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Title: Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay
Author: Roberts, Miss Emma, 1794-1840
Language: English
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NOTES
OF
AN OVERLAND JOURNEY
THROUGH
FRANCE AND EGYPT
TO
BOMBAY.

BY THE LATE
MISS EMMA ROBERTS.

WITH A MEMOIR.

1841

the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at
http://gallica.bnf.fr



CONTENTS.

       *       *       *       *       *

MEMOIR

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER I.

LONDON TO PARIS.

  Departure from London--A French Steam-vessel--Unfavourable
  Weather--Arrival at Havre--Difficulties at the
  Custom-house--Description of Havre--Embarkation on the Steamer for
  Rouen--Appearance of the Country--Inclemency of the Weather--Arrival
  at Rouen--Description of Rouen--Departure by the Boat for
  Paris--Scenes and Traditions on the Banks of the Seine--Journey by the
  Railroad to Paris--The _Douaniers_--Observations on the Journey up the
  Seine

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER II.

PARIS TO MARSEILLES.

  Description of Paris--Departure by the Diligence--The Country--The
  Vineyards--Hotels and fare--Arrival at Lyons--Description of
  the City--Departure in the Steam-boat for Arles--Descent of the
  Rhône--Beauty and Variety of the Scenery--Confusion on disembarking at
  Beaucaire--A Passenger Drowned--Arrival at Arles--Description of the
  Town--Embarkation in the Steamer for Marseilles--Entrance into the
  Mediterranean--Picturesque Approach to Marseilles--Arrival in the
  Harbour--Description of Marseilles--Observations upon the Journey
  through France by Ladies

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER III.

MARSEILLES TO ALEXANDRIA.

  Vexations at the Custom-house--Embarkation on the Malta
  Steamer--Difficulties of exit from the Harbour--Storm--Disagreeable
  Motion of the Steam-vessel--Passengers--Arrival at Malta--Description
  of the City--Vehicles--Dress of the Maltese Women--State of
  Society--Church of St. John--The Palace--The Cemetery of the Capuchin
  Convent--Intolerance of the Roman Catholic Priesthood--Shops,
  Cafés, and Hotels--Manufactures and Products of Malta--Heat of
  the Island--Embarkation on board an English Government
  Steamer--Passengers--A young Egyptian--Arrival at Alexandria--Turkish
  and Egyptian Fleets--Aspect of the City from the Sea--Landing

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER IV.

ALEXANDRIA TO BOULAK.

  Description of Alexandria--Hotels--Houses--Streets--Frank
  Shops--Cafés--Equipages--Arrangements for the Journey to
  Suez--Pompey's Pillar--Turkish and Arab Burial-grounds--Preparations
  for the Journey to Cairo--Embarkation on the Canal--Bad accommodation
  in the Boat--Banks of the Canal--Varieties of Costume in
  Egypt--Collision during the night--Atfee--Its wretched appearance--The
  Pasha--Exchange of Boats--Disappointment at the Nile--Scarcity of
  Trees--Manners of the Boatmen--Aspect of the Villages--The Marquess
  of Waterford--The Mughreebee Magician--First sight of the
  Pyramids--Arrival at Boulak, the Port of Cairo

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER V.

CAIRO.

  Arrival at Boulak--Description of the place--Moolid, or Religious
  Fair--Surprise of the People--The Hotel at Cairo--Description of
  the City--The Citadel--View from thence--The City--The
  Shops--The Streets--The interior of the Pasha's
  Palace--Pictures--Furniture--Military Band--Affray between a Man and
  Woman--Indifference of the Police to Street Broils--Natives beaten
  by Englishmen--Visit to an English Antiquary--By-ways of
  the City--Interior of the Houses--Nubian
  Slave-market--Gypsies--Preparation for Departure to Suez--Mode of
  driving in the Streets of Cairo--Leave the City--The Changes in
  travelling in Egypt--Attractions of Cairo

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER VI.

THE DESERT.

  Equipage for crossing the Desert--Donkey-chairs--Sense of calmness and
  tranquillity on entering the Desert--Nothing dismal in its
  aspect--The Travellers' Bungalow--Inconvenient construction of these
  buildings--Kafila of the Governor of Jiddah and his Lady--Their
  Equipage--Bedouins--Impositions practised on Travellers--Desert
  Travelling not disagreeable--Report of the sailing of the
  Steamer--Frequency of false reports--Ease with which an infant of
  the party bore the journey--A wheeled carriage crossing the
  Desert--Parties of Passengers from Suez encountered--One of Mr. Hill's
  tilted Caravans--Difficulty of procuring water at the Travellers'
  Bungalow--A night in the Desert--Magnificent sunrise--First sight
  of the Red Sea and the Town of Suez--Miserable appearance of the
  latter--Engagement of a Passage to Bombay

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER VII.

SUEZ TO ADEN.

  Travellers assembling at Suez--Remarks on the Pasha's
  Government--Embarkation on the Steamer--Miserable accommodation in the
  _Berenice_, and awkwardness of the attendants--Government Ships not
  adapted to carry Passengers--Cause of the miserable state of the Red
  Sea Steamers--Shores of the Red Sea--Arrival at Mocha--Its appearance
  from the Sea--Arrival at Aden--Its wild and rocky appearance on
  landing--Cape Aden--The Town--Singular appearance of the Houses--The
  Garrison expecting an attack by the Arabs--Discontent of the
  Servants of Europeans at Aden--Complaints by Anglo-Indians against
  Servants--Causes--Little to interest Europeans in Aden

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER VIII.

ADEN.

  Commanding situation of Aden--Its importance in former times--But few
  remains of its grandeur--Its facilities as a retreat for the piratical
  hordes of the Desert--The loss of its trade followed by reduction
  of the population--Speculations as to the probability of ultimately
  resisting the Arabs--Exaggerated notions entertained by the Shiekhs of
  the wealth of the British--Aden a free Port would be the Queen of the
  adjacent Seas--Its advantages over Mocha--The Inhabitants of Aden--The
  Jews--The Banians--The Soomalees--The Arabs--Hopes of the prosperity
  of Aden--Goods in request there--Exports--Re-embarkation on the
  Steamer--Want of attention--Makallah--Description of the place--Its
  products--The Gazelle--Traveller in Abyssinia--Adventurous English
  Travellers--Attractions of the Arab life--Arrival at Bombay

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER IX.

BOMBAY.

  Contrast between landing at Bombay and at Calcutta--First feelings
  those of disappointment--Aspect of the place improves--Scenery of the
  Island magnificent, abounding with fine Landscapes--Luxuriance and
  elegance of the Palms--Profusion and contrast of the Trees--Multitude
  of large Houses in Gardens--Squalid, dirty appearance of the
  Native Crowd--Costume of the Natives--Inferior to the Costume of
  Bengal--Countenances not so handsome--The Drive to the Fort--The
  Burrah Bazaar--Parsee Houses--"God-shops" of the Jains--General use
  of Chairs amongst the Natives--Interior of the Native Houses--The
  Sailors' Home--The Native Town--Improvements--The Streets animated
  and picturesque--Number of Vehicles--The Native Females--The Parsee
  Women--The Esplanade--Tents and Bungalows--The Fort--The China
  Bazaar--A Native School--Visit to a Parsee Warehouse--Real ornamental
  China-ware--Apprehension of Fire in the Fort--Houses fired by
  Rats--Illumination of Native Houses--Discordant noise of Native
  Magic--The great variety of Religions in Bombay productive of
  lamp-lighting and drumming

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER X.

BOMBAY--(_Continued_).

  Bombay the rising Presidency--Probability of its becoming the Seat of
  Government--The Anglo-Indian Society of Bombay--Style of Living--The
  Gardens inferior to those of Bengal--Interiors of the Houses more
  embellished--Absence of Glass-windows an evil--The Bungalows--The
  Encamping-ground--Facility and despatch of a change of
  residence--Visit to a tent entertainment--Inconveniences attending a
  residence in tents--Want of Hotels and Boarding-houses--Deficiency of
  public Amusements in Bombay--Lectures and _Conversaziones_ suggested,
  as means of bringing the native community into more frequent
  intercourse with Europeans--English spoken by the superior classes
  of Natives--Natives form a very large portion of the wealth and
  intelligence of Bombay--Nothing approaching the idea of a City to be
  seen--The climate more salubrious than that of Bengal--Wind blows hot
  and cold at the same time--Convenience a stranger finds in so many
  domestic servants speaking English--Their peculiar mode of speaking
  it--Dress of servants--Their wages--The Cooks--Improved by Lord
  Clare--Appointments of the tables--The Ramoosee Watchmen--Their
  vociferations during the night--Fidelity of the Natives--Controversy
  concerning their disregard of truth.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER XI.

BOMBAY--(_Continued_).

  Residences for the Governor--Parell--Its Gardens--Profusion of
  Roses--Receptions at Government-house--The evening-parties--The
  grounds and gardens of Parell inferior to those at Barrackpore--The
  Duke of Wellington partial to Parell--Anecdotes of his Grace
  in India--Sir James Mackintosh--His forgetfulness of India--The
  Horticultural Society--Malabar Point, a retreat in the hot
  weather--The Sea-view beautiful--The nuisance of fish--Serious effects
  at Bombay of the stoppage of the trade with China--Ill-condition
  of the poorer classes of Natives--Frequency of Fires--Houses of the
  Parsees--Parsee Women--Masculine air of the other Native Females
  of the lower orders who appear in
  public--Bangle-shops--Liqueur-shops--Drunkenness amongst Natives
  not uncommon here, from the temptations held out--The Sailors'
  Home--Arabs, Greeks, Chinamen--The latter few and shabby--Portuguese
  Padres--Superiority of the Native Town of Bombay over that of
  Calcutta--Statue of Lord Cornwallis--Bullock-carriages--High price and
  inferiority of horses in Bombay--Hay-stacks--Novel mode of stacking

       *       *       *       *       *

CHAPTER XII.

BOMBAY--(_Continued_).

  The Climate of Bombay treacherous in the cold season--The land-wind
  injurious to health--The Air freely admitted into Rooms--The
  Climate of the Red Sea not injurious to Silk dresses--Advice to
  lady-passengers on the subject of dress--The Shops of Bombay badly
  provided--Speculations on the site of the City, should the seat of
  Government be removed hither--The Esplanade--Exercise of Sailors
  on Shore and on Ship-board--Mock-fight--Departure of Sir Henry
  Fane--Visit to a fair in Mahim Wood--Prophecy--Shrine of Mugdooree
  Sahib--Description of the Fair--Visit to the mansion of a
  Moonshee--His Family--Crowds of Vehicles returning from the
  Fair--Tanks--Festival of the _Duwallee_--Visit to a Parsee--Singular
  ceremony--The Women of India impede the advance of improvement--They
  oppose every departure from established rules--Effect of Education in
  Bombay yet superficial--Cause of the backwardness of Native Education



MEMOIR.

       *       *       *       *       *

Experience has, especially of late years, amply refuted the barbarous
error, which attributes to Nature a niggardliness towards the minds
of that sex to which she has been most prodigal of personal gifts;
the highest walks of science and literature in this country have been
graced by female authors, and, perhaps, the purity and refinement
which pervade our works of imagination, compared with those of former
days, may not unjustly be traced to the larger share which feminine
pens now have in the production of these works. It would appear to
countenance the heretical notion just condemned, to assume that
a robust organization is essential to the proper development and
exercise of the powers of the understanding; but it is certain
that, in several instances, individuals, who have exhibited the most
striking examples of female pre-eminence, have not reached the full
maturity of their intellectual growth, but have been lost to the world
in a premature grave: to the names of Felicia Hemans and Laetitia
E. Landon, besides others, is now added that of Emma Roberts, who,
although in respect of poetical genius she cannot be placed upon
a level with the two writers just named, yet in the vigour of her
faculties, and in the variety of her talents, is worthy of being
associated with them as another evidence against the asserted mental
inequality of the sexes.

Miss Roberts belonged to a Welsh family of great respectability. Her
grandfather, who was a gentleman of good property, and served the
office of High Sheriff for Denbighshire, North Wales, possessed the
fine estate of Kenmell Park in that county, which was disposed of
after his death to Colonel Hughes, the present Lord Dinorben, whose
seat it continues to be. He had three sons, all of whom entered a
military life, which seems to have had peculiar attractions to this
gallant family. The eldest, the late General Thomas Roberts, raised
a regiment, which became the 111th, and it is said he frequently
officiated as Gold Stick in Waiting to George the Third. A son of
General Roberts was aide-de-camp to Sir Arthur Wellesley in Portugal,
was taken prisoner by the French, and detained during the war: he
afterwards rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The second son,
Colonel David Roberts, of the 51st regiment, distinguished himself in
the Peninsular war, having, on the 7th January, 1809, during Sir
John Moore's retreat, near the heights of Lugo, headed a party which
repulsed the French Light Brigade, on which occasion his cloak was
riddled with bullets, two of which passed through his right-hand,
which was amputated. He was then a major, but afterwards commanded the
regiment, in Lord Dalhousie's brigade, and subsequently in Flanders,
and was so seriously and repeatedly wounded, that his pensions for
wounds amounted to £500 a year. Colonel Roberts was an author, and
wrote, amongst other things, the comic military sketch called _Johnny
Newcome_. The youngest son, William (the father of Miss Roberts), in
the course of his travels on the continent, in early life, formed some
intimacies at the Court of St. Petersburgh (to which he was introduced
by the British Ambassador), and eventually entered the Russian
service; he was made aide-de-camp to General Lloyd, his countryman,
and served with great distinction in several campaigns against the
Turks. He afterwards entered the British army, but had not attained
a higher rank than that of captain (with the paymastership of his
regiment), when he died, leaving a widow, a son (who died a lieutenant
in the army), and two daughters.

Emma, the youngest daughter of Captain Roberts, was born about the
year 1794. After the death of her father, she resided with her mother,
a lady of some literary pretensions, at Bath. Though possessed of a
very attractive person, though of a lively disposition, and peculiarly
fitted to shine in the gayest circles of social life, her thirst for
letters was unquenchable, and the extent of her reading proves that
her early years must have been years of application.

Her first literary work was in the grave department of
history,--_Memoirs of the Rival Houses of York and Lancaster, or the
White and Red Roses,_ which was published in two volumes, 1827. In the
preparation of this work, Miss Roberts prosecuted her researches
into the historical records at the Museum with so much diligence
and perseverance, as to attract the notice of the officers of that
institution, who rendered her much assistance. This work did not
take hold of public attention; the narrative is perspicuously and
pleasingly written, but it throws no additional light upon the events
of the time. It is not unusual for young writers, in their first
essay, to mistake the bent of their powers.

On the death of her mother and the marriage of her sister to an
officer of the Bengal army (Captain R.A. M'Naghten), Miss Roberts
accompanied Mrs. M'Naghten and her husband to India, in February 1828,
taking her passage in the _Sir David Scott_, to Bengal. From Calcutta
she proceeded with them to the Upper Provinces, where she spent the
years 1829 and 1830, between the stations of Agra, Cawnpore, and
Etawah. Her active and inquisitive mind was constantly employed in
noting the new and extraordinary scenes around her, the physical
aspect of the country, the peculiar traits of its population, and the
manners of both natives and Anglo-Indians: the strong and faithful
impressions they made never faded from a memory remarkably retentive.
It is to these favourable opportunities of diversified observation, in
her journeys by land and water, along the majestic Ganges, or by the
dawk conveyance in a palanquin, and in her residence for so long a
period away from the metropolis of British India, which exhibits but
a mongrel kind of Eastern society, that the English public owe
those admirable pictures of Indian scenery and manners, which have
conquered, or contributed to conquer, its habitual distaste for such
topics.

Whilst at Cawnpore, Miss Roberts committed to the press a little
volume of poetry, entitled _Oriental Scenes_, which she dedicated to
her friend Miss Landon, then rising into eminence under the well-known
designation of L.E.L. This volume, which she republished in England,
in 1832, contains some very pleasing specimens of glowing description,
graceful imagery, and well-turned expression, which show that her
powers required only cultivation to have secured to her a respectable
rank among modern poets.

Mrs. M'Naghten died in 1831, and about this time (either soon after
or shortly before the death of her sister), she exchanged provincial
scenes and society for the more cheerful atmosphere of Calcutta, where
a new world of observation and of employment opened to her. The sketches
she has given of the City of Palaces, and of its inhabitants, prove how
accurately she had seized their characteristic features. Here her pen
was called into incessant activity; besides various contributions
to Annuals and other ephemeral works, Miss Roberts undertook the
formidable task (doubly formidable in such a climate) of editing a
newspaper, and the _Oriental Observer_, whilst under her direction,
was enriched by some valuable articles written by herself, indicating
the versatility of her talents, the extent of her resources, and the
large area of knowledge over which her active mind had ranged.

This severe over-employment, however, entailed the inevitable penalty,
loss of health, and in 1832, being now bound by no powerful tie to
India, and looking forward, perhaps, with innocent ambition, to a less
confined theatre for the display of her talents and acquisitions, she
quitted the country, and returned to England, the voyage completely
repairing the injury which the climate of India had wrought upon her
constitution. The reputation she had acquired preceded her to this
country, where she had many literary acquaintances, some of whom had
reached a high station in public esteem; and her entrance into the
best literary circles of the metropolis was thereby facilitated;
but the position which she was entitled to claim was spontaneously
conceded to talents such as hers, set off by engaging and unaffected
manners, warmth and benevolence of heart, equanimity and serenity of
temper.

The fruits of her observations in the East were given to the world
in several series of admirable papers, published in the _Asiatic
Journal_,[A] a periodical work to which she contributed with
indefatigable zeal and success, from shortly after her return to
England until her death. A selection of those papers was published, in
three volumes, in 1835, under the title of _Scenes and Characteristics
of Hindostan_, which has had a large circulation, and (a very unusual
circumstance attending works on Indian subjects) soon reached a second
edition. This work established Miss Roberts's reputation as a writer
of unrivalled excellence in this province, which demands a union of
quick and acute discernment with the faculty of vivid and graphic
delineation. Of the many attempts which have been made in this country
to furnish popular draughts of Indian "Scenes and Characteristics,"
that of Miss Roberts is the only one which has perfectly succeeded.

Her pen now came into extensive requisition, and the miscellaneous
information with which she had stored her mind enabled her, with
the aid of great fluency of composition and unremitted industry, to
perform a quantity and a variety of literary labour, astonishing to
her friends, when they considered that Miss Roberts did not seclude
herself from society, but mixed in parties, where her conversational
talents rendered her highly acceptable, and carried on, besides, a
very extensive correspondence. History, biography, poetry, tales,
local descriptions, foreign correspondence, didactic essays, even the
culinary art, by turns employed her versatile powers. Most of these
compositions were occasional pieces, furnished to periodical works;
to some she attached her name, and a few were separately published.
Amongst the latter is a very pleasing biographical sketch of Mrs.
Maclean (formerly Miss Landon), one of her oldest and dearest friends.

It was now seven years since she had quitted British India, during
which period important events had occurred, which wrought material
changes in its political and social aspects. The extinction of the
East-India Company's commercial privileges had imparted a new tone to
its government, given a freer scope to the principle of innovation,
and poured a fresh European infusion into its Anglo-Indian society;
steam navigation and an overland communication between England and her
Eastern empire were bringing into operation new elements of
mutation, and the domestic historian of India (as Miss Roberts may be
appropriately termed) felt a natural curiosity to observe the progress
of these changes, and to compare the British India of 1830 with that
of 1840. With a view of enlarging the sphere of her knowledge of
the country, and of deriving every practicable advantage from a
twelve-months' visit, she determined to examine India on its Western
side, and (contrary to the urgent advice of many of her friends)
to encounter the inconveniences of performing the journey overland,
through France and Egypt. Previous to her departure, she entered into
an arrangement with the _Asiatic Journal_ (the depository of most of
her papers on Indian subjects) to transmit, on her way, a series of
papers for publication in that work, descriptive of the objects
and incidents met with in the overland route, and of the "rising
presidency," as she termed Bombay. By a singular coincidence, the last
paper of this series was published in the very number of the _Asiatic
Journal_[B] which announced her death. These papers, which are now
before the reader, carry on the biography of Miss Roberts almost to
the end of her life.

She quitted England in September, 1839, and, having suffered few
annoyances on the journey, except a fever which attacked her in the
Gulf, arrived in Bombay in November, where she experienced the most
cordial reception from all classes, including the Governor and the
most respectable of the native community. Miss Roberts was known to
Sir James Carnac, and in his Excellency's family she became a guest
for some time, quitting his hospitable mansion only to meet with a
similar cordiality of welcome from other friends, at the presidency
and in the interior. Her residence at Parell has enabled her to draw,
with her accustomed felicity, in one of the papers published in this
volume, a lively sketch of the domestic scenes and public receptions,
as well as the local scenery, at this delightful place. It appears
from her letters that Miss Roberts meditated a tour into Cutch or
Guzerat, which probably was prevented by her subsequent illness. "It
is my intention," she wrote from Parell, December 30th, 1839, "to go
into the provinces, as I have received numerous invitations; I am at
present divided between Guzerat and Cutch: by going to the latter, I
might have an opportunity of seeing Scinde, the new Resident, Captain
Outram, being anxious that I should visit it." She adds: "I have
received much attention from the native gentlemen belonging to this
presidency, and have, indeed, every reason to be pleased with my
reception." She had projected a statistical work on this part of
India, and in her private letters she speaks with grateful enthusiasm
of the liberality with which the government records were opened to
her, and of the alacrity with which Europeans and natives forwarded
her views and inquiries. In a letter dated in February, 1840, she
says: "I am very diligently employed in collecting materials for my
work; I am pleased with the result of my labours, and think I shall be
able to put a very valuable book upon Bombay before the public. I
hope to go in a short time to Mahableshwar, and thence to Sattara,
Beejapore, &c." Her literary aid was invoked by the conductors of
periodical works at Bombay, to which she furnished some amusing
pictures of home-scenes, drawn with the same spirit and truth as her
Indian sketches. She likewise undertook the editorship of a new weekly
paper, the _Bombay United Service Gazette_, and with the benevolence
which formed so bright a feature in her character, she engaged
with zeal in a scheme for rescuing the native women, who (as her
observation led her to believe) impede the progress of improvement,
from the indolence in which they are educated, by devising employments
for them suited to their taste and capacity. The concluding chapter
of this volume contains some very sound and salutary reflections upon
native education.

Perhaps too close and unremitting application, in a climate which
demands moderation in all pursuits that tax the powers of either mind
or body, produced or aggravated a disease of the stomach, with which
this lady was seriously attacked when on a visit to Colonel Ovans, the
Resident at Sattara. Some indication of disordered health manifested
itself whilst she was in the Hills. Writing from thence in April, and
adverting to some incident which caused her vexation, she observed:
"My health is failing me, and I can scarcely bear any increased
subject of anxiety." She experienced in the family of Colonel Ovans
all the attention and sympathy which the kindest hospitality could
suggest; but her disorder increasing, she removed, in the hope of
alleviating it by change of air, to Poona, and arrived at the house of
her friend, Colonel Campbell, in that city, on the 16th of September.
She expired unexpectedly on the following morning. Her remains are
deposited near those of one of her own sex, who was also distinguished
for her literary talents, Miss Jewsbury.

The death of Miss Roberts excited universal sorrow amongst all
classes, European and native, at Bombay, as well as at the other
presidencies, especially Calcutta, where the most cordial and
flattering tributes to her memory appeared in the public journals. She
had nearly completed her inquiries, and accomplished all the objects
for which she had revisited the treacherous clime of India, and one of
her latest letters to the writer of this Memoir expressed a cheerful
anticipation of her speedy return to England! "I positively leave
India next October, and am now looking joyfully to my return."

The person and manners of Miss Roberts were extremely prepossessing.
In early life, she was handsome; and although latterly her figure
had attained some degree of fulness, it had lost none of its ease and
grace, whilst her pleasing features, marked by no lines of painful
thought, were open and expressive, beaming with animation and good
humour. She had not the slightest tinge of pedantry in her manner and
deportment, which were natural and affable, so that a stranger never
felt otherwise than at ease in her society. It was not her ambition
to make a display of mental superiority, which inspires the other sex
with any feelings but those of admiration--which is, indeed, tacitly
resented as a species of tyranny, and frequently assigned as the
ground of a certain prejudice against literary ladies. "It may safely
he said," observes a friend of her's at Calcutta, "that, although
devoted to literature as Miss Roberts was, yet in her conversation and
demeanour she evinced less of what is known as '_blue_' than any
of her contemporaries, excepting Miss Landon." Another Calcutta
acquaintance says: "Though her mind was deeply interested in subjects
connected with literature, her attention was by no means absorbed by
them, and she mixed cordially and freely in society without the least
disposition to despise persons of less intellectual elevation. She
had a true relish of all the little pleasures that promiscuous society
affords, and did not underrate those talents which are better fitted
for the drawing-room than the study." Her warmth of heart and kindness
of disposition, which co-operated with her good sense in thus removing
all disagreeable points from her external character, made her the
sincerest of friends, and ever ready to engage in any work of charity
or benevolence.

It would be affectation to attempt in this slight Memoir to elaborate
a picture of the intellectual character of Miss Roberts, cut off,
as she has been, before that character had been fully developed. The
works, upon which her reputation as a writer principally rests, are
not, perhaps, of a quality which calls for any commanding powers
of mind. Her business was with the surfaces of things; her skill
consisted in a species of photography, presenting perfect fac-similes
of objects, animate and inanimate, in their natural forms and hues.
Deep investigations, profound reflections, and laboured and learned
disquisitions, would have defeated the very object of her lively
sketches, which was to make them, not only faithful and exact, but
popular. Of her success in this design, the following testimony from a
competent authority, the _Calcutta Literary Gazette_, is distinct
and decisive; and with this extract we may fitly close our melancholy
office: "Nothing can be more minute and faithful than her pictures of
external life and manners. She does not, indeed, go much beneath the
surface, nor does she take profound or general views of human nature;
but we can mention no traveller, who has thrown upon the printed page
such true and vivid representations of all that strikes the eye of
a stranger. Her book, entitled _Scenes and Characteristics of
Hindostan_, is the best of its kind. Other travellers have excelled
her in depth and sagacity of remark, in extent of information, and in
mere force or elegance of style; but there is a vivacity, a delicacy,
and a truth in her light sketches of all that lay immediately before
her, that have never been surpassed in any book of travels that is
at this moment present to our memory. She had a peculiar readiness in
receiving, and a singular power of retaining, first impressions of the
most minute and evanescent nature. She walked through a street or a
bazaar, and every thing that passed over the mirror of her mind left
a clear and lasting trace. She was thus enabled, even years after a
visit to a place of interest, to describe every thing with the same
freshness and fidelity as if she had taken notes upon the spot.
They who have gone over the same ground are delighted to find in
the perusal of her pages their own vague and half-faded impressions
revived and defined by her magic glass, while the novelty and
vividness of her foreign pictures make her home-readers feel that they
are nearly as much entitled to be called travellers as the fair author
herself."


[Footnote A: The first appeared in the Journal for December, 1832.]

[Footnote B: For December, 1840.]



CHAPTER I.

       *       *       *       *       *

LONDON TO PARIS.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Departure from London--A French Steam-vessel--Unfavourable
  Weather--Arrival at Havre--Difficulties at the
  Custom-house--Description of Havre--Embarkation on the Steamer for
  Rouen--Appearance of the Country--Inclemency of the Weather--Arrival
  at Rouen--Description of Rouen--Departure by the Boat for
  Paris--Scenes and Traditions on the Banks of the Seine--Journey by the
  Railroad to Paris--The _Douaniers_--Observations on the Journey up the
  Seine.


A strong predilection in favour of river scenery induced me, at the
commencement of an overland journey to Bombay, through France and
Egypt, to take a passage from London in a steamer bound to Havre.
Accordingly, on the 1st of September, 1839, accompanied by some
friends, one of whom was to perform the whole journey with me, I
embarked on board the _Phénix_, a French vessel, which left the Tower
Stairs at about ten o'clock in the morning.

The weather was showery, but occasional gleams of sunshine encouraged
us to hope that it might clear up, and permit us to keep the deck
during the greater part of the voyage, which we expected to perform in
eighteen hours. To the majority of readers, in these days of universal
travelling, it will be superfluous to describe a steam-boat; but there
may possibly be some quiet people who are still ignorant of the sort
of accommodation which it affords, and to whom the description will
not be unacceptable.

The _Phénix_ is a fine vessel of its class, five hundred tons burthen,
and 160-horse power. It was handsomely fitted up, and the vases of
flowers upon the chimney-piece in the principal saloon, and other
ornaments scattered about, gave to the whole a gay appearance, as if
the party assembled had been wholly bent upon pleasure. The ladies'
cabin was divided by a staircase; but there were what, in a sort of
mockery, are called "state-cabins" opening into that appropriated to
the general use, around which were sofas, and bed-places upon a sort
of shelf above, for the accommodation of the gentlemen. This apartment
was handsomely carpeted, and otherwise well furnished; the steward
and his assistant having the appearance of the better class of waiters
belonging to a well-frequented hotel: all the servants were English,
and the whole afforded a most delightful contrast to the sort of
packets which many of the party on board were quite old enough to
remember.

The passengers were numerous, and apparently inclined to make
themselves agreeable to each other; one, an American, objected to the
sight of a footman, who came upon the quarter-deck for a few minutes,
observing that such a thing would not be permitted in his country.

As soon as the vessel got under weigh, preparations were made for
breakfast, which was served, _à la fourchette_, in very excellent
style, the cookery being a happy combination of the French and English
modes. At the conclusion of the repast, we repaired to the deck, all
being anxious to see the _British Queen_, which was getting her steam
up, at Gravesend. We were alongside this superb vessel for a few
minutes, putting some persons on board who had come down the river
in the _Phénix_ for the purpose of paying it a visit; and taking
advantage of a favourable breeze, we hoisted a sail, and went along at
a rate which gave us hope of a speedy arrival at Havre.

After passing the Nore, however, our progress was impeded; and at
length, when off Margate, we were obliged to lie-to, in order to wait
for the turn of the tide: the wind blowing so strongly as to render
it questionable whether we could get round the Foreland. The sun
was shining on the buildings at Margate, and the bells knolling for
evening service; affording a home-scene of comfort and tranquillity
which it was agreeable to carry abroad as one of the last
reminiscences of England.

In about three hours, we got the steam up again, and saw the
_British Queen_ in the distance, still lying to, and apparently,
notwithstanding her prodigious power, unable to get down the Channel.

Dinner was served while the _Phénix_ lay off Margate; but it was
thinly attended, the motion of the vessel having sent many persons to
their cabins, while others were totally deprived of all appetite. An
elderly gentleman, who sate upon my left hand, complained exceedingly
of his inability to partake of the good things before him; and one or
two left the table in despair. Again we sought the deck, and saw the
sun sink behind an ominous mass of clouds; the sky, however, cleared,
and the stars came out, reviving our spirits with hopes of a fine
night. Unfortunately, soon after nine o'clock, a heavy squall
obliged us to go below, and one of my female friends and myself took
possession of a state cabin, and prepared to seek repose.

It was my first voyage on board a steamer, and though the tremulous
motion and the stamping of the engine are anything but agreeable, I
prefer it to the violent rolling and pitching of a sailing vessel. We
were certainly not nearly so much knocked about; the vases of flowers
were taken off the mantel-piece, and placed upon the floor, but beyond
this there were no precautions taken to prevent the movables from
getting adrift; every thing remained quiet upon the tables, a
circumstance which could not have happened in so heavy a sea in any
vessel not steadied by the apparatus carried by a steamer.

The _Phénix_ laboured heavily through the water; a torrent of rain
soon cleared the deck of all the passengers, and the melancholy voices
calling for the steward showed the miserable plight to which the male
portion of the party was reduced. Daylight appeared without giving
hope of better weather; and it was not until the vessel had reached
the pier at Havre, which it did not make until after three o'clock
P.M. on Monday, that the passengers were able to re-assemble. Many
had not tasted food since their embarkation, and none had been able to
take breakfast on the morning of their arrival.

And here, for the benefit of future travellers, it may not be amiss
to say, that a small medicine-chest, which had been packed in a
carpet-bag, was detained at the custom-house; and that the following
day we experienced some difficulty in getting it passed, being told
that it was contraband; indeed, but for an idea that the whole party
were going on to Bombay, and would require the drugs for their own
consumption, we should not have succeeded in rescuing it from the
hands of the Philistines. The day was too far advanced to admit of
our getting the remainder of the baggage examined, a mischance which
detained us a day at Havre, the steamer to Rouen starting at four
o'clock in the morning.

The weather was too unpropitious to admit of our seeing much of the
environs of the town. Like all English travellers, we walked about as
much as we could, peeped into the churches, made purchases of things
we wanted and things we did not want, and got some of our gold
converted into French money. We met and greeted several of our
fellow-passengers, for though little conversation, in consequence of
the inclemency of the weather, had taken place on board the _Phénix_,
we all seemed to congratulate each other upon our escape from the
horrors of the voyage.

The gale increased rather than abated, and we now began to entertain
fears of another day's detention at Havre, the steamer from Rouen not
having arrived; and though we were very comfortably lodged, and found
the town superior to the expectations we had formed of a sea-port of
no very great consideration, we had no desire to spend more time in it
than we could help.

Havre appears to carry on a considerable commerce with India, several
shops being wholly devoted to the sale of the productions of the
East, while the number of parrots and monkeys to be seen show that the
intercourse must be very extensive. The shops had a very English
air about them, and though the houses were taller, and rather more
dilapidated in their appearance, than they are usually found at home,
they reminded us of familiar scenes. _Hamlet_ was announced for the
evening's performance at the theatre, and but for the novelty of
dining at a _table d'hôte_, we might have fancied ourselves still in
England.

The Hotel de l'Europe is the best in Havre; there are several others
very respectable, and more picturesque, from the ancient style of the
building: all were full, intercourse with Havre being on the
increase. English carriages were arriving every hour; the steamer from
Southampton brought an immense number of passengers, and travellers
seemed to flock in from every part of the world. We were amused by
seeing a well-dressed and well-mannered Russian lady, at the _table
d'hôte_, fill her plate half-full of oil, and just dip the salad into
it.

It was the first time that one of my friends and myself had ever
visited France, and we endeavoured as much as possible to accommodate
ourselves to the manners of a strange country. We could not, however,
entirely give up our English habits, and ordered tea in the evening in
our private apartments: the French are by this time well accustomed to
requisitions of this nature, and few places are now unsupplied with a
tea-pot.

On Tuesday morning, we were up at four o'clock, in order to embark
on board the steamer for Rouen. It rained heavily, and any hopes, the
interposition of the high houses gave, that the wind had abated, were
destroyed upon turning the first angle, and after a hasty glance at
the threatening sky and surging waters, we went below, intending, if
possible, to remain there until the weather should clear.

Passengers now came flocking in; many respectable French families,
with their children and neatly dressed _bonnes_, were of the party;
but the young folk speedily becoming very sick, we sought the deck,
and in spite of the rain, which still continued to fall, established
ourselves as well as we were able.

Upon entering the river, the turbulence of the water subsided a
little, and a gleam of sunshine, the first that smiled upon us, shewed
a chateau and town nestling in the midst of gardens and orchards,
and spreading down to the water's edge. The banks on either side were
picturesque, presenting the most pleasing pictures of rural enjoyment,
and conveying an idea of comfort which we had not previously
associated with the smaller classes of country residences in France.
The houses were cleanly on the outside, at least, and neither paint
nor white-wash was spared in their decoration; the surrounding
parterres were gay with flowers, amid which, as with us, dahlias made
a very conspicuous appearance. They were not, we thought, quite so
large and luxuriant as those which we see in our cottage-gardens at
home; and this remark we found afterwards would apply to the more
carefully tended plants in the pleasure-grounds of palaces. We
are probably more skilful in the adaptation of soil to foreign
importations, and therefore succeed in producing a finer flower.

In my baggage I had brought a large basket-full of the roots of our
English hearts-ease, as a present to a French gentleman, who had
expressed a wish, in the early part of the summer, to take some with
him from London, he having been much delighted with the superior
beauty of those which he had seen in our English gardens; they were
not then in a fit state for transplanting, and having, through the
kindness of the secretary of the Royal Botanic Society, been enabled
to carry away an extensive and choice collection of roots, I indulge
a hope that I may be instrumental in spreading the finest varieties of
this pretty flower throughout France.

We lost, of course, many scenes of beauty and interest, in consequence
of the inclemency of the weather. Just as we arrived at a most
beautiful place, a church of elegant architecture rising in the
centre, with gay-looking villas clustered round, the gathering clouds
united over our devoted heads, the rain, descending in a cataract,
beat down the smoke to the very decks, so that we all looked and felt
as if we had been up the chimney, and the whole lovely scene was lost
to us in a moment. The rain continued for about an hour after this,
and then the sky began to clear.

We reached Rouen at about half-past twelve. The approach is very fine,
and the city makes an imposing appearance from the river. We had been
recommended to the Hotel d'Angleterre, which is the best, but were so
strongly tempted to rush into the hotel immediately opposite, that,
trusting to its exterior, we hastened to house ourselves, and found
no reason to repent our choice. We were shown into very handsome
apartments, and found the staircases, lobbies, and ante-chambers as
clean as we could desire. A change of attire and breakfast enabled us
to sally forth to see as much of the town and its neighbourhood as our
time would admit.

The modern portion of Rouen is extremely handsome; the quay being
lined with a series of lofty stone mansions, built in the style which
is now beginning to be adopted in London. The public buildings are
particularly fine, and there are two splendid bridges, one of stone,
and one upon the suspension principle. Very extensive improvements are
going on, and it seems as if, in the course of a very few years,
the worst portions of the town will be replaced by new and elegant
erections. Meantime, imagination can scarcely afford more than a faint
idea of the horrors of the narrow, dirty streets, flanked on either
side by lofty squalid houses, in the very last stage of dilapidation.

The cathedral stands in a small square, or market-place, where the
houses, though somewhat better than their neighbours in the lanes,
have a very miserable appearance; they make a striking picture, but
the reality sadly detracts from the pleasure which the eye would
otherwise take in surveying the fine old church, with which, through
the medium of engravings, it has been long familiar. Many workmen are
at present employed in repairing the damage which time has inflicted
upon this ancient edifice.

The interior, though striking from its vastness, is at first rather
disappointing, its splendid windows of stained glass being the most
prominent of its ornaments. In pacing the long aisles, and pausing
before the small chapels, the scene grows upon the mind, and the
monuments, though comparatively few, are very interesting. An effigy
of Richard Coeur de Lion, lately discovered while looking for the
fiery monarch's heart, which was buried in Rouen, is shown as one of
the chief curiosities of the place.

The porter of the cathedral inhabited an extremely small dwelling,
built up against the wall, and surrounded by high, dark buildings; but
we were pleased to see that he had cheered this dismal place of abode
by a gay parterre, several rich-looking flowers occupying pots beneath
his windows.

Our next pilgrimage was to the statue of Joan of Arc, which we
approached through narrow streets, so dirty from the late heavy rains,
as to be scarcely passable. We had, as we might have expected, little
to reward us, except the associations connected with the Maid of
Orleans, and her cruel persecutors. The spot had been to me, from my
earliest years, one which I had felt a wish to visit, my researches,
while writing the Memoirs of the Rival Houses of York and Lancaster,
materially increasing the interest which an earlier perusal of the
history of England and France had created, concerning scenes trodden
by the brave, the great, and the good. However mistaken might have
been their notions, however impolitic their actions, we cannot
contemplate the characters of the Paladins, who have made Rouen
famous, without feelings of respect. The murder of Joan of Arc formed
the sole blot on the escutcheon of John Duke of Bedford, and the
faults and vices of his companions in arms were the offspring of the
times in which they lived.

We were surprised by the excellence of the shops, even in the most
dilapidated parts of the city of Rouen, the windows in every direction
exhibiting a gay assemblage of goods of all descriptions, while the
confectioners were little, if at all, inferior to those of Paris.
One small square in particular, in which a market was held, was very
striking, from the contrast between the valuable products sold, and
the houses which contained them. Seven or eight stories in height,
weather-stained, and dilapidated, the lower floors exhibited handsome
porcelain and other costly articles, which gave an impression of
wealth in the owners, that astonished those amongst our party who were
strangers to the country. Our hearts absolutely sunk within us as
we thought of the wretchedness of the interiors, the misery of being
obliged to inhabit any one of the numerous suites of apartments rising
tier above tier, and from which it would be absolutely impossible to
banish vermin of every description.

The French appear certainly to be beginning to study home comforts,
all the modern houses being built upon very commodious plans; still
the middling classes, in the towns at least, are miserably lodged,
in comparison with the same grades in England, families of apparently
great respectability inhabiting places so desolate as to strike one
with horror.

After picking our way through the least objectionable of the streets
in the heart of the city, we were glad to escape into the open air,
and solace ourselves with the views presented on the neighbouring
heights. Nothing can be finer than the landscapes round Rouen; every
necessary of life appears to be cheap and plentiful, and persons
desirous of a quiet and economical residence abroad might spend their
time very happily in the outskirts of this picturesque city.

We found the guests at the _table-d'hôte_ chiefly English, travellers
like ourselves, and some of our party recognised London acquaintance
among those who, upon hearing our intention to proceed the following
day up the Seine to Paris, recommended the boat by which they had
arrived--the _Etoile_.

Again we were summoned at four o'clock in the morning, and wended our
way, along the banks of the river, to the starting-place, which was
just beyond the second bridge. The one large boat, which conveyed
passengers from Havre, was here exchanged for two smaller, better
suited to the state of the river. We were taught to expect rather a
large party, as we had understood that forty persons were going from
our hotel.

The bell of the _Dorade_, the opposition vessel, was sounding its
tocsin to summon passengers on board, while ours was altogether mute.
Presently, through the grey mist of the morning, we observed parties
flocking down to the place of embarkation, who, somewhat to our
surprise, all entered the other vessel. A large boat in the centre, in
which the baggage is deposited, was speedily filled, carpet bags being
piled upon carpet bags, until a goodly pyramid arose, which the rising
sun touched with every colour of the prism. The decks of the _Dorade_
were now crowded with passengers, while two respectable-looking young
women, in addition to ourselves, formed the whole of our company.

Our bell now gave out a few faint sounds, as if rather in compliance
with the usual forms observed, than from any hope that its warning
voice would be heeded; and getting up our steam, we took the lead
gallantly, as if determined to leave the heavier boat behind.
Presently, however, the _Dorade_ passed us with all her gay company,
and speeding swiftly on her way, would have been out of sight in a few
minutes, but for the windings of the river, which showed us her smoke
like a pennon in the distance. We were now left alone in our glory,
and felt assured of what we had more than suspected before, namely,
that we had got into the wrong boat. We then, though rather too
late, inquired the cause of the extraordinary disproportion of the
passengers, and were told that the _Etoile_ was the favourite boat
going down the river, while the _Dorade_ had it hollow in going up.

We now began to consider the circumstances of the case, and the
chances of our not arriving time enough at the place of debarkation
to get on to Paris by the rail-road that night. Agreeing that the
detention would not be of the least consequence, that we should enjoy
having the whole boat to ourselves, and the slow method of travelling,
which would enable us the better to contemplate the beauties of the
river, we made up our minds to a day of great enjoyment. The weather
was fine, a cool breeze allaying the heat of the sun, which shone upon
us occasionally through clouds too high to afford any apprehension of
rain.

The boat was very elegantly fitted up below, the ladies' cabin, in
particular, being splendidly furnished. Above, the choice of seats
proved very acceptable, since, in consequence of a new-fangled
apparatus, we had four chimnies, whence sparks escaped in a constant
shower, threatening destruction to any garment that might be exposed
to them. Seated, therefore, at the prow, beyond the reach of this
fiery shower, after partaking of an excellent breakfast, there being
a first-rate _restaurateur_ on board, we began to converse with a very
intelligent boatman, who amused us with the legends of the river and
accounts of the different places which we passed.

At Blossville-Bon-Secours there is an extremely steep hill, with a
chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, at the summit; the holy edifice is,
upon ordinary occasions, approached by a circuitous winding road, but
at Easter and other great festivals, thousands of persons flock from
all parts, for the purpose of making a pilgrimage up the steepest
portion of the ascent, in order to fulfil vows previously made, and to
pay their homage to the holy mother of God. There was a waggery in our
friend's eye, as he described the sufferings of the devout upon these
occasions, which indicated an opinion that, however meritorious the
act, and however efficacious in shortening the path to heaven, he
himself entertained no desire to try it. This man had seen something
of the world, his maritime occupation having formerly led him to
distant places; he had been a sailor all his life, was well acquainted
with Marseilles, which he described with great enthusiasm, and gave us
to understand that, having had a good offer elsewhere, this would be
one of his last voyages in the _Etoile_, since he worked hard in it,
without getting any credit.

At the town of Elboeuf, we picked up another passenger; a country
woman, with a basket or two, and a high Normandy cap, had come on
board at one of the villages; and with this small reinforcement we
proceeded, halting occasionally to mend some damage in the engine, and
putting up a sail whenever we could take advantage of the breeze.

Arriving at La Roquelle, our _cicerone_ pointed out to us the ruined
walls of what once had been a very splendid chateau; its former owner
being an inveterate gamester, having lost large sums of money, at
length staked the chateau to an Englishman, who won it. Upon arriving
to take possession, he was disappointed to find that he had only
gained the chateau, and that the large estate attached to it was
not in the bond. Being unable to keep it up without the surrounding
property, he determined that no other person should enjoy it,
and therefore, greatly to the annoyance of the people in the
neighbourhood, he pulled it down. The present proprietor now lives in
an adjacent farm-house, and the story, whether true or false,
tells greatly to the prejudice of the English, and our friend, in
particular, spoke of it as a most barbarous act.

We found the chateaux on the banks of the Seine very numerous; many
were of great magnitude, and flanked by magnificent woods, the greater
number being clipped into the appearance of walls, and cut out into
long avenues and arcades, intersecting each other at right angles,
in the very worst taste, according to the English idea of
landscape-gardening. There was something, however, extremely grand and
imposing in this formal style, and we were at least pleased with the
novelty which it afforded.

At Andelys, perched upon a conical hill, are the picturesque remains
of the chateau Gaillard, which was built by Richard Coeur de Lion, and
must formerly have been of very great extent, its walls reaching down
to the river's brink. We were told that the chateau furnished stabling
for a thousand horses, and that there was a subterranean passage which
led to the great Andelys. This passage is now undergoing a partial
clearing, for the purpose of increasing the interest of the place,
by exhibiting it to strangers who may visit the neighbourhood. Our
informant proceeded to say, that during several years, an old witch
inhabited the ruins, who was at once the oracle and the terror of the
neighbourhood.

The sketch-books of the party were here placed in requisition, and
though the celerity with which a steamer strides through the water
is not very favourable to the artist, a better idea of the scene was
given than that which we found in the Guide Book. The banks of the
Seine present a succession of pictures, all well worthy of the pencil,
and those who are fond of the picturesque, and who have time at their
disposal, will find the voyage up the river replete with the most
interesting materials.

