣr, and of many of their countrymen, to repair to the mosque of the Ḥasaneyn in the afternoon during Ramaḍán, to pray and lounge; and on these occasions, a number of Turkish tradesmen (called Toḥafgeeyeh, or Toḥafjeeyeh) expose for sale, in the court of the meyḍa-ah (or tank for ablution) of this mosque, a variety of articles of taste and luxury suited to the wants of their countrymen; such as porcelain, glass, gold, silver, brass, and copper wares; cutlery; mouth-pieces of pipes and pipe-sticks; and many other commodities, chiefly from Constantinople, or other places in Europe. The interior of the Ḥasaneyn during the afternoon in Ramaḍán is one of the most interesting sights in Maṣr; but from the circumstances which render it so, and particularly from it being the most sacred of all the mosques in Maṣr, none but a Muslim can enter and witness the scene which it presents, unless accompanied by an officer of the government, without imminent risk of being discovered, violently turned out, insulted with scurrilous language, and perhaps beaten or spit upon. I only once ventured into this mosque on such an occasion; and then was careful to perform all the usual ceremonies. Many persons go to the mosque of the Ḥasaneyn to offer up their petitions for particular blessings, in the belief that the sanctity of the place will ensure the success of their prayers.
A man was beheaded to-day, for stealing several pipes and drinking-cups, belonging to the Báshà, in the Citadel.
Feb. 9th.―Last day (30th) of Ramaḍán.―Ramaḍán has passed away with scarcely any incident to relieve its dulness, excepting the usual merry-making of the lower orders of the people at night in the coffee-shops, where smoking tobacco or hemp, playing at some kind of game, or listening to a story-teller, were their ordinary amusements. I have not observed funerals to be more numerous than usual during the latter part of the month, as is the case when Ramaḍán falls in the warmer seasons; but the people have not seemed less out of humour with the fast. Weariness and moroseness are the predominant effects of the observance of Ramaḍán; and if people are seen at this time more than usually occupied in mumbling portions of the Ḳur-án, I think their motive is rather to pass away the time than anything else. I am told that many more persons break the fast now than did when I was last here. Even the Ḳádee told an acquaintance or mine, a few days ago, that it was his custom only to keep the first two and last two days of the fast. By the poor, in general, it is still rigidly kept; and, by them, most severely felt, as they can seldom relax from their ordinary labours. There is now living in this city an old man who fasts every day in the year, from day-break to sunset, excepting on the occasions of the two ʼEeds (or festivals), when it is unlawful for the Muslim to fast. At night he eats very sparingly. He keeps a shop in the shoe-market called Ḳaṣabat Rudwán, where he is generally seen occupied in reciting the Ḳur-án and handling his beads. It is said that there are several other persous here who fast in the same austere manner.―The weather during the month which is just expiring has been of an unusual kind: several very heavy showers of rain have fallen; and the streets have seldom been dry more than two or three days together.
In the afternoon of this day (at the hour of the ʼaṣr) the guns of the Citadel announced the termination of the period of the fast: the new moon having been seen. The fast is, however, kept till sunset. In the evening, the guns fired again. With sunset, the ʼEed commences. The people are all rejoicing: swings and whirligigs are erected in many parts of the town, and in its environs; and several story-tellers and reciters of poetry have collected audiences in various places.
10th.―First day of the ʼEed.―At day-break, all the mosques were crowded with worshippers, to perform the prayers of the ʼEed; and now, every minute, friends are seen in the streets congratulating, embracing, and kissing, each other. Many of the people (all who can afford) are seen in complete new suits of clothes: others, with a new ʼeree, or ṭarboosh and turban, or, at least, a new pair of red or yellow shoes. Most of the shops are shut, excepting those where eatables are sold. The people are mostly occupied in visits of congratulation; or repairing, particularly the women, to the tombs of their relatives. Donkeys laden with palm-branches, for the visiters of the tombs, obstruct the streets in many places. The guns of the Citadel are fired at noon and in the afternoon (at the ʼaṣr) on each of the three days of the ʼEed.
