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Title: Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah — Volume 1
Author: Burton, Richard Francis, Sir
Language: English
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K.C.M.G., F.R.G.S., &c., &c., &c.


"Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians; as no unbeliever
is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent."-Gibbon,
chap. 50.




[p.xii] [Arabic text]

Dark and the Desert and Destriers me ken,
And the Glaive and the Joust, and Paper and Pen.




AFTER my beloved husband had passed away from amongst us, after the
funeral had taken place, and I had settled in England, I began to think
in what way I could render him the most honour. A material Monument to
his memory has already been erected by his countrymen in the shape of a
handsome contribution to the beautiful Mausoleum-tent in stone and
marble to contain his remains; but I also hoped to erect a less
material, but more imperishable, Monument to his name, by making this
unique hero better known to his countrymen by his Works, which have
hitherto not been sufficiently known, not extensively enough published,
and issued perhaps at a prohibitive price. Viewing the long list of
Works written by him between 1842 and 1890, many of which are still
unpublished, I was almost disheartened by the magnitude of the work,
until the Publishers, Messrs. Tylston and Edwards, fully appreciating
the interest with which the British Public had followed my husband's
adventurous career and fearless enterprise, arranged to produce this
uniform Memorial Edition at their own expense.

[p.xvi]Mr. Leonard Smithers, a man of great literary talent and of
indefatigable energy, who admired and collaborated with my husband in
the traduction of Latin Classics for two years before he died, has also
kindly volunteered to be my working assistant and to join with me in
the editing.

My part is to give up all my copyrights, and to search out such papers,
annotations, and latest notes and corrections, as will form the most
complete work; also to write all the Prefaces, and to give every
assistance in my power as Editress.

The Memorial Edition commences with the present "Pilgrimage to
Al-Madinah and Meccah," which will be followed at intervals by others
of my husband's works. Since this "Memorial Edition" was arranged, and
the Prospectus issued, I have parted with the Copyright of my husband's
famous translation of the "Arabian Nights" to the Publishers, and they
are arranging to bring out that work at an early date, and as nearly as
possible uniform in appearance with the Memorial Edition.

The ornamentations on the binding are, a figure of my husband in his
Arab costume, his monogram in Arabic, and, on the back of the book, the
tent which is his tomb.

Both the publishers and myself have to thank Mr. Smithers for the
infinite trouble he has taken in collating the first, second, third and
fourth editions of the ‘Pilgrimage' with Sir Richard's own original
annotated copies. All the lengthy notes and appendices of the first
edition have been retained, and these are supplemented by the notes and
appendices in the later editions, as well as by the author's MS. notes.
He has adopted Sir Richard's latest and

[p.xvii]most correct orthography of Arabic words, and has passed the
sheets through the press. Following my husband's plan in "The Thousand
Nights and a Night," he has put the accents on Arabic words only the
first time of their appearance, to show how they ought to be; thinking
it unnecessary to preserve throughout, what is an eyesore to the reader
and a distress to the printer. So it is with Arabic books,-the accents
are only put for the early student; afterwards, they are left to the
practical knowledge of the reader. All the original coloured
illustrations of the first edition, and also the wood engravings of the
later issues, are reproduced for the first time in one uniform edition.
The map and plans are fac-similies of those in the latest (fourth)
edition. In fact, everything has been done to make this book worthy of
its author and of the public's appreciation.

For those who may not know the import of "A Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah
and Meccah," in 1853, they will not take it amiss when I say that there
are Holy Shrines of the Moslem world in the far-away Desert, where no
white man, European, or Christian, could enter (save as a Moslem), or
even approach, without certain death. They are more jealously guarded
than the "Holy Grail," and this Work narrates how this Pilgrimage was
accomplished. My husband had lived as a Dervish in Sind, which greatly
helped him; and he studied every separate thing until he was master of
it, even apprenticing himself to a blacksmith to learn how to make
horse-shoes and to shoe his own horses. It meant living with his life
in his hand, amongst the strangest and wildest companions, adopting
their unfamiliar manners, living for nine months in the hottest and
most unhealthy climate, upon

[p.xviii]repulsive food; it meant complete and absolute isolation from
everything that makes life tolerable, from all civilisation, from all
his natural habits; the brain at high tension, but the mind never
wavering from the role he had adopted; but he liked it, he was happy in
it, he felt at home in it, and in this Book he tells you how he did it,
and what he saw.

Sir Richard Burton died at the age of 70, on the 20th October, 1890.
During the last 48 years of his life, he lived only for the benefit and
for the welfare of England and of his countrymen, and of the Human Race
at large. Let us reverently raise up this "Monument," aere perennius,
to his everlasting memory.

May 24, 1893.


AFTER a lapse of twenty-five years, a third edition of my Pilgrimage
has been called for by the public, to whom I take this opportunity of
returning thanks. Messrs. Mullan have chosen the very best opportunity.
My two publications concerning the Khedival Expeditions to Midian ("The
Gold Mines of Midian," and "The Land of Midian Revisited"), are, as I
have stated in the Preface, sequels and continuations of this
Pilgrimage from which the adventures forming their subject may be said
to date.

The text has been carefully revised, and the "baggage of notes" has
been materially lightened.[FN#1] From the Appendix I have removed
matter which, though useful to the student, is of scant general
interest. The quaint and interesting "Narrative and Voyages of
Ludovicus Vertomannus, Gentleman of Rome," need no longer be read in
extracts, when the whole has been printed by the Hakluyt Society. (The
Travels of Ludovico di Varthema in Egypt, Syria, Arabia Deserta and
Arabia Felix, in Persia, India, and Ethiopia, A.D. 1503 to 1508.
Translated from the original Italian edition of 1510, with a Preface by
John Winter Jones, Esq., F.S.A., and edited,

[p.xx]with notes and an Introduction, by George Percy Badger, late
Government Chaplain in the Presidency of Bombay. London.) On the other
hand, I have inserted after the Appendix, with the permission of the
author, two highly interesting communications from Dr. Aloys Sprenger,
the well-known Orientalist and Arabist, concerning the routes of the
Great Caravans. My friend supports his suspicions that an error of
direction has been made, and geographers will enjoy the benefit of his
conscientious studies, topographical and linguistic.

The truculent attacks made upon pilgrims and Darwayshes call for a few
words of notice. Even that learned and amiable philanthropist, the late
Dr. John Wilson of Bombay ("Lands of the Bible," vol. ii., p. 302)
alludes, in the case of the Spaniard Badia, alias Ali Bey al-Abbasi, to
the "unjustifiable fanciful disguise of a Mohammedan Pilgrim." The
author of the Ruddy Goose Theory ("Voice of Israel from Mount Sinai")
and compiler of the "Historical Geography of Arabia" has dealt a foul
blow to the memory of Burckhardt, the energetic and inoffensive Swiss
traveller, whose name has ever been held in the highest repute. And now
the "Government Chaplain" indites (Introduction, p. xxvii.) the
following invidious remarks touching the travels of Ludovico di
Varthema-the vir Deo carus, be it remarked, of the learned and laical
Julius Caesar Scaliger:

"This is not the place to discuss the morality of an act involving the
deliberate and voluntary denial of what a man holds to be truth in a
matter so sacred as that of Religion. Such a violation of conscience is
not justifiable by the end which the renegade (!) may have in view,
however abstractedly praiseworthy it may be; and even granting that his
demerit should be gauged by the amount of knowledge which he possesses
of what is true and what false, the conclusion is inevitable, that
nothing short of utter ignorance of the precepts of his faith, or a

[p.xxi]conscientious disbelief in them, can fairly relieve the
Christian, who conforms to Islamism without a corresponding persuasion
of its verity, of the deserved odium all honest men attach to apostasy
and hypocrisy."

The reply to this tirade is simply, "Judge not; especially when you are
ignorant of the case which you are judging." Perhaps also the writer
may ask himself, Is it right for those to cast stones who dwell in a
tenement not devoid of fragility?
The second attack proceeds from a place whence no man would reasonably
have expected it. The author of the "Narrative of a Year's Journey
through Central and Eastern Arabia" (vol. i., pp. 258-59) thus
expresses his opinions:-

"Passing oneself off for a wandering Darweesh, as some European
explorers have attempted to do in the East, is for more reasons than
one a very bad plan. It is unnecessary to dilate on that moral aspect
of the proceeding which will always first strike unsophisticated minds.
To feign a religion which the adventurer himself does not believe, to
perform with scrupulous exactitude, as of the highest and holiest
import, practices which he inwardly ridicules, and which he intends on
his return to hold up to the ridicule of others, to turn for weeks and
months together the most sacred and awful bearings of man towards his
Creator into a deliberate and truthless mummery, not to mention other
and yet darker touches,-all this seems hardly compatible with the
character of a European gentleman, let alone that of a Christian."

This comes admirably a propos from a traveller who, born a Protestant,
of Jewish descent, placed himself "in connection with," in plain words
took the vows of, "the order of the Jesuits," an order "well-known in
the annals of philanthropic daring"; a popular preacher who declaimed
openly at Bayrut and elsewhere against his own nation, till the
proceedings of a certain Father Michael

[p.xxii]Cohen were made the subject of an official report by Mr.
Consul-General Moore (Bayrut, November 11, 1857); an Englishman by
birth who accepted French protection, a secret mission, and the
"liberality of the present Emperor of the French"; a military officer
travelling in the garb of what he calls a native (Syrian) "quack" with
a comrade who "by a slight but necessary fiction passed for his
brother-in-law[FN#2]"; a gentleman who by return to Protestantism
violated his vows, and a traveller who was proved by the experiment of
Colonel (now Sir Lewis) Pelly to have brought upon himself all the
perils and adventures that have caused his charming work to be
considered so little worthy of trust. Truly such attack argues a
sublime daring. It is the principle of "vieille coquette, nouvelle
devote"; it is Satan preaching against Sin. Both writers certainly lack
the "giftie" to see themselves as others see them.

In noticing these extracts my object is not to defend myself: I
recognize no man's right to interfere between a human being and his
conscience. But what is there, I would ask, in the Moslem Pilgrimage so
offensive to Christians-what makes it a subject of "inward ridicule"?
Do they not also venerate Abraham, the Father of the Faithful? Did not
Locke, and even greater names, hold Mohammedans to be heterodox
Christians, in fact Arians who, till the end of the fourth century,
represented the mass of North-European Christianity? Did Mr. Lane
neverconform by praying at a Mosque in Cairo? did he ever fear to
confess it? has he been called an apostate for so doing? Did not Father
Michael Cohen prove himself an excellent Moslem at Wahhabi-land?

The fact is, there are honest men who hold that Al-Islam,

[p.xxiii]in its capital tenets, approaches much nearer to the faith of
Jesus than do the Pauline and Athanasian modifications which, in this
our day, have divided the Indo-European mind into Catholic and Roman,
Greek and Russian, Lutheran and Anglican. The disciples of Dr. Daniel
Schenkel's school ("A Sketch of the Character of Jesus," Longmans,
1869) will indeed find little difficulty in making this admission.
Practically, a visit after Arab Meccah to Angle-Indian Aden, with its
"priests after the order of Melchisedeck," suggested to me that the
Moslem may be more tolerant, more enlightened, more charitable, than
many societies of self-styled Christians.

And why rage so furiously against the "disguise of a wandering
Darwaysh?" In what point is the Darwaysh more a mummer or in what does
he show more of betise than the quack? Is the Darwaysh anything but an
Oriental Freemason, and are Freemasons less Christians because they
pray with Moslems and profess their belief in simple unitarianism?

I have said. And now to conclude.

After my return to Europe, many inquired if I was not the only living
European who has found his way to the Head Quarters of the Moslem
Faith. I may answer in the affirmative, so far, at least, that when
entering the penetralia of Moslem life my Eastern origin was never
questioned, and my position was never what cagots would describe as in
loco apostatae.

On the other hand, any Jew, Christian, or Pagan, after declaring before
the Kazi and the Police Authorities at Cairo, or even at Damascus, that
he embraces Al-Islam, may perform, without fear of the so-called Mosaic
institution, "Al-Sunnah," his pilgrimage in all safety. It might be
dangerous to travel down the Desert-line between Meccah and Al-Madinah
during times of popular excitement; but the coast route is always safe.
To the "new Moslem," however, the old Moslem is rarely

[p.xxiv] well affected; and the former, as a rule, returns home
unpleasantly impressed by his experiences.

The Eastern world moves slowly-eppur si muove. Half a generation ago
steamers were first started to Jeddah: now we hear of a projected
railroad from that port to Meccah, the shareholders being all Moslems.
And the example of Jerusalem encourages us to hope that long before the
end of the century a visit to Meccah will not be more difficult than a
trip to Hebron.

Ziyadeh hadd-i-adab!


London, 31st March, 1879.

[Arabic text]


The interest just now felt in everything that relates to the East would
alone be sufficient to ensure to the author of "El Medinah and Meccah"
the favourable consideration of the Reading Public. But when it is
borne in mind that since the days of William Pitts of Exeter (A.D.
1678-1688) no European travellers, with the exception of
Burckhardt[FN#3] and Lieut. Burton,[FN#4] have been able to send us
back an account of their travels there, it cannot be doubted but that
the present work will be hailed as a welcome addition to our knowledge
of these hitherto mysterious penetralia of Mohammedan superstition. In
fact, El Madinah may be considered almost a virgin theme; for as
Burckhardt was prostrated by sickness throughout the period of his stay
in the Northern Hejaz, he was not able to describe it as satisfactorily
or minutely as he did the Southern country,-he could not send a plan of
the Mosque, or correct the popular but erroneous ideas which prevail
concerning it and the surrounding city.

The reader may question the propriety of introducing

[p.xxvi]in a work of description, anecdotes which may appear open to
the charge of triviality. The author's object, however, seems to be to
illustrate the peculiarities of the people-to dramatise, as it were,
the dry journal of a journey,-and to preserve the tone of the
adventures, together with that local colouring in which mainly consists
"l'education d'un voyage." For the same reason, the prayers of the
"Visitation" ceremony have been translated at length, despite the
danger of inducing tedium; they are an essential part of the subject,
and cannot be omitted, nor be represented by "specimens."

The extent of the Appendix requires some explanation. Few but literati
are aware of the existence of Lodovico Bartema's naive recital, of the
quaint narrative of Jos. Pitts, or of the wild journal of Giovanni
Finati. Such extracts have been now made from these writers that the
general reader can become acquainted with the adventures and opinions
of the different travellers who have visited El Hejaz during a space of
350 years. Thus, with the second volume of Burckhardt's Travels in
Arabia, the geographer, curious concerning this portion of the Moslem's
Holy Land, possesses all that has as yet been written upon the subject.

The editor, to whom the author in his absence has intrusted his work,
had hoped to have completed it by the simultaneous publication of the
third volume, containing the pilgrimage to Meccah. The delay, however,
in the arrival from India of this portion of the MS. has been such as
to induce him at once to publish El Misr and El Medinah. The concluding
volume on Meccah is now in the hands of the publisher, and will appear
in the Autumn of the present year. Meanwhile the Public will not lose
sight of the subject of Arabia. Part of El Hejaz has lately been
inspected by M. Charles Didier, an eminent name in French literature,
and by the Abbe Hamilton,-persuaded, it is believed, by our author to

[p.xxvii]visit Taif and Wady Laymum. Though entirely unconnected with
the subjects of Meccah and El Medinah, the account of the Sherif's
Court where these gentlemen were received with distinction, and of the
almost unknown regions about Jebel Kora, will doubtless be welcomed by
the Orientalists and Geographers of Europe.

Mr. Burton is already known by his "History of Sindh." And as if to
mark their sense of the spirit of observation and daring evinced by him
when in that country, and still more during his late journeyings in
Arabia and East Africa, the Geographical Society, through their learned
Secretary, Dr. Norton Shaw, have given valuable aid to this work in its
progress through the press, supplying maps where necessary to complete
the illustrations supplied by the author,-who, it will be perceived, is
himself no mean draughtsman.

It was during a residence of many years in India that Mr. Burton had
fitted himself for his late undertaking, by acquiring, through his
peculiar aptitude for such studies, a thorough acquaintance with
various dialects of Arabia and Persia; and, indeed, his Eastern cast of
features (vide Frontispiece, Vol. II.) seemed already to point him out
as the very person of all others best suited for an expedition like
that described in the following pages.

It will be observed that in writing Arabic, Hindoostannee, Persian, or
Turkish words, the author has generally adopted the system proposed by
Sir William Jones and modified by later Orientalists.[FN#5] But when a
word (like Fatihah for Fat-hah) has been "stamped" by general popular
use, the conversational form has been

[p.xxviii]preferred; and the same, too, may be said of the common
corruptions, Cairo, Kadi, &c., which, in any other form, would appear
to us pedantic and ridiculous. Still, in the absence of the author, it
must be expected that some trifling errors and inaccuraci[e]s will have
here and there have crept in. In justice to others and himself, the
Editor, however, feels bound to acknowledge, with much gratitude, that
where such or even greater mistakes have been avoided, it has been
mainly due to the continued kindness of an Eastern scholar of more than
European reputation,-who has assisted in revising the sheets before
finally consigning them to the printer.

Let us hope that the proofs now furnished of untiring energy and
capacity for observation and research by our author, as well as his
ability to bear fatigue and exposure to the most inclement climate,
will induce the Governments of this country and of India to provide him
with men and means (evidently all that is required for the purpose) to
pursue his adventurous and useful career in other countries equally
difficult of access, and, if possible, of still greater interest, than
the Eastern shores of the Red Sea.


Hampton Court Palace,

June, 1855.



I DO not parade your name, my dear Colonel, in the van of this volume,
after the manner of that acute tactician who stuck a Koran upon his
lance in order to win a battle. Believe me it is not my object to use
your orthodoxy as a cover to my heresies of sentiment and science, in
politics, political economy and-what not?

But whatever I have done on this occasion,-if I have done any
thing,-has been by the assistance of a host of friends, amongst whom
you were ever the foremost. And the highest privilege I aim at is this
opportunity of publicly acknowledging the multitude of obligations owed
to you and to them. Accept, my dear Colonel, this humble return for
your kindness, and ever believe me,

The sincerest of your well wishers,


[FN#1] These omitted notes and appendices have all been restored to the
present Edition.
[FN#2] The brother-in-law, Barakat J'rayj'ray, has since that time
followed suit: educated at the Jesuit college of Mu'allakah (Libanus)
he has settled as a Greek Catholic priest at the neighbouring town of
[FN#3] In 1811.
[FN#4] Captain Sadlier is not mentioned, as his Frankish dress
prevented his entering the city.
[FN#5] The orthography of Eastern words has been revised for this
Edition by Mr. Leonard C. Smithers, from Sir R. F. Burton's MS.
Corrections, and in accordance with the orthography of Sir Richard's
most recent Oriental Work, "The Book of the Thousand Nights and a

[p.1]PART I.




A few Words concerning what induced me to a Pilgrimage.

IN the autumn of 1852, through the medium of my excellent friend, the
late General Monteith, I offered my services to the Royal Geographical
Society of London, for the purpose of removing that opprobrium to
modern adventure, the huge white blot which in our maps still notes the
Eastern and the Central regions of Arabia. Sir Roderick I. Murchison,
Colonel P. Yorke and Dr. Shaw, a deputation from that distinguished
body, with their usual zeal for discovery and readiness to encourage
the discoverer, honoured me by warmly supporting, in a personal
interview with the then Chairman of the then Court of Directors to the
then Honourable East India Company, my application for three years'
leave of absence on special duty from India to Maskat. But they were
unable to prevail upon the said Chairman, the late Sir James Hogg,
who,[FN#1] remembering the fatalities which of late years have befallen
sundry soldier-travellers in the East, refused his sanction, alleging
as a reason[FN#1]

[p.2]that the contemplated journey was of too dangerous a nature. In
compensation, however, for the disappointment, I was allowed the
additional furlough of a year, in order to pursue my Arabic studies in
lands where the language is best learned.

What remained for me but to prove, by trial, that what might be
perilous to other travellers was safe to me? The "experimentum crucis"
was a visit to Al-Hijaz, at once the most difficult and the most
dangerous point by which a European can enter Arabia. I had intended,
had the period of leave originally applied for been granted, to land at
Maskat-a favourable starting-place-and there to apply myself, slowly
and surely, to the task of spanning the deserts. But now I was to
hurry, in the midst of summer, after a four years' sojourn in Europe,
during which many things Oriental had faded away from my memory,
and-after passing through the ordeal of Egypt, a country where the
police is curious as in Rome or Milan-to begin with the Moslem's Holy
Land, the jealously guarded and exclusive Harim. However, being
liberally supplied with the means of travel by the Royal Geographical
Society; thoroughly tired of "progress" and of "civilisation;" curious
to see with my eyes what others are content to "hear with ears,"
namely, Moslem inner life in a really Mohammedan country; and longing,
if truth be told, to set foot on that mysterious spot which no vacation
tourist has yet described, measured, sketched and photographed, I
resolved to resume my old character of a Persian wanderer,[FN#2] a
"Darwaysh," and to make the attempt.

[p.3]The principal object with which I started was this: to cross the
unknown Arabian Peninsula, in a direct line from either Al-Madinah to
Maskat, or diagonally from Meccah to Makallah on the Indian Ocean. By
what "Circumstance, the miscreator" my plans were defeated, the reader
will discover in the course of these volumes. The secondary objects
were numerous. I was desirous to find out if any market for horses
could be opened between Central Arabia and India, where the studs were
beginning to excite general dissatisfaction; to obtain information
concerning the Great Eastern wilderness, the vast expanse marked Rub'a
al-Khai (the "Empty Abode") in our maps; to inquire into the
hydrography of the Hijaz, its water-shed, the disputed slope of the
country, and the existence or non-existence of perennial streams; and
finally, to try, by actual observation, the truth of a theory proposed
by Colonel W. Sykes, namely, that if tradition be true, in the
population of the vast Peninsula there must exist certain physiological
differences sufficient to warrant our questioning the common origin of
the Arab family. As regards horses, I am satisfied that from the
Eastern coast something might be done-nothing on the Western, where the
animals, though thorough-bred, are mere "weeds," of a foolish price and
procurable only by chance. Of the Rub'a al-Khali I have heard enough,
from credible relators, to conclude that its horrid depths swarm with a
large and half-starving population; that it abounds in Wadys, valleys,
gullies and ravines, partially fertilised by intermittent torrents;
and, therefore, that the land is open to the adventurous traveller.
Moreover, I am satisfied, that in spite of all geographers, from
Ptolemy to Jomard, Arabia, which abounds in fiumaras,[FN#3] possesses

[p.4]a single perennial stream worthy the name of river;[FN#4] and the
testimony of the natives induces me to think, with Wallin, contrary to
Ritter and others, that the Peninsula falls instead of rising towards
the south. Finally, I have found proof, to be produced in a future part
of this publication, for believing in three distinct races. 1. The
aborigines of the country, driven like the Bhils and other autochthonic
Indians, into the eastern and south-eastern wilds bordering upon the
ocean. 2. A Syrian or Mesopotamian stock, typified by Shem and Joktan,
that drove the Indigenae from the choicest tracts of country; these
invaders still enjoy their conquests, representing the great Arabian
people. And 3. An impure Syro-Egyptian clan-we personify it by Ishmael,
by his son Nabajoth, and by Edom, (Esau, the son of Isaac)-that
populated and still populates the Sinaitic Peninsula. And in most
places, even in the heart of Meccah, I met with debris of heathenry,
proscribed by Mohammed, yet still popular, while the ignorant observers
of the old customs assign to them a modern and a rationalistic origin.

I have entitled this account of my summer's tour through Al-Hijaz, a
Personal Narrative, and I have laboured to make its nature correspond
with its name, simply because "it is the personal that interests
mankind." Many may not follow my example;[FN#5] but some

[p.5]perchance will be curious to see what measures I adopted, in order
to appear suddenly as an Eastern upon the stage of Oriental life; and
as the recital may be found useful by future adventurers, I make no
apology for the egotistical semblance of the narrative. Those who have
felt the want of some "silent friend" to aid them with advice, when it
must not be asked, will appreciate what may appear to the uninterested
critic mere outpourings of a mind full of self.[FN#6]

On the evening of April 3, 1853, I left London for Southampton. By the
advice of a brother officer, Captain (now Colonel) Henry Grindlay, of
the Bengal Cavalry,-little thought at that time the adviser or the
advised how valuable was the suggestion!-my Eastern dress was called
into requisition before leaving town, and all my "impedimenta" were
taught to look exceedingly Oriental. Early the next day a "Persian
Prince," accompanied by Captain Grindlay, embarked on board the
Peninsular and Oriental Company's magnificent screw steamer "Bengal."

[p.6]A fortnight was profitably spent in getting into the train of
Oriental manners. For what polite Chesterfield says of the difference
between a gentleman and his reverse-namely, that both perform the same
offices of life, but each in a several and widely different way-is
notably as applicable to the manners of the Eastern as of the Western
man. Look, for instance, at that Indian Moslem drinking a glass of
water. With us the operation is simple enough, but his performance
includes no fewer than five novelties. In the first place he clutches
his tumbler as though it were the throat of a foe; secondly, he
ejaculates, "In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful!"
before wetting his lips; thirdly, he imbibes the contents, swallowing
them, not sipping them as he ought to do, and ending with a satisfied
grunt; fourthly, before setting down the cup, he sighs forth, "Praise
be to Allah"-of which you will understand the full meaning in the
Desert; and, fifthly, he replies, "May Allah make it pleasant to thee!"
in answer to his friend's polite "Pleasurably and health!" Also he is
careful to avoid the irreligious action of drinking the pure element in
a standing position, mindful, however, of the three recognised
exceptions, the fluid of the Holy Well Zemzem, water distributed in
charity, and that which remains after Wuzu, the lesser ablution.
Moreover, in Europe, where both extremities are used indiscriminately,
one forgets the exclusive use of the right hand, the manipulation of
the rosary, the abuse of the chair,-your genuine Oriental gathers up
his legs, looking almost as comfortable in it as a sailor upon the back
of a high-trotting -the rolling gait with the toes straight to the
front, the grave look and the habit of pious ejaculations.

Our voyage over the "summer sea" was eventless. In a steamer of two or
three thousand tons you discover

[p.7]the once dreaded, now contemptible, "stormy waters" only by the
band-a standing nuisance be it remarked-performing

"There we lay
All the day,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!"

The sight of glorious Trafalgar[FN#7]| excites none of the sentiments
with which a tedious sail used to invest it. "Gib" is, probably, better
known to you, by Theophile Gautier and Eliot Warburton, than the
regions about Cornhill; besides which, you anchor under the Rock
exactly long enough to land and to breakfast. Malta, too, wears an old
familiar face, which bids you order a dinner and superintend the iceing
of claret (beginning of Oriental barbarism), instead of galloping about
on donkey-back through fiery air in memory of St. Paul and White-Cross
Knights. But though our journey might be called monotonous, there was
nothing to complain of. The ship was in every way comfortable; the
cook, strange to say, was good, and the voyage lasted long enough, and
not too long. On the evening of the thirteenth day after our start, the
big-trowsered pilot, so lovely in his deformities to western eyes, made
his appearance, and the good screw "Bengal" found herself at anchor off
the Headland of Clay.[FN#8]

Having been invited to start from the house of a kind friend, John W.
Larking, I disembarked with him, and

[p.8]rejoiced to see that by dint of a beard and a shaven head I had
succeeded, like the Lord of Geesh, in "misleading the inquisitive
spirit of the populace." The mingled herd of spectators before whom we
passed in review on the landing-place, hearing an audible
"Alhamdolillah"[FN#9] whispered "Muslim!" The infant population spared
me the compliments usually addressed to hatted heads; and when a little
boy, presuming that the occasion might possibly open the hand of
generosity, looked in my face and exclaimed "Bakhshish,"[FN#10] he
obtained in reply a "Mafish;"[FN#11] which convinced the bystanders
that the sheep-skin covered a real sheep. We then mounted a carriage,
fought our way through the donkeys, and in half an hour found
ourselves, chibuk in mouth and coffee-cup in hand, seated on the diwan
of my friend Larking's hospitable home.

Wonderful was the contrast between the steamer and that villa on the
Mahmudiyah canal! Startling the sudden change from presto to adagio
life! In thirteen days we had passed from the clammy grey fog, that

[p.9]of industry which kept us at anchor off the Isle of Wight, through
the loveliest air of the Inland Sea, whose sparkling blue and purple
haze spread charms even on N. Africa's beldame features, and now we are
sitting silent and still, listening to the monotonous melody of the
East-the soft night-breeze wandering through starlit skies and tufted
trees, with a voice of melancholy meaning.

And this is the Arab's Kayf. The savouring of animal existence; the
passive enjoyment of mere sense; the pleasant languor, the dreamy
tranquillity, the airy castle-building, which in Asia stand in lieu of
the vigorous, intensive, passionate life of Europe. It is the result of
a lively, impressible, excitable nature, and exquisite sensibility of
nerve; it argues a facility for voluptuousness unknown to northern
regions, where happiness is placed in the exertion of mental and
physical powers; where Ernst ist das Leben; where niggard earth
commands ceaseless sweat of face, and damp chill air demands perpetual
excitement, exercise, or change, or adventure, or dissipation, for want
of something better. In the East, man wants but rest and shade: upon
the banks of a bubbling stream, or under the cool shelter of a perfumed
tree, he is perfectly happy, smoking a pipe, or sipping a cup of
coffee, or drinking a glass of sherbet, but above all things deranging
body and mind as little as possible; the trouble of conversations, the
displeasures of memory, and the vanity of thought being the most
unpleasant interruptions to his Kayf. No wonder that "Kayf" is a word
untranslatable in our mother-tongue![FN#12]

"Laudabunt alii claram Rhodon aut Mytelenen."

Let others describe the once famous Capital of

[p.10]Egypt, this City of Misnomers, whose dry docks are ever wet, and
whose marble fountain is eternally dry, whose "Cleopatra's
Needle"[FN13] is neither a needle nor Cleopatra's; whose "Pompey's
Pillar" never had any earthly connection with Pompey; and whose
Cleopatra's Baths are, according to veracious travellers, no baths at
all. Yet it is a wonderful place, this "Libyan suburb" of our day, this
outpost of civilisation planted upon the skirts of barbarism, this
Osiris seated side by side with Typhon, his great old enemy. Still may
be said of it, "it ever beareth something new[FN#14];" and Alexandria,
a threadbare subject in Bruce's time, is even yet, from its perpetual
changes, a fit field for modern description.[FN#15]

[p.11]The better to blind the inquisitive eyes of servants and
visitors, my friend, Larking, lodged me in an out-house, where I could
revel in the utmost freedom of life and manners. And although some
Armenian Dragoman, a restless spy like all his race, occasionally
remarked voila un Persan diablement degage, none, except those who were
entrusted with the secret, had any idea of the part I was playing. The
domestics, devout Moslems, pronounced me an 'Ajami,[FN#16] a kind of
Mohammedan, not a good one like themselves, but, still better than
nothing. I lost no time in securing the assistance of a Shaykh,[FN#17]
and plunged once more into the intricacies of the Faith; revived my
recollections of religious ablutions, read the Koran, and again became
an adept in the art of prostration. My leisure hours were employed in
visiting the baths and coffee-houses, in attending the bazars, and in
shopping,-an operation which hereabouts consists of sitting upon a
chapman's counter, smoking, sipping coffee, and telling your beads the
while, to show that you are not of the slaves for whom time is made; in
fact, in pitting your patience against that of your adversary, the
vendor. I found time for a short excursion to a country village on the
banks of the canal; nor was an opportunity of seeing "Al-nahl," the
"Bee-dance;" neglected, for it would be some months before my eyes
might dwell on such a pleasant spectacle again.
"Delicias videam, Nile jocose, tuas!"

Careful of graver matters, I attended the mosque, and visited the
venerable localities in which modern Alexandria abounds. Pilgrimaging
Moslems are here

[p.12]shown the tomb of Al-nabi Daniyal (Daniel the Prophet),
discovered upon a spot where the late Sultan Mahmud dreamed that he saw
an ancient man at prayer.[FN#18] Sikandar al-Rumi, the Moslem Alexander
the Great, of course left his bones in the place bearing his name, or,
as he ought to have done so, bones have been found for him. Alexandria
also boasts of two celebrated Walis-holy men. One is Mohammed
al-Busiri, the author of a poem called Al-Burdah, universally read by
the world of Islam, and locally recited at funerals and on other solemn
occasions. The other is Abu Abbas al-Andalusi, a sage and saint of the
first water, at whose tomb prayer is never breathed in vain.

It is not to be supposed that the people of Alexandria could look upon
my phials and pill-boxes without a yearning for their contents. An
Indian doctor, too, was a novelty to them; Franks they despised,-but a
man who had come so far from East and West! Then there was something
infinitely seducing in the character of a magician, doctor, and fakir,
each admirable of itself, thus combined to make "great medicine." Men,
women, and children besieged my door, by which means I could see the
people face to face, and especially the fair sex, of which Europeans,
generally speaking, know only the worst specimens. Even respectable
natives, after witnessing a performance of "Mandal" and the Magic
mirror[FN#19], opined that the stranger was a holy man, gifted

[p.13]with supernatural powers, and knowing everything. One old person
sent to offer me his daughter in marriage; he said nothing about
dowry,-but I thought proper to decline the honour. And a middle-aged
lady proffered me the sum of one hundred piastres, nearly one pound
sterling, if I would stay at Alexandria, and superintend the
restoration of her blind left eye.

But the reader must not be led to suppose that I acted "Carabin" or
"Sangrado" without any knowledge of my trade. From youth I have always
been a dabbler in medical and mystical study. Moreover, the practice of
physic is comparatively easy amongst dwellers in warm latitudes,
uncivilised peoples, where there is not that complication of maladies
which troubles more polished nations. And further, what simplifies
extremely the treatment of the sick in these parts is the undoubted
periodicity of disease, reducing almost all to one type-ague.[FN#20]
Many of the complaints of tropical climates, as medical men well know,
display palpably intermittent symptoms little known to colder
countries; and speaking from individual experience, I may safely assert
that in all cases of suffering, from a wound to ophthalmia, this
phenomenon has forced itself upon my notice. So much by way of excuse.
I therefore considered myself as well qualified for the work as if I
had taken out a buono per l'estero diploma at Padua, and not more
likely to do active harm than most of the regularly graduated young
surgeons who start to "finish" themselves upon the frame of the British

After a month's hard work at Alexandria, I prepared to assume the
character of a wandering Darwaysh; after

[p.14]reforming my title from "Mirza"[FN#21] to "Shaykh"
Abdullah.[FN#22] A reverend man, whose name I do not care to quote,
some time ago initiated me into his order, the Kadiriyah, under the
high-sounding name of Bismillah-Shah:[FN#23] and, after a due period of
probation, he graciously elevated me to the proud position of a
Murshid,[FN#24] or Master in the mystic craft. I was therefore
sufficiently well acquainted with the tenets and practices of these
Oriental Freemasons. No character in the Moslem world is so proper for
disguise as that of the Darwaysh. It is assumed by all ranks, ages, and
creeds; by the nobleman who has been disgraced at court, and by the
peasant who is too idle to till the ground; by Dives, who is weary of
life, and by Lazarus, who begs his bread from door to door. Further,
the Darwaysh is allowed to ignore ceremony and politeness, as one who
ceases to appear upon the stage of life; he may pray or not, marry or
remain single as he pleases, be respectable in cloth of frieze as in
cloth of gold, and no one asks him-the chartered vagabond-

[p.15]Why he comes here? or Wherefore he goes there? He may wend his
way on foot alone, or ride his Arab mare followed by a dozen servants;
he is equally feared without weapons, as swaggering through the streets
armed to the teeth. The more haughty and offensive he is to the people,
the more they respect him; a decided advantage to the traveller of
choleric temperament. In the hour of imminent danger, he has only to
become a maniac, and he is safe; a madman in the East, like a notably
eccentric character in the West, is allowed to say or do whatever the
spirit directs. Add to this character a little knowledge of medicine, a
"moderate skill in magic, and a reputation for caring for nothing but
study and books," together with capital sufficient to save you from the
chance of starving, and you appear in the East to peculiar advantage.
The only danger of the "Mystic Path"[FN#25] is, that the Darwaysh's
ragged coat not unfrequently covers the cut-throat, and, if seized in
the society of such a "brother," you may reluctantly become his
companion, under the stick or on the stake. For be it known, Darwayshes
are of two orders, the Sharai, or those who conform to religion, and
the Bi-Sharai, or Luti, whose practices are hinted at by their own
tradition that "he we daurna name" once joined them for a week, but at
the end of that time left them in dismay, and returned to whence he

[FN#1] "Remembering . . . . reason," afterwards altered by the author
to "much disliking, if fact must be told, my impolitic habit of telling
political truths, (in 1851 I had submitted to the Court of Directors
certain remarks upon the subject of Anglo-Indian misrule: I need hardly
say that the publication was refused with many threats), and not
unwilling to mortify my supporter (his colleague, Colonel W. Sykes),
refused his sanction, alleging as a no-reason," et seq.
[FN#2] The vagrant, the merchant, and the philosopher, amongst
Orientals, are frequently united in the same person.
[FN#3] In a communication made to the Royal Geographical Society, and
published in the 24th vol. of the Journal, I have given my reasons for
naturalising this word. It will be used in the following pages to
express a "hill water-course, which rolls a torrent after rain, and is
either partially or wholly dry during the droughts." It is, in fact,
the Indian "Nullah, or Nala."
[FN#4] "In provinciis Arabum, ait Ibn Haukal, nullus dignoscitur
fluvius, aut mare quod navigia ferat." This truth has been disputed,
but now it is generally acknowledged.
[FN#5] A French traveller, the Viscount Escayrac de Lanture, was living
at Cairo as a native of the East, and preparing for a pilgrimage when I
was similarly engaged. Unfortunately he went to Damascus, where some
disturbance compelled him to resume his nationality. The only European
I have met with who visited Meccah without apostatising, is M.
Bertolucci, Swedish Consul at Cairo. This gentleman persuaded the
Badawin camel men who were accompanying him to Taif to introduce him in
disguise: he naïvely owns that his terror of discovery prevented his
making any observations. Dr. George A. Wallin, of Finland, performed
the Hajj in 1845; but his "somewhat perilous position, and the filthy
company of Persians," were effectual obstacles to his taking notes.
[FN#6] No one felt the want of this "silent friend," more than myself;
for though Eastern Arabia would not have been strange to me, the
Western regions were a terra incognita. Through Dr. Norton Shaw,
Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, I addressed a paper full
of questions to Dr. Wallin, professor of Arabic at the University of
Helsingfors. But that adventurous traveller and industrious Orienta1ist
was then, as we afterwards heard with sorrow, no more; so the queries
remained unanswered. In these pages I have been careful to solve all
the little financial and domestic difficulties, so perplexing to the
"freshman," whom circumstances compel to conceal his freshness from the
prying eyes of friends.
[FN#7] "Then came Trafalgar: would that Nelson had known the meaning of
that name! it would have fixed a smile upon his dying lips!" so says
the Rider through the Nubian Desert, giving us in a foot note the
curious information that "Trafalgar" is an Arabic word, which means the
"Cape of Laurels." Trafalgar is nothing but a corruption of Tarf
al-Gharb-the side or skirt of the West; it being the most occidental
point then reached by Arab conquest.
[FN#8] In Arabic "Ras al-Tin," the promontory upon which immortal
Pharos once stood. It is so called from the argile there found and
which supported an old pottery.
[FN#9] "Praise be to Allah, Lord of the (three) worlds!" a pious
ejaculation, which leaves the lips of the True Believer on all
occasions of concluding actions.
[FN#10] "Bakhshish," says a modern writer, "is a fee or present which
the Arabs (he here means the Egyptians, who got the word from the
Persians through the Turks,) claim on all occasions for services you
render them, as well as for services they have rendered you. A doctor
visits a patient gratis-the patient or his servant will ask for a
bakhshish (largesse); you employ, pay, clothe, and feed a child-the
father will demand his bakhshish; you may save the life of an Arab, at
the risk of your own, and he will certainly claim a bakhshish. This
bakhshish, in fact, is a sort of alms or tribute, which the poor Arab
believes himself entitled to claim from every respectable-looking
[FN#11] Mafish, "there is none," equivalent to, "I have left my purse
at home." Nothing takes the Oriental mind so much as a retort
alliterative or jingling. An officer in the Bombay army (Colonel
Hamerton) once saved himself from assault and battery by informing a
furious band of natives, that under British rule "harakat na hui,
barakat hui," "blessing hath there been to you; bane there hath been
[FN#12] In a coarser sense "kayf" is app1ied to all manner of
intoxication. Sonnini is not wrong when he says, "the Arabs give the
name of Kayf to the voluptuous relaxation, the delicious stupor,
produced by the smoking of hemp."
[FN#13] Cleopatra's Needle is called by the native Ciceroni "Masallat
Firaun," Pharaoh's packing needle. What Solomon, and the Jinnis and
Sikandar zu'l karnain (Alexander of Macedon), are to other Moslem
lands, such is Pharaoh to Egypt, the "Caesar aut Diabolus" of the Nile.
The ichneumon becomes "Pharaoh's cat,"-even the French were bitten and
named it, le rat de Pharaon; the prickly pear, "Pharaoh's fig;" the
guinea-worm, "Pharaoh's worm;" certain unapproachable sulphur springs,
"Pharaoh's bath;" a mausoleum at Petra, "Pharaoh's palace;" the mongrel
race now inhabiting the valley of the Nile is contemptuously named by
Turks and Arabs "Jins Firaun," or "Pharaoh's Breed;" and a foul kind of
vulture (vultur percnopterus, ak baba of the Turks, and ukab of Sind),
"Pharaoh's hen." This abhorrence of Pharaoh is, however, confined to
the vulgar and the religious. The philosophers and mystics of Al-Islam,
in their admiration of his impious daring, make him equal, and even
superior, to Moses. Sahil, a celebrated Sufi, declares that the secret
of the soul (i.e., its emanation) was first revealed when Pharaoh
declared himself a god. And Al-Ghazali sees in such temerity nothing
but the most noble aspiration to the divine, innate in the human,
spirit. (Dabistan, vol. iii.)
[FN#14] [Greek text] "Quid novi fert Africa?" said the Romans. "In the
same season Fayoles, tetrarch of Numidia, sent from the land of Africa
to Grangousier, the most hideously great mare that was ever seen; for
you know well enough how it is said, that ‘Africa always is productive
of some new thing.'"
[FN#15] Alexandria, moreover, is an interesting place to Moslems, on
account of the prophecy that it will succeed to the honours of Meccah,
when the holy city falls into the hands of the infidel. In its turn
Alexandria will be followed by Kairawan (in the Regency of Tunis); and
this by Rashid or Rosetta, which last shall endure to the end of time.
[FN#16] A Persian as opposed to an Arab.
[FN#17] A priest, elder, chieftain, language-master, private-tutor,
&c., &c.
[FN#18] The Persians place the Prophet's tomb at Susan or Sus,
described by Ibn Haukal (p. 76). The readers of Ibn Batutah may think
it strange that the learned and pious traveller in his account of
Alexandria (chap. 2.) makes no allusion to the present holy deceased
that distinguish the city. All the saints are now clear forgotten. For
it is the fate of saints, like distinguished sinners, to die twice.
[FN#19] The Mandal is that form of Oriental divination which owes its
present celebrity in Europe to Mr. Lane. Both it and the magic mirror
are hackneyed subjects, but I have been tempted to a few words
concerning them in another part of these volumes. Meanwhile I request
the reader not to set me down as a mere charlatan; medicine in the East
is so essentially united with superstitious practices, that he who
would pass for an expert practitioner, must necessarily represent
himself an "adept."
[FN#20] Hence the origin, I believe, of the Chronothermal System, a
discovery which physic owes to my old friend, the late Dr. Samuel
[FN#21] The Persian "Mister." In future chapters the reader will see
the uncomfortable consequences of my having appeared in Egypt as a
Persian. Although I found out the mistake, and worked hard to correct
it, the bad name stuck to me; bazar reports fly quicker and hit harder
than newspaper paragraphs.
[FN#22] Arab Christians sometimes take the name of "Abdullah," servant
of Allah-"which," as a modern traveller observes, "all sects and
religions might be equally proud to adopt." The Moslem Prophet said,
"the names most approved of God are Abdullah, Abd-al-rahman (Slave of
the Compassionate), and such like."
[FN#23] "King in-the-name-of-Allah," a kind of Oriental
"Praise-God-Barebones." When a man appears as a Fakir or Darwaysh, he
casts off, in process of regeneration, together with other worldly
sloughs, his laical name for some brilliant coat of nomenclature rich
in religious promise.
[FN#24] A Murshid is one allowed to admit Murids or apprentices into
the order. As the form of the diploma conferred upon this occasion may
be new to many European Orientalists, I have translated it in Appendix
[FN#25] The Tarikat or path, which leads, or is supposed to lead, to



THE thorough-bred wanderer's idiosyncracy I presume to be a composition
of what phrenologists call "inhabitiveness" and "locality" equally and
largely developed. After a long and toilsome march, weary of the way,
he drops into the nearest place of rest to become the most domestic of
men. For a while he smokes the "pipe of permanence"[FN#1] with an
infinite zest; he delights in various siestas during the day, relishing
withal deep sleep during the dark hours; he enjoys dining at a fixed
dinner hour, and he wonders at the demoralisation of the mind which
cannot find means of excitement in chit-chat or small talk, in a novel
or a newspaper. But soon the passive fit has passed away; again a
paroxysm of ennui coming on by slow degrees, Viator loses appetite, he
walks about his room all night, he yawns at conversations, and a book
acts upon him as a narcotic. The man wants to wander, and he must do
so, or he shall die.

After about a month most pleasantly spent at Alexandria, I perceived
the approach of the enemy, and as nothing hampered my incomings and
outgoings, I surrendered. The world was "all before me," and there was
pleasant excitement in plunging single-handed into its chilling depths.
My Alexandrian Shaykh, whose heart

[p.17]fell victim to a new "jubbah," which I had given in exchange for
his tattered za'abut[FN#2] offered me, in consideration of a certain
monthly stipend, the affections of a brother and religious refreshment,
proposing to send his wife back to her papa, and to accompany me, in
the capacity of private chaplain to the other side of Kaf.
[FN#3] I politely accepted the "Bruderschaft," but many reasons induced
me to decline his society and services. In the first place, he spoke
the detestable Egyptian jargon. Secondly, it was but prudent to lose
the "spoor" between Alexandria and Suez. And, thirdly, my "brother" had
shifting eyes (symptoms of fickleness), close together (indices of
cunning); a flat-crowned head, and large ill-fitting lips; signs which
led me to think lightly of his honesty, firmness, and courage.
Phrenology and physiognomy, be it observed, disappoint you often
amongst civilised people, the proper action of whose brain upon the
features is impeded by the external pressure of education, accident,
example, habit, and necessity. But they are tolerably safe guides when
groping your way through the mind of man in his so-called natural
state, a being of impulse, in that chrysalis condition of mental
development which is rather instinct than reason.

Before my departure, however, there was much to be done.

The land of the Pharaohs is becoming civilised, and unpleasantly so:
nothing can be more uncomfortable than its present middle state,
between barbarism and the reverse. The prohibition against carrying
arms is rigid as in Italy; all "violence" is violently denounced; and

[p.18]being deemed cruel, the most atrocious crimes, as well as those
small political offences, which in the days of the Mamluks would have
led to a beyship or a bow-string, receive fourfold punishment by
deportation to Fayzoghlu, the local Cayenne. If you order your peasant
to be flogged, his friends gather in threatening hundreds at your
gates; when you curse your boatman, he complains to your consul; the
dragomans afflict you with strange wild notions about honesty; a
Government order prevents you from using vituperative language to the
"natives" in general; and the very donkey boys are becoming cognisant
of the right of man to remain unbastinadoed. Still the old leaven
remains behind: here, as elsewhere in the "Morning-land," you cannot
hold your own without employing the voie de fait. The passport system,
now dying out of Europe, has sprung up, or rather has revived, in
Egypt, with peculiar vigour.[FN#4] Its good effects claim for it our
respect; still we cannot but lament its inconvenience. By we, I mean
real Easterns. As strangers-even those whose beards have whitened in
the land-know absolutely nothing of what unfortunate natives must
endure, I am tempted to subjoin a short

[p.19]sketch of my adventures in search of a Tazkirah, or passport, at

Through ignorance which might have cost me dear but for friend
Larking's weight with the local authorities, I had neglected to provide
myself with a passport in England, and it was not without difficulty,
involving much unclean dressing and an unlimited expenditure of broken
English, that I obtained from H.B.M's Consul at Alexandria a
certificate, declaring me to be an Indo-British subject named Abdullah,
by profession a doctor, aged thirty, and not distinguished-at least so
the frequent blanks seemed to denote-by any remarkable conformation of
eyes, nose, or cheek. For this I disbursed a dollar. And here let me
record the indignation with which I did it. That mighty Britain-the
mistress of the seas-the ruler of one-sixth of mankind-should charge
five shillings to pay for the shadow of her protecting wing! That I
cannot speak my modernised "civis sum Romanus" without putting my hand
into my pocket, in order that these officers of the Great Queen may not
take too ruinously from a revenue of seventy millions! O the meanness
of our magnificence! the littleness of our greatness!

My new passport would not carry me without the Zabit or Police
Magistrate's counter-signature, said H.B.M.'s Consul. Next day I went
to the Zabit, who referred me to the Muhafiz (Governor) of Alexandria,
at whose gate I had the honour of squatting at least three hours, till
a more compassionate clerk vouchsafed the information that the proper
place to apply to was the Diwan Kharijiyah (the Foreign Office). Thus a
second day was utterly lost. On the morning of the third I started, as
directed, for the Palace, which crowns the Headland of Clay. It is a
huge and couthless shell of building in parallelogrammic form,
containing all kinds of public offices in glorious confusion, looking
with their glaring

[p.20]white-washed faces upon a central court, where a few leafless
wind-wrung trees seem struggling for the breath of life in an eternal
atmosphere of clay-dust and sun-blaze.[FN#5]

The first person I addressed was a Kawwas[FN#6] or police officer, who,
coiled comfortably up in a bit of shade fitting his person like a robe,
was in full enjoyment of the Asiatic "Kayf." Having presented the
consular certificate and briefly stated the nature of my business, I
ventured to inquire what was the right course to pursue for a visa.

They have little respect for Darwayshes, it appears, at Alexandria.

M'adri-"Don't know," growled the man of authority, without moving any
thing but the quantity of tongue absolutely necessary for articulation.

Now there are three ways of treating Asiatic officials,-by bribe, by
bullying, or by bothering them with a dogged perseverance into
attending to you and your concerns. The latter is the peculiar province
of the poor; moreover, this time I resolved, for other reasons, to be
patient. I repeated my question in almost the same words. Ruh! "Be
off," was what I obtained for all reply. But this time the questioned
went so far as to open his eyes. Still I stood twirling the paper in my
hands, and looking very humble and very persevering, till a loud Ruh ya
Kalb! "Go, O dog!" converted into a responsive curse the little speech
I was preparing about

[p.21]the brotherhood of Al-Islam and the mutual duties obligatory on
true believers. I then turned away slowly and fiercely, for the next
thing might have been a cut with the Kurbaj,[FN#7] and, by the hammer
of Thor! British flesh and blood could never have stood that.

After which satisfactory scene,-for satisfactory it was in one sense,
proving the complete fitness of the Darwaysh's costume,-I tried a dozen
other promiscuous sources of information,-policemen, grooms, scribes,
donkey-boys, and idlers in general. At length, wearied of patience, I
offered a soldier some pinches of tobacco, and promised him an Oriental
sixpence if he would manage the business for me. The man was interested
by the tobacco and the pence; he took my hand, and inquiring the while
he went along, led me from place to place, till, mounting a grand
staircase, I stood in the presence of Abbas Effendi, Naib or deputy to
the Governor.

It was a little, whey-faced, black-bearded Turk, coiled up in the usual
conglomerate posture upon a calico-covered diwan, at the end of a long,
bare, large- windowed room. Without deigning even to nod the head,
which hung over his shoulder with transcendent listlessness and
affectation of pride, in answer to my salams and benedictions, he eyed
me with wicked eyes, and faintly ejaculated "Min ent[FN#8]?" Then
hearing that I was a Darwaysh and doctor-he must be an Osmanli
Voltairean, that little Turk-the official snorted a contemptuous snort.
He condescendingly added, however, that the proper source to seek was
"Taht," which, meaning simply "below," conveyed to an utter stranger
rather imperfect information from a topographical point of view.

At length, however, my soldier guide found out that

[p.22]a room in the custom-house bore the honourable appellation of
"Foreign Office." Accordingly I went there, and, after sitting at least
a couple of hours at the bolted door in the noon-day sun, was told,
with a fury which made me think I had sinned, that the officer in whose
charge the department was, had been presented with an olive branch in
the morning, and consequently that business was not to be done that
day. The angry-faced official communicated the intelligence to a large
group of Anadolian, Caramanian, Bosniac, and Roumelian Turks,-sturdy,
undersized, broad-shouldered, bare-legged, splay-footed, horny-fisted,
dark-browed, honest-looking mountaineers, who were lounging about with
long pistols and yataghans stuck in their broad sashes, head-gear
composed of immense tarbushes with proportionate turbands coiled round
them, and bearing two or three suits of substantial clothes, even at
this season of the year, upon their shoulders.

Like myself they had waited some hours, but they were not so patient
under disappointment: they bluntly told the angry official that he and
his master were a pair of idlers, and the curses that rumbled and
gurgled in their hairy throats as they strode towards the door sounded
like the growling of wild beasts.

Thus was another day truly orientally lost. On the morrow, however, I
obtained permission, in the character of Dr. Abdullah, to visit any
part of Egypt I pleased, and to retain possession of my dagger and

And now I must explain what induced me to take so much trouble about a
passport. The home reader naturally inquires, Why not travel under your
English name?

For this reason. In the generality of barbarous countries you must
either proceed, like Bruce, preserving the "dignity of manhood," and
carrying matters with a high hand, or you must worm your way by
timidity and

[p.23]subservience; in fact, by becoming an animal too contemptible for
man to let or injure. But to pass through the Moslem's Holy Land, you
must either be a born believer, or have become one; in the former case
you may demean yourself as you please, in the latter a path is ready
prepared for you. My spirit could not bend to own myself a Burma,[FN#9]
a renegade-to be pointed at and shunned and catechised, an object of
suspicion to the many and of contempt to all. Moreover, it would have
obstructed the aim of my wanderings. The convert is always watched with
Argus eyes, and men do not willingly give information to a "new
Moslem," especially a Frank: they suspect his conversion to be feigned
or forced, look upon him as a spy, and let him see as little of life as
possible. Firmly as was my heart set upon travelling in Arabia, by
Heaven! I would have given up the dear project rather than purchase a
doubtful and partial success at such a price. Consequently, I had no
choice but to appear as a born believer, and part of my birthright in
that respectable character was toil and trouble in obtaining a

Then I had to provide myself with certain necessaries for the way.
These were not numerous. The silver-mounted dressing-bag is here
supplied by a rag containing a Miswak[FN#11] or tooth-stick, a bit of
soap and a comb, wooden, for bone and tortoiseshell are not,
religiously speaking, correct. Equally simple was my wardrobe; [p.24]a
change or two of clothing. It is a great mistake to carry too few
clothes, and those who travel as Orientals should always have at least
one very grand suit for use on critical occasions. Throughout the East
a badly dressed man is a pauper, and, as in England, a pauper-unless he
belongs to an order having a right to be poor-is a scoundrel. The only
article of canteen description was a Zemzemiyah, a goat-skin water-bag,
which, especially when new, communicates to its contents a ferruginous
aspect and a wholesome, though hardly an attractive, flavour of
tanno-gelatine. This was a necessary; to drink out of a tumbler,
possibly fresh from pig-eating lips, would have entailed a certain loss
of reputation. For bedding and furniture I had a coarse Persian
rug-which, besides being couch, acted as chair, table, and oratory-a
cotton-stuffed chintz-covered pillow, a blanket in case of cold, and a
sheet, which did duty for tent and mosquito curtains in nights of
heat.[FN#12] As shade is a convenience not always procurable, another
necessary was a huge cotton umbrella of Eastern make, brightly yellow,
suggesting the idea of an overgrown marigold. I had also a substantial
housewife, the gift of a kind relative, Miss Elizabeth Stisted; it was
a roll of canvas, carefully soiled, and garnished with needles and
thread, cobblers' wax, buttons, and other such articles. These things
were most useful in lands where tailors abound not; besides which, the
sight of a man darning his coat or patching his slippers teems with
pleasing ideas of humility. A dagger,[FN#13] a brass inkstand and

[p.25]stuck in the belt, and a mighty rosary, which on occasion might
have been converted into a weapon of offence, completed my equipment. I
must not omit to mention the proper method of carrying money, which in
these lands should never be entrusted to box or bag. A common cotton
purse secured in a breast pocket (for Egypt now abounds in that
civilised animal, the pick-pocket!), contained silver pieces and small
change.[FN#14] My gold, of which I carried twenty-five sovereigns, and
papers, were committed to a substantial leathern belt of Maghrabi
manufacture, made to be strapped round the waist under the dress. This
is the Asiatic method of concealing valuables, and one more civilised
than ours in the last century, when Roderic Random and his companion
"sewed their money between the lining and the waist-band of their
breeches, except some loose silver for immediate

[p.26]expense on the road." The great inconvenience of the belt is its
weight, especially where dollars must be carried, as in Arabia, causing
chafes and discomfort at night. Moreover, it can scarcely be called
safe. In dangerous countries wary travellers will adopt surer

A pair of common native Khurjin, or saddle-bags, contained my wardrobe;
the bed was readily rolled up into a bundle; and for a medicine
chest[FN#17] I bought a pea-green box with red and yellow flowers,
capable of standing falls from a camel twice a day.