The first sight of the vineyards, which began to spread themselves up
the steep sides of the hills, delighted us all; and our prospects now
began to be diversified with rock, which in a thousand fantastic forms
showed itself along the heights. The country seemed thickly spread
with villages, many at the edge of the water, others receding into
winding valleys, and all boasting some peculiar beauty. Whether upon
a nearer approach they would have been equally pleasing, it is not
possible to say; but, from our position, we saw nothing to offend the
eye, either in the cottages or the people; some of the very
humblest of the dwellings boasted their little gardens, now gay with
sun-flowers and dahlias, while the better sort, with their bright
panes of glass, and clean muslin window-curtains, looked as if they
would afford very desirable homes.

A present of a bottle of wine made our boatmen very happy. They
produced one of those huge masses of bread, which seems the principal
food of the lower classes, and sate down to their meal with great
content. Our dinner, which we had ordered rather early, was delayed by
the arrival of the boat at Vernon, where we were obliged, according to
the French phrase, to "mount the bridge." It was built, agreeably
to the old mode of construction, with a mill in the centre, and the
difficulty, and even danger, of getting through the arch, could not
be called inconsiderable. Letting off the steam, we were hauled up by
persons stationed for the purpose; and just as we got through, passed
the steamers going down to Rouen, the partners of the vessels which
went up in the morning; both were full, our _star_ being the only
unlucky one. However, what might have been a hardship to many others
was none to us, it being scarcely possible to imagine any thing more
delightful than a voyage which, though comparatively slow, was the
reverse of tedious, and in which we could discourse unrestrainedly,
and occupy any part of the vessel most agreeable to ourselves. We
picked up a very respectable man and his daughter, an interesting
little girl, who spoke English very tolerably, and seemed delighted to
meet with English ladies; and also an exquisite, dressed in the first
style of the Parisian mode, but of him we saw little, he being wholly
occupied with himself.

The steam-company are entering into an arrangement at Vernon for
the construction of a lock similar to one already formed at
Pont-de-l'Arche, which we had passed through in the morning, and which
will obviate the inconvenience and difficulty of the present mode of
navigating the river.

The next place of interest to which we came was Rosny, a village
famous in the pages of history as the residence of the great and good,
the friend and minister of Henry IV., the virtuous Sully. Our boatmen,
who were not great antiquaries, said nothing about the early occupants
of the chateau, exerting all their eloquence in praise of a later
resident--the Duchesse de Berri. This lady rendered herself extremely
popular in the vicinity, living in a style of princely splendour, and
devoting her time to acts of munificence. Every year she portioned
off a bride, giving a dowry to some respectable young lady of the
neighbourhood, while to the poor she was a liberal and untiring
benefactress. The boatmen blessed her as they passed, for to all she
sent wine, and upon fête-days gave banquets to the rural population,
to whom her remembrance will be ever dear. Our informants pointed out
a small chapel, which they described as being very beautiful, which
she had built as a depository for her husband's heart; this precious
relic she carried away with her when she left Rosny, which she quitted
with the regrets of every human being in the neighbourhood.

The chateau has been purchased by an English banker, but is now
uninhabited: there was a report of its being about to be pulled down.
It is a large, heavy building, not distinguished by any architectural
beauty, yet having an imposing air, from its extent and solidity.
It is surrounded by fine woods and pleasure-grounds, laid out in
the formal style, which is still the characteristic of French
landscape-gardening. Nothing can be more beautiful than the
surrounding scenery, the winding river with its vineyards hanging
in terraces from the opposite heights, the village reposing beneath
sun-lit hills, while corn-fields, pasture-land, and cattle grazing,
convey the most pleasing ideas of the comfort of those who dwell upon
this luxuriant soil.

The city of Mantes now appeared in the distance, and as we approached
it, our guides pointed out, on the opposite heights of Gassicourt,
a hermitage and Calvary, which had formerly proved a great source
of profit. An ascetic, of great pretensions to sanctity, took up his
abode many years ago in this retreat, carrying on a thriving trade,
every boat that passed contributing twopence, for which consideration
the hermit rung a bell, to announce their arrival at the bridge of
Mantes, giving notice to the town, in order to facilitate the transfer
of baggage or passengers. This tax or tribute the hermit was not
himself at the trouble of collecting, it being scrupulously despatched
to him by the donors, who would have deemed it sinful to deprive the
holy man of what they considered his just due.

The sort of piety, which once supported so great a multitude of
religious mendicants, is greatly on the decline in France. A few
crosses on the bridges and heights, and the dresses of the priesthood
whom we encountered in the streets, were the only exterior signs of
Roman Catholicism which we had yet seen. Our boatmen spoke with great
respect of the Sisters of Charity, pointing out a convent which they
inhabited, and told us that during illness they had themselves been
greatly indebted to the care and attention of these benevolent women.

It was now growing dark, and we very narrowly escaped a serious
accident in passing the bridge of Meulan, the boat coming into contact
with one of the piers; fortunately, the danger was espied in time.
There was now not the slightest chance of reaching Paris before the
following morning; but we regretted nothing except the want of light,
the gathering clouds rendering it impossible to see any thing of the
scenery, which, we were told, increased in beauty at every mile. We
consoled ourselves, however, with tea and whist in the cabin; in fact,
we played with great perseverance throughout the whole of our journey,
the spirits of the party never flagging for a single instant.

We found a good hotel at the landing-place, at which we arrived at a
very late hour, and starting the next morning by the early train
to Paris, passed by the rail-road through an extremely interesting
country, leaving St. Germain-en-Laye behind, and tracking the windings
of the Seine, now too shallow to admit of the navigation of boats of
any burthen.

The construction of this rail-road was attended with considerable
difficulty and great expense, on account of its being impeded by the
works at Marli, for the supply of water to Versailles. The building
of the bridges over the Seine, which it crosses three times, was also
very costly. The carriages of the first class are very inferior to
those of the same description upon the rail-roads in England, but they
are sufficiently comfortable for so short a distance. We were set down
at the barrier of Clichi, an inconvenient distance from the best part
of Paris. Here we had to undergo a second inspection of our baggage,
and I became somewhat alarmed for the fate of my medicine-chest. We
had taken nothing else with as that could be seizable, and this was
speedily perceived by the officials, who merely went through the form
of an examination.

The divisions in one of my portmanteaus had excited some suspicion
at Havre, one of the men fancying that he had made a grand discovery,
when he pronounced it to have a false bottom. We explained the method
of opening it to his satisfaction, and afterwards, in overhauling
my bonnet-box, he expressed great regret at the derangement of the
millinery, which certainly sustained some damage from his rough
handling. Altogether, we had not to complain of any want of civility
on the part of the custom-house officers; but travellers who take the
overland route to India, through France, will do well to despatch all
their heavy baggage by sea, nothing being more inconvenient than a
multitude of boxes. I had reduced all my packages to four, namely, two
portmanteaus, a bonnet-box, and a leather bag, which latter contained
the medicine-chest, a kettle and lamp, lucifer-matches, &c; my
bonnet-box was divided into two compartments, one of which contained
my writing-case and a looking-glass; for as I merely intended to
travel through a portion of our British possessions in India, and
to return after the October monsoon of 1840, I wished to carry every
thing absolutely necessary for my comfort about with we.

Another annoyance sustained by persons who take the route through
France is, the trouble respecting their passports, which must be ready
at all times when called upon for examination, and may be the cause of
detention, if the proper forms are not scrupulously gone through. We
were not certain whether it would be necessary to present ourselves
in person at the Bureau des Passeports, Quai des Orfèvres, in Paris,
after having sent them to the British embassy; but we thought it
better to avoid all danger of delay, and therefore drove to a quarter
interesting on account of its being a place of some importance as
the original portion of Paris, and situated on the island. In this
neighbourhood there are also the famous Hotel Dieu and Notre Dame,
to both of which places we paid a visit, looking _en passant_ at the
Morgue. The gentleman who accompanied us entered a building, with
whose melancholy celebrity all are acquainted; but though it did not
at that precise moment contain a corpse, the report did not induce us
to follow his example: a circumstance which we afterwards regretted.
It may be necessary to say, that at other places we sent our passports
to the Hotel de Ville; but at Paris there is a different arrangement.

Although the journey up the Seine from Havre proved very delightful to
me, I do not recommend it to others, especially those to whom time is
of importance. There is always danger of detention, and the length of
the sea-voyage, especially from London, may be productive of serious
inconvenience. For seeing the country, it is certainly preferable to
the diligence, and my experience will teach those who come after me to
inquire into the character of the steam-boat before they enter it.



CHAPTER II.

       *       *       *       *       *

PARIS TO MARSEILLES.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Description of Paris--Departure by the Diligence--The Country--The
  Vineyards--Hotels and fare--Arrival at Lyons--Description of
  the City--Departure in the Steam-boat for Arles--Descent of the
  Rhône--Beauty and Variety of the Scenery--Confusion on disembarking at
  Beaucaire--A Passenger Drowned--Arrival at Arles--Description of the
  Town--Embarkation in the Steamer for Marseilles--Entrance into the
  Mediterranean--Picturesque approach to Marseilles--Arrival in the
  Harbour--Description of Marseilles--Observations upon the Journey
  through France by Ladies.


A week's residence in Paris does not give a stranger any title to
decide upon the merits or demerits of that far-famed city. The period
of the year (September) was not the most favourable for a visit, all
the best families having emigrated to their country habitations, and
the city consequently exhibited a deserted air, at variance with every
preconceived notion of the gaiety of the French capital. The mixture
of meanness and magnificence in the buildings, the dirt and bad
smells, combine to give an unfavourable impression, which time only,
and a better acquaintance with the more agreeable features of the
place, can remove.

We had entertained a hope, upon our arrival in Paris, of getting the
_malle poste_ for our journey to Châlons; but it was engaged for at
least a month in advance. We were not more fortunate, our party now
being reduced to three, in our endeavour to secure the _coupé_, and
were obliged to be contented with places (corners) in the interior.
We despatched all our heavy goods--that is, the portmanteaus--by
_messagerie_, to Marseilles, which was a great saving of trouble.
Though the expense of this conveyance is enormous, it has the great
advantage of speed, travelling nearly as quickly as the diligence,
while by the _roulage_, which is cheaper, very inconvenient delays may
be incurred.

We quitted Paris on the 13th of September, well pleased with the
treatment we had received. Though the charges for lodging, washing,
&c. were high, there was no attempt at imposition; our landlady
would not allow us to pay any thing for the eighth day of our abode,
although we thereby entered into another week. We had the pleasure
of leaving every body well satisfied with us, and willing to receive
another English party.

The diligence started at the appointed hour, namely, six o'clock in
the evening. Unaccustomed to travel all night, we were rather anxious
about breakfast, as we had merely stopped to change horses, without
resting for any refreshment since we quitted Paris. Upon our arrival
at Sens, at about seven o'clock in the morning, we were amused by the
appearance of a party of persons running, gesticulating, and talking
with all their might, who brought hot coffee, milk, bread, and fruit
to the carriage-door. At first we were disinclined to avail ourselves
of the breakfast thus offered, but learning that we should not get any
thing else before twelve o'clock in the day, we overcame our scruples,
and partook of the despised fare, which we found very good of its
kind.

The country we passed through was rich with vineyards, and, on account
of the undulating nature of the land, and the frequency of towns
and villages, exceedingly pleasing to the eye. We were continually
delighted with some splendid burst of scenery. There was no want
of foliage, the absence of the magnificent timber which we find in
England being the less remarkable, in consequence of the number of
trees which, if not of very luxuriant growth, greatly embellish the
landscape, while we saw the vine everywhere, the rich clusters of its
grapes reaching to the edge of the road. Though robbed of its
grace, and its lavish display of leaf and tendril, by the method
of cultivating, each plant being reduced to the size of a small
currant-bush, the foliage, clothing every hill with green, gave the
country an aspect most grateful to those who are accustomed to English
verdure.

We made our first halt at Auxerre, when a _déjeûner à la fourchette_
was served up to the travellers in the diligence. A bad English
dinner is a very bad thing, but a bad French one is infinitely worse.
Hitherto, we had fed upon nothing but the most dainty fare of the best
hotels and _cafés_, and I, at least, who wished to see as much as I
could of France, was not displeased at the necessity of satisfying the
cravings of appetite with bread and melon. There were numerous dishes,
all very untempting, swimming in grease, and brought in a slovenly
manner to the table; a roast fowl formed no exception, for it was
sodden, half-raw, and saturated with oil. It was only at the very
best hotels in France that we ever found fowls tolerably well roasted;
generally speaking, they are never more than half-cooked, and are
as unsightly as they are unsavoury. Our fellow-passengers did ample
justice to the meal, from which we gladly escaped, in order to devote
the brief remainder of our time to a hasty toilet.

From what we could see of it, Auxerre appeared to be a very pretty
place, it being at this time perfectly enwreathed with vines. In
fact, every step of our journey increased our regret that we should be
obliged to hurry through a country which it would have delighted us
to view at leisure, each town that we passed through offering some
inducement to linger on the road. Active preparations were making
for the vintage, the carts which we met or overtook being laden with
wine-casks, and much did we desire to witness a process associated in
our minds with the gayest scenes of rural festivity.

It would not be a fair criterion to judge of the accommodation
afforded at the hotels of the French provinces by those at which the
diligence changed horses; in some I observed that we were not shown
into the best apartments reserved for public entertainment, but in
none did we find any difficulty in procuring water to wash with,
nor did we ever see a dish substituted for a basin. From our own
observation, it seems evident that the inns in the provinces have been
much improved since the peace with England, and it appeared to us,
that no reasonable objection could be made to the accommodation
supplied. Auxerre certainly furnished the worst specimen we met with
on the road; at no other place had we any right to complain of our
entertainment, and at some the fare might be called sumptuous.

On the third morning from our departure from Paris, when nearly
exhausted, the rising sun gave us a view of the environs of Lyons.
We had been afraid to stop at Châlons the day before, having been
informed that the Saône was not sufficiently full to ensure the
certainty of the steam-boat's arrival at the promised time at Lyons.
This was a great disappointment, but we were rewarded by the rich and
beautiful scenery which characterises the route by land. We could not
help fancying that we could distinguish the home of Claude Melnotte
amid those villages that dotted the splendid panorama; and the
pleasure, with which I, at least, contemplated the fine old city, was
not a little enhanced by its association with the Lady of Lyons and
her peasant lover.

Lyons more than realised all the notions which I had formed concerning
it, having an air of antique grandeur which I had vainly expected
to find at Rouen. It is well-built throughout, without that striking
contrast between the newer buildings and the more ancient edifices,
which is so remarkable in the capital of Normandy. The Hotel de Ville,
in the large square, is a particularly fine building, and the whole
city looks as if it had been for centuries the seat of wealth and
commerce.

Friends in England, and the few we met with or made in Paris, had
furnished us with the names of the hotels it would be most advisable
to put up at; but these lists were, as a matter of course, lost, and
we usually made for the nearest to the place where we stopped. The
Hotel de Paris, which looks upon the Hotel de Ville, was the one we
selected at Lyons; it was large and commodious, but had a dull and
melancholy air. As it is usual in French hotels, the building enclosed
a court-yard in the centre, with galleries running round the three
sides, and reaching to the upper stories. The furniture, handsome of
its kind, was somewhat faded, adding to the gloom which is so often
the characteristic of a provincial inn.

As soon as possible, we sallied forth, according to our usual wont, to
see as much as we could of the town and its environs; both invited a
longer stay, but we were anxious to be at Marseilles by the 19th, and
therefore agreed to rise at half-past three on the following morning,
in order to be ready for the steamer, which started an hour after. We
had begun, indeed, to fancy sleep a superfluous indulgence; my female
friend (Miss E.), as well as myself, suffering no other inconvenience
from three nights spent in a diligence than that occasioned by swelled
feet and ancles.

We found a very considerable number of persons in the steam-boat, many
of whom were English, and amongst them a gentleman and his wife, who,
with four children, were travelling to Nice, where they proposed to
spend the winter. The fine weather of the preceding day had deserted
us, and it rained in torrents during the first hours of the descent
of the Rhône. The wet and cold became so difficult to bear, that I
was glad to take up a position under the funnel of the steamer,
where, protected a little from the rain, I speedily got dry and warm,
enjoying the scenery in despite of the very unfavourable state of the
weather. We missed our communicative boatman of the Seine, but
met with a very intelligent German, who gave us an account of the
remarkable places _en route_, pointing out a spot once exceedingly
dangerous to boats ascending or descending, in consequence of a
projecting rock, which, by the orders of the Emperor Napoleon, had
been blown up.

All the steamers which leave Lyons profess to go as far as Arles; but,
in order to ensure conveyance to that place the same evening, it is
necessary to ascertain whether they carry freight to Beaucaire, for in
that case they always stay the night to unlade, taking the boat on
at an early hour the following morning. We found ourselves in this
predicament; and perhaps, under all the circumstances to be related,
it would be advisable to leave the Lyons boat at Avignon and proceed
by land to Marseilles. Many of the passengers pursued this plan.

The weather cleared up in the middle of the day, and we passed Avignon
in a rich crimson sunset, which threw its roseate flush upon the ruins
of the Papal palace, and the walls and bastions of this far-famed
city. Experience had shown us the impossibility of taking more than a
cursory view of any place in which we could only sojourn for a single
day, and therefore we satisfied ourselves with the glimpses which we
caught of Avignon from the river. A half-finished bridge, apparently
of ancient date, projects rudely into the middle of the stream; we
passed through another more modern, though somewhat difficult to
shoot; our voyage the whole day having been made under a succession of
bridges, many upon the suspension principle, and extremely light and
elegant. The beauty and variety of the scenery which presented itself,
as we shot along the banks of the Rhône, were quite sufficient to
engage our attention, and to make the hours fly swiftly along; there
were few, however, of our fellow-travellers who did not resort to
other methods of amusement.

After the weather had cleared, the decks dried, and the sun-beams,
warming, without scorching, glanced through fleecy clouds, the greater
number of the passengers remained in the cabin below, whence, the
windows being small and high, there was literally nothing to be seen.
They employed themselves in reading, writing, or working; the French
ladies in particular being most industrious in plying the needle. We
noticed one family especially, who scarcely shewed themselves
upon deck. It consisted of the mother, an elderly lady, of a very
prepossessing appearance, with her son and daughter; the former about
thirty years old, the latter considerably younger. The dress of
the ladies, which was perfectly neat, consisting of printed muslin
dresses, black silk shawls, and drawn bonnets, seemed so completely
English, that we could scarcely believe that they were not our own
countrywomen; they were the most diligent of the workers and
readers, and as we never went down into the cabin unless to take some
refreshment, or to fetch any thing we wanted, a few brief civilities
only passed between us, but these were so cordially offered, that we
regretted that want of inclination to enjoy the air and prospect upon
deck which detained the party below.

There was a _restaurateur_ on board the steamer, who supplied the
passengers, at any hour they pleased, with the articles inserted
in his _carte_; every thing was very good of its kind, but the boat
itself was neither handsomely nor conveniently fitted up, and I should
recommend in preference the new iron steamers which have been lately
introduced upon the Rhône.

It was about nine o'clock in the evening when we reached Beaucaire;
one other boat stopped at this place, but the rest, to our
mortification, went on to Arles. We were told that we must be at
the river-side at four the next morning, in order to proceed, and we
therefore could not reckon upon more than four or five hours' sleep.
The night was very dark, and a scene of great confusion took place in
the disembarkation. We had agreed to wait quietly until the remainder
of the passengers got on shore; and Miss E. and myself, glad to escape
from the bustle and confusion of the deck, went down below to collect
our baggage, &c. The quay was crowded with porters, all vociferating
and struggling to get hold of parcels to carry, while the
commissionaires from the hotels were more than ever eager in
their recommendations of their respective houses: their noise and
gesticulations were so great, and their requests urged with so much
boldness, that we might have been led to suppose we had fallen into
the hands of banditti, who would plunder us the moment they got us
into their clutches.

Miss E. had posted herself at an open window, watching this strange
scene, and while thus employed, was startled by hearing a piercing
scream, and a plunge into the water; at the same moment, the clamour
on shore became excessive. We instantly rushed upon deck, where we
found our other friend safe; and upon inquiring what had happened,
were told that a box had fallen into the river. Not quite satisfied
of the truth of this statement, we asked several other persons, and
received the same answer, the master of the steamer assuring us that
no more serious accident had occurred.

We soon afterwards went on shore, which was then perfectly quiet, and,
preceded by a commissionaire, who had persuaded the gentleman of our
party to put himself under his convoy, we walked into the town. At
a short distance from the water, we came upon an hotel of very
prepossessing appearance, which we concluded to be the one to which we
were bound. The windows of the lower and upper floors were all open,
the rooms lighted, showing clean, gay-looking paper upon the walls,
and furniture of a tempting appearance. Our conductor, however, passed
the door, and dived down a lane, upon which we halted, and declared
our resolution to go no further. After a little parley, and amongst
other representations of the superior accommodations of the unknown
hotel, an assurance that the stables were magnificent, we gained our
point, and entered the house which had pleased us so much. We were
met at the door by two well-dressed, good-looking women, who showed us
into some excellent apartments up-stairs, all apparently newly-fitted
up, and exceedingly well-furnished.

Ordering supper, we descended to the public room, and as we passed
to a table at the farther end, noticed a young man sitting rather
disconsolately at a window. We were laughing and talking with each
other, when, suddenly starting up, the stranger youth exclaimed, "You
are English? how glad I am to hear my own language spoken again!" He
told us that he was travelling through France to Malta, and had
come by the other steam-boat, in which there were no other English
passengers beside himself. He then inquired whether a lady had not
been drowned who came by our vessel; we answered no; but upon his
assurance that such was the fact, we began to entertain a suspicion
that the truth had been concealed from us. It was not, however, until
the next morning, that we could learn the particulars. The gentleman
who had accompanied us, and who had likewise been deceived by the
statements made to him, ascertained that the accident had befallen
the elderly French lady, with whose appearance we had been so much
pleased. She had got on board a boat moored close to ours, and
believing that she had only to step on shore, actually walked into
the river. She was only ten minutes under water, and the probabilities
are, that if the circumstance had been made known, and prompt
assistance afforded, she might have been resuscitated. Amid the number
of English passengers on board the steamer, the chances were very much
in favour of its carrying a surgeon, accustomed to the best methods
to be employed in such cases. No inquiry of the kind was made, and we
understood that the body had been conveyed to a church, there to await
the arrival of a medical man from the town.

We were, of course, inexpressibly shocked by this fatal catastrophe,
the more so because we all felt that we might have been of use had
we been told the truth. The grief and distraction of the son and
daughter, who had thus lost a parent, very possibly prevented them
from taking the best measures in a case of such emergence; whereas
strangers, anxious to be of service, and having all their presence of
mind at command, might have afforded very important assistance. How
little had we thought, during the day spent so pleasantly upon the
Rhône, that a fiat had passed which doomed one of the party to an
untimely and violent death! Our spirits, which had been of the gayest
nature, were damped by this incident, which recurred to our minds
again and again, and we were continually recollecting some trifling
circumstance which had prepossessed us in favour of the family, thus
suddenly overwhelmed by so distressing an event.

A couple of hours brought us to Arles, where we arrived before the
town was astir; the steamer to Marseilles did not leave the quay until
twelve o'clock, and we were tantalized by the idea of the excellent
night's rest we might have had if the steamer had fulfilled its
agreement to go on to Arles. The Marseilles boat, though a fine vessel
of its class, was better calculated for the conveyance of merchandize
than of passengers; there being only one cabin, and no possibility of
procuring any refreshment on board. This is the more inconvenient,
as there is danger in bad weather of the passage into the harbour of
Marseilles being retarded for several hours. We now lamented having
slighted an invitation to comfortable quarters in Avignon, which we
found on board the Lyons steamer, printed upon a large card.

We were much pleased with what we saw of Arles; it is a clean,
well-built town, the streets generally rather narrow, but the houses
good. In walking about, we found many of the outer doors open, and
neat-looking female servants employed in sweeping the halls and
entries. With what I hope may be deemed a pardonable curiosity, we
peeped and sometimes stepped into these interiors, and were gratified
by the neatness and even elegance which they exhibited. We found the
people remarkably civil, and apparently too much accustomed to English
travellers to trouble themselves about us. The hotel was not of the
best class, and we only saw some very inferior _cafés_, consisting
of one small room, with a curtain before the open door, and on the
outside a rude representation, on a board, of a coffee-pot, and a
cup and saucer. All the shops at Arles had curtains at the doors,
a peculiarity which we had not previously observed in the towns of
France. We went into a handsome church, where we found a few people,
principally beggars, at prayers, and leaving a small donation in the
poor-box, beguiled the time by walking and sitting in the _boulevard_
of the town.

We were glad to embark at twelve o'clock, and soon afterwards we were
again in motion. The Rhône is at this place a fine broad stream; but
its banks were less interesting than those which we had passed the
previous day. We came at length to a large tract of low land, washed
on the other side by the Mediterranean, which we were told was
tenanted by troops of wild horses, known by their being invariably
white. There were certainly many horses to be seen, and amongst them
numerous white ones; but they appeared to be exceedingly tame, and had
probably only been turned out for the benefit of grazing on the salt
marsh. Possibly there might be some difficulty in catching them in so
large a plain, perfectly unenclosed, and they might have bred in these
solitudes. There were also some very peaceable-looking donkeys to
be seen, and now and then a few cows. We did not perceive any human
habitations until we came to the extreme point, where one or two low,
dreary-looking tenements had been raised.

The view for the last hour had been magnificent, extending over a
splendid country to the lower Alps, and now Marseilles appeared in the
distance, spread upon the side of a hill down to the water, and
its environs stretching far and wide, villas and country mansions
appearing in every direction. Upon entering the Mediterranean, we were
struck by the line of demarcation which kept the green waters of the
Rhône and the deep dark blue of the sea perfectly distinct from each
other, there being no blending of tints. Here we were delighted by the
appearance of a shoal of large fish, which were seen springing out of
the water; several approached the steamer, gamboling about in the most
beautiful manner possible, darting along close to the surface, and
then making long leaps with their bodies in the air. One of our
fellow-passengers, a German, with whom we had made acquaintance,
hastened to fetch a gun; but, much to our joy, it missed fire in
several attempts to discharge it at the beautiful creatures which had
thus amused us with their sports. How strong must be the destructive
propensity, when it leads men to wanton acts of barbarity like this;
since, had a hundred fish been killed, there would have been no
possibility of getting one on board, and the slaughter must merely
have been perpetrated for slaughter's sake! Our remonstrances passed
unheeded, and we therefore did not conceal our rejoicing over the
disappointment.

The entrance into Marseilles is very picturesque, it being guarded on
either side by high rocks, bold, and projecting in various shapes. We
found the harbour crowded with vessels of various denominations, and
amongst them several steamers, one a French ship of war, and another
the English Government steamer, appointed to carry the mails to Malta.
The smell arising from the stagnant water in the harbour of Marseilles
was at first almost intolerable, and it was not without surprise that
we saw several gay gondola-looking boats, with white and coloured
awnings, filled with ladies and gentlemen, rowing about apparently for
pleasure.

The clock struck five as we got on shore, and, much to our annoyance,
we found that our first visit was to be paid to the customhouse. Upon
embarking at Arles, a _gens-d'armes_ had laid his finger upon our
baggage, and demanded our keys; but upon a remonstrance at the
absurdity of a re-examination, after it had passed through the whole
of France, he allowed it to be put on board inviolate. Here, however,
there was no escaping, and, tired as we were, and anxious to get to
our hotel, we were obliged to submit to the delay. Fortunately, we
were the first arrivals, and the search not being very strict, we were
not detained more than ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, which,
under the circumstances, seemed an age. The nearest hotel was of course
our place of refuge, and we were fortunate in speedily ending a very
good one, the Hotel des Embassadeurs, an immense establishment,
exceedingly well-conducted in every respect. Here we enjoyed the prospect
of a night's rest, having, during a hundred and ten hours, only had about
ten, at two different periods, in bed. Refreshed, however, by a change
of dress, we had no inclination to anticipate the period of repose, but
hurried our toilet, in order to join the dinner at the _table-d'hôte._

Marseilles struck us as being the handsomest and the cleanest town we
had yet seen in France. All the houses are spacious and lofty, built
of white stone, and in good condition, while every portion of the city
is well paved, either after the English fashion, or with brick, quite
even, and inserted in a very tasteful manner. Many of the streets
are extremely wide, and some are adorned with handsome fountains.
The shops are very elegant, and much more decorated than those of any
other place in France; some had paintings upon glass, richly gilded,
on either side of the doors, handsome curtains hung down within, and
the merchandise displayed was of the best description. These shops
were also well lighted, and together with the brilliant illuminations
of the neighbouring _cafés_, gave the streets a very gay appearance.
We wandered about until rather a late hour; the _cafés_, both inside
and outside, were crowded with gentlemen; but in the promenades we
saw fewer ladies than we had expected, and came to the conclusion--an
erroneous one in all probability--that French women stay very much at
home. Assuredly, the beauty of the night was most inviting; but, worn
out at last, we were obliged to retire to our hotel.

The next day, we made inquiries concerning the steamers, and
learned that the French boat was certainly to start on the following
afternoon, the 21st, while the departure of the English vessel
was uncertain, depending upon the arrival of the mails. Though
disappointed at finding that the French steamer did not touch at
Naples, as I had been led to believe, I felt inclined to take my
passage in her; but the advantage of being in time to meet the Bombay
steamer at Suez was so strongly urged upon me, in consequence of the
ticklish state of affairs in Egypt, that, finding plenty of room on
board the _Niagara_, we engaged a couple of berths in the ladies'
cabins. Mehemet Ali was represented to us as being so obstinately
determined to retain possession of the Turkish fleet, and the British
Government so urgent with France to support the Porte against him,
that, if this intelligence was to be depended upon, no time ought to
be lost. It was with reluctance that I gave up my original intention
of lingering on the road, and at Malta, but my unwillingness to run
any risk of being shut out of Egypt prevailed. After executing this
necessary business, we engaged a carriage, and paying a visit to the
British consul, drove about the town and its environs, being the more
pleased the more we saw of both. There appeared to be a deficiency of
trees in the landscape, but a peculiar air of its own compensated for
the want of foliage.

The private streets and houses of Marseilles are very regular and
well built, nor did we see any portion of the town of a very inferior
description. I should have liked much to have remained a few weeks in
it, and indeed regretted the rapidity of my journey through France,
not being able to imagine any thing more delightful than a leisure
survey of the country through which we passed. I had been so strongly
determined to make the overland trip to India, that I would have
undertaken it quite alone, had I not met with a party to accompany me;
some kind friends would not allow me, however, to make the experiment;
nor do I recommend ladies, unless they are very well acquainted
with the country, to travel through it without the protection of a
gentleman, a courier, or a good servant. Miss E. and myself performed
the whole distance without a care or a thought beyond the objects on
the road; but this we owed entirely to the attention of the gentleman
who put us safely on board the Malta steamer, and who managed every
thing for us upon the way, so that we were never in one single
instance subjected to the slightest annoyance.



CHAPTER III.

       *       *       *       *       *

MARSEILLES TO ALEXANDRIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Venations at the Custom-house--Embarkation on the Malta
  Steamer--Difficulties of exit from the Harbour--Storm--Disagreeable
  Motion of the Steam-vessel--Passengers--Arrival at Malta--Description
  of the City--Vehicles--Dress of the Maltese Women--State of
  Society--Church of St. John--The Palace--The Cemetery of the Capuchin
  Convent--Intolerance of the Roman Catholic Priesthood--Shops,
  Cafés, and Hotels--Manufactures and Products of Malta--Heat of
  the Island--Embarkation on board an English Government
  Steamer--Passengers--A young Egyptian--Arrival at Alexandria--Turkish
  and Egyptian Fleets--Aspect of the City from the Sea--Landing.


At twelve o'clock on the morning of the 21st of September, we were
informed that the English Government-mails had not arrived, and that
the probabilities were in favour of their not reaching Marseilles
until five o'clock; in which event, the steamer could not leave the
harbour that night. We, therefore, anticipated another day in our
pleasant quarters; but thought it prudent to take our baggage
on board. Upon getting down to the quay, we were stopped by a
_gens-d'armes,_ who desired to have our keys, which we of course
immediately surrendered. On the previous day, while driving about
the town, our progress had been suddenly arrested by one of these
officials, with an inquiry whether we had any thing to declare. He was
satisfied with our reply in the negative, and allowed us to proceed. A
gentleman afterwards asked me whether, in my travels through France,
I had not observed that the police was a mere political agent,
established for the purpose of strengthening the hands of the
government, and not, as in England, intended for the protection of the
people? I could only reply, that we had lost nothing in France, and
that property there appeared to be as secure as at home. Certainly,
the interference of the _gens-d'armes_ about the baggage, and the
continual demand for our passports, were very vexatious, detracting in
a great degree from the pleasure of the journey.

We found the rate of porterage excessively high; the conveyance of our
baggage to and fro, as we passed from steam-boats to hotels, proving,
in the aggregate, enormous; the whole went upon a truck, which one
man drew, with apparent ease, and for a very short distance, we paid
nearly double the sum demanded for the hire of a horse and cart in
London, from Baker Street, Portman Square, to the Custom House.

Upon getting on board the _Megara_, we found that the mails were in
the act of delivery, and that the vessel would start without delay.
We had now to take leave of the friend who had seen us so far upon our
journey, and to rely wholly upon ourselves, or the chance civilities
we might meet with on the road. Our spirits, which had been so gay,
were much damped by the loss of a companion so cheerful and ready
to afford us every enjoyment within our reach, and we in consequence
thought less of the danger to which we were shortly afterwards
exposed, the pain of parting being the paramount feeling.

There is always some difficulty in getting out of the harbour of
Marseilles, and the natural obstacles are heightened by the want of
a superintending power. There is no harbour-master, to regulate
the movements of vessels, and to appoint their respective places;
consequently, there is generally a great deal of confusion; while
serious accidents are not unfrequent.

Before we got under weigh, I saw my old acquaintance, Hussein Khan,
the Persian ambassador, go on board the French steamer, which was
anchored within a short distance of us. He was received with all the
honours due to his rank; which, by the way, was not acknowledged in
England; and his suite, whom we had seen lounging at the doors of the
_cafés_ the evening before, made a gay appearance on the deck.

We got foul of one or two ships as we went out, and just as we left
the harbour, the clouds, which had threatened all the morning, burst
upon us in a tremendous storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
The rain came down in torrents, sweeping along the decks, while a
heavy squall threatened to drive us upon the rocks, which we had
admired so much as the guardians of the port. In this emergency, we
were compelled to drop our anchor, and remain quiescent until the fury
of the elements had abated. The storm passed away about midnight, and
getting the steam up, we were far away from Marseilles and _la belle
France_ before morning.

The _Megara_ belonged to a class of steamers built for the government
upon some new-fangled principle, and which have the art of rolling in
any sea. Though the waters of the Mediterranean were scarcely ruffled
by the breeze, which was in our favour, there was so much motion in
the vessel, that it was impossible to employ ourselves in any way
except in reading. In other respects, the _Megara_ was commodious
enough; the stern cabin, with smaller ones opening into it, and each
containing two bed-places, was appropriated to the ladies, the whole
being neatly fitted up. We found some agreeable fellow-passengers; the
only drawback being a family of three children. In consequence of the
cabins being thus occupied, we could not preserve the neatness
and order which are so essential to comfort, and which need not be
dispensed with even in a short voyage.

Our commandant, Mr. Goldsmith, a descendant of the brother of the
poet, and who appeared to have inherited the benevolence of his
distinguished relative, was indefatigable in his exertions to render
us happy. He had procured abundant supplies for the table, which was
every day spread with a profusion of good things, while eight or ten
different kinds of wine, in addition to ale and porter, were placed
at the disposal of the guests. Nothing, indeed, was wanting, except a
French cook. No single meal had ever disagreed with us in France; but
though partaking sparingly, we felt the inconvenience of the heavy
English mode of cookery.

Amongst the attendants at table was one who speedily grew into the
good graces of all the passengers. A little fellow, eight years
old, but who did not look more than seven, placed himself at the
commandant's elbow, who immediately upon seeing him exclaimed, with a
benevolent smile, "What, are you here, Jemmy? then we are all right."
Jemmy, it seems, was the boatswain's son, and no diminutive page
belonging to a spoiled lady of quality, or Lilliputian tiger in the
service of a fashionable aspirant, could have been dressed in more
accurate costume. Jemmy was every inch a sailor; but, while preserving
the true nautical cut, his garments were fashioned with somewhat
coxcombical nicety, and he could have made his appearance upon any
stage as a specimen of aquatic dandyism. Jemmy would be invaluable on
board a yacht. His services at table were rewarded by a plateful of
pudding, which he ate standing at the captain's right hand, after
having, with great propriety, said grace. The little fellow had been
afloat for a year and a half; but during this period his education
had not been neglected, and he could read as well as any person in the
ship.

Amongst our passengers was a French gentleman, the commandant and
owner of an Indiaman, which had sailed from Bordeaux to Bombay under
the charge of the first officer. He had previously made twelve voyages
to India; but now availed himself of the shorter route, and proposed
to join his vessel at Bombay, dispose of the cargo, and, after taking
in a new freight, return through Egypt. The only coasts in sight,
during our voyage from Marseilles to Malta, were those of Sardinia
and Africa, Sicily being too far off to be visible. We were not near
enough to Sardinia to see more than a long succession of irregular
hills, which looked very beautiful under the lights and shades of a
lovely summer sky. The weather was warm, without being sultry, and
nothing was wanting excepting a few books. Mr. Goldsmith regretted the
absence of a library on board, but expressed his intention of making a
collection as speedily as possible.

The excessive and continual motion of the vessel caused me to suffer
very severely from seasickness; the exertion of dressing in the
morning always brought on a paroxysm, but I determined to struggle
against it as much as possible, and was only one day so completely
overpowered as to be unable to rise from the sofa. This sickness
was the more provoking, since there was no swell to occasion it, the
inconvenience entirely arising from Sir Somebody Symonds' (I believe
that is the name) method of building. What the _Megara_ would be in a
heavy sea, there is no saying, and I should be very sorry to make the
experiment.

We found ourselves at Malta at an early hour of the morning of
the 25th, having been only five nights and four days on board. Mr.
Goldsmith celebrated our last dinner with a profusion of champaigne,
and though glad to get out of the vessel, we felt unfeignedly sorry to
take leave of our kind commandant. We were, of course, up by daylight,
in order to lose nothing of the view.

Much as I had heard of the gay singularity of the appearance of Malta,
I felt surprise as well as delight at the beautiful scene around;
nor was I at all prepared for the extent of the city of Valetta. The
excessive whiteness of the houses, built of the rock of which
the island is composed, contrasted with the vivid green of their
verandahs, gives to the whole landscape the air of a painting, in
which the artist has employed the most brilliant colours for sea
and sky, and habitations of a sort of fairy land. Nor does a nearer
approach destroy this illusion; there are no prominently squalid
features in Malta, the beggars, who crowd round every stranger, being
the only evidence, at a cursory gaze, of its poverty.

Soon after the _Megara_ had dropped anchor, a young officer from the
_Acheron_, the steamer that had brought the mails from Gibraltar, came
on board to inquire whether I was amongst the passengers, and gave me
the pleasing intelligence that a lady, a friend of mine, who had left
London a few days before me, was now in Malta, and would proceed to
India in the vessel appointed to take the mails. She was staying at
Durnsford's Hotel, a place to which I had been strongly recommended.
Mr. Goldsmith was kind enough to promise to see our heavy baggage on
board the _Volcano_, the vessel under sailing orders; and a clergyman
and his wife, resident in Malta, who had gone to Marseilles for a
change of scene and air, inviting Miss E. and myself to accompany them
on shore, we gladly accepted their offer.

We found a _caless_ in waiting for us; a very singular description of
vehicle, but one common to the island. I had seen representations of
these carriages in old engravings, but had not the least idea that
they were still in use. They have only two wheels, placed behind, so
that the horse has to bear the weight of the vehicle as well as to
draw it; and there is something so inexpressibly odd in the whole
arrangement, that it put me in mind of the equipages brought on the
stage in a Christmas pantomime. Our _caless_ held four persons very
conveniently, and was really a handsome vehicle, gaily lined with
scarlet leather, and having spring seats. We saw others plying for
hire, of a very inferior description; some only calculated for two
persons, and of a faded and dilapidated appearance. They seem to be
dangerous conveyances, especially for the poor horse; we heard of one
being upset, on a steep hill, and breaking the neck of the animal that
drew it. In driving, we were obliged to take rather a circuitous route
to our inn, though the distance, had we walked, would have been very
inconsiderable. We were glad of the opportunity of seeing a little
of the suburbs, and were almost sorry to arrive at the place of our
destination.

As we came along we were delighted with the picturesque appearance
of the Maltese women, whose national dress is at once nunlike and
coquettish. A black petticoat envelopes the form from the waist, and
over that is thrown a singular veil, gathered into a hood, and kept
out with a piece of whalebone. This covering, which is called the
_faldetta_, is capable of many arrangements, and is generally disposed
so as to "keep one eye free to do its worst of witchery." When one
of the poorer classes is enabled to clothe herself in a veil and
petticoat of silk, she considers that she has gained the _acmé_ of
respectability. The streets of the city of Valetta are extremely
narrow, and the houses high; a great advantage in such a climate, as
it ensures shade, while, as they generally run at right angles, they
obtain all the breeze that is to be had.

The appearance of our hotel was prepossessing. We entered through a
wide gateway into a hall opening upon a small court, in the centre of
which stood a large vase, very well sculptured, from the stone of the
island, and filled with flowers. A wide handsome staircase, also of
stone, with richly-carved balustrades, and adorned with statues and
vases, conducted us to a gallery, two sides of which were open, and
the other two closed, running round the court-yard, and affording
entrance to very good apartments. Every thing was perfectly clean;
the bedsteads of iron, furnished with mosquito-curtains; and we were
supplied immediately with every article that we required.

As the rolling of the _Megara_ had prevented the possibility
of forming a sentence, we sat down to write letters, and having
despatched a few of the introductions to residents, with which my
friends in England had supplied me, I was agreeably surprised by some
visits which I had scarcely expected, as we found that we should be
obliged to embark for Alexandria in the evening.

I did not hear very flattering accounts of the state of society at
Malta, which, like that of all other confined places, is split into
factions, and where there seems to be a perpetual struggle, by the
least fortunate classes, to assert equality with those whose rank is
acknowledged; thus every person attached to the government assumes
eligibility for the _entré_ into the best circles, while the
magnates of the place are by no means inclined to admit them to these
privileges. It appeared that the endeavours of the Commissioner to
produce a greater degree of cordiality between the Maltese inhabitants
and the English residents, so far from succeeding, had tended to
widen the distance between them, and that the Maltese were by no means
grateful for the efforts made for their improvement. However, though
the fruits may not at present appear, the seed having been sown, we
may entertain a strong hope that they will show themselves in time.

While an undertaking so gigantic as the diffusion of the English
language throughout India has been attempted, it seems rather
extraordinary that the efforts of the committee should not have
been directed to the same result in Malta, and that the progress of
education should not have been conducted in the language that promised
to prove the most useful to subjects of the British crown; but it
appears that the committee decided otherwise, and complaints are
making, that the instruction now supplied at the schools is of the
most superficial nature, and by no means calculated to produce the
desired end.

Every object in Malta bears witness to the ingenuity and industry of
its inhabitants. The softness of the stone renders it easily cut, and
the Dowager Marchioness of Hastings (who has left imperishable marks
of her desire to benefit those who came under her observation), in
supplying the best designs, has filled the shops of Malta with a
tasteful species of _bijouterie_, which is eagerly sought after by
all the visitors. The carved work of Malta is sold very cheap; but the
same quality, which renders it so easily cut, occasions it to chip,
and, therefore, great care is necessary in packing these fragile
articles.

As soon as possible, we sallied forth to inspect the far-famed church
of St. John, and found our expectations more than gratified by the
interior of this gorgeous edifice. It was not, however, without
melancholy feelings, that we reflected on the miserable remnant of
those valiant knights, who had made Malta celebrated throughout all
history, and who, on the suppression of the order, were suffered to
languish out the remainder of their existence in obscurity. Mass was
performing at the time of our entrance, and seating ourselves in one
of the side chapels until it should be over, we were at its conclusion
accosted by a priest, who, finding that we did not speak Italian, sent
another person to show the beauties of the church. Some Maltese ladies
greeted us very courteously, and though, perhaps, we would rather have
wandered about alone, indulging in our own recollections of the past,
we could not help being pleased with the attentions which were paid
us.

Upon returning to our inn, we met a gentleman with whom we were
slightly acquainted, who, upon learning that I had a letter to Sir
Henry Bouverie, the governor, recommended me to deliver it in person,
the palace being close at hand. Our party met with a very courteous
reception, and we were happy in the opportunity thus afforded of
seeing the palace, which showed remains of former grandeur far
more interesting than any modern improvements could have been. One
apartment, in particular, hung round with tapestry, which, though
brought from France 135 years ago, retains all the brilliancy of its
original colouring, pleased us exceedingly.

There are some good paintings upon the walls; but the armoury is the
most attractive feature in the palace. It consists of one splendid
apartment, running the whole length of the building, and makes a very
imposing appearance; the arms of various periods being well arranged.
The collection of ancient weapons was not so great as I had expected;
still there were very interesting specimens, and an intelligent
corporal, belonging to one of the Queen's regiments, who acted as
_Cicerone_, gave us all the information we could require.

Some of our party had the curiosity to visit the cemetery of the
Capuchin convent, in which the monks who die, after having undergone
a preserving process, are dressed in the habit of the order, and
fastened up in niches; when the skeletons, from extreme age, actually
fall to pieces, the skulls and bones are formed into funeral trophies
for the decoration of the walls; and the whole is described as a most
revolting and barbarous spectacle. The last occupant was said to have
departed this life as late as 1835, adding, by the comparative newness
of his inhumation, to the horrors of the scene.

The influence of the priesthood, though still very great, is
represented to be upon the decline; they have lately, however,
shown their power, by retarding the progress of the building of the
Protestant church, to which the Dowager Queen Adelaide so munificently
subscribed. All the workmen employed are obliged to have dispensations
from the Pope, and every pretext is eagerly seized upon to delay the
erection of the edifice. At present, the Protestant community, with
few exceptions, are content to have service performed in an angle of
the court-yard of the palace, formerly a cellar and kitchen, but now
converted into an episcopal chapel and vestry-room. The members of
the society have a small chapel, not adequate to the accommodation of
those who desire to attend it, belonging to the Methodist persuasion;
but its minister is afraid to encounter the difficulties and delays
which would be consequent upon an attempt to enlarge it. There is a
public library adjoining the palace, originally formed by the knights,
but considered now to be more extensive than valuable.