12th.―Last day of the ʼEed.―This day I accompanied my neighbour ʼOsmán to visit the tomb of the sheykh Ibraheem (Burckhardt), in the cemetery of Báb en-Naṣr, on the north of the city, to see that the monument was in good repair, and to pay to the memory of the lamented traveller that tribute of respect which is customary on the occasion of the ʼEed. The principal part of the burial-ground, directly opposite the Báb en-Naṣr, was occupied by dense crowds of persons who had collected there for their amusement, and presented a most singular scene. Vast numbers of tents were erected; some, for the reception of idlers; but most, for the visiters of the tombs; many of whom, conspicuous by their palm-branches, were, like ourselves, making their way with much difficulty through the multitude. A woman who had fallen down here on the first day of the ʼEed was trodden to death. Being mounted on donkeys, we got on better than some others; but our palm-branch, borne before us, and showing our pious intention, had not the effect of inducing anyone to move out of our way. A large space was occupied by swings and whirligigs, all in rapid motion, and loaded with boys and girls: the principal objects of attraction to persons of maturer age were conjurors, musicians, dancing-girls, and dancing-men. Having passed through the most crowded part of the cemetery, we soon arrived at the tomb of the sheykh Ibraheem. It is a plain and humble monument of the usual oblong form, constructed of the common coarse, calcareous stone of the neighbouring mountainrange of Muḳattam, with a stela of the same stone, roughly cut, and without any inscription, at the head and foot. Numerous faḳeers resort to the cemeteries during the three days of the ʼEed, to perform, for the remuneration of a piaster or two, the service usual on those occasions when visiters arrive; consisting of the recital of, at least, one of the longer chapters of the Ḳur-án, and afterwards of the Fátʼḥah, which latter the visiters recite with him. One of them was employed to perform this service by my friend. He did it very rapidly, and without much reverence, seated at the foot of the tomb. This being finished, and the palmbranch broken in pieces and laid on the tomb, a fee was given to the guardian of the tombs, and we returned.―ʼOsman performed the pilgrimage in company with the sheykh Ibraheem. He presented me a few days ago with the certificate of Ibraheem's pilgrimage. It is a paper of the size of a small quarto leaf: the greater part occupied by a representation of the temple of Mekkeh, drawn with ink, and ornamented with red, yellow, and green, and with silver leaf: beneath which picture is written the document of which the following is a copy.―“Praise be to God, who hath made the pilgrimage to be rightly accomplished, and the intention rewarded, and sin forgiven. To proceed.―The respected ḥágg Ibraheem hath performed the pilgrimage, according to the divine ordinances, and accomplished all the incumbent ordinances of the Prophet, completely and perfectly. And God is the best of witnesses. The halt was on the 9th day of the month of El-Ḥeggeh, in the year 1229.”
15th.―Witnessed the procession of the Kisweh, which I have described in one of my note-books.(4)
17th.―The Magician ʼAbd El-Káḍir came to me. His performances unsuccessful.
18th.―A man was beheaded yesterday; and another to-day. One was for entering a house to rob, and for attempting to murder the owner. He locked the latter in one of the rooms, and then proceeded to rifle the house. On descending, he saw the owner at a window, calling for assistance; and fired a pistol at him.―The crime of the other, who was a Turk, a ḳowwás of the Báshà, was robbing and murdering a Turkish pilgrim. He arrested the pilgrim on the canal of Alexandria, under pretence of his being required to answer some charge preferred against him before Moḥarram Bey, the Governor of Alexandria. After conducting him some little distance towards Alexandria, he murdered him, and threw his body into the pit of a sáḳiyeh. The companions of the unfortunate man, some days after, being surprised at hearing no tidings of him, applied to Moḥarram Bey; and finding that he knew nothing of the circumstance, searched for and apprehended the murderer.―Robberies have become very frequent here of late: crime, as might be expected, increasing with the oppression and misery of the people.―News arrived to-day of a number of Aḥmad Báshà's horses having been stolen, by a party of Bedawees, from the Feiyoom, where they had been sent for the clover season.
20th.―The Magician came again, in the evening. His performances I have described in one of my note-books.(5)
27th.―Went to the Ḥasaneyn, to see the Kisweh, the Burḳoʼ, &c., previously to their being packed up and dispatched with the caravan to Mekkeh. The sewing of the Kisweh was not quite completed: several men and women were at work upon it in the great hall, or portico. I asked for, and obtained, for a trifling present, a piece of the Kisweh, a span in length, and nearly the same in breadth. In sewing the several breadths together, it is necessary to cut off some small strips; and these are sold, or given, to persons who apply for them; being considered as amulets. In the saloon of the tomb, I found several pious visiters; and, among them, a poor man, standing before the bronze screen which surrounds the monument, and praying aloud, with uplifted hands, for food; saying―“Bread, O Lord! I pray for bread: I do not ask for dates: I only pray for bread.”―Afer I had recited the Fátʼḥah, according to custom, at the shrine of Ḥoseyn, I went to a small apartment adjoining the mosque, in which were placed the Burḳoʼ, the covering for the Maḳám Seydna Ibraheem, the covering of the Maḥmal. (which were partly unfolded for me to see), the Ḥegáb (or Muṣḥaf), of the Maḥmal, and the embroidered green silk bag in which is kept the key of the Ḳaṣbeh. As soon as I had gratified my curiosity by inspecting these sacred objects, and again recited the Fátʼḥah, by desire of the persons who showed them to me, and who did the same, I was overwhelmed with applications for presents by about a dozen ministers and inferior servants of the mosque. Three or four piasters satisfied them; or at least silenced them.―On my way to the Ḥasaneyn, I passed through the great mosque El-Azhar. I was obliged to send my servant by another way because he was carrying my pipe, which could not with propriety be taken into the mosque, though several persons were carrying about bread and other eatables in the great court and in the place of prayer, for sale to the mugáwireen (or students) and the other numerous frequenters of this great temple and university. The weather being not warm, the court was crowded with groups of students and idlers, lounging or basking in the sun; and part of it was occupied by schoolmasters with their young pupils. The interior of this mosque always presents a very interesting scene, at least to me, from its being the principal centre of attraction to the votaries of religion, of literature, and of other sciences, throughout the Muslim world. The college has just been disgraced by one of its members having been convicted of a robbery; and this morning several of the learned community, having heard that eight men were just about to be hanged, were in a state of alarm lest their guilty associate should be one of that number. A brother of this culprit was pointed out to me, conversing, with apparent apathy, with another person, who, turning to me, asked me if I knew of any case on record of a member of the ʼUlama being hanged.―Shortly after I had quitted the Ḥasaneyn, the eight men above-mentioned were hanged; each in a different part of the town. The member of the college was not among them. In crossing the principal street of the city, I saw one of them, hanging at the window of a sebeel, or public fountain. He was a soldier. His crime was robbery and murder. Another of the eigth was hanged for a similar crime. He entered the house of a rich Jewess, ostensibly for the purpose of taking away the dust; murdered her, by cutting off her head; put her remains into a large zeer (or water-jar), and having thrown some dust in the mouth of the jar, carried it away; but it was broken at the bottom, and some blood dripping from it attracted the notice of passengers in the street, and caused his apprehension. Some jewels which had belonged to the murdered woman were found upon his person.