[p.27]The next step was to find out when the local steamer would start
for Cairo, and accordingly I betook myself to the Transit Office. No
vessel was advertised; I was directed to call every evening till
satisfied. At last the fortunate event took place: a "weekly
departure," which, by the bye, occurred once every fortnight or so, was
in orders for the next day. I hurried to the office, but did not reach
it till past noon-the hour of idleness. A little, dark gentleman-Mr.
Green-so formed and dressed as exactly to resemble a liver-and-tan
bull-terrier, who with his heels on the table was dosing, cigar in
mouth, over the last "Galignani," positively refused, after a time,-for
at first he would not speak at all,-to let me take my passage till
three in the afternoon. I inquired when the boat started, upon which he
referred me, as I had spoken bad Italian, to the advertisement. I
pleaded inability to read or write, whereupon he testily cried Alle
nove! alle nove!-at nine! at nine! Still appearing uncertain, I drove
him out of his chair, when he rose with a curse and read 8 A.M. An
unhappy Eastern, depending upon what he said, would have been precisely
one hour too late.

Thus were we lapsing into the real good old East-Indian style of doing
business. Thus Anglo-Indicus orders his first clerk to execute some
commission; the senior, having "work" upon his hands, sends a junior;
the junior finds the sun hot, and passes on the word to a "peon;" the
"peon" charges a porter with the errand; and the porter quietly sits or
doses in his place, trusting that Fate will bring him out of the
scrape, but firmly resolved, though the shattered globe fall, not to
stir an inch.

The reader, I must again express a hope, will pardon the length of
these descriptions,-my object is to show him how business is carried on
in these hot countries. Business generally. For had I been, not
Abdullah the Darwaysh, but a rich native merchant, it would have been

[p.28]the same. How many complaints of similar treatment have I heard
in different parts of the Eastern world! and how little can one realise
them without having actually experienced the evil! For the future I
shall never see a "nigger" squatting away half a dozen mortal hours in
a broiling sun patiently waiting for something or for some one, without
a lively remembrance of my own cooling of the calces at the
custom-house of Alexandria.

At length, about the end of May (1853) all was ready. Not without a
feeling of regret I left my little room among the white myrtle blossoms
and the rosy oleander flowers with the almond smell. I kissed with
humble ostentation my good host's hand in presence of his servants-he
had become somewhat unpleasantly anxious, of late, to induce in me the
true Oriental feeling, by a slight administration of the bastinado-I
bade adieu to my patients, who now amounted to about fifty, shaking
hands with all meekly and with religious equality of attention; and,
mounted in a "trap" which looked like a cross between a wheel-barrow
and a dog-cart, drawn by a kicking, jibbing, and biting mule, I set out
for the steamer, the "Little Asthmatic."

[FN#1] The long pipe which at home takes the place of the shorter
chibuk used on the road.
[FN#2] The jubbah is a long outer garment, generally of cloth, worn by
learned and respectable men. The za'abut is a large bag-sleeved black
or brown coloured robe made of home-spun woollen, the garb of the
peasant, the hedge-priest, and the darwaysh.
[FN#3] The mountain which encircles the globe, according to the sacred
geography of the Moslems. To "go to Kaf" is equivalent to our "go to
Jericho," or-somewhere else.
[FN#4] Sir G. Wilkinson, referring his readers to Strabo, remarks that
the "troublesome system of passports seems to have been adopted by the
Egyptians at a very early period." Its present rigours, which have
lasted since the European troubles in 1848 and 1849, have a two-fold
object; in the first place, to act as a clog upon the dangerous
emigrants which Germany, Italy, and Greece have sent out into the
world; and secondly, to confine the subjects of the present Pasha of
Egypt to their fatherland and the habit of paying taxes. The
enlightened ruler (this was written during the rule of Abbas Pasha)
knows his own interests, and never willingly parts with a subject
liable to cess, at times objecting even to their obeying pilgrimage
law. We, on the other hand, in India, allow a freedom of emigration, in
my humble opinion, highly injurious to us. For not only does this
exodus thin the population, and tend to impoverish the land, it also
serves to bring our rule into disrepute in foreign lands. At another
time I shall discuss this subject more fully.
[FN#5] The glare of Alexandria has become a matter of fable in the
East. The stucco employed in overlaying its walls, erected by
Zul-karnayn, was so exquisitely tempered and so beautifully polished,
that the inhabitants, in order to protect themselves from blindness,
were constrained to wear masks.
[FN#6] The word literally means "a bowman, an archer," reminding us of
"les archers de la Sainte Hermandade," in the most delicious of modern
fictions. Some mis-spell the word "Kawas," "Cavass," and so forth!
[FN#7] A whip, a cravache of dried and twisted hippopotamus hide, the
ferule, horsewhip, and "cat o' nine tails" of Egypt.
[FN#8] For "man anta?" who art thou?
[FN#9] An opprobrious name given by the Turks to their Christian
converts. The word is derived from burmak, "to twist, to turn."
[FN#10] During my journey, and since my return, some Indian papers
conducted by jocose editors made merry upon an Englishman "turning
Turk." Once for all, I beg leave to point above for the facts of the
case; it must serve as a general answer to any pleasant little fictions
which may hereafter appear.
[FN#11] A stick of soft wood chewed at one end. It is generally used
throughout the East, where brushes should be avoided, as the natives
always suspect hogs' bristles.
[FN#12] Almost all Easterns sleep under a sheet, which becomes a kind
of respirator, defending them from the dews and mosquitoes by night and
the flies by day. The "rough and ready" traveller will learn to follow
the example, remembering that "Nature is founder of Customs in savage
countries;" whereas, amongst the soi-disant civilised, Nature has no
deadlier enemy than Custom.
[FN#13] It is strictly forbidden to carry arms in Egypt. This, however,
does not prevent their being as necessary-especially in places like
Alexandria, where Greek and Italian ruffians abound-as they ever were
in Rome or Leghorn during the glorious times of Italian "liberty."
[FN#14] In the Azhar Mosque, immediately after Friday service, a fellow
once put his hand into my pocket, which fact alone is ample evidence of
[FN#15] As a general rule, always produce, when travelling, the
minutest bit of coin. At present, however, small change is dear in
Egypt; the Sarrafs, or money-changers, create the dearth in order to
claim a high agio. The traveller must prepare himself for a most
unpleasant task in learning the different varieties of currency, which
appear all but endless, the result of deficiency in the national
circulating medium. There are, however, few copper coins, the pieces of
ten or five faddah (or parahs), whereas silver and gold abound. As
regards the latter metal, strangers should mistrust all small pieces,
Turkish as well as Egyptian. "The greater part are either cut or
cracked, or perhaps both, and worn down to mere spangles: after taking
them, it will not be possible to pass them without considerable loss."
Above all things, the traveller must be careful never to change gold
except in large towns, where such a display of wealth would not arouse
suspicion or cupidity; and on no occasion when travelling even to
pronounce the ill-omened word "Kis" (purse). Many have lost their lives
by neglecting these simple precautions.
[FN#16] Some prefer a long chain of pure gold divided into links and
covered with leather, so as to resemble the twisted girdle which the
Arab fastens round his waist. It is a precaution well known to the
wandering knights of old. Others, again, in very critical situations,
open with a lancet the shoulder, or any other fleshy part of the body,
and insert a precious stone, which does not show in its novel purse.
[FN#17] Any "Companion to the Medicine Chest" will give, to those that
require such information, the names of drugs and instruments necessary
for a journey; but it must be borne in mind that hot countries require
double quantities of tonics, and half the allowance of cathartics
necessary in cold climates. Sonnini, however, is right when he says of
the Egyptian fellahs, that their stomachs, accustomed to digest bread
badly baked, acrid and raw vegetables, and other green and unwholesome
nourishment, require doses fit only for horses. Advisable precautions
are, in the first place, to avoid, if travelling as a native, any signs
of European manufacture in knives, scissors, weights, scales and other
such articles. Secondly, glass bottles are useless: the drugs should be
stowed away in tin or wooden boxes, such as the natives of the country
use, and when a phial is required, it must be fitted into an etui of
some kind. By this means, ground glass stoppers and plentiful cotton
stuffing, the most volatile essences may be carried about without great
waste. After six months of the driest heat, in Egypt and Arabia, not
more than about one-fourth of my Prussic acid and chloroform had
evaporated. And, thirdly, if you travel in the East, a few bottles of
tincture of cantharides-highly useful as a rubefacient, excitant, et
cetera-must never be omitted. I made the mistake of buying my drugs in
England, and had the useless trouble of looking after them during the
journey. Both at Alexandria and Cairo they are to be found in
abundance, cheaper than in London, and good enough for all practical



IN the days of the Pitts we have invariably a "Relation" of Egyptian
travellers who embark for a place called "Roseet" on the "River Nilus."
Wanderers of the Brucean age were wont to record their impressions of
voyage upon land subjects observed between Alexandria and Cairo. A
little later we find every one inditing rhapsodies about, and
descriptions of, his or her Dahabiyah (barge) on the canal. After this
came the steamer. And after the steamer will come the railroad, which
may disappoint the author tourist, but will be delightful to that
sensible class of men who wish to get over the greatest extent of
ground with the least inconvenience to themselves and others. Then
shall the Mahmudiyah-ugliest and most wearisome of canals-be given up
to cotton boats and grain barges, and then will note-books and the
headings of chapters clean ignore its existence.

I saw the canal at its worst, when the water was low; and I have not
one syllable to say in its favour. Instead of thirty hours, we took
three mortal days and nights to reach Cairo, and we grounded with
painful regularity four or five times between sunrise and sunset. In
the scenery on the banks sketchers and describers have left you nought
to see. From Pompey's Pillar to the Maison Carree, Kariom and its
potteries, Al-Birkah[FN#1] of the night birds, Bastarah

[p.30]with the alleys of trees, even unto Atfah, all things are
perfectly familiar to us, and have been so years before the traveller
actually sees them. The Nil al-Mubarak itself-the Blessed Nile,-as
notably fails too at this season to arouse enthusiasm. You see nothing
but muddy waters, dusty banks, a sand mist, a milky sky, and a glaring
sun: you feel nought but a breeze like the blast from a potter's
furnace. You can only just distinguish through a veil of reeking
vapours the village Shibr Katt from the village Kafr al-Zayyat, and you
steam too far from Wardan town to enjoy the Timonic satisfaction of
enraging its male population with "Haykal! ya ibn Haykal! O Haykal!-O
son of Haykal[FN#2]!" You are nearly wrecked, as a matter of course, at
the Barrage; and you are certainly dumbfoundered by the sight of its
ugly little Gothic crenelles.[FN#3] The Pyramids of Khufa and Khafra

[p.31]and Cephren) "rearing their majestic heads above the margin of
the Desert," only suggest of remark that they have been remarkably
well-sketched; and thus you proceed till with a real feeling of
satisfaction you moor alongside of the tumble-down old suburb "Bulak."

To me there was double dulness in the scenery: it seemed to be Sind
over again-the same morning mist and noon-tide glare; the same hot wind
and heat clouds, and fiery sunset, and evening glow; the same pillars
of dust and "devils" of sand sweeping like giants over the plain; the
same turbid waters of a broad, shallow stream studded with sand-banks
and silt-isles, with crashing earth slips and ruins nodding over a kind
of cliff, whose base the stream gnaws with noisy tooth. On the banks,
saline ground sparkled and glittered like hoar-frost in the sun; and
here and there mud villages, solitary huts, pigeon-towers, or watch
turrets, whence litt1e brown boys shouted and slung stones at the
birds, peeped out from among bright green patches of palm-tree,
tamarisk, and mimosa, of maize, tobacco, and sugar-cane. Beyond the
narrow tongue of land on the river banks lay the glaring, yellow
Desert, with its low hills and sand slopes, bounded by innumerable
pyramids of Nature's architecture. The boats, with their sharp bows,
preposterous sterns, and lateen sails, might have belonged to the
Indus. So might the chocolate-skinned, blue-robed peasantry; the women
carrying progeny on their hips, with the eternal waterpot on their
heads; and the men sleeping in the shade or following the plough, to
which probably Osiris first put hand. The lower animals, like the
higher, were the same; gaunt, mange-stained camels, muddy buffaloes,
scurvied donkeys, sneaking jackals, and fox-like dogs. Even the
feathered creatures were perfectly familiar to my eye-

[p.32]paddy birds, pelicans, giant cranes, kites and wild water-fowl.

I had taken a third-class or deck-passage, whereby the evils of the
journey were exasperated. A roasting sun pierced the canvas awning like
hot water through a gauze veil, and by night the cold dews fell raw and
thick as a Scotch mist. The cooking was abominable, and the dignity of
Darwaysh-hood did not allow me to sit at meat with Infidels or to eat
the food which they had polluted. So the Pilgrim squatted apart,
smoking perpetually, with occasional interruptions to say his prayers
and to tell his beads upon the mighty rosary; and he drank the muddy
water of the canal out of a leathern bucket, and he munched his bread
and garlic[FN#4] with a desperate sanctimoniousness.

The "Little Asthmatic" was densely crowded, and discipline not daring
to mark out particular places, the scene on board of her was motley
enough. There were two Indian officers, who naturally spoke to none but
each other, drank bad tea, and smoked their cigars exclusively

[p.33]like Britons. A troop of the Kurd Kawwas,[FN#5] escorting
treasure, was surrounded by a group of noisy Greeks; these men's gross
practical jokes sounding anything but pleasant to the solemn Moslems,
whose saddle-bags and furniture were at every moment in danger of being
defiled by abominable drinks and the ejected juices of tobacco. There
was one pretty woman on board, a Spanish girl, who looked strangely
misplaced-a rose in a field of thistles. Some silent Italians, with
noisy interpreters, sat staidly upon the benches. It was soon found
out, through the communicative dragoman, that their business was to buy
horses for H. M. of Sardinia: they were exposed to a volley of
questions delivered by a party of French tradesmen returning to Cairo,
but they shielded themselves and fought shy with Machiavellian
dexterity. Besides these was a German, a "beer-bottle in the morning
and a bottle of beer in the evening," to borrow a simile from his own
nation; a Syrian merchant, the richest and ugliest of Alexandria; and a
few French house-painters going to decorate the Pasha's palace at
Shubra. These last were the happiest of our voyagers,-veritable
children of Paris, Montagnards, Voltaireans, and thoroughbred
Sans-Soucis. All day they sat upon deck chattering as only their lively
nation can chatter, indulging in ultra-gallic maxims, such as "on ne
vieillit jamais a table;" now playing ecarte for love or nothing, then
composing "des ponches un peu chiques;" now reciting adventures of the
category "Mirabolant," then singing, then dancing, then sleeping, and
rising to play, to drink, talk, dance, and sing again. One chaunted:

"Je n'ai pas connu mon pere
Ce respectable vieillard.
Je suis ne trois ans trop tard," &.;

Whilst another trolled out:

"Qu'est ce que je vois?
Un canard en robe de chambre!"

[p.34]They being new comers, free from the western morgue so soon
caught by Oriental Europeans, were particularly civil to me, even
wishing to mix me a strong draught; but I was not so fortunate with all
on board. A large shopkeeper threatened to "briser" my "figure" for
putting my pipe near his pantaloons; but seeing me finger my dagger
curiously, though I did not shift my pipe, he forgot to remember his
threat. I had taken charge of a parcel for one M. P-, a student of
Coptic, and remitted it to him on board; of this little service the
only acknowledgment was a stare and a petulant inquiry why I had not
given it to him before. And one of the Englishmen, half publicly, half
privily, as though communing with himself, condemned my organs of
vision because I happened to touch his elbow. He was a man in my own
service; I pardoned him in consideration of the compliment paid to my

Two fellow-passengers were destined to play an important part in my
comedy of Cairo. Just after we had started, a little event afforded us
some amusement. On the bank appeared a short, crummy, pursy kind of
man, whose efforts to board the steamer were notably ridiculous. With
attention divided between the vessel and a carpet-bag carried by his
donkey boy, he ran along the sides of the canal, now stumbling into
hollows, then climbing heights, then standing shouting upon the
projections with the fierce sun upon his back, till everyone thought
his breath was completely gone. But no! game to the backbone, he would
have perished miserably rather than lose his fare: "patience and
perseverance," say the wise, "got a wife for his Reverence." At last he
was taken on board, and presently he lay down to sleep. His sooty
complexion, lank black hair, features in which appeared beaucoup de
finesse, that is to say, abundant rascality, an eternal smile and
treacherous eyes, his gold[FN#6] ring, dress

[p.35]of showy colours, fleshy stomach, fat legs, round back, and a
peculiar manner of frowning and fawning simultaneously, marked him an
Indian. When he awoke he introduced himself to me as Miyan Khudabakhsh
Namdar, a native of Lahore: he had carried on the trade of a shawl
merchant in London and Paris, where he had lived two years, and, after
a pilgrimage intended to purge away the sins of civilised lands, he had
settled at Cairo.

My second friend, Haji Wali, I will introduce to the reader in a future
chapter; and my two expeditions to Midian have brought him once more
into notice.[FN#7]

Long conversations in Persian and Hindustani abridged the tediousness
of the voyage, and when we arrived at Bulak, the polite Khudabakhsh
insisted upon my making his house my home. I was unwilling to accept
the man's civility, disliking his looks; but he advanced cogent reasons
for changing my mind. His servant cleared my luggage through the
custom-house, and a few minutes after our arrival I found myself in his
abode near the Azbakiyah Gardens, sitting in a cool Mashrabiyah[FN#8]
that gracefully projected over a garden, and sipping the favourite
glass of pomegranate syrup.

As the Wakalahs or Caravanserais were at that time full of pilgrims, I
remained with Khudabakhsh ten days or a fortnight. But at the end of
that time my patience was thoroughly exhausted. My host had become a
civilised man, who sat on chairs, who ate with a fork, who talked
European politics, and who had learned to admire, if not to understand,
liberty-liberal ideas! and was I not flying from such things? Besides
which, we English have a

[p.36]peculiar national quality, which the Indians, with their
characteristic acuteness, soon perceived, and described by an
opprobrious name. Observing our solitary habits, that we could not, and
would not, sit and talk and sip sherbet and smoke with them, they
called us "Jangli"-wild men, fresh caught in the jungle and sent to
rule over the land of Hind.[FN#9] Certainly nothing suits us less than
perpetual society, an utter want of solitude, when one cannot retire
into oneself an instant without being asked some puerile question by a
companion, or look into a book without a servant peering over one's
shoulder; when from the hour you rise to the time you rest, you must
ever be talking or listening, you must converse yourself to sleep in a
public dormitory, and give ear to your companions' snores and
mutterings at midnight.[FN#10]

The very essence of Oriental hospitality, however, is this family style
of reception, which costs your host neither coin nor trouble. I speak
of the rare tracts in which the old barbarous hospitality still
lingers. You make one more at his eating tray, and an additional
mattress appears in the sleeping-room. When you depart, you leave if
you like a little present, merely for a memorial, with your
entertainer; he would be offended if you offered it him openly as a
remuneration, and you give

[p.37]some trifling sums to the servants. Thus you will be welcome
wherever you go. If perchance you are detained perforce in such a
situation,-which may easily happen to you, medical man,-you have only
to make yourself as disagreeable as possible, by calling for all manner
of impossible things. Shame is a passion with Eastern nations. Your
host would blush to point out to you the indecorum of your conduct; and
the laws of hospitality oblige him to supply the every want of a guest,
even though he be a detenu.

But of all Orientals, the most antipathetical companion to an
Englishman is, I believe, an East-Indian. Like the fox in the fable,
fulsomely flattering at first, he gradually becomes easily friendly,
disagreeably familiar, offensively rude, which ends by rousing the
"spirit of the British lion." Nothing delights the Hindi so much as an
opportunity of safely venting the spleen with which he regards his
victors.[FN#11] He will sit in the presence of a

[p.38]magistrate, or an officer, the very picture of cringing
submissiveness. But after leaving the room, he is as different from his
former self as a counsel in court from a counsel at a concert, a sea
captain at a club dinner from a sea captain on his quarter-deck. Then
he will discover that the English are not brave, nor clever, nor
generous, nor civilised, nor anything but surpassing rogues; that every
official takes bribes, that their manners are utterly offensive, and
that they are rank infidels. Then he will descant complacently upon the
probability of a general Bartholomew's Day in the East, and look
forward to the hour when enlightened Young India will arise and drive
the "foul invader" from the land.[FN#12] Then he will submit his
political opinions nakedly, that India should be wrested from the
Company and given to the Queen, or taken from the Queen and given to
the French. If the Indian has been a European traveller, so much the
worse for you. He has blushed to own,-explaining, however , conquest by
bribery,-that 50,000 Englishmen hold 150,000,000 of his compatriots in
thrall, and for aught you know, republicanism may have become his idol.
He has lost all fear of the white face, and having been accustomed to
unburden his mind in

"The land where, girt by friend or foe,
A man may say the thing he will,"-

he pursues the same course in other lands where it is exceedingly
misplaced. His doctrines of liberty and

[p.39]equality he applies to you personally and practically, by not
rising when you enter or leave the room,-at first you could scarcely
induce him to sit down,-by not offering you his pipe, by turning away
when you address him; in fact, by a variety of similar small affronts
which none knows better to manage skilfully and with almost impalpable
gradations. If-and how he prays for it!-an opportunity of refusing you
anything presents itself, he does it with an

"In rice strength,
In an Indian manliness,[FN#13]"

say the Arabs. And the Persians apply the following pithy tale to their
neighbours. "Brother," said the leopard to the jackal, "I crave a few
of thy cast-off hairs; I want them for medicine;[FN#14] where can I
find them?" "Wa'llahi!" replied the jackal, "I don't exactly know-I
seldom change my coat-I wander about the hills. Allah is
bounteous,[FN#15] brother! hairs are not so easily shed."

Woe to the unhappy Englishman, Pasha, or private soldier, who must
serve an Eastern lord! Worst of all, if the master be an Indian, who,
hating all Europeans,[FN#16]
[p.40]adds an especial spite to Oriental coarseness, treachery, and
tyranny. Even the experiment of associating with them is almost too
hard to bear. But a useful deduction may be drawn from such
observations; and as few have had greater experience than myself, I
venture to express my opinion with confidence, however unpopular or
unfashionable it may be.

I am convinced that the natives of India cannot respect a European who
mixes with them familiarly, or especially who imitates their customs,
manners, and dress. The tight pantaloons, the authoritative voice, the
pococurante manner, and the broken Hindustani impose upon them-have a
weight which learning and honesty, which wit and courage, have not.
This is to them the master's attitude: they bend to it like those
Scythian slaves that faced the sword but fled from the horsewhip. Such
would never be the case amongst a brave people, the Afghan for
instance; and for the same reason it is not so, we read, with "White
Plume," the North American Indian. "The free trapper combines in the
eye of an Indian (American) girl, all that is dashing and heroic in a
warrior of her own race, whose gait and garb and bravery he emulates,
with all that is gallant and glorious in the white man." There is but
one cause for this phenomenon; the "imbelles Indi" are still, with few
exceptions,[FN#17] a cowardly and slavish people, who would raise
themselves by depreciating those superior to them in the scale of
creation. The Afghans and American aborigines, being chivalrous races,
rather exaggerate the valour of their foes, because by so doing they
exalt their own.[FN#18]

[FN#1] Villages notorious for the peculiar Egyptian revelry, an
undoubted relic of the good old times, when "the most religious of men"
revelled at Canopus with an ardent piety in honour of Isis and Osiris.
[FN#2] "Haykal" was a pleasant fellow, who, having basely abused the
confidence of the fair ones of Wardan, described their charms in
sarcastic verse, and stuck his scroll upon the door of the village
mosque, taking at the same time the wise precaution to change his
lodgings without delay. The very mention of his name affronts the brave
Wardanenses to the last extent, making them savage as Oxford bargees.
[FN#3] The Barrage is a handsome bridge,-putting the style of
architecture out of consideration,-the work of French engineers,
originally projected by Napoleon the First. It was intended to act as a
dam, raising the waters of the Nile and conducting them to Suez, the
salt lakes, and a variety of other places, through a number of canals,
which, however, have not yet been opened. Meanwhile, it acts upon the
river's trunk as did the sea of old upon its embouchures, blocking it
up and converting the land around it to the condition of a swamp.
Moreover, it would have cleaned out the bed by means of sluice gates,
forming an artificial increase of current to draw off the deposit; but
the gates are wanting, so the piers, serving only to raise the soil by
increasing the deposit of silt, collect and detain suspended matter,
which otherwise would not settle. Briefly, by a trifling expenditure
the Barrage might be made a blessing to Egypt; in its present state it
is a calamity, an "enormous, cruel wonder," more crushing to the people
than were the pyramids and sphinxes of old.
[FN#4] Those skilled in simples, Eastern as well as Western, praise
garlic highly, declaring that it "strengthens the body, prepares the
constitution for fatigue, brightens the sight, and, by increasing the
digestive power, obviates the ill-effects arising from sudden change of
air and water." The traveller inserts it into his dietary in some
pleasant form, as "Provence-butter," because he observes that, wherever
fever and ague abound, the people, ignorant of cause but observant of
effect, make it a common article of food. The old Egyptians highly
esteemed this vegetable, which, with onions and leeks, enters into the
list of articles so much regretted by the Hebrews (Numbers, xi. 5;
Koran, chap. 2). The modern people of the Nile, like the Spaniards,
delight in onions, which, as they contain between 25 and 30 per cent.
of gluten, are highly nutritive. In Arabia, however, the stranger must
use this vegetable sparingly. The city people despise it as the food of
a Fellah-a boor. The Wahhabis have a prejudice against onions, leeks,
and garlic, because the Prophet disliked their strong smell, and all
strict Moslems refuse to eat them immediately before visiting the
mosque, or meeting for public prayer.
[FN#5] A policeman; see Chap. I.
[FN#6] The stricter sort of Moslems, such as the Arabs, will not wear
gold ornaments, which are forbidden by their law.
[FN#7] See "The Gold Mines of Midian," and "The Land of Midian
(Revisited)," by Sir R. F. Burton.
[FN#8] The projecting latticed window, made of wood richly carved, for
which Cairo was once so famous. But they are growing out of fashion
with young Egypt, disappearing before heating glass and unsightly green
[FN#9] Caste in India arises from the peculiarly sociable nature of the
native mind, for which reason "it is found existing among sects whose
creeds are as different and as opposite as those of the Hindu and the
Christian." (B. A. Irving's Prize Essay on the Theory and Practice of
Caste.) Hence, nothing can be more terrible to a man than expulsion
from caste; the excommunication of our feudal times was not a more
dreadful form of living death.
[FN#10] With us every man's house is his castle. But caste divides a
people into huge families, each member of which has a right to know
everything about his "caste-brother," because a whole body might be
polluted and degraded by the act of an individual. Hence, there is no
such thing as domestic privacy, and no system of espionnage devised by
rulers could be so complete as that self-imposed by the Hindus.
[FN#11] The Calcutta Review (No. 41), noticing "L'Inde sous la
Domination Anglaise," by the Baron Barchou de Penhoën, delivers the
following sentiment: "Whoever states, as the Baron B. de P. states and
repeats, again and again, that the natives generally entertain a bad
opinion of the Europeans generally, states what is decidedly untrue."
The reader will observe that I differ as decidedly from the Reviewer's
opinion. Popular feeling towards the English in India was "at first one
of fear, afterwards of horror: Hindus and Hindis (Moslems) considered
the strangers a set of cow-eaters and fire-drinkers, tetrae beluae ac
molossis suis ferociores, who would fight like Iblis, cheat their own
fathers, and exchange with the same readiness a broadside of shots and
thrusts of boarding-pikes, or a bale of goods and a bag of rupees."
(Rev. Mr. Anderson-The English in Western India.) We have risen in a
degree above such a low standard of estimation; still, incredible as it
may appear to the Frank himself, it is no less true, that the Frank
everywhere in the East is considered a contemptible being, and
dangerous withal. As regards Indian opinion concerning our government,
my belief is, that in and immediately about the three presidencies,
where the people owe everything to and hold everything by our rule, it
is most popular. At the same time I am convinced that in other places
the people would most willingly hail any change. And how can we hope it
to be otherwise,-we, a nation of strangers, aliens to the country's
customs and creed, who, even while resident in India, act the part
which absentees do in other lands? Where, in the history of the world,
do we read that such foreign dominion ever made itself loved?
[FN#12] This was written three years before the Indian Mutiny. I also
sent into the Court of Directors a much stronger report-for which I
duly suffered.
[FN#13] In the Arabic "Muruwwat," generosity, the noble part of human
nature, the qualities which make a man.
[FN#14] "For medicine," means for an especial purpose, an urgent
[FN#15] "Allah Karim!" said to a beggar when you do not intend to be
[FN#16] Read an account of Tipu Sahib's treatment of his French
employes. If Rangit Singh behaved better to his European officers, it
was only on account of his paramount fear and hatred of the British.
The Panjabi story of the old lion's death is amusing enough, contrasted
with that Anglomania of which so much has been said and written. When
the Sikh king, they declare, heard of our success in Afghanistan-he had
allowed us a passage through his dominions, as ingress into a deadly
trap-his spirits (metaphorically and literally) failed him; he had not
the heart to drink, he sickened and he died.
[FN#17] The Rajputs, for instance, "whose land has ever been the focus
of Indian chivalry, and the home of Indian heroes."
[FN#18] As my support against the possible, or rather the probable,
imputation of "extreme opinions," I hold up the honoured name of the
late Sir Henry Elliot (Preface to the Biographical Index to the
Historians of Mohammedan India). "These idle vapourers (bombastic
Babus, and other such political ranters), should learn that the sacred
spark of patriotism is exotic here, and can never fall on a mine that
can explode; for history will show them that certain peculiarities of
physical, as well as moral organisation, neither to be strengthened by
diet nor improved by education, have hitherto prevented their ever
attempting a national independence; which will continue to exist to
them but as a name, and as an offscouring of college declamations."



THE "Wakalah," as the Caravanserai or Khan is called in Egypt, combines
the offices of hotel, lodging-house, and store. It is at Cairo, as at
Constantinople, a massive pile of buildings surrounding a quadrangular
"Hosh" or court-yard. On the ground-floor are rooms like caverns for
merchandise, and shops of different kinds-tailors, cobblers, bakers,
tobacconists, fruiterers, and others. A roofless gallery or a covered
verandah, into which all the apartments open, runs round the first and
sometimes the second story: the latter, however, is usually exposed to
the sun and wind. The accommodations consist of sets of two or three
rooms, generally an inner one and an outer; the latter contains a
hearth for cooking, a bathing-place, and similar necessaries. The
staircases are high, narrow, and exceedingly dirty; dark at night, and
often in bad repair; a goat or donkey is tethered upon the different
landings; here and there a fresh skin is stretched in process of
tanning, and the smell reminds the veteran traveller of those closets
in the old French

[p.42]inns where cat used to be prepared for playing the part of jugged
hare. The interior is unfurnished; even the pegs upon which clothes are
hung have been pulled down for fire-wood: the walls are bare but for
stains, thick cobwebs depend in festoons from the blackened rafters of
the ceiling, and the stone floor would disgrace a civilised prison: the
windows are huge apertures carefully barred with wood or iron, and in
rare places show remains of glass or paper pasted over the framework.
In the court-yard the poorer sort of travellers consort with tethered
beasts of burden, beggars howl, and slaves lie basking and scratching
themselves upon mountainous heaps of cotton bales and other merchandise.

This is not a tempting picture, yet is the Wakalah a most amusing
place, presenting a succession of scenes which would delight lovers of
the Dutch school-a rich exemplification of the grotesque, and what is
called by artists the "dirty picturesque."

I could find no room in the Wakalah Khan Khalil, the Long's, or
Meurice's of native Cairo; I was therefore obliged to put up with the
Jamaliyah, a Greek quarter, swarming with drunken Christians, and
therefore about as fashionable as Oxford Street or Covent Garden. Even
for this I had to wait a week. The pilgrims were flocking to Cairo, and
to none other would the prudent hotel keepers open their doors, for the
following sufficient reasons. When you enter a Wakalah, the first thing
you have to do is to pay a small sum, varying from two to five
shillings, for the Miftah (the key). This is generally equivalent to a
month's rent; so the sooner you leave the house the better for it. I
was obliged to call myself a Turkish pilgrim in order to get possession
of two most comfortless rooms, which I afterwards learned were
celebrated for making travellers ill; and I had to pay eighteen
piastres for the key and eighteen ditto per mensem for

[p.43]rent, besides five piastres to the man who swept and washed the
place. So that for this month my house-hire amounted to nearly four
pence a day.

But I was fortunate enough in choosing the Jamaliyah Wakalah, for I
found a friend there. On board the steamer a fellow-voyager, seeing me
sitting alone and therefore as he conceived in discomfort, placed
himself by my side and opened a hot fire of kind inquiries. He was a
man about forty-five, of middle size, with a large round head closely
shaven, a bull-neck, limbs sturdy as a Saxon's, a thin red beard, and
handsome features beaming with benevolence. A curious dry humour he
had, delighting in "quizzing," but in so quiet, solemn, and quaint a
way that before you knew him you could scarcely divine his drift.

"Thank Allah, we carry a doctor!" said my friend more than once, with
apparent fervour of gratitude, after he had discovered my profession. I
was fairly taken in by the pious ejaculation, and some days elapsed
before the drift of his remark became apparent.

"You doctors," he explained, when we were more intimate, "what do you
do? A man goes to you for ophthalmia: it is a purge, a blister, and a
drop in the eye! Is it for fever? well! a purge and kinakina (quinine).
For dysentery? a purge and extract of opium. Wa'llahi! I am as good a
physician as the best of you," he would add with a broad grin, "if I
only knew the Dirham-birhams,[FN#1]-drams and drachms,-and a few
break-jaw Arabic names of diseases."

Haji Wali[FN#2] therefore emphatically advised me to

[p.44]make bread by honestly teaching languages. "We are
doctor-ridden," said he, and I found it was the case.

When we lived under the same roof, the Haji and I became fast friends.
During the day we called on each other frequently, we dined together,
and passed the evening in a Mosque, or some other place of public
pastime. Coyly at first, but less guardedly as we grew bolder, we
smoked the forbidden weed "Hashish,[FN#3]" conversing lengthily the
while about that world of which I had seen so much. Originally from
Russia, he also had been a traveller, and in his wanderings he had cast
off most of the prejudices of his people. "I believe in Allah and his
Prophet, and in nothing else," was his sturdy creed; he rejected
alchemy, jinnis and magicians, and truly he had a most unoriental
distaste for tales of wonder. When I entered the Wakalah, he
constituted himself my cicerone, and especially guarded me against the
cheating of trades-men. By his advice I laid aside the Darwaysh's gown,
the large blue pantaloons, and the short shirt; in fact all connection
with Persia and the Persians. "If you persist in being an 'Ajami," said
the Haji, "you will get yourself into trouble; in Egypt you will be
cursed; in Arabia you will be beaten because you are a heretic; you
will pay the treble of what other travellers do, and if you fall sick
you may die by the roadside." After long deliberation about

[p.45]the choice of nations, I became a "Pathan.[FN#4]" Born in India
of Afghan parents, who had settled in the country, educated at Rangoon,
and sent out to wander, as men of that race frequently are, from early
youth, I was well guarded against the danger of detection by a
fellow-countryman. To support the character requires a knowledge of
Persian, Hindustani and Arabic, all of which I knew sufficiently well
to pass muster; any trifling inaccuracy was charged upon my long
residence at Rangoon. This was an important step; the first question at
the shop, on the camel, and in the Mosque, is "What is thy name?" the
second, "Whence comest thou?" This is not generally impertinent, or
intended to be annoying; if, however, you see any evil intention in the
questioner, you may rather roughly ask him, "What may be his maternal
parent's name?"-equivalent to enquiring, Anglice, in what church his
mother was married,-and escape your difficulties under cover of the
storm. But this is rarely necessary. I assumed the polite, pliant
manners of an Indian physician, and the dress of a small Effendi (or
gentleman), still, however, representing myself to be a Darwaysh, and
frequenting the places where Darwayshes congregate. "What business,"
asked the Haji, "have those reverend men with politics or statistics,
or any of the information which you are collecting? Call yourself a
religious wanderer if you like, and let those who ask the object of
your peregrinations know that you are under a vow to visit all the holy
places in Al-Islam. Thus you will persuade them that you are a

[p.46]man of rank under a cloud, and you will receive much more
civility than perhaps you deserve," concluded my friend with a dry
laugh. The remark proved his sagacity; and after ample experience I had
not to repent having been guided by his advice.

Haji Wali, by profession a merchant at Alexandria, had accompanied
Khudabakhsh, the Indian, to Cairo on law-business. He soon explained
his affairs to me, and as his case brought out certain Oriental
peculiarities in a striking light, with his permission I offer a few of
its details.

My friend was defendant in a suit instituted against him in H.B.M.'s
Consular Court, Cairo, by one Mohammed Shafi'a, a scoundrel of the
first water. This man lived, and lived well, by setting up in business
at places where his name was not known; he enticed the unwary by artful
displays of capital; and, after succeeding in getting credit, he
changed residence, carrying off all he could lay hands upon. But
swindling is a profession of personal danger in uncivilised countries,
where law punishes pauper debtors by a short imprisonment; and where
the cheated prefer to gratify their revenge by the cudgel or the knife.
So Mohammed Shafi'a, after a few narrow escapes, hit upon a prime
expedient. Though known to be a native of Bokhara-he actually signed
himself so in his letters, and his appearance at once bespoke his
origin,-he determined to protect himself by a British passport. Our
officials are sometimes careless enough in distributing these
documents, and by so doing they expose themselves to a certain loss of
reputation at Eastern courts[FN#5]; still Mohammed Shafi'a

[p.47]found some difficulties in effecting his fraud. To recount all
his Reynardisms would weary the reader; suffice it to say that by
proper management of the subalterns in the consulate, he succeeded
without ruining himself. Armed with this new defence, he started boldly
for Jeddah on the Arabian coast. Having entered into partnership with
Haji Wali, whose confidence he had won by prayers, fastings, and
pilgrimages, he openly trafficked in slaves, sending them to Alexandria
for sale, and writing with matchless impudence to his correspondent
that he would dispose of them in person, but for fear of losing his
British passport and protection.

Presently an unlucky adventure embroiled this worthy British subject
with Faraj Yusuf, the principal merchant of Jeddah, and also an English
protege. Fearing so powerful an adversary, Mohammed Shafi'a packed up
his spoils and departed for Egypt. Presently he quarrels with his
former partner, thinking him a soft man, and claims from him a debt of
L165. He supports his pretensions by a document and four witnesses, who
are ready to swear that the receipt in question was "signed, sealed,
and delivered" by Haji Wali. The latter adduces his books to show that
accounts have been settled, and can prove that the witnesses in
question are paupers, therefore, not legal; moreover, that each has
received from the plaintiff two dollars, the price of perjury.

[p.48]Now had such a suit been carried into a Turkish court of justice,
it would very sensibly have been settled by the bastinado, for Haji
Wali was a respectable merchant, and Mohammed Shafi'a a notorious
swindler. But the latter was a British subject, which notably
influenced the question. The more to annoy his adversary, he went up to
Cairo, and began proceedings there, hoping by this acute step to
receive part payment of his demand.

Arrived at Cairo, Mohammed Shafi'a applied himself stoutly to the task
of bribing all who could be useful to him, distributing shawls and
piastres with great generosity. He secured the services of an efficient
lawyer; and, determining to enlist heaven itself in his cause, he
passed the Ramazan ostentatiously; he fasted, and he slaughtered sheep
to feed the poor.

Meanwhile Haji Wali, a simple truth-telling man, who could never master
the rudiments of that art which teaches man to blow hot and to blow
cold with the same breath, had been persuaded to visit Cairo by
Khudabakhsh, the wily Indian, who promised to introduce him to
influential persons, and to receive him in his house till he could
provide himself with a lodging at the Wakalah. But Mohammed Shafi'a,
who had once been in partnership with the Indian, and who possibly knew
more than was fit to meet the public ear, found this out; and, partly
by begging, partly by bullying, persuaded Khudabakhsh to transfer the
influential introductions to himself. Then the Hakim[FN#6]
Abdullah-your humble servant-appears upon the scene: he has travelled
in Feringistan, he has seen many men and their cities, he becomes an
intimate and an adviser of the Haji, and he finds out evil passages in
Mohammed Shafi'a's life. Upon which Khudabakhsh ashamed, or rather
afraid of his duplicity, collects his Indian friends. The Hakim
Abdullah draws up a petition

[p.49]addressed to Mr. Walne (H.B.M's Consul) by the Indian merchants
and others resident at Cairo, informing him of Mohammed Shafi'a's
birth, character, and occupation as a vendor of slaves, offering proof
of all assertions, and praying him for the sake of their good name to
take away his passport. And all the Indians affix their seals to this
paper. Then Mohammed Shafi'a threatens to waylay and to beat the Haji.
The Haji, not loud or hectoringly, but with a composed smile, advises
his friends to hold him off.

One would suppose that such a document would have elicited some
inquiry.But Haji Wali was a Persian protege, and proceedings between
the Consulates had commenced before the petition was presented. The
pseudo-British subject, having been acknowledged as a real one, must be
supported. Consuls, like kings, may err, but must not own to error. No
notice was taken of the Indian petition; worse still, no inquiry into
the slave-affair was set on foot[FN#7]; and it was discovered that the
passport having been granted by a Consul-General could not with
official etiquette be resumed by a Consul.[FN#8]

[p.50]Thus matters were destined to proceed as they began. Mohammed
Shafi'a had offered 5,000 piastres to the Persian Consul's interpreter;
this of course was refused, but still somehow or other all the Haji's
affairs seemed to go wrong. His statements were mistranslated, his
accounts were misunderstood, and the suit was allowed to drag on to a
suspicious length. When I left Cairo in July, Haji Wali had been kept
away nearly two months from his business and family, though both
parties-for the plaintiff's purse was rapidly thinning-appeared eager
to settle the difference by arbitration: when I returned from Arabia in
October, matters were almost in statu quo ante, and when I started for
India in January, the proceedings had not closed.

Such is a brief history, but too common, of a case in which the subject
of an Eastern state has to contend against British influence. It is
doubtless a point of honour to defend our proteges from injustice, but
the higher principle should rest upon the base of common honesty. The
worst part of such a case is, that the injured party has no redress.

"Fiat injustitia, ruat coelum,"

is the motto of his "natural protectors," who would violate every law
to gratify the false pride of a petty English official. And, saving the
rare exceptions where rank or wealth command consideration, with what
face, to use the native phrase, would a hapless Turk appeal to the
higher powers, our ministers or our Parliament?

After lodging myself in the Wakalah, my first object was to make a
certain stir in the world. In Europe your travelling doctor advertises
the loss of a diamond ring, the gift of a Russian autocrat; or he
monopolises a whole column in a newspaper, feeing perhaps a title for
the use of a signature; the large brass plate, the gold-headed cane,
the rattling chariot, and the summons from the sermon complete the
work. Here, there is no such Royal

[p.51]Road to medical fame. You must begin by sitting with the porter,
who is sure to have blear eyes, into which you drop a little nitrate of
silver, whilst you instil into his ear the pleasing intelligence that
you never take a fee from the poor. He recovers; his report of you
spreads far and wide, crowding your doors with paupers. They come to
you as though you were their servant, and when cured they turn their
backs upon you for ever. Hence it is that European doctors generally
complain of ingratitude on the part of their Oriental patients. It is
true that if you save a man's life, he naturally asks you for the means
of preserving it. Moreover, in none of the Eastern languages with which
I am acquainted is there a single term conveying the meaning of our
"gratitude," and none but Germans[FN#9] have ideas unexplainable by
words. But you must not condemn this absence of a virtue without
considering the cause. An Oriental deems that he has the right to your
surplus. "Daily bread is divided" (by heaven), he asserts, and eating
yours, he considers it his own. Thus it is with other things. He is
thankful to Allah for the gifts of the Creator, but he has a claim to
the good offices of a fellow-creature. In rendering him a service you
have but done your duty, and he would not pay you so poor a compliment
as to praise you for the act. He leaves you, his benefactor, with a
short prayer for the length of your days. "Thank you," being expressed
by "Allah increase thy weal!" or the selfish wish that your shadow
(with which you protect him and his fellows) may never be less. And
this is probably the last you hear of him.

There is a discomfort in such proceedings, a reasonable,

[p.52]a metaphysical coldness, uglily contrasting in theory with the
genial warmth which a little more heart would infuse into them. In
theory, I say, not in practice. Human nature feels kindness is
displayed to return it in kind. But Easterns do not carry out the idea
of such obligations as we do. What can be more troublesome than, when
you have obliged a man, to run the gauntlet of his and his family's
thanksgivings, to find yourself become a master from being a friend, a
great man when you were an equal; not to be contradicted, where shortly
before every one gave his opinion freely? You must be unamiable if
these considerations deter you from benefiting your friend; yet, I
humbly opine, you still may fear his gratefulness.

To resume. When the mob has raised you to fame, patients of a better
class will slowly appear on the scene. After some coquetting about
"etiquette," whether you are to visit them, or they are to call upon
you, they make up their minds to see you, and to judge with their eyes
whether you are to be trusted or not; whilst you, on your side, set out
with the determination that they shall at once cross the Rubicon,-in
less classical phrase, swallow your drug. If you visit the house, you
insist upon the patient's servants attending you; he must also provide
and pay an ass for your conveyance, no matter if it be only to the
other side of the street. Your confidential man accompanies you, primed
for replies to the "fifty searching questions" of the "servants' hall."
You are lifted off the saddle tenderly, as nurses dismount their
charges, when you arrive at the gate; and you waddle upstairs with
dignity. Arrived at the sick room, you salute those present with a
general "Peace be upon you!" to which they respond, "And upon thee be
the peace and the mercy of Allah, and his blessing!" To the invalid you
say, "There is nothing the matter, please Allah, except the health;" to
which the proper answer-for here every

[p.53]sign of ceremony has its countersign[FN#10]-is, "May Allah give
thee health!" Then you sit down, and acknowledge the presence of the
company by raising your right hand to your lips and forehead, bowing
the while circularly; each individual returns the civility by a similar
gesture. Then inquiry about the state of your health ensues. Then you
are asked what refreshment you will take: you studiously mention
something not likely to be in the house, but at last you rough it with
a pipe and a cup of coffee. Then you proceed to the patient, who
extends his wrist, and asks you what his complaint is. Then you examine
his tongue, you feel his pulse, you look learned, and-he is talking all
the time-after hearing a detailed list of all his ailments, you gravely
discover them, taking for the same as much praise to yourself as does
the practising phrenologist for a similar simple exercise of the
reasoning faculties. The disease, to be respectable, must invariably be
connected with one of the four temperaments, or the four elements, or
the "humours of Hippocrates." Cure is easy, but it will take time, and
you, the doctor, require attention; any little rudeness it is in your
power to punish by an alteration in the pill, or the powder, and, so
unknown is professional honour, that none will brave your displeasure.
If you would pass for a native practitioner, you must finally proceed
to the most uncomfortable part of your visit, bargaining for fees.
Nothing more effectually arouses suspicion than disinterestedness in a
doctor. I once cured a rich Hazramaut merchant of rheumatism, and
neglected to make him pay for treatment; he carried off one of my
coffee cups, and was unceasingly wondering where I came from. So I made
him produce five piastres, a shilling, which he threw upon the carpet,
cursing Indian avarice. "You will bring on

[p.54]another illness," said my friend, the Haji, when he heard of it.
Properly speaking, the fee for a visit to a respectable man is 20
piastres, but with the rich patient you begin by making a bargain. He
complains, for instance, of dysentery and sciatica. You demand L10 for
the dysentery, and L20 for the sciatica. But you will rarely get it.
The Eastern pays a doctor's bill as an Oirishman does his "rint,"
making a grievance of it. Your patient will show indisputable signs of
convalescence: he will laugh and jest half the day; but the moment you
appear, groans and a lengthened visage, and pretended complaints,
welcome you. Then your way is to throw out some such hint as

"The world is a carcass, and they who seek it are dogs."

And you refuse to treat the second disorder, which conduct may bring
the refractory one to his senses. "Dat Galenus opes," however, is a
Western apothegm: the utmost "Jalinus" can do for you here is to
provide you with the necessaries and comforts of life. Whatever you
prescribe must be solid and material, and if you accompany it with
something painful, such as rubbing to scarification with a horse-brush,
so much the better. Easterns, like our peasants in Europe, wish the
doctor to "give them the value of their money." Besides which, rough
measures act beneficially upon their imagination. So the Hakim of the
King of Persia cured fevers by the bastinado; patients are beneficially
baked in a bread-oven at Baghdad; and an Egyptian at Alexandria, whose
quartan resisted the strongest appliances of European physic, was
effectually healed by the actual cautery, which a certain Arab Shaykh
applied to the crown of his head. When you administer with your own
hand the remedy-half-a-dozen huge bread pills, dipped in a solution of
aloes or cinnamon water, flavoured with assafoetida, which in the case
of the dyspeptic rich often suffice, if they will but

[p.55]diet themselves-you are careful to say, "In the name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful." And after the patient has been dosed,
"Praise be to Allah, the Curer, the Healer;" you then call for pen,
ink, and paper, and write some such prescription as this:


"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and blessings
and peace be upon our Lord the Apostle, and his family, and his
companions one and all! But afterwards let him take bees-honey and
cinnamon and album graecum, of each half a part, and of ginger a whole
part, which let him pound and mix with the honey, and form boluses,
each bolus the weight of a Miskal, and of it let him use every day a
Miskal on the saliva.[FN#12] Verily its effects are wonderful. And let
him abstain from flesh, fish, vegetables, sweetmeats, flatulent food,
acids of all descriptions, as well as the major ablution, and live in
perfect quiet. So shall he be cured by the help of the King, the
Healer.[FN#13] And The Peace.[FN#14]"

The diet, I need scarcely say, should be rigorous; nothing has tended
more to bring the European system of medicine into contempt among
Orientals than our inattention to this branch of the therapeutic art.
When an Hindi or a Hindu "takes medicine," he prepares himself for it
by diet and rest two or three days before adhibition, and as gradually,
after the dose, he relapses into his usual habits; if he break through
the regime it is concluded that fatal results must ensue. The ancient
Egyptians we learn from Herodotus devoted a certain number of days in
each month to the use of alteratives, and the

[p.56]period was consecutive, doubtless in order to graduate the
strength of the medicine. The Persians, when under salivation, shut
themselves up in a warm room, never undress, and so carefully guard
against cold that they even drink tepid water. When the Afghan princes
find it necessary to employ Chob-Chini, (the Jin-seng,
[FN#15] or China

[p.57]root so celebrated as a purifier, tonic, and aphrodisiac) they
choose the spring season; they remove to a garden, where flowers and
trees and bubbling streams soothe their senses; they carefully avoid
fatigue and trouble of all kinds, and will not even hear a letter read,
lest it should contain bad news.

When the prescription is written out, you affix an impression of your
ring seal to the beginning and to the end of it, that no one may be
able to add to or take from its contents. And when you send medicine to
a patient of rank, who is sure to have enemies, you adopt some similar
precaution against the box or the bottle being opened. One of the
Pashas whom I attended,-a brave soldier who had been a favourite with
Mohammed Ali, and therefore was degraded by his successor,-kept an
impression of my ring in wax, to compare with that upon the phials. Men
have not forgotten how frequently, in former times, those who became
obnoxious to the State were seized with sudden and fatal cramps in the
stomach. In the case of the doctor it is common prudence to adopt these
precautions, as all evil consequences would be charged upon him, and he
would be exposed to the family's revenge.

Cairo, though abounding in medical practitioners, can still support
more; but to thrive they must be Indians, Chinese, or Maghrabis. The
Egyptians are thoroughly disgusted with European treatment, which is
here about as efficacious as in India-that is to say, not at all. But
they are ignorant of the medicine of Hind, and therefore great is its
name; deservedly perhaps, for skill in simples and dietetics. Besides
which the Indian

[p.58]may deal in charms and spells,-things to which the latitude gives
such force that even Europeans learn to put faith in them. The
traveller who, on the banks of the Seine, scoffs at Sights and Sounds,
Table-turning and Spirit-rapping, sees in the wilds of Tartary and
Thibet a something supernatural and diabolical in the bungling Sie-fa
of the Bokte.[FN#16] Some sensible men, who pass for philosophers among
their friends, have been caught by the incantations of the turbanded
and bearded Cairo magician. In our West African colonies the phrase
"growing black" was applied to colonists, who, after a term of
residence, became thoroughly imbued with the superstitions of the land.
And there are not wanting old Anglo-Indians, intelligent men, that
place firm trust in tales and tenets too puerile even for the Hindus to
believe. As a "Hindi" I could use animal magnetism, taking care,
however, to give the science a specious supernatural appearance. Haji
Wali, who, professing positive scepticism, showed the greatest interest
in the subject as a curiosity, advised me not to practise pure
mesmerism; otherwise, that I should infallibly become a "Companion of
Devils." "You must call this an Indian secret," said my friend, "for it
is clear that you are no Mashaikh,[FN#17] and people will ask, where
are your drugs, and what business have you with charms?" It is useless
to say that I followed his counsel; yet patients would consider
themselves my

[p.59]Murids (disciples), and delighted in kissing the hand of the
Sahib Nafas[FN#18] or minor saint.

The Haji repaid me for my docility by vaunting me everywhere as the
very phoenix of physicians. My first successes were in the Wakalah;
opposite to me there lived an Arab slave dealer, whose Abyssinians
constantly fell sick. A tender race, they suffer when first transported
to Egypt from many complaints, especially consumption, dysentery and
varicose veins. I succeeded in curing one girl. As she was worth at
least fifteen pounds, the gratitude of her owner was great, and I had
to dose half a dozen others in order to cure them of the pernicious and
price-lowering habit of snoring. Living in rooms opposite these slave
girls, and seeing them at all hours of the day and night, I had
frequent opportunities of studying them. They were average specimens of
the steato-pygous Abyssinian breed, broad-shouldered, thin-flanked,
fine-limbed, and with haunches of a prodigious size. None of them had
handsome features, but the short curly hair that stands on end being
concealed under a kerchief, there was something pretty in the brow,
eyes, and upper part of the nose, coarse and sensual in the pendent
lips, large jowl and projecting mouth, whilst the whole had a
combination of piquancy with sweetness. Their style of flirtation was

"How beautiful thou art, O Maryam!-what eyes!-what-"

[p.60]"Then why,"-would respond the lady-"don't you buy me?"

"We are of one faith-of one creed-formed to form each other's

"Then why don't you buy me?"

"Conceive, O Maryam, the blessing of two hearts-"

"Then why don't you buy me?"

and so on. Most effectual gag to Cupid's eloquence! Yet was not the
plain-spoken Maryam's reply without its moral. How often is it our
fate, in the West as in the East, to see in bright eyes and to hear
from rosy lips an implied, if not an expressed, "Why don't you buy me?"
or, worse still, "Why can't you buy me?"

All I required in return for my services from the slave-dealer, whose
brutal countenance and manners were truly repugnant, was to take me
about the town, and explain to me certain mysteries in his craft, which
knowledge might be useful in time to come. Little did he suspect who
his interrogator was, and freely in his unsuspiciousness he entered
upon the subject of slave hunting in the Somali country, and Zanzibar,
of all things the most interesting to me. I have, however, nothing new
to report concerning the present state of bondsmen in Egypt. England
has already learned that slaves are not necessarily the most wretched
and degraded of men. Some have been bold enough to tell the British
public that, in the generality of Oriental countries,[FN#19] the serf
fares far

[p.61]better than the servant, or indeed than the poorer orders of
freemen. "The laws of Mahomet enjoin his followers to treat slaves with
the greatest mildness, and the Moslems are in general scrupulous
observers of the Apostle's recommendation. Slaves are considered
members of the family, and in houses where free servants are also kept,
they seldom do any other work than filling the pipes, presenting the
coffee, accompanying their master when going out, rubbing his feet when
he takes his nap in the afternoon, and driving away the flies from him.
When a slave is not satisfied, he can legally compel his master to sell
him. He has no care for food, lodging, clothes and washing, and has no
taxes to pay; he is exempt from military service and soccage, and in
spite of his bondage is freer than the freest Fellah in Egypt.[FN#20]"
This is, I believe, a true statement, but of course it in no wise
affects the question of slavery in the abstract. A certain amount of
reputation was the consequence of curing the Abyssinian girls: my
friend Haji Wali carefully told the news to all the town, and before
fifteen days were over, I found myself obliged to decline extending a
practice which threatened me with fame.