The period which I spent upon the island was too brief to allow me to
make any inquiries respecting its institutions, the novelties of
the scene engaging my attention so completely, that I could give no
thought to anything else. The shops and _cafés_ of La Valetta have a
very gay appearance, and the ingenuity of the inhabitants is displayed
in several manufactures; the black lace mittens, now so fashionable,
being particularly well made. Table-linen, also of superior quality,
may be purchased, wrought in elegant patterns, and, if bespoken, with
the coat-of-arms or crest worked into the centre or the corners. In
the fashioning of the precious metals, the Maltese likewise excel,
their filagree-work, both in gold and silver, being very beautiful:
the Maltese chains have long enjoyed a reputation in Europe, and other
ornaments may be purchased of equal excellence.

To the eye of a stranger, Malta, at this period of the year (the end
of September), seems bare and destitute of verdure; yet, from the
quantity of every kind of vegetables brought to market, it must be
amazingly productive. The growth of cotton, lately introduced into
Egypt, has been injurious to the trade and manufactures of Malta, and
the attempt to supply its place with silk failed. In the opinion of
some persons, the experiment made had not a fair trial. The mulberry
trees flourished, and the silk produced was of an excellent quality;
but the worms did not thrive, and in consequence the design was
abandoned. Inquiry has shown, that the leaves from old trees are
essential to the existence of the silk-worm, and that, had the
projectors of the scheme been aware of a fact so necessary to be
known, they would have awaited the result of a few more years, which
seems all that was necessary for the success of the undertaking.
How many goodly schemes have been ruined from the want of scientific
knowledge upon the part of their projectors, and how frequently it
happens that a moment of impatience will destroy the hopes of years!

Fruit is cheap, plentiful, and excellent at Malta, the figs and grapes
being of very superior quality, while the island affords materials for
the most luxurious table. The golden mullet and the _Becca fica_ are
abundant; and all the articles brought to market are procurable at
low prices. I can scarcely imagine a more agreeable place to spend a
winter in, and I promise myself much gratification in the sojourn of
a few weeks at this delightful island upon my return to England. I can
very strongly recommend Durnsford's Hotel as a place of residence, the
accommodation being excellent and the terms moderate. In remaining any
time, arrangement may be made for apartments and board, by which means
the rate of living is much cheaper, while the style is equally good.

There is an opera at Malta, in which performances of various degrees
of mediocrity are given. The gay period to a stranger is that of the
carnival; but, at other times, the festivals of the church, celebrated
in this isolated place with more of the mummeries of Roman Catholicism
than obtain in many other countries professing the same faith, afford
amusement to the lovers of the grotesque.

Though the thermometer at Malta seldom rises to 90°, yet the heat in
the sultry season is very great. Every person, who is in the habit of
studying the glass, becomes aware of the difference between the heat
that is actually felt and that which is indicated by instruments; and
in no place is this discrepancy more sensibly experienced than Malta,
in which the state of the winds materially affects the comfort of the
inhabitants. A good authority assures us, that "the heat of Malta
is most oppressive, so much so, as to justify the term 'implacable,'
which is often applied to it. The sun, in summer, remains so long
above the horizon, and the stone walls absorb such an enormous
quantity of heat, that they never have sufficient time to get
cool; and during the short nights, this heat radiates from them so
copiously, as to render the nights, in fact, as hot as the days, and
much more oppressive to the feelings of those who are accustomed
to associate the idea of coolness with darkness. I have seen the
thermometer, in a very sheltered part of my house, steadily maintain,
during the night, the same height to which it had arisen in the day,
while I marked it with feelings of incalculably increased oppression,
and this for three successive weeks in August and September, 1822."

At Malta, we were recommended, in consequence of the unsettled state
of affairs between Mehemet Ali and the European powers, to proceed
forthwith to Egypt, and though strongly tempted to prolong my stay in
the island, I thought it advisable to make the best of my way to the
Red Sea, and defer the pleasure, which a more protracted residence
promised, until my return in the ensuing year. Lieut. Goldsmith, our
kind commandant of the _Megara_, called upon us, according to promise,
to conduct us on board the new steamer, the _Volcano_, the vessel
appointed to carry the mails on to Alexandria. This ship was in
quarantine, and it was consequently necessary to take some precautions
in going on board. We proceeded, in the first instance, to a police
station, where we took a second boat in tow, and a _guadiano_, an
official appointed to see that no persons transgress the rules and
regulations of the port instituted for the preservation of health.

Upon getting alongside of the _Volcano_, our baggage was placed in
this boat; Miss E. and myself were then handed in, and cast adrift, to
my great astonishment; for not having had any previous intimation of
the method to be pursued, I was not at all prepared to hold on, as I
believe it is called, without assistance. Miss E., however, who was
more observant, hooked her parasol into one of the ropes, which
she subsequently caught. We were now to be taught a new lesson--the
extreme nonchalance with which the officers of a Government steamer
treat the passengers who have the misfortune to choose these boats
instead of making the voyage on board merchant vessels. Some minutes
elapsed before any notice was taken of us, or any assistance afforded
in getting up our baggage; our own people being obliged to look on
and do nothing, since, had they touched the ship, they would have been
obliged to perform eighteen days of quarantine.

Upon reaching the deck, we requested that our baggage might be taken
down into the ladies' cabin, in order that we might get our small
dormitories put to rights before the rest of the passengers came on
board; but, though it could have made no earthly difference to the
people employed, we met with a refusal, and the whole was deposited in
the grand saloon, already encumbered with luggage, every quarter of an
hour adding to the heap and the confusion, and the difficulty of each
person recognizing the identical carpet-bag or portmanteau that he
might claim as his property.[A]

Among our new fellow-passengers there was a young English gentleman,
who intended to travel into Syria, and who, though looking scarcely
twenty, had already spent some years in foreign countries. He was very
modest and unassuming, and both agreeable and intelligent; and, having
had a good deal of conversation together, I was sorry to lose sight of
him at Alexandria.

We had also one of Mehemet Ali's _protégés_ on board, a young
Egyptian, who had been educated at the Pasha's expense in England,
where he had resided for the last ten years, latterly in the
neighbourhood of a dock-yard, in order to study the art of
ship-building. This young man was a favourite with those persons on
board who could make allowances for the circumstances in which he had
been placed, and who did not expect acquirements which it was almost
impossible for him to attain. His natural abilities were very good,
and he had cultivated them to the utmost of his power. Strongly
attached to European customs, manners, and institutions, he will lose
no opportunity of improving the condition of his countrymen, or of
inducing them to discard those prejudices which retard the progress
of civilization. He was naturally very anxious concerning his future
destiny, for the Pasha's favour is not always to be depended upon,
while the salary of many of the appointments which he does bestow is
by no means adequate to the support of men whom his liberality has
enabled to live in great respectability and comfort in England. Our
new acquaintance also felt that, in returning to his friends and
relatives, he should shock all their prejudices by his entire
abandonment of those customs and opinions by which they were still
guided; he grieved especially at the distress which he should cause
his mother, and determined not to enter into her presence until he had
assumed the national dress, and could appear, outwardly at least, like
an Egyptian.

The weather, during our short voyage, was remarkably favourable,
although it got rather too warm, especially at night, for comfort.
There are, however, great alleviations to heat in the Mediterranean
steamers. The ladies can have a wind-sail in their cabin, which,
together with the air from the stern windows, renders the temperature
at all times very delightful. They enjoy another advantage in having
a light burning all night, a comfort which cannot be too highly
appreciated, since darkness on board ship increases every other
annoyance.

We left Malta on the evening of the 25th, and arrived at Alexandria
early in the morning of the 30th. Every eye was strained to catch the
first view of the Egyptian coast, and especially of the Pharos, which
in ancient time directed the mariners to its shores; but the great
object of attraction at this period consisted of the united fleets,
Turkish and Egyptian, which rode at anchor in the port. Our steamer
threaded its way amid these fine-looking vessels, some of which we
passed so closely, as to be able to look into the cabin-windows. To
my unprofessional eye, these ships looked quite as efficient as any
warlike armament of the same nature that I had yet seen. They all
appeared to be well kept, and in good order, while the sailors were
clean, neatly dressed, and actively engaged, some in boats, and others
performing various duties. Though steamers are now very common sights,
we in turn attracted attention, all eyes being directed to our deck.

Our Egyptian fellow-passenger was especially interested and agitated
at his approach to his native shore, and the evidences which he saw
before him of the power and political influence of the Pasha. From a
gentleman who came on board, we learned that an apprehension had
been entertained at Alexandria of the arrival of a hostile fleet from
Europe, in which event a collision would in all probability have
taken place. Mehemet Ali, it was said, was so foolishly elated by
his successes, and by the attitude he had assumed, as to be perfectly
unaware of his true position, and of the lesson which he would
receive, should he persist in defying the remonstrances of his
European allies. It was also said, that nothing but the favour
shown by the French cabinet to the Pasha had hitherto prevented the
commencement of hostilities, since the British Government, taking the
view of its representative at Constantinople, felt strongly inclined
to proceed to extremities. I merely, of course, state the rumour that
prevailed; whether they carried the slightest authority or not, I do
not pretend to determine.

Alexandria, from the sea, presents a very imposing appearance; long
lines of handsome buildings, apparently of white stone, relieved by
green Venetian blinds, afford evidence of increasing prosperity, and
a wish to imitate the style of European cities. There is nothing,
however, in the landing-place worthy of the approach to a place of
importance; a confused crowd of camels, donkeys, and their drivers,
congregated amidst heaps of rubbish, awaited us upon reaching the
shore. We had been told that we should be almost torn to pieces by
this rabble, in their eagerness to induce us to engage the services of
themselves or their animals. Accustomed as we had been to the attacks
of French waiters, we were astonished by the indifference of the
people, who very contentedly permitted us to walk to the place of our
destination.

The lady-passengers, who arrived in the steamer, agreed to prosecute
the remainder of the journey in company; our party, therefore,
consisted of four, with two servants, and a baby; the latter a
beautiful little creature, of seven months old, the pet and delight of
us all. This darling never cried, excepting when she was hungry, and
she would eat any thing, and go to any body. One of the servants
who attended upon her was a Mohammedan native of India, an excellent
person, much attached to his little charge; and we were altogether a
very agreeable party, quite ready to enjoy all the pleasures, and to
encounter all the difficulties, which might come in our way.

Having formed my expectations of Alexandria from books of travels,
which describe it as one of the most wretched places imaginable, I was
agreeably disappointed by the reality. My own experience of
Mohammedan cities had taught me to anticipate much more of squalor and
dilapidation than I saw; though I confess, that both were sufficiently
developed to strike an European eye. We wended our way through
avenues ancle-deep in sand, and flanked on either side with various
descriptions of native houses, some mere sheds, and others of more
lofty and solid construction. We encountered in our progress several
native parties belonging to the respectable classes; and one lady,
very handsomely dressed, threw aside her outer covering, a dark silk
robe, somewhat resembling a domino, and removing her veil, allowed us
to see her dress and ornaments, which were very handsome. She was
a fine-looking woman, with a very good-natured expression of
countenance.


[Footnote A: The author followed up these remarks with others, still
more severe, upon the treatment which she and her fellow-travellers
experienced on board this vessel; but as these remarks seem to have
caused pain, and as Miss Roberts, without retracting one particle of
her statements, regretted that she had published them, it has been
deemed right to omit them in this work.]



CHAPTER IV.

       *       *       *       *       *

ALEXANDRIA TO BOULAK.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Description of Alexandria--Hotels--Houses--Streets--Frank
  Shops--Cafés--Equipages--Arrangements for the Journey to
  Suez--Pompey's Pillar--Turkish and Arab Burial-grounds--Preparations
  for the Journey to Cairo--Embarkation on the Canal--Bad accommodation
  in the Boat--Banks of the Canal--Varieties of Costume in
  Egypt--Collision during the night--Atfee--Its wretched appearance--The
  Pasha--Exchange of Boats--Disappointment at the Nile--Scarcity of
  Trees--Manners of the Boatmen--Aspect of the Villages--The Marquess
  of Waterford--The Mughreebee Magician--First sight of the
  Pyramids--Arrival at Boulak, the Port of Cairo.


There are several excellent hotels at Alexandria for the accommodation
of European travellers. We were recommended to Rey's, in which we
found every comfort we could desire. The house is large and handsome,
and well situated, being at the end of a wide street, or rather
_place_, in which the more wealthy of the Frank inhabitants reside,
and where there are several houses belonging to the consuls of
various nations. These latter are usually detached mansions, of a
very handsome description, and one especially, facing the top, will be
magnificent when finished.

All the houses in this quarter are very solidly constructed, lofty,
and with flat roofs. The ground-floor seems to be appropriated to
merchandize, or as domestic offices, the habitable apartments being
above. The windows are supplied with outside Venetian blinds, usually
painted green, which, together with the pure white of the walls, gives
them a fresh and new appearance, which I had not expected to see. In
fact, nothing could exceed the surprise with which I viewed a street
that would have excited admiration in many of our European capitals.
It will in a short time be embellished by a fountain, which was
erecting at the period of my visit: could the residents get trees
to grow, nothing more would be wanting to render it one of the
most superb avenues of the kind extant; but, a few inches below the
surface, the earth at Alexandria is so completely impregnated
with briny particles, as to render the progress of vegetation very
difficult at all times, and in some places impossible.

This portion of the city is quite modern; near it there is a more
singular and more ancient series of buildings, called the _Okella_;
a word, I believe, derived from _castle_. This consists of one large
quadrangle, or square, entered by gateways at different sides. A
terrace, approached by flights of steps, extends all round, forming
a broad colonnade, supported upon arches. The houses belonging to the
Franks open upon this terrace; they are large and commodious, but the
look-out does not equal that from the newer quarter; the quadrangle
below exhibiting any thing rather than neatness or order. Goods and
utensils of various kinds, donkeys, camels, and horses, give it the
appearance of the court of a native serai, though at the same time
it may be said to be quite as well kept as many places of a similar
description upon the continent of Europe. The Frank shopkeepers have
their establishments in a narrower avenue at the end of the wide
street before-mentioned. Here are several _cafés_, apparently for the
accommodation of persons to whom the hotels might be too expensive;
some of these are handsomely fitted up in their way: one, especially,
being panelled with shewy French paper, in imitation of the Gobelins
tapestry. I was not sufficiently near to discern the subject, but
when lighted, the colours and figures produced a very gay effect.
I observed a considerable number of druggists' shops; they were
generally entirely open in front, so that the whole economy of the
interior was revealed to view. The arrangements were very neat; the
various articles for sale being disposed upon shelves all round.
We did not make any purchases either here or in the Turkish bazaar,
which, both morning and evening, was crowded with people. Several very
good houses in the European style were pointed out to us as belonging
to Turkish gentlemen, high in office and in the receipt of large
incomes.

We had ordered dinner at seven o'clock, for the purpose of taking
advantage of the cool part of the day to walk about. We confined our
peregrinations to the Frank quarter and its immediate neighbourhood,
and were amused by the singular figures of other European pedestrians
whom we met with, but whose peculiar country it was difficult to
discover by their dress. Several gentlemen made their appearance on
horseback, but we did not see any females of the superior class. Two
English carriages, filled with Turkish grandees, dashed along with
the recklessness which usually distinguishes native driving; and other
magnates of the land, mounted upon splendid chargers, came forth in
all the pride of Oriental pomp. Having sufficiently fatigued ourselves
with walking ancle-deep in dust and sand, we returned to our hotel,
where we found an excellent dinner, which, among other good things,
comprehended a dish of Beccaficos.

As I had not intended to reach Alexandria so soon, neither Miss E.
nor myself had given notice of our approach; consequently, there was
nothing in readiness. We had, notwithstanding, hoped to have found
a boat prepared, a friend in London having promised to mention the
possibility of our being in Egypt with the mails that left Marseilles
on the 21st; but this precaution had been neglected, and the
gentleman, who would have provided us with the best vessel procurable,
was too busy with duties which the arrival of the steamer entailed
upon him to do more than express his regret that he could not devote
his whole attention to our comfort. In this emergency, we applied to
Mr. Waghorn, who, in the expectation that I might wish to remain at
Alexandria, had most kindly prepared an apartment for my reception
at his own house. The aspect of affairs, however, did not admit of
my running any risks, and I therefore determined to proceed to Suez
without delay. Under these circumstances, he did the best that the
nature of the case permitted; assured me that I should have his own
boat, which, though small, was perfectly clean, when we got to the
Nile, and provided me with all that I required for the passage. Mrs.
Waghorn also recommended a servant, whose appearance we liked, and
whom we instantly engaged for the trip to Suez.

I had brought letters to the consul-general, and to several residents
in Alexandria, who immediately paid me visits at our hotel. Colonel
Campbell was most particularly kind and attentive, offering one of the
government janissaries as an escort to Cairo; an offer which we most
readily accepted, and which proved of infinite service to us. We had
no trouble whatever about our baggage; we left it on board, under the
care of the trusty black servant. One of the officers of the ship, who
had distinguished himself during the voyage by his polite attention to
the passengers, had come on shore with us; he sent to the vessel for
our goods and chattels, took our keys and the janissary with him to
the custom-house, and we had speedily the pleasure of seeing them come
upon a camel to the door of the hotel, the fees charged, and the hire
of the animal, being very trifling. There was a large apartment on one
side of the gateway, in which those boxes which we did not desire to
open were deposited, the door being secured by a good lock; in fact,
nothing could be better than the whole arrangements of the hotel. It
was agreed that as little time as possible should be lost in getting
to Suez, and we therefore determined to prosecute our journey as early
in the afternoon of the next day as we could get every thing ready.
Donkeys were to be in waiting at daylight, to convey the party to
Pompey's Pillar, and we retired to rest, overcome by the fatigue and
excitement we had undergone. It was sufficiently warm to render it
pleasant to have some of the windows open; and once or twice in the
night we were awakened by the furious barking of the houseless and
ownerless dogs, which are to be found in great numbers throughout
Egypt. In the day-time the prevailing sound at Alexandria is the
braying of donkeys, diversified by the grunts and moans of the almost
equally numerous camels.

Engravings have made every inquiring person well acquainted with the
celebrated monument which goes by the name of "Pompey's Pillar," and
the feelings with which we gazed upon it are much more easily imagined
than described. It has the advantage of standing upon a rather
considerable elevation, a ridge of sand, and below it are strewed vast
numbers of more humble memorials of the dead. The Turkish and the Arab
burial-grounds spread themselves at the feet of the Pillar: each
grave is distinguished by a mound of earth and a stone. The piety of
surviving relatives has, in some places, forced the stubborn sand
to yield proofs of their affectionate remembrance of the deceased;
occasionally, we see some single green plant struggling to shadow
the last resting-place of one who slept below; and if any thing were
wanting to add to the melancholy of the scene, it would have been the
stunted and withering leaves thus mournfully enshrouding the silent
dead. There is something so unnatural in the conjunction of a scanty
vegetation with a soil cursed with hopeless aridity, that the gardens
and few green spots, occurring in the neighbourhood of Alexandria,
detract from, instead of embellishing, the scene. Though pleasant
and beautiful as retreats to those who can command an entrance, these
circumscribed patches of verdure offend rather than please the eye,
when viewed from a distance.

The antiquities of Egypt have been too deeply studied by the erudite
of all Christian countries, for an unlearned traveller to entertain
a hope of being able to throw any additional light upon them. Modern
tourists must, therefore, be content with the feelings which they
excite, and to look, to the present state of things for subjects of
any promise of interest to the readers of their journals.

After breakfast, we received a visit from the Egyptian gentleman who
had been our fellow-passenger. He brought with him a friend, who, like
himself, had been educated in England, and who had obtained a good
appointment, together with the rank of a field officer, from the
Pasha. The manners of the gentleman were good; modest, but not shy.
He spoke excellent English, and conversed very happily upon all
the subjects broached. Our friend was still in doubt and anxiety
respecting his own destination. Mehemet Ali had left Alexandria for
one of his country residences, on the plea of requiring change of air;
but, in reality, it was said, to avoid the remonstrances of those who
advocated a policy foreign to his wishes. The new arrival could not
present himself to the minister until he should be equipped in an
Egyptian dress. The friend who accompanied him gave us the pleasing
intelligence, that a large handsome boat, with ladies' cabin detached,
and capable of carrying forty passengers, had been built by the
merchants of Alexandria, and when completed--and it only wanted
painting and fitting up--would convey travellers up the canal to
Atfee, a distance which, towed by horses, it would perform in twelve
hours. Small iron steamers were expected from England, to ply upon the
Nile, and with these accommodations, nothing would be more easy and
pleasant than a journey which sometimes takes many days to accomplish,
and which is frequently attended with inconvenience and difficulty.

We found that Mrs. Waghorn had provided Miss E. and myself with beds,
consisting each of a good mattress stuffed with cotton, a pillow of
the same, and a quilted coverlet, also stuffed with cotton. She lent
us a very handsome canteen; for the party being obliged to separate,
in consequence of the small accommodation afforded in the boats, we
could not avail ourselves of that provided by the other ladies with
whom we were to travel, until we should all meet again upon the
desert. As there may be a danger of not meeting with a canteen,
exactly suited to the wants of the traveller, for sale at Alexandria,
it is advisable to procure one previously to leaving Europe; those
fitted up with tin saucepans are necessary, for it is not easy
to carry cooking apparatus in any other form. We did not encumber
ourselves with either chair or table, but would afterwards have
been glad of a couple of camp-stools. Our supplies consisted of tea,
coffee, wine, wax-candles (employing a good glass lanthorn for a
candlestick), fowls, bread, fruit, milk, eggs, and butter; a pair of
fowls and a piece of beef being ready-roasted for the first meal. We
also carried with us some bottles of filtered water. The baggage of
the party was conveyed upon three camels and a donkey, and we formed a
curious-looking cavalcade as we left the hotel.

In the first place, the native Indian servant bestrode a donkey,
carrying at the same time our beautiful baby in his arms, who wore a
pink silk bonnet, and had a parasol over her head. All the assistance
he required from others was to urge on his beast, and by the
application of sundry whacks and thumps, he soon got a-head. The
ladies, in coloured muslin dresses, and black silk shawls, rode in
a cluster, attended by the janissary, and two Arab servants also on
donkey-back; a gentleman, who volunteered his escort, and the owners
of the donkeys, who walked by our sides. As I had never rode any
animal, excepting an elephant, until I landed at Alexandria, I did not
feel perfectly at home on the back of a donkey, and therefore desired
Mohammed, our new servant, to give directions to my attendant to
take especial care of me. These injunctions he obeyed to the letter,
keeping close at my side, and at every rough piece of road putting
one hand on the donkey and the other in front of my waist. I could
not help shrinking from such close contact with a class of persons not
remarkable for cleanliness, either of garment or of skin; but the poor
fellow meant well, and as I had really some occasion for his services,
and his appearance was respectable, I thought it no time to be
fastidious, and could not help laughing at the ridiculous figure I
made.

We passed some fine buildings and baths; the latter very tempting in
their external appearance, and, according to general repute, excellent
of their kind. When we came to the gate of the wall of Alexandria, we
encountered a funeral procession returning from the cemetery close to
Pompey's Pillar. They were a large party, accompanied by many women,
who, notwithstanding their grief, stopped to gratify their curiosity,
by a minute inspection of our strange persons, and still stranger
garb. We were all huddled together in the gateway, which, the walls
being thick, took a few minutes to pass through, and thus had an
opportunity of a very close examination of each other; the veils of
the women, however, prevented us from scanning their countenances very
distinctly; and as we passed on, we encountered a herd of buffaloes,
animals quite new to Miss E., who had never seen one even as a
zoological specimen. We passed the base of Pompey's Pillar, and
through the burying-grounds; and in another quarter of an hour came
to the banks of the canal, and got on board the boat, which had been
engaged to take us to Atfee.

In the whole course of my travels, I had never seen any thing so
forlorn and uncomfortable as this boat. The accommodation destined for
us consisted of two cabins, or rather cribs, opening into each other,
and so low in the roof as not to permit a full-grown person to stand
upright in either. Some attempt had been formerly made at painting and
carving, but dirt was now the predominant feature, while the holes and
crannies on every side promised free egress to the vermin, apparently
long tenants of the place. Although certain of remaining the night
upon the canal, we would not suffer our beds to be unpacked; but,
seating ourselves upon our boxes, took up a position near the door, in
order to see as much as possible of the prospect.

The banks of the canal are very luxuriant; but, lying low, are
infested with insects of various kinds; musquitoes came on board
in clouds, and the flies were, if possible, more tormenting; it is,
therefore, very desirable to get out of this channel as speedily as
possible. We saw the vessel, a fine, large, handsome boat, which
had been mentioned to us as building for the purpose of conveying
passengers to Atfee; consequently, should the political questions now
agitating be amicably settled, and Egypt still continue to be a
high road for travellers to India, the inconveniences of which I now
complain will soon cease to exist.

We passed some handsome houses, built after the European fashion, one
of which we were told belonged to the Pasha's daughter, the wife of
the dufturdar; it was surrounded by gardens, but had nothing very
imposing in its appearance. We came also upon an encampment of the
Pasha's troops, which consisted of numerous small round tents, huddled
together, without the order displayed by an European army. The men
themselves, though report speaks well of their discipline, had not the
soldierlike look which I had seen and admired in the native troops
of India. The impossibility of keeping their white garments clean, in
such a country as Egypt, is very disadvantageous to their appearance,
and it is unfortunate that something better adapted to withstand
the effects of dust should not have been chosen. The janissary who
accompanied us, and who was clothed in red, had a much more military
air. He was a fine-looking fellow, tall, and well-made; and his dress,
which was very becoming, was formed of fine materials. Our servant
Mohammed had also a pleasing countenance, full of vivacity and good
humour, which we found the general characteristics of the people of
Egypt, especially those immediately above the lower class, and who
enjoyed any degree of comfort.

There are several varieties of costume worn in Egypt, some consisting
of long gowns or vests worn over the long trowser. The military dress,
which was that worn by the janissary and our servant, is both graceful
and becoming. It is rather difficult to describe the nether garment,
which is wide to the knee, and very full and flowing behind; added to
this, the janissary wore a light pantaloon, descending to the ancle;
but Mohammed, excepting when he encased them in European stockings,
had his legs bare: the waistcoat and jacket fit tight to the shape,
and are of a tasteful cut, and together with a sash and the crimson
cap with a dark blue tassel, almost universal, form a picturesque and
handsome dress. That worn by our servant was made of fine blue
stuff, embroidered, or rather braided, at the edges; and this kind
of ornament is so general, that even some of the poorest fellahs, who
possess but one coarse canvas shirt, will have that garnished with
braiding in some scroll-pattern.

There was not much to be seen on the banks of the Mahmoudie: here and
there, a priest at his devotions at the water-side, or a few miserable
cottages, diversified the scene. We encountered, however, numerous
boats; and so great was the carelessness of the navigators, that we
had considerable difficulty in preventing a collision, which, but for
the good look-out kept by the janissary, must have happened more
than once. Whenever the breeze permitted, we hoisted a sail; at other
times, the boatmen dragged the boat along; and in this manner we
continued our voyage all night. We regretted much the absence of
moonlight, since, the moment the day closed, all our amusement was at
an end. Cock-roaches, as large as the top of a wine-glass, made
their appearance; we heard the rats squeaking around, and found the
musquitoes more desperate in their attacks than ever. The flies with
one accord went to sleep, settling in such immense numbers on the
ceiling immediately over my head, that I felt tempted to look for a
lucifer-match, and put them all to death. The expectation, however,
of leaving the boat early the next morning, deterred me from this
wholesale slaughter; but I had no mercy on the musquitoes, as,
attracted by the light, they settled on the glasses of the lanthorn.

It was a long and dismal night, the only accident that occurred
being a concussion, which sent Miss E. and myself flying from our
portmanteaus. We had run foul of another boat, or rather all the
shouting of the Arab lungs on board our vessel had failed to arouse
the sleepers in the craft coming down. At length, the day dawned,
and we tried, by copious ablution and a change of dress, to refresh
ourselves after our sleepless night.

Finding that we wanted milk for breakfast, we put a little boy, one of
the crew, on shore, in order to procure some at a village; meanwhile,
a breeze sprung up, and we went on at so quick a rate, that we thought
we must have left him behind. Presently, however, we saw the poor
fellow running as fast as possible, but still careful of his pannikin;
and after a time we got him on board. In accomplishing this, the boy
was completely ducked; but whether he was otherwise hurt, or
this catastrophe occurring when out of breath or fatigued with
over-exertion, I do not know; but he began to cry in a more piteous
manner than could be justified by the cause alleged, namely, the
wetting of his only garment, an old piece of sacking. I directed
Mohammed to reward his services with a piastre, a small silver coin
of the value of 2-1/2d.; and never, perhaps, did so trifling a sum
of money produce so great an effect. In one moment, the cries
were hushed, the tears dried, and in the contemplation of his
newly-acquired riches, he lost the recollection of all his troubles.

It was nearly twelve o'clock in the day before we reached Atfee; and
with all my previous experience of the wretched places inhabited by
human beings, I was surprised by the desolation of the village at
the head of the canal. The houses, if such they might be called, were
huddled upon the side of a cliff; their mud walls, covered on the top
with a few reeds or a little straw, looking like the cliff itself. A
few irregular holes served for doors and windows; but more uncouth,
miserable hovels could not have been seen amongst the wildest savages.
Some of these places I perceived had a small court-yard attached, the
hut being at the end, and only distinguishable by a poor attempt at a
roof, the greater part of which had fallen in.

We were here obliged to leave our boat; landing on the opposite side
to this village, and walking a short distance, we found ourselves
upon the banks of the Nile. The place was in great confusion, in
consequence of the actual presence of the Pasha, who, for himself
and suite, we were told, had engaged every boat excepting the one
belonging to Mr. Waghorn, in which the mails, entrusted to him, had
been put. As it was impossible that four ladies, for our friends had
now joined us, with their European female servant and the baby, could
be accommodated in this small vessel, we despatched our janissary,
with a letter in the Turkish language to the governor of Atfee, with
which we had been provided at Alexandria, and we were immediately
politely informed that the best boat attainable should be at our
disposal.

The Pasha had taken up his quarters at a very mean-looking house, and
he soon afterwards made his appearance in front of it. Those who
had not become acquainted with his person by portraits, or other
descriptions, were disappointed at seeing a common-looking man, short
in stature, and very plainly clad, having formed a very different idea
of the sovereign of Egypt. Not having any proper introductions, and
knowing that the Pasha makes a great favour of granting an audience to
European ladies, we made no attempt to address him; thus sacrificing
our curiosity to our sense of decorum. There was of course a great
crowd round the Pasha, and we embarked for the purpose of surveying it
to greater advantage.

Our boat was moored in front of a narrow strip of ground between the
river and a large dilapidated mansion, having, however, glass windows
in it, which bore the ostentatious title of _Hotel du Mahmoudie._
This circumscribed space was crowded with camels and their drivers;
great men and their retainers passing to and fro; market people
endeavouring to sell their various commodities, together with a
multitudinous collection of men, dogs, and donkeys. I observed that
all the people surveyed the baby as she was carried through them, in
her native servant's arms, with peculiar benignity. She was certainly
a beautiful specimen of an English infant, and in her pretty white
frock, lace cap, and drawn pink silk bonnet, would have attracted
attention anywhere; such an apparition the people now assembled
at Atfee had probably never seen before, and they were evidently
delighted to look at her. She was equally pleased, crowing and
spreading out her little arms to all who approached her.

The smallness of the boat rendered it necessary that I should open
one of my portmanteaus, and take out a supply of clothes before it was
sent away; while thus occupied, I found myself overlooked by two or
three respectably-clad women, who were in a boat, with several men,
alongside. I did not, of course, understand what they said, but by
their gestures guessed that they were asking for some of the strange
things which they saw. I had nothing that I could well spare, or that
I thought would be useful to them, excepting a paper of needles, which
I put into one of their hands, through the window of the cabin. The
envelope being flourished over with gold, they at first thought that
there was nothing more to be seen, but being directed by signs to
open it, they were in ecstasy at the sight of the needles, which they
proceeded forthwith to divide.

We now pushed off, and found that, in the narrow limits to which we
were confined, we must only retain our carpet-bags and dressing-cases.
The small cabin which occupies the stern was surrounded on three sides
with lockers, which formed seats, but which were too narrow to hold
our beds; moveable planks, of different dimensions, to suit the shape
of the boat, fitted in, making the whole flush when requisite, and
forming a space amply wide enough for our mattresses, but in which
we could not stand upright. To our great joy, we found the whole
extremely clean, and in perfect repair, so that we could easily submit
to the minor evils that presented themselves.

We had found Mohammed very active, attentive, and ready in the
departments in which we had hitherto employed him, but we were
now about to put his culinary abilities to the test. He spoke very
tolerable English, but surprised us a little by inquiring whether we
should like an Irish stew for dinner. A fowl was killed and picked in
a trice, and Mohammed had all his own way, excepting with regard to
the onions, which were, in his opinion, woefully restricted. A fowl
stewed with butter and potatoes, and garnished with boiled eggs, is
no bad thing, especially when followed by a dessert of fresh dates,
grapes, and pomegranates. A clerk of Mr. Waghorn's, an European, who
had the charge of the mails, went up in the boat with us; but as we
could not possibly afford him any accommodation in our cabin, his
situation at the prow must have been very uncomfortable. He was
attended by a servant; there were ten or twelve boatmen, which,
together with Mohammed and the janissary, completely crowded the deck,
so that it was impossible for them all to lie down at full length.

I have not said a word about the far-famed river, which I had so long
and so anxiously desired to see; the late inundations had filled it
to the brim, consequently it could not have been viewed at a more
favourable period; but I was dreadfully disappointed. In a flat
country, like Lower Egypt, I had not expected any thing beyond
luxuriance of vegetation; but my imagination had been excited by ideas
of groves of palms. I found the date trees so thinly scattered, as to
be quite insignificant as a feature in the scene, and except when we
came to a village, there were no other.

The wind being strong, we got on at first at a rapid rate, and as we
carried a press of sail, the boat lay over completely, as to put the
gunwale (as I believe it is called) in the water. We looked eagerly
out, pleased when we saw some illustration of old customs with which
the Bible had made us acquainted, or when the janissary, who was
an intelligent person, pointed to a Bedouin on the banks. Miss E.
flattered herself that she had caught sight of a crocodile, and as she
described the huge jaws of some creature gaping out of the water,
I thought that she was right, and envied her good fortune: however,
afterwards, being assured that crocodiles never make their appearance
below Cairo, I was convinced that, unaccustomed to see animals
belonging to the Bovine group in a foreign element, she had taken
the head of a buffalo emerging from the river, for one of the classic
monsters of the flood. When weary of looking out, without seeing any
thing but sky and water, and a few palm trees, I amused myself with
reading Wordsworth, and thus the day passed away.

When evening came, we seated ourselves in front of the cabin, outside,
to enjoy the sunset, and after our loss of rest on the preceding
night, slept very comfortably. The next morning at noon, we had
accomplished half the distance to Cairo, having some time passed every
boat we saw upon the river. Arriving at a village, Mr. Waghorn's agent
determined upon going on shore, and carrying the mails on the backs of
donkeys, in order to ensure their arrival at Suez time enough to
meet the steamer. He had been assured that we had passed the boat
containing the Government mails in the night, but had not been able to
ascertain the fact himself. I think it necessary to mention this, as
a proof of the indefatigable endeavours made by Mr. Waghorn to ensure
the speediest method of transit.

As the people had worked very hard, we directed Mohammed to purchase
some meat for them in the bazaar, in order that they might indulge in
a good meal; we also took the opportunity of purchasing a supply of
eggs, fowls, and fruit, lest we should fall short before we reached
Cairo. The fowls were so small, that, having our appetites sharpened
by the fresh air of the river, we could easily manage one between us
for breakfast, and another at dinner. We did not make trial of the
unfiltered waters of the Nile, not drinking it until it had deposited
its mud. Though previously informed that no beverage could be
more delightful than that afforded by this queen of rivers in its
unsophisticated state, I did not feel at all tempted to indulge; but
am quite ready to do justice to its excellence when purified from the
grosser element.

We were much pleased with the alacrity and good humour of our boatmen,
and the untiring manner in which they performed their laborious
duties. When a favouring breeze allowed them to rest, they seldom
indulged in sleep, but, sitting round in a ring upon the narrow deck,
either told stories, or were amused by the dancing of one of the
group, who, without changing his place, contrived to shift his feet
very vigorously to the music of his own voice, and that of two sticks
struck together to keep the time. They frequently used their oars in
parts of the river where they could not find a towing-path, and when
rowing, invariably accompanied their labours with a song, which,
though rude, was not unpleasant. The breeze, which had hitherto
favoured us, dying away, the poor fellows were obliged to work
harder than ever, dragging the boat up against the stream: upon these
occasions, however, we enjoyed a very agreeable degree of quietude,
and were, moreover, enabled to take a more accurate survey of the
river's banks. Living objects were not numerous, excepting in the
immediate vicinity of the villages. I was delighted when I caught
sight of an ibis, but was surprised at the comparatively small
number of birds; having been accustomed to the immense flocks which
congregate on the banks of Indian rivers.

Our arrival at a village alone relieved the monotony of the landscape.
Some of these places were prettily situated under groves of dates
and wild fig trees, and they occasionally boasted houses of a decent
description; the majority were, however, most wretched, and we were
often surprized to see persons respectably dressed, and mounted upon
good-looking donkeys, emerge from streets and lanes leading to the
most squalid and poverty-stricken dwellings imaginable. The arrival of
a boat caused all the beggars to hasten down to the river-side;
these chiefly consisted of very old or blind persons. We had provided
ourselves with paras, a small copper coin, for the purpose of giving
alms to the miserable beings who solicited our charity, and the poor
creatures always went away well satisfied with the trifling gift
bestowed upon them.

Every morning, the janissary and the Arab captain of the boat came to
the door of the cabin to pay their respects; with the latter we could
not hold much communication, as he did not speak a word of English; we
were, nevertheless, excellent friends. He was very good-humoured,
and we were always laughing, so that a bond of union was established
between us. He had once or twice come into such close contact with
some of our crockery-ware, as to put me in a fright, and the comic
look, with which he showed that he was aware of the mischief he had
nearly done, amused me excessively. He was evidently a wag, and from
the moment in which he discovered the congeniality of our feelings,
when any droll incident occurred, he was sure to look at us and laugh.

The janissary spoke very tolerable English, and after sunset, when we
seated ourselves outside the cabin-door, he came forward and entered
into conversation. He told us that a quarrel having taken place
between the boatmen of a small vessel and the people of a village, the
former came on board in great numbers in the night, and murdered six
of the boatmen; and that on the affair being represented to the Pasha,
he sent three hundred soldiers to the village, and razed it to the
ground. He said that he had been in the service of several English
gentlemen, and had once an opportunity of going to England with a
captain in the navy, but that his mother was alive at that time, and
when he mentioned his wishes to her, she cried, and therefore he
could not go. The captain had told him that he would always repent not
having taken his offer; but though he wished to see England, he was
glad he had not grieved his mother. He had been at Malta, but had
taken a dislike to the Maltese, in consequence of a wrong he had
received, as a stranger, upon his landing.

Amongst the noblemen and gentlemen whom he had served, he mentioned
the Marquess of Waterford. We asked him what sort of a person he was,
and he immediately replied, "A young devil." Mohammed, who had been
in various services with English travellers, expressed a great desire
to go to England; he said, that if he could once get there, he would
"never return to this dirty country." Both he and the janissary
apparently had formed magnificent ideas of the wealth of Great
Britain, from the lavish manner in which the English are accustomed to
part with their money while travelling.

We inquired of Mohammed concerning the magician, whose exploits Mr.
Lane and other authors have recorded. At first, he did not understand
what we meant; but, upon further explanation, told us that he thought
the whole an imposture. He said, that when a boy, about the age of the
Arab captain's son, who was on board, he was in the service of a lady
who wished to witness the exhibition, and who selected him as the
medium of communication, because she said that she knew he would
tell her the truth. The ceremonies, therefore, commenced; but though
anxiously looking into the magic mirror, he declared that he saw
nothing: afterwards, he continued, "A boy was called out of the
bazaar, who saw all that the man told him." But while Mohammed
expressed his entire disbelief in the power of this celebrated person,
he was not devoid of the superstition of his creed and country, for
he told us that he knew of another who really did wonderful things. He
then asked us what we had called the Mughreebee whom we had described
to him: we replied, a magician; and he and the janissary repeated
the word over many times, in order to make themselves thoroughly
acquainted with it. In all cases, they were delighted with the
acquisition of a new word, and were very thankful to me when I
corrected their pronunciation. Thus, when the janissary showed me what
he called _kundergo_, growing in the fields, and explained that it
made a blue dye, and I told him that we called it _indigo_, he never
rested until he had learned the word, which he repeated to Mohammed
and Mohammed to him. I never met with two more intelligent men in
their rank of life, or persons who would do greater credit to their
teachers; and brief as has been my intercourse with the Egyptians, I
feel persuaded, that a good method of imparting knowledge is all that
is wanting to raise them in the scale of nations.

During our progress up the river, I had been schooling myself,
and endeavouring to keep down my expectations, lest I should be
disappointed at the sight of the Pyramids. We were told that we should
see them at the distance of five-and-thirty miles; and when informed
that they were in view, my heart beat audibly as I threw open the
cabin door, and beheld them gleaming in the sun, pure and bright
as the silvery clouds above them. Far from being disappointed, the
vastness of their dimensions struck me at once, as they rose in
lonely majesty on the bare plain, with nothing to detract from their
grandeur, or to afford, by its littleness, a point of comparison.
We were never tired of gazing upon these noble monuments of an age
shrouded in impenetrable mystery. They were afterwards seen at less
advantage, in consequence of the intervention of some rising ground;
but from all points they created the strongest degree of interest.

We had a magnificent thunder-storm just as it was growing dark, and
the red lightning lit up the pyramids, which came out, as it were,
from the black masses of clouds behind them, while the broad waters
of the Nile assumed a dark and troubled aspect. The scene was sublime,
but of short duration; for the tempest speedily rolled off down the
river; when, accompanied by a squall and heavy rain, it caught several
boats, which were obliged to put into the shore. We did not experience
the slightest inconvenience; and though the latter part of the voyage
had been protracted from want of wind, arrived at the port of Boulak
at half-past nine on the second evening of our embarkation.



CHAPTER V.

       *       *       *       *       *

CAIRO.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Arrival at Boulak--Description of the place--Moolid, or Religious
  Fair--Surprise of the People--The Hotel at Cairo--Description of
  the City--The Citadel--View from thence--The City--The
  Shops--The Streets--The interior of the Pasha's
  Palace--Pictures--Furniture--Military Band--Affray between a Man and
  Woman--Indifference of the Police to Street Broils--Natives beaten
  by Englishmen--Visit to an English Antiquary--By-ways of
  the City--Interior of the Houses--Nubian
  Slave-market--Gypsies--Preparations for Departure to Suez--Mode
  of driving in the Streets of Cairo--Leave the City--The Changes in
  travelling in Egypt--Attractions of Cairo.


It was half-past nine o'clock, on the evening of the 4th of October,
1839, that we arrived at the port of Boulak. We expected to find some
person in waiting to give us the pass-word, and thus enable us to
get into Cairo, the gates of the city being closed at nine o'clock.
Depending upon the attendance of the hotel-keeper at Cairo, who had
been apprised of our approach, we had not put the janissary on shore,
as we ought to have done, at the British Consul's country-house, who
would have furnished us with a talisman to pass the gates. We sent
Mohammed and the janissary on shore, to see what could be done.
Including the voyage up the canal, Miss E. and myself had passed (we
could not say slept) three nights on board a boat, the first without
an attempt at repose, the two latter lying down in our dressing-gowns
upon thin mattresses, stretched upon hard boards; we, therefore, could
not very easily relinquish the endeavour to procure a bed during
the time which would intervene between the period (an hour before
day-light) in which the gates of the city would be open.

I had a letter to the British Consul, which I gave Mohammed, telling
him to try the effect of bribery upon the guardians of the city.
During his absence, the Arab captain, feeling that we were left
under his protection, came and seated himself beside us, outside the
cabin-door. We conversed together without understanding each other's
language; he had nothing to offer us except snuff, of which we each
took a pinch, giving him in return, as he refused wine, a pomegranate,
to which I added a five-franc piece from the remains of my French
money. If any thing had been wanting to establish a good understanding
between us, this would have accomplished it. The rais, or captain,
took my hand in his, and pressed his own to his lips, in token of
gratitude; and when upon the return of Mohammed he perceived that I
was rather nervous at the idea of crossing the plank from the boat to
the shore, he plunged at once into the water to assist me over it.
The janissary brought word that there was a moolid, or religious fair,
held at the opposite end of the city, and that if we would make a
circuit of three miles round the walls, we might enter Cairo that
night, as the gate was left open for the convenience of the people
in the neighbourhood. Mohammed had aroused a donkey-man of his
acquaintance, who was in attendance, with a youth his son, and two
donkeys. To the boy was entrusted the care of the lanthorn, without
which no person is allowed to traverse the streets after nightfall,
and mounting, we set forward.

The streets of Boulak are narrow, but the houses appear to be lofty
and substantially built. We were challenged by the soldiers at the
gates, but allowed to pass without farther inquiry. The ride round
the walls at night was dreary enough, over broken ground, occupied
by bandogs barking at us as we passed. We met occasionally groups of
people coming from the fair, who gave us the welcome intelligence that
the gates were still open, and, pushing on, we came at length to the
entrance, an archway of some magnitude. Upon turning an angle of this
wall, we suddenly emerged upon a very singular scene. The tomb of
the saint, in whose honour the moolid was held, was surrounded by
devotees, engaged in the performance of some religious rite. Around,
and in front, throughout the neighbouring streets, gleamed a strong
illumination, produced by an assemblage of lamps and lanthorns
of various kinds. Some of the shops boasted handsome cut-glass
chandeliers, or Argand lamps, evidently of European manufacture;
others were content with a circular frame, perforated with holes,
in which all sorts of glass vessels, wine-glasses, tumblers,
mustard-pots, &c., were placed, filled with oil, and having several
wicks.

The articles displayed for sale at the fair were, as far as we could
judge from the hasty glances we cast as we passed along, good of
their kind, and of some value; the confectioners' shops made a gay
appearance with their variously-coloured sweetmeats, piled up in
tempting heaps, and we saw enough of embroidery and gold to form a
very favourable idea of the taste and splendour of the native dress.

We were, of course, objects of great surprise and curiosity; the
sudden appearance of two European ladies, the only women present, at
eleven o'clock at night, riding on donkeys through the fair, could not
fail to create a sensation. Our boy with the lanthorn walked first,
followed by the janissary, who, flourishing his silver stick, made
room for us through the crowd. Had we not been accompanied by this
respectable official, we should scarcely have dared to venture in such
a place, and at such a period. Mohammed and the donkey-man attended
at the side of Miss E. and myself, and though some of the people could
not help laughing at the oddity of our appearance, we met with no
sort of insult or hinderance, but made our way through without the
slightest difficulty, much more easily, in fact, than two Arabs in
their native costume, even if attended by a policeman, would have
traversed a fair in England.