3rd of March.―22nd of Showwál.―Saw the procession of the Maḥmal. It differed from the last which I saw, seven years ago (in 1827), in being attended with less pomp. First, about two hours and a half after sunrise, a small field-piece (for firing the signals for departure after the halts) was drawn along. This was followed by a company of Balṭageeyeh (or Pioneers), and the Báshà's guards, with their band at their head. Then came a train of several camels with large stuffed saddles, upon the forepart of which were fixed two small flags, slanting forwards, and a small plume of ostrich-feathers upon the top of a small stick placed upright. These camels were dyed red, with ḥennà; and had housings ornamented with small shells (cowries): some were decorated with palm-branches, fixed upright upon the saddle: some had a large bell hung on each side; and some bore a pair of the large kettle-drums called naḳáeer, with the man who beat them. The takhtʼrawán of the Emeer El-Ḥágg (or Chief of the Pilgrims) followed next, borne by two camels. Then came numerous groups of darweeshes, with the banners of their several orders (flags, poles, nets, &c.): some of them repeating the name of God, and nodding their heads; and some beating, with a leather strap, a small kettle-drum, which they held in the left hand. Among these groups were two swordsmen, who repeatedly engaged each other in a mock combat; two wrestlers, naked to the waist, and smeared with oil; and the fantastical figure described in my account of the procession of the Kisweh,(6) mounted on a horse, and clad in sheep-skins, with a high skin cap, and a false beard. The darweeshes were followed by the Maḥmal; which has but a poor appearance this year; the covering being old, and its embroidery tarnished. The people crowded to touch it with their hands, or with the end of a shawl; several persons unwinding their turbans, and women at the windows taking off their head-veils, for this purpose. I had been freely allowed to examine and handle it when it was deposited in the mosque of the Ḥasaneyn. The half-naked sheykh whom I have mentioned in my account of the procession of the Kisweh, and in that of the former procession of the Maḥmal, followed the sacred banner, as usual, mounted on a camel, and rolling his head. Some soldiers, with the Emeer el-Ḥágg and other officers who accompany the caravan, closed the procession. In less then an hour, the whole procession had passed the place where I sat.
Many of the shop-keepers in the principal sooḳs (or bázárs) are painting their shops in a rude kind of European style, decorating the shutters, &c., with flowers and other ornamental devices, painted on a light blue ground. The appearance of these streets may now be compared to that of an old Oriental garment, remarkable for the peculiarity of its form and work, patched over with pieces of European printed calico. I am sorry to observe that Maṣr is not only falling to decay, but that it is rapidly losing that uniform and unique style of architecture which has so long characterized it. Most of the new houses of the grandees and even of persons of moderate wealth, are built in the style of Constantinople; with shelving roofs and glass windows.―One of my friends here remarked to me that the painting the shops blue was a sign of some heavy calamity being about to befal the city: blue (but really of a very dark shade) being the colour of mourning. Another observed that these shops resembled the person who recommended their decoration (the Báshà); being fair without, but mean and dirty within.
There has been much talk here for some weeks past (ever since my arrival) of a project which the Báshà is about to put in execution, and which was at first said to be nothing less than the obstruction of the river by a dam to be thrown across it a few miles below the metropolis, in order to throw the whole tide of the river into the canals, and so to irrigate Lower Egypt more effectually: but latterly the real intention of the Báshà has become better known. The two branches of the Nile which enclose the Delta are to flow under two bridges, to be constructed a little below the point where the river divides, each in the neck of a peninsula formed by a bend of the river; across which neck or isthmus a new bed for the water is to be made as soon as the bridge is completed; after which the old bed surrounding the peninsula is to be filled up. These two bridges are to be connected with each other, and with Es-Suweys (or Suez) on the one side and Alexandria on the other, by a rail-road. The difficulty of the undertaking is immense; for these bridges are to withstand the tremendous tide of the inundation, and occasionally to be closed by flood-gates, so as to increase the height of the river above sufficiently to cause it to fill all the small canals by which the Delta and the adjacent provinces are irrigated. A similar undertaking was projected by Bonaparte, when here.