Servants are most troublesome things to all Englishmen in Egypt, but
especially to one travelling as a respectable native, and therefore
expected to have slaves. After much deliberation, I resolved to take a

[p.62]and accordingly summoned a Shaykh-there is a Shaykh for
everything down to thieves in "the East," (in Egypt since the days of
Diodorus Siculus), and made known my want. The list of sine qua nons
was necessarily rather an extensive one,-good health and a readiness to
travel anywhere, a little skill in cooking, sewing and washing,
willingness to fight, and a habit of regular prayers. After a day's
delay the Shaykh brought me a specimen of his choosing, a
broad-shouldered, bandy-legged fellow, with the usual bull-dog
expression of the Berberis, in his case rendered doubly expressive by
the drooping of an eyelid-an accident brought about with acrid juice in
order to avoid conscription. He responded sturdily to all my questions.
Some Egyptian donkey boys and men were making a noise in the room at
the time, and the calm ferocity with which he ejected them commanded my
approval. When a needle, thread, and an unhemmed napkin were handed to
him, he sat down, held the edge of the cloth between his big toe and
its neighbour, and finished the work in quite a superior style. Walking
out, he armed himself with a Kurbaj, which he used, now lightly, then
heavily, upon all laden animals, biped and quadruped, that came in the
way. His conduct proving equally satisfactory in the kitchen, after
getting security from him, and having his name registered by the
Shaykh,[FN#22] I closed with him for eighty piastres a

[p.63]month. But Ali the Berberi and I were destined to part. Before a
fortnight he stabbed his fellow servant-a Surat lad, who wishing to
return home forced his services upon me-and for this trick he received,
with his dismissal, 400 blows on the feet by order of the Zabit, or
police magistrate. After this failure I tried a number of servants,
Egyptians, Sa'idis,[FN#23] and clean and unclean eating[FN#24]
Berberis. Recommended by different Shaykhs, all had some fatal defect;
one cheated recklessly, another robbed me, a third drank, a fourth was
always in scrapes for infringing the Julian edict, and the last, a
long-legged Nubian, after remaining two days in the house, dismissed me
for expressing

[p.64]a determination to travel by sea from Suez to Yambu'. I kept one
man; he complained that he was worked to death: two-they did nothing
but fight; and three-they left me, as Mr. Elwes said of old, to serve
myself. At last, thoroughly tired of Egyptian domestics, and one
servant being really sufficient for comfort, as well as suitable to my
assumed rank, I determined to keep only the Indian boy. He had all the
defects of his nation; a brave at Cairo, he was an arrant coward at
Al-Madinah; the Badawin despised him heartily for his effeminacy in
making his camel kneel to dismount, and he could not keep his hands
from picking and stealing. But the choice had its advantages: his
swarthy skin and chubby features made the Arabs always call him an
Abyssinian slave, which, as it favoured my disguise, I did not care to
contradict; he served well, he was amenable to discipline, and being
completely dependent upon me, he was therefore less likely to watch and
especially to prate about my proceedings. As master and man we
performed the pilgrimage together; but, on my return to Egypt after the
pilgrimage, Shaykh (become Haji) Nur, finding me to be a Sahib,[FN#25]
changed for the worse. He would not work, and reserved all his energy
for the purpose of pilfering, which he practised so audaciously upon my
friends, as well as upon myself, that he could not be kept in the house.

Perhaps the reader may be curious to see the necessary expenses of a
bachelor residing at Cairo. He must observe, however, in the following
list that I was not a strict economist, and, besides that, I was a
stranger in the country: inhabitants and old settlers would live as
well for little more than two-thirds the sum.


House rent at 18 piastres per mensem---------0-------24
Servant at 80 piastres per------do.----------2-------26

Breakfast for	10 eggs----------------------0--------5
self and        Coffee-----------------------0-------10
servant.	Water melon (now 5 piastres)-1--------0
	        Two rolls of bread-----------0-------10

	        2 lbs. of meat---------------2-------20
	        Two rolls of bread-----------0-------10
Dinner.	        Vegetables-------------------0-------20
	        Oil and clarified butter-----1--------0

	        A skin of Nile water---------1--------0
Sundries.	Tobacco[FN#25]---------------1--------0
	        Hammam (hot bath)------------3-------20
	        Oil and clarified butter-----1--------2
	                                     -        -

	Equal to about two shillings and sixpence.

[p.66]In these days who at Cairo without a Shaykh? I thought it right
to conform to popular custom, and accordingly, after having secured a
servant, my efforts were directed to finding a teacher; the pretext
being that as an Indian doctor I wanted to read Arabic works on
medicine, as well as to perfect myself in divinity and
pronunciation.[FN#26] My theological studies were in the Shafe'i school
for two reasons: in the first place, it is the least rigorous of the
Four Orthodox, and, secondly, it most resembles the Shi'ah heresy, with
which long intercourse

[p.67]with Persians had made me familiar.[FN#27] My choice of doctrine,
however, confirmed those around me in their conviction that I was a
rank heretic, for the 'Ajami, taught by his religion to conceal
offensive tenets[FN#28] in lands where the open expression would be
dangerous, always represents himself to be a Shafe'i. This, together
with the original mistake of appearing publicly at Alexandria as a
"Mirza" in a Persian dress, caused me infinite small annoyance at
Cairo, in spite of all precautions and contrivances. And throughout my
journey, even in Arabia, though I drew my knife every time an offensive
hint was thrown out, the ill-fame clung to me like the shirt of Nessus.

It was not long before I happened to hit upon a proper teacher, in the
person of Shaykh Mohammed al-Attar, or the "Druggist." He had known
prosperity, having once been a Khatib (preacher) in one of Mohammed
Ali's mosques. But His Highness the late Pasha had dismissed him, which
disastrous event, with its subsequent train of misfortunes, he dates
from the melancholy day when he took to himself a wife. He talks of her
abroad as a stern and rigid master dealing with a naughty slave,
though, by the look that accompanies his rhodomontade, I am convinced
that at home he is the very model of "managed men." His dismissal was
the reason that compelled him to fall back upon the trade of a
druggist, the refuge for the once wealthy, though now destitute, Sages
of Egypt.

His little shop in the Jamaliyah Quarter is a perfect gem of Nilotic
queerness. A hole, about five feet long

[p.68]and six deep, pierced in the wall of some house, it is divided
into two compartments separated by a thin partition of wood, and
communicating by a kind of arch cut in the boards. The inner box, germ
of a back parlour, acts as store-room, as the pile of empty old baskets
tossed in dusty confusion upon the dirty floor shows. In the front is
displayed the stock in trade, a matting full of Persian tobacco and
pipe-bowls of red clay, a palm-leaf bag containing vile coffee and
large lumps of coarse, whity-brown sugar wrapped up in browner paper.
On the shelves and ledges are rows of well-thumbed wooden boxes,
labelled with the greatest carelessness, pepper for rhubarb, arsenic
for Tafl, or wash-clay, and sulphate of iron where sal-ammoniac should
be. There is also a square case containing, under lock and key, small
change and some choice articles of commerce, damaged perfumes, bad
antimony for the eyes, and pernicious rouge. And dangling close above
it is a rusty pair of scales, ill poised enough for Egyptian Themis
herself to use. To hooks over the shop-front are suspended reeds for
pipes, tallow candles, dirty wax tapers and cigarette paper; instead of
plate-glass windows and brass-handled doors, a ragged net keeps away
the flies when the master is in, and the thieves when he goes out to
recite in the Hasanayn Mosque his daily chapter "Ya Sin.[FN#29]" A
wooden shutter which closes down at night-time, and by day two
palm-stick stools intensely dirty and full of fleas, occupying the
place of the Mastabah or earthen bench,[FN#30] which accommodated
purchasers, complete the furniture of my preceptor's establishment.

[p.69]There he sits, or rather lies (for verily I believe he sleeps
through three-fourths of the day), a thin old man about
fifty-eight,[FN#31] with features once handsome and regular; a sallow
face, shaven head, deeply wrinkled cheeks, eyes hopelessly bleared, and
a rough grey beard ignorant of oil and comb. His turband, though large,
is brown with wear; his coat and small-clothes display many a hole;
and, though his face and hands must be frequently washed preparatory to
devotion, still they have the quality of looking always unclean. It is
wonderful how fierce and gruff he is to the little boys and girls who
flock to him grasping farthings for pepper and sugar. On such occasions
I sit admiring to see him, when forced to exertion, wheel about on his
place, making a pivot of that portion of our organisation which mainly
distinguishes our species from the other families of the Simiadae, to
reach some distant drawer, or to pull down a case from its accustomed
shelf. How does he manage to say his prayers, to kneel and to prostrate
himself upon that two feet of ragged rug, scarcely sufficient for a
British infant to lie upon? He hopelessly owns that he knows nothing of
his craft, and the seats before his shop are seldom occupied. His great
pleasure appears to be when the Haji and I sit by him a few minutes in
the evening, bringing with us pipes, which he assists us to smoke, and
ordering coffee, which he insists upon sweetening with a lump of sugar
from his little store. There we make him talk and laugh, and
occasionally quote a few lines strongly savouring of the jovial: we
provoke him to long stories about the love borne him in his
student-days by the great and holy Shaykh Abd al-Rahman, and the
antipathy with which he was regarded by the equally

[p.70]great and holy Shakh Nasr al-Din, his memorable single
imprisonment for contumacy,[FN#32] and the temperate but effective
lecture, beginning with "O almost entirely destitute of shame!"
delivered on that occasion in presence of other under-graduates by the
Right Reverend principal of his college. Then we consult him upon
matters of doctrine, and quiz him tenderly about his powers of
dormition, and flatter him, or rather his age, with such phrases as,
"The water from thy hand is of the Waters of Zemzem;" or, "We have
sought thee to deserve the Blessings of the Wise upon our
undertakings." Sometimes, with interested motives it must be owned, we
induce him to accompany us to the Hammam,[FN#33] where he insists upon
paying the smallest sum, quarrelling with everything and

[p.71]everybody, and giving the greatest trouble. We are generally his
only visitors; acquaintances he appears to have few, and no friends; he
must have had them once, for he was rich, but is not so now, so they
have fallen away from the poor old man.

When the Shaykh Mohammed sits with me, or I climb up into his little
shop for the purpose of receiving a lesson from him, he is quite at his
ease, reading when he likes, or making me read, and generally beginning
each lecture with some such preamble as this[FN#34]:-

"Aywa! aywa! aywa![FN#35]"-Even so, even so, even so! we take refuge
with Allah from Satan the Stoned! In the name of Allah, the
Compassionate, the Merciful, and the Blessings of Allah upon our Lord
Mohammed, and his Family and his Companions one and all! Thus saith the
author, may Almighty Allah have mercy upon him! ‘Section I. of chapter
two, upon the orders of prayer,' &c."

He becomes fiercely sarcastic when I differ from him in opinion,
especially upon a point of grammar, or the theology over which his
beard has grown grey.

"Subhan' Allah! (Allah be glorified![FN#36]) What words are these? If
thou be right, enlarge thy turband,[FN#37]" (i.e., set up as a learned
man), "and throw away thy

[p.72]drugs, for verily it is better to quicken men's souls than to
destroy their bodies, O Abdullah!"

Oriental-like, he revels in giving good counsel.

"Thou art always writing, O my brave![FN#38]" (this is said on the few
occasions when I venture to make a note in my book), "what evil habit
is this? Surely thou hast learned it in the lands of the Frank. Repent!"

He loathes my giving medical advice gratis.

"Thou hast two servants to feed, O my son! The doctors of Egypt never
write A, B, without a reward. Wherefore art thou ashamed? Better go and
sit upon the mountain[FN#39] at once" (i.e., go to the desert), "and
say thy prayers day and night!"

And finally, he is prodigal of preaching upon the subject of household

"Thy servant did write down two pounds of flesh yesterday! What words
are these, O he?[FN#40] Dost thou never say, ‘Guard us, Allah, from the
sin of extravagance?'"

He delights also in abruptly interrupting a serious subject when it
begins to weigh upon his spirits. For instance,

Now the waters of ablution being of seven different kinds, it results
that-hast thou a wife?-No?-Then verily thou must buy thee a female
slave, O youth! This conduct is not right, and men will say of
thee-Repentance: I take refuge with Allah[FN#41]-‘of a truth his mouth
watereth for the spouses of other Moslems.'"

[p.73]But sometimes he nods over a difficult passage under my very
eyes, or he reads it over a dozen times in the wantonness of idleness,
or he takes what school-boys call a long "shot" most shamelessly at the
signification. When this happens I lose my temper, and raise my voice,
and shout, "Verily there is no power nor might save in Allah, the High,
the Great!" Then he looks at me, and with passing meekness whispers-

"Fear Allah, O man!"

[FN#1] The second is an imitative word, called in Arabic grammar
Tabi'a, as "Zayd Bayd," "Zayd and others;" so used, it denotes contempt
for drachms and similar parts of drug-craft.
[FN#2] This familiar abbreviation of Wali al-Din was the name assumed
by the enterprising traveller, Dr. Wallin.
[FN#3] By the Indians called Bhang, the Persians Bang, the Hottentots
Dakha, and the natives of Barbary Fasukh. Even the Siberians, we are
told, intoxicate themselves by the vapour of this seed thrown upon
red-hot stones. Egypt surpasses all other nations in the variety of
compounds into which this fascinating drug enters, and will one day
probably supply the Western world with "Indian hemp," when its solid
merits are duly appreciated. At present in Europe it is chiefly
confined, as cognac and opium used to be, to the apothecary's shelves.
Some adventurous individuals at Paris, after the perusal of Monte
Christo, attempted an "orgie" in one of the cafes, but with poor
[FN#4] The Indian name of an Afghan, supposed to be a corruption of the
Arabic Fat'han (a conqueror), or a derivation from the Hindustani
paithna, to penetrate (into the hostile ranks). It is an honourable
term in Arabia, where "Khurasani" (a native of Khorasan), leads men to
suspect a Persian, and the other generic appellation of the Afghan
tribes "Sulaymani," a descendant from Solomon, reminds the people of
their proverb, "Sulaymani harami!"-"the Afghans are ruffians!"
[FN#5] For the simple reason that no Eastern power confers such an
obligation except for value received. In old times, when official
honour was not so rigorous as it is now, the creditors of Eastern
powers and principalities would present high sums to British Residents
and others for the privilege of being enrolled in the list of their
subjects or servants. This they made profitable; for their claims,
however exorbitant, when backed by a name of fear, were certain to be
admitted, unless the Resident's conscience would allow of his being
persuaded by weightier arguments of a similar nature to abandon his
protege. It is almost needless to remark that nothing of the kind can
occur in the present day, and at the same time that throughout the
Eastern world it is firmly believed that such things are of daily
occurrence. Ill fame descends to distant generations; whilst good
deeds, if they blossom, as we are told, in the dust, are at least as
short-lived as they are sweet.
[FN#6] A doctor, a learned man; not to be confounded with Hakim, a
[FN#7] It may be as well to remark that our slave laws require reform
throughout the East, their severity, like Draco's Code, defeating their
purpose. In Egypt, for instance, they require modification. Constitute
the offence a misdemeanour, not a felony, inflict a fine (say L100),
half of which should be given to the informer, and make the
imprisonment either a short one, or, what would be better still, let it
be done away with, except in cases of non-payment; and finally, let the
Consul or some other magistrate residing at the place have power to
inflict the penalty of the law, instead of being obliged, as at
present, to transmit offenders to Malta for trial. As the law now
stands, our officials are unwilling to carry its rigours into effect;
they therefore easily lend an ear to the standard excuse-ignorance-in
order to have an opportunity of decently dismissing a man, with a
warning not to do it again.
[FN#8] Yet at the time there was at Alexandria an acting
Consul-General, to whom the case could with strict propriety have been
[FN#9] Johann Gottlieb Fichte expressly declares that the scope of his
system has never been explained by words, and that it even admits not
of being so explained. To make his opinions intelligible, he would
express them by a system of figures, each of which must have a known
and positive value.
[FN#10] M. C. de Perceval (Arabic Grammar), and Lane (Mod. Egyptians,
Chapter 8 et passim), give specimens.
[FN#11] A monogram generally placed at the head of writings. It is the
initial letter of "Allah," and the first of the alphabet, used from
time immemorial to denote the origin of creation. "I am Alpha and
Omega, the first and the last."
[FN#12] "Ala-rik," that is to say, fasting-the first thing in the
[FN#13] The Almighty.
[FN#14] W'as-salam, i.e. adieu.
[FN#15] From M. Huc we learn that Jin-seng is the most considerable
article of Manchurian commerce, and that throughout China there is no
chemist's shop unprovided with more or less of it. He adds: "The
Chinese report marvels of the Jin-seng, and no doubt it is for Chinese
organisation a tonic of very great effect for old and weak persons; but
its nature is too heating, the Chinese physicians admit, for the
European temperament, already in their opinion too hot. The price is
enormous, and doubtless its dearness contributes with a people like the
Chinese to raise its celebrity so high. The rich and the Mandarins
probably use it only because it is above the reach of other people, and
out of pure ostentation." It is the principal tonic used throughout
Central Asia, and was well known in Europe when Sarsaparilla arose to
dispute with it the palm of popularity. In India, Persia, and
Afghanistan, it is called chob-chini,-the "Chinese wood." The
preparations are in two forms, 1. Sufuf, or powder; 2. Kahwah, or
decoction. The former is compound of Radix China Qrient, with gum
mastich and sugar-candy, equal parts; about a dram of this compound is
taken once a day, early in the morning. For the decoction one ounce of
fine parings is boiled for a quarter of an hour in a quart of water.
When the liquid assumes a red colour it is taken off the fire and left
to cool. Furthermore, there are two methods of adhibiting the
choh-chini: 1. Band; 2. Khola. The first is when the patient confines
himself to a garden, listening to music, enjoying the breeze, the song
of birds, and the bubbling of a flowing stream. He avoids everything
likely to trouble and annoy him; he will not even open a letter, and
the doctor forbids anyone to contradict him. Some grandees in central
Asia will go through a course of forty days in every second year; it
reminds one of Epicurus' style of treatment,-the downy bed, the
garlands of flowers, the good wine, and the beautiful singing girl, and
is doubtless at least as efficacious in curing as the sweet relaxation
of Gräfenberg or Malvern. So says Socrates, according to the Anatomist
of Melancholy,
"Oculum non curabis sine toto capite,
Nec caput sine toto corpore,
Nec totum corpus sine animo."
The "Khola" signifies that you take the tonic without other precautions
than the avoiding acids, salt, and pepper, and choosing summer time, as
cold is supposed to induce rheumatism.
[FN#16] Certain Lamas who, we learn from M. Huc, perform famous Sie-fa,
or supernaturalisms, such as cutting open the abdomen, licking red-hot
irons, making incisions in various parts of the body, which an instant
afterwards leave no trace behind, &c., &c. The devil may "have a great
deal to do with the matter" in Tartary, for all I know; but I can
assure M. Huc, that the Rufa'i Darwayshes in India and the Sa'adiyah at
Cairo perform exactly the same feats. Their jugglery, seen through the
smoke of incense, and amidst the enthusiasm of a crowd, is tolerably
dexterous, and no more.
[FN#17] A holy man. The word has a singular signification in a plural
form, "honoris causa."
[FN#18] A title literally meaning the "Master of Breath," one who can
cure ailments, physical as well as spiritual, by breathing upon them-a
practice well known to mesmerists. The reader will allow me to observe,
(in self-defence, otherwise he might look suspiciously upon so
credulous a narrator), that when speaking of animal magnetism, as a
thing established, I allude to the lower phenomena, rejecting the
discussion of all disputed points, as the existence of a magnetic Aura,
and of all its unintelligibilities-Prevision, Levitation, Introvision,
and other divisions of Clairvoyance.
[FN#19] In the generality, not in all. Nothing, for instance, can be
more disgraceful to human nature than the state of praedial slavery, or
serfs attached to the glebe, when Malabar was under the dominion of the
"mild Hindu." And as a rule in the East it is only the domestic slaves
who taste the sweets of slavery. Yet there is truth in Sonnini's
terrible remark: "The severe treatment under which the slaves languish
in the West Indies is the shameful prerogative of civilisation, and is
unknown to those nations among whom barbarism is reported to hold
sway." (Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt, vol. ii.)
[FN#20] The author has forgotten to mention one of the principal
advantages of slaves, namely, the prospect of arriving at the highest
rank of the empire. The Pasha of the Syrian caravan with which I
travelled to Damascus, had been the slave of a slave, and he is but a
solitary instance of cases perpetually occuring in all Moslem lands.
"C'est un homme de bonne famille," said a Turkish officer in Egypt, "il
a ete achete."
[FN#21] A "Barbarian" from Nubia and Upper Egypt. Some authorities, Mr.
Lane for instance, attribute the good reputation of these people to
their superior cunning. Sonnini says, "they are intelligent and handy
servants, but knaves." Others believe in them. As far as I could find
out, they were generally esteemed more honest than the Egyptians, and
they certainly possess a certain sense of honour unknown to their
northern brethren. "Berberi" is a term of respect; "Masri" (corrupted
from Misri) in the mouth of a Badawi or an Arab of Arabia is a
reproach. "He shall be called an Egyptian," means "he shall belong to a
degraded race."
[FN#22] Who becomes responsible, and must pay for any theft his protege
may commit. Berberis, being generally "les Suisses" of respectable
establishments, are expected to be honest. But I can assert from
experience that, as a native, you will never recover the value of a
stolen article without having recourse to the police. For his valuable
security, the Shaykh demands a small fee (7 or 8 piastres), which,
despite the urgent remonstrances of protector and protege, you deduct
from the latter's wages. The question of pay is a momentous one; too
much always spoils a good servant, too little leaves you without one.
An Egyptian of the middle class would pay his Berberi about 40 piastres
a month, besides board, lodging, some small perquisites, and presents
on certain occasions. This, however, will not induce a man to travel,
especially to cross the sea.
[FN#23] A man from the Sa'id or Upper Egypt.
[FN#24] A favourite way of annoying the Berberis is to repeat the
saying, "we have eaten the clean, we have eaten the unclean,"-meaning,
that they are by no means cunning in the difference between right and
wrong, pure and impure. I will relate the origin of the saying, as I
heard it differently, from Mansfield Parkyns, (Life in Abyssinia, chap.
31.) A Berberi, said my informant, had been carefully fattening a fine
sheep for a feast, when his cottage was burned by an accident. In the
ashes he found roasted meat, which looked tempting to a hungry man: he
called his neighbours, and all sat down to make merry over the mishap;
presently they came to the head, which proved to be that of a dog, some
enemy having doubtless stolen the sheep and put the impure animal in
its place. Whereupon, sadly perplexed, all the Berberis went to their
priest, and dolefully related the circumstance, expecting absolution,
as the offence was involuntary. "You have eaten filth," said the man of
Allah. "Well," replied the Berberis, falling upon him with their fists,
"filth or not, we have eaten it." The Berberi, I must remark, is the
"Paddy" of this part of the world, celebrated for bulls and blunders.
[FN#25] The generic name given by Indians to English officials.
[FN#26] There are four kinds of tobacco smoked in Egypt. The first and
best is the well-known Latakia, generally called "Jabali," either from
a small seaport town about three hours' journey south of Latakia, or
more probably because grown on the hills near the ancient Laodicea.
Pure, it is known by its blackish colour, fine shredding, absence of
stalk, and an undescribable odour, to me resembling that of creosote;
the leaf, too, is small, so that when made into cigars it must be
covered over with a slip of the yellow Turkish tobacco called Bafra.
Except at the highest houses unadulterated Latakia is not to be had in
Cairo. Yet, mixed as it is, no other growth exceeds it in flavour and
fragrance. Miss Martineau smoked it, we are told, without
inconvenience, and it differs from our Shag, Bird's-eye, and Returns,
in degree, as does Chateau Margeau from a bottle of cheap strong
Spanish wine. To bring out its flavour, the connoisseur smokes it in
long pipes of cherry, jasmine, maple, or rosewood, and these require a
servant skilled in the arts of cleaning and filling them. The best
Jabali at Cairo costs about seven piastres the pound; after which a
small sum must be paid to the Farram or chopper, who prepares it for
2nd. Suri (Tyrian), or Shami, or Suryani, grown in Syria, an inferior
growth, of a lighter colour than Latakia, and with a greenish tinge;
when cut, its value is about three piastres per pound. Some smokers mix
this leaf with Jabali, which, to my taste, spoils the flavour of the
latter without improving the former. The strongest kind, called Korani
or Jabayl, is generally used for cigarettes; it costs, when of
first-rate quality, about five piastres per pound.
3rd. Tumbak, or Persian tobacco, called Hijazi, because imported from
the Hijaz, where everybody smokes it, and supposed to come from Shiraz,
Kazerun, and other celebrated places in Persia. It is all but
impossible to buy this article unadulterated, except from the caravans
returning after the pilgrimage. The Egyptians mix it with native
growths, which ruins its flavour and gives it an acridity that "catches
the throat," whereas good tumbak never yet made a man cough. Yet the
taste of this tobacco, even when second-rate, is so fascinating to some
smokers that they will use no other. To be used it should be wetted and
squeezed, and it is invariably inhaled through water into the lungs:
almost every town has its favourite description of pipe, and these are
of all kinds, from the pauper's rough cocoa-nut mounted with two reeds,
to the prince's golden bowl set with the finest stones. Tumbak is
cheap, costing about four piastres a pound, but large quantities of it
are used.
4th. Hummi, as the word signifies, a "hot" variety of the tumbak, grown
in Al-Yaman and other countries. It is placed in the tile on the buri
or cocoa-nut pipe, unwetted, and has a very acrid flavour. Being
supposed to produce intoxication, or rather a swimming in the head,
hummi gives its votaries a bad name: respectable men would answer "no"
with rage if asked whether they are smoking it, and when a fellow tells
you that he has seen better days, but that now he smokes Hummi in a
buri, you understand him that his misfortunes have affected either his
brain or his morality. Hence it is that this tobacco is never put into
pipes intended for smoking the other kinds. The price of Hummi is about
five piastres per pound.
[FN#26] A study essential to the learned, as in some particular
portions of the Koran a mispronunciation becomes a sin.
[FN#27] The Shafe'i, to quote but one point of similarity, abuse Yazid,
the Syrian tyrant, who caused the death of the Imam Husayn: this
expression of indignation is forbidden by the Hanafi doctors, who
rigidly order their disciples to "judge not."
[FN#28] A systematic concealment of doctrine, and profession of popular
tenets, technically called by the Shi'ahs "Takiyah:" the literal
meaning of the word is "fear," or "caution."
[FN#29] One of the most esteemed chapters of the Koran, frequently
recited as a Wazifah or daily task by religious Moslems in Egypt.
[FN#30] The Mastabah here is a long earthen bench plastered over with
clay, and raised about two feet from the ground, so as to bring the
purchaser's head to a level with the shop. Mohammed Ali ordered the
people to remove them, as they narrowed the streets; their place is now
supplied by "Kafas," cages or stools of wicker-work.
[FN#31] A great age in Lower Egypt, where but few reach the 12th
lustre. Even the ancients observed that the old Egyptians, despite
their attention to diet and physic, were the most short-lived, and the
Britons, despite their barbarism, the longest lived of men.
[FN#32] This is the "imposition" of Oxford and Cambridge.
[FN#33] The Hammam, or hot bath, being a kind of religious
establishment, is one of the class of things-so uncomfortably numerous
in Eastern countries-left 'ala jud'ak, "to thy generosity."
Consequently, you are pretty sure to have something disagreeable there,
which you would vainly attempt to avoid by liberality. The best way to
deal with all such extortioners, with the Lawingi (undresser) of a
Cairo Hammam, or the "jarvey" of a London Hansom, is to find out the
fare, and never to go beyond it-never to be generous. The Hammam has
been too often noticed to bear another description: one point, however,
connected with it I must be allowed to notice. Mr. Lane (Modern
Egyptians) asserts that a Moslem should not pray nor recite the Koran
in it, as the bath is believed to be a favourite resort of Jinnis (or
genii). On the contrary, it is the custom of some sects to recite a
Ruk'atayn (two-bow) prayer immediately after religious ablution in the
hot cistern. This, however, is makruh, or improper without being
sinful, to the followers of Abu Hanifah. As a general rule, throughout
Al-Islam, the Farz (obligatory) prayers may be recited everywhere, no
matter how impure the place may be: but those belonging to the classes
sunnat (traditionary) and nafilah (supererogatory) are makruh, though
not actually unlawful, in certain localities. I venture this remark on
account of the extreme accuracy of the work referred to. A wonderful
contrast to the generality of Oriental books, it amply deserves a
revision in the rare places requiring care.
[FN#34] Europeans so seldom see the regular old Shaykh, whose place is
now taken by polite young men educated in England or France, that this
scene may be new even to those who have studied of late years on the
banks of the Nile.
[FN#35] This word is often used to signify simply "yes." It is
corrupted from Ay wa'llahi, "Yes, by Allah." In pure Arabic "ay" or "I"
is synonymous with our "yes" or "ay"; and "Allah" in those countries
enters somehow into every other phrase.
[FN#36] This is, of course, ironical: "Allah be praised for creating
such a prodigy of learning as thou art!"
[FN#37] The larger the turband the greater are the individual's
pretensions to religious knowledge and respectability of demeanour.
This is the custom in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, and many other parts of
the Moslem world.
[FN#38] Ya gad'a, as the Egyptians pronounce it, is used exactly like
the "mon brave" of France, and our "my good man."
[FN#39] The "mountain" in Egypt and Arabia is what the "jungle" is in
India. When informed that "you come from the mountain," you understand
that you are considered a mere clodhopper: when asserting that you will
"sit upon the mountain," you hint to your hearers an intention of
turning anchorite or magician.
[FN#40] Ya hu, a common interpellative, not, perhaps, of the politest
[FN#41] A religious formula used when compelled to mention anything
abominable or polluting to the lips of a pious man.

[p.74]CHAPTER V.


THIS year the Ramazan befell in June, and a fearful infliction was that
"blessed month," making the Moslem unhealthy and unamiable. For the
space of sixteen consecutive hours and a quarter, we were forbidden to
eat, drink, smoke, snuff, and even to swallow our saliva designedly. I
say forbidden, for although the highest orders of Turks,-the class is
popularly described as

"Turco fino
Mangia porco e beve vino."-

may break the ordinance in strict privacy, popular opinion would
condemn any open infraction of it with uncommon severity. In this, as
in most human things, how many are there who hold that

"Pecher en secret n'est pas pecher,
Ce n'est que l'eclat qui fait le crime"?

The middle and lower ranks observe the duties of the season, however
arduous, with exceeding zeal: of all who suffered severely from such
total abstinence, I found but one patient who would eat even to save
his life. And among the vulgar, sinners who habitually drink when they
should pray, will fast and perform their devotions through the Ramazan.

Like the Italian, the Anglo-Catholic, and the Greek fasts, the chief
effect of the "blessed month" upon True Believers is to darken their
tempers into positive gloom.

[p.75]Their voices, never of the softest, acquire, especially after
noon, a terribly harsh and creaking tone. The men curse one
another[FN#1] and beat the women. The women slap and abuse the
children, and these in their turn cruelly entreat, and use bad language
to, the dogs and cats. You can scarcely spend ten minutes in any
populous part of the city without hearing some violent dispute. The
"Karakun," or station-houses, are filled with lords who have
administered an undue dose of chastisement to their ladies, and with
ladies who have scratched, bitten, and otherwise injured the bodies of
their lords. The Mosques are crowded with a sulky, grumbling
population, making themselves offensive to one another on earth whilst
working their way to heaven; and in the shade, under the outer walls,
the little boys who have been expelled the church attempt to forget
their miseries in spiritless play. In the bazars and streets, pale
long-drawn faces, looking for the most part intolerably cross, catch
your eye, and at this season a stranger will sometimes meet with
positive incivility. A shopkeeper, for instance, usually says when he
rejects an insufficient offer, "Yaftah Allah,"-"Allah opens.[FN#2]"
During the Ramazan, he will grumble about the bore of Ghashim, or
"Johnny raws," and gruffly tell you not to stand there wasting his
time. But as a rule the shops are either shut or destitute of shopmen,
merchants will not purchase, and students will not study. In fine,

[p.76]the Ramazan, for many classes, is one-twelfth of the year
wantonly thrown away.

The following is the routine of a fast day. About half an hour after
midnight, the gun sounds its warning to faithful men that it is time to
prepare for the "Sahur," (early breakfast) or morning meal. My servant
then wakes me, if I have slept; brings water for ablution, spreads the
Sufrah[FN# 3] (or leather cloth); and places before me certain remnants
of the evening's meal. It is some time before the stomach becomes
accustomed to such hours, but in matters of appetite, habit is
everything, and for health's sake one should strive to eat as
plentifully as possible. Then sounds the Salam, or Blessings on the
Prophet,[FN#4] an introduction to the Call of Morning Prayer. Smoking
sundry pipes with tenderness, as if taking leave of a friend; and until
the second gun, fired at about half-past two A.M., gives the
Imsak,[FN#4]-the order to abstain from food,-I wait the Azan,[FN#5]
which in this month is called somewhat earlier than usual. Then, after
a ceremony termed the Niyat[FN#6] (purpose) of fasting, I say my

[p.77]prayers, and prepare for repose.[FN#7] At 7 A.M. the labours of
the day begin for the working classes of society; the rich spend the
night in revelling, and rest in down from dawn till noon.

The first thing on rising is to perform the Wuzu, or lesser ablution,
which invariably follows sleep in a reclining position; without this it
would be improper to pray, to enter the Mosques, to approach a
religious man, or to touch the Koran. A few pauper patients usually
visit me at this hour, report the phenomena of their complaints,-which
they do, by the bye, with unpleasant minuteness of detail,-and receive
fresh instructions. At 9 A.M. Shaykh Mohammed enters, with "lecture"
written upon his wrinkled brow; or I pick him up on the way, and
proceed straight to the Mosque Al-Azhar. After three hours' hard
reading, with little interruption from bystanders-this is long
vacation, most of the students being at home-comes the call to mid-day
prayer. The founder of Al-Islam ordained but few devotions for the
morning, which is the business part of the Eastern day; but during the
afternoon and evening they succeed one another rapidly, and their
length increases. It is then time to visit my rich patients, and
afterwards, by way of accustoming myself to the sun, to wander among
the bookshops for an hour or two, or simply to idle in the street. At 3
P.M. I return home, recite the afternoon prayers, and re-apply myself
to study.

This is the worst part of the day. In Egypt the summer nights and
mornings are, generally speaking,

[p.78]pleasant, but the forenoons are sultry, and the afternoons are
serious. A wind wafting the fine dust and furnace-heat of the desert
blows over the city; the ground returns with interest the showers of
caloric from above, and not a cloud or a vapour breaks the dreary
expanse of splendour on high. There being no such comforts as Indian
tatties, and few but the wealthiest houses boasting glass windows, the
interior of your room is somewhat more fiery than the street. Weakened
with fasting, the body feels the heat trebly, and the disordered
stomach almost affects the brain. Every minute is counted with morbid
fixity of idea as it passes on towards the blessed sunset, especially
by those whose terrible lot is manual labour at such a season. A few
try to forget their afternoon miseries in slumber, but most people take
the Kaylulah, or Siesta, shortly after the meridian, holding it
unwholesome to sleep late in the day.

As the Maghrib, the sunset hour, approaches-and how slowly it
comes!-the town seems to recover from a trance. People flock to the
windows and balconies, in order to watch the moment of their release.
Some pray, others tell their beads; while others, gathering together in
groups or paying visits, exert themselves to while away the lagging

O Gladness! at length it sounds, that gun from the citadel.
Simultaneously rises the sweet cry of the Mu'ezzin, calling men to
prayer, and the second cannon booms from the Abbasiyah
Palace,[FN#8]-"Al Fitar! Al

[p.79]Fitar!" fast-breaking! fast-breaking! shout the people, and a hum
of joy rises from the silent city. Your acute ears waste not a moment
in conveying the delightful intelligence to your parched tongue, empty
stomach, and languid limbs. You exhaust a pot full of water, no matter
its size. You clap hurried hands[FN#9] for a pipe; you order coffee;
and provided with these comforts, you sit down, and calmly contemplate
the coming pleasures of the evening.

Poor men eat heartily at once. The rich break their fast with a light
meal,-a little bread and fruit, fresh or dry, especially water-melon,
sweetmeats, or such digestible dishes as "Muhallabah,"-a thin jelly of
milk, starch, and rice-flour. They then smoke a pipe, drink a cup of
coffee or a glass of sherbet, and recite the evening prayers; for the
devotions of this hour are delicate things, and while smoking a first
pipe after sixteen hours' abstinence, time easily slips away. Then they
sit down to the Fatur (breakfast), the meal of the twenty-four hours,
and eat plentifully, if they would avoid illness.

There are many ways of spending a Ramazan evening. The Egyptians have a
proverb, like ours of the Salernitan school:

[p.80]"After Al-Ghada rest, if it be but for two moments:
After Al-Asha[FN#10] walk, if it be but two steps."

The streets are now crowded with a good-humoured throng of strollers;
the many bent on pleasure, the few wending their way to Mosque, where
the Imam recites "Tarawih" prayers.[FN#11] They saunter about, the
accustomed pipe in hand, shopping, for the stalls are open till a late
hour; or they sit in crowds at the coffee-house entrance, smoking
Shishas,[FN#12] (water-pipes), chatting, and listening to
story-tellers, singers and itinerant preachers. Here a bare-footed girl
trills and quavers, accompanied by a noisy tambourine and a "scrannel
pipe" of abominable discordance, in honour of a perverse saint whose
corpse insisted upon being buried inside some respectable man's
dwelling-house.[FN#13] The scene reminds you strongly of the Sonneurs
of Brittany and the Zampognari from the Abruzzian Highlands bagpiping
before the Madonna. There a tall, gaunt Maghrabi displays upon a square
yard of

[p.81]dirty paper certain lines and blots, supposed to represent the
venerable Ka'abah, and collects coppers to defray the expenses of his
pilgrimage. A steady stream of loungers sets through the principal
thoroughfares towards the Azbakiyah Gardens, which skirt the Frank
quarter; there they sit in the moonlight, listening to Greek and
Turkish bands, or making merry with cakes, toasted grains, coffee,
sugared-drinks, and the broad pleasantries of Kara Gyuz[FN#14] (the
local Punch and Judy). Here the scene is less thoroughly Oriental than
within the city; but the appearance of Frank dress amongst the
varieties of Eastern costume, the moon-lit sky, and the light mist
hanging over the deep shade of the Acacia trees-whose rich scented
yellow-white blossoms are popularly compared to the old Pasha's
beard[FN#15]-make it passing picturesque. And the traveller from the
far East remarks with wonder the presence of certain ladies, whose only
mark of modesty is the Burka, or face-veil: upon this laxity the police
looks with lenient eyes, inasmuch as, until very lately, it paid a
respectable tax to the state.[FN#16]

Returning to the Moslem quarter, you are bewildered

[p.82]by its variety of sounds. Everyone talks, and talking here is
always in extremes, either in a whisper, or in a scream; gesticulation
excites the lungs, and strangers cannot persuade themselves that men so
converse without being or becoming furious. All the street cries, too,
are in the soprano key. "In thy protection! in thy protection!" shouts
a Fellah peasant to a sentinel, who is flogging him towards the
station-house, followed by a tail of women, screaming, "Ya Gharati-ya
Dahwati-ya Hasrati-ya Nidamati-O my calamity! O my shame!" The boys
have elected a Pasha, whom they are conducting in procession, with
wisps of straw for Mash'als, or cressets, and outrunners, all huzzaing
with ten-schoolboy power. "O thy right! O thy left! O thy face! O thy
heel! O thy back, thy back!" cries the panting footman, who, huge torch
on shoulder, runs before the grandee's carriage; "Bless the Prophet and
get out of the way!" "O Allah bless him!" respond the good Moslems,
some shrinking up to the walls to avoid the stick, others rushing
across the road, so as to give themselves every chance of being knocked
down. The donkey boy beats his ass with a heavy palm-cudgel,-he fears
no treadmill here,-cursing him at the top of his voice for a "pander,"
a "Jew," a "Christian," and a "son of the One-eyed, whose portion is
Eternal Punishment." "O chick pease! O pips!" sings the vendor of
parched grains, rattling the unsavoury load in his basket. "Out of the
way, and say, ‘There is one God,'" pants the industrious water-carrier,
laden with a skin, fit burden for a buffalo. "Sweet-water, and gladden
thy soul, O lemonade!" pipes the seller of that luxury, clanging his
brass cups together. Then come the beggars, intensely Oriental. "My
supper is in Allah's hands, my supper is in Allah's hands! whatever
thou givest, that will go with thee!" chaunts the old vagrant, whose
wallet perhaps contains more provision than the basket of many a
respectable shopkeeper.
[p.83]"Na'al abuk[FN#17]-rucse thy father-O brother of a naughty
sister!" is the response of some petulant Greek to the touch of the old
man's staff. "The grave is darkness, and good deeds are its lamp!" sing
the blind women, rapping two sticks together: "upon Allah! upon Allah!
O daughter!" cry the bystanders, when the obstinate "bint"[FN#18]
(daughter) of sixty years seizes their hands, and will not let go
without extorting a farthing. "Bring the sweet" (i.e. fire), "and take
the full,"[FN#19] (i.e., empty cup), euphuistically cry the
long-moustached, fierce-browed Arnauts to the coffee-house keeper, who
stands by them charmed by the rhyming repartee that flows so readily
from their lips.

"Hanien," may it be pleasant to thee![FN#20] is the signal for

[p.84]"Thou drinkest for ten," replies the other, instead of returning
the usual religious salutation.

"I am the cock and thou art the hen!" is the rejoinder,-a tart one.
"Nay, I am the thick one and thou art the thin!" resumes the first
speaker, and so on till they come to equivoques which will not bear a
literal English translation.

And sometimes, high above the hubbub, rises the melodious voice of the
blind mu'ezzin, who, from his balcony in the beetling tower rings
forth, "Hie ye to devotion! Hie ye to salvation." And (at
morning-prayer time) he adds: "Devotion is better than sleep! Devotion
is better than sleep!" Then good Moslems piously stand up, and mutter,
previous to prayer, "Here am I at Thy call, O Allah! here am I at Thy

Sometimes I walked with my friend to the citadel, and sat upon a high
wall, one of the outworks of Mohammed Ali's Mosque, enjoying a view
which, seen by night, when the summer moon is near the full, has a
charm no power of language can embody. Or escaping from "stifled
Cairo's filth,[FN#21]" we passed, through the Gate of Victory, into the
wilderness beyond the City of the Dead.[FN#22] Seated upon some mound
of ruins, we inhaled

[p.85]the fine air of the Desert, inspiriting as a cordial, when
star-light and dew-mists diversified a scene, which, by day, is one
broad sea of yellow loam with billows of chalk rock, thinly covered by
a film-like spray of sand surging and floating in the fiery wind.
There, within a mile of crowded life, all is desolate; the town walls
seem crumbling to decay, the hovels are tenantless, and the paths
untrodden; behind you lies the Wild, before you, the thousand
tomb-stones, ghastly in their whiteness; while beyond them the tall
dark forms of the Mamluk Soldans' towers rise from the low and hollow
ground like the spirits of kings guarding ghostly subjects in the
Shadowy Realm. Nor less weird than the scene are the sounds!-the
hyaena's laugh, the howl of the wild dog, and the screech of the
low-flying owl. Or we spent the evening at some Takiyah[FN#23]
(Darwayshes' Oratory), generally preferring that called the "Gulshani,"
near the Muayyid Mosque outside the Mutawalli's saintly door. There is
nothing attractive in its appearance. You mount a flight of ragged
steps, and enter a low verandah enclosing an open stuccoed terrace,
where stands the holy man's domed tomb: the two stories contain small
dark rooms in which the Darwayshes dwell, and the ground-floor doors
open into the

[p.86]verandah. During the fast-month, Zikrs[FN#24] are rarely
performed in the Takiyahs: the inmates pray there in congregations, or
they sit conversing upon benches in the shade. And a curious medley of
men they are, composed of the choicest vagabonds from every nation of
Al-Islam. Beyond this I must not describe the Takiyah or the doings
there, for the "path" of the Darwaysh may not be trodden by feet

Curious to see something of my old friends the Persians, I called with
Haji Wali upon one Mirza Husayn, who by virtue of his dignity as
"Shahbandar[FN#25]" (he calls himself "Consul-General"), ranks with the
dozen little quasi-diplomatic kings of Cairo. He suspends over his
lofty gate a sign-board in which the Lion and the Sun (Iran's proud
ensign) are by some Egyptian limner's art metamorphosed into a
preternatural tabby cat grasping a scimitar, with the jolly fat face of
a "gay" young lady, curls and all complete, resting fondly upon her
pet's concave back. This high dignitary's reception room was a
court-yard sub dio: fronting the door were benches and cushions
composing the Sadr or high place, with the parallel rows of Diwans
spread down the less dignified sides, and a line of naked boards, the
lowest seats, ranged along the door-wall. In the middle stood three
little tables supporting three huge lanterns-as is their size so is the
owner's dignity-each of which contained three of the largest spermaceti

The Haji and I entering took our seats upon the side benches with
humility, and exchanged salutations with the great man on the Sadr.
When the Darbar or levee was full, in stalked the Mirza, and all arose
as he calmly divested himself of his shoes; and with all due

[p.87]solemnity ascended his proper cushion. He is a short, thin man
about thirty-five, with regular features and the usual preposterous
lamb-skin cap and beard, two peaked black cones at least four feet in
length, measured from the tips, resting on a slender basement of pale
yellow face. After a quarter of an hour of ceremonies, polite
mutterings and low bendings with the right hand on the left breast, the
Mirza's pipe was handed to him first, in token of his dignity-at
Teheran he was probably an under-clerk in some government office. In
due time we were all served with Kaliuns[FN#26] (Persian hookahs) and
coffee by the servants, who made royal conges whenever they passed the
great man; and more than once the janissary, in dignity of belt and
crooked sabre, entered the court to quicken our awe.

The conversation was the usual Oriental thing. It is, for instance,
understood that you have seen strange things in strange lands.

"Voyaging-is-victory," quotes the Mirza; the quotation is a hackneyed
one, but it steps forth majestic as to pause and emphasis.

"Verily," you reply with equal ponderousness of pronunciation and
novelty of citation, "in leaving home one learns life, yet a journey is
a bit of Jahannam."

Or if you are a physician the "lieu commun" will be,
"Little-learn'd doctors the body destroy:
Little-learn'd parsons the soul destroy."

To which you will make answer, if you would pass for a man of belles
lettres, by the well-known lines,

"Of a truth, the physician hath power with drugs,
Which, long as the patient hath life, may relieve him;
But the tale of our days being duly told,
The doctor is daft, and his drugs deceive him."

After sitting there with dignity, like the rest of the guests, I took
my leave, delighted with the truly Persian

[p.88]"apparatus" of the scene. The Mirza, having no salary, lives by
fees extorted from his subjects, who pay rather than lack protection;
and his dragoman for a counter-fee will sell their interests
shamelessly. He is a hidalgo of blue blood in pride, pompousness and
poverty. There is not a sheet of writing-paper in the "Consulate"-when
they want one a farthing is sent to the grocer's-yet the Consul drives
out in an old carriage with four outriders, two tall-capped men
preceding and two following the crazy vehicle. And the Egyptians laugh
heartily at this display, being accustomed by Mohammed Ali to consider
all such parade obsolete.

About half-an-hour before midnight sounds the Abrar[FN#27] or call to
prayer, at which time the latest wanderers return home to prepare for
the Sahur, their dawn meal. You are careful on the way to address each
sentinel with a "Peace be upon thee!" especially if you have no
lantern, otherwise you may chance to sleep in the guard-house. And,
chemin faisant, you cannot but stop to gaze at streets as little like
what civilised Europe understands by that name as is an Egyptian temple
to the new Houses of Parliament.

There are certain scenes, cannily termed "Ken-speckle," which print
themselves upon Memory, and which endure as long as Memory lasts,-a
thunder-cloud bursting upon the Alps, a night of stormy darkness off
the Cape, an African tornado, and, perhaps, most awful of all, a
solitary journey over the sandy Desert.

Of this class is a stroll through the thoroughfares of old Cairo by
night. All is squalor in the brilliancy of noon-day. In darkness you
see nothing but a silhouette. When, however, the moon is high in the
heavens, and the summer stars rain light upon God's world, there is
something not of earth in the view. A glimpse at the

[p.89]strip of pale blue sky above scarcely reveals three ells of
breadth: in many places the interval is less: here the copings meet,
and there the outriggings of the houses seem to interlace. Now they are
parted by a pencil of snowy sheen, then by a flood of silvery
splendour; while under the projecting cornices and the huge hanging
balcony-windows of fantastic wood-work, supported by gigantic brackets
and corbels, and under deep verandahs, and gateways, vast enough for
Behemoth to pass through, and in blind wynds and long cul-de-sacs, lie
patches of thick darkness, made visible by the dimmest of oil lamps.
The arch is a favourite feature: in one place you see it a mere
skeleton-rib opening into some huge deserted hall; in another the ogre
is full of fretted stone and wood carved like lace-work. Not a line is
straight, the tall dead walls of the Mosques slope over their massy
buttresses, and the thin minarets seem about to fall across your path.
The cornices project crookedly from the houses, while the great gables
stand merely by force of cohesion. And that the Line of Beauty may not
be wanting, the graceful bending form of the palm, on whose topmost
feathers, quivering in the cool night breeze, the moonbeam glistens,
springs from a gloomy mound, or from the darkness of a mass of houses
almost level with the ground. Briefly, the whole view is so strange, so
fantastic, so ghostly, that it seems preposterous to imagine that in
such places human beings like ourselves can be born, and live through
life, and carry out the command "increase and multiply," and die.

[FN#1] Of course all quarrelling, abuse, and evil words are strictly
forbidden to the Moslem during Ramazan. If one believer insult another,
the latter should repeat "I am fasting" three times before venturing
himself to reply. Such is the wise law. But human nature in Egypt, as
elsewhere, is always ready to sacrifice the spirit to the letter,
rigidly to obey the physical part of an ordinance, and to cast away the
moral, as if it were the husk and not the kernel.
 [FN#2] Allah opens (the door of daily bread) is a polite way of
informing a man that you and he are not likely to do business; in other
words, that you are not in want of his money.
[FN#3] The Sufrah is a piece of leather well tanned, and generally of a
yellow colour, bordered with black. It is circular, has a few small
pouches for knives or spoons, and, by means of a thong run through
rings in the periphery, can be readily converted into a bag for
carrying provisions on a journey. Figuratively it is used for the meal
itself. "Sufrah hazir" means that dinner is upon the table.
[FN#4] The Salam at this hour of the morning is confined to the
devotions of Ramazan. The curious reader may consult Lane's Modern
Egyptians, chap. 25, for a long and accurate interpretation of these
[FN#5] The summons to prayer.
[FN#6] In the Mohammedan church every act of devotion must be preceded
by what is called its Niyat, or purpose. This intention must be either
mentally conceived, or, as the more general rule is, audibly expressed.
For instance, the worshipper will begin with "I purpose to pray the
four-bows of mid-day prayer to Allah the Almighty," and then he will
proceed to the act of worship. Moslems of the Shafe'i faith must
perform the Niyat of fasting every night for the ensuing day; the
Malikis, on the other hand, "purpose" abstinence but once for the
thirty days of Ramazan. Lane tells a pleasant tale of a thief in the
Mosque saying, "I purpose (before prayer) to carry off this nice pair
of new shoes!"
[FN#7] Many go to sleep immediately after the Imsak, or about a quarter
of an hour before the dawn prayer, and do not perform their morning
devotions till they awake. But this is not, strictly speaking, correct.
[FN#8] When the late Pasha of Egypt (H.H. Abbas Hilmi) came to power,
he built a large pile of palace close outside the walls of Cairo, on
the direction of Suez, and induced his courtiers to follow his example.
This was done readily enough, for Asiatics, like Europeans, enjoy the
fine air of the desert after the rank atmosphere of towns and cities.
If the successor of His Highness does not follow the usual Oriental
method of wiping away all vestiges of the predecessor, except his
grave, there will be, at no distant period, a second Cairo on the site
of the Abbasiyah.
[FN#9] One of our wants is a history of the bell and its succedanai.
Strict Moslems have an aversion to all modifications of this
instrument, striking clocks, gongs, &c., because they were considered
by the Prophet peculiar to the devotions of Christians. He, therefore,
instituted the Azan, or call to prayer, and his followers still clap
their hands when we should ring for a servant. The symbolical meaning
of the bell, as shown in the sistrum of Isis, seems to be the movement
and mixture of the elements, which is denoted by clattering noise.
"Hence," observes a learned antiquary, "the ringing of bells and
clattering of plates of metal were used in all lustrations, sacrifices,
&c." We find them amongst the Jews, worn by the high priest; the Greeks
attached them to images of Priapus, and the Buddhists of Thibet still
use them in their worship, as do the Catholics of Rome when elevating
the Host.
[FN#10] Al-Ghada is the early dinner: Al-Asha, the supper, eaten
shortly after sunset. (See Lane's Modern Egyptians, Chap. 5.)
[FN#11] Extra prayers repeated in the month of Ramazan. (Lane, Chap.
25, "Tarawih.") They take about an hour, consisting of 23 prostrations,
with the Salam (or blessing on the Prophet) after every second
[FN#12] The Shisha, or Egyptian and Syrian water-pipe, is too well
known to require any description. It is filled with a kind of tobacco
called Tumbak, for which see Chap. 4 of this Volume.
[FN#13] Strangers often wonder to see a kind of cemetery let into a
dwelling-house in a crowded street. The reason is, that some obstinate
saint has insisted upon being buried there, by the simple process of
weighing so heavily in his bier, that the bearers have been obliged to
place him on the pavement. Of course, no good Moslem would object to
have his ground floor occupied by the corpse of a holy man. The reader
will not forget, that in Europe statues have the whims which dead
bodies exhibit in Egypt. So, according to the Abbe Marche, the little
statue of Our Lady, lately found in the forest of Pennacom, "became,
notwithstanding her small size, heavy as a mountain, and would not
consent to be removed by any one but the chaplain of the chateau."
[FN#14] Europeans compare "Kara Gyuz" to our Chinese shadows. He is the
Turkish "Punch," and his pleasantries may remind the traveller of what
he has read concerning the Mines and Fescennine performances of the
Romans. On more than one occasion, Kara Gyuz has been reported to the
police for scandalously jibing and deriding consuls, Frank merchants,
and even Turkish dignitaries.
[FN#15] Mohammed Ali drained and planted the Azbakiyah, which, before
his day, was covered with water and mud long after the inundation had
ceased. The Egyptians extract a perfume, an aphrodisiac, which they
call "Fitnah," from this kind of Acacia.
[FN#16] All "Agapemones" are at this time suppressed, by order of His
Highness (Abbas Pasha), whose august mother occasionally insisted upon
banishing whole colleges of Ambubaiae to Upper Egypt. As might be
expected, this proceeding had a most injurious effect upon the morals
of society. I was once at Cairo during the ruler's absence on a tour up
to the Nile; his departure was the signal for the general celebration
of Cotyttia.
[FN#17] For La'an abuk, curse thy father. So in Europe pious men have
sworn per diem, instead of per Deum, and "drat" acts for something
[FN#18] A daughter, a girl. In Egypt, every woman expects to be
addressed as "O lady!" "O female-pilgrim!" "O bride!" or, "O daughter!"
even though she be on the wrong side of fifty. In Syria and in Arabia,
you may say "y'al mara!" (O woman); but if you attempt it near the
Nile, the answer of the offended fair one will be "may Allah cut out
thy heart!" or, "the woman, please Allah, in thine eye!" And if you
want a violent quarrel, "y'al aguz!" (O old woman!) pronounced
drawlingly,-y'al ago-o-ooz,-is sure to satisfy you. On the plains of
Sorrento, in my day, it was always customary, when speaking to a
peasant girl, to call her "bella fe," (beautiful woman), whilst the
worst of insults was "vecchiarella." So the Spanish Calesero, under the
most trying circumstances, calls his mule "Vieja, rivieja." (old, very
old). Age, it appears, is as unpopular in Southern Europe as in Egypt.
[FN#19] "Fire" is called the "sweet" by euphuism, as to name it
directly would be ill-omened. So in the Moslem law, flame and water
being the instruments of Allah's wrath, are forbidden to be used by
temporal rulers. The "full" means an empty coffee cup, as we say in
India Mez barhao ("increase the table,") when ordering a servant to
remove the dishes.
[FN#20] Or "pleasurably and health": Hanien is a word taken from the
Koran. The proper answer to this is "May Allah cause thee to have
pleasure!" Hanna-kumu'llah, not "Allah yahannik!" which I have heard
abominably perverted by Arnaut and other ruffians.
[FN#21] This in these days must be said comparatively: Ibrahim Pasha's
order, that every housekeeper should keep the space before his house
properly swept and cleaned, has made Cairo the least filthy city in the
[FN#22] Here lies the Swiss Burckhardt, who enjoyed a wonderful
immunity from censure, until a certain pseudo-orientalist of the
present day seized the opportunity of using the "unscrupulous
traveller's" information, and of abusing his memory. Some years ago,
the sum of L20 (I am informed) was collected, in order to raise a
fitting monument over the discoverer of Petra's humble grave. Some
objection, however, was started, because Moslems are supposed to claim
Burckhardt as one of their own saints. Only hear the Egyptian account
of his death! After returning from Al-Hijaz, he taught Tajwid (Koran
chaunting) in the Azhar Mosque, where the learned, suspecting him to be
at heart an infidel, examined his person, and found the formula of the
Mohammedan faith written in token of abhorrence upon the soles of his
feet. Thereupon, the principal of the Mosque, in a transport of holy
indignation, did decapitate him with one blow of the sword. It only
remains to be observed, that nothing can be more ridiculous than the
popular belief, except it be our hesitating to offend the prejudices of
such believers.
[FN#23] A Takiyah is a place where Darwayshes have rooms, and perform
their devotions.
[FN#24] Certain forms of worship peculiar to Darwayshes. For a
description see Lane (Modern Egyptians, ch. 24).
[FN#25] Shahbandar, Harbour-King, is here equivalent to our "Consul."
[FN#26] Written "Ghalayun."
[FN#27] See Lane (Modern Egyptians, chap. 24).