The scene was altogether very singular, and we thought ourselves
fortunate in having had an opportunity of witnessing a native fair
under such novel circumstances. We could scarcely believe that we were
in a Mohammedan city, noted for its intolerance, and could not help
feeling grateful to the reigning power which had produced so striking
a change in the manners and conduct of the people. Upon leaving the
fair, we turned into dark streets, dimly illumined by the light of the
lanthorn we carried; occasionally, but very seldom, we met some
grave personage, preceded also by a lanthorn, who looked with great
astonishment at our party as we passed. At length we came to the door
of our hotel, and having knocked loudly, we were admitted into the
court-yard, when, dismounting, we proceeded up a flight of stone steps
to a verandah, which led into some very good-sized apartments. The
principal one, a large dining-room, was furnished at the upper end
in the Egyptian fashion, with divans all round; it was, however, also
well supplied with European chairs and tables, and in a few minutes
cold turkey and ham, and other good things, appeared upon the board.

Being the first arrivals from the steamer, we had to answer numerous
questions before we could retire to bed. Upon asking to be conducted
to our chamber, we were shown up another flight of stone stairs,
leading to a second and much larger verandah, which was screened off
in departments serving as ante-chambers to the bed-rooms. There was
sufficient space on the terraces of this floor, for the descent of a
few steps led to another platform, to afford a walk of some extent,
but of this we were not aware until the morning. We found a very
comfortable two-bedded room, supplied with glass windows, and
everything belonging to it in excellent repair, and apparently free
from vermin; most thankfully did we lie down to enjoy the repose which
our late exertions had rendered so needful.

Our trusty Mohammed had engaged donkeys for us the next day, and
promised to take us to every place worth seeing in the city. We were
strongly tempted to visit the Pyramids, but were deterred by the
danger of losing the steamer at Suez, and by the difficulties of the
undertaking. We were told that the Nile was not sufficiently flooded
to admit of our approach in a boat, and that we should be up to the
donkey's knees in mud if we attempted to go upon the backs of those
animals. We, therefore, reluctantly relinquished the idea, and
contented ourselves with what we could see of Cairo.

Our first visit was directed to the Citadel, a place which, I do not
scruple to say, was to me quite as interesting as any of the monuments
of ancient art that Egypt contains. The remains of ages long past, and
whose history is involved in unfathomable obscurity, excite our wonder
and admiration, and fill us with an almost painful curiosity to draw
aside the veil which time has thrown around them, and to learn secrets
that all the learning of man has hitherto been unable to unfold.
The citadel of Cairo, on the contrary, has been the theatre of
comparatively recent events; it is filled with recollections of the
hero whose exploits, narrated by the most eloquent pens, have charmed
us in our childhood, and still continue to excite interest in our
breasts--the Sultan Saladin. Here are the remains of a palace which he
once inhabited, and here is a well which bears his name. Who could sit
under the broken pillars of that roofless palace, or drink the water
from the deep recesses of that well, without allowing their thoughts
to wander back to the days of the Crusades, those chivalric times, in
which love, and war, and religion, swayed the hearts and the actions
of men; when all that was honoured and coveted was to be found in a
soldier of the cross, and when half-frantic enthusiasts, pursuing the
vainest of hopes, the recovery of the Holy Land, brought away with
them what they did not go to seek, the arts, and learning, and science
of the East! The janissary, who was with us, pointed out the direction
in which Damietta now stands, and I was instantly filled with a desire
to see Damietta, of which I had heard and read so much.

The most exciting romance of Oriental history is to be found amid the
deserts that surround Egypt; and even if the most spirit-stirring tale
of all, the _Talisman_, had not been written, the scenes in which our
own lion-hearted Richard figured, and which witnessed the exploits of
the Templars and the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, could not fail
to create the highest degree of pleasurable feeling in minds capable
of enjoying such brilliant reveries of the past. The Citadel of Cairo
is also fraught with the recollections of an event which startled
all Europe within the memory of many of the present generation--the
massacre of the Mamelukes. We were shown the broken cleft in the
wall from which the only one of the devoted men who escaped urged his
gallant horse; it was, indeed, a fearful leap, and we gazed upon,
the spot and thought of the carnage of that dreadful hour with an
involuntary shudder.

The Citadel of Cairo has less the air of a regular fortification than
any place of arms I ever recollect to have entered; it is, however,
I believe, exceedingly strong by nature, the situation being very
commanding. I regretted that I could not look upon these things with
a professional eye, and that I had no military authority at hand to
refer to. Near to the ruins of Saladin's palace, the Pasha is now
constructing a mosque, which, when finished, will be one of the most
splendid temples of the kind in all the Moslem land. It is to be lined
and faced with marble, very elegantly carved, but it will take three
years to complete it, and should any circumstances occur to delay the
work during the lifetime of the present ruler of Egypt, the chances
seem much in favour of its never being completed at all. Mounting on
the embrasure of one of the guns, I feasted my eyes upon one of the
finest and most interesting views I had ever beheld. The city, with
its minarets, towers, kiosks, and stately palm-trees, lay at my feet,
displaying, by its extent, the solidity, loftiness, and magnificence
of its buildings, its title to the proud name of "Grand Cairo."
Beyond, in one wide flood of silver, flowed the Nile, extending far as
the eye could reach along a plain verdant with its fertilizing waters.
To the left, the tombs of the caliphs spread themselves over a desert
waste, looking, indeed, like a city of the dead. These monuments,
though not equalling in size and grandeur the tombs which we find in
India, are very striking; they are for the most part surmounted by
cupolas, raised upon lofty pillars, with the spaces open between. Upon
one of these buildings we were shown a vessel in the form of a boat,
which upon a certain festival is filled with grain and water, for the
service of the birds.

The Pyramids, which rise beyond the City of Tombs, are not seen to
advantage from this point, an intervening ridge of sand cutting off
the bases, and presenting the pinnacles only to view; but the whole of
the landscape, under the clear bright atmosphere of an Egyptian sky,
is of so exquisite a nature, that the eye can never tire of it, and
had I been detained as a prisoner in the Pasha's dominions, I might
have become reconciled to my fate, had I been confined in a situation
which commanded this splendid prospect.

About the middle of the day we again sallied forth, the streets of
Cairo being so narrow that the sun is completely shut out, and shade
thus afforded at noon. The air was not unpleasantly warm, and we
suffered no inconvenience, excepting from the crowd. Mounted upon
donkeys, we pushed our way through a dense throng, thrusting aside
loaded camels, which scarcely allowed us room to pass, and coming
into the closest contact with all sorts of people. The perusal of
Mr. Lane's book had given me a very vivid idea of the interior of the
city, though I was scarcely prepared to mingle thus intimately with
its busy multitude.

We had some shopping to execute, or rather we had to pay for some
purchases made by Mohammed for us in the morning, and to return that
portion of the goods sent for inspection that we did not intend to
keep. We liked the appearance of the shops, which, in all cases of the
more respectable kind, were well stocked, whole streets being devoted
to the sale of one particular branch of merchandize. A long avenue
was occupied by saddlers and the sellers of horse-furniture; another
displayed nothing but woollen cloths; a third was devoted to weapons
of every description, &c. &c. The wax-chandlers reminded me very much
of those in England, being decorated in a similar manner, while the
display of goods everywhere was much greater than I had ever seen in
Eastern cities, in which for the most part merchandize of the best
description is hidden in warehouses, and not to be found without deep
research.

The greater number of the streets are covered in with matting in
rather a dilapidated state, and having many holes and crevices for the
admission of air; this gives to the whole a ragged appearance, and we
were told that the Pasha had determined not to allow in future awnings
of these frail and unsightly materials. The Frank quarter, which is
much better contrived, is the model for subsequent erections. This
avenue has a roof of wood sufficiently high to allow of a free
circulation of air, and having apertures, at regular distances near
the top, to admit the light. The streets in this part of Cairo are
wider than usual, and the shops appear to be large and convenient.

All sorts of European manufactures are to be found here, for the most
part at reasonable prices. The gentlemen who proposed to cross the
desert purchased Leghorn hats of very good quality, and admirably
adapted, from their size, lightness, and durability, for Indian wear.
Wearied, at length, with the confusion and bustle of the streets,
we took again the road to the Citadel, being exceedingly desirous to
feast our eyes with the sunset view.

After gazing long and earnestly upon a scene which, once beheld, can
never be forgotten, we gladly accepted the offer of Mohammed to
show us into the interior of the Pasha's palace, a large irregular
building, having no great pretensions to architectural beauty, and
mingling rather oddly the European with the Oriental style. Ascending
a broad flight of steps, we passed through a large kind of guard-room
to the state-apartments. These were of rather a singular description,
but handsome and well adapted to the climate. A third portion,
consisting of the front and part of the two sides of each room, was
entirely composed of windows, opening a few feet from the ground,
and having a divan running round, furnished in the usual manner with
pillows at the back. The windows of some of these apartments opened
upon gardens, laid out in the English taste and full of English
flowers; others commanded the finest prospects of the city and the
open space below. Round these rooms, at the top, forming a sort
of cornice, were pictures in compartments or panels, one series
consisting of views of the Pasha's palaces and gardens, another of the
vessels of war which belong to him, and more especially his favourite
steam-boat, of which there are many delineations. There is nothing
that more strongly exhibits the freedom with which Mehemet Ali has
thrown off the prejudices of the Moslem religion, than his permitting,
contrary to its established principles, the representation of objects
natural and artificial, which, both in painting and sculpture, is
strictly forbidden. Much cannot be said for the execution of these
pictures, which seem to have been the work of a native artist; but
they become exceedingly interesting as proofs of the decline of a
religion so completely opposed to the spread of knowledge, and to all
improvement in the moral condition of its followers.

The furniture in the Pasha's palace, though in a great measure limited
to carpets and cushions, is very handsome. The divans are covered with
rich brocade, figured satin, damask, or cut velvet. The attendants
drew aside, with great pride, the curtains which concealed the
looking-glasses, evidently fancying that we had never beheld mirrors
of such magnitude in our lives. I observed that the chandeliers in
some of the apartments did not match each other, but the whole was
very creditable to the taste and spirit of the owner. Below them was a
handsome apartment entirely lined with marble, and apparently designed
as a retreat for the hot weather, the floor being divided into two
parts--the one ascended by a step, in which the family might repose
upon cushions; the other scooped into basins, with a fountain to play
in the centre: the water either had not as yet been laid on, or the
season did not render it necessary. Near to this apartment was
the Pasha's bed-chamber, a fine room, also lined with marble, and
containing a fire-place, which in the warm weather revolved upon a
pivot, and was concealed in a recess made on purpose in the wall. The
bathing-rooms, close at hand, were of the most beautiful description,
the principal apartment and the antechamber having roofs which might
serve as models for all erections of the kind. These were fretted
in small compartments, light being admitted by a thick piece of
ground-glass in the centre of each, thus securing the utmost privacy,
together with one of the most beautiful methods of lighting possible.

While we were still sitting in the Pasha's palace, the military band
of the garrison began to play upon the parade-ground immediately
below. Mohammed, who seemed to be quite at home, conducted us to an
apartment which overlooked this space, opened one of the windows, and
requested us to seat ourselves upon the cushions, where we remained
for some time, listening to the well-known French airs played in the
court-yard of the palace of a Turkish prince! The band was not a
very large one, but the performers had been well-taught, and the
wind-instruments produced in such a situation a very animating effect.
They marched up and down the parade-ground, occasionally relieved by
the drums and fifes also playing French music. The performers were
clothed in white, like the men belonging to the ranks, and had the
same soiled appearance, it being impossible to keep white garments
pure in the dust of Egyptian cities.

The sun was now completely down, and we returned to our hotel, where,
to our great joy, we found our two female friends, who had not been
able to reach Boulak until many hours after our landing. We
had ordered dinner at seven o'clock, in the hope that our
fellow-passengers in the steamer would come up, and according to our
calculations, several dropped in. The possibility of getting to the
Pyramids was again discussed; the greater number of the gentlemen
determined at least to try, but we thought it best to avoid all danger
of missing the _Berenice_, and the ladies, adhering to their original
intention, determined to cross the desert together. We passed a most
agreeable evening, telling over our voyage up the Nile, and upon
retiring to my chamber, I regretted that it would be the last I should
for some time spend in Cairo.

Nothing can be more quiet than the nights in a city where all the
inhabitants retire after dark to their own homes, the streets being
perambulated by few persons, and those of the soberest description;
but with the sun, a scene of bustle and noise ensues, which
effectually prevents repose. The windows of my apartment looked out
upon a narrow street, in which the ground-floors were, as it is usual,
composed of shops, while several persons, having vegetables or grain
to sell, were seated upon the ground. The hum of human voices,
the grunting of the camels, and the braying of donkeys, kept up an
incessant din, and therefore some minutes elapsed before my attention
was attracted by a wordy war which took place beneath my window.
Hastily arraying myself in my dressing-gown, and looking out, I saw a
man and woman engaged in some vehement discussion, but whether caused
by a dispute or not, I could not at first decide. They both belonged
to the lower class, and the woman was meanly dressed in a blue
garment, with a hood of the same over her head, her face being
concealed by one of those hideous narrow black veils, fastened across
under the eyes, which always reminded me of the proboscis of an
elephant. Her hands were clasped upon the arms of the man just above
the elbow, who held her in the same manner, and several people were
endeavouring to part them, as they struggled much in the same manner
which prevails in a melodrame, when the hero and heroine are about
to be separated by main force. I thought it, therefore, probable that
they were a loving couple, about to be torn asunder by the myrmidons
of the law. Presently, however, I was set right upon this point, for
the man, seizing a kind of whip, which is generally carried in Cairo,
and flogging off his friends, dashed the poor creature on the ground,
and inflicted several severe strokes upon her prostrate body, not one
of the by-standers attempting to prevent him. The woman, screaming
fearfully, jumped up, and seizing him again, as if determined to gain
her point, whatever it might be, poured forth a volley of words, and
again the man threw her upon the ground and beat her most cruelly, the
spectators remaining, as before, quite passive, and allowing him to
wreak his full vengeance upon her.

Had I been dressed, or could I have made my way readily into the
street, I should have certainly gone down to interpose, for never did
I witness any scene so horrible, or one I so earnestly desired to
put an end to. At length, though the pertinacity of the woman was
astonishing, when exhausted by blows, she lay fainting on the ground,
the man went his way. The spectators, and there were many, who looked
on without any attempt to rescue this poor creature from her savage
assailant, now raised her from the earth. The whole of this time, the
veil she wore was never for a moment displaced, and but for the brutal
nature of the scene, it would have been eminently ridiculous in the
eyes of a stranger. After crying and moaning for some time, in the
arms of her supporters, the woman, whom I now found to be a vender of
vegetables in the street, told her sad tale to all the passers-by
of her acquaintance, with many tears and much gesticulation, but at
length seated herself quietly down by her baskets, though every bone
in her body must have ached from the severe beating she had received.
This appeared to me to be a scene for the interference of the police,
who, however, do not appear to trouble themselves about the protection
of people who may be assaulted in the street.

I afterwards saw a drunken Englishman, an officer of the Indian
army, I am sorry to say, beat several natives of Cairo, with whom
he happened to come in contact in the crowd, in the most brutal and
unprovoked manner, and yet no notice was taken, and no complaint
made. It was certainly something very unexpected to me to see a Frank
Christian maltreating the Moslem inhabitants of a Moslem city in which
he was a stranger, and I regretted exceedingly that the perpetrator
of acts, which brought disgrace upon his character and country, should
have been an Englishman, or should have escaped punishment. No sooner
have we been permitted to traverse a country in which formerly it was
dangerous to appear openly as a Christian, than we abuse the privilege
thus granted by outrages on its most peaceable inhabitants. I regret
to be obliged to add, that it is but too commonly the habit, of
Englishmen to beat the boat-men, donkey-men, and others of the poorer
class, whom they may engage in their service. They justify this
cowardly practice--cowardly, because the poor creatures can gain no
redress--by declaring that there is no possibility of getting them to
stir excepting by means of the whip; but, in most cases, all that I
witnessed, they were not at the trouble of trying fairer methods:
at once enforcing their commands by blows. The comments made by the
janissary and our own servant upon those who were guilty of such
wanton brutality showed the feeling which it elicited; and when upon
one occasion Miss E. and myself interposed, declaring that we would
not allow any person in our service to be beaten, they told us not to
be alarmed, for that the rais (captain of the boat), who was an Arab,
would not put up with ill-treatment, but had threatened to go on shore
at the next village with all his men.

An English gentleman, long resident in Cairo, had done me the honour
to call upon me on the day after my arrival, and had invited me to
come to his house, to see some mummies and other curiosities he had
collected. Accompanied by two of my female friends, and escorted by a
gentleman who was well acquainted with the topography of the city,
we set out on foot, traversing blind alleys and dark lanes, and thus
obtaining a better idea of the intricacies of the place than we could
possibly have gained by any other means. Sometimes we passed under
covered ways perfectly dark, which I trod, not without fear of
arousing some noxious animal; then we came to narrow avenues, between
the backs of high stone houses, occasionally emerging into small
quadrangles, having a single tree in one corner. We passed a house
inhabited by one of the superior description of Frank residents,
and we knew that it must be tenanted by a European by the handsome
curtains and other furniture displayed through its open windows.
Turning into a street, for the very narrow lanes led chiefly along
the backs of houses, we looked into the lower apartments, the doors of
which were usually unclosed, and here we saw the men at their
ordinary occupations, and were made acquainted with their domestic
arrangements. At length we arrived at a court, which displayed a door
and a flight of steps at the corner. Upon knocking, we were admitted
by an Egyptian servant, who showed us up stairs into a room, where we
found the master of the house seated upon one of the low stools which
serve as the support of the dinner-trays in Egypt, the only other
furniture that the room contained being a table, and the customary
divan, which extended all round. Coffee was brought in, served in
small China cups; but all the coffee made in Egypt was too like the
Nile mud for me to taste, and warm and fatigued with a walk through
places from which the fresh air was excluded, I felt myself unequal
to make the trial now.

Our friend's collection of antiquities appeared to be very valuable;
but I had been at the opening of a mummy-case before, and though
interested by the different articles which his researches had brought
to light, was more so in the examination of his house. It was very
oddly arranged, according to the ideas formed in Europe, many of the
rooms looking like lanthorns, in consequence of their having windows
on the stairs and passages, as well as to the street. This was
probably caused by a desire to secure a free circulation of air, but
it at the same time destroyed every idea of privacy, and therefore
looked exceedingly uncomfortable. There were glass-windows to several
of the apartments, but the house exhibited considerable quantities of
that wooden trellice-work, represented in Mr. Lane's book. Nothing,
indeed, can be more accurate than his descriptions; the English
inhabitants of Cairo say that, reading it upon the spot, they cannot
detect a single error; the designs are equally faithful, and those who
study the work carefully may acquire the most correct notion of the
city and its inhabitants.

The apartments at the top of the house opened, as usual, upon a rather
extensive terrace or court, but the surrounding wall was too high to
admit of any prospect; both here, and in a similar place at our hotel,
persons walking about could neither see their neighbours nor be seen
by them. We, therefore, gained nothing by climbing so high, and I was
disappointed at not obtaining any view of the city. I tried in each
place to make acquaintance with an Egyptian cat, but I found the
animal too shy. I noticed several, which seemed to be domestic pets;
they were fine-looking creatures of the kind, and I fancied larger
than the common English cat, but the difference, if existing at all,
was very slight. I returned home, so much fatigued with my walk, as
to be unable to go out again, especially as we were to start at four
o'clock for the desert.

Two of the ladies of the party, not having completed their purchases
at the bazaars, went out upon a shopping excursion, and passing near
the Nubian slave-market, were induced to enter. Christians are not
admitted to the place in which Circassian women are sold, and can
only obtain entrance by assuming the Turkish dress and character. My
friends were highly interested in one woman, who sat apart from the
rest, apparently plunged into the deepest melancholy; the others
manifested little sorrow at their condition, which was not, perhaps,
in reality, changed for the worse: all eagerly scrambled for some
pieces of money which the visitors threw amongst them, and the
sight was altogether too painful for Christian ladies to desire to
contemplate long.

They were much more amused by some gipsies, who were anxious to show
their skill in the occult science. Upon the morning after our arrival,
Miss E., who was always the first upon the alert, accepted the escort
of a gentleman, who conducted her to a neighbouring shop; while making
some purchases, a gipsy came and seated herself opposite, and by way
of showing her skill, remarked that the lady was a stranger to Cairo,
and had a companion, also of her own sex, who pretended to be a
friend, but who would prove treacherous.

As we had ridden through the fair together on the preceding evening,
it did not require any great effort of art to discover that two Frank
ladies had arrived at Cairo; but in speaking of treachery, the gipsy
evidently wished to pique the curiosity of my friend, and tempt her to
make further inquiry. Much to my regret, she did not take any notice
of the fortune-teller, whose words had been repeated by the gentleman
who had accompanied her, and who was well acquainted with the language
in which they were spoken. I should like to have had a specimen of the
talents of a modern scion of this race, in the country in which the
learned have decided that the tribe, now spread over the greater part
of the world, originated.

The arrival of the _Berenice_ at Suez had been reported the evening
before, and the mails had been brought to Cairo in the coarse of
the night. All was, therefore, bustle and confusion in our hotel;
gentlemen hourly arriving from the Nile, where they had been delayed
by squalls and contrary winds, or snatching a hasty meal before they
posted off to the Pyramids. Our camels and donkeys had been laden
and despatched to the outskirts of the city, to which we were to be
conveyed in a carriage.

I had observed in the court-yard of the hotel an English-built
equipage, of the britschka fashion, with a dark-coloured hood, for,
whatever might have been its original tint, it had assumed the
common hue of Egypt; and I found that two spirited horses were to be
harnessed to the vehicle, which was dragged out into the street for
our accommodation. A gentleman volunteered his services as coachman,
promising that he would drive carefully, and we accordingly got in,
a party of four, taking the baby along with us. Although the horses
kicked and plunged a little, I did not fancy that we could be in any
danger, as it was impossible for them to run away with us through
streets so narrow as scarcely to be passable, neither could we have
very easily been upset. I, therefore, hoped to have enjoyed the drive
amazingly, as it promised to afford me a better opportunity than I
had hitherto possessed of seeing Cairo, seated at my ease, instead
of pushing and jostling through the crowd either on foot or upon
a donkey. The gentleman, however, bent upon showing off, would not
listen to our entreaties that the grooms should lead the horses, but
dashed along, regardless of the danger to the foot-passengers, or the
damage that the donkeys might sustain.

So long as we proceeded slowly, the drive was very agreeable, since
it enabled me to observe the effect produced by our party upon the
spectators. Many sat with the utmost gravity in their shops, scarcely
deigning to cast their eyes upon what must certainly have been a
novel sight; others manifested much more curiosity, and seemed to be
infinitely amused, while heads put out of the upper windows showed
that we attracted some attention. My enjoyment was destined to be very
brief, for in a short time our coachman, heedless of the mischief that
might ensue, drove rapidly forward, upsetting and damaging every thing
that came in his way. In vain did we scream and implore; he declared
that it was the fault of the people, who would not remove themselves
out of danger; but as we had no _avant-courrier_ to clear the road
before us, and our carriage came very suddenly upon many persons, I
do not see how they could have managed to escape. At length, we drove
over an unfortunate donkey, which was pulled down by a piece of iron
sticking from the carriage, and thus becoming entangled in the load he
bore. I fear that the animal was injured, for the poor boy who drove
him cried bitterly, and though we (that is, the ladies of the party)
would gladly have remunerated him for the damage he might have
sustained, neither time nor opportunity was permitted for this act of
justice. On we drove, every moment expecting to be flung out against
the walls, as the carriage turned round the corners of streets placed
at right angles to each other. At length, we succeeded in our wish to
have the grooms at the horses' heads, and without further accident,
though rendered as nervous as possible, passed through the gate of
the city. We drove forward now without any obstacle through the
Necropolis, or City of Tombs, before-mentioned, and I regretted
much that we had not left Cairo at an earlier hour, which would have
permitted us to examine the interiors.

The desert comes up to the very walls of Cairo, and these tombs rise
from a plain of bare sand. I observed some gardens and cultivated
places stretching out into the wilderness, no intermediate state
occurring between the garden and the arid waste in which vegetation
suddenly ceased. We might have performed the whole journey across the
desert in the carriage which had brought us thus far, but as one of
the ladies was a little nervous, and moreover thought the road too
rough, I readily agreed to choose another mode of conveyance; in fact,
I wished particularly to proceed leisurely to Suez, and in the manner
in which travellers had hitherto been conveyed.

The mighty changes which are now effecting in Egypt, should nothing
occur to check their progress, will soon render the track to India so
completely beaten, and so deeply worn by wheels, that I felt anxious
to take advantage of the opportunity now offered to traverse the
desert in a more primitive way. I disliked the idea of hurrying
through a scene replete with so many interesting recollections. I had
commenced reading the _Arabian Nights' Entertainment_ at the age of
five years; since which period, I had read them over and over again
at every opportunity, finishing with the last published number of the
translation by Mr. Lane. This study had given me a strong taste for
every thing relating to the East, and Arabia especially. I trust that
I am not less familiar with the writings of the Old and New Testament,
and consequently it may easily be imagined that I should not find
three days in the desert tedious, and that I felt anxious to enjoy to
the uttermost the reveries which it could not fail to suggest.

In parting with our friend and the carriage, he declared that he
would indemnify himself for the constraint we had placed upon him, by
driving over two or three people at least. Fortunately, his desire
of showing off was displayed too soon; we heard, and rejoiced at
the tidings, that he upset the carriage before he got to the gate of
Cairo. Two or three lives are lost, it is said, whenever the Pasha,
who drives furiously, traverses the city in a European equipage. That
he should not trouble himself about so mean a thing as the life or
limb of a subject, may not be wonderful; but that he should permit
Frank strangers to endanger both, seems unaccountable.

No Anglo-Indian resident in either of the three presidencies thinks
of driving a wheel-carriage through streets never intended for
such conveyances. In visiting Benares, Patna, or any other of the
celebrated native cities of India, elephants, horses, palanquins,
or some other vehicle adapted for the occasion, are chosen. It,
therefore, appears to be the more extraordinary that English people,
who are certainly living upon sufferance in Egypt, should thus
recklessly expose the inhabitants to danger, to which they are not
subjected by any of their own people under the rank of princes.
Nothing can be more agreeable or safe than a drive across the desert,
and probably the time is speedily approaching in which the rich
inhabitants of Cairo will indulge, as they do at Alexandria, in the
luxury of English carriages, and for this purpose, the streets and
open spaces best adapted for driving will be improved and widened.

I cannot take leave of Cairo without paying the tribute due to the
manner in which the streets are kept. In passing along the narrow
lanes and avenues before-mentioned, not one of the senses was shocked;
dust, of course, there is every where, but nothing worse to be seen at
least; and the sight and smell were not offended, as at Paris or even
in London, when passing through the by-ways of either. Altogether, if
I may venture to pronounce an opinion, after so short a residence, I
should say that, if our peaceful relations with Egypt should continue
to be kept up, in no place will travellers be better received or
entertained than in Cairo.



CHAPTER VI.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE DESERT.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Equipage for crossing the Desert--Donkey-chairs--Sense of calmness and
  tranquillity on entering the Desert--Nothing dismal in its
  aspect--The Travellers' Bungalow--Inconvenient construction of these
  buildings--Kafila of the Governor of Jiddah and his Lady--Their
  Equipage--Bedouins--Impositions practised on Travellers--Desert
  Travelling not disagreeable--Report of the sailing of the
  Steamer--Frequency of false reports--Ease with which an infant of
  the party bore the journey--A wheeled carriage crossing the
  Desert--Parties of Passengers from Suez encountered--One of Mr. Hill's
  tilted Caravans--Difficulty of procuring water at the Travellers'
  Bungalow--A night in the Desert--Magnificent sunrise--First sight
  of the Red Sea and the Town of Suez--Miserable appearance of the
  latter--Engagement of a Passage to Bombay.


We found the equipages in which we were to cross the desert waiting
for us at the City of Tombs. They consisted of donkey-chairs, one
being provided for each of the females of the party, while my
friend Miss E. had also an extra donkey, with a saddle, to ride upon
occasionally. Nothing could be more comfortable than these vehicles;
a common arm-chair was fastened into a sort of wooden tray, which
projected in front about a foot, thereby enabling the passenger to
carry a small basket or other package; the chairs were then slung by
the arms to long bamboos, one upon either side, and these, by means
of ropes or straps placed across, were fastened upon the backs
of donkeys, one in front, the other, behind. Five long and narrow
vehicles of this kind, running across the desert, made a sufficiently
droll and singular appearance, and we did nothing but admire each
other as we went along. The movement was delightfully easy, and the
donkeys, though not travelling at a quick pace, got on very well. Our
cavalcade consisted besides of two stout donkeys, which carried the
beds and carpet-bags of the whole party, thus enabling us to send the
camels a-head: the three men-servants were also mounted upon donkeys,
and there were three or four spare ones, in case any of the others
should knock up upon the road. In this particular it is proper to
say that we were cheated, for had such an accident occurred, the
extra-animals were so weak and inefficient, that they could not have
supplied the places of any of those in use. There were eight or ten
donkey-men, and a boy; the latter generally contrived to ride, but the
others walked by the side of the equipages.

In first striking into the desert, we all enjoyed a most delightful
feeling of repose; every thing around appeared to be so calm
and tranquil, that, especially after encountering the noises and
multitudes of a large and crowded city, it was soothing to the mind
thus to emerge from the haunts of men and wander through the vast
solitudes that spread their wastes before us. To me there was nothing
dismal in the aspect of the desert, nor was the view so boundless as I
had expected.

In these wide plains, the fall of a few inches is sufficient to
diversify the prospect; there is always some gentle acclivity to be
surmounted, which cheats the sense with the expectation of finding
a novel scene beyond: the sand-hills in the distance also range
themselves in wild and fantastic forms, many appearing like
promontories jutting out into some noble harbour, to which the
traveller seems to be approaching. Nor were there wanting living
objects to animate the scene; our own little kafila was sufficiently
large and cheerful to banish every idea of dreariness, and we
encountered others much more picturesque.

Soon after losing sight of the tombs, we came upon a party who
had bivouac'd for the night; the camels, unladen, were, with their
burthens, placed in a circle, and the people busily employed in
preparing their evening meal. Other evidences there were, however, to
show that the toils of the desert were but too frequently fatal to the
wretched beasts of burthen employed in traversing these barren wastes;
the whitened bones of camels and donkeys occurred so frequently, as to
serve to indicate the road.

Our first stage was the shortest of the whole, and we came to the
rest-house, or travellers' bungalow, just as night closed in, and long
before I entertained any idea that we should have been able to reach
it, travelling as we did at an easy walk. The bungalow was not yet
completed, which we found rather an advantage, since it seems to
be exceedingly questionable whether the buildings erected for the
accommodation of travellers on the track to Suez will be habitable
even for a few hours in the course of another year. The funds of the
Steam-committee have been lamentably mismanaged in this instance.
However, there being no windows, we were enabled to enjoy the fresh
air, and the room we occupied, not having been long whitewashed, was
perfectly clean.

Nothing can have been worse planned than the construction of these
houses. The only entrance is in front, down a narrow passage, open at
the top, and having apartments on either side, the two in front
being sleeping-rooms for travellers, with a kitchen and other offices
beyond, and at the back of all a stable, which occupies the whole
width of the building. The consequence is, that all the animals, biped
and quadruped, inhabiting the stable, must pass the traveller's
door, who is regaled with the smell proceeding from the said stable,
cook-rooms, &c.; all the insects they collect, and all the feathers
from the fowls slaughtered upon the spot; the plan being, when parties
arrive, to drive the unhappy creatures into the house, kill and pluck
them immediately.

The persons in care of these bungalows are usually a mongrel sort of
Franks, who have no idea of cleanliness, and are regardless of the
most unsavoury odours. The furniture of the rooms consisted of a deal
table and a moveable divan of wicker-work, while another, formed of
the same solid materials as the house, spread in the Egyptian fashion
along one side. Upon this Miss E. and myself laid our beds; our two
other lady friends, with the infant and female attendant, occupying
the opposite apartment. We concluded the evening with tea and supper,
for which we were amply provided, having cold fowls, cold ham,
hard-boiled eggs, and bread and fruit in abundance. Wrapped up in our
dressing-gowns, we passed a very comfortable night, and in the morning
were able to procure the luxury of warm water for washing with.

Having discovered that the people of the hotel at Cairo had forgotten
to put up some of the articles which we had ordered, and being afraid
that our supplies might fail, we had sent Mohammed back for them. He
did not rejoin us until eight o'clock the following morning, just
as we had begun to grow uneasy about him; it appeared that, although
apparently well acquainted with the desert, having crossed it many
times, he had missed the track, and lost his way, and after wandering
about all night, was glad to meet with a man, whom he engaged as a
guide. The poor fellow was much exhausted, but had not omitted to
bring us a bottle of fresh milk for our breakfast. We desired him to
get some tea for himself, and he soon recovered; his spirits never
forsaking him.

In consequence of these delays, it was rather late, past nine o'clock,
before we set forward. I had provided myself with a pair of crape
spectacles and a double veil, but I speedily discarded both; the crape
fretted my eye-lashes, and would have produced a greater degree of
irritation than the sand. A much better kind are those of wire, which
tie round the head with a ribbon, and take in the whole eye. Though
the sun was rather warm, its heat was tempered by a fresh cold air,
which blew across the desert, though not strongly enough to lift the
sand; we, therefore, travelled with much less inconvenience than is
sustained upon a turnpike-road in England in dusty weather. I could
not endure to mar the prospect by looking at it through a veil, and
found my parasol quite sufficient protection against the rays of the
sun.

The kafila, which we had passed the preceding evening, overtook us
soon after we started. It consisted of a long train of camels, and
belonged to the native governor of Jiddah, who was proceeding to that
place with, his wife and family, a native vessel being in waiting
at Suez to take him down the Red Sea. We saw several females wrapped
closely from head to foot in long blue garments, mounted upon these
camels. The governor's wife travelled in a sort of cage, which I
recognised immediately, from the description in Anastatius. This
vehicle is formed of two rude kinds of sophas, or what in English
country phrase would be called settles, canopied overhead, and with a
resting place for the feet. They are sometimes separated, and slung on
either side of a camel; at other times joined together, and placed on
the top, with a curtain or cloth lining, to protect the inmates from
the sun, and secure the privacy so necessary for a Mohammedan lady.
The height of the camels with their lading, and this cage on
the summit of all, give an extraordinary and almost supernatural
appearance to the animal as he plods along, his head nodding, and his
whole body moving in a strange ungainly manner.

Occasionally we saw a small party of Bedouins, easily distinguished by
the fierce countenances glaring from beneath the large rolls of cloth
twisted over their turbans, and round their throats, leaving nothing
besides flashing eyes, a strongly developed nose, and a bushy beard,
to be seen. One or two, superior to the rest, were handsomely
dressed, armed to the teeth, and rode camels well-groomed and richly
caparisoned; wild-looking warriors, whom it would not have been
agreeable to meet were the country in a less tranquil state.

To the present ruler of Egypt we certainly owe the security now
enjoyed in passing the desert; a party of ladies, having only three
servants and a few donkey-drivers, required no other protection,
though our beds, dressing-cases, and carpet-bags, to say nothing of
the camels laden with trunks and portmanteaus a-head, must have been
rather tempting to robbers by profession. The Pasha is the only
person who has hitherto been able to oblige the Sheikhs to respect the
property of those travellers not strong enough to protect themselves
from outrage. It is said that occasionally these Bedouins, when
desirous of obtaining water, make no scruple of helping themselves to
the supplies at the bungalows; the will, therefore, is not wanting to
commit more serious depredations. Consequently, in maintaining a good
understanding with Egypt, we must likewise endeavour to render its
sovereign strong enough to keep the neighbouring tribes in awe.

Having made a slight refection on the road, of hard-boiled eggs,
bread, grapes, and apples, we came up at mid-day to a rest-house,
where it was determined we should remain for an hour or two, to water
the donkeys, and afford them needful repose, while we enjoyed a more
substantial luncheon. Our companions were so well satisfied with the
management of Mohammed, who conducted the whole line of march, that
they sent their Egyptian servant forward to order our dinner at the
resting-place for the night. We found, however, that advantage had
been taken of Mohammed's absence the preceding evening, and of the
hurry of the morning's departure, to send back some of the animals we
had engaged and paid for, and to substitute others so weak as to be
perfectly useless. We were likewise cheated with regard to the water;
we were told that the camel bearing the skins, for which we had paid
at Cairo, had been taken by mistake by two gentlemen travelling in
advance, and as we could not allow the poor animals to suffer, we of
course purchased water for them. This was no doubt an imposition, but
one for which, under the circumstances, we had no remedy.

Upon reaching the bungalow, we again came up with the kafila that we
had seen twice before; the wife of the governor of Jiddah, with
her women, vacated the apartment into which we were shown, when we
arrived; but her husband sent a message, requesting that we would
permit her to occupy another, which was empty. We were but too happy
to comply, and should have been glad to have obtained a personal
interview; but having no interpreter excepting Mohammed, who would
not have been admitted to the conference, we did not like to make the
attempt. From the glance which we obtained of the lady, she seemed
to be very diminutive; nothing beyond height and size could be
distinguishable under the blue envelope she wore, in common with her
women: some of the latter occasionally unveiled their faces, which
were certainly not very attractive; but others, probably those who
were younger and handsomer, kept their features closely shrouded.

Again betaking ourselves to our conveyances, we launched forth into
the desert, enjoying it as much the second day as we had done the
first. I entertained a hope of seeing some of the beautiful gazelles,
for which Arabia is famous; but not one appeared. A pair of birds
occasionally skimmed over the desert, at a short distance from
its surface; but those were the only specimens of wild animals we
encountered. The skeletons of camels occurred as frequently as before;
many nearly entire, others with their bones scattered abroad, but
whether borne by the winds, or by some savage beast, we could not
learn. Neither could we discover whether the deaths of these poor
animals had been recent or not; for so short a time only is required
in Eastern countries for the insects to anatomize any animal that
may fall in their way, that even supposing that jackalls and hyaenas
should not be attracted to the spot, the ants would make quick work
even of so large a creature as a camel.

There were hills in the back ground, which might probably shelter
vultures, kites, and the family of quadrupeds that feed upon offal,
and much did I desire to mount a high trotting camel, and take a
scamper amongst these hills--obliged to content myself with jogging
soberly on with my party, I was fain to find amusement in the
contemplation of a cavalcade, the like of which will probably not
be often seen again. Our five vehicles sometimes trotted abreast,
affording us an opportunity of conversing with each other; but more
frequently they would spread themselves all over the plain, the guides
allowing their beasts to take their own way, provided they moved
straight forward. Occasionally, a spare donkey, or one carrying the
baggage, would stray off in an oblique direction, and then the drivers
were compelled to make a wide detour to bring them in again. Once
or twice, the ropes slipped, and my chair came to the ground;
fortunately, it had not to fall far; or a donkey would stumble and
fall, but no serious accident occurred; and though one of the party,
being behind, and unable to procure assistance in righting the
carriage, was obliged to walk a mile or two, we were all speedily in
proper trim again. Towards evening, the easy motion of the chair, and
the inclination I felt to close my eyes, after staring about all day,
caused me to fall asleep; and again, much sooner than I had expected,
I found myself at the place of our destination.

Either owing to a want of funds, or to some misunderstanding, the
bungalow at this place, which is considered to be nearly midway across
the desert, had only been raised a few inches from the ground; there
were tents, however, for the accommodation of travellers, which we
infinitely preferred. The one we occupied was of sufficient size to
admit the whole party--that is, the four ladies, the baby, and its
female attendant. There were divans on either side, to spread the beds
upon, and the openings at each end made the whole delightfully cool.

We found Ali, the servant sent on in the morning, very busy
superintending the cookery for dinner, which was performed in the open
air. The share of bread and apples given to me upon the road I now
bestowed upon my donkeys, not having reflected at the time that
the drivers would be glad of it; so the next day, when the usual
distributions were made, I gave the grapes, &c. to the donkey-men,
who stuffed them into their usual repository, the bosoms of their blue
shirts, and seemed very well pleased to get them.

The adjoining tent was occupied by two gentlemen, passengers of the
_Berenice_; their servant, a European, brought to some of our people
the alarming intelligence that the steamers would leave Suez in the
course of a few hours, and that our utmost speed would scarcely permit
us to arrive in time. Distrusting this information, we sent to inquire
into its truth, and learned that no danger of the kind was to be
apprehended, as the steamer required repair, the engines being out of
order, and the coal having ignited twice on the voyage up the Red Sea.

Whatever may be the cause, whether from sheer misconception or
an intention to mislead, it is almost impossible to rely upon any
intelligence given concerning the sailing of vessels and other
events, about which it would appear very possible to obtain authentic
information. From the time of our landing at Alexandria, we had been
tormented by reports which, if true, rendered it more than probable
that we should be too late for the steamer appointed to convey the
Government mails to Bombay. Not one of these reports turned out to be
correct, and those who acted upon them sustained much discomfort in
hurrying across the desert.

We were, as usual, rather late the following morning; our dear little
play-thing, the baby, bore the journey wonderfully; but it seemed very
requisite that she should have good and unbroken sleep at night, and
we found so little inconvenience in travelling in the day-time, that
we could make no objection to an arrangement which contributed so much
to her health and comfort. It was delightful to see this lovely little
creature actually appearing to enjoy the scene as much as ourselves;
sometimes seated in the lap of her nurse, who travelled in a chair,
at others at the bottom of one of our chairs; then in the arms of
her male attendant, who rode a donkey, or in those of the donkey-men,
trudging on foot; she went to every body, crowing and laughing all the
time; and I mention her often, not only for the delight she afforded
us, but also to show how very easily infants at her tender age--she
was not more than seven months old--could be transported across the
desert.

After breakfast, and just as we were about to start upon our day's
journey, we saw what must certainly be called a strange sight--a
wheeled carriage approaching our small encampment. It came along like
the wind, and proved to be a phaeton, double-bodied, that is, with a
driving-seat in front, with a European charioteer guiding a pair of
horses as the wheelers, while the leaders were camels, with an Arab
riding postillion. An English and a Parsee gentleman were inside, and
the carriage was scarcely in sight, before it had stopped in the midst
of us. The party had only been a few hours coming across. We hastily
exchanged intelligence; were told that the _Berenice_ had lost all
its speed, being reduced, in consequence of alterations made in the
dock-yard in Bombay, from twelve knots an hour to eight, and that the
engines had never worked well during the voyage up.

During this day's journey, we met several parties, passengers of the
steamer, coming from Suez. One lady passed us in a donkey-chair, with
her daughter riding a donkey by the side; another group, consisting
of two ladies and several gentlemen, were all mounted upon camels,
and having large umbrellas over their heads, made an exceedingly odd
appearance, the peculiar gait of the camel causing them to rise and
fall in a very singular manner. At a distance, their round moving
summits looked like the umbrageous tops of trees, and we might fancy
as they approached, the lower portion being hidden by ridges of sand,
that "Birnam Wood was coming to Dunsinane."

The monotony usually complained of in desert travelling cannot be very
strongly felt between Cairo and Suez, for though there is little else
but sand to be seen, yet it is so much broken and undulated, that
there is always some diversity of objects. The sand-hills now gave
place to rock, and it appeared as if many ranges of hills stretched
out both to the right and left of the plains we traversed; their crags
and peaks, piled one upon the other, and showing various colours, rich
browns and purples, as they stood in shade or sunshine. Greenish tints
assured us that vegetation was not quite so seamy upon these hills
as in the desert they skirted, which only showed at intervals a few
coarse plants, scarcely deserving the name. It has been said, that
there is only one tree between Cairo and Suez; but we certainly
saw several, though none of any size; that which is called, _par
excellence_, "the tree," affording a very poor idea of timber.

We made a short rest, in the middle of the day, at a travellers'
bungalow; and just as we were leaving it, one of Mr. Hill's caravans
arrived--a tilted cart upon springs, and drawn by a pair of horses;
it contained a family, passengers by the _Berenice,_ consisting of a
gentleman and his wife, two children and a servant. We conversed with
them for a few minutes, and learned that they had not found the
road very rough, and that where it was heavy they added a camel as a
leader.

At this place we found some difficulty in purchasing, water for
the donkeys; competition in the desert is not, as in other places,
beneficial to the traveller. By some understanding with the Steam
Committee, Mr. Hill has put his people into the bungalows; and they,
it appears, have orders not to sell water to persons who travel under
Mr. Waghorn's agency. If the original purpose of these houses was to
afford general accommodation, the shelter which cannot be refused
is rendered nugatory by withholding the supplies necessary for the
subsistence of men and cattle. We procured water at last; but every
thing attainable at these places is dear and bad.

We arrived, at rather an early hour, at our halting place for the
night; and as we considered it to be desirable to get into Suez as
speedily as possible, we agreed to start by three o'clock on the
following morning. Just as we had finished our evening meal, three
gentlemen of our acquaintance, who had scrambled across the desert
from the Pyramids, came up, weary and wayworn, and as hungry as
possible. We put the best that we had before them, and then retired
to the opposite apartment. But in this place I found it impossible to
stay; there was no free circulation of air throughout the room, and
it had all the benefit of the smell from the stable and other
abominations.

Leaving, therefore, my companions asleep, and wrapping myself up in
my shawl, I stole out into the passage, where there were several Arabs
lying about, and not without difficulty contrived to step between
them, and to unfasten the door which opened upon the desert. There
was no moon, but the stars gave sufficient light to render the scene
distinctly visible. A lamp gleamed from the window of the apartment
which I had quitted, and the camels, donkeys, and people belonging
to the united parties, formed themselves into very picturesque groups
upon the sand, constituting altogether a picture which could not fail
to excite many agreeable sensations. The whitened bones of animals
perishing from fatigue and thirst, while attempting to cross the arid
expanse, associated in our minds with privation, toil, and danger,
told too truly that these notions were not purely ideal; but here
was a scene of rest and repose which the desert had never before
presented; and mean and inconvenient as the building I contemplated
might be, its very existence in such a place seemed almost a marvel,
and the imagination, kindling at the sight, could scarcely set bounds
to its expectations for the future. In the present frame of my mind,
however, I was rather disturbed by the indications of change already
commenced, and still to increase. I had long desired to spend a night
alone upon the desert, and without wandering to a dangerous distance,
I placed a ridge of sand between my solitary station and the objects
which brought the busy world to view, and indulged in thoughts of
scenes and circumstances which happened long ago.