18th April.―9th Zu-l-Ḥeggeh.―This is the Day of the Pilgrimage; that is to say, of the six-hours' journey from Mekkeh to Mount ʼArafát, which gives to each person who performs it the title of Pilgrim, and without the performance of which he would not obtain that title even if he had journeyed to Mekkeh from the most remote part of the Muslim world. The halt upon Mount ʼArafát happening this year on a Friday, the Sabbath of the Muslims, has made several of my friends express great regret that they have been unable to perform the pilgrimage under such a propitious circumstance.
19th.―The ʼEed el-Kebeer.―Nothing unusual to remark upon.
May 25th.―We were somewhat alarmed to-day, about an hour after noon, by a shock of an earthquake. I was three times, with less than a moment's intervention, rather violently shaken on my seat; and several long cracks were opened in the walls of the house in which I am living. I have heard of no house having been thrown down or much injured by it. It is supposed to have shown its greatest violence (that is, to have originated) in Syria.
June 7th.―During the week which is now closing all classes of courtesans, including the ghawázee (or public dancing-girls), have been suppressed in the metropolis and its neighbourhood. This measure has been talked of, as about to be put in execution, for some months past. The courtesans had become extremely numerous, and were scattered in every quarter of the town; some of them living in houses almost fit to be the residences of grandees; and acquiring considerable wealth.
July 29th.―Went to the Pyramids of El-Geezeh. Stayed in “Caviglia's Tomb.”
30th.―We again experienced a shock of an earthquake, more violent than the former, at about half-past nine P.M. Heard of no injury done.
Aug. 2nd.―Returned from the Pyramids.
5th.―The dam of the Canal of Maṣr cut. I have given an account of this in another note-book.(7)
12th.―Last night, Seleem Bey, a general in the Báshà's service, hired a large party of fiḳees, to perform a recital of the Ḳur-án, in his house in this city; and then went up into his Ḥareem, and strangled his wife. He had written to Ibraheem Báshà, accusing this woman (who was the daughter of a Turk in high office) of incontinence; and asking his permission to punish her. He received for answer, that he might do as he pleased. He then sent Ibraheem Báshà's letter to Moḥammad ʼAlee, asking the same permission of the latter; and received the same answer. The case presents a sufficient proof of Moḥammad ʼAlee's ideas of justice and humanity. Had he wished to indulge his creature with permission to exercise the utmost severity of the law, he could only have said―“If you can produce four witnesses against your wife, or if you can swear that you have witnessed her crime by the oath ordained in cases of this kind, and she will not take the same oath that the accusation is false, let her be stoned to death.”
Sept. 17th.―My 33rd birth-day. I have completed as far as I can see, my notes on the manners and customs of the Muslims of Egypt. I have only to look over them; and to ask a few questions respecting the Copts.(8)
Oct. 27th.―I generally pay a visit to the shop of the Báshà's booksellers on the mornings of Monday and Thursday, when auction-markets are held in the street where the shop is situated, and in the neighbouring bázár of Khán El-Khaleelee (the chief Turkish bázár) which occasion the street above-mentioned to be much crowded, and to present an amusing scene: but I am often more amused with the persons who frequent the shop where I take my seat. When I went there to-day, I found there an old man who had been possessed of large property in land; but had been deprived of it by the Báshà, and been compelled to become a member of the university, the great mosque El-Azhar. This man, the Ḥagg . . . . . . . . , is a celebrated character. He rendered great assistance, both by his wealth and by active service, to Moḥammad ʼAlee, in his contest with his predecessor, Khursheed Báshà, when the latter was besieged in the Citadel. The greater part of his property was confiscated by the man he had thus served, through fear of his influence. He thus shared the fate of most of those who had rendered eminent services to Moḥammad ʼAlee; but he contrived to hide much of his wealth; and has since employed friends to trade with it privately on his account, so that he has still a large income; but the third part of his receipts he always gives to the poor. The elder of the two booksellers was relating his having just purchased a house. There lived next-door to him, he said, a fiḳee, a member of the Azḥar, and of some repute; to whom 14 ḳeeráṭs (or 24th parts) of the house in which he (the fiḳee) lodged belonged: the other 10 ḳeeráṭs of this house belonged to a tailor. The bookseller's house was entered, from the roof, and plundered, three times, of wheat, butter, &c. The fiḳee was accused by the bookseller of having committed these thefts; and confessed that he had; urging, in palliation, that he had only taken his food. The bookseller caused him to be imprisoned in the Citadel; and, after he had been confined there many days, offered to procure his liberation if he would sell him the above-mentioned share of his house. This was done; it was sold for six and a half purses. The bookseller then wanted to procure the tailor's share; and proposed to him to repair or separate or sell: for the house was in a ruined state. The tailor, refusing to do either, was summoned to the Ḳádee's court, and compelled to sell his share; for which he demanded five purses. Having received this sum of money, he met, on his way home, a friend, whom he told what he had done. “You fool”―said his friend―“you might have asked ten purses, and it would have been given.” The tailor threw down the purse in the middle of the street; kicked off his shoes; and for several minutes continued slapping his face, and crying out, like a woman,―“O my sorrow!” He then snatched up the purse, and ran home with it, crying in the same manner all the way; and leaving his friend to follow him with his shoes.