THEN the Byzantine Christians, after overthrowing the temples of
Paganism, meditated re-building and re-modelling them, poverty of
invention and artistic impotence reduced them to group the spoils in a
heterogeneous mass.[FN#1] The sea-ports of Egypt and the plains and
mountains of Syria abounding in pillars of granite, syenite and
precious marbles, in Pharaonic, Grecian, and Roman statuary, and in all
manner of structural ornaments, the architects were at no loss for
material. Their Syncretism, the result of chance and precipitancy, of
extravagance and incuriousness, fell under eyes too ignorant to be hurt
by the hybrid irregularity: it was perpetuated in the so-called
Saracenic style, a plagiarism from the Byzantine,[FN#2] and it was
reiterated in the Gothic, an offshoot from the Saracenic.[FN#3] This
fact accounts in the Gothic style for its manifold incongruities of
architecture, and for the phenomenon,-not solely attributable to the

[p.91]having been erected piecemeal,-of its most classic period being
that of its greatest irregularity.

Such "architectural lawlessness," such disregard for symmetry,-the
result, I believe, of an imperfect "amalgamation and enrichment,"-may
doubtless be defended upon the grounds both of cause and of effect.
Architecture is of the imitative arts, and Nature, the Myriomorphous,
everywhere delighting in variety, appears to abhor nothing so much as
perfect similarity and precise uniformity. To copy her exactly we must
therefore seek that general analogy compatible with individual variety;
in fact, we should avoid the over-display of order and regularity. And
again, it may be asserted that, however incongruous these disorderly
forms may appear to the conventional eye, we find it easy to surmount
our first antipathy. Perhaps we end in admiring them the more, as we
love those faces in which irregularity of feature is compensated for by
diversity and piquancy of expression.

There is nothing, I believe, new in the Arab Mosque; it is an
unconscious revival of the forms used from the earliest ages to denote
by symbolism the worship of the generative and the creative gods. The
reader will excuse me if I only glance at a subject of which the
investigation would require a volume, and which, discussed at greater
length, would be out of place in such a narrative as this.

The first Mosque in Al-Islam was erected by Mohammed at Kuba, near
Al-Madinah: shortly afterwards, when he entered Meccah as a conqueror,
he destroyed the three hundred and sixty idols of the Arab Pantheon,
and thus purified that venerable building from its abominations. He had
probably observed in Syrian Bostra the two forms appropriated by the
Christians to their places of worship, the cross and the
parallelogramic Basilica; he therefore preferred for the prayers of the
"Saving Faith" a square,-some authors say, with, others

[p.92]without, a cloister. At length in the reign of Al-Walid (A.H. 90)
the cupola, the niche, and the minaret made their appearance; and what
is called the Saracenic style became for ever the order of the Moslem

The Hindus I believe to have been the first who symbolised by an
equilateral triangle their peculiar cult, the Yoni-Linga: in their
temple architecture, it became either a conoid or a perfect pyramid.
Egypt denoted it by the obelisk, peculiar to that country; and the form
appeared in different parts of the world: thus in England it was a mere
upright stone, and in Ireland a round tower. This we might expect to
see. D'Hancarville and Brotier have successfully traced the worship
itself, in its different modifications, to all people: the symbol would
therefore be found everywhere. The old Arab minaret is a plain
cylindrical or polygonal tower, without balcony or stages, widely
different from the Turkish, modern Egyptian, and Hijazi combinations of
tube and prism, happily compared by a French traveller to "une
chandelle coiffee d'un eteignoir." And finally the ancient minaret,
made solid as all Gothic architecture is, and provided with a belfry,
became the spire and steeple of our ancestors.

>From time immemorial, in hot and rainy lands, a hypaethral court,
either round or square, surrounded by a covered portico, was used for
the double purpose of church and mart,-a place where God and Mammon
were worshipped turn by turn. In some places we find rings of stones,
like the Persian Pyroetheia; in others, circular concave buildings
representing the vault of heaven, where Fire, the divine symbol, was
worshipped; and in Arabia, columnar aisles, which, surmounted by the
splendid blue vault, resemble the palm-grove. The Greeks adopted this
idea in the fanes of Creator Bacchus; and at Pozzuoli, near Naples, it
may be seen in the building vulgarly called the Temple of Serapis. It
was equally well known

[p.93]to the Kelts: in some places the Temenos was a circle, in others
a quadrangle. And such to the present day is the Mosque of Al-Islam.

Even the Riwak or porches surrounding the area in the Mosque are
revivals of older forms. "The range of square buildings which enclose
the temple of Serapis are not, properly speaking, parts of the fane,
but apartments of the priests, places for victims, and sacred utensils,
and chapels dedicated to subordinate deities, introduced by a more
complicated and corrupt worship, and probably unknown to the founders
of the original edifice." The cloisters in the Mosque became cells,
used as lecture rooms, and stores for books bequeathed to the college.
They are unequal, because some are required to be of larger, others to
be of smaller, dimensions. The same reason causes difference of size
when the building is distributed into four hyposteles opening upon the
area: the porch in the direction of the Ka'abah, where worshippers
mostly congregate, demands greater depth than the other three. The
wings were not unfrequently made unequal, either from want of building
materials, or because the same extent of accommodation was not required
in both. The columns were of different substances; some of handsome
marble, others of rough stone meanly plastered over, with dissimilar
capitals, vulgarly cut shafts of various sizes; here with a pediment,
there without, now turned upside down, then joined together by halves
in the centre, and almost invariably nescient of intercolumnar rule.
This is the result of Byzantine syncretism, carelessly and ignorantly
grafted upon Arab ideas of the natural and the sublime. Loving and
admiring the great, or rather the big in plan,[FN#4]} they care

[p.94]little for the execution of mere details, and they have not the
acumen to discern the effect which clumsy workmanship, crooked lines,
and visible joints,-parts apparently insignificant,-exercise upon the
whole of an edifice. Their use of colours was a false taste, commonly
displayed by mankind in their religious houses, and statues of the
gods. The Hindus paint their pagodas, inside and outside; and rub
vermilion, in token of honour, over their deities. The Persian Colossi
of Kaiomars and his consort on the Balkh road and the Sphinx of Egypt,
as well as the temples of the Nile, still show traces of artificial
complexion. The fanes in classic Greece have been dyed. In the Forum
Romanum, one of the finest buildings, still bears stains of the Tyrian
purple. And to mention no other instances, in the churches and belfries
of Modern Italy, we see alternate bands of white and black material so
disposed as to give them the appearance of giant zebras. The origin of
"Arabesque" ornament must be referred to one of the principles of
Al-Islam. The Moslem, forbidden by his law to decorate his Mosque with
statuary and pictures,[FN#5] supplied their place with quotations from
the Koran, and inscriptions, "plastic metaphysics," of marvellous

[p.95]His alphabet lent itself to the purpose, and hence probably arose
that almost inconceivable variety of lace-like fretwork, of
incrustations, of Arabesques, and of geometric flowers, in which his
eye delights to lose itself.[FN#6]

The Meccan Mosque became a model to the world of Al-Islam, and the
nations that embraced the new faith copied the consecrated building, as
religiously as Christendom produced imitations of the Holy
Sepulchre.[FN#7] The Mosque of Omar at Jerusalem, of Amru at Babylon on
the Nile, and of Taylun at Cairo were erected, with some trifling
improvements, such as arched cloisters and inscribed cornices, upon the
plan of the Ka'abah. From Egypt and Palestine the ichnography spread
far and wide. It was modified, as might be expected, by national taste;
what in Arabia was simple and elegant became highly ornate in
Spain,[FN#8] florid in Turkey, sturdy in Syria, and effeminate in
India. Still divergence of detail had not, even after the lapse of
twelve centuries, materially altered the fundamental form.

[p.96]Perhaps no Eastern city affords more numerous or more accessible
specimens of Mosque architecture than Cairo. Between 300 and 400 places
of worship;[FN#9] some stately piles, others ruinous hovels, many new,
more decaying and earthquake-shaken, with minarets that rival in
obliquity the Pisan monster, are open to the traveller's inspection.
And Europeans by following the advice of their hotel-keeper have
penetrated, and can penetrate, into any one they please.[FN#10] If
architecture be really what I believe it to be, the highest expression
of a people's artistic feeling,-highest because it includes all
others,-to compare the several styles of the different epochs, to
observe how each monarch building his own Mosque, and calling it by his
own name, identified the manner of the monument with himself, and to
trace the gradual decadence of art through one thousand two hundred
years, down to the present day, must be a work of no ordinary interest
to Orientalists. The limits of my plan, however, compel me to place
only the heads of the argument before the reader. May I be allowed to
express a hope that it will induce some learned traveller to
investigate a subject in every way worthy his attention?

The desecrated Jami' Taylun (ninth century) is simple and massive, yet
elegant, and in some of its details peculiar.[FN#11] One of the four
colonnades[FN#12] still remains unoccupied

[p.97]by paupers to show the original magnificence of the building; the
other porches are walled up, and inhabited. In the centre of a
quadrangle about 100 paces square is a domed building springing from a
square which occupies the proper place of the Ka'abah. This
"Jami'[FN#13]" Cathedral is interesting as a point of comparison. If it
be an exact copy of the Meccan temple as it stood in A.D. 879, it shows
that the latter has greatly altered in this our modern day.

Next in date to the Taylun Mosque is that of the Sultan al-Hakim, third
Caliph of the Fatimites, and founder of the Druze mysteries. The
minarets are remarkable in shape, as well as size: they are unprovided
with the usual outer gallery, they are based upon a cube of masonry,
and they are pierced above with apertures apparently meaningless. A
learned Cairene informed me that these spires were devised by the
eccentric monarch to disperse, like large censers, fragrant smoke over
the city during the hours of prayer. The Azhar and Hasanayn[FN#14]
Mosques are simple and artless piles, celebrated for sanctity, but
remarkable for nothing save ugliness. Few buildings, however, are
statelier in appearance,

[p.98]or give a nobler idea of both founder and architect than that
which bears Sultan Hasan's name. The stranger stands awe-struck before
walls high towering without a single break, a hypaethral court severe
in masculine beauty, a gateway that might suit the palace of the
Titans, and a lofty minaret of massive grandeur. This Mosque (finished
about A.D. 1363), with its fortress aspect, owns no more relationship
to the efforts of a later age than does Canterbury Cathedral to an
Anglo-Indian "Gothic." For dignified beauty and refined taste, the
Mosque and tomb of Kaid Bey and the other Mamluk kings are admirable.
Even in their present state, picturesqueness presides over decay, and
the traveller has seldom seen aught more striking than the rich light
of the stained glass pouring through the first shades of evening upon
the marble floor.

The modern Mosques must be visited to see Egyptian architecture in its
decline and fall. That of Sittna Zaynab (our Lady Zaynab), founded by
Murad Bey, the Mamluk, and interrupted by the French invasion, shows,
even in its completion, some lingering traces of taste. But nothing can
be more offensive than the building which every tourist flogs donkey in
his hurry to see-old Mohammed Ali's "Folly" in the citadel. Its Greek
architect has toiled to caricature a Mosque to emulate the glories of
our English "Oriental Pavilion." Outside, as Monckton Milnes sings,

"The shining minarets, thin and high,"

are so thin, so high above the lumpy domes, that they

[p.99]look like the spindles of crouching crones, and are placed in
full sight of Sultan Hasan the Giant, so as to derive all the
disadvantages of the contrast. Is the pointed arch forgotten by man,
that this hapless building should be disgraced by large and small
parallelograms of glass and wood,[FN#15] so placed and so formed as to
give its exterior the appearance of a European theatre coiffe with
Oriental cupolas? Outside as well as inside, money has been lavished
upon alabaster full of flaws; round the bases of pillars run gilt
bands; in places the walls are painted with streaks to resemble marble,
and the wood-work is overlaid with tinsel gold. After a glance at these
abominations, one cannot be surprised to hear the old men of Egypt
lament that, in spite of European education, and of prizes encouraging
geometry and architecture, modern art offers a melancholy contrast to
antiquity. It is said that H. H. Abbas Pasha proposes to erect for
himself a Mosque that shall far surpass the boast of the last
generation. I venture to hope that his architect will light the "sacred
fire" from Sultan Hasan's, not from Mohammed Ali's, Turco-Grecian
splendours. The former is like the genuine Osmanli of past ages,
fierce, cold, with a stalwart frame, index of a strong mind-there was a
sullen grandeur about the man. The latter is the pert and puny modern
Turk in pantaloons, frock coat and Fez, ill-dressed, ill-conditioned,
and ill-bred, body and soul.

[p.100]We will now enter the Mosque Al-Azhar. At the dwarf wooden
railing we take off our slippers, hold them in the left hand, sole to
sole, that no dirt may fall from them, and cross the threshold with the
right foot, ejaculating Bismillah, &c. Next we repair to the Mayza'ah,
or large tank, for ablution, without which it is unlawful to appear in
the House of Allah. We then seek some proper place for devotion, place
our slippers on some other object in front of us to warn the lounger,
and perform a two-bow prayer in honour of the Mosque.[FN#16] This done,
we may wander about, and inspect the several objects of curiosity.

The moon shines splendidly upon a vast open court, paved with stones
which are polished like glass by the feet of the Faithful. There is
darkness in the body of the building, a large oblong hall, at least
twice too lengthy for its height, supported by a forest of pillars,
thin, poor-looking, crooked marble columns, planted avenue-like, upon
torn and dirty matting. A few oil lamps shed doubtful light over scanty
groups, who are debating some point of grammar, or are listening to the
words of wisdom that fall from the mouth of a Wa'iz.[FN#17] Presently
they will leave the hypostyle, and throw themselves upon the flags of
the quadrangle, where they may enjoy the open air and avoid some fleas.
It is now "long vacation": so the holy building has become a kind of
Caravanserai for travellers;

[p.101]perhaps a score of nations meet in it; there is a confusion of
tongues, and the din at times is deafening. Around the court runs a
tolerably well-built colonnade, whose entablature is garnished with
crimson arabesques, and in the inner wall are pierced apartments, now
closed with plank doors. Of the Riwak, as the porches are called, the
Azhar contains twenty-four, one for each recognised nation in Al-Islam,
and of these fifteen are still open to students.[FN#18] Inside them we
find nothing but matting and a pile of large dingy wooden boxes, which
once contained the college library; they are now, generally speaking,

There is nothing worth seeing in the cluster of little dark chambers
that form the remainder of the Azhar. Even the Zawiyat al-Umyan (or the
Blind men's Oratory), a place where so many "town and gown rows" have
emanated, is rendered interesting only by the fanaticism of its
inmates, and the certainty that, if recognised in this

[p.102]sanctum, we shall run the gauntlet under the staves of its
proprietors, the angry blind.

The Azhar is the grand collegiate Mosque of this city,-the Christ
Church, in fact, of Cairo,-once celebrated throughout the world of
Al-Islam. It was built, I was told, originally in poor style by one
Jauhar al-Kaid,[FN#20] originally the slave of a Moorish merchant, in
consequence of a dream that ordered him to "erect a place whence the
light of science should shine upon Al-Islam."

It gradually increased by "Wakf[FN#21]" (entailed bequests) of lands,
money, and books; and pious rulers made a point of adding to its size
and wealth. Of late years it has considerably declined, the result of
sequestrations, and of the diminished esteem in which the purely
religious sciences are now held in the land of Egypt.[FN#22] Yet it is
calculated that between 2000 and 3000 students of all nations and ages
receive instruction here gratis.

[p.103]Each one is provided with bread, in a quantity determined by the
amount of endowment, at the Riwak set apart for his nation,[FN#23] with
some article of clothing on festival days, and a few piastres once a
year. The professors, who are about 150 in number, may not take fees
from their pupils; some lecture on account of the religious merit of
the action, others to gain the high title of "Teacher in Al
Azhar.[FN#24]" Six officials receive stipends from the government,-the
Shaykh al-Jami' or dean, the Shaykh al-Sakka, who regulates the
provision of water for ablution, and others that may be called heads of

The following is the course of study in the Azhar. The school-boy of
four or five years' standing has been taught, by a liberal application
of the maxim "the Green Rod is of the Trees of Paradise," to chant the
Koran without understanding it, the elementary rules of arithmetic,
and, if he is destined to be a learned man, the art of writing.[FN#25]
He then registers his name in Al-Azhar, and applies

[p.104]himself to the branches of study most cultivated in Al-Islam,
namely Nahw (syntax), Fikh (the law), Hadis (the traditions of the
Prophet), and Tafsir, or Exposition of the Koran.

The young Egyptian reads at the same time Sarf, or Inflexion, and Nahw
(syntax). But as Arabic is his mother-tongue, he is not required to
study the former so deeply as are the Turks, the Persians, and the
Indians. If he desire, however, to be a proficient, he must carefully
peruse five books in Sarf,[FN#26] and six in Nahw.[FN#27]

[p.105]Master of grammar, our student now applies himself to its proper
end and purpose, Divinity. Of the four schools those of Abu Hanifah and
Al-Shafe'i are most common in Cairo; the followers of Ibn Malik abound
only in Southern Egypt and the Berberah country, and the Hanbali is
almost unknown. The theologian begins with what is called a Matn or
text, a short, dry, and often obscure treatise, a mere string of
precepts; in fact, the skeleton of the subject. This he learns by
repeated perusal, till he can quote almost every passage literatim. He
then passes to its "Sharh," or commentary, generally the work of some
other savant, who explains the difficulty of the text, amplifies its
Laconicisms, enters into exceptional cases, and deals with principles
and reasons, as well as with mere precept. A difficult work will
sometimes require "Hashiyah," or "marginal notes"; but this aid has a
bad name:-

"Who readeth with note,
But learneth by rote,"

says a popular doggrel. The reason is, that the student's reasoning
powers being little exercised, he learns to depend upon the dixit of a
master rather than to think for himself. It also leads to the neglect
of another practice, highly advocated by the Eastern pedagogue.

"The lecture is one.
The dispute (upon the subject of the lecture) is one thousand."

In order to become a Fakih, or divine of distinguished fame, the
follower of Abu Hanifah must peruse about ten volumes,[FN#28] some of
huge size, written in a diffuse style;

[p.106]the Shafe'i's reading is not quite so extensive.[FN#29] Theology
is much studied, because it leads directly to the gaining of daily
bread, as priest or tutor; and other scientific pursuits are neglected
for the opposite reason.

The theologian in Egypt, as in other parts of Al-Islam, must have a
superficial knowledge of the Prophet's traditions. Of these there are
eight well known collections,[FN#30] but only the first three are
generally read.

School-boys are instructed, almost when in their infancy, to intone the
Koran; at the university they are

[p.107]taught a more exact system of chanting. The style called "Hafs"
is most common in Egypt, as it is indeed throughout the Moslem world.
And after learning to read the holy volume, some savans are ambitious
enough to wish to understand it: under these circumstances they must
dive into the 'Ilm al-Tafsir,[FN#31] or the Exegesis of the Koran.

Our student is now a perfect Fakih or Mulla.[FN#32] But

[p.108]the poor fellow has no scholarship or fellowship-no easy
tutorship-no fat living to look forward to. After wasting

[p.109]seven years, or twice seven years, over his studies, and reading
till his brain is dizzy, his digestion gone, and his eyes half blind,
he must either starve upon college alms, or squat, like my old Shaykh
Mohammed, in a druggist's shop, or become pedagogue and preacher in
some country place, on the pay of L8 per annum. With such prospects it
is wonderful how the Azhar can present any attractions; but the
southern man is essentially an idler, and many become Olema, like
Capuchins, in order to do nothing. A favoured few rise to the degree of
Mudarris (professors), and thence emerge Kazis and Muftis. This is
another inducement to matriculate; every undergraduate having an eye
upon the Kazi-ship, with as much chance of obtaining it as the country
parocco has of becoming a cardinal. Others again devote themselves to
laical pursuits, degenerate into Wakils (lawyers), or seek their
fortunes as Katibs-public or private accountants.

To conclude this part of the subject, I cannot agree with Dr. Bowring
when he harshly says, upon the subject of Moslem education: "The
instruction given by the Doctors of the Law in the religious schools,
for the formation of the Mohammedan priesthood, is of the most
worthless character."[FN#33] His opinion is equally open to

[p.110]objection with that of those who depreciate the law itself
because it deals rather in precepts than in principle, in ceremonies
and ordinances rather than in ethics and aesthetics. Both are what
Eastern faiths and Eastern training have ever been,-both are eminently
adapted for the Oriental mind. When the people learn to appreciate
ethics, and to understand psychics and aesthetics, the demand will
create a supply. Meanwhile they leave transcendentalism to their poets
and philosophers, and they busy themselves with preparing for heaven by
practising the only part of their faith now intelligible to them-the

It is not to be supposed that a nation in this stage of civilisation
could be so fervently devout as the Egyptians are, without the bad
leaven of bigotry. The same tongue which is employed in blessing Allah,
is, it is conceived, doing its work equally well in cursing Allah's
enemies. Wherefore the Kafir is denounced by every sex, age, class, and
condition, by the man of the world,[FN#34] as by the boy at school; and
out of, as well as in, the Mosque. If you ask your friend who is the
person with a black turband, he replies,

"A Christian. Allah make his Countenance cold!"

If you inquire of your servant, who are the people singing in the next
house, it is ten to one that his answer will be,

"Jews. May their lot be Jahannam!"

It appears unintelligible, still it is not less true, that Egyptians
who have lived as servants under European roofs for years, retain the
liveliest loathing for the manners

[p.111]and customs of their masters. Few Franks, save those who have
mixed with the Egyptians in Oriental disguise, are aware of their
repugnance to, and contempt for, Europeans-so well is the feeling
veiled under the garb of innate politeness, and so great is their
reserve when conversing with those of strange religions. I had a good
opportunity of ascertaining the truth when the first rumour of a
Russian war arose. Almost every able-bodied man spoke of hastening to
the Jihad,-a crusade, or holy war,-and the only thing that looked like
apprehension was the too eager depreciation of their foes. All seemed
delighted with the idea of French co-operation, for, somehow or other,
the Frenchman is everywhere popular. When speaking of England, they
were not equally easy: heads were rolled, pious sentences were
ejaculated, and finally out came the old Eastern cry, "Of a truth they
are Shaytans, those English.[FN#35]" The Austrians are despised,
because the East knows nothing of them since the days when Osmanli
hosts threatened the gates of Vienna. The Greeks are hated as clever
scoundrels, ever ready to do Al-Islam a mischief. The Maltese, the
greatest of cowards off their own ground, are regarded with a profound
contempt: these are the proteges which bring the British nation into
disrepute at Cairo. And Italians are known chiefly as "istruttori" and
"distruttori"[FN#36]-doctors, druggists, and pedagogues.

Yet Egyptian human nature is, like human nature everywhere,
contradictory. Hating and despising Europeans, they still long for
European rule. This people admire

[p.112]an iron-handed and lion-hearted despotism; they hate a timid and
a grinding tyranny.[FN#37] Of all foreigners, they would prefer the
French yoke,-a circumstance which I attribute to the diplomatic skill
and national dignity of our neighbours across the Channel.[FN#38] But
whatever European nation secures Egypt will win a treasure. Moated on
the north and south by seas, with a glacis of impassable deserts to the
eastward and westward, capable of supporting an army of 180,000 men, of
paying a

[p.113]heavy tribute, and yet able to show a considerable surplus of
revenue, this country in western hands will command India, and by a
ship-canal between Pelusium and Suez would open the whole of Eastern

There is no longer much to fear from the fanaticism of the people, and
a little prudence would suffice to command the interests of the
Mosque.[FN#40] The chiefs of corporations,[FN#41] in the present state
of popular feeling, would offer [p.114]even less difficulty to an
invader or a foreign ruler than the Olema. Briefly, Egypt is the most
tempting prize which the East holds out to the ambition of Europe, not
excepted even the Golden Horn.

[FN#1] In the capitals of the columns, for instance.
[FN#2] This direct derivation is readily detected in the Mosques at Old
[FN#3] The roof supported by arches resting on pillars, was unknown to
classic antiquity, and in the earliest ages of Al-Islam, the cloisters
were neither arched nor domed. A modern writer justly observes, "A
compound of arcade and colonnade was suggested to the architects of the
Middle Ages by the command that ancient buildings gave them of marble
[FN#4] "The Oriental mind," says a clever writer on Indian subjects,
"has achieved everything save real greatness of aim and execution."
That the Arab mind always aimed, and still aims, at the physically
great is sufficiently evident. Nothing affords the Meccans greater
pride than the vast size of their temple. Nothing is more humiliating
to the people of Al-Madinah than the comparative smallness of their
Mosque. Still, with a few exceptions, Arab greatness is the vulgar
great, not the grand.
[FN#5] That is to say, imitations of the human form. All the doctors of
Al-Islam, however, differ on this head: some absolutely forbidding any
delineation of what has life, under pain of being cast into hell;
others permitting pictures even of the bodies, though not of the faces,
of men. The Arabs are the strictest of Misiconists; yet even they allow
plans and pictures of the Holy Shrines. Other nations are comparatively
lax. The Alhambra abounds in paintings and frescoes. The Persians never
object to depict in books and on walls the battles of Rustam, and the
Turks preserve in the Seraglio treasury of Constantinople portraits, by
Greeks and other artists, of their Sultans in regular succession.
[FN#6] This is at least a purer taste than that of our Gothic
architects, who ornamented their cathedrals with statuary so
inappropriate as to suggest to the antiquary remains of the worship of
the Hellespontine god.
[FN#7] At Bruges, Bologna, (St. Stefano), and Nurnberg, there are, if I
recollect right, imitations of the Holy Sepulchre, although the
"palmer" might not detect the resemblance at first sight. That in the
Church of Jerusalem at Bruges was built by a merchant, who travelled
three times to Palestine in order to ensure correctness, and totally
failed. "Arab art," says a writer in the "Athenaeum," "sprang from the
Koran, as the Gothic did from the Bible." He should have remembered,
that Arab art, in its present shape, was borrowed by Al-Walid from the
Greeks, and, perhaps, in part from the Persians and the Hindus, but
that the model buildings existed at Meccah, and in Al-Yaman, centuries
before the people had "luxurious shawls and weavings of Cashmere" to
suggest mural decoration.
[FN#8] See Theophile Gautier's admirable description of the Mosque at
[FN#9] Joseph Pitts, of Exeter, declares that Cairo contained in his
day (A.D. 1678-93) 5 or 6000 Mosques, public and private; at the same
time he corrects Mr. Collins, who enumerated 6000 public, and 20,000
particular buildings, and M. de Thevenot, who (Part I. p. 129),
supplied the city with 23,000!
[FN#10] In Niebuhr's time, a Christian passing one of the very holy
buildings on foot was liable to be seized and circumcised. All Mosques
may now be entered with certain precautions. When at Cairo, I heard
occasionally of a Frank being spat at and insulted, but the instances
were rare.
[FN#11] The "Handbook" contains the story current among the learned
concerning the remarkable shape of the minaret.
[FN#12] The columns support pointed arches, which, therefore, were
known at Cairo 200 years before they were introduced into England. By
the discoveries of M. Mariette, it is now ascertained that the
Egyptians were perfectly acquainted with the round arch and key-stone
at a period antecedent to the architectural existence of Greece.
[FN#13] A "Jami'" is a place where people assemble to pray-a house of
public worship. A "Masjid" is any place of prayer, private or public.
From "Masjid" we derive our "Mosque": its changes on the road to Europe
are almost as remarkable as that described in the satiric lines,-
"Alfana vient d'equus, sans doute,
Mais il faut avouer aussi,
Qu en venant de la jusqu'ici
Il a bien change sur la route."
[FN#14] So called, because supposed to contain relics of Hasan and
Husayn, the martyred grandsons of Mohammed. The tradition is little
credited, and the Persians ostentatiously avoid visiting the place.
"You are the first 'Ajami that ever said the Fatihah at this holy
spot," quoth the Mujawir, or guardian of the tomb, after compelling me,
almost by force, to repeat the formula, which he recited with the
prospect of a few piastres.
[FN#15] This is becoming the fashion for young Egyptians, who will
readily receive a pair of common green persiennes in exchange for fine
old windows of elaborately carved wood. They are as sensible in a
variety of other small matters. Natives of a hot climate generally wear
slippers of red and yellow leather, because they are cool and
comfortable: on the banks of the Nile, the old chaussure is gradually
yielding to black shoes, which blister the feet with heat, but are
European, and, therefore, bon ton. It must, however, be confessed that
the fine old carved wood-work of the windows was removed because it was
found to be dangerous in cases of fire.
[FN#16] Irreligious men neglect this act of propriety. There are many
in Egypt who will habitually transgress one of the fundamental orders
of their faith, namely, never to pray when in a state of religious
impurity. In popular Argot, prayer without ablution is called Salat
Mamlukiyah, or "slaves' prayers," because such men perform their
devotions only in order to avoid the master's staff. Others will touch
the Koran when impure, a circumstance which highly disgusts Indian
[FN#17] An "adviser," or "lecturer,"-any learned man who, generally in
the months of Ramazan and Muharram, after the Friday service and
sermon, delivers a discourse upon the principles of Al-Islam.
[FN#18] Amongst them is a foundation for Jawi scholars. Some of our
authors, by a curious mistake, have confounded Moslem Jawa (by the
Egyptians pronounced Gawa), with "Goa," the Christian colony of the
[FN#19] Cairo was once celebrated for its magnificent collections of
books. Besides private libraries, each large Mosque had its
bibliotheca, every MS. of which was marked with the word "Wakf"
(entailed bequest), or "Wukifa l'Illahi Ta'ala" (bequeathed to God
Almighty). But Cairo has now for years supplied other countries with
books, and the decay of religious zeal has encouraged the unprincipled
to steal and sell MSS. marked with the warning words. The Hijaz, in
particular, has been inundated with books from Egypt. Cairo has still
some large libraries, but most of them are private property, and the
proprietors will not readily lend or give access to their treasures.
The principal opportunity of buying books is during the month Ramazan,
when they are publicly sold in the Azhar Mosque. The Orientalist will,
however, meet with many disappointments; besides the difficulty of
discovering good works, he will find in the booksellers, scribes, et
hoc genus omne, a finished race of scoundrels.
[FN#20] Lane (Mod. Egyptians) has rectified Baron von
Hammer-Purgstall's mistake concerning the word "Azhar"; our English
Orientalist translates it the "splendid Mosque." I would venture to
add, that the epithet must be understood in a spiritual and not in a
material sense. Wilkinson attributes the erection of the building to
Jauhar al-Kaid, general under Al-Moaz, about A.D. 970. Wilson ascribes
it partly to Al-Moaz the Fatimite (A.D. 973), partly to his general and
successor, Al-Hakim (?).
[FN#21] Wakf, property become mortmain. My friend Yacoub Artin declares
that the whole Nile Valley has parcel by parcel been made Wakf at some
time or other, and then retaken.
[FN#22] If I may venture to judge, after the experience of a few
months, there is now a re-action in favour of the old system. Mohammed
Ali managed to make his preparatory, polytechnic, and other schools,
thoroughly distasteful to the people, and mothers blinded their
children, to prevent their being devoted for life to infidel studies.
The printing-press, contrasting in hideousness with the beauty of the
written character, and the contemptible Arabic style of the various
works translated by order of government from the European languages,
have placed arms in the hands of the orthodox party.
[FN#23] Finding the Indian Riwak closed, and hearing that an endowment
still belonged to it, I called twice upon the Shaykh or Dean, wishing
to claim the stipend as a precedent. But I failed in finding him at
home, and was obliged to start hurriedly for Suez. The Indians now
generally study in the Sulaymaniyah, or Afghan College.
[FN#24] As the attending of lectures is not compulsory, the result is
that the lecturer is always worth listening to. May I commend this
consideration to our college reformers at home? In my day, men were
compelled to waste-notoriously to waste-an hour or two every morning,
for the purpose of putting a few pounds sterling into the pocket of
some droning Don.
[FN#25] The would-be calligrapher must go to a Constantinople Khwajah
(schoolmaster), and after writing about two hours a day regularly
through a year or two, he will become, if he has the necessary
disposition, a skilful penman. This acquirement is but little valued in
the present day, as almost nothing is to be gained by it. The Turks
particularly excel in the ornamental character called "Suls." I have
seen some Korans beautifully written; and the late Pasha gave an
impetus to this branch of industry, by forbidding, under the plea of
religious scruples, the importation of the incorrect Korans cheaply
lithographed by the Persians at Bombay. The Persians surpass the Turks
in all but the Suls writing. Of late years, the Pashas of Cairo have
employed a gentleman from Khorasan, whose travelling name is "Mirza
Sanglakh" to decorate their Mosques with inscriptions. I was favoured
with a specimen of his art, and do not hesitate to rank him the first
of his age, and second to none amongst the ancients but those Raphaels
of calligraphy, Mir of Shiraz, and Rahman of Herat. The Egyptians and
Arabs, generally speaking, write a coarse and clumsy hand, and, as
usual in the East, the higher the rank of the writer is, the worse his
scrawl becomes.
[FN#26] The popular volumes are, 1. Al-Amsilah, showing the simple
conjugation of the triliteral verb; 2. Bisi'a, the work of some unknown
author, explaining the formation of the verb into increased infinities,
the quadrilateral verb, &c.; 3. The Maksu'a, a well-known book written
by the great Imam Abu' Hanifah; 4. The "Izzi," an explanatory treatise,
the work of a Turk, "Izzat Effendi." And lastly, the Marah of Ahmad
al-Sa'udi. These five tracts are bound together in a little volume,
printed at the government establishment. Al-Amsilah is explained in
Turkish, to teach boys the art of "parsing"; Egyptians generally
confine themselves in Al-Sarf to the Izzi, and the Lamiyat al-Af'al of
the grammarian Ibn Malik.
[FN#27] First, the well-known "Ajrumiyah" (printed by M. Vaucelle), and
its commentary, Al-Kafrawi. Thirdly, the Alfiyah (Thousand Distichs) of
Ibn Malik, written in verse for mnemonic purposes, but thereby rendered
so difficult as to require the lengthy commentary of Al-Ashmumi. The
fifth is the well-known work called the Katr al-Nida (the Dew Drop),
celebrated from Cairo to Kabul; and last of all the "Azhari."
[FN#28] I know little of the Hanafi school; but the name of the
following popular works were given to me by men upon whose learning I
could depend. The book first read is the text, called Marah al-Falah,
containing about twenty pages, and its commentary, which is about six
times longer. Then comes the Matn al-Kanz, a brief text of from 35 to
40 pages, followed by three long Sharh. The shortest of these,
"Al-Tai," contains 500 pages; the next, "Mulla Miskin," at least 900;
and the "Sharh Ayni" nearly 2000. To these succeeds the Text
"Al-Durar," the work of the celebrated Khusraw, (200 pages), with a
large commentary by the same author; and last is the Matn Tanwir
Al-Absar, containing about 500 pages, and its Sharh, a work upwards of
four times the size. Many of these books may be found-especially when
the MS. is an old one-with Hashiyah, or marginal notes, but most men
write them for themselves, so that there is no generally used
collection. The above-mentioned are the works containing a full course
of theological study; it is rare, however, to find a man who reads
beyond the "Al-Kanz," with the shortest of its commentaries, the
[FN#29] He begins with a little text called, after the name of its
author, Abu Shuja'a of Isfahan, and proceeds to its commentary, a book
of about 250 pages, by Ibn Kasim of Ghazzah (Gaza). There is another
Sharh, neatly four times larger than this, "Al-Khatib"; it is seldom
read. Then comes Al-Tahrir, the work of Zakariya al-Ansari,-a
celebrated divine buried in the Mosque of Al-Shafe'i,-and its
commentary by the same author, a goodly MS. of 600 pages. Most students
here cry: "Enough!" The ambitious pass on to Al-Minhaj and its
commentary, (1600 pages). Nor need they stop at this point. A man may
addle his brains over Moslem theology, as upon Aristotle's schoolmen,
till his eyesight fails him-both subjects are all but interminable.
[FN#30] The three best known are the Arbain al-Nawawi, and the
Sahihayn-"the two (universally acknowledged to be) trustworthy,"-by
Al-Muslim and Al-Bokhari, celebrated divines. The others are Al-Jami'
al-Saghir, "the smaller collection," so called to distinguish it from a
rarer book, Al-Jami' al-Kabir, the "greater collection"; both are the
work of Al-Siyuti. The full course concludes with Al-Shifa, Shamail,
and the labours of Kazi Ayyaz.
[FN#31] Two Tafsirs are known all over the modern world. The smaller
one is called Jalalani ("the two Jalals," i.e. the joint work of Jalal
al-Siyuti and Jalal al-Mahalli), and fills two stout volumes octavo.
The larger is the Exposition of Al-Bayzawi, which is supposed to
contain the whole subject. Some few divines read Al-Khazin.
[FN#32] To conclude the list of Moslem studies, not purely religious.
Al-Mantik (or logic) is little valued; it is read when judged
advisable, after Al-Nahw, from which it flows, and before Ma'ani Bayan
(rhetoric) to which it leads. In Egypt, students are generally directed
to fortify their memories, and give themselves a logical turn of mind,
by application to Al-Jabr (algebra). The only logical works known are
the Isaghuji (the [Greek text] of Porphyry), Al-Shamsiyah, the book
Al-Sullam, with its Sharh Al-Akhzari, and, lastly, Kazi Mir. Equally
neglected are the Tawarikh (history) and the Hikmat (or philosophy),
once so ardently cultivated by Moslem savans; indeed, it is now all but
impossible to get books upon these subjects. For upwards of six weeks,
I ransacked the stalls and the bazar, in order to find some one of the
multitudinous annals of Al-Hijaz, without seeing for sale anything but
the fourth volume of a large biographical work called al-Akd al-Samin
fi Tarikh al-Balad al-Amin.
The 'Ilm al-'Aruz, or Prosody, is not among the Arabs, as with us, a
chapter hung on to the tail of grammar. It is a long and difficult
study, prosecuted only by those who wish to distinguish themselves in
"Arabiyat,"-the poetry and the eloquence of the ancient and modern
Arabs. The poems generally studied, with the aid of commentaries, which
impress every verse upon the memory, are the Burdah and the Hamziyah,
well-known odes by Mohammed of Abusir. They abound in obsolete words,
and are useful at funerals, as on other solemn occasions. The Banat
Su'adi, by Ka'ab al-Ahbar (or Akhbar), a companion of the Apostle, and
the Diwan 'Umar ibn Fariz, a celebrated mystic, are also learned
compositions. Few attempt the bulky volume of Al-Mutanabbi-though many
place it open upon the sofa,-fewer still the tenebrous compositions of
Al-Hariri; nor do the modern Egyptians admire those fragments of
ancient Arab poets, which seem so sweetly simple to the European ear.
The change of faith has altered the national taste to such an extent,
that the decent bard must now sing of woman in the masculine gender.
For which reason, a host of modern poetasters can attract the public
ear, which is deaf to the voices of the "Golden Song."
In the exact sciences, the Egyptian Moslems, a backward race according
to European estimation, are far superior to the Persians and the
Moslems of India. Some of them become tolerable arithmeticians, though
very inferior to the Coptic Christians; they have good and simple
treatises on algebra, and still display some of their ancestors'
facility in the acquisition of geometry. The 'Ilm al-Mikat, or
"Calendar-calculating," was at one time publicly taught in the Azhar;
the printing-press has doomed that study to death.
The natural sciences find but scant favour on the banks of the Nile.
Astronomy is still astrology, geography a heap of names, and natural
history a mass of fables. Alchemy, geomancy, and summoning of fiends,
are pet pursuits; but the former has so bad a name, that even amongst
friends it is always alluded to as 'Ilm al-Kaf,-the "science of K," so
called from the initial letter of the word "Kimiya." Of the state of
therapeutics I have already treated at length.
Aided by the finest of ears, and flexible organs of articulation, the
Egyptian appears to possess many of the elements of a good linguist.
The stranger wonders to hear a Cairene donkey-boy shouting sentences in
three or four European dialects, with a pronunciation as pure as his
own. How far this people succeed in higher branches of language, my
scanty experience does not enable me to determine. But even for
students of Arabic, nothing can be more imperfect than those useful
implements, Vocabularies and Dictionaries. The Cairenes have, it is
true, the Kamus of Fayruzabadi, but it has never been printed in Egypt;
it is therefore rare, and when found, lost pages and clerical errors
combined with the intrinsic difficulty of the style, exemplify the
saying of Golius, that the most learned Orientalist must act the part
of a diviner, before he can perform that of interpreter. They have
another Lexicon, the Sihah, and an abbreviation of the same, the Sihah
al-Saghir (or the lesser), both of them liable to the same objections
as the Kamus. For the benefit of the numerous students of Turkish and
Persian, short grammars and vocabularies have been printed at a cheap
price, but the former are upon the model of Arabic, a language
essentially different in formation, and the latter are mere strings of
As a specimen of the state of periodical literature, I may quote the
history of the "Bulak Independent," as Europeans facetiously call it.
When Mohammed Ali, determining to have an "organ," directed an officer
to be editor of a weekly paper, the officer replied, that no one would
read it, and consequently that no one would pay for it. The Pasha
remedied this by an order that a subscription should be struck off from
the pay of all employes, European and Egyptian, whose salary amounted
to a certain sum. Upon which the editor accepted the task, but being
paid before his work was published, he of course never supplied his
subscribers with their copies.
[FN#33] Would not a superficial, hasty, and somewhat prejudiced
Egyptian or Persian say exactly the same thing about the systems of
Christ Church and Trinity College?
[FN#34] And when the man of the world, as sometimes happens, professes
to see no difference in the forms of faith, or whispers that his
residence in Europe has made him friendly to the Christian religion,
you will be justified in concluding his opinions to be latitudinarian.
[FN#35] I know only one class in Egypt favourable to the English,-the
donkey boys,-and they found our claim to the possession of the country
upon a base scarcely admissible by those skilled in casuistry, namely,
that we hire more asses than any other nation.
[FN#36] The story is, that Mohammed Ali used to offer his flocks of
foreigners their choice of two professions,-"destruction," that is to
say, physic, or "instruction."
[FN#37] Of this instances abound. Lately an order was issued to tax the
villages of the Badawin settled upon the edge of the Western desert,
who, even in Mohammed Ali's time, were allowed to live free of
assessment. The Aulad 'Ali, inhabitants of a little village near the
Pyramids, refused to pay, and turned out with their matchlocks, defying
the Pasha. The government then insisted upon their leaving their
houses, and living under hair-cloth like Badawin, since they claimed
the privileges of Badawin. The sturdy fellows at once pitched their
tents, and when I returned to Cairo (in December, 1853), they had
deserted their village. I could offer a score of such cases, proving
the present debased condition of Egypt.
[FN#38] At Constantinople the French were the first to break through
the shameful degradation to which the ambassadors of infidel powers
were bribed, by 300 or 400 rations a day, to submit. M. de Saint Priest
refused to give up his sword. General Sebastiani insisted upon wearing
his military boots; and the Republican Aubert Dubajet rejected the
dinner, and the rich dress, with which "the naked and hungry barbarian
who ventured to rub his brow upon the Sublime Porte," was fed and
clothed before being admitted to the presence, saying that the
ambassadors of France wanted neither this nor that. At Cairo, M.
Sabatier, the French Consul-general, has had the merit of doing away
with some customs prejudicial to the dignity of his nation. The next
English envoy will, if anxious so to distinguish himself, have an
excellent opportunity. It is usual, after the first audience, for the
Pasha to send, in token of honour, a sorry steed to the new comer. This
custom is a mere relic of the days when Mohammed the Second threatened
to stable his charger in St. Peter's, and when a ride through the
streets of Cairo exposed the Inspector-general Tott, and his suite, to
lapidation and an "avanie." To send a good horse is to imply
degradation, but to offer a bad one is a positive insult.
[FN#39] As this canal has become a question of national interest, its
advisability is surrounded with all the circumstance of unsupported
assertion and bold denial. The English want a railroad, which would
confine the use of Egypt to themselves. The French desire a canal that
would admit the hardy cruisers of the Mediterranean into the Red Sea.
The cosmopolite will hope that both projects may be carried out. Even
in the seventh century Omar forbade Amru to cut the Isthmus of Suez for
fear of opening Arabia to Christian vessels. As regards the feasibility
of the ship-canal, I heard M. Linant de Bellefonds-the best authority
upon all such subjects in Egypt-expressly assert, after levelling and
surveying the line, that he should have no difficulty in making it. The
canal is now a fact. As late as April, 1864, Lord Palmerston informed
the House of Commons that labourers might be more usefully employed in
cultivating cotton than in "digging a canal through a sandy desert, and
in making two harbours in deep mud and shallow water." It is, however,
understood that the Premier was the only one of his Cabinet who took
this view. Mr. Robert Stephenson, C.E., certainly regretted before his
death the opinion which he had been induced to express by desire.
[FN#40] There are at present about eighteen influential Shaykhs at
Cairo, too fanatic to listen to reason. These it would be necessary to
banish. Good information about what goes on in each Mosque, especially
on Fridays, when the priests preach to the people, and a guard of
honour placed at the gates of the Kazi, the three Muftis, and the
Shaykh of the Azhar, are simple precautions sufficient to keep the
Olema in order.
[FN#41] These Rakaiz Al-'Usab, as they are called, are the most
influential part of the immense mass of dark intrigue which Cairo, like
most Oriental cities, conceals beneath the light surface. They
generally appear in the ostensible state of barbers and dyers.
Secretly, they preside over their different factions, and form a kind
of small Vehm. The French used to pay these men, but Napoleon,
detecting them in stirring up the people, whilst appearing to maintain
public tranquillity, shot eighteen or twenty (about half their number),
and thereby improved the conduct of the rest. They are to be managed,
as Sir Charles Napier governed Sind,-by keeping a watchful eye upon
them, a free administration of military law, disarming the population,
and forbidding large bodies of men to assemble.



AT length the slow "month of blessings" passed away. We rejoiced like
Romans finishing their Quaresima, when a salvo of artillery from the
citadel announced the end of our Lenten woes. On the last day of
Ramazan all gave alms to the poor, at the rate of a piastre and a half
for each member of the household-slave, servant, and master. The next
day, first of the three composing the Bayram or Id[FN#1] (the Lesser
Festival), we arose before dawn, performed our ablutions, and repaired
to the Mosque, to recite the peculiar prayer of the season, and to hear
the sermon which bade us be "merry and wise." After which we ate and
drank heartily; then, with pipes and tobacco-pouches in hand, we
sauntered out to enjoy the contemplation of smiling faces and street

The favourite resort on this occasion is the large cemetery beyond the
Bab al-Nasr[FN#2]-that stern, old, massive gateway which opens upon the
Suez road. There we found a scene of jollity. Tents and ambulant
coffee-houses were full of men equipped in their-anglice

[p.116]-"Sunday best," listening to singers and musicians, smoking,
chatting, and looking at jugglers, buffoons, snake-charmers,
Darwayshes, ape-leaders, and dancing boys habited in women's attire.
Eating-stalls and lollipop-shops, booths full of playthings, and sheds
for lemonade and syrups, lined the roads, and disputed with swings and
merry-go-rounds the regards of the little Moslems and Moslemahs. The
chief item of the crowd, fair Cairenes, carried in their hands huge
palm branches, intending to ornament therewith the tombs of parents and
friends. Yet, even on this solemn occasion, there is, they say, not a
little flirtation and love-making; parties of policemen are posted,
with orders to interrupt all such irregularities, with a long cane; but
their vigilance is notoriously unequal to the task. I could not help
observing that frequent pairs, doubtless cousins or other relations,
wandered to unusual distances among the sand-hills, and that sometimes
the confusion of a distant bastinado struck the ear. These trifles did
not, however, by any means interfere with the general joy. Every one
wore something new; most people were in the fresh suits of finery
intended to last through the year; and so strong is personal vanity in
the breasts of Orientals, men and women, young and old, that from Cairo
to Calcutta it would be difficult to find a sad heart under a handsome
coat. The men swaggered, the women minced their steps, rolled their
eyes, and were eternally arranging, and coquetting with their
head-veils. The little boys strutting about foully abused any one of
their number who might have a richer suit than his neighbours. And the
little girls ogled every one in the ecstacy of conceit, and glanced
contemptuously at other little girls their rivals.

Weary of the country, the Haji and I wandered about the city, paying
visits, which at this time are like new-year calls in continental
Europe. I can describe the

[p.117]operation of calling in Egypt only as the discussion of pipes
and coffee in one place, and of coffee and pipes in another. But on
this occasion, whenever we meet a friend we throw ourselves upon each
other's breast, placing right arms over left shoulders, and vice versa,
squeezing like wrestlers, with intermittent hugs, then laying cheek to
cheek delicately, at the same time making the loud noise of many kisses
in the air.[FN#3] The compliment of the season is, "Kull'am antum bil
khayr"-"Every year may you be well!"-in fact, our "Many happy returns
of the day!" After this come abundant good wishes, and kindly
prophecies; and from a "religious person" a blessing, and a short
prayer. To complete the resemblance between a Moslem and a Christian
festival, we have dishes of the day, fish, Shurayk, the cross-bun, and
a peculiarly indigestible cake, called in Egypt Kahk,[FN#4] the
plum-pudding of Al-Islam.

This year's Id was made gloomy, comparatively speaking, by the state of
politics. Report of war with Russia, with France, with England, who was
going to land three million men at Suez, and with Infideldom in
general, rang through Egypt, and the city of Mars[FN#5] became
unusually martial. The government armouries, arsenals, and
manufactories, were crowded with kidnapped workmen. Those who purposed
a pilgrimage feared forcible detention. Wherever men gathered together,
in the Mosques, for instance, or the coffee-houses, the police

[p.118]closed the doors, and made forcible capture of the able-bodied.
This proceeding, almost as barbarous as our impressment law, filled the
main streets with detachments of squalid-looking wretches, marching to
be made soldiers, with collars round their necks and irons on their
wrists. The dismal impression of the scene was deepened by crowds of
women, who, habited in mourning, and scattering dust and mud over their
rent garments, followed their sons, brothers, and husbands, with cries
and shrieks. The death-wail is a peculiar way of cheering on the
patriot departing pro patria mori, and the origin of the custom is
characteristic of the people. The principal public amusements allowed
to Oriental women are those that come under the general name of
"Fantasia,"-birth-feasts, marriage festivals, and funerals. And the
early campaigns of Mohammed Ali's family in Syria, and Al-Hijaz having,
in many cases, deprived the bereaved of their sex-right to "keen" for
the dead, they have now determined not to waste the opportunity, but to
revel in the luxury of woe at the live man's wake.[FN#6]

Another cloud hung over Cairo. Rumours of conspiracy were afloat. The
Jews and Christians,-here as ready to take alarm as the English in
Italy,-trembled at the fancied preparations for insurrection, massacre,
and plunder. And even the Moslems whispered that some hundred
desperadoes had resolved to fire the city, beginning with the bankers'
quarter, and to spoil the wealthy Egyptians. Of course H.H. Abbas Pasha
was absent at the time, and, even had he been at Cairo, his presence
would have been of little use: the ruler can do nothing

[p.119]towards restoring confidence to a panic-stricken Oriental nation.

At the end of the Id, as a counter-irritant to political excitement,
the police magistrates began to bully the people. There is a standing
order in the chief cities of Egypt, that all who stir abroad after dark
without a lantern shall pass the night in the station-house.[FN#7] But
at Cairo, in certain quarters, the Azbakiyah[FN#8] for instance, a
little laxity is usually allowed. Before I left the capital the licence
was withdrawn, and the sudden strictness caused many ludicrous scenes.

If by chance you (clad in Oriental garb) had sent on your lantern to a
friend's house by your servant, and had leisurely followed it five
minutes after the hour of eight, you were sure to be met, stopped,
collared, questioned, and captured by the patrol. You probably punched
three or four of them, but found the dozen too strong for you. Held
tightly by the sleeves, skirts, and collar of your wide outer garment,
you were hurried away on a plane of about nine inches above the ground,
your feet mostly treading the air. You were dragged along with a
rapidity which scarcely permitted you to answer strings of questions
concerning your name, nation, dwelling, faith, profession, and self in
general,-especially concerning the present state of your purse. If you
lent an ear to the voice of the charmer that began by asking a crown to
release you, and gradually came down to two-pence half-penny, you fell
into a simple trap; the butt-end of a musket applied a posteriori,
immediately after the transfer of property, convicted you of wilful
waste. But if, more sensibly, you pretended to have forgotten your
purse, you

[p.120]were reviled, and dragged with increased violence of shaking to
the office of the Zabit, or police magistrate. You were spun through
the large archway leading to the court, every fellow in uniform giving
you, as you passed, a Kafa, "cuff," on the back of the neck. Despite
your rage, you were forced up the stairs to a long gallery full of
people in a predicament like your own. Again your name, nation,-I
suppose you to be masquerading,-offence, and other particulars were
asked, and carefully noted in a folio by a ferocious-looking clerk. If
you knew no better, you were summarily thrust into the Hasil or
condemned cell, to pass the night with pickpockets or ruffians,
pell-mell. But if an adept in such matters, you insisted upon being
conducted before the "Pasha of the Night," and, the clerk fearing to
refuse, you were hurried to the great man's office, hoping for justice,
and dealing out ideal vengeance to your captors,-the patrol. Here you
found the dignitary sitting with pen, ink, and paper before him, and
pipe and coffee-cup in hand, upon a wide Diwan of dingy chintz, in a
large dimly-lit room, with two guards by his side, and a semi-circle of
recent seizures vociferating before him. When your turn came, you were
carefully collared, and led up to the presence, as if even at that
awful moment you were mutinously and murderously disposed. The Pasha,
looking at you with a vicious sneer, turned up his nose, ejaculated
"'Ajami," and prescribed the bastinado. You observed that the mere fact
of being a Persian did not give mankind a right to capture, imprison,
and punish you; you declared moreover that you were no Persian, but an
Indian under British protection. The Pasha, a man accustomed to
obedience, then stared at you, to frighten you, and you, we will
suppose, stared at him, till, with an oath, he turned to the patrol,
and asked them your offence. They all simultaneously swore-by
Allah!-that you had been found without a lantern, dead-drunk, beating
respectable people,

[p.121]breaking into houses, invading and robbing harims. You openly
told the Pasha that they were eating abominations; upon which he
directed one of his guards to smell your breath,-the charge of
drunkenness being tangible. The fellow, a comrade of your capturers,
advanced his nose to your lips; as might be expected, cried "Kikh,"
contorted his countenance, and answered, by the beard of
"Effendina[FN#9]" that he perceived a pestilent odour of distilled
waters. This announcement probably elicited a grim grin from the "Pasha
of the Night," who loves Curaçoa, and who is not indifferent to the
charms of Cognac. Then by his favour, for you improved the occasion,
you were allowed to spend the hours of darkness on a wooden bench, in
the adjacent long gallery, together with certain little parasites, for
which polite language has no name.[FN#10] In the morning the janissary
of your Consulate was sent for: he came, and claimed you; you were led
off criminally; again you gave your name and address, and if your
offence was merely sending on your lantern, you were dismissed with
advice to be more careful in future. And assuredly your first step was
towards the Hammam.