According to the best authorities, we were in the track of the
Israelites, and in meditations suggested by this interesting portion
of Bible history, the time passed so rapidly, that I was surprised
when I found the people astir and preparing for our departure. My
garments were rather damp with the night-dews, for, having left some
of my friends sleeping upon my fur cloak, I had gone out more lightly
attired than perhaps was prudent. I was not, therefore, sorry to find
myself warmly wrapped up, and in my chair, in which I should have
slept very comfortably, had Hot the man who guided the donkeys taken
it into his head to quarrel with one of his comrades, and to bawl out
his grievances close to my ear. My wakefulness was, however, amply
repaid by the most glorious sunrise I ever witnessed. The sky had been
for some time obscured by clouds, which had gathered themselves in a
bank upon the Eastern horizon. The sun's rays started up at once,
like an imperial crown, above this bank, and as they darted their
glittering spears, for such they seemed, along the heavens, the
clouds, dispersing, formed into a mighty arch, their edges becoming
golden; while below all was one flush of crimson light. Neither at sea
nor on land had I ever witnessed any thing so magnificent as this,
and those who desire to see the god of day rise in the fulness of his
majesty must make a pilgrimage to the desert.

We made no stay at the rest-house, which we reached about nine o'clock
in the morning; and here, for the last time, we saw the governor of
Jiddah and his party, winding along at some distance, and giving life
and character to the desert. The fantastic appearance of the hills
increased as we advanced; the slightest stretch of fancy was alone
necessary to transform many into fortresses and towers, and at length
a bright glitter at a distance revealed the Red Sea. The sun gleaming
upon its waters shewed them like a mirror, and soon afterwards the
appearance of some low buildings indicated the town of Suez.

I happened to be in advance of the party, under the conduct of one of
the gentlemen who had joined us on the preceding evening; I therefore
directed Mohammed to go forward, to announce our approach; and either
the sight of the Red Sea, or their eagerness to reach a well-known
spring of water, induced my donkeys to gallop along the road with me;
a fortunate circumstance, as the day was beginning to be very sultry,
and I felt that I should enjoy the shelter and repose of a habitation.
As we went along, indications of the new power, which had already
effected the easy transit of the desert, were visible in small patches
of coal, scattered upon the sand; presently we saw a dark nondescript
object, that did not look at all like the abode of men, civilized
or uncivilized; and yet, from the group hovering about an aperture,
seemed to be tenanted by human beings. This proved to be an old
boiler, formerly belonging to a steam-vessel, and appearing, indeed,
as if some black and shapeless hulk had been cast on shore. The well,
which had attracted my donkeys, was very picturesque; the water flowed
into a large stone trough, or rather basin, beneath the walls of a
castellated edifice, pierced with many small windows, and apparently
in a very dilapidated state. Those melancholy _memento moris,_ which
had tracked our whole progress through the desert, were to be seen
in the immediate vicinity of this well. The skeletons of five or six
camels lay in a group within a few yards of the haven which they had
doubtless toiled anxiously, though so vainly, to reach. I never could
look upon the bones of these poor animals without a painful feeling,
and in the hope that European skill and science may yet bring forward
those hidden waters which would disarm the desert of its terrors.
It is said that the experiment of boring has been tried, and failed,
between Suez and Cairo, but that it succeeded in the great desert;
some other method, perhaps, may be found, if the project of bringing
water from the hills, by means of aqueducts, should be too expensive.
We heard this plan talked of at the bungalow, but I fear that, in the
present state of Egypt, it is very chimerical.

This was now our fourth day upon the desert, and we had not sustained
the smallest inconvenience; the heat, even at noon, being very
bearable, and the sand not in the least degree troublesome. Doubtless,
at a less favourable period of the year, both would prove difficult
to bear. The wind, we were told, frequently raised the sand in clouds;
and though the danger of being buried beneath the tombs thus made, we
had reason to believe, was greatly exaggerated, yet the plague of sand
is certainly an evil to be dreaded, and travellers will do well
to avoid the season in which it prevails. The speed of my donkeys
increasing, rather than diminishing, after we left the well, for they
seemed to know that Suez would terminate their journey, I crossed the
intervening three miles very quickly, and was soon at the walls of the
town.

Distance lends no enchantment to the view of Suez. It is difficult to
fancy that the few miserable buildings, appearing upon the margin
of the sea, actually constitute a town; and the heart sinks at the
approach to a place so barren and desolate. My donkeys carried me
through a gap in the wall, which answered all the purposes of
a gateway, and we passed along broken ground and among wretched
habitations, more fit for the abode of savage beasts than men. Even
the superior description of houses bore so forlorn and dilapidated
an appearance, that I actually trembled as I approached them, fearing
that my guide would stop, and tell me that, my journey was at an end.

Before I had time to make any observations upon the place to which I
was conducted, I found myself at the foot of a flight of steps, and
reaching a landing place, saw another above, and Mohammed descending
to meet me. I followed him to the top, and crossing a large apartment,
which served as dining and drawing room, entered a passage which led
to a light and certainly airy bed-chamber; for half the front wall,
and a portion of one of the sides, were entirely formed of wooden
trellice, which admitted, with the utmost freedom, all the winds of
heaven, the sun, and also the dust. There was a mat upon the floor,
and the apartment was whitewashed to the rafters, which were in good
condition; and upon Mohammed's declaration that it was free from rats,
I felt an assurance of a share of comfort which I had dared not expect
before. There were two neat beds, with musquito-curtains, two tables,
and washing apparatus, but no looking-glass; an omission which I could
supply, though we had dispensed with such a piece of luxury altogether
in the desert. Well supplied with hot and cold water, I had enjoyed
the refreshment of plenteous ablutions, and nearly completed my
toilet, before the arrival of the friends I had so completely
distanced. I made an attempt to sit down to my desk, but was unable
to write a line, and throwing myself on my bed full dressed, I fell
asleep in a moment, and enjoyed the deepest repose for an hour, or
perhaps longer.

I was awakened by my friend, Miss E., who informed me that the purser
of the _Berenice_ was in the drawing-room, and that I must go to him
and pay my passage-money. I was not, however, provided with the means
of doing this in ready cash, and as the rate of exchange for the
thirty pounds in sovereigns which I possessed could not be decided
here, at the suggestion of one of my fellow-passengers, I drew a
bill upon a banker in Bombay for the amount, eighty pounds, the sum
demanded for half a cabin, which, fortunately, I could divide with
the friend who had accompanied me from England. This transaction so
completely roused me, that I found myself equal to the continuation
of the journal which I had commenced at Cairo. I despatched also the
letter with which I had been kindly furnished to the British Consul,
and was immediately favoured by a visit from him. As we expressed
some anxiety about our accommodation on board the steamer, he
politely offered to take us to the vessel in his own boat; but to
this arrangement the purser objected, stating that the ship was in
confusion, and that one of the best cabins had been reserved for us.
With this assurance we were accordingly content.

We arrived at Suez on Wednesday, the 9th of October, and were told to
hold ourselves in readiness to embark on Friday at noon. We were not
sorry for this respite, especially as we found our hotel, which was
kept by a person in the employment of Mr. Waghorn, more comfortable
than could have been hoped for from its exterior. The greatest
annoyance we sustained was from the dust, which was brought in by a
very strong wind through the lattices. I endeavoured to remedy this
evil, in some degree, by directing the servants of the house to nail
a sheet across the upper portion of the perforated wood-work. The
windows of our chamber commanded as good a view of Suez as the place
afforded; one at the side overlooked an irregular open space, which
stretched between the house and the sea. At some distance opposite,
there were one or two mansions of much better appearance than the
rest, and having an air of comfort imparted to them by outside
shutters, of new and neat construction. These we understood to be the
abodes of officers in the Pasha's service. Mehemet Ali is said to
be extremely unwilling to allow English people to build houses
for themselves at Suez; while he freely grants permission to their
residence at Alexandria and Cairo, he seems averse to their settling
upon the shores of the Red Sea. Mr. Waghorn and Mr. Hill are,
therefore, compelled to be content to fit up the only residences at
their disposal in the best manner that circumstances will admit. I
had no opportunity of forming any opinion respecting Mr. Hill's
establishment, but am able to speak very well of the accommodation
afforded by the hotel at which we sojourned.

Judging from the exterior, for the desert itself does not appear to
be less productive than Suez, there must have been some difficulty in
getting supplies, notwithstanding we found no want of good things at
our breakfast and dinner-table, plenty of eggs and milk, fowl and fish
being supplied; every article doing credit to the skill of the
cook. Nor was the cleanliness that prevailed, in despite of all the
obstacles opposed to it, less worthy of praise: the servants were
civil and attentive, and the prices charged extremely moderate. All
the guests of the hotel of course formed one family, assembling daily
at meals, after the continental fashion. The dining-room was spacious,
and divided into two portions; the one ascended by a step was
surrounded by divans, after the Egyptian fashion, and here were books
to be found containing useful and entertaining knowledge. A few stray
numbers of the _Asiatic Journal_, half a dozen volumes of standard
novels, files of the _Bombay Times_, and works illustrative of ancient
and modern Egypt, served to beguile the time of those who had
nothing else to do. Meanwhile, travellers came dropping in, and the
caravanserai was soon crowded.



CHAPTER VII.

       *       *       *       *       *

SUEZ TO ADEN.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Travellers assembling at Suez--Remarks on the Pasha's
  Government--Embarkation on the Steamer--Miserable accommodation in the
  _Berenice_, and awkwardness of the attendants--Government Ships not
  adapted to carry Passengers--Cause of the miserable state of the Red
  Sea Steamers--Shores of the Red Sea--Arrival at Mocha--Its appearance
  from the Sea--Arrival at Aden--Its wild and rocky appearance on
  landing--Cape Aden--The Town--Singular appearance of the Houses--The
  Garrison expecting an attack by the Arabs--Discontent of the
  Servants of Europeans at Aden--Complaints by Anglo-Indians against
  Servants--Causes--Little to interest Europeans in Aden.


Amongst the travellers who came dropping in at the hotel, was
the Portuguese governor of Goa and his suite, consisting of four
gentlemen, the private and public secretaries, an aide-de-camp, and
the fourth holding some other appointment. They came by the French
steamer, which had left Marseilles on the day of our departure. The
governor, a fine old soldier, and a perfect gentleman, proved a
great acquisition to our party; and knowing the state of Goa, and the
disappointment he would in all probability sustain upon arriving at
the seat of his government in the present low condition to which it
is reduced, we could not help feeling much interested in his welfare.
This gentleman, who inherited the title of baron, and was moreover
an old general officer, had mixed in the very best society, and was
evidently well acquainted with courts and camps; he spoke several
languages, and in the course of his travels had visited England. His
retinue were quiet gentlemanly men, and the young aide-de-camp, in
particular, made himself very agreeable.

There were two other travellers of some note at Suez, who had put up
at Hill's Hotel; one, an American gentleman, who had come across the
desert for the purpose of looking at the Red Sea. I saw him mounted
upon a donkey, and gazing as he stood upon the shore at the bright but
narrow channel, so interesting to all who have read the history of the
Israelites, with reverential feelings. I felt a strong inclination
to accost him; but refrained, being unwilling to disturb his reveries
with what he might have thought an impertinent interruption. It was
evidently a last look, for he was veiled for the journey, and at
length, tearing himself away, he turned his donkey's head, and
struck into the desert. The other traveller was a young Scotsman,
who proposed to go as far as Aden in the _Berenice_, on his way to
Abyssinia, trusting that a residence of some months in Egypt would
enable him to pass for a Turk. He had no very precise object in view,
but intended to make an attempt to explore the sources of the Nile.

There was nothing in Suez that could make a longer stay desirable, and
we quitted it without regret. My journey through Egypt had been much
too rapid for me to presume to give any decided opinion concerning
the strongly agitated question respecting the merits of the Pasha's
government. It is very evident that he has not learned the most
instructive lesson of political economy, nor has yet understood that
the way to render himself powerful is to make his subjects rich;
nevertheless, though his exactions and monopolies may be felt at
present as very serious evils, yet, in establishing manufactories, and
in embodying a national force, there can be no doubt that he has sown
the seeds of much that is good; and should his government, after
his death, fall into the hands of people equally free from religious
prejudices, we may reasonably hope that they will entertain more
enlarged and liberal views, and thus render measures, now difficult
to bear, of incalculable advantage to the future prosperity of the
country.

The British Consul politely offered to conduct myself and my female
friends on board the steamer; he accordingly called for us, and I
bade, as I hoped, a last adieu to Suez, it being my wish and intention
to return home by way of Cosseir. Previous to our embarkation, a
series of regulations had been placed in our hands for the engagement
of passages in the Honourable Company's armed steamers, with
instructions to passengers, &c.

Upon repairing to our cabin, Miss E. and myself were surprised and
disappointed at the miserable accommodation it afforded. The three
cabins allotted to the use of the ladies had been appropriated, in two
instances, to married couples, and we were obliged to put up with one
of smaller size, which had the additional inconvenience of opening
into the public saloon. There were no Venetian blinds to the door,
consequently, the only means of obtaining a free circulation of air
was to have it open. A locker with a hinged shelf, which opened like
a shutter, and thus afforded space for one mattress to be placed upon
it, ran along one side of the cabin, under the port-hole, but the
floor was the only visible means of accommodation for the second
person crammed by Government regulation into this den. There was not
a place in which a wash-hand basin could be put, so awkwardly were
the doors arranged, to one of which there was no fastening whatsoever.
Altogether, the case seemed hopeless, and as cock-roaches were walking
about the vessel by dozens, the prospect of sleeping on the ground
was anything but agreeable, especially with the feeling that we were
paying at the rate of four pounds a day for our accommodation.

We were, however, compelled to postpone our arrangements, by a summons
to dinner; and in the evening, when repairing again to the cabin, I
found my mattress placed upon two portmanteaus and a box. Of course,
no attention was paid to the inequalities of the surface, and I
endeavoured, by folding my fur cloak and a thick dressing-gown
under my sheet, to render this miserable apology for a bed tenable.
Hitherto, our berth-places in the Government-steamers had been very
comfortable; though small, they answered the purpose of sleeping and
of washing, while the larger cabin into which they opened, and which
was set apart for the ladies, enabled us all to complete our toilets
without inconvenience. A sail had been hung before the door by way of
curtain, but the heat was still difficult to bear, and we found that
we had adventured upon the Red Sea at least a month too soon. The next
morning, the captain, hearing that I had, as might have been
expected, passed a wretched night, kindly sent his cot for my future
accommodation; after the second night, however, the servants thinking
it too much trouble to attend to it properly, the ropes gave way, and
it came down. The cabin being much too small to allow it to remain
hanging all day, I at first trusted to the servants to put it up at
night; but, after this accident, and finding them to be incorrigibly
stupid, lazy, and disobliging, I contented myself with placing the cot
upon two portmanteaus, and thus forming a bed-place. Subsequently, one
of the passengers having kindly adjusted the ropes, Miss E. and myself
contrived to sling it; a fatiguing operation, which added much to the
discomforts of the voyage. The idea of going upon the quarter-deck, or
writing a letter, which might perhaps be handed up to Government, to
make a formal complaint to the captain, was not to be thought of, and
seeing the impossibility of getting any thing properly done by the
tribe of uncouth barbarians dignified by the name of servants, the
only plan was to render myself quite independent of them, and much did
we miss the activity, good humour, and readiness to oblige manifested
by our Egyptian attendant, Mohammed. Where a wish to please is
evinced, though wholly unattended by efficiency in the duties
undertaken by a servant, I can very easily excuse awkwardness,
forgetfulness, or any other fault; but the wretched half-castes, who
take service on board the Government steamers, have not even common
civility to recommend them; there was not a passenger in the vessel
who did not complain of the insults to which all were more or less
subjected.

Where the blame lay, it is difficult to state exactly; no one could be
more kind and obliging than the captain, and it was this disposition
upon his part which rendered us all unwilling to worry him with
complaints. The charge of a steamer in the Red Sea seems quite enough
to occupy the commandant's time and attention, without having the
comforts of seven or eight-and-twenty passengers to look after; but
these duties might have been performed by a clever and active steward.
Whether there was a personage on board of that designation, I never
could learn; I asked several times to speak with him, but he never in
a single instance attended the summons.

We had no reason to complain of want of liberality on the part of the
captain, for the table was plentifully supplied, though the cooks,
being unfortunately most worthy of the patronage of that potentate who
is said to send them to our kitchens, generally contrived to render
the greater portion uneatable. The advantage of rising from table with
an appetite is one which I have usually tried on board ship, having
only in few instances, during my numerous voyages, been fortunate
enough to find food upon which I dared to venture.

The more I have seen of government ships, the more certain I feel that
they are not adapted to carry passengers. The authorities appear to
think that people ought to be too thankful to pay an enormous price
for the worst species of accommodation. The commandants have not
been accustomed to attend to the minutiae which can alone secure the
comfort of those who sail with them, while the officers, generally
speaking, endeavour to show their contempt of the service in which
they are sent, against their inclination, by neglect and even rudeness
towards the passengers.

While on board the _Berenice_, the following paragraph in a Bombay
newspaper struck my eye, and as it is a corroboration of the
statements which I deem it to be a duty to make, I insert it in this
place. "The voyager (from Agra) must not think his troubles at an
end on reaching Bombay, or that the steam-packets are equal to the
passenger Indiaman in accommodation. In fact, I cannot conceive how a
lady manages; we have, however, five. There are only seven very small
cabins, into each of which two people are crammed; no room to swing
cats. Eight other deluded individuals, of whom I am one, are given to
understand that a cabin-passage is included in permission to sleep on
the benches and table of the cuddy. For this you pay Rs. 200 extra.
The vessel is dirty beyond measure, from the soot, and with the
difficulty of copious ablution and private accommodation, is almost
worse, to a lover of Indian habits, than the journey to Bombay from
Agra upon camels. No civility is to be got from the officers. If they
are not directly uncivil, the passengers are luckier than we have
been. They declare themselves disgusted with passenger ships, but do
not take the proper way of showing their superiority to the duty."

The only officer of the _Berenice_ who dined at the captain's table
was the surgeon of the vessel, and in justice to him it must be
said, that he left no means untried to promote the comfort of the
passengers. It is likewise necessary to state, that we were never
put upon an allowance of water, although, in consequence of late
alterations made in the dockyard, the vessel had been reduced to
about half the quantity she had been accustomed to carry in iron tanks
constructed for the purpose. Notwithstanding this reduction, we
could always procure a sufficiency, either of hot or cold water, for
ablutions, rendered doubly necessary in consequence of the atmosphere
of coal-dust which we breathed. Not that it was possible to continue
clean for a single hour; nevertheless, there was some comfort in
making the attempt.

There were eight cabins in the _Berenice_, besides the three
appropriated to ladies; these were ranged four on either side of
the saloon, reaching up two-thirds of the length. The apartment,
therefore, took the form of a T, and the upper end or cross was
furnished with horse-hair sofas; upon these, and upon the table, those
passengers slept who were not provided with cabins. Many preferred the
deck, but being washed out of it by the necessary cleaning process,
which took place at day-break, were obliged to make their toilettes
in the saloon. This also formed the dressing-place for dinner, and the
basins of dirty water, hair-brushes, &c. were scarcely removed from
the side-tables before the party were summoned to their repast. The
preparations for this meal were a work of time, always beginning at
half-past one; an hour was employed in placing the dishes upon the
table, in order that every thing might have time to cool.

The reason assigned for not putting Venetian blinds to the cabin-doors
was this: it would injure the appearance of the cabin--an appearance
certainly not much improved by the dirty sail which hung against our
portal. The saloon itself, without this addition, was dingy enough,
being panelled with dark oak, relieved by a narrow gilt cornice, and
the royal arms carved and gilded over an arm-chair at the rudder-case,
the ornaments of a clock which never kept time. All the servants, who
could not find accommodation elsewhere, slept under the table; thus
adding to the abominations of this frightful place. And yet we were
congratulated upon our good fortune, in being accommodated in the
_Berenice_, being told that the _Zenobia_, which passed us on our way,
had been employed in carrying pigs between Waterford and Bristol, and
that the _Hugh Lindsay_ was in even worse condition; the _Berenice_
being, in short, the crack ship.

Every day added to the heat and the dirt, and in the evening, when
going upon deck to inhale the odours of the hen-coops, the smell was
insufferable. When to this annoyance coal-dust, half an inch deep,
is added, my preference of my own cabin will not be a subject of
surprise. With what degree of truth, I cannot pretend to say, all
the disagreeable circumstances sustained on board the _Berenice_ were
attributed to the alterations made in the docks. Previously to these
changes, we were told, the furnaces were supplied with coal by a
method which obviated the necessity of having it upon deck, whence the
dust was now carried all over the ship upon the feet of the persons
who were continually passing to and fro.

Occasionally, we suffered some inconvenience from the motion of the
vessel, but, generally speaking, nothing more disagreeable occurred
than the tremulous action of the engines, an action which completely
incapacitated me from any employment except that of reading. The only
seats or tables we could command in our cabin consisted of our boxes,
so that being turned out of the saloon at half-past one, by the
servants who laid the cloth for dinner, it was not very easy to make
an attempt at writing, or even needle-work. Doubtless the passengers
from Bombay could contrive to have more comforts about them. It was
impossible, however, that those who had already made a long overland
journey should be provided with the means of furnishing their cabins,
and this consideration should weigh with the Government when taking
money for the accommodation of passengers. Cabins ought certainly to
be supplied with bed-places and a washing-table, and not to be left
perfectly dismantled by those occupants who arrive at Suez, and who,
having previously fitted them up, have a right to all they contain.

The miserable state of the Red Sea steamers, of course, often
furnished a theme for conversation, and we were repeatedly told that
their condition was entirely owing to the jealousy of the people of
Calcutta, who could not endure the idea of the importance to which
Bombay was rising, in consequence of its speedy communication with
England. Without knowing exactly where the fault may lie, it must be
said that there is great room for improvement. In all probability, the
increased number of persons who will proceed to India by way of the
Red Sea, now that the passage is open, will compel the merchants, or
other speculators, to provide better vessels for the trip. At present,
the price demanded is enormously disproportioned to the accommodation
given, while the chance of falling in with a disagreeable person in
the commandant should be always taken into consideration by those who
meditate the overland journey. The consolation, in so fine a vessel
as the _Berenice_, consists in the degree of certainty with which
the duration of the voyage may be calculated, eighteen or twenty days
being the usual period employed. In smaller steamers, and those of a
less favourable construction, accidents and delays are very frequent;
sometimes the coal is burning half the voyage, and thus rendered
nearly useless to the remaining portion, the vessel depending entirely
upon the sails.

During the hot weather and the monsoons, the navigation of the Red
Sea is attended with much inconvenience, from the sultriness of the
atmosphere and the high winds; it is only, therefore, at one season
of the year that travellers can, with any hope of comfort, avail
themselves of the route; it must, consequently, be questionable
whether the influx of voyagers will be sufficiently great to cover the
expense of the vessels required. A large steamer is now building
at Bombay, for the purpose of conveying the mails, and another is
expected out from England with the same object.

The shores of the Red Sea are bold and rocky, exhibiting ranges of
picturesque hills, sometimes seceding from, at others approaching, the
beach. A few days brought us to Mocha. The captain had kindly promised
to take me on shore with him; but, unfortunately, the heat and the
fatigue which I had sustained had occasioned a slight attack of fever,
and as we did not arrive before the town until nearly twelve o'clock,
I was afraid to encounter the rays of the sun during the day. We could
obtain a good view of the city from the vessel; it appeared to
be large and well built, that is, comparatively speaking; but its
unsheltered walls, absolutely baked in the sun, and the arid waste on
which it stood, gave to it a wild and desolate appearance.

We were told that already, since the British occupation of Aden, the
trade of Mocha had fallen off. It seldom happens that a steamer passes
down the Red Sea without bringing emigrants from Mocha, anxious to
establish themselves in the new settlement; and if Aden were made
a free port, there can be little doubt that it would monopolize the
whole commerce of the neighbourhood. The persons desirous to colonize
the place say, very justly, that they cannot afford to pay duties,
having to quit their own houses at a loss, and to construct others,
Aden being at present destitute of accommodation for strangers. If,
however, encouragement should be given them, they will flock thither
in great numbers; and, under proper management, there is every reason
to hope that Aden will recover all its former importance and wealth,
and become one of the most useful dependencies of the British crown.

We were to take in coals and water at Aden, and arriving there in the
afternoon of Saturday, the 19th of October, every body determined to
go on shore, if possible, on the ensuing morning. By the kindness of
some friends, we had palanquins in waiting at day-break, which were
to convey us a distance of five miles to the place now occupied
as cantonments. Our road conducted us for a mile or two along the
sea-shore, with high crags piled on one side, a rugged path, and rocks
rising out of the water to a considerable distance. We then ascended
a height, which led to an aperture in the hills, called the Pass.
Here we found a gate and a guard of sepoys. The scenery was wild, and
though nearly destitute of vegetation--a few coarse plants occurring
here and there scarcely deserving the name--very beautiful.

It would, perhaps, be too much to designate the bare and lofty cliffs,
which piled themselves upwards in confused masses, with the name of
mountains; they nevertheless conveyed ideas of sublimity which I had
not associated with other landscapes of a similar nature. The Pass,
narrow and enclosed on either side by winding rocks, brought us at
length down a rather steep declivity to a sort of basin, surrounded
upon three sides with lofty hills, and on the fourth by the sea.

Cape Aden forms a high and rocky promontory, the most elevated portion
being 1,776 feet above the level of the sea. This lofty headland, when
viewed at a distance, appears like an island, in consequence of
its being connected with the interior by low ground, which, in the
vicinity of Khora Muckse, is quite a swamp. Its summits assume the
aspect of turretted peaks, having ruined forts and watch-towers on
the highest elevations. The hills are naked and barren, and the valley
little better; the whole, however, presenting a grand, picturesque,
and imposing appearance. The town of Aden lies on the east side of the
Cape, in the amphitheatre before mentioned. A sketch of its history
will be given, gathered upon the spot, in a subsequent paper, the
place being sufficiently interesting to demand a lengthened notice;
meanwhile a passing remark is called for on its present appearance.

At first sight of Aden, it is difficult to suppose it to be the
residence of human beings, and more especially of European families.
The town, if such it may be called, consists of a few scattered houses
of stone, apparently loosely put together, with pigeon-holes for
windows, and roofs which, being flat, and apparently surrounded by a
low parapet, afford no idea of their being habitable. It is difficult
to find a comparison for these dwellings, which appeared to be
composed of nothing more than four walls, and yet, to judge from the
apertures, contained two or more stories. The greater number were
enclosed in a sort of yard or compound, the fences being formed of
long yellow reeds; the less substantial dwellings were entirely made
of these reeds, so that they looked like immense crates or cages for
domestic fowls.

My palanquin at length stopped at a flight of steps hewn out of
the rock; and I found myself at the entrance of a habitation,
half-bungalow, half-tent; and certainly, as the permanent abode
of civilized beings, the strangest residence I had ever seen. The
uprights and frame-work were made of reeds and bamboos, lined with
thin mats, which had at one time been double; but the harbour thus
afforded for rats being found inconvenient, the outer casing had been
removed. Two good-sized apartments, with verandahs all round, and
dressing and bathing-rooms attached, were formed in this way; they
were well carpeted and well furnished, but destitute both of glass
windows and wooden doors; what are called in India _jaumps_, and
chicks of split bamboo, being the substitutes.

Government not yet having fixed upon the site for the station intended
to be established at Aden, none of the European inhabitants have
begun to build their houses, which, it is said, are to be very
solidly constructed of stone; at present, they are scattered, in Gipsy
fashion, upon the rocks overlooking the sea, and at the time of the
year in which I visited them they enjoyed a delightfully cool breeze.
What they would be in the hot weather, it is difficult to say. The
supplies, for the most part, come from a considerable distance, but
appear to be abundant; and when at length a good understanding shall
have taken place between the British Government and the neighbouring
sheikhs, the markets will be furnished with every thing that the
countries in the vicinity produce.

The garrison were prepared, at the period of our arrival, for the
outbreak which has since occurred. It is melancholy to contemplate the
sacrifice of life which will in all probability take place before the
Arabs will be reconciled to the loss of a territory which has for
a long time been of no use to them, but which, under its present
masters, bids fair to introduce mines of wealth into an impoverished
country. The Pasha of Egypt had long cast a covetous eye upon Aden,
and its occupation by the British took place at the precise period
requisite to check the ambitious designs of a man thirsting for
conquest, and to allay the fears of the Imaum of Muscat, who,
naturally enough, dreaded encroachments upon his territory.

Aden had hitherto agreed very well with its European residents. The
sepoys, servants, and camp-followers, however, had suffered much both
from mental and bodily ailments. They were deprived of their usual
sources of amusement, and of their accustomed food, and languished
under that home-sickness, which the natives of India feel in a very
acute degree. The greater number of servants were discontented, and
anxious to return to their native country. This natural desire upon
their part was highly resented by their masters, who, instead of
taking the most obvious means of remedying the evil, and employing
the natives of the place, who appeared to be tractable and teachable
enough, abused and threatened to beat the unfortunate people,
convicted of what self-love styles "ingratitude."

In a very clever work, I have seen the whole sum of the miseries of
human life comprised in one word, "servants;" and until we can procure
human beings with all the perfections of our fallen nature, and none
of our faults, to minister to our wants and wishes, the complaint,
so sickening and so general, and frequently so unjust, will be
reiterated. Anglo-Indians, however, seem to be more tormented by these
domestic plagues than any other set of people. The instant a stranger
lands upon Asiatic ground, we hear of nothing else. It is considered
to be polite conversation in the drawing-room, aid delicate-looking
women will listen with the greatest complacence to the most brutal
threats uttered by their male associates against the wretched people
whom hard fate has placed about their persons. By some mischance,
these very individuals are equally ill-served at home, the greater
number who return to England being either rendered miserable there, or
driven back to India in consequence of the impossibility of managing
their servants. As far as my own experience goes, with the exception
of the people in the _Berenice_, who were not in the slightest degree
under the control of the passengers, or, it may be said, attached to
them in any way, I have always found it easy, both at home and abroad,
to obtain good servants, at least quite as good as people, conscious
of the infirmities of humanity in their own persons, have a right to
expect. My simple rule has been, never to keep a person who did not
suit me, and to treat those who did with kindness and indulgence. The
system has always answered, and I am probably on that account the less
inclined to sympathize with persons who are eternally complaining.

There may be some excuse at Aden for the conversation turning upon
domestic matters of this kind, and perhaps I do the station injustice
in supposing that they form a common topic. With the exception of
those persons who take pleasure in the anticipation of the improvement
of the surrounding tribes, there is very little to interest European
residents in this arid spot. Should, however, the hopes which many
enlightened individuals entertain be realized, or the prospect of
their fulfilment continue unclouded, those who now endure a dreary
exile in a barren country, and surrounded by a hostile people, will
or ought to derive much consolation from the thought, that their
employment upon a disagreeable duty may prove of the utmost benefit to
thousands of their fellow-creatures. It is pleasant to look forward to
the civilization of Abyssinia, and other more remote places, by means
of commercial intercourse with Aden.



CHAPTER VIII.

       *       *       *       *       *

ADEN.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Commanding situation of Aden--Its importance in former times--But few
  remains of its grandeur--Its facilities as a retreat for the piratical
  hordes of the Desert--The loss of its trade followed by reduction
  of the population--Speculations as to the probability of ultimately
  resisting the Arabs--Exaggerated notions entertained by the Shiekhs of
  the wealth of the British--Aden a free Port would be the Queen of the
  adjacent Seas--Its advantages over Mocha--The Inhabitants of Aden--The
  Jews--The Banians--The Soomalees--The Arabs--Hopes of the prosperity
  of Aden--Goods in request there--Exports--Re-embarkation on the
  Steamer--Want of attention--Makallah--Description of the place--Its
  products--The Gazelle--Traveller in Abyssinia--Adventurous English
  Travellers--Attractions of the Arab life--Arrival at Bombay.


Wretched and miserable as the appearance of Aden must be deemed at
the present moment, its commanding situation rendered it of great
importance in former times. During the reign of Constantine, it was an
opulent city, forming one of the great emporia for the commerce of
the East. The sole remains of the grandeur it once boasted consists of
about ninety dilapidated stone houses, the greater number of dwellings
which seem to shelter its scanty population being nothing more than
huts rudely constructed of reeds. These wretched tenements, huddled
together without the slightest attempt at regularity, occupy the
crater of an extinct volcano. Unrelieved by trees, and assimilating
in colour with the arid soil and barren hills rising around, they
scarcely convey an idea of the purpose for which they are designed.

A stranger, entering Aden, finds it difficult to believe that he is in
the midst of an inhabited place, the houses appearing to be fewer in
number, and more insignificant, than a closer inspection proves them
to be. No splendid fragment, imposing in its ruin, records the glory
and opulence of the populous city, as it existed in the days of
Solyman the Magnificent, the era from whence it dates its decline. The
possession of Aden was eagerly contended for by the two great powers,
the Turks and the Portuguese, struggling for mastery in the East, and
when they were no longer able to maintain their rivalry, it reverted
into the hands of its ancient masters, the Arabs. The security
afforded by its natural defences, aided by the fortifications, the
work of former times, rendered it a suitable retreat for the piratical
hordes of the desert. The lawless sons of Ishmael could, from this
stronghold, rush out upon the adjacent waters, and make themselves
masters of the wealth of those adventurers who dared to encounter the
dangers of the Red Sea.

With the loss of every thing approaching to good government, Aden lost
its trade. The system of monopoly, which enriches the sovereign at the
expense of the subject, speedily ends in ruin. The superior classes of
the inhabitants were either driven away, in consequence of the tyranny
which they endured, or, reduced to a state of destitution, perished
miserably upon the soil, until at length the traces of former
magnificence became few and faint, the once flourishing city falling
into one wide waste of desolation. The remains of a splendid aqueduct,
which was at the first survey mistaken for a Roman road; a solitary
watch-tower, and a series of broken walls, alone attest the ancient
glories of the place.

Previous to the occupation of the British, the population of Aden
scarcely exceeded six hundred souls; it is now, independently of the
garrison, more nearly approaching to a thousand, and of these the
principal number are Jews, who, together with about fifty Banians,
have contrived to amass a little of what, by comparison, may be called
wealth. The trade of Aden, for a long time before we obtained our
present possession, was very trifling, the imports consisting of a few
English cotton cloths, together with lead, iron, and tin, which
were brought by Buglas on their way to Mocha; rice, dates, and small
numbers of cattle, likewise, coming from neighbouring places; while
the exports were limited to a little coffee, millet, and a few drugs.

At the period of my visit to Aden, the garrison were in almost
momentary expectation of an attack from the Arabs, who had gathered
to the amount of five thousand in the neighbourhood, and kept the new
occupants continually upon the alert. Of course, in such a state of
affairs, great differences of opinion existed respecting the ultimate
fate of this interesting place. Many acute persons consider the
project of colonizing a barren spot, surrounded by hostile tribes, by
a handful of soldiers from India, chimerical, especially in the teeth
of predictions which have for so long a period been fulfilled to the
letter. It is stated that the Imaum of Muscat asked, in astonishment,
whether we were mad enough to contemplate the subjugation of the
Arabs, the sons of his father Ishmael; since we could not be so
ignorant of our own Scriptures as not to know that their hands were to
be eternally against every man, and every man's hand against theirs.
But, although the Arabs should continue hostile, while we are masters
of the sea, and can strengthen Aden so completely upon the land-side,
as to render it, what many people believe it can be made, a second
Gibraltar, we have a wide field for commercial speculation in the
opposite coast of Africa.

Aden is, at present, a very expensive possession, and the long period
which has elapsed since our occupation, without preparations
having been commenced for a permanent residence, has occasioned an
apprehension that it may be ultimately abandoned. Many persons are,
however, sanguine in the hope that, as soon as scientific men have
decided upon the best site for a cantonment, buildings will be erected
for the reception of the garrison. These, it is confidently expected,
will be upon a grand scale, and of solid construction. The greater
portion of the materials must be brought from distant places, and
already some of the European inhabitants are conveying from Bombay
those portable houses which are commonly set up during the cold season
on the Esplanade, and which will afford a great improvement upon
the dwellings of bamboos, reeds, and mats, which at present form
the abodes of the officers of this establishment. It has been
satisfactorily ascertained, that the clearing out and repairing the
old tanks and wells will be sufficient to secure an ample supply of
water for a very extensive population, the report of those gentlemen
employed in analyzing its quality being highly favourable.

A little allowance must, of course, be made for the sanguine nature of
the expectations formed by persons whose imaginations are dazzled by
the splendid visions of the future arising before them; still, enough
appears to have been demonstrated to justify a strong hope that there
are no serious difficulties in the way of our permanent occupation of
a place which we have succeeded in rescuing from Arab tyranny. It will
be long, perhaps, before the neighbouring sheikhs will consent to an
amicable arrangement with the British authorities of Aden, for they
at present entertain the most exaggerated notions of the wealth of its
new possessors.

The English, with their usual thoughtless improvidence, threw about
their money so carelessly, that, soon after their arrival, every
article of household consumption doubled and trebled in price,
the remuneration for labour rising in proportion. This improvident
expenditure has had the effect of making the people discontented.
Imagining our resources to be inexhaustible, they do not know how much
to ask for their commodities or their services, and it will require
great firmness and discretion, on the part of the persons in
authority, to settle the fair price for both. The erection of new
houses, which are called for by nearly every fresh arrival, even in
their present light construction, serves very materially to enrich the
inhabitants of Aden, the natural consequence being an increase of the
industrious portion of the population, while it may be confidently
expected that the commencement of superior works will attract a
superior class of persons to the place.

The present Resident is a strenuous advocate for the abolition of all
duties, at least for a time; and should the representations made
by him, and other persons well acquainted with the character and
resources of the surrounding countries, succeed in inducing the
Government of India to render Aden a free port, it would soon become
the queen of the adjacent seas. The town of Senna is only at the
distance of seven or eight days' journey for camels and merchandize.
The coffee districts are actually nearer to it than to Mocha, and
the road equally safe and convenient; other large towns in Yemen
are within an easy journey, and the rich and populous places in the
province of Hydramut are open for its trade.

The mountains to the north of Aden produce gums, frankincense, and
coffee, which would soon find their way to so promising a market. Its
harbour being immediately to the north of Barbar, vessels during the
north-eastern monsoon would reach it with the produce of Africa in
twenty-four hours, returning with British and Indian produce in the
same time. All the exports of Hanall, and other large interior towns
on the opposite coast, consisting of coffee, gums, myrrh, hides,
elephants' teeth, gold dust, ostrich feathers, &c, would be conveyed
to Aden, to be exchanged for piece goods, chintzes, cutlery, and rice;
all of which would find a ready market. The manufactures of India
and of Great Britain would thus be very extensively introduced, there
being good reason to believe that they would be largely purchased in
the provinces of Yemen and Hydramut.

Amongst the great advantages which Aden possesses over Mocha, is the
situation of its harbour, which may be entered by a ship or boat at
any period of the year, and quitted with the same facility: whereas
its rival port is so difficult of access in the months of March,
April, and May, that boats are sometimes six, seven, or eight days
getting to the straits, a distance of forty miles only. These are
considerations worthy of the attention of merchants, the length of the
voyage not being the sole source of annoyance, since vessels taking
cargoes at Aden save the great wear and tear occasioned in their
return down the Red Sea.

Perhaps, considering the difficulty of conciliating the semi-barbarous
tribes in the neighbourhood, the trade and population of Aden have
increased as much as we could reasonably hope; but when peace shall at
length be established, it will doubtless attract merchants and Banians
from Surat, as well as all other adjacent places. If at this moment
our expectations have not been completely answered, we have at least
the satisfaction of knowing that, besides having saved the Red Sea
from the encroachments of the Pasha of Egypt, we have anticipated
a rival power, which has already derived greater advantage from our
supineness, with regard to our Eastern possessions, than is desirable.

The Americans, during 1833-4-5, had a small squadron looking all about
for a spot which they could turn to good account. Socotra, from its
convenient position between Africa and Arabia, proved a point of
attraction, and had not Capt. Haines, of the Indian Navy, promptly
taken possession, in the name of Great Britain, they would in all
probability have succeeded in effecting a settlement. With their usual
attention to the interests of their commerce, the Americans have a
resident permanently stationed at Zanzibar, and have made advantageous
arrangements with the Imaum of Muscat, whereby the trade with the
United States has greatly increased; American ships are constantly
arriving, with piece-goods, glass-ware, &c, and returning with
profitable cargoes, the produce of Africa.

The inhabitants of Aden appear to be a peaceable race, generally well
affected to the government, from which they cannot fail to derive
advantage. The Jews, as I have before mentioned, are the most
important, both in consequence of their number and of their superior
wealth; they belong to the tribe of Judah, and are very industrious,
being the manufacturers of the place.

It is by the Jews and their families, the females assisting, that a
coarse kind of cloth, employed for their own garments, and also sold
to strangers, is spun and woven. This cloth is in much esteem
amongst the Arabs: when prepared for them, it is dyed blue, sometimes
ornamented with red borders, indigo being employed, together with
extracts from other plants. The women generally wear a single loose
garment, covering the head with a handkerchief when they leave the
house; they do not, however, conceal their faces. Previous to the
occupation of Aden, the Jewesses were remarkable for the propriety of
their manners, but as they are esteemed handsome, and moreover attract
by their good temper and intelligence, it is to be feared that they
will meet with many temptations to depart from the decorum they have
hitherto maintained. Like their sex and peculiar race, they are
fond of ornaments, adorning themselves with large silver ear-rings,
bracelets, necklaces, and armlets. Hitherto, whatever wealth they
possessed, they were obliged to conceal, the Arabs proving very severe
and oppressive masters; their prospects are now brightening, and they
have already shown a disposition to profit by the new order of things,
having opened shops in the bazaar, and commenced trading in a way they
never ventured upon before.

Nor is it in spinning and weaving alone that the Jews of Aden excel;
artizans in silver and copper are to be found amongst them, together
with stone-cutters, and other handicrafts-men. They have a school for
the education of their male youth, the females not having yet enjoyed
this advantage, in consequence of the intolerance of the Arabs, who
view with prejudiced eyes every attempt to emancipate women from the
condition to which they have been so long reduced.

The means of instruction possessed by the Jews of Aden are not very
extensive, a few printed Bibles and MS. extracts forming the whole
of their literature. It has been thought that missionaries would here
find a fair field for their exertions; but, unfortunately, the most
promising places in the East are, by some mistake, either of ignorance
or ambition, left wholly destitute of Christian teachers. While the
pledges of Government are compromised in India, and its stability
threatened, by the daring attempts to make converts at the
presidencies, and other considerable places, where success is
attended with great noise and clamour, many portions of the Company's
territories, in which much quiet good might be effected, are left
entirely without religious aid.

The Banians, though small in number, rank next to the Jews in
importance, and are, perhaps, more wealthy; they are not, however,
so completely identified with the soil, for they do not bring their
families with them when emigrating to Aden from the places of their
birth. The greater number come from Cutch, arriving at an early period
of life, and with the craft that usually distinguishes them, studying
the character of the Arabs, and making the most of it. They are not
esteemed such good subjects to the new government as the Jews, their
expectations of benefit from a change of masters, in consequence of
their having proved the chief gainers heretofore, being less sanguine.

The Soomalees are natives of Barbora, and are in number about two
hundred. They employ themselves in making baskets, mats, and fans,
from the leaves of a species of palm-tree; they are not so active and
industrious as the Jews, but the younger portion, if brought up in
European families, might, with the advantage of good tuition, become
useful as servants and labourers. They are Mohamedans, but not very
strict, either in their religious or moral principles, violating oaths
sworn upon the _Koran_, and cheating and thieving whenever they can.
The love of money, however, is a strong stimulus to improvement, and
where it exists, or can be created, the case is far more hopeful than
when the wants and desires are both limited. The Soomalee women are
reckoned handsome, though in that respect they cannot compare with the
Jewesses, their complexions being much darker and their hair coarse;
they have tall, well-proportioned figures, and are as attentive to
their dress and appearance as their poverty will admit. The Arabs are
the least prepossessing of all the inhabitants of Aden, and it will
be long before any confidence can be placed in them. They religiously
conceal their women, and are a bigoted, prejudiced race, disaffected
of course to the new government, and shy of intercourse with the
British occupants.

That the hopes entertained of the prosperity of Aden have not been
more speedily realized, may be attributed to the prevalent belief that
its new masters could not maintain their ground against the hostile
Arabs of the neighbourhood. It is the opinion of a competent judge,
that, "as soon as the inhabitants of distant countries feel convinced
that our occupation of Aden is intended to be a _permanent_, and not a
temporary measure, they will establish agencies there under our flag,
in preference to any other, and open an extensive traffic." The same
authority states that "it is the opinion of the Banians and Arabs,
that Aden _will regain_ her former commercial renown."

With respect to the goods at present in requisition, or likely to meet
a sale, at Aden, we learn from the report above quoted, that "of the
manufactures of Europe, coloured handkerchiefs and hardware are
only in demand, though longcloths are procurable and are sometimes
purchased by the Arabs; but these articles are priced so high, as to
prevent any great consumption of them. From what I observed of the
Arab disposition and taste, I certainly believe that coloured cotton
goods of _fast_ colours, and of patterns similar to those elsewhere
specified, if offered at rates somewhat reasonable, would in a very
short period meet with an extensive sale, and be rapidly introduced
into common use amongst the Arabs of the interior. The novelty of the
experiment would at first induce the Arabs to become purchasers, when,
finding the articles _good_, it is but reasonable to anticipate an
extensive demand. The colours should be particularly attended to, for
the certainty of obtaining goods of _fast colours_ would alone ensure
the articles in question a speedy sale. The handkerchiefs that have
already been introduced into Aden are of the worst sort relative
to colour, generally becoming after two or three washings white, or
nearly so; thus it cannot be wondered at if these goods meet with but
a poor demand."

The ravages committed by the army of the Pasha of Egypt, in the
fertile districts of the neighbourhood of Aden, have been prejudicial
to the interests of the new settlement, and perhaps so long as the
hope of plunder can be entertained by the petty princes, who rule
the adjacent districts, they will be unwilling to wait for the
slower advantages derivable from commerce. The apparently reckless
expenditure of the British residents, and the princely pay given to
the soldiers of the garrison, have offered so dazzling a prospect
of gain, that they (the native chiefs) will have some difficulty in
abandoning the hope of making themselves masters, at a single blow, of
all the treasure brought to their shores. It is said that some Turks,
deserters from Mehemet Ali, who took refuge in Aden, upon being made
acquainted with the amount of pay given to the British troops, and the
regularity with which it was issued, exclaimed, "God is great, and the
English are immortal!"

During the proper seasons, Aden is well supplied with fruit; its trade
in honey and wax might become very important, the adjacent countries
yielding abundance of both, and of so fine a quality, as to compete
with the produce of the hives of the Mediterranean. Drugs are
procurable in equal abundance, together with perfumes and spices. The
European inhabitants are, of course, compelled to send to Bombay
for those luxuries which habit has rendered necessary; the constant
communication with the presidency renders them easily procurable,
while the intercourse with India and England, by means of the
steamers, relieves the monotony which would otherwise be severely
felt.