―Soon after the bookseller had told this story, there joined us a Persian darweesh, whom I had often met there before, and a fat, merry-looking, red-faced man, loaded with ragged clothing, showing the edge of a curly head of hair below his turban, and carrying a long staff. Everybody at the shop, excepting myself, kissed his hand: he offered me his hand, and, after taking it, I kissed my own, and he did the same. I was informed that he was a celebrated saint. He took snuff; smoked from my pipe; and had a constant smile upon his countenance; though he seldom spoke: almost the only words he uttered were a warm commendation of an answer which I gave to the Persian: on his (the Persian's) asking me why I had not already departed from Maṣr as I had intended, I said that the servant of God was passive and not elective; and this sentiment, though common, seemed much to please the welee: he repeated it with emphasis.―There next joined us a man of a very respectable and intelligent appearance, applying for a copy of the sheykh Rifáʼah's visit to France, lately printed at Booláḳ. Asking what were the general contents of this book, a person present answered him, that the author relates his voyage from Alexandria to Marseilles; how he got drunk on board the ship, and was tied to the mast, and flogged; that he ate pork in the land of infidelity and obstinacy, and that it is a most excellent meat; how he was delighted with the French girls, and how superior they are in charms to the women of Egypt; and, having qualified himself, in every accomplishment, for an eminent place in Hell, returned to his native country. This was an ironical quizz on the sheykh Rifáʼah for his strict conscientious adherence to the precepts of El-Islám during his voyage and his residence in France. The applicant for this book had a cataract in each of his eyes. I advised him to seek relief from the French surgeon Clot Bey; but he said that he was afraid to go to the hospital; for he had heard that many patients there were killed and boiled, to make skeletons: he afterwards, however, on my assuring him that his fears were groundless, promised to go.―While I was talking with him, there began to pass by the shop a long funeral-train, consisting of numerous fiḳees, and many of the ʼUlamà. On my asking whose funeral it was, I was answered, “The sheykh El-Menzeláwee,” sheykh of the Saạdeeyeh darweeshes. I was surprised; having seen him a few days bfore in apparently good health. Presently I saw him walking in the procession. I asked again; and was answered as before. “Why,” said I, “praise be to God, the sheykh is walking with you, in good health:” I was then told that the deceased was his wife. Some Saạdeeyeh in the procession were performing a zikr as they passed along; repeating “Allah!” When the bier came in view, I heard the women who followed raising their zaghaʼreet, or cries of joy, instead of lamenting. The deceased was a famous saint. She was the sister of the late sheykh of the Saạdeeyeh; and it is believed that her husband, the present sheykh, derived his miraculous powers from her. It is said that she prophesied yesterday the exact hour of her death this day. The women began to lament when the corpse left the house; and, as usual when this is done at the funeral of a saint, the bearers declared that they could not move it: as soon as the lamentations were changed to the cries of joy, the bearers pretended to find their work quite easy.(9)
Nov. 6th.―To-day, as I was sitting at the booksellers' shop, a reputed welee, whom I have often seen, came and seated himself by me, and began in a series of abrupt sentences, to relate to me various matters respecting me, past, present, and to come. His name is the sheykh ʼAlee el-Leysee. He is a poor man, supported by alms: tall and thin and very dark; about thirty years of age; and wears nothing, at present, but a blue shirt and a girdle, and a padded red cap. “O Efendee!” he said, “thou hast been very anxious for some days. There is a grain of anxiety remaining in thee yet. Do not fear. There is a letter coming to thee by sea, that will bring thee good news. [He then told Lane that all his family were well except one, who was then suffering from an intermittent fever, which was proved afterwards to be true.] . . . . . . I wanted to ask thee for something to-day; but I feared: I feared greatly. Thou must be invested with wiláyeh” (i. e. be made a welee): “the welees love thee; and the Prophet loves thee. Thou must go to the sheykh Mustafa El-Munádee, and the sheykh El-Baháee!” (These are two very celebrated welees). “Thou must be a welee.” He then took my right hand, in the manner which is practised on giving the covenant which admits a person a darweesh, and repeated the Fátʼḥah; after which he added, “I have admitted thee my darweesh.” Having told me of several circumstances relating to me, some of which he had doubtless learned of persons acquainted with me, and which I could not deny, and some which time only will prove true or false, he ventured at a further prophecy and hazardous guessing; and certainly his guessing was wonderful; for he informed me of matters relating to my family which were perfectly true, matters of an unusual nature, with singular minuteness and truth; making no mistake as far as I yet know. He then added―“To night, please God, thou shalt see the Prophet (Moḥammad) in thy sleep, and El-Khiḍr, and the seyd El-Bedawee. This is Regeb; and I wanted to ask of thee―but I feared―I wanted to ask of thee four piasters, to buy meat and bread and oil and radishes. Regeb! Regeb! I have great offices to do for thee to-night.” Less than a shilling for all that he promised was little enough. I gave it him for the trouble he had taken; and he muttered many abrupt prayers for me.(10) It is just a year, to-day, since I embarked in London for this country.
7th.―I saw, in my sleep, neither Moḥammad nor El-Khiḍr nor the seyd El-Bedawee; unless, like Nebuchadnezzar, I cannot remember my dreams. The welee, therefore, I fear, is a cheat.