But if, on the other hand, you had declared yourself a European, you
would either have been dismissed at once, or sent to your Consul, who
is here judge, jury, and jailor. Egyptian authority has of late years
lost half its prestige. When Mr. Lane first settled at Cairo, all
Europeans accused of aggression against Moslems were, he tells us,
surrendered to the Turkish magistrates. Now, the native powers have no
jurisdiction over strangers,

[p.122]nor can the police enter their houses. If the West would raise
the character of its Eastern co-religionists, it will be forced to push
the system a point further, and to allow all bona-fide Christian
subjects to register their names at the different Consulates whose
protection they might prefer. This is what Russia has so "unwarrantably
and outrageously" attempted. We confine ourselves to a lesser
injustice, which deprives Eastern states of their right as independent
Powers to arrest, and to judge foreigners, who for interest or
convenience settle in their dominions. But we still shudder at the
right of arrogating any such claim over the born lieges of Oriental
Powers. What, however, would be the result were Great Britain to
authorise her sons resident at Paris, or Florence, to refuse attendance
at a French or an Italian court of justice, and to demand that the
police should never force the doors of an English subject? I commend
this consideration to all those who "stickle for abstract rights" when
the interest and progress of others are concerned, and who become
somewhat latitudinarian and concrete in cases where their own welfare
and aggrandisement are at stake.

Besides patients, I made some pleasant acquaintances at Cairo. Antun
Zananire, a young Syrian of considerable attainments as a linguist,
paid me the compliment of permitting me to see the fair face of his
"Harim." Mr. Hatchadur Nury, an Armenian gentleman, well known in
Bombay, amongst other acts of kindness, introduced me to one of his
compatriots, Khwajah Yusuf, whose advice was most useful to me. The
Khwajah had wandered far and wide, picking up everywhere some scrap of
strange knowledge, and his history was a romance. Expelled from Cairo
for a youthful peccadillo, he started upon his travels, qualified
himself for sanctity at Meccah and Al-Madinah, became a religious
beggar at Baghdad, studied French at Paris, and finally settled

[p.123]down as a professor of languages,[FN#11] under an amnesty, at
Cairo. In his house I saw an Armenian marriage. The occasion was
memorable: after the gloom and sameness of Moslem society, nothing
could be more gladdening than the unveiled face of a pretty woman. Some
of the guests were undeniably charming brunettes, with the blackest
possible locks, and the brightest conceivable eyes. Only one pretty
girl wore the national costume;[FN#12] yet they all smoked chibuks and
sat upon the Diwans, and, as they entered the room, they kissed with a
sweet simplicity the hands of the priest, and of the other old
gentlemen present.

Among the number of my acquaintances was a Meccan boy, Mohammed
al-Basyuni, from whom I bought the pilgrim-garb called "Al-Ihram" and
the Kafan or shroud, with which the Moslem usually starts upon such a
journey as mine. He, being in his way homewards after a visit to
Constantinople, was most anxious to accompany me in the character of a
"companion." But he had travelled too much to suit me; he had visited
India, he had seen Englishmen, and he had lived with the "Nawab Balu"
of Surat. Moreover, he showed signs of over-wisdom. He had been a
regular visitor, till I cured one of his friends of an ophthalmia,
after which

[p.124]he gave me his address at Meccah, and was seen no more. Haji
Wali described him and his party to be "Nas jarrar" (extractors), and
certainly he had not misjudged them. But the sequel will prove how der
Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt; and as the boy, Mohammed, eventually did
become my companion throughout the Pilgrimage, I will place him before
the reader as summarily as possible.

He is a beardless youth, of about eighteen, chocolate-brown, with high
features, and a bold profile; his bony and decided Meccan cast of face
is lit up by the peculiar Egyptian eye, which seems to descend from
generation to generation.[FN#13] His figure is short and broad, with a
tendency to be obese, the result of a strong stomach and the power of
sleeping at discretion. He can read a little, write his name, and is
uncommonly clever at a bargain. Meccah had taught him to speak
excellent Arabic, to understand the literary dialect, to be eloquent in
abuse, and to be profound at Prayer and Pilgrimage. Constantinople had
given him a taste for Anacreontic singing, and female society of the
questionable kind, a love of strong waters,-the hypocrite looked
positively scandalised when I first suggested the subject,-and an
off-hand latitudinarian mode of dealing with serious subjects in
general. I found him to be the youngest son of a widow, whose doting
fondness had moulded his disposition; he was selfish and affectionate,
as spoiled children usually are, volatile, easily offended and as
easily pacified (the Oriental), coveting other men's goods, and profuse
of his own (the Arab), with a matchless intrepidity of countenance (the
traveller), brazen lunged, not more than half brave, exceedingly
astute, with an acute sense of honour, especially where his

[p.125]relations were concerned (the individual). I have seen him in a
fit of fury because some one cursed his father; and he and I nearly
parted because on one occasion I applied to him an epithet which,
etymologically considered, might be exceedingly insulting to a
high-minded brother, but which in popular parlance signifies nothing.
This "point d'honneur" was the boy Mohammed's strong point.

During the Ramazan I laid in my stores for the journey. These consisted
of tea, coffee, loaf-sugar, rice, dates, biscuit, oil, vinegar,
tobacco, lanterns, and cooking pots, a small bell-shaped tent, costing
twelve shillings, and three water-skins for the Desert.[FN#14] The
provisions were placed in a "Kafas" or hamper artistically made of palm
sticks, and in a huge Sahharah, or wooden box, about three feet each
way, covered with leather or skin, and provided with a small lid
fitting into the top.[FN#15] The

[p.126]former, together with my green box containing medicines, and
saddle-bags full of clothes, hung on one side of the camel, a
counterpoise to the big Sahharah on the other flank; the Badawin, like
muleteers, always requiring a balance of weight. On the top of the load
was placed transversely a Shibriyah or cot, on which Shaykh Nur
squatted like a large crow. This worthy had strutted out into the
streets armed with a pair of horse-pistols and a sword almost as long
as himself. No sooner did the mischievous boys of Cairo-they are as bad
as the gamins of Paris and London-catch sight of him than they began to
scream with laughter at the sight of the "Hindi (Indian) in arms,"
till, like a vagrant owl pursued by a flight of larks, he ran back into
the Caravanserai.

Having spent all my ready money at Cairo, I was obliged to renew the
supply. My native acquaintances advised me to take at least eighty
pounds sterling, and considering the expense of outfit for Desert
travelling, the sum did not appear excessive. I should have found some
difficulty in raising the money had it not been for the kindness of a
friend at Alexandria, John Thurburn, now, I regret to say, no more, and
Mr. Sam Shepheard, then of Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo, presently a landed
proprietor near Rugby, and now also gone. My Indians scrutinised the
diminutive square of paper[FN#16]-the

[p.127]letter of credit-as a raven may sometimes be seen peering, with
head askance, into the interior of a suspected marrow-bone. "Can this
be a bona-fide draft?" they mentally inquired. And finally they
offered, politely, to write to England for me, to draw the money, and
to forward it in a sealed bag directed "Al-Madinah." I need scarcely
say that such a style of transmission would, in the case of precious
metals, have left no possible chance of its safe arrival. When the
difficulty was overcome, I bought fifty pounds' worth of German dollars
(Maria Theresas), and invested the rest in English and Turkish
sovereigns.[FN#17] The gold I myself carried; part of the silver I
sewed up in Shaykh Nur's leather waistbelt, and part was packed in the
boxes, for this reason,-when Badawin begin plundering a respectable
man, if they find a certain amount of ready money in his baggage, they
do not search his person. If they find none they proceed to a bodily
inspection, and if his waist-belt be empty they are rather disposed to
rip open his stomach, in the belief that he must have some peculiarly
ingenious way of secreting valuables. Having passed through this
trouble I immediately fell into another. My hardly-earned Alexandrian
passport required a double visa, one at the Police office, the other at
the Consul's. After returning to Egypt, I found it was the practice of

[p.128]who required any civility from Dr. Walne, then the English
official at Cairo, to enter the "Presence" furnished with an order from
the Foreign Office.

I had neglected the precaution, and had ample reason to regret having
done so. Failing at the British Consulate, and unwilling to leave Cairo
without being "en regle,"-the Egyptians warned me that Suez was a place
of obstacles to pilgrims,[FN#18]-I was obliged to look elsewhere for
protection. My friend Haji Wali was the first consulted; after a long
discussion he offered to take me to his Consul, the Persian, and to
find out for what sum I could become a temporary subject of the Shah.
We went to the sign of the "Lion and the Sun," and we found the
dragoman,[FN#19] a subtle Syrian Christian, who,

[p.129]after a rigid inquiry into the state of my purse (my country was
no consideration at all[FN#20]), introduced me to the Great Man. I have
described this personage once already, and he merits not a second
notice. The interview was truly ludicrous. He treated us with exceeding
hauteur, motioned me to sit almost out of hearing, and after rolling
his head in profound silence for nearly a quarter of an hour,
vouchsafed the information that though my father might be a Shirazi,
and my mother an Afghan, he had not the honour of my acquaintance. His
companion, a large old Persian with Polyphemean eyebrows and a mulberry
beard, put some gruff and discouraging questions. I quoted the verses

"He is a man who benefits his fellow men,
Not he who says ‘why?' and ‘wherefore?' and ‘how much?'"

upon which an imperious wave of the arm directed me to return to the
dragoman, who had the effrontery to ask me four pounds sterling for a
Persian passport. I offered one. He derided my offer, and I went away
perplexed. On my return to Cairo some months afterwards, he sent to say
that had he known me as an Englishman, I should have had the document
gratis,-a civility for which he was duly thanked.

At last my Shaykh Mohammed hit upon the plan. "Thou art," said he, "an
Afghan; I will fetch hither the principal of the Afghan college at the
Azhar, and he, if

[p.130]thou make it worth his while," (this in a whisper) "will be thy
friend." The case was looking desperate; my preceptor was urged to lose
no time.

Presently Shaykh Mohammed returned in company with the principal, a
little, thin, ragged-bearded, one-eyed, hare-lipped divine, dressed in
very dirty clothes, of nondescript cut. Born at Maskat of Afghan
parents, and brought up at Meccah, he was a kind of cosmopolite,
speaking five languages fluently, and full of reminiscences of toil and
travel. He refused pipes and coffee, professing to be ascetically
disposed: but he ate more than half my dinner, to reassure me, I
presume, should I have been fearful that abstinence might injure his
health. We then chatted in sundry tongues. I offered certain presents
of books, which were rejected (such articles being valueless), and the
Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab having expressed his satisfaction at my account of
myself, told me to call for him at the Azhar Mosque next Morning.

Accordingly at six P.M. Shaykh Mohammed and Abdullah Khan,[FN#21]-the
latter equipped in a gigantic sprigged-muslin turband, so as to pass
for a student of theology,-repaired to Al-Azhar. Passing through the
open quadrangle, we entered the large hall which forms the body of the
Mosque. In the northern wall was a dwarf door, leading by breakneck
stairs to a pigeon-hole, the study of the learned Afghan Shaykh. We
found him ensconced behind piles of musty and greasy manuscripts,
surrounded by scholars and scribes, with whom he was cheapening books.
He had not much business to transact; but long before he was ready, the
stifling atmosphere drove us out of the study, and we repaired to the
hall. Presently the Shaykh joined us, and we all rode on to the
citadel, and waited in a Mosque till the office hour struck. When the
doors were opened we went into the

[p.131]"Diwan," and sat patiently till the Shaykh found an opportunity
of putting in a word. The officials were two in number; one an old
invalid, very thin and sickly-looking, dressed in the Turco-European
style, whose hand was being severely kissed by a troop of religious
beggars, to whom he had done some small favours; the other was a stout
young clerk, whose duty it was to engross, and not to have his hand

My name and other essentials were required, and no objections were
offered, for who holier than the Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab ibn Yunus
al-Sulaymani? The clerk filled up a printed paper in the Turkish
language, apparent1y borrowed from the European method for spoiling the
traveller; certified me, upon the Shaykh's security, to be one
Abdullah, the son of Yusuf (Joseph), originally from Kabul, described
my person, and, in exchange for five piastres, handed me the document.
I received it with joy.

With bows, and benedictions, and many wishes that Allah might make it
the officials' fate to become pilgrims, we left the office, and
returned towards Al-Azhar. When we had nearly reached the Mosque,
Shaykh Mohammed lagged behind, and made the sign. I drew near the
Afghan, and asked for his hand. He took the hint, and muttering, "It is
no matter!"-"It is not necessary!"-"By Allah it is not required!"
extended his fingers, and brought the "musculus guineorum" to bear upon
three dollars.

Poor man! I believe it was his necessity that consented to be paid for
the doing a common act of Moslem charity; he had a wife and children,
and the calling of an Alim[FN#22] is no longer worth much in Egypt.

My departure from Cairo was hastened by an accident. I lost my
reputation by a little misfortune that happened in this wise.

[p.132]At Haji Wali's room in the Caravanserai, I met a Yuzbashi, or
captain of Albanian Irregulars, who was in Egypt on leave from
Al-Hijaz. He was a tall, bony, and broad-shouldered mountaineer, about
forty years old, with the large bombe brow, the fierce eyes, thin lips,
lean jaws, and peaky chin of his race. His mustachios were enormously
long and tapering, and the rest of his face, like his head, was close
shaven. His Fustan[FN#23] was none of the cleanest; nor was the red
cap, which he wore rakishly pulled over his frowning forehead, quite
free from stains. Not permitted to carry the favourite pistols, he
contented himself with sticking his right hand in the empty belt, and
stalking about the house with a most military mien. Yet he was as
little of a bully as carpet knight, that same Ali Agha; his body showed
many a grisly scar, and one of his shin bones had been broken by a
Turkish bullet, when he was playing tricks on the Albanian hills,-an
accident inducing a limp, which he attempted to conceal by a heavy
swagger. When he spoke, his voice was affectedly gruff; he had a sad
knack of sneering, and I never saw him thoroughly sober.

Our acquaintance began with a kind of storm, which blew over, and left
fine weather. I was showing Haji Wali my pistols with Damascene barrels
when Ali Agha entered the room. He sat down before me with a grin,
which said intelligibly enough, "What business have you with
weapons?"-snatched the arm out of my hand, and began to inspect it as a
connoisseur. Not admiring this procedure, I wrenched it away from him,
and, addressing myself to Haji Wali, proceeded quietly with my
dissertation. The captain of Irregulars and I then looked at each
other. He cocked his cap on one side, in token of excited pugnacity. I
twirled my moustachios to display a kindred emotion. Had he been armed,
and in Al-Hijaz,

[p.133]we should have fought it out at once, for the Arnauts are
"terribili colla pistola," as the Italians say, meaning that upon the
least provocation they pull out a horse-pistol, and fire it in the face
of friend or foe. Of course, the only way under these circumstances is
to anticipate them; but even this desperate prevention seldom saves a
stranger, as whenever there is danger, these men go about in pairs. I
never met with a more reckless brood. Upon the line of march Albanian
troops are not allowed ammunition; for otherwise there would be half a
dozen duels a day. When they quarrel over their cups, it is the fashion
for each man to draw a pistol, and to place it against his opponent's
breast. The weapons being kept accurately clean, seldom miss fire, and
if one combatant draw trigger before the other, he would immediately be
shot down by the bystanders.[FN#24] In Egypt these men,-who are used as
Irregulars, and are often quartered upon the hapless villagers, when
unable or unwilling to pay taxes,-were the terror of the population. On
many occasions they have quarrelled with foreigners, and insulted
European women. In Al-Hijaz their recklessness awes even the Badawin.
The townspeople say of them that, "tripe-sellers, and bath-servants, at
Stambul, they become Pharaohs (tyrants, ruffians,) in Arabia." At
Jeddah the Arnauts have amused themselves with firing at the English
Consul, Mr. Ogilvie, when he walked upon his terrace. And this
man-shooting appears a favourite sport with them: at Cairo numerous
stories illustrate the sang froid with which they used to knock over
the camel-drivers, if any one dared to ride past their barracks. The
Albanians vaunt their skill in using weapons, and their pretensions
impose upon Arabs as well as Egyptians; yet I have never found them
wonderful with any arm

[p.134](the pistol alone excepted); and our officers, who have visited
their native hills, speak of them as tolerable but by no means
first-rate rifle shots.

The captain of Irregulars being unhappily debarred the pleasure of
shooting me, after looking fierce for a time, rose, and walked
majestically out of the room. A day or two afterwards, he called upon
me civilly enough, sat down, drank a cup of coffee, smoked a pipe, and
began to converse. But as he knew about a hundred Arabic words, and I
as many Turkish, our conversation was carried on under difficulties.
Presently he asked me in a whisper for "'Araki."[FN#25] I replied that
there was none in the house, which induced a sneer and an ejaculation
sounding like "Himar," (ass,) the slang synonym amongst fast Moslems
for water-drinker. After rising to depart, he seized me waggishly, with
an eye to a trial of strength. Thinking that an Indian doctor and a
temperance man would not be very dangerous, he exposed himself to what
is professionally termed a "cross-buttock," and had his "nut" come in
contact with the stone floor instead of my bed, he might not have drunk
for many a day. The fall had a good effect upon his temper. He jumped

[p.135]patted my head, called for another pipe, and sat down to show me
his wounds, and to boast of his exploits. I could not help remarking a
ring of English gold, with a bezel of bloodstone, sitting strangely
upon his coarse, sun-stained hand. He declared that it had been
snatched by him from a Konsul (Consul) at Jeddah, and he volubly
related, in a mixture of Albanian, Turkish, and Arabic, the history of
his acquisition. He begged me to supply him with a little poison that
"would not lie," for the purpose of quieting a troublesome enemy, and
he carefully stowed away in his pouch five grains of calomel, which I
gave him for that laudable purpose. Before taking leave he pressed me
strongly to go and drink with him; I refused to do so during the day,
but, wishing to see how these men sacrifice to Bacchus, promised
compliance that night. About nine o'clock, when the Caravanserai was
quiet, I took a pipe, and a tobacco-pouch,[FN#26] stuck my dagger in my
belt, and slipped into Ali Agha's room. He was sitting on a bed spread
upon the ground: in front of him stood four wax candles (all Orientals
hate drinking in any but a bright light), and a tray containing a basin
of stuff like soup maigre, a dish of cold stewed meat, and two bowls of
Salatah,[FN#27] sliced cucumber, and curds. The "materials" peeped out
of an iron pot filled with water; one was a long, thin, white-glass
flask of 'Araki, the other a bottle of some strong

[p.136]perfume. Both were wrapped up in wet rags, the usual

Ali Agha welcomed me politely, and seeing me admire the preparations,
bade me beware how I suspected an Albanian of not knowing how to drink;
he made me sit by him on the bed, threw his dagger to a handy distance,
signalled me to do the same, and prepared to begin the bout. Taking up
a little tumbler, in shape like those from which French postilions used
to drink la goutte, he inspected it narrowly, wiped out the interior
with his forefinger, filled it to the brim, and offered it to his
guest[FN#28] with a bow. I received it with a low salam, swallowed its
contents at once, turned it upside down in proof of fair play, replaced
it upon the floor, with a jaunty movement of the arm, somewhat like a
pugilist delivering a "rounder," bowed again, and requested him to help
himself. The same ceremony followed on his part. Immediately after each
glass,-and rapidly the cup went about,-we swallowed a draught of water,
and ate a spoonful of the meat or the Salatah in order to cool our
palates. Then we re-applied ourselves to our pipes, emitting huge
puffs, a sign of being "fast" men, and looked facetiously at each
other,-drinking being considered by Moslems a funny and pleasant sort
of sin.

The Albanian captain was at least half seas over when we began the
bout, yet he continued to fill and to drain without showing the least
progress towards ebriety. I in vain for a time expected the bad-masti
(as the Persians call it,) the horse play, and the gross facetiae,
which generally

[p.137]accompany southern and eastern tipsiness. Ali Agha, indeed,
occasionally took up the bottle of perfume, filled the palm of his
right hand, and dashed it in my face: I followed his example, but our
pleasantries went no further.

Presently my companion started a grand project, namely, that I should
entice the respectable Haji Wali into the room, where we might force
him to drink. The idea was facetious; it was making a Bow-street
magistrate polk at a casino. I started up to fetch the Haji; and when I
returned with him Ali Agha was found in a new stage of "freshness." He
had stuck a green-leaved twig upright in the floor, and had so turned
over a gugglet of water, that its contents trickled slowly, in a tiny
stream under the verdure; whilst he was sitting before it mentally
gazing, with an outward show of grim Quixotic tenderness, upon the
shady trees and the cool rills of his fatherland. Possibly he had
peopled the place with "young barbarians at play;" for verily I thought
that a tear "which had no business there" was glistening in his stony

The appearance of Haji Wali suddenly changed the scene. Ali Agha jumped
up, seized the visitor by the shoulder, compelled him to sit down, and,
ecstasied by the old man's horror at the scene, filled a tumbler, and
with the usual grotesque grimaces insisted upon its being drunk off.
Haji Wali stoutly refused; then Ali Agha put it to his own lips, and
drained it, with a hurt feeling and reproachful aspect. We made our
unconvivial friend smoke a few puffs, and then we returned to the
charge. In vain the Haji protested that throughout life he had avoided
the deadly sin; in vain he promised to drink with us to-morrow,-in vain
he quoted the Koran, and alternately coaxed, and threatened us with the
police. We were inexorable. At last the Haji started upon his feet, and
rushed away, regardless of any thing but escape,

[p.138]leaving his Tarbush, his slippers, and his pipe, in the hands of
the enemy. The host did not dare to pursue his recreant guest beyond
the door, but returning he carefully sprinkled the polluting liquid on
the cap, pipe, and shoes, and called the Haji an ass in every tongue he

Then we applied ourselves to supper, and dispatched the soup, the stew,
and the Salatah. A few tumblers and pipes were exhausted to obviate
indigestion, when Ali Agha arose majestically, and said that he
required a troop of dancing girls to gladden his eyes with a ballet.

I represented that such persons are no longer admitted into
Caravanserais.[FN#29] He inquired, with calm ferocity, "who hath
forbidden it?" I replied "the Pasha;" upon which Ali Agha quietly
removed his cap, brushed it with his dexter fore-arm, fitted it on his
forehead, raking forwards, twisted his mustachios to the sharp point of
a single hair, shouldered his pipe, and moved towards the door, vowing
that he would make the Pasha himself come, and dance before us.

I foresaw a brawl, and felt thankful that my boon companion had
forgotten his dagger. Prudence whispered me to return to my room, to
bolt the door, and to go to bed, but conscience suggested that it would
be unfair to abandon the Albanian in his present helpless state. I
followed him into the outer gallery, pulling him, and begging him, as a
despairing wife might urge a drunken husband, to return home. And he,
like the British husband, being greatly irritated by the unjovial
advice, instantly belaboured with his pipe-stick[FN#30] the first person

[p.139]he met in the gallery, and sent him flying down the stairs with
fearful shouts of "O Egyptians! O ye accursed! O genus of Pharaoh! O
race of dogs! O Egyptians!"

He then burst open a door with his shoulder, and reeled into a room
where two aged dames were placidly reposing by the side of their
spouses, who were basket-makers. They immediately awoke, seeing a
stranger, and, hearing his foul words, they retorted with a hot volley
of vituperation.

Put to flight by the old women's tongues, Ali Agha, in spite of all my
endeavours, reeled down the stairs, and fell upon the sleeping form of
the night porter, whose blood he vowed to drink-the Oriental form of
threatening "spiflication." Happily for the assaulted, the Agha's
servant, a sturdy Albanian lad, was lying on a mat in the doorway close
by. Roused by the tumult, he jumped up, and found the captain in a
state of fury. Apparently the man was used to the master's mood.
Without delay he told us all to assist, and we lending a helping hand,
half dragged and half carried the Albanian to his room. Yet even in
this ignoble plight, he shouted with all the force of his lungs the old
war-cry, "O Egyptians! O race of dogs! I have dishonoured all
Sikandariyah-all Kahirah-all Suways.[FN#31]" And in this vaunting frame
of mind he was put to bed. No Welsh undergraduate at Oxford, under
similar circumstances, ever gave more trouble.

"You had better start on your pilgrimage at once,"

[p.140]said Haji Wali, meeting me the next morning with a "goguenard"

He was right. Throughout the Caravanserai nothing was talked of for
nearly a week but the wickedness of the captain of Albanian Irregulars,
and the hypocrisy of the staid Indian doctor. Thus it was, gentle
reader, that I lost my reputation of being a "serious person" at Cairo.
And all I have to show for it is the personal experience of an Albanian

I wasted but little time in taking leave of my friends, telling them,
by way of precaution, that my destination was Meccah via Jeddah, and
firmly determining, if possible, to make Al-Madinah via Yambu'.
"Conceal," says the Arab's proverb, "Thy Tenets, thy Treasure, and thy

[FN#1] Festival. It lasts the three first days of Shawwal, the month
immediately following Ramazan, and therefore, among Moslems,
corresponds with our Paschal holidays, which succeed Lent. It is called
the "Lesser Festival," the "Greater" being in Zu'l Hijjah, the
[FN#2] In Chap. V. of this Volume, I have mentioned this cemetery as
Burckhardt's last resting-place.
[FN#3] You are bound also to meet even your enemies in the most
friendly way-for which mortification you afterwards hate them more
cordially than before.
[FN#4] Persian.
[FN#5] With due deference to the many of a different opinion, I believe
"Kahirah" (corrupted through the Italian into Cairo) to mean, not the
"victorious," but the "City of Kahir," or Mars the Planet. It was so
called because, as Richardson has informed the world, it was founded in
A.D. 968 by one Jauhar, a Dalmatian renegade before mentioned, when the
warlike planet was in the ascendant.
[FN#6] "There were no weeping women; no neighhours came in to sit down
in the ashes, as they might have done had the soldier died at home;
there was no Nubian dance for the dead, no Egyptian song of the women
lauding the memory of the deceased, and beseeching him to tell why he
had left them alone in the world to weep."-(Letter from Widdin, March
25, 1854, describing a Turkish soldier's funeral.)
[FN#7] Captain Haines wisely introduced the custom into Aden. I wonder
that it is not made universal in the cities of India, where so much
iniquity is perpetrated under the shadow of night.
[FN#8] The reason being that respectable Europeans, and the passengers
by the Overland Mail, live and lodge in this quarter.
[FN#9] "Our lord," i.e. H.H. the Pasha. "Kikh" is an interjection
noting disapproval, or disgust.-"Fie!" or "Ugh!"
[FN#10] Shortly after the Ramazan of 1853, the Consul, I am told,
obtained an order that British subjects should be sent directly from
the police office, at all hours of the night, to the Consulate. This
was a most sensible measure.
[FN#11] Most Eastern nations, owing to their fine ear for sounds, are
quick at picking up languages; but the Armenian is here, what the
Russian is in the West, the facile princeps of conversational
linguists. I have frequently heard them speak with the purest accent,
and admirable phraseology, besides their mother tongue, Turkish,
Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani, nor do they evince less aptitude for
acquiring the Occidental languages.
[FN#12] It has been too frequently treated of, to leave room for a
fresh description. Though pretty and picturesque, it is open to the
reproach of Moslem dressing, namely, that the in-door toilette admits
of a display of bust, and is generally so scanty and flimsy that it is
unfit to meet the eye of a stranger. This, probably the effect of
secluding women, has now become a cause for concealing them.
[FN#13] He was from the banks of the Nile, as his cognomen, al-Basyuni
proves, but his family, I was told, had been settled for three or four
generations at Meccah.
[FN#14] Almost all the articles of food were so far useful, that they
served every one of the party at least as much as they did their owner.
My friends drank my coffee, smoked my tobacco, and ate my rice. I
bought better tea at Meccah than at Cairo, and found as good sugar
there. It would have been wiser to lay in a small stock merely for the
voyage to Yambu', in which case there might have been more economy. But
I followed the advice of those interested in setting me wrong. Turks
and Egyptians always go pilgrimaging with a large outfit, as notably as
the East-Indian cadet of the present day, and your outfitter at Cairo,
as well as Cornhill, is sure to supply you with a variety of
superfluities. The tent was useful to me; so were the water-skins,
which I preferred to barrels, as being more portable, and less liable
to leak. Good skins cost about a dollar each; they should be bought new
and always kept half full of water.
[FN#15] This shape secures the lid, which otherwise, on account of the
weight of the box, would infallibly be torn off, or burst open. Like
the Kafas, the Sahharah should be well padlocked, and if the owner be a
saving man, he does not entrust his keys to a servant. I gave away my
Kafas at Yambu', because it had been crushed during the sea-voyage, and
I was obliged to leave the Sahharah at Al-Madinah, as my Badawi
camel-shaykh positively refused to carry it to Meccah, so that both
these articles were well nigh useless to me. The Kafas cost four
shillings, and the Sahharah about twelve. When these large boxes are
really strong and good, they are worth about a pound sterling each.
[FN#16] At my final interview with the committee of the Royal
Geographical Society, one member, Sir Woodbine Parish, advised an order
to be made out on the Society's bankers; another, Sir Roderick
Murchison, kindly offered to give me one on his own, Coutts & Co.; but
I, having more experience in Oriental travelling, begged only to be
furnished with a diminutive piece of paper, permitting me to draw upon
the Society. It was at once given by Dr. Shaw, the Secretary, and it
proved of much use eventually. It was purposely made as small as
possible, in order to fit into a talisman case. But the traveller must
bear in mind, that if his letters of credit be addressed to Orientals,
the sheet of paper should always be large, and grand-looking. These
people have no faith in notes,-commercial, epistolary, or diplomatic.
[FN#17] Before leaving Cairo, I bought English sovereigns for 112, and
sold them in Arabia for 122 piastres. "Abu Takahs," (pataks, or Spanish
pillar-dollars), as they are called in Al-Hijaz, cost me 24 piastres,
and in the Holy City were worth 28. The "Sinku" (French five franc
piece) is bought for 22 piastres in Egypt, and sells at 24 in Arabia.
The silver Majidi costs 20 at Cairo, and is worth 22 in the Red Sea,
and finally I gained 3 piastres upon the gold "Ghazi" of 19. Such was
the rate of exchange in 1853. It varies, however, perpetually, and in
1863 may be totally different.
[FN#18] The reason of this will be explained in a future chapter.
[FN#19] The Consular dragoman is one of the greatest abuses I know. The
tribe is, for the most part, Levantine and Christian, and its
connections are extensive. The father will perhaps be interpreter to
the English, the son to the French Consulate. By this means the most
privy affairs will become known to every member of the department,
except the head, and eventually to that best of spy-trainers, the
Turkish government. This explains how a subordinate, whose pay is L200
per annum, and who spends double that sum, can afford, after twelve or
thirteen years' service, to purchase a house for L2,000 and to furnish
it for as much more. Besides which, the condition, the ideas, and the
very nature of these dragomans are completely Oriental. The most timid
and cringing of men, they dare not take the proper tone with a
government to which, in case of the expulsion of a Consul, they and
their families would become subject. And their prepossessions are
utterly Oriental. Hanna Massara, dragoman to the Consul-General at
Cairo, in my presence and before others, advocated the secret murder of
a Moslem girl who had fled with a Greek, on the grounds that an
adulteress must always be put to death, either publicly or under the
rose. Yet this man is an "old and tried servant" of the State. Such
evils might be in part mitigated by employing English youths, of whom
an ample supply, if there were any demand, would soon be forthcoming.
This measure has been advocated by the best authorities, but without
success. Most probably, the reason of the neglect is the difficulty how
to begin, or where to end, the Augean labour of Consular reform.
[FN#20] In a previous chapter I have alluded to the species of
protection formerly common in the East. Europe, it is to be feared, is
not yet immaculate in this respect, and men say that were a list of
"protected" furnished by the different Consulates at Cairo, it would be
a curious document. As no one, Egyptian or foreigner, would, if he
could possibly help it, be subject to the Egyptian government, large
sums might be raised by the simple process of naturalising strangers.
At the Persian Consulate 110 dollars-the century for the Consul, and
the decade for his dragoman-have been paid for protection. A stern fact
this for those who advocate the self-government of the childish East.
[FN#21] Khan is a title assumed in India and other countries by all
Afghans, and Pathans, their descendants, simple as well as gentle.
[FN#22] A theologian, a learned man.
[FN#23] The stiff, white, plaited kilt worn by Albanians.
[FN#24] Those curious about the manners of these desperadoes may
consult the pages of Giovanni Finati (Murray, London, 1830), and I will
be answerable that he exaggerates nothing.
[FN#25] Vulgarly Raki, the cognac of Egypt and Turkey. Generically the
word means any spirit; specifically, it is applied to that extracted
from dates, or dried grapes. The latter is more expensive than the
former, and costs from 5 to 7 piastres the bottle. It whitens the water
like Eau de Cologne, and being considered a stomachic, is patronised by
Europeans as much as by Asiatics. In the Azbakiyah gardens at Cairo,
the traveller is astonished by perpetual "shouts" for "Sciroppo di
gomma," as if all the Western population was afflicted with sore
throat. The reason is that spirituous liquors in a Moslem land must not
be sold in places of public resort; so the infidel asks for a "syrup of
gum," and obtains a "dram" of 'Araki. The favourite way of drinking it,
is to swallow it neat, and to wash it down with a mouthful of cold
water. Taken in this way it acts like the "petit verre d'absinthe."
Egyptian women delight in it, and Eastern topers of all classes and
sexes prefer it to brandy and cognac, the smell of which, being
strange, is offensive to them.
[FN#26] When Egyptians of the middle classes call upon one another, the
visitor always carries with him his tobacco-pouch, which he hands to
the servant, who fills his pipe.
[FN#27] The "Salatah" is made as follows. Take a cucumber, pare, slice
and place it in a plate, sprinkling it over with salt. After a few
minutes, season it abundantly with pepper, and put it in a bowl
containing some peppercorns, and about a pint of curds. When the dish
is properly mixed, a live coal is placed upon the top of the compound
to make it bind, as the Arabs say. It is considered a cooling dish, and
is esteemed by the abstemious, as well as by the toper.
[FN#28] These Albanians are at most half Asiatic as regards manner. In
the East generally, the host drinks of the cup, and dips his hand into
the dish before his guest, for the same reason that the master of the
house precedes his visitor over the threshold. Both actions denote that
no treachery is intended, and to reverse them, as amongst us, would be
a gross breach of custom, likely to excite the liveliest suspicions.
[FN#29] Formerly these places, like the coffee-houses, were crowded
with bad characters. Of late years the latter have been refused
admittance, but it would be as easy to bar the door to gnats and flies.
They appear as "foot-pages," as washerwomen, as beggars; in fact, they
evade the law with ingenuity and impunity.
[FN#30] Isma'il Pasha was murdered by Malik Nimr, chief of Shendy, for
striking him with a chibuk across the face. Travellers would do well to
remember, that in these lands the pipe-stick and the slipper disgrace a
man, whereas a whip or a rod would not do so. The probable reason of
this is, that the two articles of domestic use are applied slightingly,
not seriously, to the purposes of punishment.
[FN#31] Anglice, Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez,-an extensive field of



SHAYKH NASSAR, a Badawi of Tur (Mount Sinai,) being on his way
homewards, agreed to let me have two dromedaries for the sum of fifty
piastres, or about ten shillings, each.[FN#1] Being desirous to set out
with a certain display of respectability, I accepted these terms: a man
of humble pretensions would have travelled with a single animal, and a
camel-man running behind him. But, besides ostentation, I wanted my
attendant to be mounted, that we might make a forced march in order to
ascertain how much a four years' life of European effeminacy had
impaired my powers of endurance. The reader may believe the assertion
that there are few better tests than an eighty-four mile ride in
mid-summer, on a bad wooden saddle, borne by a worse dromedary, across
the Suez Desert. Even the Squire famed for being copper-sheeted might
not have disdained a trial of the kind.

I started my Indian boy and heavy luggage for Suez two days before the
end of the Id,-laden camels generally taking fifty-five or sixty hours
to do the journey, and I spent the intermediate time with Haji Wali. He
advised me to mount about 3 P.M., so that I might arrive at Suez on the
evening of the next day, and assisted me

[p.142]in making due preparations of water, tobacco, and provisions.
Early on the morning of departure the Afghan Shaykh came to the
Caravanserai, and breakfasted with us, "because Allah willed it." After
a copious meal he bestowed upon me a stately benediction, and would
have embraced me, but I humbly bent over his hand: sad to relate,
immediately that his back was turned, Haji Wali raised his forefinger
to a right angle with the palm (chaff), and burst into a shout of
irreverent laughter. At three o'clock Nassar, the Badawi, came to
announce that the dromedaries were saddled. I dressed myself, sticking
a pistol in my belt, and passing the crimson silk cord of the "Hamail"
or pocket Koran over my shoulder, in token of being a pilgrim. Then
distributing a few trifling presents to friends and servants, and
accompanied by the Shaykh Mohammed and Haji Wali, I descended the
stairs with an important gait. In the courtyard squatted the camels,
(dromedaries they could not be called,) and I found that a second
driver was going to accompany us. I objected to this, as the extra
Badawi would, of course, expect to be fed by me; but Nassar swore that
the man was his brother, and as you rarely gain by small disputes with
these people, he was allowed to have his own way.

Then came the preparatory leave-takings. Haji Wali embraced me
heartily, and so did my poor old Shaykh, who, despite his decrepitude
and my objections, insisted upon accompanying me to the city gate. I
mounted the camel, crossed my legs before the pommel-stirrups are not
used in Egypt[FN#2]-and, preceding my friend, descended

[p.143]the street leading towards the Desert. As we emerged from the
huge gateway of the Caravanserai all the bystanders, except only the
porter, who believed me to be a Persian, and had seen me with the
drunken captain, exclaimed, "Allah bless thee, Y'al-Hajj,[FN#3] and
restore thee to thy country and thy friends!" And passing through the
Bab al-Nasr, where I addressed the salutation of peace to the sentry,
and to the officer commanding the guard, both gave me God-speed with
great cordiality[FN#4]-the pilgrim's blessing in Asia, like the old
woman's in Europe, being supposed to possess peculiar efficacy. Outside
the gate my friends took a final leave of me, and I will not deny
having felt a tightening of heart as their honest faces and forms faded
in the distance.

But Shaykh Nassar switches his camel's shoulder, and appears inclined
to take the lead. This is a trial of manliness. There is no time for
emotion. Not a moment can be spared, even for a retrospect. I kick my
dromedary, who steps out into a jog-trot. The Badawin with a loud
ringing laugh attempt to give me the go-by. I resist, and we continue
like children till the camels are at their speed, though we have
eighty-four miles before us, and above us an atmosphere like a furnace
blast. The road is deserted at this hour, otherwise grave Moslem

[p.144]travellers would have believed the police to be nearer than
convenient to us.

Presently we drew rein, and exchanged our pace for one more seasonable,
whilst the sun began to tell on man and beast. High raised as we were
above the ground, the reflected heat struck us sensibly, and the glare
of a macadamized road added a few extra degrees of caloric.[FN#5] The
Badawin, to refresh themselves, prepare to smoke. They fill my chibuk,
light it with a flint and steel, and cotton dipped in a solution of
gunpowder, and pass it over to me.[FN#6] After a few puffs I return it
to them, and they use it turn by turn. Then they begin to while away
the tedium of the road by asking questions, which passe-temps is not
easily exhausted; for they are never satisfied till they know as much
of you as you do of yourself. They next resort to talking about
victuals; for with this hungry race, food, as a topic of conversation,
takes the place of money in happier lands. And lastly, even this
engrossing subject being exhausted for the moment,

[p.145]they take refuge in singing; and, monotonous and droning as it
is, their Modinha has yet an artless plaintiveness, which admirably
suits the singer and the scenery. If you listen to the words, you will
surely hear allusions to bright verdure, cool shades, bubbling rills,
or something which hereabouts man hath not, and yet which his soul

And now while Nassar and his brother are chaunting a duet,-the refrain

"W'al arz mablul bi matar,"
"And the earth wet with rain,"-

I must crave leave to say a few words, despite the triteness of the
subject, about the modern Sinaitic race of Arabs.

Besides the tribes occupying the northern parts of the peninsula, five
chief clans are enumerated by Burckhardt.[FN#7] Nassar, and other
authorities at Suez, divided them into six, namely:-

1.  Karashi, who, like the Gara in Eastern Arabia, claim an apocryphal
origin from the great Koraysh tribe.
2.  Salihi, the principal family of the Sinaitic Badawin.
3.  Arimi: according to Burckhardt this clan is merely a sub-family of
the Sawalihahs.
4.  Sa'idi. Burckhardt calls them Walad Sa'id and derives them also
from the Sawalihahs.
5.  Aliki ; and lastly, the
6.  Muzaynah, generally pronounced M'zaynah. This clan claims to be an
off-shoot from the great Juhaynah tribe inhabiting the coasts and inner
barrens about Yambu'. According to oral tradition, five persons, the
ancestors of the present Muzaynah race, were forced by a blood-feud to
fly their native country. They landed at the Shurum,[FN#8] or
creek-ports, and have now spread themselves

[p.146]over the Eastern parts of the so-called "Sinaitic" peninsula. In
Al-Hijaz the Muzaynah is an old and noble tribe. It produced Ka'ab
al-Ahbar, the celebrated poet, to whom Mohammed gave the cloak which
the Ottomans believe to have been taken by Sultan Salim from Egypt, and
to have been converted under the name of Khirkah Sharif, into the
national Oriflamme.

There are some interesting ethnographical points about these Sinaitic
clans-interesting at least to those who would trace the genealogy of
the great Arabian family. Any one who knows the Badawin can see that
the Muzaynah are pure blood. Their brows are broad, their faces narrow,
their features regular, and their eyes of a moderate size; whereas the
other Tawarah[FN#9] (Sinaitic) clans are as palpably Egyptian. They
have preserved that roundness of face which may still be seen in the
Sphinx as in the modern Copt, and their eyes have that peculiar size,
shape, and look, which the old Egyptian painters attempted to express
by giving to the profile, the form of the full, organ. Upon this
feature, so characteristic of the Nilotic race, I would lay great
stress. No traveller familiar with the true Egyptian eye,-long,
almond-shaped, deeply fringed, slightly raised at the outer corner and
dipping in front like the Chinese,[FN#10]-can ever mistake it. It is to
be seen in half-castes, and, as I have before remarked, families
originally from the banks of the Nile, but settled for generations in
the Holy Land of Al-Hijaz, retain the peculiarity.

I therefore believe the Turi Badawin to be an impure

[p.147]race, Syro-Egyptian,[FN#11] whereas their neighbour the Hijazi
is the pure Syrian or Mesopotamian.

A wonderful change has taken place in the Tawarah tribes, whilome
pourtrayed by Sir John Mandeville as "folke fulle of alle evylle
condiciouns." Niebuhr notes the trouble they gave him, and their
perpetual hankering for both murder and pillage. Even in the late
Mohammed Ali's early reign, no governor of Suez dared to flog, or to
lay hands upon, a Turi, whatever offence he might have committed within
the walls of the town. Now the Wild Man's sword is taken from him,
before he is allowed to enter the gates,[FN#12] and my old
acquaintance, Ja'afar Bey, would think no more of belabouring a Badawi
than of flogging a Fellah.[FN#13] such is the result of

[p.148]Mohammed Ali's vigorous policy, and such the effects of even
semi-civilisation, when its influence is brought to bear direct upon

To conclude this subject, the Tawarah still retain many characteristics
of the Badawi race. The most good-humoured and sociable of men, they
delight in a jest, and may readily be managed by kindness and courtesy.
Yet they are passionate, nice upon points of honour, revengeful, and
easily offended, where their peculiar prejudices are misunderstood. I
have always found them pleasant companions, and deserving of respect,
for their hearts are good, and their courage is beyond a doubt. Those
travellers who complain of their insolence and extortion may have been
either ignorant of their language or offensive to them by assumption of
superority,-in the Desert man meets man,-or physically unfitted to
acquire their esteem.

We journeyed on till near sunset through the wilderness without ennui.
It is strange how the mind can be amused by scenery that presents so
few objects to occupy it. But in such a country every slight
modification of form or colour rivets observation: the senses are
sharpened, and the perceptive faculties, prone to sleep over a confused
mass of natural objects, act vigorously when excited by the capability
of embracing each detail. Moreover, Desert views are eminently
suggestive; they

[p.149]appeal to the Future, not to the Past: they arouse because they
are by no means memorial. To the solitary wayfarer there is an interest
in the Wilderness unknown to Cape seas and Alpine glaciers, and even to
the rolling Prairie,-the effect of continued excitement on the mind,
stimulating its powers to their pitch. Above, through a sky terrible in
its stainless beauty, and the splendours of a pitiless blinding glare,
the Samun[FN#14] caresses you like a lion with flaming breath. Around
lie drifted sand-heaps, upon which each puff of wind leaves its trace
in solid waves, flayed rocks, the very skeletons of mountains, and hard
unbroken plains, over which he who rides is spurred by the idea that
the bursting of a water-skin, or the pricking of a camel's hoof, would
be a certain death of torture,-a haggard land infested with wild
beasts, and wilder men,-a region whose very fountains murmur the
warning words "Drink and away!" What can be more exciting? what more
sublime? Man's heart bounds in his breast at the thought of measuring
his puny force with Nature's might, and of emerging triumphant from the
trial. This explains the Arab's proverb, "Voyaging is victory." In the
Desert, even more than upon the ocean, there is present death: hardship
is there, and piracies, and shipwreck, solitary, not in crowds, where,
as the Persians say, "Death is a Festival";-and this sense of danger,
never absent, invests the scene of travel with an interest not its own.

Let the traveller who suspects exaggeration leave the Suez road for an
hour or two, and gallop northwards over the sands: in the drear
silence, the solitude, and the fantastic desolation of the place, he
will feel what the Desert may be.

And then the Oases,[FN#15] and little lines of fertility-

[p.150]how soft and how beautiful!-even though the Wady al-Ward (the
Vale of Flowers) be the name of some stern flat upon which a handful of
wild shrubs blossom while struggling through a cold season's ephemeral
existence. In such circumstances the mind is influenced through the
body. Though your mouth glows, and your skin is parched, yet you feel
no languor, the effect of humid heat; your lungs are lightened, your
sight brightens, your memory recovers its tone, and your spirits become
exuberant; your fancy and imagination are powerfully aroused, and the
wildness and sublimity of the scenes around you stir up all the
energies of your soul-whether for exertion, danger, or strife. Your
morale improves; you become frank and cordial, hospitable and
single-minded: the hypocritical politeness and the slavery of
civilisation are left behind you in the city. Your senses are
quickened: they require no stimulants but air and exercise,-in the
Desert spirituous liquors excite only disgust. There is a keen
enjoyment in mere animal existence. The sharp appetite disposes of the
most indigestible food;

[p.151]the sand is softer than a bed of down, and the purity of the air
suddenly puts to flight a dire cohort of diseases. Hence it is that
both sexes, and every age, the most material as well as the most
imaginative of minds, the tamest citizen, the parson, the old maid, the
peaceful student, the spoiled child of civilisation, all feel their
hearts dilate, and their pulses beat strong, as they look down from
their dromedaries upon the glorious Desert. Where do we hear of a
traveller being disappointed by it? It is another illustration of the
ancient truth that Nature returns to man, however unworthily he has
treated her. And believe me, when once your tastes have conformed to
the tranquillity of such travel, you will suffer real pain in returning
to the turmoil of civilisation. You will anticipate the bustle and the
confusion of artificial life, its luxury and its false pleasures, with
repugnance. Depressed in spirits, you will for a time after your return
feel incapable of mental or bodily exertion. The air of cities will
suffocate you, and the care-worn and cadaverous countenances of
citizens will haunt you like a vision of judgment.[FN#16]

As the black shadow mounted in the Eastern sky,[FN#17] I turned off the
road, and was suddenly saluted by a figure rising from a little hollow
with an "As' Salamu 'alaykum" of truly Arab sound.[FN#18] I looked at
the speaker for a moment without recognising him. He then advanced with
voluble expressions of joy, invited me to sup, seized

[p.152]my camel's halter without waiting for an answer, "nakh'd[FN#19]"
it (i.e. forced it to kneel), led me hurriedly to a carpet spread in a
sandy hollow, pulled off my slippers, gave me cold water for ablution,
told me that he had mistaken me at a distance for a "Sherif" (or
Prince) of the Arabs, but was delighted to find himself in error; and
urged me to hurry over ablution, otherwise that night would come on
before we could say our prayers. It was Mohammed al-Basyuni, the Meccan
boy of whom I had bought my pilgrim-garb at Cairo. There I had refused
his companionship, but here for reasons of his own-one of them was an
utter want of money,- he would take no excuse. When he prayed, he stood
behind me,[FN#20] thereby proving pliancy of conscience, for he
suspected me from the first of being at least a heretic.

After prayer he lighted a pipe, and immediately placed the snake-like
tube in my hand; this is an argument which the tired traveller can
rarely resist. He then began to rummage my saddle-bags; he drew forth
stores of provisions, rolls, water-melons, boiled eggs, and dates, and
whilst lighting the fire and boiling the coffee, he managed to
distribute his own stock, which was neither plentiful nor first-rate,
to the camel-men. Shaykh Nassar and his brother looked aghast at this
movement, but the boy was inexorable. They tried a few rough hints,
which he noticed by singing a Hindustani couplet that asserts the
impropriety of anointing rats' heads with jasmine oil. They suspected
abuse, and waxed cross; he acknowledged this by deriding them. "I have
heard of Nasrs and Nasirs and Mansurs, but may Allah spare me the

[p.153]mortification of a Nassar!" said the boy, relying upon my
support. And I urged him on, wanting to see how the city Arab treats
the countryman. He then took my tobacco-pouch from the angry Badawin,
and in a stage-whisper reproved me for entrusting it to such thieves;
insisting, at the same time, upon drinking all the coffee, so that the
poor guides had to prepare some for themselves. He improved every
opportunity of making mischief. "We have eaten water-melon!" cried
Nassar, patting its receptacle in token of repletion. "Dost thou hear,
my lord, how they grumble?-the impudent ruffians!" remarked
Mohammed-"We have eaten water-melon! that is to say, we ought to have
eaten meat!" The Badawin, completely out of temper, told him not to
trust himself among their hills. He seized a sword, and began capering
about after the fashion of the East-Indian school of arms, and boasted
that he would attack single-handed the whole clan, which elicited an
ironical "Allah! Allah!" from the hearers.

After an hour most amusingly spent in this way, I arose, and insisted
upon mounting, much to the dissatisfaction of my guides, who wished to
sleep there. Shaykh Nassar and his brother had reckoned upon living
gratis, for at least three days, judging it improbable that a soft
Effendi would hurry himself. When they saw the fair vision dissolve,
they began to finesse: they induced the camel-man, who ran by the side
of Mohammed's dromedary, to precede the animal-a favourite manoeuvre to
prevent overspeed. Ordered to fall back, the man pleaded fatigue, and
inability to walk. The boy Mohammed immediately asked if I had any
objection to dismount one of my guides, and to let his weary attendant
ride for an hour or so. I at once assented, and the Badawin obeyed me
with ominous grumblings. When we resumed our march the melancholy Arabs
had no song left in them; whereas Mohammed chaunted vociferously, and

[p.154]bad Hindustani and worse Persian till silence was forcibly
imposed upon him. The camel-men lagged behind, in order to prevent my
dromedary advancing too fast, and the boy's guide, after dismounting,
would stride along in front of us, under pretext of showing the way.
And so we jogged on, now walking, then trotting, till the dromedaries
began to grunt with fatigue, and the Arabs clamoured for a halt.

At midnight we reached the Central Station, and lay down under its
walls to take a little rest. The dews fell heavily, wetting the sheets
that covered us; but who cares for such trifles in the Desert? The moon
shone bright;[FN#21] the breeze blew coolly, and the jackal sang a
lullaby which lost no time in inducing the soundest sleep. As the
Wolf's Tail[FN#22] showed in the heavens we arose. Grey mists floating
over the hills northwards gave the Dar al-Bayda,[FN#23] the Pasha's
Palace, the look of some old feudal castle. There was a haze in the
atmosphere, which beautified even the face of Desolation. The swift
flying Kata[FN#24] sprang in noisy coveys from the road, and a stray
gazelle paced daintily over the stony plain. As we passed by the
Pilgrims' tree, I

[p.155]added another rag to its coat of tatters.[FN#25] We then invoked
the aid of the holy saint Al-Dakruri[FN#26] from his cream-coloured
abode, mounted our camels, and resumed the march in real earnest. The
dawn passed away in its delicious coolness, and sultry morning came on.
Then day glared in its fierceness, and the noontide sun made the plain
glow with terrible heat. Still we pressed onwards.

At 3 P.M. we turned off the road into a dry water-course, which is not
far from No. 13 Station. The sand was dotted with the dried-up leaves
of the Datura, and strongly perfumed by "Shih," a kind of Absinthe
(Artemisia),[FN#27] the sweetest herb of the Desert. A Mimosa was
there, and although its shade at this season is little better than

[p.156]a cocoa tree's,[FN#28] the Badawin would not neglect it. We lay
down upon the sand, to rest among a party of Maghrabi pilgrims
travelling to Suez. These wretches, who were about a dozen in number,
appeared to be of the lowest class; their garments consisted of a
Burnus-cloak and a pair of sandals; their sole weapon a long knife, and
their only stock a bag of dry provisions. Each had his large wooden
bowl, but none carried water with him. It was impossible to help
pitying their state, nor could I eat, seeing them hungry, thirsty, and
way-worn. So Nassar served out about a pint of water and a little bread
to each man. Then they asked for more. None was to be had, so they
cried out that money would do as well. I had determined upon being
generous to the extent of a few pence. Custom, as well as inclination,
was in favour of the act; but when the alms became a demand, and the
demand was backed by fierce looks and a derisive sneer, and a kind of
reference to their knives, gentle Charity took the alarm and fled. My
pistols kept them at bay, for they were only making an attempt to
intimidate, and, though I took the precaution of sitting apart from
them, there was no real danger. The Suez road, by the wise regulations
of Mohammed Ali, has become as safe to European travellers as that
between Hampstead and Highgate; and even Easterns have little to fear
but what their fears create. My Indian servant was full of the dangers
he had run, but I did not believe in them. I afterwards heard that the
place where the Maghrabis attempted to frighten what they thought a
timid Turk was notorious for plunder and murder. Here the spurs of two
opposite hills almost meet upon the plain, a favourable ground for
Badawi ambuscade. Of the Maghrabis

[p.157]I shall have more to say when relating my voyage in the Pilgrim
Ship: they were the only travellers from whom we experienced the least
annoyance. Numerous parties of Turks, Arabs, and Afghans, and a few
East-Indians[FN#29] were on the same errand as ourselves. All, as we
passed them, welcomed us with the friendly salutation that becomes men
engaged in a labour of religion.

About half an hour before sunset, I turned off the road leftwards; and,
under pretext of watering the dromedaries, rode up to inspect the fort
Al-'Ajrudi.[FN#30] It is a quadrangle with round towers at the gateway
and at the corners, newly built of stone and mortar; the material is
already full of crevices, and would not stand before a twelve-pounder.
Without guns or gunners, it is occupied by about a dozen Fellahs, who
act as hereditary "Ghafirs," (guardians); they were expecting at that
time to be reinforced by a party of Bashi Buzuks-Irregulars from Cairo.
The people of the country were determined that an English fleet would
soon appear in the Red Sea, and this fort is by them ridiculously
considered the key of Suez. As usual in these Vauban-lacking

[p.158]lands, the well supplying the stronghold is in a detached and
distant building, which can be approached by an enemy with the greatest
security. Over the gate-way was an ancient inscription reversed; the
water was brackish, and of bad quality.[FN#31]

We resumed our way: Suez now stood near. In the blue distance rose the
castellated peaks of Jabal Rahah and the wide sand-tracts over which
lies the land-route to Al-Hijaz. Before us the sight ever dear to
English eyes,-a strip of sea gloriously azure, with a gallant steamer
walking the waters. On the right-hand side the broad slopes of Jabal
Mukattam, a range of hills which flanks the road all the way from
Cairo. It was at this hour a spectacle not easily to be forgotten. The
near range of chalk and sandstone wore a russet suit, gilt where the
last rays of the sun seamed it with light, and the deep folds were
shaded with the richest purple; whilst the background of the higher
hills, Jabal Tawari, generally known as Abu Daraj (the Father of
Steps), was sky-blue streaked with the lightest plum colour. We drew up
at a small building called Bir Suways (Well of Suez); and, under
pretext of watering the cattle, I sat for half an hour admiring the
charms of the Desert. The eye never tires of such loveliness of hue,
and the memory of the hideousness of this range, when a sun in front
exposed each gaunt and barren feature, supplied the evening view with
another element of attraction.