I could have spent two or three days with great pleasure at Aden,
inquiring into its early history, present condition, and future
prospects, and regretted much when a summons reached me to depart. We
entertained a hope that the steamer would come round and take us off
at the northern point; however, we were obliged to return the way we
came. There are, and have been since its occupation, several English
ladies living at Aden, but whether they have not shown themselves
sufficiently often to render their appearance familiar, or the
curiosity of the people is not easily satisfied, I cannot say; but I
found myself an object of great attention to the women and children.

The sun having declined, the whole of the population of Aden seemed to
be abroad, and many well-dressed and good-looking women were seated on
the rude steps and broken walls of the stone houses before-mentioned.
As they saw me smiling upon them, they drew nearer, salaamed, and
laughed in return, and appeared to examine my dress as closely as
the open doors of the palanquin would permit. Some of the very little
children turned away in horror from a white face, but the greater
number seemed much pleased with the notice taken of them. While
waiting a few minutes for my party, my bearers wanted to drive them
away, but this I would not permit, and we carried on a very amicable
intercourse by signs, both being apparently mutually delighted
with each other. Their vivacity and good-humour made a favourable
impression upon my mind, and I should like to have an opportunity
of becoming better acquainted with them, feeling strongly tempted to
proceed to Aden on my return to England in a sailing vessel, and await
there the arrival of a steamer to convey me up the Red Sea to Cosseir
or to Suez.

I was offered a present of a milch-goat at Aden, but not being able to
consult with the captain of the _Berenice_ concerning its introduction
on board, I did not like to allow the poor creature to run any risk
of neglect. Its productiveness would soon have diminished on board a
steamer, and it was so useful in a place like Aden, that I could not
feel justified in taking it away for my own gratification. I obtained,
however, a bottle of milk, and when I got on board, having dined
early, and being moreover exhausted with my journey, as I was only
recovering from an attack of fever, I wished to have some tea. This
was too great an indulgence to be granted by the petty authorities
who ruled over the passengers. Unfortunately, upon leaving Suez, I
had given away all my tea to my servant, Mohammed, who was fond of it,
nothing doubting that I should be able to procure as much as I pleased
on board the steamer. The refusal was the more provoking, as there was
plenty of boiling water ready, and I had humbly limited my request to
a spoonful of tea. Under the circumstances, I was obliged to content
myself with milk and water: had the captain or the surgeon of the
vessel been at hand, I should doubtless have been supplied with every
thing I wanted, but in their absence, it was impossible to procure a
single article. Upon one occasion, while tea was serving, a passenger
in the saloon asked for a cup, and was told to go upon deck for it.

I also procured a supply of soda water at Aden. I had suffered much
from the want of this refreshing beverage during my fever, the supply
taken on board having been exhausted on the voyage up. The passengers
down the Red Sea have the disadvantage of sailing with exhausted
stores. It seems hardly fair to them, especially in cases of illness,
that the whole of any particular article should be given to the people
who embark at Bombay, they having a right to expect that, as they pay
the same price, a portion should be reserved for their use.

On the second day after our departure from Aden--that is, the 22nd
of October--we arrived at Makallah. It was mid-day before the vessel
ceased to ply her engines, and though invited to go on shore, as
we could not penetrate beyond the walls of the town, we thought it
useless to exchange our cabins for a hot room in the mansion of its
ruler. The town of Makallah, which forms the principal commercial
depôt of the south-west of Arabia, is built upon a rocky platform of
some length, but of very inconsiderable width, backed by a perfect
wall of cliffs, and bounded in front by the sea. It seems tolerably
well built for an Arabian town, many of the houses being of a very
respectable appearance, two or more stories in height, and ornamented
with small turrets and cupolas: the nakib, or governor's residence, is
large, with a high square tower, which gives it the air of a citadel.

There is not a tree or shrub to be seen, the absence of vegetation
investing the place with a character of its own, and one that
harmonizes with the bold and bare rocks which bound the coast on
either side. We were told that, between two ranges of hills close to
the entrance of the town, a beautiful green valley occurred, watered
by delicious springs, and shaded by date-trees. Had we arrived at
an early period of the morning, we might have spent the day on this
delightful place, proceeding to it on the backs of camels or donkeys,
or even on foot; but it being impossible to get thither while the
sun was in full power, we were obliged to content ourselves with a
description of its beauties.

Although a very good understanding exists between our Government and
that of Makallah, which has for some time been a depôt of coal for the
use of the steamers, it is not advisable for visitors to proceed very
far from the town without protection. A midshipman belonging to the
Indian navy having gone on shore for the purpose of visiting the
valley before-mentioned, and straying away to some distance, attracted
by the beauty of the scenery, was suddenly surrounded by a party of
Bedouins, who robbed him of all he possessed, cutting off the buttons
from his clothes, under the idea that they were of gold--an impression
which obtains all over the coast, and which inspired the people who
made the last assault upon Aden with the hope of a rich booty.

The population of Makallah is estimated at about 4,600 people, of
various tribes and countries, the chief portion being either of the
Beni Hassan and Yafái tribes, together with Banians, Kurachies, and
emigrants from nearly all parts of the adjacent coasts. It carries
on rather a considerable trade in gums, hides, and drugs, which, with
coffee, form the exports, receiving in return iron, lead, manufactured
cloths, earthenware, and rice, from Bombay, and all the productions of
the neighbouring countries, slaves included, in which the traffic is
said to be very great.

The gentlemen who went on shore purchased very pretty and convenient
baskets, wrought in various colours, and also quantities of
sweetmeats, which are much in esteem in India; these are composed of
honey and flour, delicately made, the honey being converted into a
soft kind of paste, with a coating of the flour on the outside.
These sweetmeats were nicely packed in straw baskets, of a different
manufacture from those before-mentioned, and were very superior to
the common sort which is brought from the coast in small coarse
earthenware basins, exceedingly unattractive in their appearance.

The interior of the country is said to be very beautiful, abundantly
watered by refreshing springs, and shaded by groves of date-trees.
Amongst its animal productions, the most beautiful is the gazelle,
which, properly speaking, is only to be found in Arabia; a delicate
and lovely creature, with the soft black eye which has been from time
immemorial the theme of poets. The gazelle is easily tamed, becoming
in a short time very familiar, and being much more gentle, as well as
more graceful, than the common antelope. Its movements are the most
airy and elegant imaginable. It is fond of describing a circle in
a succession of bounds, jumping off the ground on four legs, and
touching it lightly as it wheels round and round. At other times, it
pirouettes upon the two fore feet, springing round at the same time
like an opera-dancer; in fact, it would appear as if Taglioni, and all
our most celebrated _artistes_, had taken lessons from the gazelle,
so much do their _chefs-d'oeuvre_ resemble its graceful motions.
When domesticated, the gazelle loves to feed upon roses, delighting
apparently in the scent as well as the taste. It is the fashion in the
East to add perfume to the violet, and I found these gazelles would
eat with much zest roses that had been plentifully sprinkled with
their extract, the _goolabee paanee_, so greatly in request. The
gazelle is also very fond of crisply-toasted bread, a taste which must
be acquired in domestication. It is a courageous animal, and will come
readily to the assault, butting fiercely when attacked. In taking a
gazelle away from Arabia, it should be carefully guarded against cold
and damp, and if not provided with water-proof covering to its feet,
would soon die if exposed to the wet decks of a ship.

We had lost at Aden our fellow-passenger, whom I have mentioned as
having assumed the Turkish dress for the purpose of penetrating
into the interior of Abyssinia. He depended, in a great measure, for
comfort and safety, upon two native priests, whom he had brought with
him from Cairo, and who, in return for his liberality, had promised
all the protection and assistance in their power. He left us with
the good wishes of all the party, and not without some fears in the
breasts of those who contemplated the hazards which he ran. Young and
good-looking, he had, with pardonable, but perhaps dangerous, vanity,
studied the becoming in his costume, which was composed of the very
finest materials. His long outer garment, of a delicate woollen
texture, was lined throughout with silk, and the crimson cap, which
he wore upon his head, was converted into a turban by a piece of gold
muslin wound round it. He expected nothing less than to be plundered
and stripped of this fine apparel, and it will be well for him should
he escape with life. The adventure and the romance of the undertaking
possessed great charms, and he talked, after spending some years in
a wild and wandering career, of sitting down quietly in his paternal
halls, introducing as many of the Egyptian customs as would be
tolerated in a Christian country.

A short residence in Cairo proves very captivating to many Englishmen;
they like the independent sort of life which they lead; their perfect
freedom from all the thralls imposed by society at home, and, when
tired of dreaming away existence after the indolent fashion of
the East, plunge into the surrounding deserts, and enjoy all the
excitement attendant upon danger. Numerous anecdotes were related to
me of the hardships sustained by young English travellers, who, led by
the spirit of adventure, had trusted themselves to the Bedouins, and,
though escaping with life, had suffered very severely from hunger,
thirst, and fatigue. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of one of
these enterprising tourists, who assured me that he had passed through
the holy city of Mecca. According to his account, he had made friends
with an Arab boy, who offered to afford him a glimpse of the city,
provided he would consent to pass rapidly through it, at an early hour
in the morning. Accordingly, disguised in Mohamedan garb, and mounted
upon a camel, they entered and quitted it at opposite ends, without
exciting curiosity or remark. Of course, he could see nothing but the
exterior of the houses and mosques, only obtaining a partial view of
these; but, considering the difficulty and peril of the undertaking,
the pleasure of being able to say that he had succeeded in an
achievement which few would be daring enough to attempt, was worth
running some risks.

Notwithstanding the intolerant spirit generally manifested by the
Arabs, those English strangers who embrace their way of life for a
time frequently attach them very strongly to their persons, obtaining
concessions from them which could scarcely be expected from a
people so bigoted in their religious opinions, and entertaining so
contemptible an opinion of those who are followers of other creeds. In
spite of the faults of his character--for he is frequently deceitful,
treacherous, cruel, and covetous--the Arab of the desert is usually
much respected by the dwellers in towns. His independent spirit
is admired by those who could not exist without the comforts and
conveniences of life, which he disdains. It is no uncommon sight,
either at Cairo or Alexandria, to see a handsome young Bedouin,
splendidly attired, lodging in the open street by the side of his
camel, for nothing will persuade him to sleep in a house; he
carries the habits of the desert into the city, and in the midst of
congregated thousands, dwells apart.

We, who merely crossed the desert from Cairo to Suez, could form
little idea of the pleasures which a longer sojourn and more extended
researches would afford--the poetry of the life which the Arab leads.
Nothing, I was told, could exceed the enjoyments of the night, when,
after a day of burning heat, the cool breezes came down from elevated
valleys, occurring between the ranges of hills which I had observed
with so much interest. This balmy air brings with it perfumes wafted
from sweet-scented flowers, which spring spontaneously in the green
spots known to the gazelle, who repairs to them to drink. Although
the dews are heavy, the Arab requires no more protection than that
afforded by his blanket, and he lies down under the most glorious
canopy, the broad vault of heaven with its countless spangles, no
artificial object intervening throughout the large circle of that wide
horizon. Here, his ablutions, prayers, and evening-meal concluded,
he either sinks into profound repose, or listens to the tales of
his companions, of daring deeds and battles long ago, or the equally
interesting though less exciting narratives of passing events; some
love-story between persons of hostile tribes, or the affection of a
betrothed girl for a stranger, and its melancholy consequences.

Notwithstanding the slight estimation in which the sex is held by the
fierce and jealous Arab--jealous more from self-love than from any
regard to the object that creates this feeling--there is still much of
the romantic to be found in his domestic history. English travellers,
who have acquired a competent knowledge of the language, may collect
materials for poems as tragical and touching as those which Lord Byron
loved to weave. I could relate several in this place, picked up by my
fellow-travellers, but as they may at some period or other desire
to give them to the public themselves, it would be scarcely fair to
anticipate their intention.

We now began to look out with some anxiety for the arrival of the
steamer at Bombay, speculating upon the chances of finding friends
able to receive us. As we drew nearer and nearer, the recollection of
the good hotels which had opened their hospitable doors for us in
the most unpromising places, caused us to lament over the absence of
similar establishments at the scene of our destination. Bombay has
been aptly denominated the landing-place of India; numbers of persons
who have no acquaintance upon the island pass through it on their way
to Bengal, or to the provinces, and if arriving by the Red Sea, are
totally unprovided with the means of making themselves comfortable in
the tents that may be hired upon their landing.

A tent, to a stranger in India, appears to be the most forlorn
residence imaginable, and many cannot be reconciled to it, even
after long custom. To those, however, who do not succeed in obtaining
invitations to private houses, a tent is the only resource. It seems
scarcely possible that the number of persons, who are obliged to
live under canvas on the Esplanade, would not prefer apartments at a
respectable hotel, if one should be erected for the purpose; yet it
is said that such an establishment would not answer. Bombay can never
obtain the pre-eminence over Calcutta, which it is so anxious to
accomplish, until it will provide the accommodation for visitors which
the City of Palaces has afforded during several years past. However
agreeable the overland journey may be, it cannot be performed without
considerable fatigue.

The voyage down the Red Sea, in warm weather especially, occasions
a strong desire for rest; even those persons, therefore, who are so
fortunate as to be carried off to friends' houses, immediately upon
their arrival, would much prefer the comfort and seclusion of a
hotel, for the first day or two at least. The idea of going amongst
strangers, travel-soiled and travel-worn, is anything but agreeable,
more particularly with the consciousness that a week's baths will
scarcely suffice to remove the coal-dust collected in the steamers of
the Red Sea: for my own part, I contemplated with almost equal alarm
the prospect of presenting myself immediately upon the termination of
my voyage, or of being left, on the charge of eight rupees _per diem_,
to the tender mercies of the vessel.

We entered the harbour of Bombay in the evening of the 29th of
October, too late to contemplate the beauty of its scenery, there
being unfortunately no moon. As soon as we dropped anchor, a scene of
bustle and excitement took place. The boxes containing the mails were
all brought upon deck, the vessel was surrounded with boats, and the
first news that greeted our ears--news that was communicated with
great glee--was the damage done by fire to the _Atalanta_ steamer.
This open manifestation, by the officers of the Indian navy, of
dislike to a service to which they belong, is, to say the least of it,
ill-judged. A rapid increase in the number of armed steam-vessels may
be calculated upon, while the destruction of half of those at present
employed would scarcely retard the progress of this mighty power--a
power which may alter the destinies of half the world. The hostility,
therefore, of persons who cannot hope by their united opposition to
effect the slightest change in the system, becomes contemptible.

It is a wise proverb which recommends us not to show our teeth unless
we can bite. To expose the defects of steamers, may produce their
remedy; but to denounce them altogether, is equally useless and
unwise, since, however inconvenient they may be, no person, with
whom despatch is an object, will hesitate to prefer them to a
sailing-vessel; while every officer, who takes the Queen's or the
Company's pay, should consider it to be his duty to uphold the service
which tends to promote the interests of his country.



CHAPTER IX.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOMBAY.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Contrast between landing at Bombay and at Calcutta--First feelings
  those of disappointment--Aspect of the place improves--Scenery of the
  Island magnificent, abounding with fine Landscapes--Luxuriance and
  elegance of the Palms--Profusion and contrast of the Trees--Multitude
  of large Houses in Gardens--Squalid, dirty appearance of the
  Native Crowd--Costume of the Natives--Inferior to the Costume of
  Bengal--Countenances not so handsome--The Drive to the Fort--The
  Burrah Bazaar--Parsee Houses--"God-shops" of the Jains--General use
  of Chairs amongst the Natives--Interior of the Native Houses--The
  Sailors' Home--The Native Town--Improvements--The Streets animated
  and picturesque--Number of Vehicles--The Native Females--The Parsee
  Women--The Esplanade--Tents and Bungalows--The Fort--The China
  Bazaar--A Native School--Visit to a Parsee Warehouse--Seal ornamental
  China-ware--Apprehension of Fire in the Fort--Houses fired by
  Rats--Illumination of Native Houses--Discordant noise of Native
  Magic--The great variety of Religions in Bombay productive of
  lamp-lighting and drumming.


The bunder, or pier, where passengers disembark upon their arrival in
Bombay, though well-built and convenient, offers a strong contrast
to the splendours of Chandpaul Ghaut in Calcutta; neither are the
bunder-boats at all equal in elegance to the budgerows, bohlias, and
other small craft, which we find upon the Hooghley. There is nothing
to indicate the wealth or the importance of the presidency to be
seen at a glance; the Scottish church, a white-washed building of no
pretensions, being the most striking object from the sea. Landward, a
range of handsome houses flank so dense a mass of buildings, occupying
the interior of the Fort, as to make the whole appear more like a
fortified town than a place of arms, as the name would denote. The
tower of the cathedral, rising in the centre, is the only feature in
the scene which boasts any architectural charm; and the Esplanade,
a wide plain, stretching from the ramparts to the sea, is totally
destitute of picturesque beauty.

The first feelings, therefore, are those of disappointment, and it
is not until the eye has been accustomed to the view, that it becomes
pleased with many of the details; the interest increasing with the
development of other and more agreeable features, either not seen at
all, or seen through an unfavourable medium. The aspect of the place
improved, as, after crossing the Esplanade or plain, the carriage
drove along roads cut through palm-tree woods, and at length, when I
reached my place of destination, I thought that I had never seen any
thing half so beautiful.

The apartments which, through the kindness of hospitable friends, I
called my own, commanded an infinite variety of the most magnificent
scenery imaginable. To the left, through a wide vista between two
hills, which seemed cleft for the purpose of admitting the view, lay
the placid waters of the ocean, land-locked, as it were, by the
bold bluff of distant islands, and dotted by a fairy fleet of
fishing-boats, with their white sails glittering in the sun. In front,
over a beautifully-planted fore-ground, I looked down upon a perfect
sea of palms, the taller palmyras lifting their proud heads above the
rest, and all so intermingled with other foliage, as to produce the
richest variety of hues. This fine wood, a spur of what may be termed
a forest further to the right, skirted a broad plain which stretched
out to the beach, the bright waters beyond expanding and melting
into the horizon, while to the right it was bounded by a hilly ridge
feathered with palm-trees, the whole bathed in sunshine, and forming
altogether a perfect Paradise.

Every period of the day, and every variation in the state of the
atmosphere, serve to bring out new beauties in this enchanting scene;
and the freshness and delicious balm of the morning, the gorgeous
splendour of mid-day, the crimson and amber pomps of evening, and the
pale moonlight, tipping every palm-tree top with silver, produce an
endless succession of magical effects. In walking about the garden and
grounds of this delightful residence, we are continually finding
some new point from which the view appears to be more beautiful than
before. Upon arriving at the verge of the cleft between the two hills,
we look down from a considerable elevation over rocky precipitous
ground, with a village (Mazagong) skirting the beach, while the
prospect, widening, shows the whole of the harbour, with the high
ghauts forming the back-ground.

Turning to the other side, behind the hill which shuts out the sea,
the landscape is of the richest description--roads winding through
thick plantations, houses peeping from embowering trees, and an
umbrageous forest beyond. The whole of Bombay abounds with landscapes
which, if not equal to that from Chintapooglee Hill, which I have,
vainly I fear, attempted to describe, boast beauties peculiarly their
own, the distinguishing feature being the palm-tree. It is impossible
to imagine the luxuriance and elegance of this truly regal family as
it grows in Bombay, each separate stage, from the first appearance
of the different species, tufting the earth with those stately crowns
which afterwards shoot up so grandly, being marked with beauty. The
variety of the foliage of the coco-nut, the brab, and others,
the manner of their growth, differing according to the different
directions taken, and the exquisite grouping which continually occurs,
prevent the monotony which their profusion might otherwise create,
the general effect being, under all circumstances, absolutely perfect.
Though the principal, the palm is far from being the only tree, and
while frequently forming whole groves, it is as frequently blended
with two species of cypress, the peepul, mango, banian, wild cinnamon,
and several others.

In addition to the splendour of its wood and water, Bombay is
embellished by fragments of dark rock, which force themselves through
the soil, roughening the sides of the hills, and giving beauty to
the precipitous heights and shelving beach. Though the island is
comparatively small, extensively cultivated and thickly inhabited,
it possesses its wild and solitary places, its rains deeply seated
in thick forests, and its lonely hills covered with rock, and thinly
wooded by the eternal palm-tree; hills which, in consequence of
the broken nature of the ground, and their cavernous recesses, are
difficult of access. It is in these fastnesses that the hyenas find
secure retreats, and the Parsees construct their "towers of silence."

There is little, or indeed nothing, in the scenery that comes under
the denomination of jungle, the island being intersected in every
part with excellent roads, macadamized with the stone that abounds
so conveniently for the purpose. These roads are sometimes skirted by
walls of dark stone, which harmonize well with the trees that
never fail to spread their shade above; at others, with beautiful
hedge-rows, while across the flats and along the Esplanade, a
water-course or a paling forms the enclosures.

The multitude of large houses, each situated in the midst of gardens
or ornamented grounds, gives a very cheerful appearance to the roads
of Bombay; but what the stranger on his first arrival in India is
said to be most struck with is, the number and beauty of the
native population. Probably, had I never seen Bengal, I might
have experienced similar delight and astonishment; but with the
recollections of Calcutta fresh in my mind, I felt disappointed.

Accustomed to multitudes of fine-looking well-dressed people, with
their ample and elegant drapery of spotless white muslin, I could not
help contrasting them with the squalid, dirty appearance of the
native crowd of Bombay. Nor is it so easy at first to distinguish the
varieties of the costume through the one grand characteristic of dirt;
nor, with the exception of the peculiar Parsee turban, which is very
ugly, the Persian cap, and the wild garb of the Arab, do they differ
so widely as I expected. For instance; the Hindus and Mohamedans are
not so easily recognized as in Bengal. The vest in ordinary wear,
instead of being fitted tightly to the figure, and having that
peculiarly elegant cut which renders it so graceful, seems nothing
more than a loose bed-gown, coarse in materials and tasteless in
shape: this forms the most common costume. The higher classes of
Parsees wear an ample and not unbecoming dress; the upper garment
of white cambric muslin fits tightly to the waist, where it is bound
round with a sash or cummurbund of white muslin; it then descends in
an exceedingly full skirt to the feet, covering a pair of handsome
silk trowsers. A Parsee group, thus attired, in despite of their mean
and unbecoming head-dress, make a good appearance.

The Arabs wear handkerchiefs or shawls, striped with red, yellow, and
blue, bound round their heads, or hanging in a fanciful manner over
their turbans. The Persian dress is grave and handsome, and there
are, besides, Nubians, Chinese, and many others; but the well-dressed
people must be looked for in the carriages, few of the same
description are to be seen on foot, which gives to a crowd in Bengal
so striking an appearance. In fact, a Bengallee may be recognized at
a glance by his superior costume, and in no place is the contrast more
remarkable than in the halls and entrances of Anglo-Indian houses. The
servants, if not in livery--and it is difficult to get them to
wear one, the dignity of caste interfering--are almost invariably
ill-dressed and slovenly in their appearance. We see none of the
beautifully plaited and unsullied white turbans; none of the fine
muslin dresses and well-folded cummurbunds; the garments being
coarse, dirty, scanty, and not put on to advantage. Neither are the
countenances so handsome or the forms so fine; for though a very
considerable degree of beauty is to be found of person and feature
amid many classes of Parsees, Jews, Hindus, and Mohamedans, it is not
so general as in Bengal, where the features are usually so finely cut,
and the eyes so splendid.

Nevertheless, although my admiration has never been so strongly
excited, and I was in the first instance greatly disappointed, every
time I go abroad I become more reconciled to this change, and more
gratified by the various objects which attract my attention; and there
are few things that please me more than a drive to the Fort.

It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to convey any idea of
the lively scene which is presented in this excursion, or the great
variety of features which it embraces. Enclosures sprinkled over with
palm-trees, and filled with a herd of buffaloes, occur close to a
farm-house, which looks absolutely English; then we come to a
cluster of huts of the most miserable description, occupying some low
situation, placed absolutely on the ground, and scantily thatched with
palm branches; stately mansions now arise to view, and then there is
a row of small but apparently comfortable dwellings, habitations being
thickly scattered over fields and gardens, until we reach what has
been denominated the Black Town, but which is now generally known as
the Burrah Bazaar. This is now a broad street, and, without exception,
one of the most curious places I have ever beheld. It is said to have
been much improved during late administrations, and, forming the high
road to the Fort, is the avenue most frequented in the native town
by Europeans. The buildings on either side are very irregular, and of
various descriptions; some consist of ranges of small shops, with
a story above in a very dilapidated and tumble-down condition. Then
comes a row of large mansions of three floors, which look very much
like the toy baby-houses constructed for children in England, the
windows being so close together, and the interiors so public;
others intervene, larger, more solid, and irregular, but exceedingly
picturesque.

Most of the better kind of houses are ascended by a flight of
steps, which leads to a sort of verandah, formed by the floor above
projecting over it, and being supported by wooden pillars or other
frame-work in front. In the Parsee houses of this kind, there is
usually a niche in this lower portion for a lamp, which is kept always
burning. In some places, the houses are enclosed in courtyards, and
at others a range of dwellings, not very unlike the alms-houses in
England, are divided from the road by a low wall, placed a few yards
in the front, and entered at either end by gateways. These houses have
a very comfortable appearance, and the shading of a few palm-trees
completes a rather pretty picture. There are two mosques, one on
either side of this street, which are handsomely constructed, and
would be great embellishments to the scene, were they not so painfully
whiter-washed.

A peculiar class of Hindus, the Jains, have also what have not been
inappropriately termed "god-shops," for they certainly have not the
slightest appearance of temples. These pagodas, if they may be so
styled, are nothing more than large houses, of three floors, with
balconies running in front, the heavy wooden frame-work that supports
them being painted a dark dingy red, and the walk adorned with
representations of deities, executed in a variety of colours, and of
the most nondescript character. The interiors appear to be decorated
in the same manner, as they are seen through the open windows and by
the light of many lamps suspended from the ceilings. The ringing
of bells, and the full attendance of priests and worshippers of an
evening, show the purpose to which these houses are dedicated, and
superstition is here exhibited in its most revolting aspect, for there
is no illusion to cheat the fancy--no beautiful sequestered pagoda,
with its shadowing trees and flower-strewed courts, to excite poetical
ideas--all being coarse, vulgar, and contemptible.

Great numbers of artizans are to be seen at work in their respective
shops in this bazaar, copper-smiths particularly, who seem an
industrious race, toiling by lamp-light long after the day has
completely closed. There are also _caravanserais_ and _cafés_, where
the country and religion of the owner may be known by the guests
congregated about his gate. Groups of Persians are seen seated on the
outside smoking; the beautiful cats, which they have brought down
for sale, sporting at their feet. A few yards farther on, the Arab
horse-dealers, in front of their stables, are equally conspicuous, and
it is easy to perceive, by the eager glances with which some of these
men survey the English carriages bearing fair freights of ladies
along, that they have never visited an European settlement before.

My former visit to India enabling me to observe the differences
between two of our presidencies, I was particularly struck, on my
arrival at Bombay, with the general use of chairs among the natives;
none but the very meanest description of houses seem to be entirely
destitute of an article of furniture scarcely known in the native
habitations of Bengal; and these seats seem to be preferred to
the more primitive method of squatting on the ground, which
still prevails, the number of chairs in each mansion being rather
circumscribed, excepting in the best houses, where they abound. Sofas
and divans, though seen, are not so common as in Egypt, and perhaps
the divan, properly speaking, is not very usual.

The cheapness of oil, and in all probability the example shown by the
Parsees, render lamps very abundant. The common kind of hall-lamp of
England, of different sizes and different colours, is the prevailing
article; these are supplied with a tumbler half-filled with water,
having a layer of oil upon the top, and two cotton-wicks. As I lose
no opportunity whatever of looking into the interiors of the native
houses, I have been often surprised to see one of these lamps
suspended in a very mean apartment of a cottage, boasting few other
articles of furniture, which, nevertheless, in consequence of its
cleanliness, and the excellence of the light afforded, possessed
an air of comfort. In fact, many of the houses, whose exteriors are
anything but promising, are very well fitted up in the inside; many
of the apartments are panelled with wood, handsomely carved, and have
ceilings and floors of the same, either painted of a dark colour, or
highly polished. In the evening, the windows being all open, and the
lamps lighted, a foil view may be obtained of these apartments.

Many of the houses appear to be kept entirely for show, since in
all my peregrinations I have never seen any human being in the upper
chambers, although illuminated every night. In others, there can be
no doubt concerning the fact of their having inhabitants, since the
owners do not scruple to go to bed with the windows open and the lamps
burning, not disturbed in their repose by the certainty of being seen
by every passer-by, or by the noise and bustle of the street.

The bazaar ends at the commencement of the Esplanade, in a large
building, wooden-fronted, of a circular form, and not unhandsome,
which is decorated with a flag upon the roof, and is called "The
Sailors' Home." Its verandahs and open windows often display our
jovial tars enjoying themselves in an asylum which, though evil has
been spoken against it, is said to be well-conducted, and to prevent a
very thoughtless class of persons from falling into worse hands.

The native town extends considerably on either side of the principal
avenue, one road leading through the coco-nut gardens, presenting a
great variety of very interesting features; that to the left is more
densely crowded, there being a large and well-frequented cloth bazaar,
besides a vast number of shops and native houses, apparently of
considerable importance. Here the indications shown of wealth and
industry are exceedingly gratifying to an eye delighting in the sight
of a happy and flourishing population. There are considerable spaces
of ground between these leading thoroughfares, which, by occasional
peeps down intersecting lanes, seem to be covered with a huddled
confusion of buildings, and, until the improvements which have
recently taken place, the whole of the town seems to have been nearly
in the same state.

The processes of widening, draining, pulling down, and rebuilding,
appear to have been carried on very extensively; and though much,
perhaps, remains to be done in the back settlements, where buffaloes
may be seen wading through the stagnant pools, the eye is seldom
offended, or the other senses disagreeably assailed, in passing
through this populous district. The season is, however, so favourable,
the heat being tempered by cool airs, which render the sunshine
endurable, that Bombay, under its present aspect, may be very
different from the Bombay of the rains or of the very hot weather. The
continual palm-trees, which, shooting up in all directions, add grace
and beauty to every scene, must form terrible receptacles for malaria;
the fog and mist are said to cling to their branches and hang round
them like a cloud, when dispersed by sun or wind elsewhere; the very
idea suggesting fever and ague.

Though, as I have before remarked, the contrast between the muslined
millions of Bengal and the less tastefully clad populace of Bombay is
unfavourable, still the crowds that fill the streets here are animated
and picturesque. There is a great display of the liveliest colours,
the turbans being frequently of the brightest of yellows, crimsons, or
greens.

The number of vehicles employed is quite extraordinary, those of the
merely respectable classes being chiefly bullock-carts; these are of
various descriptions, the greater number being of an oblong square,
and furnished with seats across (after the fashion of our taxed
carts), in which twelve persons, including women and children, are
frequently accommodated. It is most amusing to see the quantity of
heads squeezed close together in a vehicle of this kind, and the
various contrivances resorted to in order to accommodate a more than
sufficient number of personages in other conveyances, not so well
calculated to hold them. Four in a buggy is a common complement, and
six or nine persons will cram themselves into so small a space, that
you wonder how the vehicle can possibly contain the bodies of all the
heads seen looking out of it. The carts are chiefly open, but there
are a few covered _rhuts_, the conveyances probably of rich Hindu or
Mohamedan ladies, who do not content themselves, like the Parsees,
with merely covering their heads with the veil.

Young Parsee women of the better class are frequently to be seen in
carriages with their male relations, nor do they object to appear
publicly in the streets following wedding processions. They are the
only well-dressed or nice-looking women who drive or walk about the
streets or roads. The lower classes of females in Bombay are the most
unprepossessing people I ever saw. In Bengal, the _saree_, though
rather too scanty, is a graceful costume, and at a little distance
appears to be a modest covering. Here it is worn very differently, and
without the slightest attempt at delicacy or grace, the drapery being
in itself insufficient, and rendered more offensive by the method of
its arrangement.

The Parsee women are, generally speaking, of fair complexions, with
small features, and a very sweet expression of countenance; many
of them are exceedingly pretty, and they all dress gracefully and
becomingly. Very respectable females of this class are to be seen
walking about, showing by their conduct that propriety of behaviour
does not consist in seclusion, or the concealment of the face.

There is an innate delicacy and refinement about Parsee women which
commands respect, and their value is known and acknowledged by
their male relatives, who treat them with a degree of deference and
consideration which is highly creditable to both parties. Though the
men are found in service in every European family, they do not allow
their wives and daughters to become domestics to foreigners, and they
are only permitted to become servants to their own people. The higher
classes of natives have adopted European equipages, and are the owners
of the handsomest carriages and horses in Bombay. Chariots, barouches,
britschkas, and buggies, appear in great numbers, filled with
Mohamedan, Hindu, or Parsee gentlemen. The less fashionable use the
palanquin carriage, common in Bengal, but which at this place is
called a _shigram_; these are often crammed full of servants and
children.

Upon emerging from the bazaar, we enter upon the wide plain called the
Esplanade. To the left, across an extensive parade-ground, appears the
Fort, which is seen to the best advantage from this point; the walls
are low, and afford an ample view of a range of three-storied houses,
having verandahs all the way up, called Rampart Row, and from which
one or two very splendid mansions stand out conspicuously. To the
right, there is a whole encampment of tents, these canvas dwellings
being the sole refuge for the destitute. They may be hired in any
number and of every degree of elegance, none, however, quite reaching
to the refinements of Bengal, or being supplied with glass doors and
windows. Beyond the tents, and quite close to the beach, is the
space allotted for the temporary bungalows erected during the cold
season--singular places, which will be more fully described under the
head of Anglo-Indian residences. In front, and close to the warf or
bunder, are immense irregular piles of cotton in bales, which at a
distance appear like fortifications, and upon a nearer approach assume
somewhat of a picturesque air.

The Fort is surrounded on the land-side with a moat, and is entered
through some very shabby gateways. The interior of this extensive work
presents a busy, bustling scene; its numerous houses being arranged
with some degree of regularity in streets and open places. Those
who content themselves, however, with driving through the European
portion, will have very little idea of the true character of the
place. Rampart Row--the avenues leading into a large open space, in
which stand the cathedral, the town-hall, the mint, a cavalry
barrack, &c.--and the immediate environs, are composed of lofty,
well-constructed houses, some standing a little apart in courtyards,
and others with a narrow platform in front, ascended by steps, and
roofed by the story above. This, as I have previously stated, is the
general method of building in Bombay. These streets have somewhat of
an European, though not an English, air, but are for the most part
tenanted by natives, who may be seen at the windows of every floor,
and who apparently are better lodged, at least according to our idea,
than the same class in Calcutta. In this part of the Fort there
are several shops, or rather warehouses, for the sale of European
goods--dingy places, having a melancholy assortment of faded articles
in dim glass cases, freshness and variety in the merchandize depending
upon shipping arrivals.

Earthenware, glass, and cutlery, are abundant; but, altogether, there
is nothing at present to compare with the first-rate establishments of
Calcutta--such as Tulloh's, for instance--the whole style being dirty
and slovenly. A very civil native, named Muncherjee, who calls
himself a milliner, has, I am informed, very frequently well-chosen
investments to dispose of, but upon my visits I have seen nothing
wearable in the shape of bonnets and caps. An English milliner resides
in his neighbourhood, who possesses both skill and taste, and makes
up her silks and gauzes after the best French models; but necessarily,
perhaps, the purchases made at her rooms are rather expensive.

There is quite enough of bustle and animation in this quarter of the
Fort to engage the attention, but it seems silent and deserted when
compared with the crowd of the more exclusively native portions.
Here the streets literally swarm with life--men, women, children, and
bullocks, filling them almost to suffocation. Ranges of open shops
appear on each side, raised a foot or two from the ground, the
occupant being seated upon a ledge in front, in the midst of
his wares. Here, too, immense quantities of English glass and
crockery-ware are exhibited, which may be purchased at a much cheaper
rate than in shops styled, _par distinction_, European.

One or two opportunities offering for a visit to what is called the
China Bazaar, I gladly availed myself of them, and was much amused,
as the carriage made its slow way through the multitudes that thronged
the streets, to observe the employments of the people, buying,
selling, manufacturing their goods, or, for want of something else to
do, dragging little children in carts, which, by some contrivance, ran
back across the floor of the narrow apartment, and were then impelled
forward again by means of a string. This I found to be a favourite
occupation, and I never in any place saw more fondness manifested
towards children by their parents than in Bombay, or a greater desire
to associate them in all their amusements. At length, the carriage
stopped at a gateway, and upon alighting, I found myself in the midst
of a crowd of little children--an infant school, in fact, composed
indiscriminately of boys and girls. They were, generally speaking,
very pretty, and all well-dressed, many being adorned with very
handsome jewels.

The pedagogue--a Parsee, and rather a young man--with the barbarity
common to his class, was in the act of inflicting corporal punishment
upon a poor little creature, whom he beat upon the feet (ornamented,
by the way, with rich anclets) with a rod of split bamboo. I commanded
him to forbear, but speaking half in English and half in Hindustanee,
made myself better understood by look and gesture than by words. The
unhappy infant seemed to know that I interfered in its behalf, for
it gazed upon me with a piteous but grateful expression; it could not
have been more than three years old, and was really very pretty
and interesting in its tears. It was evidently the child of wealthy
parents, being dressed in a silk shirt embroidered and trimmed with
silver, a cap of the same upon its head, and numerous jewels besides.
The whole of the Lilliputian assembly uttered their lesson as I
passed, all raising their voices at the same time, and rendering it, I
imagine, rather difficult to determine whether each pupil repeated his
or her part correctly.

I would fain have lingered for a few minutes, but my attendants
officiously showing the way, I walked across a paved yard and up two
flights of steps to the shop of which I came in search, which was kept
by a good-looking Parsee. The trade of this person was designated
as that of a _bottlee wallah_, which being literally rendered means
'bottle-fellow,' but, according to a more free translation, a dealer
in glass, lamps, candlesticks, preserved meats in tin-cases, &c. &c.
I found a vast stock of the articles most in request in Indian
housekeeping, such as wall-shades, and all descriptions of earthen and
hard-ware, all of which he sold at very moderate prices, but having
executed the part of my commission which related to candlesticks, I
was unable to find the more _recherché_ articles of which I came in
quest.

I had been told that a great variety of ornamental china, the real
product of the Celestial Empire, was to be seen in the native shops
in Bombay. Though showy in appearance, this sort of china is of little
value, except to mark how much the manufacture has degenerated since
Europeans have learned to make their own teacups. I wished to obtain
a few specimens, but could not succeed. My friend, the bottlee wallah,
though very civil, could not afford me the information I required,
nor have I yet been able to obtain it. I have seen some handsome jars,
plates such as are used in England for the deposit of visitors' cards,
&c., which were purchased for a few annas, and have been told that
I might procure any quantity I pleased, but the where is still a
mystery.

All the information obtainable in Bombay must be fished out in an
extraordinary manner, both natives and Europeans seeming to make it a
rule never to commit themselves by a direct reply to any question;
in every single instance, up to the present time, I have always, upon
making an inquiry, been referred to somebody else. Neither do I
find the same zeal manifested in the servants, which amounts to
officiousness on the other side of India. I have sent them to purchase
the china, but can get nothing but rubbish, knowing all the while that
there are plenty of a better description to be had.

Upon my return, the bottlee wallah accompanied me to the carriage in
waiting, and as I paused to notice some of the children in the school,
introduced me to a group of his own sons and daughters, well decked
out in jewels, and otherwise richly dressed. The instruction given at
these schools I understood to be merely oral, the repetition of a few
verses, intended rather to pass away the time and keep the children
out of mischief, than as a foundation of more useful studies. I
hope that the system will be improved, for the pupils seemed to be
extremely intelligent, and capable of better things.

Returning home, I passed several shops, in which the artizans of a
very beautiful manufacture, peculiar to Bombay, were at work. Desks,
dressing-cases, work-boxes, card-cases, ink-stands, and a variety of
other ornamental fancy articles, are made of sandal-wood, covered and
inlaid with ivory, ebony, and a material resembling silver. They copy
the best patterns, and produce exceedingly elegant appendages for
the drawing or dressing-room tables. A desk, handsomely fitted up and
lined with velvet, is sold for seven or eight pounds; large ink-stands
and blotting books for twenty rupees, and card-cases for six or eight.

It is impossible, while perambulating the Fort of Bombay, to avoid
a feeling of apprehension concerning a catastrophe, which sooner or
later seems certain to happen, and which nothing short of a miracle
appears to prevent from taking place every night; I mean the
destruction of the whole by fire. All the houses are constructed of
the most combustible materials, and the greater number belonging to
the native quarter are thatched. Though contrary to law, many of the
warehouses contain gunpowder, while the immense quantity of oil
and spirits stored up in them would render a conflagration, once
commenced, most fearful. Few or no precautions seem to be taken by the
natives against fire. There are lights burning in every room of every
house, fires are continually made outside, whence a single spark
might set the whole in flames; and added to these dangers, are the
prejudices of the great number of the inhabitants, whose religious
feelings would prevent them from making the slightest endeavour to
stay the progress of the element which they worship. Nor would the
destruction of property be the sole danger. It is terrible to think
of the fearful risk of life in a place in which escape would be so
difficult. The gates of the Fort are few in number, and of narrow
dimensions; a new one is now constructing, probably with some view
to an emergence of the kind. The natives, upon the occasion of its
proposal, evinced their readiness to assist in the execution of a plan
so advantageous to the place of their abode, and immediately advanced
half the sum which this necessary improvement would cost--namely,
thirty thousand rupees--which were subscribed and paid into the
treasury in the course of a week.

In 1803 or 1804, a very destructive conflagration actually took place
in the Fort of Bombay, and upon that occasion, in order to save the
castle, which did then, and does now, contain an immense quantity of
gunpowder, the authorities were obliged to bring out cannon to batter
down the surrounding houses, for the purpose of arresting the progress
of the flames. When the place was rebuilt, many salutary regulations
were made to prevent the recurrence of so great a calamity, and could
all the plans of Government have been accomplished, the danger which
now threatens Bombay would have been very considerably lessened; but
it was found impossible to carry out all the objects contemplated,
in consequence of the great value of the property which they would
affect.

The land within the walls of the Fort has become in a great measure
private property, and the convenience of its contiguity to the harbour
is so great, and the natives entertain so strong an idea of security
in a residence in a fortified place, however disqualified to resist
a hostile force, that nothing would prevail upon them to relinquish
their houses. The higher classes are well aware of the hazards they
incur, but, like the dwellers in the neighbourhood of a volcano, are
unwilling to quit a place endeared to them by long residence, though
they know not the hour in which they may be buried beneath its smoking
ruins. There are only a few Europeans who continue to inhabit the
Fort, but it must contain a very considerable portion of the property
of those merchants who have their offices and warehouses within its
walls. The British authorities have taken all the precautions in
their power, the fire-engines have been placed in a state of greater
efficiency than heretofore, while, should an extensive fire take
place, everything that European strength and skill could accomplish
would be attempted.

Amongst the various accidents to which houses in Bombay are subjected,
the one to be most apprehended, that of fire, is often brought about
by rats. They will carry off a lighted candle at every convenient
opportunity, setting fire to dwellings by this means. They have been
also known to upset tumblers containing oil, which is thus spread
abroad and likely to be ignited by the falling wick. It is, perhaps,
impossible totally to exterminate this race of vermin, which in the
Fort set cats completely at defiance, but something might be done to
keep the population down. I have been told that there are places in
the more crowded portion rendered perfectly impassable at night in
consequence of the effluvia arising from the immense quantities of
musk rats, which, together with the common sort, and bandicoots of an
incredible size, abound, the narrow close lanes being apparently
built for the purpose of affording accommodation to vermin of every
description. Nevertheless, some of the native houses of the Fort would
form very agreeable residences to persons accustomed to the utmost
refinement. Being exceedingly lofty, the upper apartments have the
advantage of every breeze that blows, while the views both of sea and
land are splendid.

The immense size of these houses, and the elegance of their
decorations, evince the spirit and wealth of their owners; they become
absolutely beacons at night, in consequence of the frequency and the
extent of their illuminations. Numerous are the occasions, either of
holidays or other rejoicings, in which the natives of Bombay light
up their houses; rows of lamps hung along the wide fronts of the
verandahs, upon every floor, produce a good effect, which is often
heightened by the flood of light poured out of apartments decorated
with chandeliers and lamps of every description.

In passing through the bazaar at night, every third or fourth house
is lit up upon some festive occasion; one favourite and very pretty
method consists of a number of small lamps, arranged to resemble
bunches of grapes, and hung up in the trees of a court-yard. Sometimes
in the evening, a sort of market is held in the native town beyond
the Esplanade, and every stall is profusely lighted; the hawkers,
who carry about their goods in a more humble way upon their heads in
baskets, have them stuck with candles, and the wild shadowy effects
produced, amid the quaint buildings thus partially lighted, afford a
continual phantasmagoria.

They must be destitute of imagination, indeed, who cannot find
pleasure in the contemplation of the night-scenes of Bombay, either
from its native crowds, or the delicious solitudes of its sylvan
shades. The ear is the only organ absolutely unblest in this sunny
island, the noises being incessant, and most discordant; the shrieking
of jackals by night is music compared to that from native instruments,
which, in the most remote places, are continually striking up:
the drums, trumpets, bells, and squeaking pipes, of a neighbouring
village, are now inflicting their torments upon my distracted brain
in the most barbarous manner possible. The exertions of the performers
never appear to relax, and by night or day, it is all the same; they
make themselves heard at any distance, parading along the roads for
the sole purpose, it should seem, of annoying the more peaceable
inhabitants. Certainly, the sister arts of music and painting have
yet to make their way in India, the taste for both being at present
perfectly barbarous.

The European bands, when playing on the Esplanade, attract a very
considerable number of natives; but whether congregated for the
purpose of listening to the music, or merely for the sake of
passing the time, seems very doubtful. A few, certainly, manifest
a predilection for "concord of sweet sounds," and no difficulty is
experienced by band-masters in recruiting their forces from natives,
the boys learning readily, and acquitting themselves very well
upon instruments foreign to the country. There is, however, no
manifestation at present of the spread of a refined taste, and many
years will probably elapse before any thing like good music will be
common in this part of Asia.

The great variety of religions extant in Bombay, each being
distinguished by numerous festivals, all celebrated in the same
manner--that is, by noise and illuminations--sufficiently accounts
for the perpetual recurrence of lamp-lighting and drumming in all
directions. Every week brings round the anniversary of some day of
rejoicing of the Mohamedans, Hindus, Parsees, Jews, Roman Catholics,
or Armenians, and Bombay may therefore be said to present one
universal holiday. Passing the other evening one of the handsomest
pagodas in the island, an oblong square building of yellow stone,
with a mitre-shaped tower at one end, I was surprised by the number
of European carriages in waiting. The exterior had all the air of
a Christian church, the situation beautiful, a platform of rock
overlooking the sea; and I could not help indulging the hope, that the
substitution of chariots and buggies for palanquins and _rhuts_ would
lead to the introduction of a purer and better creed.



CHAPTER X.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOMBAY--(_Continued_).