11th.―The Turkish pilgrims are beginning to arrive, in considerable numbers.―Four men were beheaded to-day, for repeated robberies and murders.
18th.―Went to the Moolid of the Seyyideh Zeyneb; which I have described in note-book no. 3.(11)
20th.―About a hundred boys, from about 11 to 14 years of age, were conducted by my house this evening, to be enlisted. The mothers of many of them followed, screaming, and with their heads, faces, breasts, and the fore part of their clothing, plastered with mud.
22nd.―The government has given orders, which are being put in execution, to pull down the maṣṭabahs and the saḳeefehs, or coverings, of matting, in almost all the sooḳs, or básárs, and most of the thoroughfare streets. The former are not to be rebuilt in the more narrow and more frequented streets, and in most other parts are only to be made about two spans wide. The saḳeefehs are not to be replaced unless constructed of wood. The reason for pulling down or altering the maṣṭabahs is to afford more room for the passengers, and particularly for the Báshà's carriages, and for carts which are to be employed to remove dust and rubbish. The appearance of the city is rapidly changing, and losing its Arabian aspect.
24th.―The sheykh ʼAlee told me to-day that I should not yet set out on my voyage home. In the evening news arrived of the plague having broken out in Alexandria, which prevents my going as I had intended by a ship now loading. I was packing to leave Maṣr. I fear I shall be detained here until next spring or summer.
28th.―Witnessed the festival of the Meạrág, described in notebook no 3.(12)
1st December.―The shopkeepers are decorating (as they call it) their shops; and most of the larger private houses, and many others, in the thoroughfare streets, are undergoing the same operation, by order of the government, in honour (it is said) of Ibraheem Báshà, who is soon expected in Maṣr, from Syria. Most of the shops and houses are daubed with red and white, in broad, horizontal stripes; which, being very ill done in general, must be called in truth the reverse of decoration. Others are daubed in a more fanciful and more rude style, with lines, spots, &c., of red upon a white ground; and some, with grotesque representations of men, beasts, trees, boats, &c., such as very young children in our country would amuse themselves by drawing.
26th.―I have been in Cairo just a year. I begin now to write out the fair copy of my work on the Modern Egyptians. The plague continues at Alexandria.
4th January, 1835.―The plague has spread beyond Alexandria, and to-day a Maltese, from Alexandria, died here, in the Frank quarter, of this disease. I prepare immediately to go to Thebes, to be secure from the plague, as it is expected now to spread in Cairo. Mr. Fresnel is to accompany me.
5th.―Engaged a large boat to take us to Thebes, for four hundred piasters.
8th.―Embarked for Thebes, in the afternoon. Proceeded to Maṣr el-ʼAteeḳah.
9th.―Contrary wind. Remained at Maṣr el-ʼAteeḳah.
10th.―Fine wind. Passed Riḳḳah in the evening.
11th.―High N. wind. Arrived at Benee Suweyf at noon. Here some faḳeers, thinking us Turkish pilgrims, came and recited the Ḳur-án, for alms, by our boat. Proceeded.
12th.―Passed El-Minyeh after sunset.
13th.―Stopped before the grottoes of Benee Ḥasan at night. Early next morning landed to walk to the Speos Artemidos, which I had not hitherto seen. Took with me one of my servants (Khaleefeh, a young man), a Copt whom we had taken as a passenger to Thebes (ʼAbd el-Mellák), and two boatmen; one of these two boatmen was a very fine man, the other an old, fat, inactive fellow. Put my pistols in Khaleefeh's girdle; and myself carried nothing but my sword. A little above the grottoes above-mentioned is a ruined and deserted village by the river. About a mile further is another ruined village partly inhabited; and about the same distance beyond this is a third village, wholly inhabited, with palm-trees. We passed the first and second villages. A little beyond the latter we turn towards the mountains, and find a wide ravine or valley, in the right or southern side of which are several grottoes along the lower part of the rock. As we approached this ravine, several groups of people came out from the second village, with nebboots; and some with guns and pistols: two groups, about a dozen altogether, followed us: we saw that we were in danger, but it was too late to retreat. The men came to us. Some went back; others came; and soon there came another group from the third village, with a man in a clean blue gown, meláyeh, and white turban: these sat a while at the entrance of the ravine, while we were within, with the other men, who spoke civilly to us, but looked exceedingly treacherous and savage. A boy who accompanied them whispered to my servant and the younger boatman to keep close to me; for that the men with him had come to take them for soldiers. As it was now impossible to escape, I began to examine the line of grottoes, and prepared to make a drawing; merely that they might not be deceived by my dress, and take me for a Turk; as Europeans are more protected now in Egypt.