It was already night when we passed through the tumbling six-windowed
gateway of Suez; and still remained the task of finding my servant and
effects. After

[p.159]wandering in and out of every Wakalah in the village, during
which peregrination the boy Mohammed proved himself so useful that I
determined at all risks to make him my companion, we accidentally heard
that a Hindi had taken lodgings at a hostelry bearing the name of
Jirjis al-Zahr.[FN#32] On arriving there our satisfaction was
diminished by the intelligence that the same Hindi, after locking the
door, had gone out with his friends to a ship in the harbour; in fact,
that he had made all preparations for running away. I dismounted, and
tried to persuade the porter to break open the wooden bolt, but he
absolutely refused, and threatened the police. Meanwhile Mohammed had
found a party of friends, men of Al-Madinah, returning to the
pilgrimage after a begging tour through Egypt and Turkey. The meeting
was characterised by vociferous inquiries, loud guffaws and warm
embraces. I was invited to share their supper and their dormitory,-an
uncovered platform projecting from the gallery over the square court
below,-but I had neither appetite nor spirits enough to be sociable.
The porter, after much persuasion, showed me an empty room, in which I
spread my carpet. That was a sad night. My eighty-four mile ride had
made every bone ache; I had lost epidermis, and the sun had seared
every portion of skin exposed to it. So, lamenting my degeneracy and
the ill effects of four years' domicile in Europe, and equally
disquieted in mind about the fate of my goods and chattels, I fell into
an uncomfortable sleep.

[FN#l] The proper hire of a return dromedary from Cairo to Suez is
forty piastres. But every man is charged in proportion to his rank, and
Europeans generally pay about double.
[FN#2] The tender traveller had better provide himself with a pair of
stirrups, but he will often find, when on camel back, that his legs are
more numbed by hanging down, than by the Arab way of crossing them
before and beneath the pommel. He must, however, be careful to inspect
his saddle, and, should bars of wood not suit him, to have them covered
with stuffed leather. And again, for my part, I would prefer riding a
camel with a nose-ring,-Mongol and Sindian fashion,-to holding him, as
the Egyptians do, with a halter, or to guiding him,-Wahhabiwise,-with a
[FN#3] "O pilgrim!" The Egyptians write the word Hajj, and pronounce
Hagg. In Persia, India, and Turkey, it becomes Haji. These are mere
varieties of form, derived from one and the same Arabic root.
[FN#4] The Egyptians and Arabs will not address "Salam" to an infidel;
the Moslems of India have no such objection. This, on the banks of the
Nile, is the revival of an old prejudice. Alexander of Alexandria, in
his circular letter, describes the Arian heretics as "men whom it is
not lawful to salute, or to bid God-speed."
[FN#5] It is Prince Puckler Muskau, if I recollect rightly, who
mentions that in his case a pair of dark spectacles produced a marked
difference of apparent temperature, whilst travelling over the sultry
sand of the Desert. I have often remarked the same phenomenon. The
Arabs, doubtless for some reason of the kind, always draw their
head-kerchiefs, like hoods, far over their brows, and cover up their
mouths, even when the sun and wind are behind them. Inhabitants of the
Desert are to be recognised by the net-work of wrinkles traced in the
skin round the orbits, the result of half-closing their eyelids; but
this is done to temper the intensity of the light.
[FN#6] Their own pipe-tubes were of coarse wood, in shape somewhat
resembling the German porcelain pipe. The bowl was of soft stone,
apparently steatite, which, when fresh, is easily fashioned with a
knife. In Arabia the Badawin, and even the townspeople, use on journeys
an earthen tube from five to six inches shorter than the English
"clay," thicker in the tube, with a large bowl, and coloured
yellowish-red. It contains a handful of tobacco, and the smoker emits
puffs like a chimney. In some of these articles the bowl forms a
rectangle with the tube; in others, the whole is an unbroken curve,
like the old Turkish Meerschaum.
[FN#7] See Wallin's papers, published in the Journals of the Royal
Geographical Society.
[FN#8] Shurum, (plural of Sharm, a creek), a word prefixed to the
proper names of three small ports in the Sinaitic peninsula.
[FN#9] Tawarah, plural of Turi, an inhabitant of Tur or Sinai.
[FN#10] This feature did not escape the practised eye of Denon. "Eyes
long, almond-shaped, half shut, and languishing, and turned up at the
outer corner, as if habitually fatigued by the light and heat of the
sun; cheeks round, &c.," (Voyage en Egypt). The learned Frenchman's
description of the ancient Egyptians applies in most points to the Turi
[FN#11] "And he" (Ishmael) "dwelt in the wilderness of Paran," (Wady
Firan?) "and his mother took him a wife, out of the land of Egypt,"
(Gen. xxi. 21). I wonder that some geographers have attempted to
identify Massa, the son of Ishmael, (Gen. xxv. 14), with Meccah, when
in verse 18 of the same chapter we read, "And they" (the twelve
princes, sons of Ishmael) "dwelt from Havilah unto Shur." This asserts,
as clearly as language can, that the posterity of, or the race typified
by, Ishmael,-the Syro-Egyptian,-occupied only the northern parts of the
peninsula. Their habitat is not even included in Arabia by those
writers who bound the country on the north by an imaginary line drawn
from Ras Mohammed to the mouths of the Euphrates. The late Dr. J.
Wilson ("Lands of the Bible"), repeated by Eliot Warburton ("Crescent
and Cross"), lays stress upon the Tawarah tradition, that they are Benu
Isra'il converted to Al-Islam, considering it a fulfilment of the
prophecy, "that a remnant of Israel shall dwell in Edom." With due
deference to so illustrious an Orientalist and Biblical scholar as was
Dr. Wilson, I believe that most modern Moslems, being ignorant that
Jacob was the first called "prince with God," apply the term
Benu-Isra'il to all the posterity of Abraham, not to Jews only.
[FN#12] In 1879 the Gates of Suez are a thing of the past; and it is
not easy to find where they formerly stood.
[FN#13] In the mouth of a Turk, no epithet is more contemptuous than
that of "Fellah ibn Fellah,"-"boor, son of a boor!" The Osmanlis have,
as usual, a semi-religious tradition to account for the superiority of
their nation over the Egyptians. When the learned doctor, Abu Abdullah
Mohammed bin Idris al-Shafe'i, returned from Meccah to the banks of the
Nile, he mounted, it is said, a donkey belonging to one of the Asinarii
of Bulak. Arriving at the Caravanserai, he gave the man ample fare,
whereupon the Egyptian, putting forth his hand, and saying, "hat"
(give!) called for more. The doctor doubled the fee; still the double
was demanded. At last the divine's purse was exhausted, and the
proprietor of the donkey waxed insolent. A wandering Turk seeing this,
took all the money from the Egyptian, paid him his due, solemnly kicked
him, and returned the rest to Al-Shafe'i, who asked him his
name-"Osman"-and his nation-the "Osmanli,"-blessed him, and prophesied
to his countrymen supremacy over the Fellahs and donkey boys of Egypt.
[FN#14] From Samm, the poison-wind. Vulgar and most erroneously called
the Simoon.
[FN#15] Hugh Murray derives this word from the Egyptian, and quoting
Strabo and Abulfeda makes it synonymous with Auasis and Hyasis. I
believe it to be a mere corruption of the Arabic Wady [Arabic text] or
Wah. Nothing can be more incorrect than the vulgar idea of an Arabian
Oasis, except it be the popular conception of an Arabian Desert. One
reads of "isles of the sandy sea," but one never sees them. The real
"Wady" is, generally speaking, a rocky valley bisected by the bed of a
mountain torrent, dry during the hot season. In such places the Badawin
love to encamp, because they find food and drink,-water being always
procurable by digging. When the supply is perennial, the Wady becomes
the site of a village. The Desert is as unaptly compared to a "sandy
sea." Most of the wilds of Arabia resemble the tract between Suez and
Cairo; only the former are of primary formation, whereas the others are
of a later date. Sand-heaps are found in every Desert, but sand-plains
are a local feature, not the general face of the country. The
Wilderness, east of the Nile, is mostly a hard dry earth, which
requires only a monsoon to become highly productive: even where
silicious sand covers the plain, the waters of a torrent, depositing
humus or vegetable mould, bind the particles together, and fit it for
the reception of seed.
[FN#16] The intelligent reader will easily understand that I am
speaking of the Desert in the temperate season, not during the summer
heats, when the whole is one vast furnace, nor in winter, when the
Sarsar wind cuts like an Italian Tramontana.
[FN#17] This, as a general rule in Al-Islam, is a sign that the Maghrib
or evening prayer must not be delayed. The Shafe'i school performs its
devotions immediately after the sun has disappeared.
[FN#18] This salutation of peace is so differently pronounced by every
Eastern nation that the observing traveller will easily make of it a
[FN#19] To "nakh" in vulgar, as in classical, Arabic is to gurgle "Ikh!
ikh!" in the bottom of one's throat till the camel kneels down. We have
no English word for this proceeding; but Anglo-Oriental travellers are
rapidly naturalising the "nakh."

[FN#20] There are many qualifications necessary for an Imam-a leader of
prayer; the first condition, of course, is orthodoxy.
[FN#21] "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night,"
(Psalm cxxi. 6). Easterns still believe firmly in the evil effects of
moonlight upon the human frame,-from Sind to Abyssinia, the traveller
will hear tales of wonder concerning it.
[FN#22] The Dum i Gurg, or wolf's tail, is the Persian name for the
first brushes of grey light which appear as forerunners of dawn.
[FN#23] Dar al-Bayda is a palace belonging to H.H. Abbas Pasha. This
"white house" was formerly called the "red house," I believe from the
colour of its windows,-but the name was changed, as being not
particularly good-omened.
[FN#24] The Tetrao Kata or sand-grouse, (Pterocles melanogaster; in
Sind called the rock pigeon), is a fast-flying bird, not unlike a grey
partridge whilst upon the wing. When, therefore, Shanfara boasts "The
ash-coloured Katas can only drink my leavings, after hastening all
night to slake their thirst in the morning," it is a hyperbole to
express exceeding swiftness.
[FN#25] I have already, when writing upon the subject of Sind, alluded
to this system as prevalent throughout Al-Islam, and professed, like
Mr. Lane, ignorance of its origin and object. In Huc's travels, we are
told that the Tartars worship mountain spirits by raising an "Obo,"-dry
branches hung with bones and strips of cloth, and planted in enormous
heaps of stones. Park, also, in Western Africa, conformed to the
example of his companions, in adding a charm or shred of cloth on a
tree (at the entrance of the Wilderness), which was completely covered
with these guardian symbols. And, finally, the Tarikh Tabari mentions
it as a practice of the Pagan Arabs, and talks of evil spirits residing
in the date-tree. May not, then, the practice in Al-Islam be one of the
many debris of fetish-worship which entered into the heterogeneous
formation of the Saving Faith? Some believe that the Prophet permitted
the practice, and explain the peculiar name of the expedition called
Zat al-Rika'a (place of shreds of cloth), by supposing it to be a term
for a tree to which the Moslems hung their ex-voto rags.
[FN#26] The saint lies under a little white-washed dome, springing from
a square of low walls-a form of sepulchre now common to Al-Hijaz,
Egypt, and the shores and islands of the Red Sea. As regards his name
my informants told me it was that of a Hijazi Shaykh. The subject is by
no means interesting; but the exact traveller will find the word
written Takroore, and otherwise explained by Sir Gardner Wilkinson.
[FN#27] Called by the Arabs Shih [Arabic text], which the dictionaries
translate "wormwood of Pontus." We find Wallin in his works speaking of
Ferashat al-shih, or wormwood carpets.
[FN#28] We are told in verse of "a cocoa's feathery shade," and sous
l'ombre d'un cocotier. But to realise the prose picture, let the home
reader, choosing some sultry August day, fasten a large fan to a long
pole, and enjoy himself under it.
[FN#29] On a subsequent occasion, I met a party of Panjabis, who had
walked from Meccah to Cairo in search of "Abu Tabilah," (General
Avitabile), whom report had led to the banks of the Nile. Some were
young, others had white beards-all were weary and wayworn; but the
saddest sight was an old woman, so decrepit that she could scarcely
walk. The poor fellows were travelling on foot, carrying their wallets,
with a few pence in their pockets, utterly ignorant of route and road,
and actually determined in this plight to make Lahore by Baghdad,
Bushir, and Karachi. Such-so incredible-is Indian improvidence!
[FN#30] Upon this word Cacography has done her worst-"Haji Rood" may
serve for a specimen. My informants told me that Al-'Ajrudi is the name
of a Hijazi Shaykh whose mortal remains repose under a little dome near
the fort. This, if it be true, completely nullifies the efforts of
Etymology to discern in it a distinct allusion to "the overthrow of
Pharaoh's chariots, whose Hebrew appellation, ‘Ageloot,' bears some
resemblance to this modern name."
[FN#31] The only sweet water in Suez is brought on camel back from the
Nile, across the Desert. The "Bir Suez" is fit for beasts only; the
'Uyun Musa (Moses' Wells) on the Eastern side, and that below Abu
Daraj, on the Western shore of the Suez Gulf, are but little better.
The want of sweet water is the reason why no Hammam is found at Suez.
[FN#32] The "George": so called after its owner, a Copt, Consular Agent
for Belgium. There are 36 Caravanserais at Suez, 33 small ones for
merchandise, and 3 for travellers; of these the best is that of Sayyid
Hashim. The pilgrim, however, must not expect much comfort or
convenience, even at Sayyid Hashim's.

[p.160]CHAPTER IX.


EARLY on the morning after my arrival, I arose, and consulted my new
acquaintances about the means of recovering the missing property. They
unanimously advised a visit to the governor, whom, however, they
described to be a "Kalb ibn kalb," (dog, son of a dog,) who never
returned Moslems' salutations, and who thought all men dirt to be
trodden under foot by the Turks. The boy Mohammed showed his savoir
faire by extracting from his huge Sahara-box a fine embroidered cap,
and a grand peach-coloured coat, with which I was instantly invested;
he dressed himself with similar magnificence, and we then set out to
the "palace."

Ja'afar Bey,-he has since been deposed,-then occupied the position of
judge, officer commanding, collector of customs, and magistrate of
Suez. He was a Mir-liwa, or brigadier-general, and had some reputation
as a soldier, together with a slight tincture of European science and
language. The large old Turk received me most superciliously, disdained
all return of salam, and, fixing upon me two little eyes like gimlets,
demanded my business. I stated that one Shaykh Nur, my Hindi servant,
had played me false; therefore I required permission to break into the
room supposed to contain my effects. He asked my profession. I replied
the medical. This led him to inquire if I had any medicine for the
eyes, and

[p.161]being answered in the affirmative, he sent a messenger with me
to enforce obedience on the part of the porter. The obnoxious measure
was, however, unnecessary. As we entered the Caravanserai, there
appeared at the door the black face of Shaykh Nur, looking, though
accompanied by sundry fellow-countrymen, uncommonly as if he merited
and expected the bamboo. He had, by his own account, been seduced into
the festivities of a coal-hulk, manned by Lascars, and the vehemence of
his self-accusation saved him from the chastisement which I had
determined to administer.

I must now briefly describe the party of Meccah and Madinah men into
which fate threw me: their names will so frequently appear in the
following pages, that a few words about their natures will not be

First of all comes Omar Effendi,-so called in honour,-a Daghistani or
East-Circassian, the grandson of a Hanafi Mufti at Al-Madinah, and the
son of a Shaykh Rakb, an officer whose duty it is to lead
dromedary-caravans. He sits upon his cot, a small, short, plump body,
of yellow complexion and bilious temperament, grey-eyed, soft-featured,
and utterly beardless,-which affects his feelings,-he looks fifteen,
and he owns to twenty-eight. His manners are those of a student; he
dresses respectably, prays regularly, hates the fair sex, like an Arab,
whose affections and aversions are always in extremes; is "serious,"
has a mild demeanour, an humble gait, and a soft, slow voice. When
roused he becomes furious as a Bengal tiger. His parents have urged him
to marry, and he, like Kamar al-Zaman, has informed his father that he
is "a person of great age, but little sense." Urged moreover by a
melancholy turn of mind, and the want of leisure for study at
Al-Madinah, he fled the paternal domicile, and entered himself a pauper
Talib 'ilm (student) in the Azhar Mosque. His disconsolate friends and
afflicted relations sent a confidential man to fetch him home, by

[p.162]force should it be necessary; he has yielded, and is now
awaiting the first opportunity of travelling gratis, if possible, to

That confidential man is a negro-servant, called Sa'ad, notorious in
his native city as Al-Jinni, the Demon. Born and bred a slave in Omar
Effendi's family, he obtained manumission, became a soldier in
Al-Hijaz, was dissatisfied with pay perpetually in arrears, turned
merchant, and wandered far and wide, to Russia, to Gibraltar, and to
Baghdad. He is the pure African, noisily merry at one moment, at
another silently sulky; affectionate and abusive, brave and boastful,
reckless and crafty, exceedingly quarrelsome, and unscrupulous to the
last degree. The bright side of his character is his love and respect
for the young master, Omar Effendi; yet even him he will scold in a
paroxysm of fury, and steal from him whatever he can lay his hands on.
He is generous with his goods, but is ever borrowing and never paying
money; he dresses like a beggar, with the dirtiest Tarbush upon his
tufty poll, and only a cotton shirt over his sooty skin; whilst his two
boxes are full of handsome apparel for himself and the three ladies,
his wives, at Al-Madinah. He knows no fear but for those boxes.
Frequently during our search for a vessel he forced himself into
Ja'afar Bey's presence, and there he demeaned himself so impudently,
that we expected to see him lamed by the bastinado; his forwardness,
however, only amused the dignitary. He wanders all day about the bazar,
talking about freight and passage, for he has resolved, cost what it
will, to travel free, and, with doggedness like his, he must succeed.

Shaykh Hamid al-Samman derives his cognomen, the
"Clarified-Butter-Seller," from a celebrated saint and Sufi of the
Kadiriyah order, who left a long line of holy descendants at
Al-Madinah. This Shaykh squats upon a box full of presents for the
"daughter of his paternal uncle"

[p.163](his wife), a perfect specimen of the town Arab. His poll is
crowned with a rough Shushah or tuft of hair[FN#1]; his face is of a
dirty brown, his little goatee straggles untrimmed; his feet are bare,
and his only garment is an exceedingly unclean ochre-coloured blouse,
tucked into a leathern girdle beneath it. He will not pray, because he
is unwilling to take pure clothes out of his box; but he smokes when he
can get other people's tobacco, and groans between the whiffs,
conjugating the verb all day, for he is of active mind. He can pick out
his letters, and he keeps in his bosom a little dog's-eared MS. full of
serious romances and silly prayers, old and exceedingly ill written;
this he will draw forth at times, peep into for a moment, devoutly
kiss, and restore to its proper place with the veneration of the vulgar
for a book. He can sing all manner of songs, slaughter a sheep with
dexterity, deliver a grand call to prayer, shave, cook, fight; and he
excels in the science of vituperation: like Sa'ad, he never performs
his devotions, except

[p.164]when necessary to "keep up appearances," and though he has sworn
to perish before he forgets his vow to the "daughter of his uncle," I
shrewdly suspect he is no better than he should be. His brow crumples
at the word wine, but there is quite another expression about the
region of the mouth; Stambul, where he has lived some months, without
learning ten words of Turkish, is a notable place for displacing
prejudice. And finally, he has not more than a piastre or two in his
pocket, for he has squandered the large presents given to him at Cairo
and Constantinople by noble ladies, to whom he acted as master of the
ceremonies at the tomb of the Apostle.

Stretched on a carpet, smoking a Persian Kaliun all day, lies Salih
Shakkar, a Turk on the father's, and an Arab on the mother's side, born
at Al-Madinah. This lanky youth may be sixteen years old, but he has
the ideas of forty-six; he is thoroughly greedy, selfish, and
ungenerous; coldly supercilious as a Turk, and energetically avaricious
as an Arab. He prays more often, and dresses more respectably, than the
descendant of the Clarified-Butter-Seller; he affects the
Constantinople style of toilette, and his light yellow complexion makes
people consider him a "superior person." We were intimate enough on the
road, when he borrowed from me a little money. But at Al-Madinah he cut
me pitilessly, as a "town man" does a continental acquaintance
accidentally met in Hyde Park; and of course he tried, though in vain,
to evade repaying his debt. He had a tincture of letters, and appeared
to have studied critically the subject of "largesse." "The Generous is
Allah's friend, aye, though he be a Sinner, and the Miser is Allah's
Foe, aye, though he be a Saint," was a venerable saying always in his
mouth. He also informed me that Pharaoh, although the quintessence of
impiety, is mentioned by name in the Koran, by reason of his
liberality; whereas Nimrod, another monster of iniquity, is only
alluded to, because

[p.165]he was a stingy tyrant. It is almost needless to declare that
Salih Shakkar was, as the East-Indians say, a very "fly-sucker.[FN#2]"
There were two other men of Al-Madinah in the Wakalah Jirgis; but I
omit description, as we left them, they being penniless, at Suez. One
of them, Mohammed Shiklibha, I afterwards met at Meccah, and seldom
have I seen a more honest and warm-hearted fellow. When we were
embarking at Suez, he fell upon Hamid's bosom, and both of them wept
bitterly, at the prospect of parting even for a few days.

All the individuals above mentioned lost no time in opening the
question of a loan. It was a lesson in Oriental metaphysics to see
their condition. They had a twelve days' voyage, and a four days'
journey before them; boxes to carry, custom-houses to face, and
stomachs to fill; yet the whole party could scarcely, I believe, muster
two dollars of ready money. Their boxes were full of valuables, arms,
clothes, pipes, slippers, sweetmeats, and other "notions"; but nothing
short of starvation would have induced them to pledge the smallest

Foreseeing that their company would be an advantage, I hearkened
favourably to the honeyed request for a few crowns. The boy Mohammed
obtained six dollars; Hamid about five pounds, as I intended to make
his house at Al-Madinah my home; Omar Effendi three dollars; Sa'ad the
Demon two-I gave the money to him at Yambu',-and Salih Shakkar fifty
piastres. But since in these lands, as a rule, no one ever lends coins,
or, borrowing, ever returns them, I took care to exact service from the
first, to take two rich coats from the second, a handsome pipe from the
third, a "bala" or yataghan from the fourth, and from the fifth an
imitation Cashmere shawl. After which, we sat down and drew

[p.166]out the agreement. It was favourable to me: I lent them Egyptian
money, and bargained for repayment in the currency of Al-Hijaz, thereby
gaining the exchange, which is sometimes sixteen per cent. This was
done, not so much for the sake of profit, as with the view of becoming
a Hatim,[FN#3] by a "never mind" on settling day. My companions having
received these small sums, became affectionate and eloquent in my
praise: they asked me to make one of their number at meals for the
future, overwhelmed me with questions, insisted upon a present of
sweetmeats, detected in me a great man under a cloud,-perhaps my claims
to being a Darwaysh assisted them to this discovery,-and declared that
I should perforce be their guest at Meccah and Al-Madinah. On all
occasions precedence was forced upon me; my opinion was the first
consulted, and no project was settled without my concurrence: briefly,
Abdullah the Darwaysh suddenly found himself a person of consequence.
This elevation led me into an imprudence which might have cost me dear;
aroused the only suspicion about me ever expressed during the summer's
tour. My friends had looked at my clothes, overhauled my medicine
chest, and criticised my pistols; they sneered at my copper-cased
watch,[FN#4] and remembered having seen a compass at Constantinople.
Therefore I imagined they would think little about a sextant. This was
a mistake. The boy Mohammed, I

[p.167]afterwards learned,[FN#5] waited only my leaving the room to
declare that the would-be Haji was one of the Infidels from India, and
a council sat to discuss the case. Fortunately for me, Omar Effendi had
looked over a letter which I had written to Haji Wali that morning, and
he had at various times received categorical replies to certain
questions in high theology. He felt himself justified in declaring, ex
cathedra, the boy Mohammed's position perfectly untenable. And Shaykh
Hamid, who looked forward to being my host, guide, and debtor in
general, and probably cared scantily for catechism or creed, swore that
the light of Al-Islam was upon my countenance, and, consequently, that
the boy Mohammed was a pauper, a "fakir," an owl, a cut-off one,[FN#6]
a stranger, and a Wahhabi (heretic), for daring to impugn the faith of
a brother believer.[FN#7] The scene ended with a general abuse of the
acute youth, who was told on all sides that he had no shame, and was
directed to "fear Allah." I was struck with the expression of my
friends' countenances when they saw the sextant, and, determining with
a sigh to

[p.168]leave it behind, I prayed five times a day for nearly a week.

We all agreed not to lose an hour in securing places on board some
vessel bound for Yambu'; and my companions, hearing that my passport as
a British Indian was scarcely en regle, earnestly advised me to have it
signed by the governor without delay, whilst they occupied themselves
about the harbour. They warned me that if I displayed the Turkish
Tazkirah given me at the citadel of Cairo, I should infallibly be
ordered to await the caravan, and lose their society and friendship.
Pilgrims arriving at Alexandria, be it known to the reader, are divided
into bodies, and distributed by means of passports to the three great
roads, namely, Suez, Kusayr (Cosseir), and the Hajj route by land round
the Gulf of al-'Akabah. After the division has once been made,
government turns a deaf ear to the representations of individuals. The
Bey of Suez has an order to obstruct pilgrims as much as possible till
the end of the season, when they are hurried down that way, lest they
should arrive at Meccah too late.[FN#8] As most of the Egyptian high
officials have boats, which sail up the Nile laden with pilgrims and
return freighted with corn, the government naturally does its utmost to
force the delays and discomforts of this line upon strangers.[FN#9] And
as those who travel by the Hajj route must spend money in the Egyptian
territories at least fifteen days longer than they would if allowed to

[p.169]embark at once from Suez, the Bey very properly assists them in
the former and obstructs them in the latter case. Knowing these facts,
I felt that a difficulty was at hand. The first thing was to take
Shaykh Nur's passport, which was en regle, and my own, which was not,
to the Bey for signature. He turned the papers over and over, as if
unable to read them, and raised false hopes high by referring me to his
clerk. The under-official at once saw the irregularity of the document,
asked me why it had not been vise at Cairo, swore that under such
circumstances nothing would induce the Bey to let me proceed; and, when
I tried persuasion, waxed insolent. I feared that it would be necessary
to travel via Cosseir, for which there was scarcely time, or to
transfer myself on camel-back to the harbour of Tur, and there to await
the chance of finding a place in some half-filled vessel to
Al-Hijaz,-which would have been relying upon an accident. My last hope
at Suez was to obtain assistance from Mr. West, then H.B.M.'s
Vice-Consul, and since made Consul. I therefore took the boy Mohammed
with me, choosing him on purpose, and excusing the step to my
companions by concocting an artful fable about my having been, in
Afghanistan, a benefactor to the British nation. We proceeded to the
Consulate. Mr. West, who had been told by imprudent Augustus Bernal to
expect me, saw through the disguise, despite jargon assumed to satisfy
official scruples, and nothing could be kinder than the part he took.
His clerk was directed to place himself in communication with the Bey's
factotum; and, when objections to signing the Alexandrian Tazkirah were
offered, the Vice-Consul said that he would, at his own risk, give me a
fresh passport as a British subject from Suez to Arabia. His firmness
prevailed: on the second day, the documents were returned to me in a
satisfactory state. I take a pleasure in owning this obligation to Mr.
West: in the course of my wanderings, I have often

[p.170] received from him open-hearted hospitality and the most
friendly attentions.

Whilst these passport difficulties were being solved, the rest of the
party was as busy in settling about passage and passage-money. The
peculiar rules of the port of Suez require a few words of
explanation.[FN#10] "About thirty-five years ago" (i.e. about 1818
A.D.), "the ship-owners proposed to the then government, with the view
of keeping up freight, a Farzah, or system of rotation. It might be
supposed that the Pasha, whose object notoriously was to retain all
monoplies in his own hands, would have refused his sanction to such a
measure. But it so happened in those days that all the court had ships
at Suez: Ibrahim Pasha alone owned four or five. Consequently, they
expected to share profits with the merchants, and thus to be
compensated for the want of port-dues. From that time forward all the
vessels in the harbour were registered, and ordered to sail in
rotation. This arrangement benefits the owner of the craft ‘en depart,'
giving him in his turn a temporary monopoly, with the advantage of a
full market; and freight is so high that a single trip often clears off
the expense of building and the risk of losing the ship-a sensible
succedaneum for insurance companies. On the contrary, the public must
always be a loser by the ‘Farzah.' Two of a trade do not agree
elsewhere; but at Suez even the Christian and the Moslem shipowner are
bound by a fraternal tie, in the shape of this rotation system. It
injures the general merchant and the Red Sea trader, not only by

[p.171] perpetuating high freight,[FN#11] but also by causing at one
period of the year a break in the routine of sales and in the supplies
of goods for the great Jeddah market.[FN#12] At this moment (Nov.
1853), the vessel to which the turn belongs happens to be a large one;
there is a deficiency of export to Al-Hijaz,-her owner will of course
wait any length of time for a full cargo; consequently no vessel with
merchandise has left Suez for the last seventy-two days. Those who have
bought goods for the Jeddah market at three months' credit will
therefore have to meet their acceptances for merchandise still
warehoused at the Egyptian port. This strange contrast to free-trade
principle is another proof that protection benefits only one party, the
protected, while it is detrimental to the interests of the other party,
the public." To these remarks of Mr. Levick's, I have only to add that
the government supports the Farzah with all the energy of
protectionists. A letter from Mr. (now Sir) John Drummond Hay was
insufficient to induce the Bey of Suez to break through the rule of
rotation in favour of certain princes from Morocco. The recommendations
of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe met with no better fate; and all Mr.
West's good will could not procure

[p.172]me a vessel out of her turn.[FN#13] We were forced to rely upon
our own exertions, and the activity of Sa'ad the Demon. This worthy,
after sundry delays and differences, mostly caused by his own
determination to travel gratis, and to make us pay too much, finally
closed with the owner of the "Golden Thread.[FN#14]" He took places for
us upon the poop,-the most eligible part of the vessel at this season
of the year; he premised that we should not be very comfortable, as we
were to be crowded with Maghrabi pilgrims, but that "Allah makes all
things easy!" Though not penetrated with the conviction that this would
happen in our case, I paid for two deck passages eighteen Riyals[FN#15]
(dollars), and my companions seven each, whilst Sa'ad secretly entered
himself as an able seaman. Mohammed Shiklibha we were obliged to leave
behind, as he could not, or might not afford the expense, and none of
us might afford it for him. Had I known him to be the honest,
true-hearted fellow he was-his kindness at Meccah quite won my heart-I
should not have grudged the small charity.

[p.173]Nothing more comfortless than our days and nights in the
"George" Inn. The ragged walls of our rooms were clammy with dirt, the
smoky rafters foul with cobwebs, and the floor, bestrewed with kit, in
terrible confusion, was black with hosts of cockroaches, ants, and
flies. Pigeons nestled on the shelf, cooing amatory ditties the
live-long day, and cats like tigers crawled through a hole in the door,
making night hideous with their caterwaulings. Now a curious goat, then
an inquisitive jackass, would walk stealthily into the room, remark
that it was tenanted, and retreat with dignified demeanour, and the
mosquitos sang Io Paeans over our prostrate forms throughout the
twenty-four hours. I spare the reader the enumeration of the other
Egyptian plagues that infested the place. After the first day's trial,
we determined to spend the hours of light in the passages, lying upon
our boxes or rugs, smoking, wrangling, and inspecting one another's
chests. The latter occupation was a fertile source of disputes, for
nothing was more common than for a friend to seize an article belonging
to another, and to swear by the Apostle's beard that he admired it,
and, therefore, would not return it. The boy Mohammed and Shaykh Nur,
who had been intimates the first day, differed in opinion on the
second, and on the third came to pushing each other against the wall.
Sometimes we went into the Bazar, a shady street flanked with poor
little shops, or we sat in the coffee-house,[FN#16] drinking hot
saltish water tinged with burnt bean, or we prayed in one of three
tumble-down old Mosques, or we squatted upon the pier, lamenting the
want of Hammams, and bathing in the tepid sea.[FN#17] I presently came
to the conclusion that

[p.174]Suez as a "watering-place" is duller even than Dover. The only
society we found, excepting an occasional visitor, was that of a party
of Egyptian women, who with their husbands and families occupied some
rooms adjoining ours. At first they were fierce, and used bad language,
when the boy Mohammed and I,-whilst Omar Effendi was engaged in prayer,
and the rest were wandering about the town,-ventured to linger in the
cool passage, where they congregated, or to address a facetious phrase
to them. But hearing that I was a Hakim-bashi-for fame had promoted me
to the rank of a "Physician General" at Suez-all discovered some
ailments. They began prudently with requesting me to display the
effects of my drugs by dosing myself, but they ended submissively by
swallowing the nauseous compounds. To this succeeded a primitive form
of flirtation, which mainly consisted of the demand direct. The most
charming of the party was one Fattumah[FN#18], a plump-personed dame,
fast verging upon her thirtieth year, fond of a little flattery, and
possessing, like all her people, a most voluble tongue. The refrain of
every conversation was "Marry me, O Fattumah! O daughter! O female
pilgrim!" In vain the lady would reply, with a coquettish movement of
the sides, a toss of the head, and a flirting manipulation of her

[p.175]"I am mated, O young man!"-it was agreed that she, being a
person of polyandrous propensities, could support the weight of at
least three matrimonial engagements. Sometimes the entrance of the male
Fellahs[FN#19] interrupted these little discussions, but people of our
respectability and nation were not to be imposed upon by such husbands.
In their presence we only varied the style of conversation-inquiring
the amount of "Mahr," or marriage settlement, deriding the cheapness of
womanhood in Egypt, and requiring to be furnished on the spot with
brides at the rate of ten shillings a head.[FN#20] More often the
amiable Fattumah-the fair sex in this country, though passing frail,
have the best tempers in the world-would laugh at our impertinences.
Sometimes vexed by our imitating her Egyptian accent, mimicking her
gestures, and depreciating her country-women,[FN#21] she would wax
wroth, and order us to be gone, and stretch out her forefinger-a sign
that she wished to put out our eyes, or adjure Allah to cut the hearts
out of our bosoms. Then

[p.176]the "Marry me, O Fattumah, O daughter, O female pilgrim!" would
give way to Y'al Ago-o-oz! (O old woman and decrepit!) "O daughter of
sixty sires, and fit only to carry wood to market!"-whereupon would
burst a storm of wrath, at the tail of which all of us, like children,
starting upon our feet, rushed out of one another's way. But-"qui se
dispute, s'adore"-when we again met all would be forgotten, and the old
tale be told over de novo. This was the amusement of the day. At night
we men, assembling upon the little terrace, drank tea, recited stories,
read books, talked of our travels, and indulged in various
pleasantries. The great joke was the boy Mohammed's abusing all his
companions to their faces in Hindustani, which none but Shaykh Nur and
I could understand; the others, however, guessed his intention, and
revenged themselves by retorts of the style uncourteous in the purest

I proceed to offer a few more extracts from Mr. Levick's letter about
Suez and the Suezians. "It appears that the number of pilgrims who pass
through Suez to Meccah has of late been steadily on the decrease. When
I first came here (in 1838) the pilgrims who annually embarked at this
port amounted to between 10,000 and 12,000, the shipping was more
numerous, and the merchants were more affluent.[FN#22] I have
ascertained from a special register kept in the government archives
that in the Moslem year 1268 (A.D. 1851-52) the exact number that
passed through was 4893."

"In 1269 A.H. (A.D. 1852-53) it had shrunk to 3136. The natives assign
the falling off to various causes, which
[p.177]I attribute chiefly to the indirect effect of European
civilisation upon the Moslem powers immediately in contact with it. The
heterogeneous mass of pilgrims is composed of people of all classes,
colours, and costumes. One sees among them, not only the natives of
countries contiguous to Egypt, but also a large proportion of Central
Asians from Bokhara, Persia, Circassia, Turkey, and the Crimea, who
prefer this route by way of Constantinople to the difficult, expensive
and dangerous caravan-line through the Desert from Damascus and
Baghdad. The West sends us Moors, Algerines, and Tunisians, and Inner
Africa a mass of sable Takrouri,[FN#23] and others from Bornou, the
Sudan,[FN#24] Ghadamah near the Niger, and Jabarti from the

"The Suez ship-builders are an influential body of men, originally
Candiots and Alexandrians. When Mohammed Ali fitted out his fleet for
the Hijaz war, he transported a number of Greeks to Suez, and the
children now exercise their fathers' craft. There are at present three
great builders at this place. Their principal difficulty

[p.178]is the want of material. Teak comes from India[FN#26] via
Jeddah, and Venetian boards, owing to the expense of camel-transport,
are a hundred per cent. dearer here than at Alexandria. Trieste and
Turkey supply spars, and Jeddah canvas: the sail-makers are Suez men,
and the crews a mongrel mixture of Arabs and Egyptians; the Rais, or
captain, being almost invariably, if the vessel be a large one, a
Yambu' man. There are two kinds of craft, distinguished from each other
by tonnage, not by build. The Baghlah[FN#27] (buggalow), is a vessel
above fifty tons burden, the Sambuk (a classical term) from fifteen to
fifty. The shipowner bribes the Amir al-Bahr, or port-captain, and the
Nazir al-Safayn, or the captain commanding the government vessels, to
rate his ship as high as possible; if he pay the price, he will be
allowed nine ardebs to the ton.[FN#28] The number of ships belonging to
the port of Suez amounts to 92; they vary from 25 to 250 tons. The
departures in A.H. 1269 (1852 and 1853) were 38, so that each vessel,
after returning from a trip, is laid up for about two years. Throughout
the passage of the pilgrims,-that is to say, during four months,-the
departures average twice a week; during the remainder of the year from
six to ten vessels may leave the port. The homeward trade is carried on
principally in Jeddah bottoms, which are allowed to convey goods to
Suez, but not to take in return cargo there: they must not interfere
with, nor may they partake in any way of the benefits of the rotation

[p.179]"During the present year the imports were contained in 41,395
packages, the exports in 15,988. Specie makes up in some manner for
this preponderance of imports: a sum of from L30,000 to L40,000, in
crown, or Maria Theresa, dollars annually leaves Egypt for Arabia,
Abyssinia, and other parts of Africa. I value the imports at about
L350,000; the export trade to Jeddah at L300,000 per annum. The former
consists principally of coffee and gum-arabic; of these there were
respectively 17,460 and 15,132 bales, the aggregate value of each
article being from L75,000 to L80,000, and the total amount L160,000.
In the previous year the imports were contained in 36,840 packages, the
exports in 13,498: of the staple articles-coffee and gum-arabic-they
were respectively 15,499 and 14,129 bales, each bale being valued at
about L5. Next in importance comes wax from Al-Yaman and the Hijaz,
mother-of-pearl[FN#30] from the Red Sea, sent to England in rough,
pepper from Malabar, cloves brought by Moslem pilgrims from Java,
Borneo, and Singapore,[FN#31] cherry pipe-sticks from Persia and
Bussora, and Persian or Surat ‘Timbak' (tobacco). These I value at
L20,000 per annum. There were also (A.D. 1853) of cloves 708 packages,
and of Malabar pepper 948: the cost of these two might be L7,000. Minor
articles of exportation are,-general spiceries (ginger, cardamons,

[p.180] &c.); Eastern perfumes, such as aloes-wood, attar of rose,
attar of pink and others; tamarinds from India and Al-Yaman, Banca tin,
hides supplied by the nomade Badawin, senna leaves from Al-Yaman and
the Hijaz, and blue chequered cotton Malayahs (women's mantillas),
manufactured in southern Arabia. The total value of these smaller
imports may be L20,000 per annum."

"The exports chiefly consist of English and native ‘grey domestics,'
bleached Madipilams, Paisley lappets, and muslins for turbands; the
remainder being Manchester prints, antimony, Syrian soap, iron in bars,
and common ironmongery, Venetian or Trieste beads, used as ornaments in
Arabia and Abyssinia, writing paper, Tarbushes, Papushes (slippers),
and other minor articles of dress and ornament."

"The average annual temperature of the year at Suez is 67° Fahrenheit.
The extremes of heat and cold are found in January and August; during
the former month the thermometer ranges from a minimum of 38° to a
maximum of 68°; during the latter the variation extends from 68° to
102°, or even to 104°, when the heat becomes oppressive. Departures
from these extremes are rare. I never remember to have seen the
thermometer rise above 108° during the severest Khamsin, or to have
sunk below 34° in the rawest wintry wind. Violent storms come up from
the south in March. Rain is very variable[FN#32]:

[p.181] sometimes three years have passed without a shower, whereas in
1841 torrents poured for nine successive days, deluging the town, and
causing many buildings to fall."

"The population of Suez now numbers about 4,800. As usual in Mohammedan
countries no census is taken here. Some therefore estimate the
population at 6,000. Sixteen years ago it was supposed to be under
3,000. After that time it rapidly increased till 1850, when a fatal
attack of cholera reduced it to about half its previous number. The
average mortality is about twelve a month.[FN#33] The endemic diseases
are fevers of typhoid and intermittent types in spring, when strong
northerly winds cause the waters of the bay to recede,[FN#34] and leave
a miasma-breeding swamp exposed to the rays of the sun. In the months
of October and November febrile attacks are violent; ophthalmia more
so. The eye-disease is not so general here as at Cairo, but the
symptoms are more acute; in some years it becomes a virulent epidemic,
which ends either in total blindness or in a partial opacity of the
cornea, inducing dimness of vision, and a permanent weakness of the
eyes. In one month three of my acquaintances lost their sight.
Dysenteries are also common, and so are bad boils, or rather ulcers.
The cold season is not unwholesome, and at this period the

[p.182] pure air of the Desert restores and invigorates the heat-wasted

"The walls, gates, and defences of Suez are in a ruinous state, being
no longer wanted to keep out the Sinaitic Badawin. The houses are about
500 in number, but many of the natives prefer occupying the upper
stories of the Wakalahs, the rooms on the ground floor serving for
stores to certain merchandise, wood, dates, cotton, &c. The Suezians
live well, and their bazar is abundantly stocked with meat and
clarified butter brought from Sinai, and fowls, corn, and vegetables
from the Sharkiyah province; fruit is supplied by Cairo as well as by
the Sharkiyah, and wheat conveyed down the Nile in flood to the capital
is carried on camel-back across the Desert. At sunrise they eat the
Fatur, or breakfast, which in summer consists of a ‘fatirah,' a kind of
muffin, or of bread and treacle. In winter it is more substantial,
being generally a mixture of lentils and rice,[FN#35] with clarified
butter poured over it, and a ‘kitchen' of pickled lime or stewed
onions. At this season they greatly enjoy the ‘ful mudammas' (boiled
horse-beans),[FN#36] eaten with an abundance of linseed oil, into which
they steep bits of bread. The beans form, with carbon-generating
matter, a highly nutritive diet, which, if the stomach can digest
it,-the pulse is never shelled,-gives great strength. About the middle
of the day comes ‘Al-Ghada,' a light dinner of wheaten bread, with
dates, onions or cheese: in the hot season melons and cooling

[p.183] fruits are preferred, especially by those who have to face the
sun. ‘Al-Asha,' or supper, is served about half an hour after sunset;
at this meal all but the poorest classes eat meat. Their favourite
flesh, as usual in this part of the world, is mutton; beef and goat are
little prized.[FN#37]"

The people of Suez are a finer and fairer race than the Cairenes. The
former have more the appearance of Arabs: their dress is more
picturesque, their eyes are carefully darkened with Kohl, and they wear
sandals, not slippers. They are, according to all accounts, a turbulent
and somewhat fanatic set, fond of quarrels, and slightly addicted to
"pronunciamentos." The general programme of one of these latter
diversions is said to be as follows. The boys will first be sent by
their fathers about the town in a disorderly mob, and ordered to cry
out "Long live the Sultan!" with its usual sequel, "Death to the
Infidels!" The Infidels, Christians or others, must hear and may happen
to resent this; or possibly the governor, foreseeing a disturbance,
orders an ingenuous youth or two to be imprisoned, or to be caned by
the police. Whereupon some person, rendered influential by wealth or
religious reputation, publicly complains that the Christians are all in
all, and that in these evil days Al-Islam is going to destruction. On
this occasion the speaker conducts himself with such insolence, that
the governor perforce consigns him to confinement, which exasperates
the populace still more. Secret meetings are now convened, and in them
the chiefs of corporations assume a prominent position. If the
disturbance be intended by its main-spring to subside quietly, the
conspirators are allowed to take their own way; they will drink
copiously, become lions about midnight, and recover their hare-hearts
before noon next

[p.184] day. But if mischief be intended, a case of bloodshed is
brought about, and then nothing can arrest the torrent of popular
rage.[FN#38] The Egyptian, with all his good humour, merriment, and
nonchalance, is notorious for doggedness, when, as the popular phrase
is, his "blood is up." And this, indeed, is his chief merit as a
soldier. He has a certain mechanical dexterity in the use of arms, and
an Egyptian regiment will fire a volley as correctly as a battalion at
Chobham. But when the head, and not the hands, is required, he notably
fails. The reason of his superiority in the field is his peculiar
stubborness, and this, together with his powers of digestion and of
enduring hardship on the line of march, is the quality that makes him
terrible to his old conqueror, the Turk.[FN#39]

[FN#1] When travelling, the Shushah is allowed to spread over the
greatest portion of the scalp, to act as a protection against the sun;
and the hair being shaved off about two inches all round the head,
leaves a large circular patch. Nothing can be uglier than such tonsure,
and it is contrary to the strict law of the Apostle, who ordered a
clean shave, or a general growth of the hair. The Arab, however, knows
by experience, that though habitual exposure of the scalp to a burning
sun may harden the skull, it seldom fails to damage its precious
contents. He, therefore, wears a Shushah during his wanderings, and
removes it on his return home. Abu Hanifah, if I am rightly informed,
wrote a treatise advocating the growth of a long lock of hair on the
Nasiyah, or crown of the head, lest the decapitated Moslem's mouth or
beard be exposed to defilement by an impure hand. This would justify
the comparing it to the "chivalry-lock," by which the American brave
facilitates the removal of his own scalp. But I am at a loss to
discover the origin of our old idea, that the "angel of death will, on
the last day, bear all true believers, by this important tuft of hair
on the crown, to Paradise." Probably this office has been attributed to
the Shushah by the ignorance of the West.
[FN#2] "Makhi-chus," equivalent to our "skin-flint."
[FN#3] A well-known Arab chieftain, whose name has come to stand for
generosity itself.
[FN#4] This being an indispensable instrument for measuring distances,
I had it divested of gold case, and provided with a facing carefully
stained and figured with Arabic numerals. In countries where few can
judge of a watch by its works, it is as well to secure its safety by
making the exterior look as mean as possible. The watches worn by
respectable people in Al-Hijaz are almost a1ways old silver pieces, of
the turnip shape, with hunting cases and an outer etui of thick
leather. Mostly they are of Swiss or German manufacture, and they find
their way into Arabia via Constantinople and Cairo.
[FN#5] On my return to Cairo, Omar Effendi, whom I met accidentally in
the streets, related the story to me. I never owned having played a
part, to avoid shocking his prejudices; and though he must have
suspected me,-for the general report was, that an Englishman, disguised
as a Persian, had performed the pilgrimage, measured the country, and
sketched the buildings,-he had the gentlemanly feeling never to allude
to the past. We parted, when I went to India, on the best of terms.
[FN#6] Munkati'a-one cut off (from the pleasures and comforts of life).
In Al-Hijaz, as in England, any allusion to poverty is highly offensive.
[FN#7] The Koran expressly forbids a Moslem to discredit the word of
any man who professes his belief in the Saving Faith. The greatest
offence of the Wahhabis is their habit of designating all Moslems that
belong to any but their own sect by the opprobrious name of Kafirs or
infidels. This, however, is only the Koranic precept; in practice a
much less trustful spirit prevails.
[FN#8] Towards the end of the season, poor pilgrims are forwarded
gratis, by order of government. But, to make such liberality as
inexpensive as possible, the Pasha compels ship-owners to carry one
pilgrim per 9 ardebs (about 5 bushels each), in small, and 1 per 11 in
large vessels.
[FN#9] I was informed by a Prussian gentleman, holding an official
appointment under His Highness the Pasha, at Cairo, that 300,000 ardebs
of grain were annually exported from Kusayr to Jeddah. The rest is
brought down the Nile for consumption in Lower Egypt, and export to
[FN#10] The account here offered to the reader was kindly supplied to
me by Henry Levick, Esq. (late Vice-Consul, and afterwards Post-master
at Suez), and it may be depended upon, as coming from a resident of 16
years' standing. All the passages marked with inverted commas are
extracts from a letter with which that gentleman favoured me. The
information is obsolete now, but it may be interesting as a specimen of
the things that were.
[FN#11] The rate of freight is at present (1853) about forty shillings
per ton-very near the same paid by the P. and O. Company for coals
carried from Newcastle via the Cape to Suez. Were the "Farzah"
abolished, freight to Jeddah would speedily fall to 15 or 16 shillings
per ton. Passengers from Suez to Jeddah are sometimes charged as much
as 6 or even 8 dollars for standing room-personal baggage forming
another pretext for extortion-and the higher orders of pilgrims,
occupying a small portion of the cabin, pay about 12 dollars. These
first and second class fares would speedily be reduced, by abolishing
protection, to 3 and 6 dollars. Note to Second Edition.-The "Farzah," I
may here observe, has been abolished by Sa'id Pasha since the
publication of these lines: the effects of "free trade" are exactly
what were predicted by Mr. Levick.
[FN#12] The principal trade from Suez is to Jeddah, Kusayr supplying
Yambu'. The latter place, however, imports from Suez wheat, beans,
cheese, biscuit, and other provisions for return pilgrims.
[FN#13] My friends were strenuous in their exertions for me to make
interest with Mr. West. In the first place, we should have paid less
for the whole of a privileged vessel, than we did for our wretched
quarters on the deck of the pilgrim-ship; and, secondly, we might have
touched at any port we pleased, so as to do a little business in the
way of commerce.
[FN#14] Afterwards called by Sir R. F. Burton the "Golden Wire."-ED.
[FN#15] For the "Sath," or poop, the sum paid by each was seven Riyals.
I was, therefore, notably cheated by Sa'ad the Demon. The unhappy women
in the "Kamrah," or cabin, bought suffocation at the rate of 6 dollars
each, as I was afterwards informed, and the third class, in the "Taht,"
or amidships and forward, contributed from 3 to 5 Riyals. But, as usua1
on these occasions, there was no prix fixe; every man was either
overcharged or undercharged, according to his means or his necessities.
We had to purchase our own water, but the ship was to supply us with
fuel for cooking. We paid nothing extra for luggage, and we carried an
old Maghrabi woman gratis for good luck.
[FN#16] We were still at Suez, where we could do as we pleased. But
respectable Arabs in their own country, unlike Egyptians, are seldom to
be seen in the places of public resort. "Go to the coffee-house and
sing there!" is a reproach sometimes addressed to those who have a
habit of humming in decent society.
[FN#17] It was only my prestige as physician that persuaded my friend
to join me in these bathings. As a general rule, the Western Arabs
avoid cold water, from a belief that it causes fever. When Mr. C. Cole,
H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, arrived at Jeddah, the people of the place,
seeing that he kept up his Indian habits, advised him strongly to drop
them. He refused; but unhappily he soon caught a fever, which confirmed
them all in their belief. When Arabs wish to cool the skin after a
journey, they wash with a kind of fuller's earth called "Tafl," or with
a thin paste of henna, and then anoint the body with oil or butter.
[FN#18] An incrementative form of the name "Fatimah," very common in
Egypt. Fatimah would mean a "weaner"-Fattumah, a "great weaner." By the
same barbarism Khadijah becomes "Khaddugah"; Aminah, "Ammunah"; and
Nafisah, "Naffusah," on the banks of the Nile.
[FN#19] The palmy days of the Egyptian husband, when he might use the
stick, the sword, or the sack with impunity, are, in civilised places
at least, now gone by. The wife has only to complain to the Kazi, or to
the governor, and she is certain of redress. This is right in the
abstract, but in practice it acts badly. The fair sex is so unruly in
this country, that strong measures are necessary to coerce it, and in
the arts of deceit men have here little or no chance against women.
[FN#20] The amount of settlement being, among Moslems as among
Christians, the test of a bride's value,-moral and physical,-it will
readily be understood that our demand was more facetious than
[FN#21] The term Misriyah (an Egyptian woman) means in Al-Hijaz and the
countries about it, a depraved character. Even the men own unwillingly
to being Egyptians, for the free-born never forget that the banks of
the Nile have for centuries been ruled by the slaves of slaves. "He
shall be called an Egyptian," is a denunciation which has been
strikingly fulfilled, though the country be no longer the "basest of
[FN#22] In those days merchants depended solely upon the native trade
and the passage of pilgrims. The pecuniary advantage attending what is
called the Overland transit benefits chiefly the lowest orders,
camel-men, sailors, porters, and others of the same class. Sixteen
years ago the hire of a boat from the harbour to the roadstead was a
piastre and a half: now it is at least five.
[FN#23] This word, says Mansfield Parkyns (Life in Abyssinia), is
applied to the wandering pilgrim from Darfur, Dar Borghu, Bayarimah,
Fellatah, and Western Africa. He mentions, however, a tribe called
"Tokrouri," settled in Abyssinia near Nimr's country, but he does not
appear to know that the ancient Arab settlement in Western Africa,
"Al-Takrur," (Sakatu?) which has handed down its name to a large
posterity of small kingdoms, will be found in Al-Idrisi (1. climate, 1.
section,); but I do not agree with the learned translator in writing
the word "Tokrour." Burckhardt often alludes in his benevolent way to
the "respectable and industrious Tekrourys." I shall have occasion to
mention them at a future time.
[FN#24] The Sudan (Blackland) in Arabia is applied to Upper Nubia,
Senaar, Kordofan, and the parts adjacent.
[FN#25] Not only in Ghiz, but also in Arabic, the mother of Ghiz, the
word "Habash," whence our "Abyssinians," means a rabble, a mixture of
people. Abyssinian Moslems are called by the Arabs "Jabarti."
[FN#26] There is no such thing as a tree, except the date, the
tamarisk, and the mimosa on the western shores of the Red Sea.
[FN#27] This word, which in Arabic is the feminine form of "Baghl," a
mule, is in Egypt, as in India, pronounced and written by foreigners
"buggalow." Some worthy Anglo-Indians have further corrupted it to
[FN#28] "The ardeb, like most measures in this country of commercial
confusion, varies greatly according to the grain for which it is used.
As a general rule, it may be assumed at 300 lbs."
[FN#29] Return Arab boats, at any but the pilgrim season, with little
difficulty obtain permission to carry passengers, but not cargo. Two
gentlemen, in whose pleasant society I once travelled from Cairo to
Suez,-M. Charles Didier and the Abbe Hamilton,-paid the small sum of
1000 piastres, (say L10) for the whole of a moderate sized "Sambuk"
returning to Jeddah.
[FN#30] Mother-of-pearl is taken to Jerusalem, and there made into
chaplets, saints' figures, and crucifixes for Christian pilgrims. At
Meccah it is worked into rosaries for the Hajis. In Europe, cabinet and
ornamental work cause a considerable demand for it. Some good pearls
are procurable in the Red Sea. I have seen a drop of fair size and
colour sold for seven dollars.
[FN#31] I was told at Meccah that the pilgrimage is attended by about
2000 natives of Java and the adjoining islands.
[FN#32] The following popular puerilities will serve to show how fond
barbarians are of explaining the natural by the supernatural. The
Moslems of Egypt thus account for the absence of St. Swithin from their
drought-stricken lands. When Jacob lost his Benjamin, he cursed the
land of Misraim, declaring that it should know no rain; Joseph on the
other hand blessed it, asserting that it should never want water. So
the Sind Hindus believe that Hiranyakasipu, the demon-tyrant of Multan,
finding Magha-Raja (the Cloud King) troublesome in his dominions, bound
him with chains, and only released him upon his oath not to trouble the
Unhappy Valley with his presence. I would suggest to those Egyptian
travellers who believe that the fall of rain has been materially
increased at Cairo of late, by plantations of trees, to turn over the
volumes of their predecesors; they will find almost every one
complaining of the discomforts of rain. In Sind it appears certain that
during the last few years there has been at times almost a monsoon;
this novel phenomenon the natives attribute to the presence of their
conquerors, concerning whom it cannot be said that they have wooded the
country to any extent.
[FN#33] This may appear a large mortality; but at Alexandria it is said
the population is renewed every fourteen years.
[FN#34] During these North winds the sandy bar is exposed, and allows
men to cross, which may explain the passage of the Israelites, for
those who do not believe the Legend to be a Myth. Similarly at Jeddah,
the bars are covered during the South and bare during the North winds.
[FN#35] This mixture, called in India Kichhri, has become common in
Al-Hijaz as well as at Suez. "Al-Kajari" is the corruption, which
denotes its foreign origin, and renders its name pronounceable to Arabs.
[FN#36] Beans, an abomination to the ancient Egyptians, who were
forbidden even to sow them, may now be called the common "kitchen" of
the country. The Badawin, ho believe in nothing but flesh, milk, and
dates, deride the bean-eaters, but they do not consider the food so
disgusting as onions.
[FN#37] Here concludes Mr. Levick's letter. For the following
observations, I alone am answerable.
[FN#38] The government takes care to prevent bloodshed in the towns by
disarming the country people, and by positively forbidding the carrying
of weapons. Moreover, with a wise severity, it punishes all parties
concerned in a quarrel, where blood is drawn, with a heavy fine and the
bastinado de rigueur. Hence it is never safe, except as a European, to
strike a man, and the Egyptians generally confine themselves to
collaring and pushing each other against the walls. Even in the case of
receiving gross abuse, you cannot notice it as you would elsewhere. You
must take two witnesses,-respectable men,-and prove the offence before
the Zabit, who alone can punish the offender.
[FN#39] NOTE TO THIRD (1873) EDITION.-I revisited Suez in September,
1869, and found it altered for the better. The population had risen
from 6,000 to 20,000. The tumble-down gateway was still there, but of
the old houses-including the "George Inn," whose front had been
repaired-I recognised only four, and they looked mean by the side of
the fine new buildings. In a few years ancient Suez will be no more.
The bazars are not so full of filth and flies, now that pilgrims pass
straight through and hardly even encamp. The sweet water Canal renders
a Hammam possible; coffee is no longer hot saltish water, and presently
irrigation will cover with fields and gardens the desert plain
extending to the feet of Jabal Atakah. The noble works of the Canal
Maritime, which should in justice be called the "Lesseps Canal," shall
soon transform Clysma into a modern and civilised city. The railway
station, close to the hotel, the new British hospital, the noisy Greek
casino, the Frankish shops, the puffing steamers, and the ringing of
morning bells, gave me a novel impression. Even the climate has been
changed by filling up the Timsch Lakes. Briefly, the hat is now at home
in Suez.
NOTE TO FOURTH (1879) EDITION.-The forecast in the last paragraph has
not been fulfilled. I again visited Suez in 1877-78; and found that it
had been ruined by the Canal leaving it out of line. In fact, another
Suez is growing up about the "New Docks," while the old town is falling
to pieces. For this and other Egyptian matters, see "The Gold Mines of
Midian" (by Sir Richard Burton).