       *       *       *       *       *

  Bombay the rising Presidency--Probability of its becoming the Seat of
  Government--The Anglo-Indian Society of Bombay--Style of Living--The
  Gardens inferior to those of Bengal--Interiors of the Houses more
  embellished--Absence of Glass-windows an evil--The Bungalows--The
  Encamping-ground--Facility and despatch of a change of
  residence--Visit to a tent entertainment--Inconveniences attending a
  residence in tents--Want of Hotels and Boarding-houses--Deficiency of
  public Amusements in Bombay--Lectures and _Conversaziones_ suggested,
  as means of bringing the native community into more frequent
  intercourse with Europeans--English spoken by the superior classes
  of natives--Natives form a very large portion of the wealth and
  intelligence of Bombay--Nothing approaching the idea of a City to be
  seen--The climate more salubrious than that of Bengal--Wind blows hot
  and cold at the same time--Convenience a stranger finds in so many
  domestic servants speaking English--Their peculiar mode of speaking
  it--Dress of servants--Their wages--The Cooks--Improved by Lord
  Clare--Appointments of the tables--The Ramoosee Watchmen--Their
  vociferations during the night--Fidelity of the natives--Controversy
  concerning their disregard of truth.


Comparisons are so frequently both unfair and invidious, that I had
determined, upon my arrival at Bombay, to abstain from making them,
and to judge of it according to its own merits, without reference to
those of the rival presidency. It was impossible, however, to adhere
to this resolution, and being called upon continually to give an
opinion concerning its claims to superiority over Calcutta, I was
reluctantly compelled to consider it in a less favourable point of
view than I should have done had the City of Palaces been left out of
the question.

That Bombay is the rising presidency there can be no doubt, and there
seems to be every probability of its becoming the seat of the Supreme
Government; nothing short of a rail-road between the two presidencies
can avert this catastrophe; the number of days which elapse before
important news reaching Bombay can be known and acted upon by the
authorities of Calcutta rendering the measure almost imperative.
Bengal, too proudly triumphing in her greatness, has now to bear
the mortifications to which she delighted to subject Bombay, a
place contemptuously designated as "a fishing village," while its
inhabitants, in consequence of their isolated situation, were called
"the Benighted."

Steam-communication brought the news to Bombay of the accession of
Queen Victoria to the throne of England, and this event was celebrated
at the same time that the Bengallees were toasting the health of
William the Fourth at a dinner given in honour of his birth-day. "Who
are the Benighted now?" was the universal cry; and the story is told
with great glee to all new arrivals.

Concerning the Anglo-Indian society of Bombay, I do not pretend
to know any thing, or to give opinions which must necessarily be
premature and presumptuous. A round of dinner parties affords little
opportunity of making acquaintance; they are much the same everywhere,
and when a large company is assembled, their agreeability must
entirely depend upon the persons who occupy the neighbouring chairs.

Bombay is accused, with what degree of justice I cannot determine, of
being a place much addicted to scandal and gossip. If this charge be
well founded, it is one which it must share in common with all limited
circles. The love of detraction is unhappily a thoroughly English
vice, flourishing under all circumstances, and quite as prevalent,
though not, perhaps, equally hurtful, in great cities as in the
smallest village. The same people who in London delight in the perusal
of newspapers of the most libellous description, and who read with
avidity every publication which attacks private character, will, when
removed into a congenial sphere, pick their neighbours to pieces; an
amusement which cannot be enjoyed in the metropolis, where happily we
do not know the names of the parties who occupy the adjoining houses.

We are proud of our virtues, not unjustly giving ourselves credit for
many that elevate and refine the human character; but even the most
solid and the most dazzling can scarcely compensate for that one
universal sin, that want of charity, which leads English people
upon all occasions to undervalue and disparage their most intimate
acquaintance. How few will scruple to point out to others the follies
and foibles of their dearest friends, weaknesses which they have
discovered during long and familiar intercourse; and how few will
hesitate to impute the very worst motives for actions which may spring
from a laudable source, or be merely the result of thoughtlessness!
In our most Christian country, the spirit of the Christian religion is
still to be sought, and until we see stronger proofs of its influence
than can at present be shown throughout the United Kingdom, we must
not single out a remote colony as a specimen of the indulgence of a
vice common to us all.

The great evil, which Bombay must share with other communities
similarly constituted, is the want of family ties, and the consequent
loss of all the gentle affections which spring amid a wide domestic
circle. Neither the very old nor the very young are to be found in an
Indian colony; there are few connecting links to bind the sojourners
of a foreign land together; each has a separate interest, and the
result is seen in a general want of sympathy; no one seems to enter
into the views, feelings, hopes, or objects of another. I employ
the word _seems_, since, as a stranger, I can only give my first
impressions upon the subject.

The style of living is more easily described, and its relative
advantages determined. The Anglo-Indian residents of Bombay are,
for the most part, scattered all over the island, living in very
comfortable houses, of no great pretensions to exterior elegance,
yet having for the most part an air of home enjoyment, which suggests
pleasing ideas. One feature is very striking, the porticoes and
verandahs of many being completely covered with luxuriant flowering
creepers, which in Bengal are never suffered to be near the house, in
consequence of the harbour they are supposed to give to insects
and reptiles. The approach to these beautiful screens is, however,
frequently through a cabbage-garden, the expedience of planting out
the unsightly but useful vegetables destined for the kitchen not
having been as yet considered; neither can the gardens at this period
of the year, the cold season, compare with those of Bengal, the
expense of irrigation preventing the inhabitants from devoting so much
time and attention to their improvement, while as yet the natives
have not been encouraged to fill the bazaars with European vegetables.
Pease are spoken of as not being uncommon, but I have only seen them
once, even at the best tables. Neither have cauliflowers, French
beans, or asparagus, made their appearance--vegetables common at
Christmas all over the Bengal presidency.

The interiors of the houses are, generally speaking, more embellished
than those of Calcutta; the greater part have handsome ceilings, and
the doorways and windows are decorated with mouldings, and otherwise
better finished. The walls also are coloured, and often very
tastefully picked out with white or some other harmonizing tint. The
reception-rooms, therefore, have not the barn-like air which detracts
from the magnitude of those of Bengal, and the furniture, if not
always equally splendid, is shown off to greater advantage; but here I
should say the superiority ends.

Some of the small bungalows are very neatly fitted up with boarded
ceilings, a great improvement upon the cloth which conceals the
rafters in those of Bengal; others, however, are canopied with
cloth, and some there are which appear more like summer-houses
than habitations intended for Europeans throughout the year, being
destitute of glass windows, and open to all the winds of heaven.

The frequent changes of the atmosphere which occur in Bombay, and
the danger of a touch of the land-wind, render the absence of glass
windows a very serious evil; they are, however, unknown in the
temporary bungalows erected upon the Esplanade, which seem to be
favourite residences of people who could lodge themselves more
substantially if they pleased. The barn-like thatched roofs of these
dwellings make them rather unsightly objects, though some are redeemed
by a thick drapery of creepers; but the interiors of many are of a
very pavilion-like description, and the singularity of all renders
them interesting to a stranger.

These houses usually consist of two or more principal apartments,
united with each other by means of verandahs, and formed chiefly
of wooden frame-work panelled with canvas, with here and there a
partition of wattle and dab. They have generally large porticoes of
trellice-work in front, sufficiently spacious to allow a carriage to
drive under them, which is thus screened from the sun; these porticoes
being mantled with flowering creepers of many beautiful kinds. A sort
of garden is also formed by plants in tubs, and there is sometimes a
cultivated oval or circular space, which, in such a climate, a very
few weeks will render luxuriant. The fronts of these bungalows
face the sea, and have all the benefit of its breezes, while the
intervening space between the fort forms the parade-ground of the
garrison, and the most esteemed evening drive.

Those who inhabit these bungalows, and who do not rise before the sun,
are subjected to all the inconveniences attending upon field practice,
the firing of musquetry and the war of cannon close to their ears, and
though favourite residences, they seem better suited to persons well
accustomed to all the vicissitudes of Anglo-Indian life than to a
stranger. For my own part, I confess a prejudice in favour of brick
and mortar, glass windows, and chimneys; and though perfectly content,
while travelling, to put up with any accommodation that may offer,
would never willingly settle down for a season in a mansion of canvas,
mat, and bamboo, where the rats have free ingress, and the atmosphere
is filled with innumerable winged insects.

Before the general setting-in of the rains, these bungalows, I am
informed, assume a very damp and tatterdemalion appearance, and when
the skies open their flood-gates, they are obliged to be taken down
and warehoused until the following year. Some of these bungalows are
private property, others are erected by the natives and let to
their tenants at a monthly rent. In some, the sleeping and sitting
apartments are under different roofs; all have a considerable piece of
ground enclosed round them, the allotments to each party being made by
Government, and appertaining to certain appointments in the service.

Beyond these bungalows is the encamping ground, in which certain
temporary sojourners in Bombay either pitch or hire a tent or tents,
the accommodation differing according to the expense incurred. The
superior tents--such, for instance, as that engaged by the late
admiral--are spacious and convenient; a handsome suite of apartments,
consisting of ante-room, drawing-room, and dining-room, partitioned
off by canvas curtains, which could be rolled up at pleasure, were
lighted by chandeliers suspended from the cross-poles and girandoles
against those that supported the roof; the walls were handsomely
lined, the floors covered with thick mats and carpets; nothing being
wanted to render this canvas dwelling equal in comfort and elegance to
the tents of Bengal, excepting glass doors.

The weather, during the cold season in this part of India, is not
nearly so inclement as in Calcutta and the north-western provinces;
nevertheless, it is very desirable to shut out the keen and cutting
wind, which frequently blows during the night. The people here,
however, seem fond of living in tents, and it often happens that
gentlemen especially, who have had good houses of their own over their
heads, go to very considerable expense for the purpose of enjoying the
free air of a camp.

I had an opportunity of seeing the facility and despatch with which
such a change of residence is managed in Bombay. Driving one evening
round the foot of a conical hill overlooking the sea, we met a party
of gentlemen who said that they were looking out for a good place to
pitch their tents, and invited us to dine with them on the following
evening at seven o'clock. As the hill was in our neighbourhood, we
ascertained at eleven o'clock the next morning that there was not a
symptom of habitation upon it; however, we were determined to keep our
engagement, and accordingly arrived at the appointed hour at the point
of the road at which a rude pathway opened.

It was perfectly dark, but we found the place indicated by a cluster
of lamps hanging like a bunch of grapes from a tree; a palanquin was
also in waiting to carry the ladies up the hill in turn. I preferred
walking; and though my shoes and the hem of my gown were covered with
prickles and thorns, which interweaved themselves in an extraordinary
manner through a satin dress, I enjoyed the walk amazingly. A man
with a lanthorn led the way, a precaution always taken in Bombay, on
account of the alleged multitude of the snakes, and at every three or
four yards' distance, another cluster of lamps suspended from a tree
pointed out the way.

In a few minutes we arrived at a platform of table-land on the summit
of the hill, prettily sprinkled with palm-trees, and came upon a scene
full of life, picture, and movement. The white outline of the smaller
tents had a sort of phantom look in the ambiguous light, but the open
doors of the principal one showed a strong illumination. A table,
which we might have supposed to be raised by the hand of an enchanter,
gleaming with silver, cut glass, and wax candles, was absolutely
framed in by the darkness around. Two or three horses picketed under
the trees with their grooms, cowering over fires made upon the ground,
looked very like unearthly chargers, just emerged with their grim
attendants from some subterranean kingdom; while the red glare from
the cooking tents, and the dusky figures moving about, could scarcely
be recognised as belonging to human and every-day life--the whole
scene having a supernatural air.

The interior of the tents was extremely picturesque, fitted up with
odds and ends of foreign products, and looking very like the temporary
haunt of some pirate; tiger skins, rich soft thick rugs of Persian
manufacture, interspersed with Indian mats, covered the floors; the
tents were lined with flags, favouring the notion that the corsair's
bark lay anchored in some creek below; while daggers, and pistols, and
weapons of all kinds, helped out a fanciful imagination to a tale of
wild adventure. The butler of our host had enacted more wonders than
a man; under such circumstances, a repast of fish and curry might
have been considered a great achievement, but we had the three regular
courses, and those, too, of a most _recherché_ kind, with a dessert to
match, all sent up to the point of perfection.

After coffee, I went out to look upon the sea, which lay like a mirror
below the perpendicular height on which I stood; and as my eyes
became accustomed to the darkness of a moonless night, I saw under
new aspects the sombre outlines of those soft hills, whose purple
loveliness I had admired so much during the day.

I spent several pleasant evenings in these tents, which were engaged
by a young nobleman upon his travels for the purpose of escaping from
the annoyances of the Fort, and who, during his short residence under
canvas, had the advantage of the companionship of a friend, to
whose experienced servants he was indebted for the excellence of the
arrangements.

When it is considered that these tents were pitched upon a lonely
spot, upwards of four miles from Bombay and from the bazaars, the
celerity and success with which every thing was managed will appear
quite wonderful. The tents were found to be so cold, that a gentleman
who afterwards joined the party slept in his palanquin; they were
subsequently removed, and now the palm-tree waves its broad leaves
over the lonely hill, and the prowling jackal seeks his meal
elsewhere. Tents such as those now described form the rarer and
brighter specimens, their usual character being very different.

On the Esplanade we step at once from the ground upon a settrinjee,
which bears all the marks of having been well trodden by sandy feet;
an opening at the farther extremity shows the sea, glaring on the eye
with a hot dazzle; a table, a few chairs, with some books and papers,
perhaps, upon the ground, complete the arrangements that are visible;
while, if proceeding farther, we find ourselves in a room fitted up
as a bed-chamber, nearly as small and inconvenient as the cabin of a
ship, with a square aperture in the thin canvas wall for a window.

These tents are dreadfully warm during the day, and exceedingly cold
at night; they are, moreover, notwithstanding their proximity to
the sea, and the benefit of its breezes, filled with mosquitoes, or
sand-flies, which are equally troublesome. Persons who contemplate a
long residence in them, keep out of the cold and heat by erecting a
chopper, or roof, formed of thatch, over them; but, in my opinion,
they are but uncomfortable residences. Many strangers, however,
arriving at Bombay, have no alternative, there being no other place
where they can find equally good accommodation.

An hotel, it appears, has been established in the Fort, but not of a
description to suit private families or ladies; the constant arrival
of steamers full of passengers fills the houses of the residents
with a succession of guests, who would gladly put up at an hotel or
boarding-house, if such could be found, while there are besides
many ladies now in Bombay, whose husbands are in the army, living
uncomfortably either alone or going about from friend to friend's
houses, who would rejoice to be quietly and comfortably established in
a respectable boarding-house. Nothing of the kind, however, appears to
be at present in contemplation, and Bombay can never, with any
degree of justice, presume to call itself England, until it can offer
suitable accommodation to the vast numbers of strangers who land upon
its shores.

European foreigners, who visit Bombay in a commercial capacity, find
it exceedingly _triste_; independently of private society, there is
absolutely no amusement--no play, no concert, no public assembly
of any kind; nor would it be advisable to attempt to establish an
entertainment of this nature, since there would be no chance of its
support. There is a fine building, the Town Hall, well adapted for the
purpose, but its most spacious saloon is suffered to remain empty and
unfurnished; the expense which must be incurred in the purchase
of chandeliers proving sufficient to deter the community from an
undertaking which would serve to add gaiety to a sombre scene.

Those who have visited the Town Hall of Calcutta, and who retain a
recollection of the brilliance of its re-unions, with all their gay
variety of concert, opera, and acted charade, cannot help seeing
that Bombay lags very far behind; it is, therefore, unwise to provoke
comparisons, and the society here should rather pride itself upon what
it will do, than upon what it has done. It is, perhaps, little to be
lamented that merely frivolous amusements should be wholly confined to
the private circles of social life, but there are others which might
be cultivated with infinite advantage to the community at large, and
for which the great room at the Town Hall seems to be most admirably
adapted.

Whether the native ear is sufficiently refined to relish the superior
performances of music, seems doubtful; but when we see so large
a portion of the society of Bombay composed of Parsee, Hindu, and
Mohamedan gentlemen, we cannot help wishing that some entertainment
should be provided for them which would attract and interest, while
it expanded the mind. A series of lectures upon popular subjects,
illustrated by entertaining experiments, might, I should think, be
introduced with good effect. The wonders of the microscope, laid open
to the eyes of intelligent persons who perfectly understand and
speak English, could scarcely fail to delight and instruct, while
the secrets of phantasmagoria, the astonishing effects produced by
electricity, the movements of the heavenly bodies exhibited in an
orrery, and, indeed, all the arcana of science, agreeably laid open,
would furnish inexhaustible funds of amusement, and lead to inquiries
of the most useful nature. Lectures, also, upon horticulture,
floriculture, &c., might be followed by much practical good; and as
there are many scientific men at the presidency who could assist one
or more lecturers engaged for the purpose, the expense of such an
institution would be materially lessened, while, if it were once
established, the probabilities are in favour of its being supported
by contributions of the necessary models, implements, &c., from the
capitals of Europe.

It is certainly very pleasing to see the numbers of native gentlemen
of all religious persuasions, who enter into the private society
of Bombay, but I could wish that we should offer them some better
entertainment than that of looking on at the eternal quadrille, waltz,
or galoppe. They are too much accustomed to our method of amusing
ourselves to view it in the light in which it is looked upon in many
other parts of India; still, they will never, in all probability,
reconcile it to their ideas of propriety, and it is a pity that we do
not show ourselves capable of something better. Conversation at these
parties is necessarily restricted to a few commonplaces; nothing is
gained but the mere interchange of civility, and the native spectators
gladly depart, perhaps to recreate themselves with more debasing
amusements, without having gained a single new idea.

If meetings once a fortnight, or once a month, could be held at the
Town Hall, for the purpose of diffusing useful knowledge in a popular
manner, they would not only afford amusement at the time, but subjects
also of conversation for the future. Such meetings would give no
offence to that part of the community who are averse, upon religious
principles, to cards and dancing, or dramatic amusements; and if not
rendered too abstruse, and consequently tiresome and incomprehensible
to the general auditor, must necessarily become a favourite method of
passing time now too frequently lost or mis-spent.

The literary and scientific _conversaziones_ given by Lord Auckland,
in Calcutta, afford a precedent for an institution of the kind; the
successful features might be copied, and if there should have been any
failures, the experience thus gained would prevent similar hazards.
There seems to be no good reason why ladies should be excluded, since
the more general and extensive a plan of the kind could be made,
the greater chance there would be of a beneficial exercise of its
influence over society.

There is a very good library attached to the Town Hall, and the germ
of a museum, which would furnish materials for much intellectual
entertainment; and there can be little doubt that, if the proposition
were judiciously made, and properly supported, the wealthy portion
of the native community would subscribe very liberally towards an
establishment so eminently calculated to interest and amuse the youth
of their families. The greater number of the sons of respectable
natives are now receiving their education at the Elphinstone College,
and these young people would understand and appreciate the advantages
of a literary and scientific institution, for the discussion and
illustration of subjects intimately connected with the end and aim
of their studies. In the course of a few years, or even less, many
of these young men would be qualified to take a leading part in the
establishment, and perhaps there would be no greater incentive to the
continuation of studies now frequently abandoned too early, for the
sake of some money-getting pursuit, than the hope that the scientific
acquirements attained at college might be turned to useful account.

A small salary would allure many natives, who, in consequence of the
necessity which they are under of gaining their own bread, are
obliged to engage in some, perhaps not very lucrative, trade, and
who, engrossed in the gathering together o petty gains, lose all the
advantages they might otherwise have derived from a liberal education.
The difficulties which in other parts of our Asiatic territories
stand in the way of the participation of natives in the studies and
amusements of Anglo-Indian residents, in consequence of the difference
of language, are not felt in Bombay.

All the superior classes of natives speak excellent English, the
larger portion expressing themselves with great fluency, and even
elegance. English is spoken in every shop frequented by Europeans, and
there are generally one or two servants in every family who can make
themselves understood in it. The natives form, in fact, a very
large portion of the wealth and intelligence of Bombay, and become,
consequently, an important part of its society. They are the owners
of nearly all the best houses in the island, which are not commonly
either built or purchased, as in Calcutta, by their European tenants.

Many rich native merchants, who reside usually in the Fort, possess
splendid country mansions, to which they retire occasionally, or which
are used merely for the purpose of giving parties to their friends.
These mansions are to be recognised by the abundance of ornament, by
gateways surmounted by nondescript monsters, after the fashion of
the lions or bears of carved stone, which are sometimes seen at the
entrance of a nobleman's grounds in England. At others, they are gaily
painted in a variety of colours, while a profusion of many-coloured
lamps, hanging in the verandah and porticoes on the occasion of every
fête, shed great brilliance on the evening scene. These residences are
scattered all over Bombay, the interiors being all richly furnished,
and many fitted up with infinite taste and elegance.

Although, as I have before remarked, these scattered houses impart an
air of rural enjoyment to the island, yet their being spread over
its whole surface prevents Bombay from appearing to be so important a
place as it is in reality. There is nothing approaching to the idea
of a city to be seen, nothing solid or substantial to indicate
the presence of wealth or of extensive commerce. Calcutta, on the
contrary, offers to the stranger's eye an aspect so striking and
imposing, brings so strongly to the mind the notion that its merchants
are princes, and that it ranks crowned heads amongst its vassals and
its tributaries, that we see at once that it must be the seat of a
powerful and permanently established government. Nor does it seem
possible, even in the event of Bombay taking the ascendance as the
capital of British India, that the proud City of Palaces shall upon
that account dwindle and sink into decay. Stranger things, and even
more melancholy destinies, have befallen the mighty Babylons of the
earth; but with all its faults of situation and of climate, I should
at least, for one, regret the fate that would render the glories of
a city so distinct in its character, and so proudly vying with the
capitals of Europe, a tale of the past. A new direction in the course
of the Ganges may reduce it to a swamp, and its palaces and pleasant
places may be left to desolate creatures, but it will never be
rivalled by any modern creation. The days of Anglo-Indian magnificence
are gone by, and though we may hope for all that is conveyed by the
words _comfort_ and _prosperity_, splendour will no longer form a
feature in the scene.

The climate of Bombay is said to be superior in point of salubrity to
that of Bengal; what is termed the cold season, however, can
scarcely merit the name, there being nothing like the bracing weather
experienced at the same period of the year in the neighbouring
presidency. One peculiarity of Bombay consists in the wind blowing hot
and cold at the same time, so that persons who are liable to rheumatic
pains are obliged to wrap themselves up much more warmly than is
agreeable. While enduring a very uncomfortable degree of heat, a puff
of wind from the land or the sea will produce a sudden revulsion, and
in these alternations the whole day will pass away, while at night
they become still more dangerous. It is said that the hot season
is not so hot as in Bengal, and the absence of punkahs in the
drawing-rooms and bed-chambers favours the statement; but if the
atmosphere be much more sultry in the hot season than it is in what is
by courtesy called cold, it must be rather difficult to bear.

To a stranger in Bombay, it is a great convenience to find so many
persons who speak English, the objection to the engagement of domestic
servants who have acquired the language of their Christian masters not
existing to the same extent here as in Bengal, where, in most cases,
it is a proof of utter worthlessness. Numbers of very respectable
servants, who are found in old established families at this
presidency, speak English, and the greater portion take a pride in
knowing a little of their masters' language. These smatterers are
fond of showing off their acquirements upon all occasions, replying
in English, as far as they are able, to every question asked in
Hindostanee, and delivering their messages in all the words that they
can muster. With few exceptions, the pronunciation of the language
they have acquired is correct; these exceptions consist in the prefix
of _e_ to all words beginning with an _s_, and the addition of the
same letter to every termination to which it can be tacked. Thus they
will ask you to take some _fowlee-stew;_ and if you object to any
thing, say they will bring you _anotheree_. Though very respectful
when addressing their superiors in their native language, the same
degree of propriety is not maintained under the disadvantage of an
incompetent acquaintance with English. Instead of the _khana tear hi_,
'dinner is ready,' they will very unintentionally substitute an abrupt
summons. I was much amused one day, when, being rather late at my
toilette, a servant made his appearance at the door of my apartment,
just as I was quitting it, and said, "You come to dinner." He had been
sent to tell me that it was served, and had not the least idea that he
had not delivered his message with the greatest propriety.

Though, generally speaking, well-behaved and attentive, the domestics
of a Bombay establishment are very inferior in style and appearance
to those of Bengal, the admixture of Portuguese and Parsees, with
Mohammedans and Hindus, forming a motley crew, for all dress in their
national costume, it being impossible to prevail upon people having
so many and such different religious prejudices to assume the same
livery. The Parsees who engage as domestic servants seldom dress well;
the ugly chintz cap will always be a disfigurement, and it is not
often redeemed by the ample robe and handsome shawl which distinguish
the better classes.

The Mohammedans do not wear the beautifully plaited turbans and
well-fitting vests so common in Bengal, while the sailors' jackets
and trowsers, almost universally worn by the Portuguese, a few only
assuming the swallow-tailed coat, are any thing rather than
handsome or becoming. The inferiority of dress exhibited is the more
inexcusable, since the wages of servants in Bombay are much higher
than those of the same class in Bengal, while the difference in
point of number does not make up for the difference in the rate. The
youngest table-servant demands twelve rupees a month, no one will
engage as a butler under twenty, and the remainder are in proportion.
The ayahs' wages are also very high, amounting to from fifteen to
twenty rupees a month; they are certainly, however, more efficient
than the same class of persons in Bengal, undertaking to wash silk
stockings, lace, and fine muslin; they are, generally speaking,
well-conducted and respectable. The dirzees or tailors are very
inferior to their brethren of Bengal, though paid at a much higher
rate, fifteen rupees a month being the common demand. Whenever a
Bengal tailor happens to come round, he is eagerly seized upon, the
reputation of workmen from the rival presidency being deservedly high.
Tailors are indiscriminately Parsees, Mohammedans, or Hindus, the
latter-named being the least desirable, as they will neither eat,
drink, nor cook in a European manner, and are always eager to get away
by half-past four in the afternoon.

The cooks of Bombay are, for the most part, well acquainted with the
culinary art, an advantage for which, according to common report, they
are indebted to Lord Clare. Upon the arrival of that nobleman at the
seat of his government, it is said that he started with horror at the
repast which the hospitality of the island had provided for him. At
this substantial dinner, the ponderous round jostled the sirloin of
beef, saddles and haunches of mutton _vis-à-vis'd_ with each other,
while turkey and ham, tongue and fowls, geese and ducks, filled up the
interstices.

Lord Clare had either brought a French cook in his train, or sent for
one with the least possible delay, and this accomplished person not
only reformed the _cuisine_ at Government House, but took pupils, and
instructed all who chose to pay for the acquirement in the mysteries
of his art. He found his scholars a very teachable race, and it is
only now necessary to describe the way in which any particular
method should be practised, in order to secure success. They easily
comprehend the directions given, and, what is of equal consequence,
are not above receiving instructions. Through the exertions of these
praiseworthy persons, the tables of Bombay are frequently exceedingly
well served, and nobody is actually obliged to dine upon the huge
joints which still make their appearance.

Turkey maintains its high position, and is, with its accompaniment of
ham, considered indispensable; rounds of boiled salt-beef, plentifully
garnished with carrots, are apparently in high esteem, the carrots
being an importation from England, coming out hermetically sealed
in tin cases. What are considered the dainties of the table consist
chiefly of fresh salmon, preserved by the patent process, Highland
mutton, partridges stuffed with truffles, &c., these things, in
consequence of their rendering the dinner more expensive as well as
more _recherché_, being in great request.

Although the high prices of provisions are adduced as the reason of
the high rate of servants' wages, as compared with those of Bengal,
this increased expenditure, according to the observations I have been
able to make, relates more to the commodities of the native bazaars
than those consumed by Europeans. The necessity of bringing in
supplies from a distance for the consumption of the island occasions
the increase of the price of grain, &c, while probably the demand
for beef, mutton, fowls, &c. not being go great as in Calcutta, these
articles are sold at a lower rate. Buffalo meat is occasionally eaten
by Europeans, a thing unheard of in Bengal; but it is not in any
esteem.

The tables in Bombay are handsomely appointed, though not with the
same degree of splendour that prevails in Bengal, where the quantity
of plate makes so striking a display. The large silver vases, in which
butter and milk are enclosed in a vessel filled with saltpetre, which
give to the breakfast-tables of Calcutta an air of such princely
grandeur, are not in use here.

The servants are summoned by the exclamation of "Boy" instead of the
_Qui hi_? which is so Indian-like in its expression, and has afforded
a distinguishing _soubriquet_ to the Bengallees. The word _boy_
is said to be a corruption of _bhaee_, 'brother,' a common mode of
salutation all over the East. As it is now employed, it is often very
absurdly answered by a grey-bearded man, who has long lost all title
to the appellation.

Notwithstanding the strength and acknowledged efficiency of the Bombay
police, it is considered expedient in every house to engage a Ramoosee
or watchman, who, while himself a professional thief, is bound in
honour to protect his employer from the depredation of his brethren.
Though, in virtue of this implied compact, the house ought to be
considered sacred, and the Ramoosee entitled to receive his wages for
the protection that his name affords, some there are who insist upon
the display of their watchfulness in a very unwelcome manner.

Occasionally the Ramoosee, more peaceably inclined, settles himself
quietly down to sleep in the verandah, and leaves the family to the
enjoyment of repose; but there are others who disdain thus to eat the
bread of idleness, and who make it a point to raise an alarm every
hour in the night. Personal courage or strength of body is by no means
essential in a Ramoosee, all that is required of him being powerful
lungs; this qualification he cultivates to the utmost, and any thing
more dreadful than the sounds emitted in the dead of the night close
to the window nearest the head of my bed I never heard. I have started
up in the most horrible state of apprehension, fancying that the world
was at an end, while, after calming down all this perturbation,
just as I have been going to sleep again, the same fearful shout has
brought on new alarm. Vainly have I remonstrated, vainly endeavoured
to convince the Ramoosee that his duty to his employers would be
better performed by making these shocking outcries at the road-side;
he is either inflexibly silent, or waging war against my repose; for I
believe that he selects the side of the house devoted to the visit or
for the exercise of his extraordinary faculty; I cannot in any other
way account for the small disturbance he gives to the rest of the
family.

The absolute necessity of paying one of these men, in order to secure
the forbearance of his colleagues, is illustrated by an anecdote
commonly told. It appears that two friends were living together, one
of whom had engaged a Ramoosee, while the other, not imagining it
to be incumbent upon him to incur the same expense, neglected this
precaution. One night, every thing belonging to this unfortunate
chum was stolen. The Ramoosee was summoned, and accused of not
having performed his duty. He boldly denied the charge. "All master's
property is safe," he said; "when master lose any thing, I will
account for it."

The fidelity with which the greater number of natives, however corrupt
in other respects, fulfil all their engagements, the few instances
in which a pledge once given is forfeited, if taken into grave
consideration, would do much towards settling the point at issue
between the Bishop of London and Sir Charles Forbes. The word of a
native, generally speaking, if solemnly given, is a bond never to be
broken, while an oath is certainly not equally binding.

In accusing the natives of a deliberate crime in the commission of
perjury, we do not sufficiently reflect upon the difference of the
religious principles which actuate Christians, and the heinous nature
in their eyes of the sin of calling upon a God of purity to witness
their falsehoods. If we could administer an oath to a native, the
profanation of which would fill him with equal horror, we should find
that he would speak the truth. A case in point occurred lately at
Aden. There are a class of Mohammedans who are great knaves, many
being addicted to cheating and theft: the evidence of these men cannot
be depended upon, since for the value of the most trifling sum they
would swear to any thing. Nevertheless, although they do not hesitate
to call upon God and the Prophet to witness the most flagrant
untruths, they will not support a falsehood if put to a certain test.
When required to swear by a favourite wife, they refuse to perjure
themselves by a pledge which they esteem sacred, and will either
shrink altogether from the ordeal or state the real fact.

The following occurrence is vouched for by an eye-witness: "A Somali
had a dispute with a Banian as to the number of komasies he had paid
for a certain article, swearing by God and the Prophet that he had
paid the price demanded of him for the article in question; but no
sooner was he called upon to substantiate his assertions by swearing
by his favourite wife, than he threw down the article contended for,
and took to his heels with all speed, in order to avoid the much
dreaded oath." It will appear, therefore, that there is scarcely any
class of persons in India so utterly destitute of principle, as to be
incapable of understanding the obligation of an oath, or the necessity
of speaking truth when solemnly pledged to do so, the difficulty being
to discover the asseveration which they consider binding.

In nearly every transaction with servants in India we find them most
unscrupulous respecting the truth of any account which they give, and
yet at the same time they will fulfil every engagement they enter into
with a conscientiousness almost unknown in Christian countries. The
lowest servant of the establishment may be trusted with money, which
will be faithfully appropriated to the purpose for which it was
intended, but certainly they entertain little or no respect for
abstract truth.

The controversy at home concerning the general disregard to accuracy
manifested by the natives of India has caused much consternation here,
and will, I trust, be productive of good. It will show at least to
the large portion of the native community, who can understand and
appreciate the value of the good opinion of the country of which they
are fellow-subjects, the necessity of a strict adherence to veracity,
in order to maintain their pretensions to morality, and it will
evince the superiority of that religion which, as one of its precepts,
teaches a regard for truth.

Willing as I feel to bear testimony to many excellent points in the
native character, I regret to say, that, although they do not deserve
the sweeping accusations brought against them, the standard by which
they are guided is very low. At the same time it must be said, that
the good faith which they observe, upon occasions in which persons
guided by superior lights would be less scrupulous, shows that they
only require a purer religious system to regard truth as we have been
taught to regard it.



CHAPTER XI.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOMBAY--(_Continued_.)

       *       *       *       *       *

  Residences for the Governor--Parell--Its Gardens--Profusion of
  Roses--Receptions at Government-house--The evening-parties--The
  grounds and gardens of Parell inferior to those at Barrackpore--The
  Duke of Wellington partial to Parell--Anecdotes of his Grace
  in India--Sir James Mackintosh--His forgetfulness of India--The
  Horticultural Society--Malabar Point, a retreat in the hot
  weather--The Sea-view beautiful--The nuisance of fish--Serious effects
  at Bombay of the stoppage of the trade with China--Ill-condition
  of the poorer classes of Natives--Frequency of Fires--Houses of the
  Parsees--Parsee Women--Masculine air of the other Native Females
  of the lower orders who appear in
  public--Bangle-shops--Liqueur-shops--Drunkenness amongst Natives
  not uncommon here, from the temptations held out--The Sailors'
  Home--Arabs, Greeks, Chinamen--The latter few and shabby--Portuguese
  Padres--Superiority of the Native Town of Bombay over that of
  Calcutta--Statue of Lord Cornwallis--Bullock-carriages--High price and
  inferiority of horses in Bombay--Hay-stacks--Novel mode of stacking.


There are three residences for the accommodation of the Governor
of Bombay; one, the Castle, situated within the Fort, has been long
disused, and appropriated to government-offices; a second, at Malabar
Point, is intended as a retreat for the hot weather; Parell, the
third, being the mansion most usually occupied.

Though not built in a commanding position, Parell is very prettily
situated in the midst of gardens, having a rich back-ground of wood,
while, from the upper windows, the eye, after ranging over these
luxuriant groves, catches a view of the sea, and is carried away to
more remote regions by the waving outline of distant hills, melting
into the soft haze until it effaces all their details.

Parell was originally a college of Jesuits, and, after so many
alterations and improvements, that its original occupants would be
puzzled to recognise it, is now rendered worthy of the purpose to
which it is dedicated. The house is an irregular structure, without
pretension to architectural design or ornament, but having something
noble in its appearance, which is helped out by a fine portico and
battlemented roof. The interior is handsome and convenient; two
flights of marble stairs, twelve feet broad, lead into a very spacious
drawing-room, with galleries on either side, and three smaller
drawing-rooms beyond. The terrace over the portico, at the other
end, separated from this suite of apartments by a verandah, is easily
convertible into a fourth reception-room, it being roofed in by an
awning, and furnished with blinds, which in the day-time give a very
Italian air to the whole building.

Though I have never been in Italy, the acquaintance gained of it
through the medium of illustrating pens and pencils makes me fancy
that the island of Bombay, and Parell especially, at this season of
the year (the cold weather), may bear a strong resemblance to that
fair and sunny land.

The gardens of Parell are perfectly Italian, with their fountains and
cypress trees; though regular, they are not sufficiently symmetrical
to offend the eye, the nature of the ground and of the building, which
runs out at right angles, preventing the formality from being
carried beyond its just limit. Price, the most judicious of
landscape-gardeners, would scarcely have desired to alter arrangements
which have quite enough of the varied and the picturesque to
satisfy those who do not contend for eternal labyrinthine mazes and
perpetually waving lines. There is one straight avenue in front, but
the principal carriage-road has just the kind of curve most desirable,
sweeping round some fine trees which group themselves for the purpose
of affording an agreeable diversity.

A broad terrace, overlooking a large tank, runs along one side of the
garden, and beyond, upon a rising hill, are seen the New Horticultural
Gardens, and a part of the picturesque village of Metunga, while the
rest is laid out in small lawns, interspersed with rounds and ovals,
fountains in the centre, surrounded by flower-beds, and flanked by
tall, slender cypresses, and the more rare, delicate, and elegant
species of palms: all this is set off by clumps of mangoes, now
covered with blossoms of dark gold burnishing their green leaves.

It is, indeed, a fair and stately garden, enriched with many native
and foreign productions, both of tree and flower, of great beauty. In
one place, two large trees, on either side a broad gravel walk, are
united by a splendid festoon, formed by a creeper, which bears in the
greatest profusion bell-shaped flowers, at least four inches long, and
of the most beautiful pearly whiteness and fragrant scent. I regret
that my want of botanical knowledge incapacitates me from giving its
name and family. That species of palm which is called the Travellers'
Tree, and which, growing in sandy places, contains in its leaves an
ample supply of fresh water, is to be found here. It resembles the
banana or plantain, in its broad leaves, springing immediately from
the stem, but attains a much greater height, and is altogether very
striking and singular in its appearance.

The wealth of roses at the gardens of Parell seems to exceed all
computation, bushels being collected every day without any apparent
diminution; indeed it may be questioned whether there is in any part
of the world so great a consumption of this beautiful flower as in
Bombay. The natives cultivate it very largely, and as comparatively
few employ it in the manufacture of rose-water, it is gathered and
given away in the most lavish profusion. At Parell, every morning, one
of the gardeners renews the flowers which decorate the apartments
of the guests; bouquets are placed upon the breakfast-table, which,
though formal, are made up after the most approved Parisian fashion,
the natives being exceedingly skilful in the arrangement of flowers.
Vases filled with roses meet the eye in every direction, flowers which
assume their supremacy over all other daughters of Flora, though there
are many beautiful specimens, the common productions of the gardens,
which are rarely found even in hothouses in England.

The society of Bombay enjoys the great advantage arising from the
presence of the ladies of the Governor's family, who have rendered
themselves most deservedly popular by the frequency and the
agreeableness of their entertainments, and the kind attention which
they pay to every invited guest. The slight forms that are kept up at
Government-house are just sufficient to give a somewhat courtly air
to these parties without depriving them of their sociability. Morning
visitors are received once a-week, and upon these occasions Parell
assumes a very gay appearance.

The band, which is an excellent one, is stationed in the hall below,
playing occasionally the most popular compositions of the day, while
its pillared verandah is filled with liveried servants, handsomely
dressed in scarlet, white, and gold. The ample staircases are lined
with flowers, and as the carriages drive up, the aide-de-camps
and other military resident guests are in readiness to receive the
visitors, and to usher them up stairs, and introduce them to the
ladies of the family.

The morning reception lasts from eleven until two, and the numerous
arrivals from distant stations, or from England, officers continually
coming down from the army or the dominions of foreign princes,
give occasion to conversations of great interest, while it forms
a rallying-point to the whole of Bombay. The evening parties are
distinguished for the excellence of the music, the band having
improved greatly under the stimulating influence of the ladies of the
Governor's family, who are all delightful performers, one especially
excelling. In addition, therefore, to their own talents, all the
musical genius of Bombay is put into requisition, and the result is
shown in some very charming episodes between the dancing.

At these evening parties, the brilliance of the lights, and the
beauty of the flowers, which in the supper-room especially are very
tastefully displayed, render the scene extremely attractive. One very
pleasing feature must not be omitted; in the ante-room is placed
a large silver salver, filled with bouquets, which are presented,
according to the Oriental custom, to every guest. The number and
variety of the uniforms, and the large proportion of native gentlemen,
add much to the gaiety of the appearance of these parties, and the
eye most accustomed to European splendour may find pleasure in
roaming over these spacious, well-filled, and brilliantly illuminated
apartments.

Nor is it the interior alone that attracts; on the still moonlight
nights, which are so beautiful in India, the scenery viewed from the
windows assumes a peculiar and almost magical appearance, looking more
like a painting than living reality. The trees, so motionless that not
a leaf stirs, present a picture of such unbroken repose, that we can
scarcely imagine it to be real; the sky seems to be drawn closer to
us, while the whole breathes of divine art, suggesting poetry and
music and thoughts of Paradise.

In England I remember feeling a longing desire to breathe the
delicious balm, and gaze upon the exquisite effects of an Indian night
again, with its tone of soft beauty and the silvery mystery of its
atmosphere, which adds so great a charm to the rich magnificence of
the foliage; and now I fancy that I can never sufficiently drink in a
scene, not only lovely in itself, but peculiarly delightful from its
contrast to the glare of the day.

The grounds and gardens of Parell, in extent and splendour, will bear
no comparison with those of Barrackpore, which are, perhaps, some of
the finest in the world, and which must be explored in carriages or
on horseback, while the plantations and parterres at this place offer
nothing more than agreeable walks, which perhaps, after all, afford
superior gratification; at least to those who prefer a feeling of home
to the admiration elicited by great splendour.

Not one of the least pleasing sensations excited by a residence at
Parell, is the recollection of the distinguished persons who have
inhabited the same chambers, and sat in the same halls. The Duke
of Wellington is said frequently to have expressed a partiality for
Parell, and to look back to the days of his sojourn within its walls
with pleasure. Here he reposed after those battles in which he
laid the foundation of his future glory, and to which, after long
experience, and so many subsequent triumphs as almost to eclipse
their splendour, he recurs with peculiar satisfaction. So far from
underrating, as is the fashion with many of the military servants of
the Crown, the merits of a successful campaign in India, the great
captain of the age, than whom there can be no better judge, rates the
laurels that he gathered in his earliest fields as highly as those
wrested from the soldiers of France, glorying in the title given him
by Napoleon, of "the Sepoy General."

Few things can be more agreeable than listening to anecdotes told at
the dinner-table at Parell of the Duke of Wellington by officers who
have formerly sat at the same board with him, who have served under
his command in India, and who delight in recording those early traits
of character which impressed all who knew him with the conviction that
he was destined to become the greatest man of the age. The Duke of
Wellington, though wholly unacquainted with the language spoken in
India, was always held in the highest esteem by the natives, with
whom, generally speaking, in order to become popular, it is absolutely
necessary to be able to converse in their own tongue. He obtained,
however, a perfect knowledge of their modes of feeling, thinking, and
acting, and by a liberal policy, never before experienced, endeared
himself to all ranks and classes. It is recollected at this day
that, in times of scarcity, he ordered all the rice sent up for the
subsistence of the troops to be sold, at a moderate price, to
the starving multitude; and that, while more short-sighted people
prophesied the worst results from this measure, it obtained for him
abundant supplies, together with a name that will never be forgotten.

A re-perusal at Parell of the "Life of Sir James Mackintosh" also
affords interest, though of a different kind. The house which Sir
James designates as large and convenient, with two really good rooms,
has been much improved since his time. It could not be expected that
a man like Sir James Mackintosh would employ many words in the
description of a mansion chiefly interesting on account of its
former occupants; but that he should have dismissed the whole of the
presidency in as summary a manner, seems perfectly unaccountable.

It does not appear that the importance and value of British India ever
made any strong impression upon Sir James Mackintosh, who seems to
have looked upon its various inhabitants with a cold and careless eye;
to have done nothing in the way of making the people of England better
acquainted with their fellow-subjects in the East, and never to have
felt any desire to assist in the work of their improvement, or to
facilitate its progress. During his subsequent career, India appears
to have been totally forgotten, or remembered only as the scene of
an exile, in which he had found nothing to compensate for the loss of
literary society and the learned idling away of time, from which so
much was expected, and which produced so little.

The eloquence of Sir James Mackintosh, if exerted in favour of British
India, might, years before, have excited that interest in its behalf,
which remained dormant until Bishop Heber created a new feeling upon
the subject; and in this place especially, I cannot help regretting
that the powers of so great a mind should not have been devoted to
the promotion of the welfare of a country dependant upon England for
intellectual and moral improvement, and which, in the eyes of all
reflecting persons, must be looked upon as the strongest support of
England's ancient glory.

The garden of the Horticultural Society, which occupies a convenient
space of ground near Parell, is yet in an infant state, but bids fair
in a short time to add very considerably to the pleasures of those
persons who take delight in the cultivation of flowers and fruits.
Many gentlemen are stimulating their gardeners to make great exertions
for the prizes, which it is expected will be chiefly carried away at
the ensuing meeting by exhibitors from the Deccan. Though there are
several very good gardens in the island, they are, according to all
accounts, greatly excelled in other parts of the presidency.

The system of cultivation carried on by the Horticultural Society
will, no doubt, tend very considerably to their improvement, while the
new method of conveying plants to and from distant places, in boxes
covered with glass, will soon enrich all the gardens, both in India
and at home, with interesting exotics. Several of these cases,
filled with bulbous and other roots, under the inspection of Messrs.
Loddiges, have arrived at Parell, and been planted out in pots; the
eases will be returned, filled with equally valuable specimens of
Indian products; and thus a continual interchange may be kept up.

I wished much to enrich the collection of foreign plants making by
the Royal Botanical Society of London, by some of the most interesting
specimens of Indian growth, feeling deeply interested in the success
of this institution; but not being a practical gardener myself, I have
as yet been unable to fulfil my intentions. I calculated, perhaps,
too strongly upon the desire of scientific people in Bombay to promote
objects of general utility at home, and see little chance, unless I
do every thing relating to the collecting, planting, packing, and
transmitting the plants with my own hands, of succeeding in sending
any thing to England. Indeed, I find a difficulty in procuring a
_hortus siccus_.

As every body, who can possibly get away, leaves Bombay during the hot
weather and the rains, the residence at Malabar Point, intended as
a retreat in the sultry season, is seldom tenanted by the Governor's
family. The house, however, is not very often empty, being generally
occupied by some great person and his suite, such as newly-arrived
commanders-in-chief, who are accommodated at this establishment until
they can provide for themselves. The principal residence, and
several bungalows attached to it, are erected on the side of a hill
overlooking and washed by the sea. The views are beautiful, the
harbour affording at all times a scene of great liveliness and
interest, while the aerial summits of the hills in the distance, and
their purple splendours, complete the charm. The numerous fairy-like
skiffs, with their white sails, catching the sunlight, give life and
movement to the picture, while the cottages of the fishermen are often
placed with happy effect upon the neighbouring shore.