―Soon after I had begun to make a sketeh of this excavation, for the purpose before mentioned, the party that was at the entrance of the ravine came to us; and while my back was turned, they seized my servant and the younger boatman: the pistols were snatched from the servant and discharged and carried away and one of them broken, and the two prisoners were hurried off, while two men held me to prevent my drawing my sword, which, as they truly enough said, would have been the cause of my being immediately killed. As soon as the men who had taken my servant and boatman had proceeded a few hundred yards towards the principal village, the others left me with my two remaining attendants. As quickly as I could, I gathered together my instruments, and then pursued the party who had taken my two men. On my approaching them, three of them turned back (one of these, the chief, with the white turban, &c.), and desired me to return. I said I should follow them to the village, and there liberate the prisoners. Upon this, they attacked with their long staves; and I received from the chief a blow on my chest, which obliged me to retreat, or I should without doubt have been killed. A boy who was with them followed me; brought back my pistols; kissed them twice, and, kneeling on the ground, presented them to me. The flints were taken out. My servant and the boatman, as I learned afterwards, were taken before the governor of the district that same day. A woman followed my servant, with feigned lamentations, crying, “Why do you say you are not my son? Is not that decorated house the house of your father? and are not those palm-trees your father's palm-trees? and have not you eaten the red dates?” This was to make the governor think that he was a young man of the village, and not stolen: for a number of men had been required from the village for soldiers; and the people of the village had been employing themselves in taking passengers instead. They took five others that same day; and one of these, who attempted to escape, they shot, in the presence of my servant.―I returned to my boat, with the intention of applying immediately to the governor (ma-moor) of the district. We were informed that he was at the village of Sáḳiyet Moosà, a few miles higher up the river, on the opposite (or western) bank. On arriving there, we found that he was at the opposite village of Esh-sheykh Timáee. The wind was so violent that we could not cross over with safety until the evening. We then landed there, about an hour after sunset. Accompanied by Mr. Fresnel, I went to his house. He was sitting with a number of attendants, in an open-fronted room (a maḳʼad) facing a court, and, after the day's fasting (it being Ramaḍám), was amusing himself by listening to the chanting of a public reciter of poetry. We entered with an abrupt and consequential manner, necessary to be assumed on such an occasion; and the governor rose to us, returned us the Muslim salutation, and gave up his own place to me; for I, having to make the complaint, was foremost. He handed me the snake of his sheesheh; and coffee was brought. I then made my complaint, with an air of assumed pride, showed our firmáns, which nobody present could read, and demanded the restoration of my servant and boatman, and the punishment of the men who had assaulted me; particularly of him who had struck me. The ma-moor did not confess that the servant and boatman had been brought to him that day at Benee Ḥasan, which was the case; but promised that they should be restored, and that he would soften the feet of the men who had assaulted me.―On the following morning the servant was brought and given up to me; but the persons who brought him declared to the ma-moor that the boatman had made his escape, and that the men who had assaulted me had fled. So that I failed in my object of punishing them and gained but half what I wished. I found afterwards that the man who struck me was the sheykh of Benee Ḥasan: had I known this before, I could have insisted upon his being punished; as they could not have had the impudence to say that the sheykh would run away from his superior officer.
14th.―Having obtained the liberation of my servant, proceeded to Mellowee. Remained there the following day.―15th. Proceeded to Gebel El-Ḳuseyr.―17th. Becalmed under Gebel El-Ḳuseyr. Towed a little.―18th. Passed Menfeloot after sunset.―19th. Arrived at Asyoot at 1 P.M. Proceeded in the evening.―20th. Passed Aboo Teeg at 1 P.M.―21st. Passed Akhmeem in the afternoon.―22nd. Arrived at Girga. This town is much ruined since I was last here: it has suffered much from the river. Proceeded about noon. Made but little way. Saw a crocodile.―23rd. Calm. Thermometer 73°. Proceeded by towing. Approaching the neighbourhood of Farshoot, saw nine crocodiles together, and shortly after, nineteen more.―24th. Arrived at Hoo at sunset.―25th. To Dishneh.―26th. Saw nine crocodiles on two sand-banks opposite Dendara: Arrived at Ḳinè at night.―27th. Passed Ḳuft at night.―28th. Saw about forty vultures (most of them rakhams, but many nisrs) on a sand-bank, in the morning, near the skeleton of a crocodile: afterwards, many pelicans and cranes. Proceeded a little way by towing, and afterwards by sail.―29th. Last day of Ramaḍán. Arrived at El-Ḳurneh about 1 P.M.
It was our intention to take up our quarters in a tomb which had been converted into a convenient dwelling by Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Hay. We found Mr. Gosset occupying one apartment of it: I have taken possession of another apartment, separated from the former by a low wall with a door; and Mr. Fresnel has settled in a tomb just below, which was occupied by Bonomi and other artists in the employ of Mr. Hay. Our abode is in the Hill of the Sheykh, overlooking the whole plain of Thebes. A man named ʼOwad has the charge of it; and Mr. Gosset and I pay him each 15 piasters a month for his services.
April 3rd.―The Báshà has paid a visit to this part of Egypt; went as far as Isna; and has just passed us on his way down. It is said that he came to inspect the state of the agriculture and to inquire into the conduct of the local governors; which he has not done. He has caused the villages of Erment to be destroyed; and the sheep &c. of all the inhabitants and of strangers who had sent their cattle &c. thither for pasture to be confiscated; because many of the peasants of these villages could not be made to pay their taxes.