[p.186]CHAPTER X.


THE larger craft anchor some three or four miles from the Suez pier, so
that it is necessary to drop down in a skiff or shore-boat.

Immense was the confusion at the eventful hour of our departure.
Suppose us gathered upon the beach, on the morning of a fiery July day,
carefully watching our hurriedly-packed goods and chattels, surrounded
by a mob of idlers, who are not too proud to pick up waifs and strays;
whilst pilgrims are rushing about apparently mad; and friends are
weeping, acquaintances are vociferating adieux; boatmen are demanding
fees, shopmen are claiming debts; women are shrieking and talking with
inconceivable power, and children are crying,-in short, for an hour or
so we stand in the thick of a human storm. To confound confusion, the
boatmen have moored their skiff half a dozen yards away from the shore,
lest the porters should be unable to make more than double their fare
from the Hajis. Again the Turkish women make a hideous noise, as they
are carried off struggling vainly in brawny arms; the children howl
because their mothers howl; and the men scold and swear, because in
such scenes none may be silent. The moment we had embarked, each
individual found that he or she had missed something of vital
importance,-a pipe, a child, a box, or a water-melon; and naturally all
the servants were in the bazars, when

[p.187] they should have been in the boat. Briefly, despite the rage of
the sailors, who feared being too late for a second trip, we stood for
some time on the beach before putting off.

>From the shore we poled to the little pier, where sat the Bey in
person to perform a final examination of our passports. Several were
detected without the necessary document. Some were bastinadoed, others
were peremptorily ordered back to Cairo, and the rest were allowed to
proceed. At about 10 A.M. (6th July) we hoisted sail, and ran down the
channel leading to the roadstead. On our way we had a specimen of what
we might expect from our fellow-passengers, the Maghrabi.[FN#1] A boat
crowded with these

[p.188] ruffians ran alongside of us, and, before we could organise a
defence, about a score of them poured into our vessel. They carried
things too with a high hand, laughed at us, and seemed quite ready to
fight. My Indian boy, who happened to let slip the word "Muarras,"
narrowly escaped a blow with a palm stick, which would have felled a
camel. They outnumbered us, and they were armed; so that, on this
occasion, we were obliged to put up with their insolence.

Our Pilgrim Ship, the Silk al-Zahab, or the "Golden Wire," was a
Sambuk, of about 400 ardebs (fifty tons), with narrow, wedge-like bows,
a clean water-line, a sharp keel, and undecked, except upon the poop,
which was high enough to act as a sail in a gale of wind. She carried
two masts, raking imminently forwards, the main being considerably
larger than the mizzen; the former was provided with a huge triangular
latine, very deep in the tack, but the second sail was unaccountably
wanting. She had no means of reefing, no compass, no log, no sounding
lines, no spare ropes, nor even the suspicion of a chart: in her
box-like cabin and ribbed hold there was something which savoured of
close connection between her model and that of the Indian Toni,[FN#2]
or "dug-out."

[p.189] Such, probably, were the craft which carried old Sesostris
across the Red Sea to Deir; such were the cruisers which once every
three years left Ezion-Geber for Tarshish; such the transports of which
130 were required to convey AElius Gallus, with his 10,000 men.
"Bakhshish" was the last as well as the first odious sound I heard in
Egypt. The owner of the shore-boat would not allow us to climb the
sides of our vessel before paying him his fare, and when we did so, he
asked for Bakhshish. If Easterns would only imitate the example of
Europeans,-I never yet saw an Englishman give Bakhshish to a soul,-the
nuisance would soon be done away with. But on this occasion all my
companions complied with the request, and at times it is unpleasant to
be singular. The first look at the interior of our vessel showed a
hopeless sight; Ali Murad, the greedy owner, had promised to take sixty
passengers in the hold, but had stretched the number to ninety-seven.
Piles of boxes and luggage in every shape and form filled the ship from
stem to stern, and a torrent of Hajis were pouring over the sides like
ants into the East-Indian sugar-basin. The poop, too, where we had
taken our places, was covered with goods, and a number of pilgrims had
established themselves there by might, not by right.

Presently, to our satisfaction, appeared Sa'ad the Demon, equipped as
an able seaman, and looking most unlike the proprietor of two large
boxes full of valuable merchandise. This energetic individual instantly
prepared for action. With our little party to back him, he speedily
cleared the poop of intruders and their stuff by the simple process of
pushing or rather throwing them off it into the pit below. We then
settled down as comfortably as we could; three Syrians, a married Turk
with his wife and family, the Rais or captain of the vessel,

[p.190] with a portion of his crew, and our seven selves, composing a
total of eighteen human beings, upon a space certainly not exceeding
ten feet by eight. The cabin-a miserable box about the size of the
poop, and three feet high-was stuffed, like the hold of a slave ship,
with fifteen wretches, children and women, and the other ninety-seven
were disposed upon the luggage or squatted on the bulwarks. Having some
experience in such matters, and being favoured by fortune, I found a
spare bed-frame slung to the ship's side; and giving a dollar to its
owner, a sailor-who flattered himself that, because it was his, he
would sleep upon it,-I instantly appropriated it, preferring any
hardship outside, to the condition of a packed herring inside, the
place of torment.

Our Maghrabis were fine-looking animals from the deserts about Tripoli
and Tunis; so savage that, but a few weeks ago, they had gazed at the
cock-boat, and wondered how long it would be growing to the size of the
ship that was to take them to Alexandria. Most of them were sturdy
young fellows, round-headed, broad-shouldered, tall and large-limbed,
with frowning eyes, and voices in a perpetual roar. Their manners were
rude, and their faces full of fierce contempt or insolent familiarity.
A few old men were there, with countenances expressive of intense
ferocity; women as savage and full of fight as men; and handsome boys
with shrill voices, and. hands always upon their daggers. The women
were mere bundles of dirty white rags. The males were clad in
"Burnus"-brown or striped woollen cloaks with hoods; they had neither
turband nor tarbush, trusting to their thick curly hair or to the
prodigious hardness of their scalps as a defence against the sun; and
there was not a slipper nor a shoe amongst the party.
Of course all were armed; but, fortunately for us, none had anything
more formidable than a cut-and-thrust dagger about ten inches long.
These Maghrabis travel in hordes under

[p.191] a leader who obtains the temporary title of "Maula,"-the
master. He has generally performed a pilgrimage or two, and has
collected a stock of superficial information which secures for him the
respect of his followers, and the profound contempt of the heaven-made
Ciceroni of Meccah and Al-Madinah. No people endure greater hardships
when upon the pilgrimage than these Africans, who trust almost entirely
to alms and to other such dispensations of Providence. It is not
therefore to be wondered at that they rob whenever an opportunity
presents itself. Several cases of theft occurred on board the "Golden
Wire"; and as such plunderers seldom allow themselves to be baulked by
insufficient defence, they are accused, perhaps deservedly, of having
committed some revolting murders.

The first thing to be done after gaining standing-room was to fight for
greater comfort; and never a Holyhead packet in the olden time showed a
finer scene of pugnacity than did our pilgrim ship. A few Turks, ragged
old men from Anatolia and Caramania, were mixed up with the Maghrabis,
and the former began the war by contemptuously elbowing and scolding
their wild neighbours. The Maghrabis, under their leader, "Maula Ali,"
a burly savage, in whom I detected a ridiculous resemblance to the Rev.
Charles Delafosse, an old and well-remembered schoolmaster, retorted so
willingly that in a few minutes nothing was to be seen but a confused
mass of humanity, each item indiscriminately punching and pulling,
scratching and biting, butting and trampling, with cries of rage, and
all the accompaniments of a proper fray, whatever was obnoxious to such
operations. One of our party on the poop, a Syrian, somewhat
incautiously leapt down to aid his countrymen by restoring order. He
sank immediately below the surface of the living mass: and when we
fished him out, his forehead was cut open, half his beard had
disappeared, and a fine sharp set

[p.192] of teeth belonging to some Maghrabi had left their mark in the
calf of his leg. The enemy showed no love of fair play, and never
appeared contented unless five or six of them were setting upon a
single man. This made matters worse. The weaker of course drew their
daggers, and a few bad wounds were soon given and received. In a few
minutes five men were completely disabled, and the victors began to
dread the consequences of their victory.

Then the fighting stopped, and, as many could not find places, it was
agreed that a deputation should wait upon Ali Murad, the owner, to
inform him of the crowded state of the vessel. After keeping us in
expectation at least three hours, he appeared in a row-boat, preserving
a respectful distance, and informed us that any one who pleased might
quit the ship and take back his fare. This left the case exactly as it
was before; none would abandon his party to go on shore: so Ali Murad
rowed off towards Suez, giving us a parting injunction to be good, and
not fight ; to trust in Allah, and that Allah would make all things
easy to us.	His departure was the signal for a second fray, which
in its accidents differed a little from the first. During the previous
disturbance we kept our places with weapons in our hands. This time we
were summoned by the Maghrabis to relieve their difficulties, by taking
about half a dozen of them on the poop. Sa'ad the Demon at once rose
with an oath, and threw amongst us a bundle of "Nabbut"-goodly ashen
staves six feet long, thick as a man's wrist, well greased, and tried
in many a rough bout. He shouted to us "Defend yourselves if you don't
wish to be the meat of the Maghrabis!" and to the enemy-"Dogs and sons
of dogs! now shall you see what the children of the Arab are." "I am
Omar of Daghistan!" "I am Abdullah the son of Joseph!" "I am Sa'ad the
Demon!" we exclaimed, "renowning it" by this display of name and
patronymic. To do our enemies justice, they showed no

[p.193] sign of flinching; they swarmed towards the poop like angry
hornets, and encouraged each other with cries of "Allaho akbar!" But we
had a vantage-ground about four feet above them, and their palm-sticks
and short daggers could do nothing against our terrible quarterstaves.
In vain the "Jacquerie," tried to scale the poop and to overpower us by
numbers; their courage only secured them more broken heads.

At first I began to lay on load with main morte, really fearing to kill
some one with such a weapon; but it soon became evident that the
Maghrabis' heads and shoulders could bear and did require the utmost
exertion of strength. Presently a thought struck me. A large earthen
jar full of drinking water,[FN#3]-in its heavy frame of wood the weight
might have been 100 lbs.,-stood upon the edge of the poop, and the
thick of the fray took place beneath. Seeing an opportunity, I crept up
to the jar, and, without attracting attention, rolled it down by a
smart push with the shoulder upon the swarm of assailants. The fall
caused a shriller shriek to rise above the ordinary din, for heads,
limbs, and bodies were sorely bruised by the weight, scratched by the
broken potsherds, and wetted by the sudden discharge. A fear that
something worse might be coming made the Maghrabis slink off towards
the end of the vessel. After a few minutes, we, sitting in grave
silence, received a deputation of individuals in whity-brown Burnus,
spotted and striped with what Mephistopheles calls a "curious juice."
They solicited peace, which we granted upon the condition that they
would pledge themselves to keep it. Our heads, shoulders, and hands
were penitentially kissed, and presently the fellows returned to bind
up their hurts in dirty

[p.194] rags. We owed this victory entirely to our own exertions, and
the meek Omar was by far the fiercest of the party. Our Rais, as we
afterwards learned, was an old fool who could do nothing but call for
the Fatihah,[FN#4] claim Bakhshish at every place where we moored for
the night, and spend his leisure hours in the "Caccia del
Mediterraneo." Our crew consisted of half a dozen Egyptian lads, who,
not being able to defend themselves, were periodically chastised by the
Maghrabis, especially when any attempt was made to cook, to fetch
water, or to prepare a pipe.[FN#5]

At length, about 3 P.M. on the 6th July, 1853, we shook out the sail,
and, as it bellied in the favourable wind, we recited the Fatihah with
upraised hands which we afterwards drew down our faces.[FN#6] As the
"Golden Wire" started from her place, I could not help casting one
wistful look upon the British flag floating over the Consulate. But the
momentary regret was stifled by the heart-bounding which prospects of
an adventure excite, and by the real pleasure of leaving Egypt. I had
lived there a stranger in the land, and a hapless life it had been: in
the streets every man's face, as he looked upon the Persian, was the
face of a foe. Whenever I came in contact with the native
officials,[FN#7] insolence marked the

[p.195] event; and the circumstance of living within hail of my
fellow-countrymen, and yet finding it impossible to enjoy their
society, still throws a gloom over the memory of my first sojourn in

The ships of the Red Sea-infamous region of rocks, reefs, and
shoals-cruise along the coast by day, and at night lay-to in the first
cove they find; they do not sail when it blows hard, and as in winter
time the weather is often stormy and the light of day does not last
long, the voyage is intolerably slow.[FN#8] At sunset we stayed our
adventurous course; and, still within sight of Suez, comfortably
anchored under the lee of Jabal Atakah, the "Mountain of
Deliverance,[FN#9]" the butt-end of Jabal Joshi. We were now on classic
waters. The Eastern shore was dotted with the little grove of
palm-trees which clusters around the Uyun Musa, or Moses' Wells; and on
the west, between two towering ridges, lay the mouth of the valley
(Badiyah, or Wady Tawarik, or Wady Musa) down which, according to
Father Sicard,[FN#10] the Israelites fled to

[p.196] the Sea of Sedge.[FN#11] The view was by no means deficient in
a sort of barbarous splendour. Verdure there was none, but under the
violet and orange tints of the sky the chalky rocks became heaps of
topazes, and the brown-burnt ridges masses of amethyst. The rising
mists, here silvery white, there deeply rosy, and the bright blue of
the waves,[FN#12] lining long strips of golden sand, compensated for
the want of softness by a semblance of savage gorgeousness.

Next morning (7th July), before the cerulean hue had vanished from the
hills, we set sail. It was not long before we came to a proper sense of
our position. The box containing my store of provisions, and, worse
still, my opium, was at the bottom of the hold, perfectly
unapproachable; we had, therefore, the pleasure of breaking our fast on
"Mare's skin,"[FN#13] and a species of biscuit, hard as a stone and
quite as tasteless. During the day, whilst insufferable splendour
reigned above, the dashing of the waters below kept my nest in a state
of perpetual drench. At night rose a cold, bright moon, with dews
falling so thick and clammy that the skin felt as though it would never
be dry again. It is, also, by no means pleasant

[p.197] to sleep upon a broken cot about four feet long by two broad,
with the certainty that a false movement would throw you overboard, and
a conviction that if you do fall from a Sambuk under sail, no mortal
power can save you. And as under all circumstances in the East, dozing
is one's chief occupation, the reader will understand that the want of
it left me in utter, utter idleness.

The gale was light that day, and the sunbeams were fire; our crew
preferred crouching in the shade of the sail to taking advantage of
what wind there was. In spite of our impatience we made but little way:
near evening time we anchored on a tongue of sand, about two miles
distant from the well-known and picturesque heights called by the Arabs
Hammam Faraun,[FN#14] which-

"like giants stand
To sentinel enchanted land."

The strip of coarse quartz and sandstone gravel is obviously the
offspring of some mountain torrent; it stretches southwards, being
probably disposed in that direction by the currents of the sea as they
receive the deposit. The distance of the "Hammam Bluffs" prevented my
visiting them, which circumstance I regretted the less as they have
been described by pens equal to the task.

That evening we enjoyed ourselves upon clean sand, whose surface,
drifted by the wind into small yellow waves, was easily converted by a
little digging and heaping up, into the coolest and most comfortable of
couches. Indeed, after the canescent heat of the day, and the tossing
of our ill-conditioned vessel, we should have been contented with
lodgings far less luxurious. Fuel was readily collected, and while some
bathed, others

[p.198] erected a hearth-three large stones and a hole open to
leeward-lit the fire and put the pot on to boil. Shaykh Nur had
fortunately a line; we had been successful in fishing; a little rice
also had been bought; with this boiled, and rock-cod broiled upon the
charcoal, we made a dinner that caused every one to forget the sore
grievance of "Mare's skin" and stone-hard biscuit. A few Maghrabis had
ventured on shore, the Rais having terrified the others by threatening
them with those "bogies," the Badawin-and they offered us
Kuskusu[FN#15] in exchange for fish. As evening fell, we determined,
before sleeping, to work upon their "morale" as effectually as we had
attacked their physique. Shaykh Hamid stood up and indulged them with
the Azan, or call to prayers, pronounced after the fashion of
Al-Madinah.[FN#16] They performed their devotions in lines ranged
behind us as a token of respect, and when worship was over we were
questioned about the Holy City till we grew tired of answering. Again
our heads and shoulders, our hands and knees,[FN#17] were kissed, but
this time in devotion, not in penitence. My companions could scarcely
understand half the rugged words which the Maghrabis used,[FN#18] as
their dialect was fresh from the

[p.199] distant Desert. Still we succeeded in making ourselves
intelligible to them, vaunting our dignity as the Sons of the Prophet,
and the sanctity of our land which should protect its children from
every description of fraud and violence. We benignantly promised to be
their guides at Al-Madinah, and the boy Mohammed would conduct their
devotions at Meccah, always provided that they repented their past
misdeeds, avoided any repetition of the same, and promised to perform
the duties of good and faithful pilgrims. Presently the Rais joined our
party, and the usual story-telling began. The old man knew the name of
each hill, and had a legend for every nook and corner in sight. He
dwelt at length upon the life of Abu Zulaymah, the patron saint of
these seas, whose little tomb stands at no great distance from our
bivouac place, and told us how he sits watching over the safety of
pious mariners in a cave among the neighbouring rocks, and sipping his
coffee, which is brought in a raw state from Meccah by green birds, and
prepared in the usual way by the hands of ministering angels. He showed
us the spot where the terrible king of Egypt, when close upon the heels
of the children of Israel, was whelmed in the "hell of waters,[FN#19]"
and he warned us that next day our way would be through breakers, and
reefs, and dangerous currents, over whose troubled depths, since that
awful day, the Ifrit of the storm has never ceased to flap his sable
wing. The wincing of the hearers proved that the shaft of the old man's
words was sharp; but as night was advancing, we unrolled our rugs, and
fell asleep upon the sand, all of us happy, for we had fed and drunk,

[p.200]-the homo sapiens is a hopeful animal-we made sure that on the
morrow the Ifrit would be merciful, and allow us to eat fresh dates at
the harbour of Tur.

Fair visions of dates doomed to the Limbo of things which should have
been! The grey dawn (8th July) looked down upon us in difficulties. The
water is deep near this coast; we had anchored at high tide close to
the shore, and the ebb had left us high and dry. When this fact became
apparent, a storm was upon the point of breaking. The Maghrabis, but
for our interference, would have bastinadoed the Rais, who, they said
with some reason, ought to have known better. When this phase of
feeling passed away, they applied themselves to physical efforts. All
except the women and children, who stood on the shore encouraging their
relatives with shrill quaverings, threw themselves into the water; some
pushed, others applied their shoulders to the vessel's side, and all
used their lungs with might and main. But the "Golden Wire" was firmly
fixed, and their exertions were too irregular. Muscular force failed,
upon which they changed their tactics. At the suggestion of their
"Maula," they prepared to burn incense in honour of the Shaykh Abu
Zulaymah. The material not being forthcoming, they used coffee, which
perhaps accounts for the shortcomings of that holy man. After this the
Rais remembered that their previous exertions had not begun under the
auspices of the Fatihah. Therefore they prayed, and then reapplied
themselves to work. Still they failed. Finally, each man called aloud
upon his own particular saint or spiritual guide, and rushed forward as
if he alone sufficed for the exploit. Shaykh Hamid unwisely quoted the
name, and begged the assistance, of his great ancestor, the
"Clarified-Butter-Seller"; the obdurate "Golden Wire" was not moved,
and Hamid retired in momentary confusion.

It was now about nine A.M., and the water had risen

[p.201] considerably. My morning had been passed in watching the influx
of the tide, and the grotesque efforts of the Maghrabis. When the
vessel showed some symptoms of unsteadiness, I arose, walked gravely up
to her, ranged the pilgrims around her with their shoulders to the
sides, and told them to heave with might when they heard me invoke the
revered name of my patron saint. I raised my hands and voice; "Ya Piran
Pir! Ya Abd al-Kadir Jilani[FM#20]" was the signal. Each Maghrabi
worked like an Atlas, the "Golden Wire" canted half over, and, sliding
heavily through the sand, once more floated off into deep water. This
was generally voted a minor miracle, and the Effendi was respected-for
a day or two.

The wind was fair, but we had all to re-embark, an operation which went
on till noon. After starting I remarked the natural cause which gives
this Birkat Faraun-"Pharaoh's Bay,"-a bad name. Here the gulf narrows;
and the winds, which rush down the clefts and valleys of the lofty
mountains on the Eastern and Western shores, meeting tides and
counter-currents, cause a perpetual commotion. That day the foam-tipped
waves repeatedly washed over my cot, by no means diminishing its
discomforts. In the evening, or rather late in the afternoon, we
anchored, to our infinite disgust, under a ridge of rocks, behind which
lies the plain of Tur. The Rais deterred all from going on shore by
terrible stories about the Badawin that haunt the place, besides which
there was no sand to sleep upon. We remained, therefore, on board that
night; and, making sail early the next morning, we threaded through
reefs and sand-banks about noon into the intricate and dangerous
entrance of Tur.

Nothing can be meaner than the present appearance of the old Phoenician
colony, although its position as a

[p.202] harbour, and its plentiful supply of fruit and fresh water,
make it one of the most frequented places on the coast. The only
remains of any antiquity-except the wells-are the fortifications which
the Portuguese erected to keep out the Badawin. The little town lies
upon a plain that stretches with a gradual rise from the sea to the
lofty mountain-axis of the Sinaitic group.	The country around
reminded me strongly of maritime Sind; a flat of clay and sand, clothed
with sparse turfs of Salsolae, and bearing strong signs of a
(geologically speaking) recent origin. The town is inhabited
principally by Greek and other Christians,[FN#21] who live by selling
water and provisions to ships. A fleecy cloud hung lightly over the
majestic head of Jabal Tur, about eventide, and the outlines of the
giant hills stood "picked out" from the clear blue sky. Our Rais,
weather-wise man, warned us that these were indications of a gale, and
that, in case of rough weather, he did not intend to leave Tur. I was
not sorry to hear this. We had passed a pleasant day, drinking sweet
water, and eating the dates, grapes, and pomegranates, which the people
of the place carry down to the beach for the benefit of hungry
pilgrims. Besides which, there were various sights to see, and with
these we might profitably spend the morrow. We therefore pitched the
tent upon the sand, and busied ourselves with

[p.203] extricating a box of provisions: the labour was rendered
lighter by the absence of the Maghrabis, some of whom were wandering
about the beach, whilst others had gone off to fill their bags with
fresh water. We found their surliness insufferable; even when we were
passing from poop to forecastle, landing or boarding, they grumbled
forth their dissatisfaction.

Our Rais was not mistaken in his prediction. The fleecy cloud on Tur's
tops had given true warning. When morning (9th July) broke, we found
the wind strong, and the sea white with foam. Most of us thought
lightly of these terrors, but our valorous captain swore that he dared
not for his life cross in such a storm the mouth of ill-omened Akabah.
We breakfasted, therefore, and afterwards set out to visit Moses' Hot
Baths, mounted on wretched donkeys with pack-saddles, ignorant of
stirrups, and without tails, whilst we ourselves suffered generally
from boils, which, as usual upon a journey, make their appearance in
localities the most inconvenient. Our road lay northward across the
plain towards a long narrow strip of date ground, surrounded by a
ruinous mud wall. After a ride of two or three miles, we entered the
gardens, and came suddenly upon the Hammam. It is a prim little Cockney
bungalow, built by Abbas Pasha of Egypt for his own accommodation;
glaringly whitewashed, and garnished with diwans and calico curtains of
a gorgeous hue. The guardian had been warned of our visit, and was
present to supply us with bathing-cloths and other necessaries. One by
one we entered the cistern, which is now in an inner room. The water is
about four feet deep, warm in winter, cool in summer, of a
saltish-bitter taste, but celebrated for its invigorating qualities,
when applied externally. On one side of the calcareous rock, near the
ground, is the hole opened for the spring by Moses' rod, which must
have been like the "mast of some tall

[p.204] Ammiral[FN#22]"; and near it are the marks of Moses' nails-deep
indentations in the stone, which were probably left there by some
extinct Saurian. Our Cicerone informed us that formerly the
finger-marks existed, and that they were long enough for a man to lie
in. The same functionary attributed the sanitary properties of the
spring to the blessings of the Prophet, and, when asked why Moses had
not made sweet water to flow, informed us that the Great Lawgiver had
intended the spring for bathing in, not for drinking. We sat with him,
eating the small yellow dates of Tur, which are delicious, melting like
honey in the mouth, and leaving a surpassing arriere gout. After
finishing sundry pipes and cups of coffee, we gave the bath-man a few
piastres, and, mounting our donkeys, started eastward for the Bir
Musa,[FN#23] which we reached in half an hour. It is a fine old work,
built round and domed over with roughly squared stones, very like what
may be seen in some rustic parts of Southern England. The sides of the
pit were so rugged that a man could climb down them, and at the bottom
was a pool of water, sweet and abundant. We had intended to stay there,
and to dine al fresco, but the hated faces of our companions, the
Maghrabis, meeting us at the entrance, nipped that project in the bud.
Accordingly we retired from the burning

[p.205] sun to a neighbouring coffee-house-a shed of palm leaves kept
by a Tur man, and there, seated on mats, we demolished the contents of
our basket. Whilst we were eating, some Badawin came in and joined us,
when invited so to do. They were poorly dressed, and all armed with
knives and cheap sabres, hanging to leathern bandoleers: in language
and demeanour they showed few remains of their old ferocity. As late as
Mohammed Ali's time these people were noted wreckers, and formerly they
were dreaded pirates: now they are lions with their fangs and claws

In the even, when we returned to our tent, a Syrian, one of our party
on the poop, came out to meet us with the information that several
large vessels had arrived from Suez, comparatively speaking, empty, and
that the captain of one of them would land us at Yambu' for three
dollars a head. The proposal was tempting. But presently it became
apparent that my companions were unwilling to shift their precious
boxes, and moreover, that I should have to pay for those who could not
or would not pay for themselves,-that is to say, for the whole party.
As such a display of wealth would have been unadvisable, I dismissed
the idea with a sigh. Amongst the large vessels was one freighted with
Persian pilgrims, a most disagreeable race of men on a journey or a
voyage. They would not land at first, because they feared the Badawin.
They would not take water from the town people, because some of these
were Christians. Moreover, they insisted upon making their own call to
prayer, which heretical proceeding-it admits five extra words-our
party, orthodox Moslems, would rather have died than have permitted.
When their crier, a small wizen-faced man, began the Azan with a voice

"in quel tenore
Che fa il cappon quando talvolta canta,"

we received it with a shout of derision, and some, hastily

[p.206] snatching up their weapons, offered him an opportunity of
martyrdom. The Maghrabis, too, hearing that the Persians were Rafaz
(heretics) crowded fiercely round to do a little Jihad, or Fighting for
the Faith. The long-bearded men took the alarm. They were twice the
number of our small party, and therefore they had been in the habit of
strutting about with nonchalance, and looking at us fixedly, and
otherwise demeaning themselves in an indecorous way. But when it came
to the point, they showed the white feather. These Persians accompanied
us to the end of our voyage. As they approached the Holy Land, visions
of the "Nabbut" caused a change for the better in their manners. At
Mahar they meekly endured a variety of insults, and at Yambu' they
cringed to us like dogs.

[FN#1] Men of the Maghrab, or Western Africa; the vulgar plural is
Maghrabin, generally written "Mogrebyn." May not the singular form of
this word have given rise to the Latin "Maurus," by elision of the
Ghayn, to Italians an unpronounceable consonant? From Maurus comes the
Portuguese "Moro," and our "Moor." When Vasco de Gama reached Calicut,
he found there a tribe of Arab colonists, who in religion and in
language were the same as the people of Northern Africa,-for this
reason he called them "Moors." This was explained long ago by Vincent
(Periplus, lib. 3), and lately by Prichard (Natural History of Man). I
repeat it because it has been my fate to hear, at a meeting of a
learned society in London, a gentleman declare, that in Eastern Africa
he found a people calling themselves Moors. Maghrabin-Westerns,-then
would be opposed to Sharkiyin, Easterns, the origin of our "Saracen."
From Gibbon downwards many have discussed the history of this word; but
few expected in the nineteenth century to see a writer on Eastern
subjects assert, with Sir John Mandeville, that these people "properly,
ben clept Sarrazins of Sarra." The learned M. Jomard, who never takes
such original views of things, asks a curious question:-"Mais comment
un son aussi distinct que le Chine [Arabic text] aurait-il pu se
confondre avec le Syn [Arabic text] et, pour un mot aussi connu que
charq; comment aurait-on pu se tromper a l'omission des points?" Simply
because the word Saracens came to us through the Greeks (Ptolemy uses
it), who have no such sound as sh in their language, and through the
Italian which, hostile to the harsh sibilants of Oriental dialects,
generally melts sh down into s. So the historical word
Hashshashiyun-hemp-drinker,-civilised by the Italians into "assassino,"
became, as all know, an expression of European use. But if any one
adverse to "etymological fancies" objects to my deriving Maurus from
"Maghrab," let him remember Johnson's successfully tracing the course
of the metamorphosis of "dies" into "jour." An even more peculiar
change we may discover in the word "elephant." "Pilu" in Sanscrit,
became "pil" in old Persian, which ignores short final vowels; "fil,"
and, with the article, "Al-fil," in Arabic, which supplies the place of
p (an unknown letter to it), by f; and elephas in Greek, which is fond
of adding "as" to Arabic words, as in the cases of Aretas (Haris) and
Obodas (Obayd). "A name," says Humboldt, "often becoming a historical
monument, and the etymological analysis of language, however it may be
divided, is attended by valuable results."
[FN#2] The Toni or Indian canoe is the hollowed-out trunk of a
tree,-near Bombay generally a mango. It must have been the first step
in advance from that simplest form of naval architecture, the
"Catamaran" of Madras and Aden.
[FN#3] In these vessels each traveller, unless a previous bargain be
made, is expected to provide his own water and firewood. The best way,
however, is, when the old wooden box called a tank is sound, to pay the
captain for providing water, and to keep the key.
[FN#4] The "opener"-the first chapter of the Koran, which Moslems
recite as Christians do the Lord's Prayer; it is also used on occasions
of danger, the beginnings of journeys, to bind contracts, &c.
[FN#5] These Maghrabis, like the Somalis, the Wahhabis of the desert,
and certain other barbarous races, unaccustomed to tobacco, appeared to
hate the smell of a pipe.
[FN#6] The hands are raised in order to catch the blessing that is
supposed to descend from heaven upon the devotee; and the meaning of
drawing the palms down the face is symbolically to transfer the
benediction to every part of the body.
[FN#7] As is the case under all despotic governments, nothing can be
more intentionally offensive than the official manners of a superior to
his inferior in Egypt. The Indians charge their European
fellow-subjects with insolence of demeanour and coarseness of language.
As far as my experience goes, our roughness and brusquerie are mere
politeness compared with what passes between Easterns. At the same time
it must be owned that I have seen the worst of it.
[FN#8] It was far safer and more expeditious in Al-Adrisi's day (A.D.
1154), when the captain used to sit on the poop "furnished with
numerous and useful instruments"; when he "sounded the shallows, and by
his knowledge of the depths could direct the helmsman where to steer."
[FN#9] In the East it is usual, when commencing a voyage or a journey,
to make a short day's work, in order to be at a convenient distance for
returning, in case of any essential article having been forgotten.
[FN#10] A Jesuit missionary who visited the place in A.D. 1720, and
described it in a well-known volume. As every eminent author, however,
monopolises a "crossing," and since the head of the Suez creek, as is
shown by its old watermark, has materially changed within no very
distant period, it is no wonder that the question is still sub judice,
and that there it will remain most probably till the end of time. The
Christians have two equally favourite lines: the Moslems patronise one
so impossible, that it has had attractions enough to fix their choice.
It extends from Zafaran Point to Hammam Bluffs, ten miles of deep water.
[FN#11] The Hebrew name of this part of the Red Sea. In a communication
lately made to the Royal Geographical Society, I gave my reasons for
believing that the Greeks borrowed their Erythraean Sea from the Arabic
"Sea of Himyar."
[FN#12] Most travellers remark that they have never seen a brighter
blue than that of the Red Sea. It was the observation of an early age
that "the Rede Sea is not more rede than any other sea, but in some
place thereof is the gravelle rede, and therefore men clepen it the
Rede Sea."
[FN#13] Jild al-Faras (or Kamar al-Din), a composition of apricot
paste, dried, spread out, and folded into sheets, exactly resembling
the article after which it is named. Turks and Arabs use it when
travelling; they dissolve it in water, and eat it as a relish with
bread or biscuit.
[FN#14] "Pharaoh's hot baths," which in our maps are called "Hummum
Bluffs." They are truly "enchanted land" in Moslem fable: a volume
would scarcely contain the legends that have been told and written
about them. (See Note 1, p. 10, ante.)
[FN#15] One of the numerous species of what the Italians generally call
"Pasta." The material is wheaten or barley flour rolled into small
round grains. In Barbary it is cooked by steaming, and served up with
hard boiled eggs and mutton, sprinkled with red pepper. These Badawi
Maghrabis merely boiled it.
[FN#16] The Azan is differently pronounced, though similarly worded by
every orthodox nation in Al-Islam.
[FN#17] The usual way of kissing the knee is to place the finger tips
upon it, and then to raise them to the mouth. It is an action denoting
great humility, and the condescending superior who is not an immediate
master returns the compliment in the same way.
[FN#18] The Maghrabi dialect is known to be the harshest and most
guttural form of Arabic. It owes this unenviable superiority to its
frequency of "Sukun," or the quiescence of one or more
consonants;-"K'lab," for instance, for "Kilab," and "'Msik" for
"Amsik." Thus it is that vowels, the soft and liquid part of language,
disappear, leaving in their place a barbarous sounding mass of
[FN#19] Burckhardt mentions the Arab legend that the spirits of the
drowned Egyptians may be seen moving at the bottom of the sea, and
Finati adds that they are ever busy recruiting their numbers with
shipwrecked mariners.
[FN#20] I thus called upon a celebrated Sufi or mystic, whom many
East-Indian Moslems reverence as the Arabs do their Prophet. In
Appendix I the curious reader will find Abd al-Kadir again mentioned.
[FN#21] Those people are descendants of Syrians and Greeks that fled
from Candia, Scios, the Ionian Islands, and Palestine to escape the
persecutions of the Turks. They now wear the Arab dress, and speak the
language of the country, but they are easily to be distinguished from
the Moslems by the expression of their countenances and sometimes by
their blue eyes and light hair. There are also a few families calling
themselves Jabaliyah, or mountaineers. Originally they were 100
households, sent by Justinian to serve the convent of St. Catherine,
and to defend it against the Berbers.	Sultan Kansuh al-Ghori, called
by European writers Campson Gaury, the Mamluk King of Egypt, in A.D.
1501, admitted these people into the Moslem community on condition of
their continuing the menial service they had afforded to the monks.
[FN#22] Adam's forehead (says the Tarikh Tabari) brushed the skies, but
this height being inconvenient, the Lord abridged it to 100 cubits. The
Moslems firmly believe in Anakim. Josephus informs us that Moses was of
"divine form and great tallness"; the Arabs specify his stature,-300
cubits. They have, moreover, found his grave in some parts of the
country S.E, of the Dead Sea, and make cups of a kind of bitumen called
"Moses' Stones." This people nescit ignorare-it will know everything.
[FN#23] "Moses' Well." I have no argument except the untrustworthy
traditions of the Badawin, either for or against this having been the
identical well near which Moses sat when he fled from the face of
Pharaoh to the land of Midian. One thing is certain, namely, that in
this part of Arabia, as also at Aden, the wells are of a very ancient

[p.207]CHAPTER XI.


ON the 11th July, 1853, about dawn, we left Tur, after a pleasant halt,
with the unpleasant certainty of not touching ground for thirty-six
hours. I passed the time in steadfast contemplation of the web of my
umbrella, and in making the following meteorological remarks.

Morning.-The air is mild and balmy as that of an Italian spring; thick
mists roll down the valleys along the sea, and a haze like
mother-o'-pearl crowns the headlands. The distant rocks show Titanic
walls, lofty donjons, huge projecting bastions, and moats full of deep
shade. At their base runs a sea of amethyst, and as earth receives the
first touches of light, their summits, almost transparent, mingle with
the jasper tints of the sky. Nothing can be more delicious than this
hour. But as

"les plus belles choses
Ont le pire destin,"

so lovely Morning soon fades. The sun bursts up from behind the main, a
fierce enemy, a foe that will force every one to crouch before him. He
dyes the sky orange, and the sea "incarnadine," where its violet
surface is stained by his rays, and he mercilessly puts to flight the
mists and haze and the little agate-coloured masses of cloud that were
before floating in the firmament. The atmosphere is so clear that now
and then a planet is visible. For the two

[p.208] hours following sunrise the rays are endurable; after that they
become a fiery ordeal. The morning beams oppress you with a feeling of
sickness; their steady glow, reflected by the glaring waters, blinds
your eyes, blisters your skin, and parches your mouth: you now become a
monomaniac; you do nothing but count the slow hours that must "minute
by" before you can be relieved.[FN#1]

Midday.-The wind, reverberated by the glowing hills is like the blast
of a lime-kiln. All colour melts away with the canescence from above.
The sky is a dead milk-white, and the mirror-like sea so reflects the
tint that you can scarcely distinguish the line of the horizon. After
noon the wind sleeps upon the reeking shore; there is a deep stillness;
the only sound heard is the melancholy flapping of the sail. Men are
not so much sleeping as half-senseless; they feel as if a few more
degrees of heat would be death.

Sunset.-The enemy sinks behind the deep cerulean sea, under a canopy of
gigantic rainbow which covers half the face of heaven. Nearest to the
horizon is an arch of tawny orange; above it another of the brightest
gold, and based upon these a semi-circle of tender sea-green blends
with a score of delicate gradations into the sapphire sky. Across the
rainbow the sun throws its rays in the form of giant wheel-spokes
tinged with a beautiful pink. The Eastern sky is mantled with a purple
flush that picks out the forms of the hazy Desert and the sharp-cut
Hills. Language is a thing too cold, too poor, to express the harmony
and the majesty of this hour, which is as evanescent, however, as it is
lovely. Night falls rapidly, when suddenly the appearance of the
Zodiacal Light[FN#2] restores

[p.209] the scene to what it was. Again the grey hills and the grim
rocks become rosy or golden, the palms green, the sands saffron, and
the sea wears a lilac surface of dimpling waves. But after a quarter of
an hour all fades once more; the cliffs are naked and ghastly under the
moon, whose light falling upon this wilderness of white crags and
pinnacles is most strange-most mysterious.

Night.-The horizon is all darkness, and the sea reflects the white
visage of the night-sun as in a mirror of steel. In the air we see
giant columns of pallid light, distinct, based upon the indigo-coloured
waves, and standing with their heads lost in endless space. The stars
glitter with exceeding brilliance.[FN#3] At this hour are

"-river and hill and wood,
With all the numberless goings on of life,
Inaudible as dreams";

while the planets look down upon you with the faces of smiling friends.
You feel the "sweet influence of the Pleiades." You are bound by the
"bond of Orion." Hesperus bears with him a thousand things. In
communion with them your hours pass swiftly by, till the heavy dews
warn you to cover up your face and sleep. And with one look at a
certain little Star in the north, under which lies all that makes life
worth living through-surely it is a venial superstition to sleep with
your eyes towards that Kiblah!-you fall into oblivion.

Those thirty-six hours were a trial even to the hard-headed Badawin.
The Syrian and his two friends fell ill. Omar Effendi, it is true, had
the courage to say his

[p.210] sunset prayers, but the exertion so altered him that he looked
another man. Salih Shakkar in despair ate dates till threatened with a
dysentery. Sa'ad the Demon had rigged out for himself a cot three feet
long, which, arched over with bent bamboo, and covered with cloaks, he
had slung on to the larboard side; but the loud grumbling which
proceeded from his nest proved that his precaution had not been a cure.
Even the boy Mohammed forgot to chatter, to scold, to smoke, and to
make himself generally disagreeable. The Turkish baby appeared to be
dying, and was not strong enough to wail. How the poor mother stood her
trials so well, made every one wonder. The most pleasant trait in my
companions' characters was the consideration they showed to her, and
their attention to her children. Whenever one of the party drew forth a
little delicacy-a few dates or a pomegranate-they gave away a share of
it to the children, and most of them took their turns to nurse the
baby. This was genuine politeness-kindness of heart. It would be well
for those who sweepingly accuse Easterns of want of gallantry, to
contrast this trait of character with the savage scenes of civilisation
that take place among the "Overlands" at Cairo and Suez.[FN#4] No
foreigner could be present for the first time without bearing away the
lasting impression that the sons of Great Britain are model
barbarians.[FN#5] On board the "Golden Wire" Salih Shakkar was the sole
base exception to the general geniality of my companions.

As the sun starts towards the West, falling harmlessly upon our heads,
we arise, still faint and dizzy, calling for water-which before we had
not the strength

[p.211] to drink-and pipes, and coffee, and similar luxuries. Our
primitive kitchen is a square wooden box, lined with clay, and filled
with sand, upon which three or four large stones are placed to form a
hearth. Preparations are now made for the evening meal, which is of the
simplest description. A little rice, a few dates, or an onion, will
keep a man alive in our position; a single "good dinner" would justify
long odds against his seeing the next evening. Moreover, it is
impossible in such cases to have an appetite-fortunately, as our store
of provisions is a scanty one. Arabs consider it desirable on a journey
to eat hot food once in the twenty-four hours; so we determine to cook,
despite all difficulties. The operation, however, is by no means
satisfactory; twenty expectants surround the single fire, and there is
sure to be a quarrel amongst them every five minutes.

As the breeze, cooled by the dew, begins to fan our parched faces, we
recover our spirits amazingly. Songs are sung; tales are told; and
rough jests are bandied about till, not unfrequently, Oriental
sensitiveness is sorely tried. Or, if we see the prospect of storm or
calm, we draw forth, and piously peruse, a "Hizb al-Bahr." As this
prayer is supposed to make all safe upon the ocean wave, I will not
selfishly withhold it from the British reader. To draw forth all its
virtues, the reciter should receive it from the hands of his Murshid or
spiritual guide, and study it during the Chillah, or forty days of
fast, of which, I venture to observe, few Sons of Bull are capable.

"O Allah, O Exalted, O Almighty, O All-pitiful, O All-powerful, Thou
art my God, and sufficeth to me the knowledge of it! Glorified be the
Lord my Lord, and glorified be the Faith my Faith! Thou givest Victory
to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou art the Glorious, the Merciful! We pray
Thee for Safety in our goings forth and our standings still, in our
Words and our Designs, in our

[p.212] Dangers of Temptation and Doubt, and the secret Designs of our
Hearts. Subject unto us this Sea, even as Thou didst subject the Deep
to Musa" (Moses), "and as Thou didst subject the Fire to Ibrahim[FN#6]"
(Abraham), "and as Thou didst subject the Iron to Daud[FN#7]" (David),
"and as Thou didst subject the Wind and the Devils and Jinnis and
Mankind to Sulayman[FN#8]" (Solomon), "and as Thou didst subject the
Moon and Al-Burak to Mohammed, upon whom be Allah's Mercy and His
Blessing! And subject unto us all the Seas in Earth and Heaven, in Thy
visible and in Thine invisible Worlds, the Sea of this Life, and the
Sea of Futurity. O Thou who reignest over everything, and unto whom all
Things return, Khyas! Khyas! Khyas[FN#9]!"

And lastly, we lie down upon our cribs, wrapped up in thickly padded
cotton coverlets; we forget the troubles of the past day, and we care
nought for the discomforts of that to come.

Late on the evening of the 11th July we passed in sight of the narrow
mouth of Al-'Akabah, whose famosi rupes are a terror to the voyagers of
these latitudes. Like the Gulf of Cambay, here a tempest is said to be
always brewing, and men raise their hands to pray as they cross it. We
had no storm that day from without, but a fierce one was about to burst
within our ship. The essence of Oriental discipline is personal respect
based upon fear. Therefore it often happens that the commanding

[p.213] if a mild old gentleman, is the last person whose command is
obeyed,-his only privilege being that of sitting apart from his
inferiors. And such was the case with our Rais. On the present
occasion, irritated by the refusal of the Maghrabis to stand out of the
steerman's way, and excited by the prospect of losing sight of shore
for a whole day, he threatened one of the fellows with his slipper. It
required all our exertions, even to a display of the dreaded
quarter-staves, to calm the consequent excitement. After passing
Al-'Akabah, we saw nothing but sea and sky, and we spent a weary night
and day tossing upon the waters, our only exercise; every face
brightened as, about sunset on the 12th July, we suddenly glided into
the mooring-place.

Marsa (anchorage) Damghah,[FN#10] or rather Dumayghah, is scarcely
visible from the sea. An islet of limestone rock defends the entrance,
leaving a narrow passage to the south. It is not before he enters that
the mariner discovers the extent and the depth of this creek, which
indents far into the land, and offers 15 to 20 feet of fine clear
anchorage which no swell can reach. Inside it looks more like a lake,
and at night its colour is gloriously blue as Geneva itself. I could
not help calling to mind, after dinner, the old school lines

"Est in secessu longo locus; insula portum
Efficit objectu laterum; quibus omnis ab alto
Frangitur, inque sinus scindit sese unda reductos."

Nothing was wanted but the "atrum nemus." Where however, shall we find
such luxuries in arid Arabia?

The Rais, as usual, attempted to deter us from landing, by romancing
about the "Bedoynes and Ascopards," representing them to be "folke
ryghte felonouse and foule and of cursed kynde." To which we replied by
shouldering our Nabbuts and scrambling into the cock-boat

[p.214] On shore we saw a few wretched-looking beings, Juhaynah[FN#11]
or Hutaym, seated upon heaps of dried wood, which they sold to
travellers; and three boat-loads of Syrian pilgrims who had preceded
us. We often envied them their small swift craft, with their double
latine sails disposed in "hare-ears" which, about eventide in the far
distance, looked like a white gull alighting upon the purple wave; and
they justified our jealousy by arriving at Yambu' two days before us.
The pilgrims had bivouacked upon the beach, and were engaged in
drinking their after-dinner coffee. They received us with all the
rights of hospitality, as natives of Al-Madinah should everywhere be
received; we sat an hour with them, ate a little fruit, satisfied our
thirst, smoked their pipes, and when taking leave blessed them. Then
returning to the vessel we fed, and lost no time in falling asleep.

The dawn of the next day saw our sail flapping in the idle air. And it
was not without difficulty that in the course of the forenoon we
entered Wijh Harbour, distant from Dumayghah but very few miles.
Al-Wijh is also a natural anchorage, in no way differing from that
where we passed the night, except in being smaller and shallower and
less secure. From this place to Cairo the road is safe. The town is a
collection of round huts meanly built of round stones, and clustering
upon a piece of elevated rock on the northern side of the creek. It is

[p.215] distant about six miles from the inland fort of the same name,
which receives the Egyptian caravan, and which thrives, like its port,
by selling water and provisions to pilgrims. The little bazar, almost
washed by every high tide, provided us with mutton, rice, baked bread,
and the other necessaries of life at a moderate rate. Luxuries also
were to be found: a druggist sold me an ounce of opium at a Chinese

With reeling limbs we landed at Al-Wijh,[FN#12] and finding a large
coffee-house above and near the beach, we installed ourselves there.
But the Persians who preceded us had occupied all the shady places
outside, and were correcting their teeth with their case knives; we
were forced to content ourselves with the interior. It was a building
of artless construction, consisting of little but a roof supported by
wooden posts, roughly hewn from date trees: round the tamped earthen
floor ran a raised bench of unbaked brick, forming a diwan for mats and
sleeping-rugs. In the centre a huge square Mastabah, or platform,
answered a similar purpose. Here and there appeared attempts at long
and side walls, but these superfluities had been allowed to admit
daylight through large gaps. In one corner stood the apparatus of the
"Kahwahji," an altar-like elevation, also of earthen-work, containing a
hole for a charcoal fire, upon which were three huge coffee-pots
dirtily tinned. Near it were ranged the Shishas, or Egyptian hookahs,
old, exceedingly unclean, and worn by age and hard work. A wooden
framework, pierced with circular apertures, supported a number of
porous earthenware gullehs (gargoulettes, or monkey jars) full of cold,
sweet water; the charge for each was, as usual in Al-Hijaz, five paras.
Such was the furniture of the cafe, and the only relief to the
barrenness of the view was a fine mellowing atmosphere composed of
smoke, steam,

[p.216] flies, and gnats in about equal proportions. I have been
diffuse in my description of the coffee-house, as it was a type of its
class: from Alexandria to Aden the traveller will everywhere meet with
buildings of the same kind.

Our happiness in this Paradise-for such it was to us after the "Golden
Wire"-was nearly sacrificed by Sa'ad the Demon, whose abominable temper
led him at once into a quarrel with the master of the cafe. And the
latter, an ill-looking, squint-eyed, low-browed, broad-shouldered
fellow, showed himself nowise unwilling to meet the Demon half way. The
two worthies, after a brief bandying of bad words, seized each other's
throats leisurely, so as to give the spectators time and encouragement
to interfere. But when friends and acquaintances were hanging on to
both heroes so firmly that they could not move hand or arm, their
wrath, as usual, rose, till it was terrible to see. The little village
resounded with the war, and many a sturdy knave rushed in, sword or
cudgel in hand, so as not to lose the sport. During the heat of the
fray, a pistol which was in Omar Effendi's hand went off-accidentally
of course-and the ball passed so close to the tins containing the black
and muddy Mocha, that it drew the attention of all parties. As if by
magic, the storm was lulled. A friend recognised Sa'ad the Demon, and
swore that he was no black slave, but a soldier at Al-Madinah-"no
waiter, but a Knight Templar." This caused him to be looked upon as
rather a distinguished man, and he proved his right to the honour by
insisting that his late enemy should feed with him, and when the other
decorously hung back, by dragging him to dinner with loud cries.

My alias that day was severely tried. Besides the Persian pilgrims, a
number of nondescripts who came in the same vessel were hanging about
the coffee-house; lying down, smoking, drinking water, bathing and
picking their teeth with their daggers. One inquisitive man

[p.217] was always at my side. He called himself a Pathan (Afghan
settled in India); he could speak five or six languages, he knew a
number of people everywhere, and he had travelled far and wide over
Central Asia. These fellows are always good detectors of an incognito.
I avoided answering his question about my native place, and after
telling him that I had no longer name or nation, being a Darwaysh, I
asked him, when he insisted upon my having been born somewhere, to
guess for himself. To my joy he claimed me for a brother Pathan, and in
course of conversation he declared himself to be the nephew of an
Afghan merchant, a gallant old man who had been civil to me at Cairo.
We then sat smoking together with "effusion." Becoming confidential, he
complained that he, a Sunni, or orthodox Moslem, had been abused,
maltreated, and beaten by his fellow-travellers, the heretical Persian
pilgrims. I naturally offered to arm my party, to take up our cudgels,
and to revenge my compatriot. This thoroughly Sulaymanian style of
doing business could not fail to make him sure of his man. He declined,
however, wisely remembering that he had nearly a fortnight of the
Persians' society still to endure. But he promised himself the
gratification, when he reached Meccah, of sheathing his Charay[FN#13]
in the chief offender's heart.

At 8 A.M.} on the 14th July we left Al-Wijh, after passing a night,
tolerably comfortable by contrast, in the coffee-house. We took with us
the stores necessary, for though our Rais had promised to anchor under
Jabal Hassani that evening, no one believed him. We sailed among ledges
of rock, golden sands, green weeds, and in some places through yellow
lines of what appeared to me at a distance foam after a storm. All day
a sailor sat upon the masthead, looking at the water, which was
transparent as blue glass, and shouting out the direction. This
precaution was somewhat stultified by the roar of voices, which never

[p.218] failed to mingle with the warning, but we wore every half hour,
and we did not run aground. About midday we passed by Shaykh Hasan
al-Marabit's tomb. It is the usual domed and whitewashed building,
surrounded by the hovels of its guardians, standing upon a low flat
island of yellow rock, vividly reminding me of certain scenes in Sind.
Its dreary position attracts to it the attention of passing travellers;
the dead saint has a prayer and a Fatihah for the good of his soul, and
the live sinner wends his way with religious refreshment.

Near sunset the wind came on to blow freshly, and we cast anchor
together with the Persian pilgrims upon a rock. This was one of the
celebrated coral reefs of the Red Sea, and the sight justified
Forskal's emphatic description-luxus lususque naturae. It was a huge
ledge or platform rising but little above the level of the deep; the
water-side was perpendicular as the wall of a fort; and, whilst a
frigate might have floated within a yard of it, every ripple dashed
over the reef, replenishing the little basins and hollows in the
surface. The colour of the waves near it was a vivid amethyst. In the
distance the eye rested upon what appeared to be meadows of brilliant
flowers resembling those of earth, only far brighter and more lovely.
Nor was this Land of the Sea wholly desolate. Gulls and terns here swam
the tide; there, seated upon the coral, devoured their prey. In the
air, troops of birds contended noisily for a dead flying fish,[FN#14]
and in the deep water they chased a shoal, which, in fright and hurry
to escape the pursuers, veiled the surface with

[p.219] spray and foam. And as night came on the scene shifted,
displaying fresh beauties. Shadows clothed the background, whose
features, dimly revealed, allowed full scope to the imagination. In the
forepart of the picture lay the sea, shining under the rays of the moon
with a metallic lustre; while its border, where the wavelets dashed
upon the reef, was lit by what the Arabs call the "jewels of the
deep[FN#15]"-brilliant flashes of phosphoric light giving an idea of
splendour which Art would vainly strive to imitate. Altogether it was a
bit of fairyland, a spot for nymphs and sea-gods to disport upon: you
might have heard, without astonishment, old Proteus calling his flocks
with the writhed conch; and Aphrodite seated in her shell would have
been only a fit and proper climax for its loveliness.