There are, unfortunately, serious drawbacks to the enjoyment which
the eye derives from the gliding boats and palm-crowned huts; the
amusement of _yachting_ being seriously impeded by the method of
spreading nets, for the purpose of capturing the finny tribes, while,
in consequence of the immense quantity which is caught, the whole
island occasionally smells of fish. The fishermen have certain places
secured to them by law, in which they drive immense stakes, usually
the trunks of palm-trees, and between these stakes they fasten their
nets, any damage done to them by passing boats being punishable by a
fine; the navigation of the harbour, to those who wish to visit its
beautiful islands, is, in consequence, rather difficult, and would
scarcely admit of being carried on by those small steamers, which render
every place in the neighbourhood of Calcutta so accessible.

The boats here, with the exception of private yachts, which are not
numerous, are a disgrace to a civilized place. Nothing can be easily
imagined to be worse than the pattamars usually employed for the
conveyance of troops and travellers to distant points; they are dirty,
many so low in the roof that the passengers cannot stand upright in
them, and filled with insects and vermin.

The abundance and cheapness of fish render it the common food of the
lower classes, and consequently its effluvia sometimes pervade the
whole atmosphere. The smell of frying fish, with its accompaniment of
oil, is sufficiently disagreeable; but this is not all; a much more
powerful odour arises from fish drying for future use, while, as it
is commonly spread over the fields and employed as manure, the scents
wafted by the breezes upon these occasions breathe any thing but
perfume.

There are many very delicate kinds of fish, which are held in great
esteem, to be seen at European tables; but, to a stranger, the
smell of the refuse allowed to decay is quite enough, and habit must
reconcile the residents of Bombay to this unpleasant assailant of
the olfactory nerves, before they can relish the finest specimens
of pomfret or other favourite. As it can always be purchased freshly
caught, fish appears at dinner as well as at the breakfast-table in
Bombay; the list of shell-fish includes oysters, which, though not
so tempting in their appearance as those of England, are of excellent
quality.

The fishermen, like those of Europe, leave the sale of their fish to
their wives, who are said to be a busy, bustling, active race, quite
equal to the tasks which devolve upon them, and, in consequence of the
command which their occupation gives them over the pecuniary receipts
of the house, exerting a proportionate degree of authority.

Fishermen's huts, though very picturesque, are not usually remarkable
for their neatness or their cleanliness, and those of Bombay form no
exception to their general appearance. They are usually surrounded by
a crowd of amphibious animals, in the shape of tribes of children, who
for the most part are perfectly free from the incumbrance of drapery.
Many, who have not a single rag to cover them, are, notwithstanding,
adorned with gold or silver ornaments, and some ingeniously transform
a pocket-handkerchief into a toga, or mantle, by tying two ends round
the throat, and leaving the remainder to float down behind, so that
they are well covered on one side, and perfectly bare on the other.
Amid the freaks of costume exhibited at Bombay, an undue preference
seems to be given to the upper portion of the person, which is
frequently well covered by a warm jacket with long sleeves, while the
lower limbs are entirely unclad.

There is said to be cotton goods to the amount of a million sterling
lying in the godowns and warehouses of Bombay, unemployed, in
consequence of the stoppage of the China trade, and it seems a pity
that the multitudes who wear gold chains about their necks, and gold
ear-rings in their ears, could not be prevailed upon to exchange a
part of this metal for a few yards of covering of some kind or other,
of which apparently they stand much in need.

Great numbers of the poorer classes seem to be ill-fed, ill-lodged,
and worse clothed; yet scantiness in this particular is certainly not
always the result of poverty, as the redundance of precious ornaments
above mentioned can witness. Neither does the wretched manner in which
many belonging to the lower orders of Bombay shelter themselves from
the elements appear to be an absolute necessity, and it is a pity that
some regulations should not be made to substitute a better method
of constructing the sheds in which so many poor people find a
dwelling-place. The precaution of raising the floor even a few inches
above the ground is not observed in these miserable hovels, and their
inhabitants, often destitute of bedsteads, sleep with nothing but a
mat, and perhaps not even that, between them and the bare earth.

At this season of the year, when no rain falls, the palm-branches with
which these huts are thatched are so carelessly placed, as to present
large apertures, which expose the inmates to sun-beams and to dews,
both of which, so freely admitted into a dwelling, cannot fail to
produce the most injurious effects. Were these houses raised a foot or
two from the ground, and well roofed with the dry palm-branches, which
seem to supply so cheap and efficient a material, they would prove
no despicable abodes in a country in which only at one season of the
year, the rains, very substantial shelter is required.

As it may be supposed, conflagrations are frequent in these hovels;
they are fortunately seldom attended with loss of life, or even of
much property, since the household furniture and wardrobes of the
family can be easily secured and carried off, while the people
themselves have nothing to do but to walk out. On these occasions, the
rats are seen to decamp in large troops, and gentlemen, returning
home from drives or parties, are often arrested by a fire, and by the
instructions they afford, do much towards staying the progress of the
flames, while the greater number of natives, Parsees in particular,
look quietly on, without offering to render the slightest assistance.
Whole clusters of huts are in this manner very frequently entirely
consumed; the mischief does not spread farther, and would be little to
be lamented should it lead to the entire demolition of dwelling-places
equally unsightly, and prejudicial to health.

Much to my astonishment, I have seen, in the midst of these very
wretched tenements, one superior to the rest placed upon a platform,
with its verandah in front, furnished with chairs, and surrounded
by all the dirt and rubbish accumulated by its poverty-stricken
neighbours, miserable-looking children picking up a scanty
subsistence, and lean cats groping about for food. Such houses
are, besides, exposed to all the dangers of fire originating in
the adjoining premises; but apparently this circumstance has been
overlooked, together with the expediency of building a little apart
from the horrors of the surrounding abominations. This is the more
remarkable, from the contrast it affords to the air of comfort which
is so often manifest in the inferior dwellings of the natives of
Bombay.

I often, in my drives, come upon a small patch of ground, well
cultivated, and boasting vegetables, fruits, and flowers, with a small
low-roofed house of unbaked mud in one corner, having a verandah all
round, well tiled and supported on bamboos. It is difficult under this
sloping roof to get a peep at the interior, but my efforts have been
rewarded by the sight of floors cleanly swept, bedsteads, and those
articles of furniture which can scarcely be dispensed with without
suffering considerable privation.

As yet, I have not been able to discover to what class of persons
these kind of dwellings belong, but I suspect that they are tenanted
chiefly by Parsees, a money-getting and luxurious race of people,
who are sufficiently industrious to exert themselves, with great
perseverance, to gain a living, and have the spirit to spend their
money upon the comforts and conveniences of life. They are accused of
extravagance in this particular, and perhaps do occasionally exceed;
but, generally speaking, their style of living is more commendable
than that of the Hindus, who carry their thrift and parsimony to an
outrageous height.

Near their houses very graceful groups of Parsee women and children
are to be seen, who, upon the encouragement afforded by a smile,
_salaam_ and smile again, apparently well-pleased with the notice
taken of them by English ladies. These women are always well-dressed,
and most frequently in silk of bright and beautiful colours, worn as
a _saree_ over a tight-fitting bodice of some gay material. The manner
in which the saree is folded over the head and limbs renders it a
graceful and becoming costume, which might be imitated with great
propriety by the Hindu women, who certainly do not appear to study
either taste or delicacy in their mode of dress.

I may have made the remark before, for it is impossible to avoid the
recurrence of observations continually elicited by some new proofs of
the contrast between the women upon this side of India, and their more
elegant sisters on the banks of the Hooghly. Here all the women, the
Parsees excepted, who appear in public, have a bold masculine air;
any beauty which they may have ever possessed is effaced, in the very
lower orders, by hard work and exposure to the weather, while those
not subjected to the same disadvantages, and who occupy a better
situation, have little pretensions to good looks. Many are seen
employed in drawing water, or some trifling household work, wearing
garments of a texture which shews that they are not indebted to
laborious occupation for a subsistence; and while the same class in
Bengal would studiously conceal their faces, no trouble whatever
of the kind is taken here. They are possibly Mahrattas, which will
account for their carelessness; but I could wish that, with superior
freedom from absurd restraint, they had preserved greater modesty of
demeanour.

The number of shops in the bazaars for the sale of one peculiar
ornament, common glass rings for bracelets, and the immense quantities
of the article, are quite surprising; all the native women wear these
bangles, which are made of every colour. The liqueur-shops are also
very common and very conspicuous, being distinguished by the brilliant
colours of the beverage shown through bottles of clear white glass.
What pretensions this rose and amber tinted fluid may have to compete
with the liqueurs most esteemed in Europe, I have not been able to
learn. Toddy-shops, easily recognised by the barrels they contain
upon tap, and the drinking-vessels placed beside them, seem almost as
numerous as the gin-palaces of London, arguing little for the sobriety
of the inhabitants of Bombay. In the drive home through the bazaar,
it is no very uncommon circumstance to meet a group of
respectably-dressed natives all as tipsy as possible.

It is on account of the multitude of temptations held out by the
toddy-shops, that the establishment I have mentioned as the Sailors'
Home is so very desirable, by affording to those who really desire to
live comfortably and respectably, while on shore, the means of doing
both. Here they may enjoy the advantages of clean, well-ventilated
apartments, apparently, according to what can be seen through the open
windows, of ample size; and here they may, if they please, pass their
time in rational employment or harmless amusement. Groups of sun-burnt
tars, with their large straw hats and honest English faces, are often
to be seen mingled with the crowd of Asiatics, of whom every day seems
to show a greater variety.

I saw three or four very remarkable figures last evening; one was an
extremely tall and handsome Arab, well dressed in the long embroidered
vest, enveloping an ample quantity of inner garments, which I have
so often seen, but of which I have not acquired the name, and with a
gaily-striped handkerchief placed above the turban, and hanging down
on either side of his face. This person was evidently a stranger,
for he came up to the carriage and stared into it with the strongest
expression of surprise and curiosity, our dress and appearance seeming
to be equally novel and extraordinary to this child of the desert.
Shortly afterwards, we encountered a Greek, with luxuriant black
ringlets hanging down from under a very small scarlet and gold cap;
the others were Jews, very handsome, well-dressed men, profusely
enveloped in white muslin, and with very becoming and peculiar caps on
their heads.

I regret to see my old friends, the China-men, so few in number, and
so shabby in appearance; yet they are the only shoemakers here, and it
ought to be a thriving trade. Their sign-boards are very amusing; one
designating himself as "Old Jackson," while a rival, close at hand,
writes "Young Jackson" upon his placard; thus dividing the interest,
and endeavouring to draw custom from the more anciently established
firm.

The Portuguese padres form striking and singular groups, being dressed
in long black gowns, fitting tightly to the shape, and descending to
their feet. They seem to be a numerous class, and I hope shortly
to see the interiors of some of their churches. A very large,
handsome-looking house was pointed out to us by one of the servants of
whom we made the inquiry, as belonging to a Portuguese padre; it
was situated near the cloth bazaar, and I regretted that I could not
obtain a better view of it.

My predilection for exploring the holes and corners of the native town
is not shared by many of the Anglo-Indian residents of Bombay, who
prefer driving to the Esplanade, to hear the band play, or to a place
on the sea-shore called the Breach. I hope, however, to make a tour of
the villages, and to become in time thoroughly acquainted with all the
interesting points in the island, the variety and extent of the rides
and drives rendering them most particularly attractive to a traveller,
who finds something interesting in every change of scene.

I have accomplished a second drive through the coco-nut gardens on the
Girgaum road, a name by which this quarter of the native town is
more commonly known; the view thus obtained only excited a desire to
penetrate farther into the cross-lanes and avenues; but as I do not
ride on horseback, I have little chance of succeeding, since I could
not see much from a palanquin, and taun-jauns, so common in Calcutta,
are scarcely in use here. The more I see of what is called the Native
Town in Bombay, the more satisfied I am of its great superiority
over that of Calcutta; and I gladly make this admission, since I have
found, and still continue to find, so great a falling-off in the style
of the dress, whether it relates to form, material, or cleanliness. I
have lately observed a very handsome turban, which seems worn both by
the Mohammedans and Hindus, of red muslin, with gold borders, which is
an improvement.

A taste for flowers seems universal, plants in pots being continually
to be seen on the ledges of the porticoes and verandahs; these are
sometimes intermingled with less tasteful ornaments, and few things
have struck me as more incongruous than a plaster bust of a modern
English author, perched upon the top of a balustrade over the portico
of a house in the bazaar; mustachios have been painted above the
mouth, the head has been dissevered from the shoulders, and is now
stuck upon one side in the most grotesque manner possible, looking
down with half-tipsy gravity, the attitude and the expression of the
countenance favouring the idea, upon the strange groups thus oddly
brought into juxta-position. The exhibition is a droll one; but it
always gives me a painful feeling: I do not like to see the effigy of
a time-honoured sage abased.

The statue of Lord Cornwallis, on the Esplanade--which, being
surrounded by sculptured animals, not, I think, in good taste,
might be mistaken for Van Amburgh and his beasts--is close to a spot
apparently chosen as a hackney-coach stand, every kind of the inferior
descriptions of native vehicles being to be found there in waiting.

Some of the bullock-carriages have rather a classical air, and
might, with a little brushing up and decoration, emulate the ancient
triumphal car. They are usually dirty and shabby, but occasionally
we see one that makes a good picture. The bullocks that draw it are
milk-white, and have the hanging dewlap, which adds so greatly to the
appearance of the animal; the horns are painted blue, and the forehead
is adorned with a frontlet of large purple glass beads, while bouquets
of flowers are stuck on either side of the head, after the manner of
the rosettes worn by the horses in Europe.

A very small pair of milk-white bullocks, attached to a carriage of
corresponding dimensions, merely containing a seat for two persons,
is a picturesque and convenient vehicle, which will rattle along the
roads at a very good pace. These bullocks usually have bells attached
to their harness, which keep up a perpetual and not disagreeable
jingle. The distances between the European houses are so great,
and the horses able to do so little work, that it seems a pity that
bullocks should not be deemed proper animals to harness to a shigram
belonging to the _saib logue_: but fashion will not admit the adoption
of so convenient a means of paying morning visits, and thus sparing
the horses for the evening drive.

Great complaints are made about the high price and the inferiority of
the horses purchaseable in Bombay, a place in which the Arab is not
so much esteemed as I had expected. Some difficulty was experienced
in obtaining very fine specimens of this far-famed race for the Queen,
who gave a commission for them. I had the pleasure of seeing four that
are going home in the _Paget_, destined for her Majesty's stables.

The Imaum of Muscat lately sent a present of horses to Bombay, but
they were not of high caste; those I have mentioned, as intended for
the Queen, being of a much finer breed. They are beautiful creatures,
and are to be put under the care of an English groom, who has the
charge of some English horses purchased in London for a native Parsee
gentleman. From the extent of the Arab stables, and the number of Arab
horse-merchants in Bombay, it would appear easy to have the choice
of the finest specimens; but this is not the case, while various
circumstances have combined to reduce the numbers of native horses,
which were formerly readily procurable. Thus, the fine breed of
Kattywar is not now attainable, and the same value does not appear to
be set upon horses from Kutch and the Deccan, which in other parts
of India are esteemed to be so serviceable. Persian horses are
little prized; and those imported from England, though very showy and
handsome, will not do much work in this climate, and are therefore
only suited to rich people, who can keep them for display. The
stud-horses bred near Poonah do not come into the market so freely as
in the Bengal presidency, where they are easily procurable, and are
sought after as buggy and carriage horses. Old residents, I am told,
prefer the Arabs, the good qualities of these celebrated steeds
requiring long acquaintance to be justly appreciated, while persons
new to the country can see nothing but faults in them.

A novel feature in Bombay, to persons who have only visited the other
side of India, is found in the hay-stack, the people having discovered
the advantage of cutting and drying the grass for future use. Immense
numbers of carts, drawn by bullocks and loaded with hay, come every
day into the island; this hay is stacked in large enclosures built
for the purpose, and can be purchased in any quantity. There are large
open spaces, near tanks or wells, on the road-side, which give the
idea of a hay-market; the carts being drawn up, and the patient
bullock, always an accompaniment to an Indian rural scene, unyoked,
reposing on the ground. The drivers, apparently, do not seek the
shelter of a roof, but kindle their cooking-fires on the flats on the
opposite side of the road, and sleep at night under the shelter of
their carts. The causeway which unites the island of Bombay with
its neighbour, Salsette, affords a safe and convenient road, greatly
facilitating the carriage of supplies of various kinds necessary for
the consumption of so populous a place.

The villagers at Metunga, and other places, make as much hay as their
fields will supply for their own use, and have hit upon a singular
method of stacking it. They choose some large tree, and lodge the hay
in its branches, which thus piled up, assumes the appearance of an
immense bee-hive. This precaution is taken to preserve the crop
from the depredations of cattle, and, if more troublesome, is less
expensive than fencing it round. From the miserably lean condition of
many of the unfortunate animals, which their Hindu masters worship and
starve, it would appear that, notwithstanding its seeming abundance,
they are very scantily supplied with hay. It is a pity that some
agriculturist does not suggest the expedience of feeding them upon
fish, which, as they are cleanly animals, they would eat while fresh.



CHAPTER XII.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOMBAY--(_Continued_).

       *       *       *       *       *

  The Climate of Bombay treacherous in the cold season--The land-wind
  injurious to health--The Air freely admitted into Rooms--The
  Climate of the Red Sea not injurious to Silk dresses--Advice to
  lady-passengers on the subject of dress--The Shops of Bombay badly
  provided--Speculations on the site of the City, should the seat of
  Government be removed hither--The Esplanade--Exercise of Sailors
  on Shore and on Ship-board--Mock-fight--Departure of Sir Henry
  Fane--Visit to a fair in Mahim Wood--Prophecy--Shrine of Mugdooree
  Sahib--Description of the Fair--Visit to the mansion of a
  Moonshee--His Family--Crowds of Vehicles returning from the
  Fair--Tanks--Festival of the _Duwallee_--Visit to a Parsee--Singular
  ceremony--The Women of India impede the advance of improvement--They
  oppose every departure from established rules--Effect of Education in
  Bombay yet superficial--Cause of the backwardness of Native Education.


Every day's experience of the climate of Bombay assures me that, in
what is called the cold season, at least, it is the most treacherous
in the world; and that, moreover, its dangers are not sufficiently
guarded against by the inhabitants. Cold weather, such as takes place
during the period from November to March, in all parts of Bengal, is
not felt here, the days being more or less sultry, and tempered only
by cold, piercing winds.

The land-wind, which blows alternately with the sea-breezes, comes
fraught with all the influences most baneful to health; cramps,
rheumatic pains, even head-aches and indigestion, brought on by cold,
are the consequences to susceptible persons of exposure to this wind,
either during the day or the night: so severe and so manifold are
the pains and aches which attend it, that I feel strongly inclined to
believe that Bombay, and not "the vexed Bermoothes," was the island
of Prospero, and that the plagues showered upon Caliban still remain.
Though the progress of acclimation can scarcely fail to be attended by
danger to life or limb, the process, when completed, seems to be very
effectual, since little or no pains are taken by the old inhabitants
to guard against the evil.

Some of the withdrawing-rooms of Bombay are perfectly open at either
end, and though the effect is certainly beautiful--a charming living
landscape of wood and water, framed in by the pillars at the angles of
the chamber--yet it is enjoyed at too great a risk. Dining-rooms are
frequently nearly as much exposed, the aim of everybody apparently
being to admit as great a quantity of air as possible, no matter from
what point of the compass it blows. Strangers, therefore, however
guarded they may be in their own apartments, can never emerge from
them without incurring danger, and it is only by clothing themselves
more warmly than can be at all reconciled with comfort, that they can
escape from rheumatic or other painful attacks.

These land-winds are also very destructive to the goods and chattels
exposed to them; desks are warped and will not shut, leather gloves
and shoes become so dry that they shrink and divide, while all
unseasoned wood is speedily split across. It is said that the hot
weather is never so fierce in Bombay as in Bengal, the sea-breezes,
which sometimes blow very strongly, and are not so injurious as those
from the land, affording a daily relief.

It may be necessary, for the advantage of succeeding travellers,
to say that, in passing down the Red Sea, in the autumn and winter
months, no danger need be apprehended from the effects of the climate
upon coloured silks. It was not possible for me to burthen myself with
tin cases, and I was obliged to put my wearing apparel, ribbons, &c,
into portmanteaus, with no other precaution than a wrapper of brown
paper. Nothing, however, was injured, and satin dresses previously
worn came out as fresh as possible: a circumstance which never happens
in the voyage round the Cape.

And now, while upon the subject of dress, I will further say, that it
is advisable for ladies to bring out with them to Bombay every thing
they can possibly want, since the shops, excepting immediately after
the arrival of a ship, are very poorly provided, while the packs, for
few have attained to the dignity of tin boxes, brought about by the
hawkers, contain the most wretched assortment of goods imaginable. The
moment, therefore, that the cargo of a vessel hag been purchased
by the retail dealers, all that is really elegant or fashionable is
eagerly purchased, and the rejected articles, even should they be
equally excellent, when once consigned to the dingy precincts of
a Bombay shop, lose all their lustre. The most perfect bonnet that
Maradan ever produced, if once gibbeted in one of Muncherjee's
glass-cases, could never be worn by a lady of the slightest
pretensions. Goods to the amount of £300 were sold in one morning,
it is said, in the above-mentioned worthy's shop, and those who were
unable to pay it a visit on the day of the opening of the cases, must
either content themselves with the leavings, or wait the arrival of
another ship.

It is but justice to Miss Lyndsay, the English milliner, to say that
she always appears to be well provided; but as her establishment
is the only one of the kind in Bombay, there must necessarily be a
sameness in the patterns of the articles made up. The want of
variety is the evil most strongly felt in Anglo-Indian toilets; and,
therefore, in preparing investments, large numbers of the same pieces
of silk ribbons should be avoided, nobody liking to appear in a
general uniform, or livery.

The stoppage of the China trade has cut off one abundant source
of supply, of which the ladies of Bombay were wise enough to avail
themselves. It is difficult now to procure a morsel of China silk in
the shops, and there appears to be little chance of any goods of the
kind coming into the market, until the present differences between
Great Britain and the Celestial Empire shall be adjusted. With
the exception of the common and trifling articles brought about by
hawkers, every thing that is wanted for an Anglo-Indian establishment
must be sent for to the Fort, from which many of the houses are
situated, four, five, or six miles.

As there are populous villages at Bycullah, Mazagong, &c, it seems
strange that no European bazaars have been established at these
intermediate places for the convenience of the inhabitants, who, with
the exception of a few fowls, do not usually keep much in the way of
a farmyard. With an increase in the number of inhabitants, of course
shops would start up in the most eligible situations, and should
the anticipated change take place, and Bombay become the seat of the
Supreme Government, the demands of the new establishment would no
doubt be speedily supplied.

It is impossible, however idle the speculation may be, not to busy the
mind with fancies concerning the site of the city which it is supposed
would arise in the event of the Governor-general being instructed to
take up his abode at Bombay. The Esplanade has been mentioned as the
most probable place, although in building over this piece of ground
the island would, in a great measure, be deprived of its lungs, and
the enjoyment of that free circulation of air, which appears to be so
essential to the existence of Anglo-Indians, who seem to require the
whole expanse of heaven in order to breathe with freedom. The happy
medium between the want of air and its excess will not answer the
demand, and accordingly the Esplanade, no matter how strongly the
wind blows, is a favourite resort. Although its general features are
unattractive, it occasionally presents a very animated scene; the
review of the troops in the garrison is seen to great advantage, and
forms a spectacle always interesting and imposing.

This mustering of the troops is occasionally varied by military
exercises of a more novel nature. The sailors of the flag-ship are
brought on shore, for the purpose of perfecting themselves in the
manual and platoon exercise, and in the performance of such military
evolutions as would enable them to co-operate successfully with a land
force, or to act alone with greater efficiency upon any emergency.
Though not possessing much skill in military affairs, I was pleased
with the ease and precision with which they executed the different
movements, their steadiness in marching, and the promptness with which
the line was dressed. They brought field-pieces on shore with them,
which, according to my poor judgment, were admirably worked. These
parades were the more interesting, in consequence of the expected war
with China, a war in which the sailors of the _Wellesley_ will, no
doubt, be actively engaged.

I had also an opportunity of witnessing from the deck of that vessel,
when accompanying the Governor's party on board, the manoeuvring of
the ship's boats while landing a force. The mock fight was carried on
with great spirit, and the most beautiful effect; the flashing from
the guns in the bows of the boats and the musketry, amid the exquisite
blue smoke issuing from the smaller species of artillery, producing
fire-works which, in my opinion, could not be excelled by any of the
most elaborate construction. The features of the landscape, no doubt,
assisted to heighten the effect of the scene--a back-ground of lovely
purple islands--a sea, like glass, calmly, brightly, beautifully
blue--and the flotilla of boats, grouped as a painter would group
them, and carrying on a running fire, which added much to the
animation of their evolutions, the smoke occasionally enveloping the
whole in vapour, and then showing the eager forms of men, as it rolled
off in silvery clouds towards the distant hills.

As I gazed upon this armament, and upon the palm-woods that fringed
the shore, I could not help calling to mind the lawless doings of the
buccaneers of old, and the terror spread through towns and villages
by the appearance of a fleet of boats, manned by resolute crews, and
armed with the most deadly weapons of destruction. The sight realized
also the descriptions given in modern novels of the capture of towns,
and I could easily imagine the great excitement which would lead
daring men to the execution of deeds, almost incredible to those who
have never felt their spirits stirred and their arms nerved by danger,
close, imminent, and only to be mastered by the mightiest efforts.

When any _tamasha_, as the natives call it, is going on upon the
Esplanade, near the beach, they add very considerably to the effect of
the scene, by grouping themselves upon the bales of cotton, piled near
the wharf for exportation: those often appear to be a mass of human
beings, so thickly are they covered with eager gazers. Upon the
occasion of the departure of Sir Henry Fane to England, there appeared
to be a general turn-out of the whole of Bombay, and the effect was
impressive and striking. The road down to the Bunder, or place of
embarkation, was lined with soldiers, the bands of the different
regiments playing while the _cortège_ passed. All the ladies made
their appearance in open carriages, while the gentlemen mounted on
horseback, and joined the cavalcade. A large party of native gentlemen
assembled on foot at the Bunder, for the purpose of showing a last
mark of respect to a distinguished officer, about to leave the country
for ever.

Sir Henry, accompanied by his staff, but all in plain clothes, drove
down the road in a barouche, attended by an escort of cavalry, and
seemed to be much affected by the tokens of esteem which he received
on every hand. He left the shore amidst the waving of handkerchiefs,
and a salute of seventeen guns, and would have been greeted with
hearty cheers, did military discipline allow of such manifestation of
the feelings.

Sights and scenes like these will, of course, always attract numerous
spectators, while on the evenings in which the band plays, there is
a fair excuse for making the Esplanade the object of the drive; but
Bombay affords so many avenues possessing much greater beauty, that
I am always delighted when I can diversify the scene by a visit to
places not nearly so much in request, but which are to me infinitely
more interesting, as developing some charm of nature, or displaying
the habits and manners of the people of the country. With these
views and feelings, I was much pleased at receiving an invitation
to accompany some friends to a fair held in Mahim Wood--that sea of
palm-trees, which I had often looked down upon from Chintapootzlee
Hill with so much pleasure.

The fair was held, as is usual in oriental countries, in honour of
a saint, whose canonized bones rest beneath a tomb apparently of
no great antiquity, but which the people, who are not the best
chronologists in the world, fancy to be of very ancient date. The
name of the celebrated person thus enshrined was Mugdooree Sahib,
a devotee, who added the gift of prophecy to his other high
qualifications, and amongst other things has predicted that, when the
town shall join the wood, Bombay shall be no more. The accomplishment
of what in his days must have appeared very unlikely ever to take
place--namely, the junction of inhabited dwellings with the trees of
Mahim--seems to be in rapid course of fulfilment; the land has been
drained, many portions formerly impassable filled up, and rendered
solid ground, while the houses are extending so fast, that the Burruh
Bazaar will in no very long period, in all probability, extend to
Mahim. Those who attach some faith to the prophecy, yet are unwilling
to believe that evil and not good will befal the "rising presidency,"
are of opinion that some change of name will take place when it shall
be made the seat of the Supreme Government: thus the saint's credit
will be saved, and no misfortune happen to the good town of Bombay.
The superstitious of all persuasions, the Christians perhaps
excepted--though many of the Portuguese Christians have little more
than the name--unite in showing reverence to the shrine of the saint,
while Mugdooree Sahib is held quite as much in estimation by the
Hindus as by the followers of he own corrupted creed, the Mohammedans
of Bombay being by no means orthodox.

Many respectable natives have built houses for themselves at Mahim,
on purpose to have a place for their families during the time of the
fair, while others hire houses or lodgings, for which they will pay
as much as twenty rupees for the few days that it lasts. A delightful
drive brought us to the confines of the wood; the whole way along, we
passed one continuous string of bullock-carriages, filled with people
of all tribes and castes, while others, who could not afford this mode
of conveyance, were seen in groups, trudging on foot, leading their
elder children, and carrying their younger in their arms. The road
wound very prettily through the wood, which at every turn presented
some charming bits of forest scenery, shown to great advantage in the
crimson light of evening, which, as it faded, produced those wild,
shadowy illusions, which lend enchantment to every view. Parasitical
plants, climbing up the trunks of many of the trees, and flinging
themselves in rich garlands from bough to bough, relieved the monotony
of the tall, straight palm-trees, and produced delicious green
recesses, the dearest charm of woodland scenery.

I have frequently felt a strong desire to dwell under the shade of
forest boughs, for there is something in that sylvan kind of life so
redolent of the hunter's merry horn, the mating song of birds, and
the gurgling of secret rills, as to possess indescribable charms to a
lover of the picturesque. Now, however, experience in sober realities
having dispelled the illusions of romance, I should choose a cottage
in some cleared space by the wood-side, though at this dry season of
the year, and mid the perpetual sunshine of its skies, the heart of
Mahim Wood would form a very agreeable residence.

The first house we came to was very comfortable, and almost English
in its appearance; a small, neat mansion, with its little court-yard
before it, such as we should not be surprised to see in some
old-fashioned country village at home. Straggling huts on either side
brought us to the principal street of Mahim, and here we found the
houses lighted, and lamps suspended, in imitation of bunches of
grapes, before all that were ambitious of making a good appearance.

After passing the shops belonging to the village--the grain-sellers,
the pan-sellers, and other venders of articles in common demand--we
came to a series of booths, exactly resembling those used for the same
purpose in England, and well supplied with both native and foreign
products. The display was certainly much greater than any I had
expected to see. Some of the shops were filled with French, English,
and Dutch toys; others with China and glass ornaments; then came one
filled with coloured glass bangles, and every kind of native ornament
in talc and tinsel, all set off with a profusion of lights. Instead of
gingerbread, there were immense quantities of _metai_, or sweetmeats,
of different shapes and forms, and various hues; sugar rock-work,
pink, white, and yellow, with all sorts and descriptions of cakes.
The carriage moved slowly through the crowd, and at length, finding it
inconvenient to proceed farther in it, we alighted.

Our party had come to Mahim upon the invitation of a very respectable
moonshee, who had his country-house there, and who was anxious to do
the honours of the fair to the English strangers, my friends, like
myself, being rather new to Bombay. We met the old gentleman at an
opening in the village, leading to the tomb of the saint, and his
offer to conduct us to the sacred shrine formed a farther inducement
to leave the carriage, and venture through the crowd on foot.

The tomb, which was strongly illuminated, proved to be a white-washed
building, having a dome in the centre, and four minarets, one at each
angle, standing in a small enclosure, the walls of which were also
newly white-washed, and approached by a flight of steps, leading into
a portico. Upon either side of the avenue from the village were seated
multitudes of men and women, who, if not beggars by profession, made
no scruple to beg on this occasion.

I felt at first sorry that I had neglected to bring any money with
me, but when I saw the crowd of applicants, whom it would have been
impossible to satisfy, and recollected that my liberality would
doubtless have been attributed to faith in the virtues of the saint,
I no longer regretted the omission. The steps of the tomb were lined
with these beggars, all vociferating at once, while other religious
characters were singing with all the power of their lungs, and a
native band, stationed in the verandah of the tomb, were at the same
time making the most hideous discord by the help of all kinds of
diabolical instruments.

Having a magistrate of our party, we were well protected by the
police, who, without using any rudeness, kept the people off. So far
from being uncivil, the natives seemed pleased to see us at the fair,
and readily made way, until we came to the entrance of the chamber in
which, under a sarcophagus, the body of the saint was deposited. Here
we were told that we could proceed no farther, unless we consented to
take off our shoes, a ceremony with which we did not feel disposed
to comply, especially as we could see all that the chamber contained
through the open door, and had no intention to pay homage to the
saint. The sarcophagus, according to custom, was covered with a rich
pall, and the devout pressed forward to lay their offerings upon it.
These offerings consisted of money, cloths, grain, fruit, &c. nothing
coming amiss, the priests of the temple being quite ready to take the
gifts which the poorest could bestow. The beggars in the porch were
more clamorous than ever, the _maam sahibs_ being especially entreated
to bestow their charity.

Having satisfied my curiosity, I was glad to get away into the fair,
where I found many things more interesting. Convenient spaces in the
wood were filled with merry-go-rounds, swings, and other locomotive
machinery, of precisely the same description as those exhibited in
England, and which I had seen in Hyde Park at the fair held there, in
honour of Queen Victoria. Mahim Wood boasted no theatres or wild-beast
shows, neither were we treated with the sight of giants or dwarfs; but
there was no want of booths for the purpose of affording refreshment.
One of these _cafés_, the front of which was entirely open, was most
brilliantly illuminated, and filled with numerous tables, covered with
a multitude of good things. That it was expected to be the resort
of English guests was apparent, from an inscription painted in white
letters, rather askew, upon a black board, to the following effect:
"Tea, Coffee, and Pastry-House."

We were invited to enter this splendid establishment by the moonshee,
who had evidently ordered a refection to be prepared for the occasion.
Being unwilling to disappoint the old gentleman, we took the seats
offered to us, and ate the cakes, and drank the coffee, presented by
some respectable-looking Parsees, the owners of the shop, which they
had taken pains to set off in the European style. Although the natives
of India will not eat with us, as they know that we do not scruple
to partake of food prepared for their tables, they are mortified and
disappointed at any refusal to taste the good things set before us;
the more we eat, the greater being the compliment. I was consequently
obliged to convey away some of the cakes in my handkerchief, to avoid
the alternatives of making myself ill or of giving offence.

When we were sufficiently rested and refreshed, we followed the
moonshee to his mansion. The moon was at the full, and being at this
time well up, lighted us through the less thronged avenues of the
village, these tangled lanes, with the exception of a few candles,
having no other illumination. Here, seated in corners upon the ground,
were the more humble traders of the fair, venders of fruit, the larger
kind being divided into slices for the convenience of poor customers.
In one spot, a group of dissipated characters were assembled round
bottles and drinking-vessels (of which the contents bore neither the
colour nor the smell of sherbet), who were evidently determined to
make a night of it over the fermented juice of the palm. From what I
have seen, I am inclined to believe sobriety to be as rare a virtue
in Bombay as in London; toddy-shops appear to be greatly upon the
increase, and certainly in every direction there are already ample
means of gratifying a love of spirituous liquors. In other places, the
usual occupation of frying fish was going on, while a taste for sweet
things might be gratified by confectionary of an ordinary description
compared with that exhibited in the shops.

As we receded from the fair, the bright illumination in the distance,
the twinkling lights in the fore-ground, dimly revealing dusky figures
cowering round their fires, and the dark depths of the wood beyond,
with now and then a gleam of moonshine streaming on its tangled paths,
made up a landscape roll of scenic effects. Getting deeper and deeper
into the wood, we came at last to a small modest mansion, standing in
the corner of a garden, and shadowed by palm-trees, through which the
moon-beams chequered our path. We did not enter the house, contenting
ourselves with seats in the verandah, where the children of our host,
his wife or wives not making their appearance, were assembled. The
elder boys addressed us in very good English, and were, the moonshee
told us, well acquainted with the Guzerattee and Mahratta languages;
he had also bestowed an education upon his daughters, who were taught
to read in the vernacular.

The old man told us that he was born in Mahim Wood at the time of the
festival, and, though a Hindu, had had the name of Mugdooree, that
of the saint, bestowed upon him, for a good omen. Having a great
affection for his native place, he had, as soon as he could command
the means, built the house which we now saw, and in which he always
resided during the fair, which was called _oories_, or the Mugdooree
Sahib's _oories_, at Mahim. After sitting some time with the old man,
and admiring the effect of the moonlight among the palm-trees, we rose
to depart. In taking leave of the spot, I could not repress a wish to
see it under a different aspect, although it required very slight aid
from fancy to picture it as it would appear in the rains, with mildew
in the drip of those pendant palm branches, green stagnant pools in
every hollow, toads crawling over the garden paths, and snakes lurking
beneath every stone.

Returning to the place in which we had left the carriage, we found
the fair more crowded than ever, the numbers of children, if possible,
exceeding those to be seen at English places of resort of the same
nature. The upper rooms of the superior houses, many of which seemed
to be large and handsome, were well lighted and filled with company,
many of the most respectable amongst the Hindus, Mohammedans, and
Parsees, repairing to Mahim, to recreate themselves during the
festival. The shops had put on even a gayer appearance, and though
there was no rich merchandize to be seen, the character of the meeting
being merely that of a rustic fair, I was greatly surprised by
the elegance of some of the commodities, and the taste of their
arrangement.

It was evident that all the purchasers must be native, and
consequently I could not help feeling some astonishment at the large
quantities of expensive European toys with which whole booths were
filled. Dolls, which were to me a novelty in my late visit to Paris,
with real hair dressed in the newest fashion, were abundant; and so
were those excellent representations of animals from Germany, known by
the name of "Barking toys." The price of these things, demanded of our
party at least, was high. I had wished to possess myself of something
as a remembrance of this fair, but as the old moonshee was the only
individual amongst us who carried any money about him, I did not like
him to become my banker on this occasion, lest he should not permit me
to pay him again, and I should by this means add to the disbursements
already made upon our account.

Upon leaving the fair, we found some difficulty in steering our way
through the bullock-carriages which almost blocked up the road, and
as we drove along the grand thoroughfare towards Girgaum, a populous
portion of the native town, the visitants seemed to increase; cart
followed upon cart in quick succession, all the bullocks in Bombay,
numerous as they are, appearing to have been mustered for the
occasion.

In the different drives which I have taken through the island, I
have come upon several fine tanks, enclosed by solid masonry of
dark-coloured stone; but, with the exception, in some instances, of
one or two insignificant pillars or minarets, they are destitute of
those architectural ornaments which add so much splendour to the same
works in Bengal. The broad flights of steps, the richly decorated
temple, or the range of small pagodas, so frequently to be seen by
the side of the tanks and bowlies in other parts of India, are here
unknown; the more ancient native buildings which I have yet examined
being, comparatively speaking, of a mean and paltry description, while
all the handsome modern houses are built after the European manner.
There is one feature, however, with which I am greatly pleased--the
perpetual recurrence of seats and ledges made in the walls which
enclose gentlemen's gardens and grounds, or run along the roads, and
which seem to be intended as places of repose for the wayfarer, or as
a rest to his burthen.

It is always agreeable to see needful accommodation afforded to
the poor and to the stranger; public benefits, however trifling,
displaying liberality of mind in those who can give consideration to
the wants and feelings of multitudes from whom they can hope for
no return. These seats frequently occur close to the gate of some
spacious dwelling, and may be supposed to be intended for the servants
and dependants of the great man, or those who wait humbly on the
outside of his mansion; but they as frequently are found upon the high
roads, or by the side of wells and tanks.

The festival of the _Duwallee_ has taken place since my arrival
in Bombay, and though I have seen it celebrated before, and more
splendidly in one particular--namely, the illuminations--I never had
the same opportunity of witnessing other circumstances connected with
ceremonies performed at the opening of the new year of the Hindus.
When I speak of the superiority of the illuminations, I allude to
their taste and effect; there were plenty of lights in Bombay, but
they were differently disposed, and did not mark the outline of the
buildings in the beautiful manner which prevails upon the other side
of India, every person lighting up his own house according to his
fancy. Upon the eve of the new year, while driving through the bazaar,
we saw preparations for the approaching festival; many of the houses
were well garnished with lamps, the shops were swept and put into
order, and the horns of the bullocks were garlanded with flowers,
while fire-works, and squibs and crackers, were going off in all
directions.

On the following evening, I went with a party of friends, by
invitation, to the house of a native gentleman, a Parsee merchant of
old family and great respectability, and as we reached the steps of
his door, a party of men came up with sticks in their hands, answering
to our old English morice-dancers. These men were well clad in white
dresses, with flowers stuck in their turbans; they formed a circle
somewhat resembling the figure of _moulinet_, but without joining
hands, the inner party striking their sticks as they danced round
against those on the outer ring, and all joining in a rude but not
unmusical chorus. The gestures of these men, though wild, were neither
awkward nor uncouth, the sticks keeping excellent time with the song
and with the action of their feet. After performing sundry evolutions,
and becoming nearly out of breath, they desisted, and called upon the
spectators to reward their exertions. Having received a present, they
went into the court-yard of the next mansion, which belonged to one of
the richest native merchants in Bombay, and there renewed their dance.

We found in the drawing-room of our host's house a large company
assembled. The upper end was covered with a white cloth, and all
round, seated on the floor against the walls, were grave-looking
Parsees, many being of advanced years. They had their books and
ledgers open before them, the ceremony about to be commenced
consisting of the blessing or consecration of the account-books,
in order to secure prosperity for the ensuing year. The officiating
priests were brahmins, the custom and the festival--of which Lacshmee,
the goddess of wealth, is the patroness--being purely Hindu.

The Parsees of India, sole remnant of the ancient fire-worshippers,
have sadly degenerated from that pure faith held by their forefathers,
and for which they became fugitives and exiles. What persecution
failed to accomplish, kindness has effected, and their religion has
been corrupted by the taint of Hinduism, in consequence of their long
and friendly intercourse with the people, who permitted them to dwell
in their land, and to take their daughters in marriage. Incense was
burning on a tripod placed upon the floor, and the priests muttering
prayers, which sounded very like incantations, ever and anon threw
some new perfume upon the charcoal, which produced what our friend
Dousterswivel would call a "suffumigation." These preliminaries over,
they caused each person to write a few words in the open book before
him, and then threw upon the leaves a portion of grain. After this had
been distributed, they made the circle again, and threw gold leaf upon
the volumes; then came spices and betel-nut, cut in small pieces,
and lastly flowers, and a profusion of the red powder (_abeer_) so
lavishly employed in Hindu festivals. More incense was burned, and
the ceremony concluded, the merchants rising and congratulating
each other. Formerly, when our host was a more wealthy man than, in
consequence of sundry misfortunes, he is at present, he was in the
habit of disbursing Rs. 10,000 in gifts upon this day: everybody that
came to the house receiving something.

The custom of blessing the books, after the Hindu manner, will in all
probability shortly decline among the Parsees, the younger portion
being already of opinion that it is a vain and foolish ceremony,
borrowed from strangers; and, indeed, the elders of the party were
at some pains to convince me that they merely complied with it in
consequence of a stipulation entered into with the Hindus, when
they granted them an asylum, to observe certain forms and ceremonies
connected with their customs, assuring me that they did not place any
reliance upon the favour of the goddess, looking only for the blessing
of God to prosper their undertakings.

This declaration, however, was somewhat in contradiction to one
circumstance, which I omitted to mention, namely, that before the
assembled Parsees rose from the floor, they permitted the officiating
brahmins to mark their foreheads with the symbol of the goddess, thus
virtually admitting her supremacy. The lamps were then lighted, and
we were presented with the usual offering of bouquets of roses,
plentifully bedewed with _goolabee pánee_, or the distilled tears of
the flower, to speak poetically; and having admired the children of
the family, who were brought out in their best dresses and jewels,
took our leave. The ladies, the married daughters and daughters-in-law
of our host, did not make their appearance upon this occasion; for,
though not objecting to be seen in public, they are not fond of
presenting themselves in their own houses before strangers.

It is the women of India who are at this moment impeding the advance
of improvement; they have hitherto been so ill-educated, their minds
left so entirely uncultivated, that they have had nothing to amuse
or interest them excepting the ceremonies of their religion, and the
customs with which it is encumbered. These, notwithstanding that many
are inconvenient, and others entail much suffering, they are unwilling
to relinquish. Every departure from established rule, which their
male relatives deem expedient, they resolutely oppose, employing the
influence which women, however contemned as the weaker vessel, always
do possess, and always will exert, in perpetuating all the evils
resulting from ignorance. The sex will ever be found active either
in advancing or retarding great changes, and whether this activity be
employed for good or for evil, depends upon the manner in which their
intellectual faculties have been trained and cultivated.

It appears to me that, although education is making great progress in
Bombay, all it has yet accomplished of good appears upon the surface,
it not having yet wrought any radical change in the feelings and
opinions of the people, or, excepting in few instances, directing
their pursuits to new objects. I give this opinion, however, with
great diffidence--merely as an impression which a longer residence
in Bombay may remove; meanwhile, I lose no opportunity of acquainting
myself with the native community, and I hope to gather some
interesting information relative to the probable effects of the system
now adopting at the different national schools.

As far as I can judge, a little of Uncle Jonathan's fervour in
progressing is wanting here; neither the Anglo-Indian or native
residents seem to manifest the slightest inclination to "go ahead;"
and while they complain loudly of the apathy evinced at home to all
that concerns their advantage and prosperity, are quite content to
drowze over their old _dustoors_ (customs), and make no attempt to
direct the public attention in England to subjects of real importance.

Though unwilling to indulge in premature remarks, these are pressed
upon me by the general complaints which I hear upon all sides; but
though everybody seems to lament the evil, no one exerts himself to
effect a remedy, and while much is talked of individually, little is
done by common consent. One great bar to improvement consists, I am
told, of the voluminous nature of the reports upon all subjects, which
are heaped together until they become so hopelessly bulky, that nobody
can be prevailed upon to wade through them. In England, at all public
meetings, a great deal of time and breath are wasted in superfluous
harangues; but these can only effect the remote mischief threatened by
Mr. Babbage, and produce earthquakes and other convulsions in distant
lands, in distant centuries; whereas the foolscap is a present and a
weighty evil, and has probably swamped more systems of improvement,
and more promising institutions, than any other enemy, however active.

The intellectual community of India seems yet to have to learn the
advantage of placing all that relates to it in a clear, succinct, and
popular form, and of bringing works before the British public which
will entertain as well as instruct, and lead those who are employed
in legislating for our Eastern territories to inquire more deeply into
those subjects which so materially affect its political, moral, and
commercial prosperity.


FINIS.





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