17th.―Good Friday.―A man of this place died to-day of the plague, taken by wearing the clothes of a Nubian boatman, who was landed here five days ago, ill of this disease, and placed under the sycamore at the landing-place to die; where he did die very soon after. The man of this place who died to-day was a relation of my guard; whom, as he has had intercourse with the family of the dead man, and, I am told, attended the funeral, I am obliged to dismiss for a time. Put ourselves in strict quarantine. M. Mimaut, the French Consul-General, who is staying at Luxor put a stop next day to all communication between this side of the river and the opposite; but is to send us meat &c. every two days.
20th.―Another man of this place, a relation of the one abovementioned, and father of Mr. Gosset's guard and water-carrier, died of the plague to-day, taken by wearing the clothes of the Nubian boatman.
May 9th.―No more deaths by plague having occurred here, we gave up our quarantine this day; having confined ourselves three weeks. The plague is said to be very severe in Alexandria; and becoming so in the metropolis.
June 25th.―The plague is said to have almost ceased in the metropolis and Alexandria in the beginning of this month. The French Consul has received intelligence that 75,000 persons have died by it in Maṣr; and that 6000 houses are completely desolated by this disease, and closed. We sent yesterday to Ḳinè, for a boat to convey us to Maṣr,―and Mr. Gosset left yesterday.
Our messengers came back from Ḳinè without having procured a boat; finding the demands for boat-hire very high, on account of the number of pilgrims on their return from the Ḥegáz. We sent again; and procured a large dahabeeyeh to convey us to Maṣr, for 650 piasters; of which I am to pay half.
30th.―Our boat arrived last night. We embarked to-day, and commenced our voyage at about 1 P.M.―1st July. Arrived early at Ḳinè. Went to the remains of Dendara: found the first little temple destroyed; a great portion of the portal before the great temple, and part of the great temple itself, the upper part of the middle of the east side. In and about the temple were many felláḥeen, hiding themselves, in the fear of being taken to work in making a new canal, or of being pressed for the army. Two or three cases of cholera had occurred at Ḳinè: I heard of three deaths by this disease here: it is said to be also in the Ḥegáz. Continued our voyage in the afternoon.―3rd. Arrived at Girga in the forenoon.―4th. Passed Akhmeem, at night.―5th. Stayed most part of the day at Gezeeret Shenduweel.―6th. Stopped at Tahta.―7th. To Aboo Teeg.―8th. Arrived at Asyoot, at 10 A.M.―9th. Arrived at Menfeloot, at 9 A.M. Proceeded at noon. Menfeloot has lately been much ruined by the inundations, towards the river.―10th. Passed Tell el-ʼAmár'neh at sunset.―11th. Passed El-Minyeh after sunset.―12th. To Aboo Girga.―13th. Passed Benee Suweyf, at night.―14th. Saw the Pyramids of Dahshoor in the evening.―15th. Arrived at Maṣr el-ʼAteeḳah, at 8 A.M.: landed, and took up my abode in my former house.
A few deaths by cholera have happened in the metropolis and its neighbourhood. Some persons say that the plague has not yet quite ceased here. It has destroyed a third, or more, of the population of the city; about 80,000 persons; chiefly young persons, between 10 and 25 years of age; and most of these females. It has also been particularly fatal to Franks and other foreigners. 6000 houses here have been desolated by it; and are closed. In riding through the whole length of the metropolis, from south to north, I saw so few people in the streets compared with the number I used formerly to see, and so few shops open, that I should have thought that more than half the inhabitants had been destroyed. This is partly to be accounted for by the fact of many persons having fled to the country to escape the plague.―Last Friday, a number of persons spread a report that many of the victims of the plague had been buried alive (in trance), and numerous women, children, and others, went out to one of the great burial-grounds to disinter their relations and friends, taking with them bread, water-melons, &c., for them. Several tombs were opened. Some ignorant people even believed that the general resurrection was to take place on that day. The plague is still in Alexandria; but slight; two or three cases a day.
16th.―To-day, being Thursday, when lamentations are renewed for persons not long dead, I was awoke early from my sleep by wailings in several houses around me. A few persons still die of the plague here. These cases are of persons attacked by the disease some days ago; a week or more. No new cases are heard of.
20th.―Exaggerated reports are spread respecting the cholera here. It makes but little progress: the deaths not ten a day. The plague is very severely raging at Dimyát.
The journal ends with two stories of the Plague noted on August 1st and 2nd. Shortly after this Lane returned to England, carrying with him the manuscript of certainly the most perfect picture of a people's life that has ever been written, his “Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.”
- Here follows the story of Sheykh Aḥmad's mother, told in the preface to The Modern Egyptians, p. xviii. (5th Ed.)
- Cp. Mod. Eg. p. 472.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp.474―G
- Cp. Mod. Eg. p. 480.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp. 268, ff.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp. 481, ff.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp. 493―8.
- Here follows an account of the nine days' festival which took place on the marriage of the sister of Aḥmad Báshà; cp. Mrs. Poole's English-woman in Egypt, vol. iii. pp. 61―77.
- Cp. notes to the Thousand and One Nights, 2nd ed., ii., p. 64.
- Cp. Thousand and One Nights, i., p. 212.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp. 467,8.
- Cp. Mod. Eg. pp. 468―70.