But-as philosophically remarked by Sir Cauline the Knyghte-

"Every whyte must have its blacke,
And every sweete its soure-"

this charming coral reef was nearly being the scene of an ugly
accident. The breeze from seaward set us slowly but steadily towards
the reef, a fact of which we soon became conscious. Our anchor was not
dragging; it had not rope enough to touch the bottom, and vainly we
sought for more. In fact the "Golden Wire" was as disgracefully
deficient in all the appliances of safety, as any English merchantman
in the nineteenth century,-a circumstance which accounts for the
shipwrecks and for the terrible loss of life perpetually occurring
about the Pilgrimage-season in these seas. Had she struck upon the
razor-like edges of the coral-reef, she would have melted

[p.220] away like a sugar-plum in the ripple, for the tide was rising
at the time. Having nothing better to do, we began to make as much
noise as possible. Fortunately for us, the Rais commanding the
Persian's boat was an Arab from Jeddah; and more than once we had
treated him with great civility. Guessing the cause of our distress, he
sent two sailors overboard with a cable; they swam gallantly up to us;
and in a few minutes we were safely moored to the stern of our useful
neighbour. Which done, we applied ourselves to the grateful task of
beating our Rais, and richly had he deserved it. Before noon, when the
wind was shifting, he had not once given himself the trouble to wear;
and when the breeze was falling, he preferred dosing to taking
advantage of what little wind remained. With energy we might have been
moored that night comfortably under the side of Hassani Island, instead
of floating about on an unquiet sea with a lee-shore of coral-reef
within a few yards of our counter.

At dawn the next day (15th July) we started. We made Jabal
Hassani[FN#16] about noon, and an hour or so before sunset we glided
into Marsa Mahar. Our resting-place resembled Marsa Dumayghah at an
humble distance; the sides of the cove, however, were bolder and more
precipitous. The limestone rocks presented a peculiar appearance; in
some parts the base and walls had crumbled away, leaving a coping to
project like a canopy; in others the wind and rain had cut deep holes,
and pierced the friable material with caverns that looked like the work
of art. There was a pretty opening of backwood at the bottom of the

[p.221] cove; and palm trees in the blue distance gladdened our eyes,
which pined for the sight of something green. The Rais, as usual, would
have terrified us with a description of the Hutaym tribe that holds
these parts, and I knew from Welsted and Moresby that it is a debased
race. But forty-eight hours of cramps on board ship would make a man
think lightly of a much more imminent danger.

Wading to shore we cut our feet with the sharp rocks. I remember to
have felt the acute pain of something running into my toe: but after
looking at the place and extracting what appeared to be a bit of
thorn,[FN#17] I dismissed the subject, little guessing the trouble it
was to give me. Having scaled the rocky side of the cove, we found some
half-naked Arabs lying in the shade; they were unarmed, and had nothing
about them except their villainous countenances wherewith to terrify
the most timid. These men still live in limestone caves, like the
Thamud tribe of tradition; also they are Ichthyophagi, existing without
any other subsistence but what the sea affords. They were unable to
provide us with dates, flesh, or milk, but they sold us a kind of fish
called in India "Bui": broiled upon the embers, it proved delicious.

After we had eaten and drunk and smoked, we began to make merry; and
the Persians, who, fearing to come on shore, had kept to their
conveyance, appeared proper butts for the wit of some of our party: one
of us stood up and pronounced the orthodox call to prayer, after which
the rest joined in a polemical hymn, exalting the virtues

[p.222] and dignity of the first three Caliphs.[FN#18] Then, as general
on such occasions, the matter was made personal by informing the
Persians in a kind of rhyme sung by the Meccan gamins, that they were
the "slippers of Ali and the dogs of Omar." But as they were too
frightened to reply, my companions gathered up their cooking utensils,
and returned to the "Golden Wire," melancholy, like disappointed
candidates for the honours of Donnybrook.

Our next day was silent and weary, for we were all surly, and heartily
sick of being on board ship. We should have made Yambu' in the evening
but for the laziness of the Rais. Having duly beaten him, we anchored
on the open coast, insufficiently protected by a reef, and almost in
sight of our destination. In the distance rose Jabal Radhwah or
Radhwa,[FN#19] one of the "Mountains of Paradise[FN#20]" in which
honoured Arabia abounds. It is celebrated by poetry as well as by piety.

"Did Radhwah strive to support my woes,
Radhwah itself would be crushed by the weight,"

says Antar.[FN#21] It supplies Al-Madinah with hones. I heard much of
its valleys and fruits and bubbling springs, but afterwards I learned
to rank these tales with the superstitious legends which are attached
to it. Gazing at its bare and ghastly heights, one of our party, whose
wit was soured by the want of fresh bread, surlily remarked that such a
heap of ugliness deserved ejection from heaven,-an irreverence too
public to escape general denunciation. We waded on shore, cooked there,

[p.223] passed the night; we were short of fresh water, which, combined
with other grievances, made us as surly as bears. Sa'ad the Demon was
especially vicious; his eyes gazed fixedly on the ground, his lips
protruded till you might have held up his face by them, his mouth was
garnished with bad wrinkles, and he never opened it but he grumbled out
a wicked word. He solaced himself that evening by crawling slowly on
all-fours over the boy Mohammed, taking scrupulous care to place one
knee upon the sleeper's face. The youth awoke in a fiery rage: we all
roared with laughter; and the sulky Negro, after savouring the success
of his spite, grimly, as but half satisfied, rolled himself, like a
hedgehog, into a ball; and, resolving to be offensive even in his
forgetfulness, snored violently all night.

We slept upon the sands and arose before dawn (July 17), determined to
make the Rais start in time that day. A slip of land separated us from
our haven, but the wind was foul, and by reason of rocks and shoals, we
had to make a considerable detour.

It was about noon on the twelfth day after our departure from Suez,
when, after slowly beating up the narrow creek leading to Yambu'
harbour, we sprang into a shore-boat and felt new life when bidding an
eternal adieu to the vile "Golden Wire."

I might have escaped much of this hardship and suffering by hiring a
vessel to myself. There would then have been a cabin to retire into at
night, and shade from the sun; moreover, the voyage would have lasted
five, not twelve, days. But I wished to witness the scenes on board a
pilgrim ship,-scenes so much talked of by the Moslem palmer
home-returned. Moreover, the hire was exorbitant, ranging from L40 to
L50, and it would have led to a greater expenditure, as the man who can
afford to take a boat must pay in proportion during his lan

[p.224] journey. In these countries you perforce go on as you begin: to
"break one's expenditure," that is to say, to retrench expenses, is
considered all but impossible. We have now left the land of Egypt.

[FN#1] The reader who has travelled in the East will feel that I am not
exaggerating. And to convince those who know it only by description, I
will refer them to any account of our early campaigns in Sind, where
many a European soldier has been taken up stone dead after sleeping an
hour or two in the morning sun.
[FN#2] The Zodiacal Light on the Red Sea, and in Bombay, is far
brighter than in England. I suppose this is the "after-glow" described
by Miss Martineau and other travellers: "flashes of light like
coruscations of the Aurora Borealis in pyramidal form" would exactly
describe the phenomenon. It varies, however, greatly, and often for
some days together is scarcely visible.
[FN#3] Niebuhr considers that the stars are brighter in Norway than in
the Arabian deserts; I never saw them so bright as on the Neilgherry
[FN#4] Written in the days of the vans, which preceded the Railway.
[FN#5] On one occasion I was obliged personally to exert myself to
prevent a party of ladies being thrust into an old and bad transit-van;
the ruder sex having stationed itself at some distance from the
starting-place in order to seize upon the best.
[FN#6] Abraham, for breaking his father's idols, was cast by Nimrod
into a fiery furnace, which forthwith became a garden of roses. (See
Chapter xxi. of the Koran, called "the Prophets.")
[FN#7] David worked as an armourer, but the steel was as wax in his
[FN#8] Solomon reigned over the three orders of created beings: the
fable of his flying carpet is well known. (See Chapter xxvii. of the
Koran, called "the Ant.")
[FN#9] These are mystic words, and entirely beyond the reach of
dictionaries and vocabularies.
[FN#10] In Moresby's Survey, "Sherm Demerah," the creek of Demerah. Ali
Bey calls it Demeg.
[FN#11] See "The Land of Midian (Revisited)" for a plan of
Al-Dumayghah, and a description of Al-Wijh (al-Bahr) These men of the
Beni Jahaynah, or "Juhaynah" tribe-the "Beni Kalb," as they are also
called,-must not be trusted. They extend from the plains north of
Yambu' into the Sinaitic Peninsula. They boast no connection with the
great tribe Al-Harb; but they are of noble race, are celebrated for
fighting, and, it is said, have good horses. The specimens we saw at
Marsa Dumayghah were poor ones, they had few clothes, and no arms
except the usual Jambiyah (crooked dagger). By their civility and their
cringing style of address it was easy to see they had been corrupted by
intercourse with strangers.
[FN#12] It is written Wish and Wejh; by Ali Bey Vadjeh and Wadjih;
Wodjeh and Wosh by Burckhardt; and Wedge by Moresby.
[FN#13] The terrible Afghan knife.
[FN#14] These the Arabs, in the vulgar tongue, call Jarad al-Bahr, "sea
locusts"; as they term the shrimp Burghut al-Bahr, or the sea-flea.
Such compound words, palpably derived from land objects, prove the
present Ichthyophagi and the Badawin living on the coast to be a race
originally from the interior. Pure and ancient Arabs still have at
least one uncompounded word to express every object familiar to them,
and it is in this point that the genius of the language chiefly shows
[FN#15] The Arab superstition is, that these flashes of light are
jewels made to adorn the necks and hair of the mermaids and mermen.
When removed from their native elements the gems fade and disappear. If
I remember right, there is some idea similar to this among the Scotch,
and other Northern people.
[FN#16] The word Jabal will frequently occur in these pages. It is
applied by the Arabs to any rising ground or heap of rocks, and,
therefore, must not always be translated "Mountain." In the latter
sense, it has found its way into some of the Mediterranean dialects.
Gibraltar is Jabal al-Tarik, and "Mt. Ethne that men clepen Mounte
Gybelle" is "Monte Gibello,"-the mountain, par excellence.
[FN#17] It was most probably a prickle of the "egg-fruit," or Echinus,
so common in these seas, generally supposed to be poisonous. I found it
impossible to cure my foot in Al-Hijaz, and every remedy seemed to make
it worse. This was as much the effect of the climate of Arabia, as of
the hardships and privations of a pilgrimage. After my return to Egypt
in the autumn, the wound healed readily without medical treatment.
[FN#18] Abu Bakr, Omar, and Osman.
[FN#19] I have found both these forms of writing the word in books;
Moresby, or rather Mr. Rassam, erroneously spells it "Ridwah."
[FN#20] In a future chapter, when describing a visit to Mt. Ohod, near
Al-Madinah, I shall enter into some details about these "Mountains of
[FN21] The translator, however, erroneously informs us, in a footnote,
that Radhwah is a mountain near Meccah.



THE heat of the sun, the heavy dews, and the frequent washings of the
waves, had so affected my foot, that on landing at Yambu' I could
scarcely place it upon the ground. But traveller's duty was to be done;
so, leaning upon my "slave's" shoulder, I started at once to see the
town, whilst Shaykh Hamid and the others of our party proceeded to the

Yanbu'a al-Bahr, Yambu' or Fountain of the Sea,[FN#1] identified, by
Abyssinian Bruce, with the Iambia village of Ptolemy, is a place of
considerable importance, and shares with others the title of "Gate of
the Holy City." It is the third quarter of the caravan road[FN#2] from
Cairo to Meccah; and here, as well as at Al-Badr, pilgrims frequently
leave behind them, in hired warehouses, goods too heavy to be
transported in haste, or too valuable to risk in dangerous times.
Yambu' being the port of Al-Madinah,

[p.226] as Jeddah is of Meccah, is supported by a considerable
transport trade and extensive imports from the harbours on the Western
coasts of the Red Sea; it supplies its chief town with grain, dates,
and henna. Here the Sultan's dominion is supposed to begin, whilst the
authority of the Pasha of Egypt ceases; there is no Nizam, or Regular
Army, however, in the town,[FN#3] and the governor is a Sharif or Arab
chief. I met him in the great bazar; he is a fine young man of light
complexion and the usual high profile, handsomely dressed, with a
Cashmere turband, armed to the extent of sword and dagger, and followed
by two large, fierce-looking Negro slaves leaning upon enormous Nabbuts.

The town itself is in no wise remarkable. Built on the edge of a
sunburnt plain that extends between the mountains and the sea, it
fronts the northern extremity of a narrow winding creek. Viewed from
the harbour, it is a long line of buildings, whose painful whiteness is
set off by a sky-like cobalt and a sea-like indigo; behind it lies the
flat, here of a bistre-brown, there of a lively tawny; whilst the
background is formed by dismal Radhwah,

"Barren and bare, unsightly, unadorned."

Outside the walls are a few little domes and tombs, which by no means
merit attention. Inside, the streets are wide; and each habitation is
placed at an unsociable distance from its neighbour, except near the
port and the bazars, where ground is valuable. The houses are roughly
built of limestone and coralline, and their walls full of fossils
crumble like almond cake; they have huge

[p.227] hanging windows, and look mean after those in the Moslem
quarters of Cairo. There is a "Suk," or market-street of the usual
form, a long narrow lane darkened by a covering of palm leaves, with
little shops let into the walls of the houses on both sides. The cafes,
which abound here, have already been described in the last chapter;
they are rendered dirty in the extreme by travellers, and it is
impossible to sit in them without a fan to drive away the flies. The
custom-house fronts the landing-place upon the harbour; it is managed
by Turkish officials,-men dressed in Tarbushes, who repose the livelong
day upon the Diwans near the windows. In the case of us travellers they
had a very simple way of doing business, charging each person of the
party three piastres for each large box, but by no means troubling
themselves to meddle with the contents.[FN#4] Yambu' also boasts of a
Hammam or hot bath, a mere date-leaf shed, tenanted by an old Turk,
who, with his surly Albanian assistant, lives by "cleaning" pilgrims
and travellers. Some whitewashed Mosques and Minarets of exceedingly
simple form, a Wakalah or two for the reception of merchants, and a
saint's tomb, complete the list of public buildings.

In one point Yambu' claims superiority over most other towns in this
part of Al-Hijaz. Those who can afford the luxury drink sweet
rain-water, collected amongst the hills in tanks and cisterns, and
brought on camelback to the town. Two sources are especially praised,
the Ayn al-Birkat and the Ayn Ali, which suffice to supply the whole
population: the brackish water of the wells is confined to coarser
purposes. Some of the old people here, as at Suez, are said to prefer
the drink to which

[p.228] years of habit have accustomed them, and it is a standing joke
that, arrived at Cairo, they salt the water of the Nile to make it

The population of Yambu'-one of the most bigoted and quarrelsome races
in Al-Hijaz-strikes the eye after arriving from Egypt, as decidedly a
new feature. The Shaykh or gentleman is over-armed and over-dressed, as
Fashion, the Tyrant of the Desert as well as of the Court, dictates to
a person of his consequence. The civilised traveller from Al-Madinah
sticks in his waist-shawl a loaded pistol,[FN#5] garnished with crimson
silk cord, but he partially conceals the butt-end under the flap of his
jacket. The Irregular soldier struts down the street a small armoury of
weapons: one look at the man's countenance suffices to tell you what he
is. Here and there stalk grim Badawin, wild as their native wastes, and
in all the dignity of pride and dirt; they also are armed to the teeth,
and even the presence of the policeman's quarterstaff[FN#6] cannot keep
their swords in their scabbards. What we should call the peaceful part
of the population never leave the house without the "Nabbut" over the
right shoulder, and the larger, the longer, and the heavier the weapon
is, the more gallantry does the bearer claim. The people of Yambu'
practise the use of this implement diligently; they become expert in

[p.229] a head-blow so violent as to break through any guard, and with
it they always decide their trivial quarrels.[FN#7] The dress of the
women differs but little from that of the Egyptians, except in the face
veil,[FN#8] which is generally white. There is an independent bearing
about the Yambu' men, strange in the East; they are proud without
insolence, and they look manly without blustering. Their walk partakes
somewhat of the nature of a swagger, owing, perhaps, to the shape of
the sandals, not a little assisted by the self-esteem of the wearer,
but there is nothing offensive in it: moreover, the population has a
healthy appearance, and, fresh from Egypt, I could not help noticing
their freedom from ophthalmic disease. The children, too, appear
vigorous, nor are they here kept in that state of filth to which fear
of the Evil Eye devotes them in the Valley of the Nile.

My companions found me in a coffee-house, where I had sat down to rest
from the fatigue of halting on my wounded foot through the town. They
had passed their boxes through the custom-house, and were now inquiring
in all directions, "Where's the Effendi?" After sitting for half an
hour, we rose to depart, when an old Arab merchant, whom I had met at
Suez, politely insisted

[p.230] upon paying for my coffee, still a mark of attention in Arabia
as it was whilome in France. We then went to a Wakalah, near the bazar,
in which my companions had secured an airy upper room on the terrace
opposite the sea, and tolerably free from Yambu's plague, the flies. It
had been tenanted by a party of travellers, who were introduced to me
as Omar Effendi's brothers; he had by accident met them in the streets
the day before their start for Constantinople, where they were
travelling to receive the Ikram.[FN#9] The family was, as I have said
before, from Daghistan (Circassia), and the male members still showed
unequivocal signs of a northern origin, in light yellowish skins, grey
eyes fringed with dark lashes, red lips, and a very scant beard. They
were broad-shouldered, large-limbed men, distinguished only by a
peculiar surliness of countenance; perhaps their expression was the
result of their suspecting me; for I observed them narrowly watching
every movement during Wuzu and prayers. This was a good opportunity for
displaying the perfect nonchalance of a True Believer; and my efforts
were, I believe, successful, for afterwards they seemed to treat me as
a mere stranger, from whom they could expect nothing, and who therefore
was hardly worth their notice.

On the afternoon of the day of our arrival we sent for a
Mukharrij,[FN#10] (hirer of conveyance) and began to treat for camels.
One Amm Jamal, a respectable native of Al-Madinah who was on his way
home, undertook to be the spokesman; after a long palaver (for

[p.231] the Shaykh of the camels and his attendant Badawin were men
that fought for farthings, and we were not far inferior to them), a
bargain was struck. We agreed to pay three dollars for each beast; half
in ready money, the other half after reaching our destination, and to
start on the evening of the next day with a grain-caravan, guarded by
an escort of Irregular cavalry. I hired two animals, one for my luggage
and servant, the other for the boy Mohammed and myself, expressly
stipulating that we were to ride the better beast, and that if it broke
down on the road, its place should be supplied by another as good. My
friends could not dissemble their uneasiness, when informed by the
Mukharrij that the Hazimi tribe was "out," and that travellers had to
fight every day. The Daghistanis also contributed to their alarm. "We
met," said they, "between 200 and 300 devils on a Razzia near
Al-Madinah; we gave them the Salam, but they would not reply, although
we were all on dromedaries. Then they asked us if we were men of
Al-Madinah, and we replied ‘Yes;' and lastly, they wanted to know the
end of our journey; so we said Bir Abbas.[FN#11]" The Badawin who had
accompanied the Daghistanis belonged to some tribe unconnected with the
Hazimi: the spokesman rolled his head, as much as to say "Allah has
preserved us!" And a young Indian of the party-I shrewdly suspect him
of having stolen my pen-knife that night-displayed

[p.232] the cowardice of a "Miyan,[FN#12]" by looking aghast at the
memory of his imminent and deadly risk. "Sir," said Shaykh Nur to me,
"we must wait till all this is over." I told him to hold his tongue,
and sharply reproved the boy Mohammed, upon whose manner the effect of
finding himself suddenly in a fresh country had wrought a change for
the worse. "Why, ye were lions at Cairo; and here, at Yambu', you are
cats-hens![FN#13]" It was not long, however, before the youth's
impudence returned upon him with increased violence.

We sat through the afternoon in the little room on the terrace, whose
reflected heat, together with the fiery winds from the Wilderness,
seemed to incommode even my companions. After sunset we dined in the
open air, a body of twenty: master, servants, children and strangers.
All the procurable rugs and pillows had been seized to make a Diwan,
and we squatted together round a large cauldron of boiled rice,
containing square masses of mutton, the whole covered with clarified
butter. Sa'ad the Demon was now in his glory. With what anecdotes the
occasion supplied him! His tongue seemed to wag with a perpetual
motion; for each man he had a boisterous greeting; and, to judge from
his whisperings, he must have been in every one's privacy and
confidence. Conversation over pipes and coffee was prolonged to ten
P.M., a late hour in these lands; then we prayed the

[p.233] Isha[FN#14] (or vespers), and, spreading our mats upon the
terrace, slept in the open air.

The forenoon of the next day was occupied in making sundry small
purchases. We laid in seven days' provisions for the journey; repacked
our boxes, polished and loaded our arms, and attired ourselves
appropriately for the road. By the advice of Amm Jamal[FN#15] I dressed
as an Arab, in order to avoid paying the Jizyat, a capitation tax
[FN#16] which, upon this road, the settled tribes extort from stranger
travellers; and he warned me not to speak any language but Arabic, even
to my "slave," in the vicinity of a village. I bought for my own
convenience a Shugduf or litter[FN#17] for which I paid two dollars. It
is a

[p.234] vehicle appropriated to women and children, fathers of
families, married men, "Shelebis,[FN#18]" and generally to those who
are too effeminate to ride. My reason for choosing a litter was that
notes are more easily taken in it than on a dromedary's back; the
excuse of lameness prevented it detracting from my manhood, and I was
careful when entering any populous place to borrow or hire a saddled

Our party dined early that day, for the camels had been sitting at the
gate since noon. We had the usual trouble in loading them: the owners
of the animals vociferating about the unconscionable weight, the owners
of the goods swearing that a child could carry such weight, while the
beasts, taking part with their proprietors, moaned piteously, roared,
made vicious attempts to bite, and started up with an agility that
threw the half-secured boxes or sacks headlong to the ground. About 3
P.M. all was ready-the camels formed into Indian file were placed
standing in the streets. But, as usual with Oriental travellers, all
the men dispersed about the town: we did not mount before it was late
in the afternoon.

I must now take the liberty of presenting to the reader an Arab Shaykh
fully equipped for travelling.[FN#19] Nothing can be more picturesque
than the costume, and

[p.235] it is with regret that we see it exchanged in the towns and
more civilised parts for any other. The long locks or the shaven scalps
are surmounted by a white cotton skull-cap, over which is a Kufiyah-a
large square kerchief of silk and cotton mixed, and generally of a dull
red colour with a bright yellow border, from which depend crimson silk
twists ending in little tassels that reach the wearer's waist. Doubled
into a triangle, and bound with an Aakal[FN#20] or fillet of rope, a
skein of yarn or a twist of wool, the kerchief fits the head close
behind: it projects over the forehead, shading the eyes, and giving a
fierce look to the countenance. On certain occasions one end is brought
round the lower part of the face, and is fastened behind the head. This
veiling the features is technically called Lisam: the chiefs generally
fight so, and it is the usual disguise when a man fears the avenger of
blood, or a woman starts to take her Sar.[FN#21] In hot weather it is
supposed to keep the Samun, in cold weather the catarrh, from the lungs.

[p.236]The body dress is simply a Kamis or cotton shirt: tight sleeved,
opening in front, and adorned round the waist and collar, and down the
breast, with embroidery like net-work; it extends from neck to foot.
Some wear wide trousers, but the Badawin consider such things
effeminate, and they have not yet fallen into the folly of socks and
stockings. Over the Kamis is thrown a long-skirted and short-sleeved
cloak of camel's hair, called an Aba. It is made in many patterns, and
of all materials from pure silk to coarse sheep's wool; some prefer it
brown, others white, others striped: in Al-Hijaz the favourite hue is
white, embroidered with gold,[FN#22] tinsel, or yellow thread in two
large triangles, capped with broad bands and other figures running down
the shoulders and sides of the back. It is lined inside the shoulders
and breast with handsome stuffs of silk and cotton mixed, and is tied
in front by elaborate strings, and tassels or acorns of silk and gold.
A sash confines the Kamis at the waist, and supports the silver-hilted
Jambiyah[FN#23] or crooked dagger: the picturesque Arab sandal[FN#24]
completes the costume. Finally, the

[p.237] Shaykh's arms are a sword and a matchlock slung behind his
back; in his right hand he carries a short javelin[FN#25] or a light
crooked stick, about two feet and a half long, called a Mas'hab,[FN#26]
used for guiding camels.

The poorer clans of Arabs twist round their waist, [p.238] next to the
skin, a long plait of greasy leather, to support the back; and they
gird the shirt at the middle merely with a cord, or with a coarse sash.
The dagger is stuck in this scarf, and a bandoleer slung over the
shoulders carries the cartridge-case, powder-flask, flint and steel,
priming-horn, and other necessaries. With the traveller, the waist is
an elaborate affair. Next to the skin is worn the money-pouch,
concealed by the Kamis; the latter is girt with a waist shawl, over
which is strapped a leathern belt.[FN#27] The latter article should
always be well garnished with a pair of long-barrelled and
silver-mounted flint pistols,[FN#28] a large and a small dagger, and an

[p.239] iron ramrod with pincers inside; a little leathern pouch
fastened to the waist-strap on the right side contains cartridge,
wadding, and flask of priming powder. The sword hangs over the shoulder
by crimson silk cords and huge tassels[FN#29]: well-dressed men apply
the same showy ornaments to their pistols. In the hand may be borne a
bell-mouthed blunderbuss; or, better still, a long single-barrel gun
with an ounce bore. All these weapons must shine like silver, if you
wish to be respected; for the knightly care of arms is here a sign of

Pilgrims, especially those from Turkey, carry, I have said, a "Hamail,"
to denote their holy errand. This is a pocket Koran, in a handsome
gold-embroidered crimson velvet or red morocco case, slung by red silk
cords over the left shoulder. It must hang down by the right side, and
should never depend below the waist-belt. For this I substituted a most
useful article. To all appearance a "Hamail," it had inside three
compartments; one for my watch and compass, the second for ready money,
and the third contained penknife, pencils, and slips of paper, which I
could hold concealed in the hollow of my hand. These were for writing
and drawing: opportunities of making a "fair copy" into the
diary-book,[FN#30] are never wanting to the acute traveller. He

[p.240] must, however, beware of sketching before the Badawin, who
would certainly proceed to extreme measures, suspecting him to be a spy
or a sorcerer.[FN#31] Nothing so effectually puzzles these people as
the Frankish habit of putting everything on paper; their imaginations
are set at work, and then the worst may be expected from them. The only
safe way of writing in presence of a Badawi would be when drawing out a
horoscope or preparing a charm; he also objects not, if you can warm
his heart upon the subject, to seeing you take notes in a book of
genealogies. You might begin with, "And you, men of Harb, on what
origin do you pride yourselves?" And while the listeners became fluent
upon the, to them, all-interesting

[p.241] theme, you could put down whatever you please upon the margin.
The townspeople are more liberal, and years ago the Holy Shrines have
been drawn, surveyed and even lithographed, by Eastern artists: still,
if you wish to avoid all suspicion, you must rarely be seen with pen or
with pencil in hand.

At 6 P.M., descending the stairs of our Wakalah, we found the camels
standing loaded in the street, and shifting their ground in token of
impatience.[FN#32] My Shugduf, perched upon the back of a tall strong
animal, nodded and swayed about with his every motion, impressing me
with the idea that the first step would throw it over the shoulders or
the crupper. The camel-man told me I must climb up the animal's neck,
and so creep into the vehicle. But my foot disabling me from such
exertion, I insisted upon their bringing the beast to squat, which they
did grumblingly.[FN#33] We took leave of Omar Effendi's brothers and
their dependents, who insisted upon paying us the compliment of
accompanying us to the gate. Then we mounted and started, which was a
signal for all our party to disperse once more. Some heard the report
of a vessel having arrived from Suez, with Mohammed Shiklibha and other
friends on board; these hurried down to the harbour for a parting word.
Others, declaring they had forgotten some necessaries for the way, ran
off to spend one last hour in gossip at the coffee-house. Then the sun
set, and prayers must be said. The brief twilight had almost faded away
before all had mounted. With loud cries of "Wassit, ya hu!-

[p.242] Go in the middle of the road, O He!" and "Jannib, y'al
Jammal[FN#34]!-Keep to the side, O camel-man!" we threaded our way
through long, dusty, narrow streets, flanked with white-washed
habitations at considerable intervals, and large heaps of rubbish,
sometimes higher than the houses. We were stopped at the gate to
ascertain if we were strangers, in which case, the guard would have
done his best to extract a few piastres before allowing our luggage to
pass; but he soon perceived by my companions' accent, that they were
Sons of the Holy City,-consequently, that the case was hopeless. While
standing here, Shaykh Hamid vaunted the strong walls and turrets of
Yambu', which he said were superior to those of Jeddah[FN#35]: they
kept Sa'ud, the Wahhabi, at bay in A.D. 1802, but would scarcely, I
should say, resist a field battery in A.D. 1853. The moon rose fair and
clear, dazzling us with light as we emerged from the shadowy streets;
and when we launched into the Desert, the sweet air delightfully
contrasted with the close offensive atmosphere of the town. My
companions, as Arabs will do on such occasions, began to sing.

[FN#1] Yanbu'a in Arabic is "a Fountain." Yanbu'a of the Sea is so
called to distinguish it from "Yanbu'a of the Palm-Grounds," a village
at the foot of the mountains, about 18 or 20 miles distant from the
sea-port. Ali Bey places it one day's journey E.1/4N.E. from Yanbu'a
al-Bahr, and describes it as a pleasant place in a fertile valley. It
is now known as Yambu'a al-Nakhil. See "The Land of Midian (Revisited)."
[FN#2] The first quarter of the Cairo caravan is Al-Akabah; the second
is the Manhal Salmah (Salmah's place for watering camels); the third is
Yambu'; and the fourth Meccah.
[FN#3] The Nizam, as Europeans now know, is the regular Turkish
infantry. In Al-Hijaz, these troops are not stationed in small towns
like Yambu'. At such places a party of Irregular horse, for the purpose
of escorting travellers, is deemed sufficient. The Yambu' police seems
to consist of the Sharif's sturdy negroes. In Ali Bey's time Yambu'
belonged to the Sharif of Meccah, and was garrisoned by him.
[FN#4] This, as far as I could learn, is the only tax which the
Sultan's government derives from the northern Hijaz; the people declare
it to be, as one might expect at this distance from the capital, liable
to gross peculation. When the Wahhabis held Yambu', they assessed it,
like all other places; for which reason their name is held in the
liveliest abhorrence.
[FN#5] Civilians usually stick one pistol in the belt; soldiers and
fighting men two, or more, with all the necessary concomitants of
pouches, turnscrews, and long iron ramrods, which, opening with a
screw, disclose a long thin pair of pincers, wherewith fire is put upon
the chibuk.
[FN#6] The weapons with which nations are to be managed form a curious
consideration. The Englishman tamely endures a staff, which would make
a Frenchman mad with anger; and a Frenchman respects a sabre, which
would fill an Englishman's bosom with civilian spleen. You order the
Egyptian to strip and be flogged; he makes no objection to seeing his
blood flow in this way; but were a cutting weapon used, his friends
would stop at nothing in their fury.
[FN#7] In Arabia, generally, the wound is less considered by justice
and revenge, than the instrument with which it was inflicted. Sticks
and stones are held to be venial weapons: guns and pistols, swords and
daggers, are felonious.
[FN#8] Europeans inveigh against this article,-which represents the
"loup" of Louis XIV.'s time,-for its hideousness and jealous
concealment of charms made to be admired. It is, on the contrary, the
most coquettish article of woman's attire, excepting, perhaps, the
Lisam of Constantinople. It conceals coarse skins, fleshy noses, wide
mouths, and vanishing chins, whilst it sets off to best advantage what
in these lands is almost always lustrous and liquid-the eye. Who has
not remarked this at a masquerade ball?
[FN#9] A certain stipend allowed by the Sultan to citizens of the
Haramayn (Meccah and Al-Madinah). It will be treated of at length in a
future chapter.
[FN#10] The Shaykh, or agent of the camels, without whose assistance it
would be difficult to hire beasts. He brings the Badawin with him;
talks them over to fair terms; sees the "Arbun," or earnest-money,
delivered to them; and is answerable for their not failing in their
[FN#11] The not returning "Salam" was a sign on the part of the Badawin
that they were out to fight, and not to make friends; and the dromedary
riders, who generally travel without much to rob, thought this
behaviour a declaration of desperate designs. The Badawin asked if they
were Al-Madinah men; because the former do not like, unless when
absolutely necessary, to plunder the people of the Holy City. And the
Daghistanis said their destination was Bir Abbas, a neighbouring,
instead of Yambu', a distant post, because those who travel on a long
journey, being supposed to have more funds with them, are more likely
to be molested.
[FN#12] "Miyan," the Hindustani word for "Sir," is known to the Badawin
all over Al-Hijaz; they always address Indian Moslems with this word,
which has become contemptuous, on account of the low esteem in which
the race is held.
[FN#13] That is to say, sneaks and cowards. I was astonished to see our
Maghrabi fellow-passengers in the bazar at Yambu' cringing and bowing
to us, more like courtiers than Badawin. Such, however, is the effect
of a strange place upon Orientals generally. In the Persians such
humility was excusable; in no part of Al-Hijaz are they for a moment
safe from abuse and blows.
[FN#14] The night prayer.
[FN#15] "Amm" means literally a paternal uncle. In the Hijaz it is
prefixed to the names of respectable men, who may also be addressed "Ya
Amm Jamal!" (O Uncle Jamal!) To say "Ya Ammi!" (O my Uncle!) is more
familiar, and would generally be used by a superior addressing an
[FN#16] Jizyat properly means the capitation tax levied on Infidels; in
this land of intense pride, the Badawin, and even the town-chiefs,
apply the opprobrious term to blackmail extorted from travellers, even
of their own creed.
[FN#17] The Shugduf of Al-Hijaz differs greatly from that used in Syria
and other countries. It is composed of two corded cots 5 feet long,
slung horizontally, about half-way down, and parallel with the camel's
sides. These cots have short legs, and at the halt may be used as
bedsteads; the two are connected together by loose ropes, attached to
the inner long sides of the framework, and these are thrown over the
camel's packsaddle. Thick twigs inserted in the ends and the outer long
sides of the framework, are bent over the top, bower-fashion, to
support matting, carpets, and any other protection against the sun.
There is an opening in this kind of wicker-work in front (towards the
camel's head), through which you creep; and a similar one behind
creates a draught of wind. Outside, towards the camel's tail, are
pockets containing gullehs, or earthenware bottles, of cooled water.
Inside, attached to the wickerwork, are large provision pouches,
similar to those used in old-fashioned travelling chariots. At the
bottom are spread the two beds. The greatest disadvantage of the
Shugduf is the difficulty of keeping balance. Two men ride in it, and
their weights must be made to tally. Moreover, it is liable to be
caught and torn by thorn trees, to be blown off in a gale of wind; and
its awkwardness causes the camel repeated falls, which are most likely
to smash it. Yet it is not necessarily an uncomfortable machine. Those
for sale in the bazar are, of course, worthless, being made of badly
seasoned wood. But private litters are sometimes pleasant vehicles,
with turned and painted framework, silk cordage, and valuable carpets.
The often described "Mahmil" is nothing but a Syrian Shugduf, royally
[FN#18] " Exquisites."
[FN#19] It is the same rule with the Arab, on the road as at home; the
more he is dressed the greater is his respectability. For this reason,
you see Sharifs and other men of high family, riding or walking in
their warm camel's hair robes on the hottest days. Another superstition
of the Arabs is this, that thick clothes avert the evil effects of the
sun's beams, by keeping out heat. To the kindness of a friend-Thomas
Seddon-I owe the admirable sketch of an "Arab Shaykh in his Travelling
[FN#20] Sharifs and other great men sometimes bind a white turband or a
Cashmere shawl round the kerchief, to keep it in its place. The Aakal
varies in every part of the country. Here it is a twist of dyed wool,
there a bit of common rope, three or four feet long. Some of the Arab
tribes use a circlet of wood, composed of little round pieces, the size
of a shilling, joined side by side, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The Eastern Arabs wear a large circle of brown wool, almost a turband
in itself. In Barbary, they twist brightcoloured cloth round a rope,
and adorn it with thick golden thread.
[FN#21] Generally written "Thar," the blood-revenge right, acknowledged
by law and custom. (See Chapter xxiv. post.)
[FN#22] Gold, however, as well as silk, I may be excused for repeating,
is a forbidden article of ornament to the Moslem.
[FN#23] The silver-hilted dagger is a sign of dignity: "I would silver
my dagger," in idiomatic Hijazi, means, "I would raise myself in the
[FN#24] Niebuhr has accurately described this article. It is still worn
in the Madras army, though long discarded from the other presidencies;
the main difference between the Indian and the Arab sandal is, that the
former has a ring, into which the big toe is inserted, and the latter a
thong, which is clasped between the big toe and its neighbour. Both of
them are equally uncomfortable, and equally injurious to soldiers,
whose legs fight as much as do their arms. They abrade the skin
wherever the straps touch, expose the feet to the sun, wind, and rain,
and admit thorns and flints to the toes and toe-nails. In Arabia, the
traveller may wear, if he pleases, slippers, but they are considered
townsman-like and effeminate. They must be of the usual colours, red or
yellow. Black shoes, though almost universally worn by the Turks at
Cairo and Constantinople, would most probably excite suspicion in
[FN#25] The Mizrak, as it is called, is peculiar to certain tribes, as
the Karashi and the Lahyami, and some, like the Hudayli near Meccah,
make very pretty as well as very useful darts. The head is 15 or 16
inches long, nowhere broader than an inch, and tapering gradually to a
fine point; its shape is two shallow prisms joined at their bases, and
its socket, round like that of all lances, measures a little less than
2 inches. The lower third of the blade only is adorned with bars,
lozenges, and cones of brass let into the iron in zig-zag and other
figures. The shaft is of hard pliant wood-I do not know of what
tree-well seasoned with grease and use; it is 23 inches long, and
strengthened and adorned at distances of half an inch apart by bands of
fine brass wire, about one inch and a half long. The heel of the weapon
is a blunt spike 14 inches long, used to stick it in the ground, and
this, as well as the lower third of the blade, is ornamented with brass
work. Being well balanced, the Mizrak is a highly efficient weapon for
throwing in hunting, and by its handsome appearance adds not a little
to the bearer's dignity. But the stranger must be careful how he so
arms himself. Unless he be undistinguishable from a Badawi, by carrying
a weapon peculiar to certain clans, he will expose himself to
suspicion, or to laughter. And to offend an Arab of Al-Hijaz mortally,
you have only to say bluntly, "Sell me thy spear." The proper style of
address to the man whose necessities compel him to break through one of
his "points d'honneur," is to say, "Give me that javelin, and I will
satisfy thee;" after which he will haggle for each copper piece as
though you were cheapening a sheep.
[FN#26] The Mas'hab is of almond, generally brought from Syria; at the
thick end is a kind of crook, formed by cutting off a bit of the larger
branch from which the stick grows. This crook is afterwards cut into
the shape useful to seize a camel's nose-ring, or a horse's bridle.
Arabs of all degrees are fond of carrying these sticks. [It is also
called Maghin.]
 [FN#27] This article, the Silahlik of the Turks, is composed of
several oblong pieces of leather cut out to fit the front part of the
body; between each fold there is room enough to stick a weapon; a
substantial strap fastens it round the waist, and it serves to defend
the sash or the shirt from iron mould, and the stains of gunpowder. It
is made of all kinds of material, from plain Morocco leather to the
richest velvet embroidered with gold.
[FN#28] It is as well to have a good pair of Turkish barrels and
stocks, fitted up with locks of European manufacture; those made by
natives of these countries can never be depended upon. The same will
apply to the gun or rifle. Upon the whole, it is more prudent to have
flint locks. Copper caps are now sold in the bazars of Meccah and
Al-Madinah, where a Colt's "six-shooter" might excite attention for a
day; but were the owner in a position to despise notoriety, he might
display it everywhere without danger. One of our guards, who was killed
on the road, had a double-barrelled English fowling-piece. Still, when
doubts must not be aroused, the traveller will do well to avoid, even
in the civilised Hijaz, suspicious appearances in his weapons. I
carried in a secret pocket a small pistol with a spring dagger, upon
which dependence could be placed, and I was careful never to show it,
discharging it and loading it always in the dark. Some men wear a
little dagger strapped round the leg, below the knee. Its use is this:
when the enemy gets you under, he can prevent you bringing your hand up
to the weapon in your waist-belt; but before he cuts your throat, you
may slip your fingers down to the knee, and persuade him to stop by a
stab in the perineum. This knee dagger is required only in very
dangerous places. The article I chiefly accused myself of forgetting
was a stout English clasp-knife, with a large handle, a blade like an
"Arkansas toothpick," and possessing the other useful appliances of
picker, fleam, tweezers, lancet, and punch.
[FN#29] Called "Habak": these cords are made in great quantities at
Cairo, which possesses a special bazar for them, and are exported to
all the neighbouring countries, where their price considerably
increases. A handsome pistol-cord, with its tassels, costs about 12
shillings in Egypt; at Meccah, or Al-Madinah, the same would fetch
upwards of a pound sterling.
[FN#30] My diary-book was made up for me by a Cairene; it was a long
thin volume fitting into a breast-pocket, where it could be carried
without being seen. I began by writing notes in the Arabic character,
but as no risk appeared, my journal was afterwards kept in English.
More than once, by way of experiment, I showed the writing on a loose
slip of paper to my companions, and astonished them with the strange
character derived from Solomon and Alexander, the Lord of the Two
Horns, which we Afghans still use. For a short trip a pencil suffices;
on long journeys ink is necessary; the latter article should be
English, not Eastern, which is washed out clean the first time your
luggage is thoroughly soaked with rain. The traveller may use either
the Persian or the brass Egyptian inkstand; the latter, however, is
preferable, being stronger and less likely to break. But, unless he be
capable of writing and reading a letter correctly, it would be
unadvisable to stick such an article in the waist-belt, as this gives
out publicly that he is a scribe. When sketching, the pencil is the
best, because the simplest and shortest mode of operation is required.
Important lines should afterwards be marked with ink, as "fixing" is
impossible on such journeys. For prudence sake, when my sketches were
made, I cut up the paper into square pieces, numbered them for future
reference, and hid them in the tin canisters that contained my
[FN#31] An accident of this kind happened not long ago, in Hazramaut,
to a German traveller who shall be nameless. He had the mortification
to see his sketch-book, the labour of months, summarily appropriated
and destroyed by the Arabs. I was told by a Hazramaut man at Cairo, and
by several at Aden, that the gentleman had at the time a narrow escape
with his life; the Badawin wished to put him to death as a spy, sent by
the Frank to ensorceler their country, but the Shaykhs forbade
bloodshed, and merely deported the offender. Travellers caught
sketching are not often treated with such forbearance.
[FN#32] All Arabs assert that it pains the loaded camel's feet to stand
still, and, certainly, the "fidgettiness" of the animal to start, looks
as if he had some reason to prefer walking.
[FN#33] It often strains the camel to rise with a full Shugduf on his
back, besides which the motion is certain to destroy the vehicle in a
few days. Those who are unable to climb up the camel's neck usually
carry with them a short ladder.
[FN#34] Wassit means, "go in the middle of the road"; Jannib, "keep
clear of the sides." These words are fair specimens of how much may be
said by two Arabic syllables. Ya hu (O, he) is an address common in
Arabia as in Egypt, and Y'al Jammal (O camel-man) is perhaps a little
more civil.
[FN#35] The rivalry between the Sons of the two Holy Cities extends
even to these parts: the Madanis contending for Yambu', the Meccans for



On the 18th July, about 7 P.M., we passed through the gate of Yambu',
and took a due Easterly course. Our route lay over the plain between
the mountains of Radhwah on the left, and the sea on the right hand;
the land was desert,-that is to say, a hard level plain, strewed with
rounded lumps of granite and greenstone schist, with here and there a
dwarf Acacia, and a tuft of rank camel grass. By the light of a
glorious moon, nearly at the full, I was able to see the country
tolerably well.

Our party consisted of twelve camels, and we travelled in Indian file,
head tied to tail, with but one outrider, Omar Effendi, whose rank
required him to mount a dromedary with showy trappings. Immediately in
front of me was Amm Jamal, whom I had to reprove for asking the boy
Mohammed, "Where have you picked up that Hindi, (Indian)?" "Are we, the
Afghans, the Indian-slayers,[FN#1] become Indians?" I vociferated with
indignation, and brought the thing home to his feelings, by asking him
how he, an Arab, would like to be called an Egyptian,-a Fellah? The
rest of the party was behind, sitting or dozing upon the rough
platforms made by the lids of the two huge boxes slung to the sides of
their camels. Only one old woman, Al-Sitt Maryam (the lady Mary),

[p.244] to Al-Madinah, her adopted country, after a visit to a sister
at Cairo, allowed herself the luxury of a half-dollar Shibriyah or cot,
fastened crosswise over the animal's load. Moreover, all the party,
except Omar Effendi, in token of poverty, were dressed in the coarsest
and dirtiest of clothes,-the general suit consisting of a shirt torn in
divers places and a bit of rag wrapped round the head. They carried
short chibuks without mouth-pieces, and tobacco-pouches of greasy
leather. Though the country hereabouts is perfectly safe, all had their
arms in readiness, and the unusual silence that succeeded to the
singing, even Sa'ad the Demon held his tongue,-was sufficient to show
how much they feared for their property. After a slow march of two
hours facing the moon, we turned somewhat towards the North-East, and
began to pass over undulating ground, in which a steady rise was
perceptible. We arrived at the halting-place at three in the morning,
after a short march of about eight hours, during which we could not
have passed over more than sixteen miles.[FN#2] The camels were
nakh'd[FN#3]; the boxes were taken off and piled together as a
precaution against invisible robbers; my little tent, the only one in
the party, was pitched; we then spread our rugs upon the ground and lay
down to sleep.

We arose at about 9 A.M. (July 19), and after congratulating one
another upon being once more in the "dear Desert," we proceeded in
exhilarated mood to light the fire for pipes and breakfast. The meal-a
biscuit, a little rice, and a cup of milkless tea-was soon dispatched,
after which I proceeded to inspect our position.

[p.245]About a mile to the westward lay the little village
Al-Musahhal,[FN#4] a group of miserable mud hovels. On the south was a
strip of bright blue sea, and all around, an iron plain producing
naught but stones and grasshoppers, and bounded northward by a grisly
wall of blackish rock. Here and there a shrub fit only for fuel, or a
tuft of coarse grass, crisp with heat, met the eye. All was
sun-parched; the furious heat from above was drying up the sap and
juice of the land, as the simmering and quivering atmosphere showed;
moreover the heavy dews of these regions, forming in large drops upon
the plants and stones, concentrate the morning rays upon them like a
system of burning-glasses. After making these few observations I
followed the example of my companions, and returned to sleep.

At two P.M. we were roused to a dinner as simple as the breakfast had
been. Boiled rice with an abundance of the clarified butter[FN#5] in
which Easterns delight, some fragments of Kahk[FN#6] or soft biscuit,
and stale bread[FN#7] and a handful of stoned and pressed date-paste,
called 'Ajwah, formed the menu. Our potations began before dinner with
a vile-tasted but wholesome drink called Akit,[FN#8]

[p.246] dried sour milk dissolved in water; at the meal we drank the
leather-flavoured element, and ended with a large cupful of scalding
tea. Enormous quantities of liquid were consumed, for the sun seemed to
have got into our throats, and the perspiration trickled as after a
shower of rain. Whilst we were eating, a Badawi woman passed close by
the tent, leading a flock of sheep and goats, seeing which I expressed
a desire to drink milk. My companions sent by one of the camel-men a
bit of bread, and asked in exchange for a cupful of "laban.[FN#9]" Thus
I learned that the Arabs, even in this corrupt region, still adhere to
the meaningless custom of their ancestors, who chose to make the term
"Labban[FN#10]" (milk-seller) an opprobrium and a disgrace. Possibly
the origin of the prejudice

[p.247] might be the recognising of a traveller's guest-right to call
for milk gratis. However this may be, no one will in the present day
sell this article of consumption, even at civilised Meccah, except
Egyptians, a people supposed to be utterly without honour. As a general
rule in the Hijaz, milk abounds in the spring, but at all other times
of the year it is difficult to be procured. The Badawi woman managed,
however, to send me back a cupful.

At three P.M. we were ready to start, and all saw, with unspeakable
gratification, a huge black nimbus rise from the shoulder of Mount
Radhwah, and range itself, like a good genius, between us and our
terrible foe, the sun. We hoped that it contained rain, but presently a
blast of hot wind, like the breath of a volcano, blew over the plain,
and the air was filled with particles of sand. This is the "dry storm"
of Arabia; it appears to depend upon some electrical phenomena which it
would be desirable to investigate.[FN#11] When we had loaded and
mounted, my camel-men, two in number, came up to the Shugduf and
demanded "Bakhshish," which, it appears, they are now in the habit of
doing each time the traveller starts. I was at first surprised to find
the word here, but after a few days of Badawi society, my wonder
diminished. The men were Beni-Harb of the great Hijazi tribe, which has
kept its blood pure for the last thirteen centuries,-how much more we
know not,-but they had been corrupted by intercourse with pilgrims,
retaining none of their ancestral qualities but greed of gain,
revengefulness, pugnacity, and a frantic kind of bravery, displayed on
rare occasions. Their nobility, however, did not prevent my quoting the
Prophet's saying, "Of a truth, the worst names among the Arabs are the

[p.248] Kalb and the Beni-Harb,[FN#12]" whilst I taunted them severely
with their resemblance to the Fellahs of Egypt. They would have
resented this with asperity, had it proceeded from their own people,
but the Turkish pilgrim-the character in which they knew me, despite my
Arab dress-is a privileged person. The outer man of these Fight-Sons
was contemptible; small chocolate-coloured beings, stunted and thin,
with mops of course bushy hair burned brown by the sun, straggling
beards, vicious eyes, frowning brows, screaming voices, and well-made,
but attenuated, limbs. On their heads were Kufiyahs in the last stage
of wear: a tattered shirt, indigo-dyed, and girt with a bit of common
rope, composed their clothing; and their feet were protected from the
stones by soles of thick leather, kept in place by narrow thongs tied
to the ankle. Both were armed, one with a matchlock, and a
Shintiyan[FN#13] in a leathern scabbard, slung over the shoulder, the
other with a Nabbut, and both showed at the waist the Arab's invariable
companion, the Jambiyah (dagger). These ragged fellows, however, had
their pride. They would eat with me, and not disdain, like certain
self-styled Caballeros, to ask for more; but of work they would do
none. No promise of "Bakhshish," potent as

[p.249] the spell of that word is, would induce them to assist in
pitching my tent: they even expected Shaykh Nur to cook for them, and I
had almost to use violence, for even the just excuse of a sore foot was
insufficient to procure the privilege of mounting my Shugduf while the
camel was sitting. It was, they said, the custom of the country from
time immemorial to use a ladder when legs would not act. I agreed with
them, but objected that I had no ladder. At last, wearied with their
thick-headedness, I snatched the nose-string of the camel, and by main
force made it kneel.

Our party was now strong enough. We had about 200 beasts carrying
grain, attended by their proprietors, truculent looking as the
contrabandistas of the Pyrenees. The escort was composed of seven
Irregular Turkish cavalry, tolerably mounted, and supplied each with an
armoury in epitome. They were privily derided by our party, who, being
Arabs, had a sneaking fondness for the Badawin, however loth they might
be to see them amongst the boxes.

For three hours we travelled in a south-easterly direction upon a hard
plain and a sandy flat, on which several waters from the highlands find
a passage to the sea westward. Gradually we were siding towards the
mountains, and at sunset I observed that we had sensibly neared them.
We dismounted for a short halt; and, strangers being present, my
companions, before sitting down to smoke, said their prayers-a pious
exercise in which they did not engage for three days afterwards, when
they met certain acquaintances at Al-Hamra. As evening came on, we
emerged from a scrub of Acacia and Tamarisk and turned due East,
traversing an open country with a perceptible rise. Scarcely was it
dark before the cry of "Harami" (thieves) rose loud in the rear,
causing such confusion as one may see in a boat in the Bay of Naples
when suddenly neared by a water-spout

[p.250] All the camel-men brandished their huge staves, and rushed back
vociferating in the direction of the robbers. They were followed by the
horsemen; and truly, had the thieves possessed the usual acuteness of
the profession, they might have driven off the camels in our van with
safety and convenience.[FN#14] But these contemptible beings were only
half a dozen in number, and they had lighted their matchlocks, which
drew a bullet or two in their direction. Whereupon they ran away. This
incident aroused no inconsiderable excitement, for it seemed ominous of
worse things about to happen to us when entangled in the hills, and the
faces of my companions, perfect barometers of fair and foul tidings,
fell to zero. For nine hours we journeyed through a brilliant
moonlight, and as the first grey streak appeared in the Eastern sky we
entered a scanty "Misyal,[FN#15]" or Fiumara, strewed with pebbles and
rounded stones, about half a mile in breadth, and flanked by almost
perpendicular hills of primitive formation. I began by asking the names
of peaks and other remarkable spots, when I found that a folio volume
would not contain a three months' collection[FN#16]: every hill and
dale, flat, valley, and

[p.251] water-course here has its proper name or rather names. The
ingenuity shown by the Badawin in distinguishing between localities the
most similar, is the result of a high organization of the perceptive
faculties, perfected by the practice of observing a recurrence of
landscape features few in number and varying but little amongst
themselves. After travelling two hours up this torrent bed, winding in
an Easterly direction, and crossing some "Harrah," or ridges of rock,
"Ria," steep descents,[FN#17] "Kitaah," patch of stony flat, and bits
of "Sahil," dwarf plain, we found ourselves about eight A.M., after a
march of about thirty-four miles, at Bir Sa'id (Sa'id's Well), our

I had been led to expect at the "Well," a pastoral scene, wild flowers,
flocks and flowing waters; so I looked with a jaundiced eye upon a deep
hole full of slightly brackish water dug in a tamped hollow-a kind of
punch-bowl with granite walls, upon whose grim surface a few thorns of
exceeding hardihood braved the sun for a season. Not a house was in
sight-it was as barren and desolate a spot as the sun ever "viewed in
his wide career." But this is what the Arabian traveller must expect.
He is to traverse, for instance, the Wady Al-Ward-the Vale of Flowers.
He indulges in sweet recollections of Indian lakes beautiful with the
Lotus, and Persian plains upon which Narcissus is the meanest of
grasses. He sees a plain like swish-work, where knobs of granite act
daisies; and where, at every fifty yards, some hapless bud or blossom
is dying of inanition among the stones.

The sun scorched our feet as we planted the tent, and, after drinking
our breakfast, we passed the usual day of perspiration and
semi-lethargy. In discomfort man naturally

[p.252] hails a change, even though it be one from bad to worse. When
our enemy began slanting towards the West, we felt ready enough to
proceed on our journey. The camels were laden shortly after 3 P.M.,
July 20th, and we started, with water jars in our hands, through a
storm of Samun.

We travelled five hours in a North-Easterly course up a diagonal
valley,[FN#18] through a country fantastic in its desolation-a mass of
huge hills, barren plains, and desert vales. Even the sturdy Acacias
here failed, and in some places the camel grass could not find earth
enough for its root. The road wound among mountains, rocks and hills of
granite, and over broken ground, flanked by huge blocks and boulders
piled up as if man's art had aided Nature to disfigure herself. Vast
clefts seamed like scars the hideous face of earth; here they widened
into dark caves, there they were choked with glistening drift sand. Not
a bird or a beast was to be seen or heard; their presence would have
argued the vicinity of water; and, though my companions opined that
Badawin were lurking among the rocks, I decided that these Badawin were
the creatures of their fears. Above, a sky like polished blue steel,
with a tremendous blaze of yellow light, glared upon us without the
thinnest veil of mist cloud. Below, the brass-coloured circle scorched
the face and dazzled the eyes, mocking them the while with offers of
water that was but air. The distant prospect was more attractive than
the near view, because it borrowed a bright azure tinge from the
intervening atmosphere; but the jagged peaks and the perpendicular
streaks of shadow down the flanks of the mountainous background

[p.253] showed that yet in store for us was no change for the better.

Between 10 and 11 P.M., we reached human habitations-a phenomenon
unseen since we left Al-Musahhal-in the shape of a long straggling
village. It is called Al-Hamra, from the redness of the sands near
which it is built, or Al-Wasitah, the "half-way," because it is the
middle station between Yambu' and Al-Madinah. It is therefore
considerably out of place in Burckhardt's map; and those who copy from
him make it much nearer the sea-port than it really is. We wandered
nearly an hour in search of an encamping station, for the surly
villagers ordered us off every flatter bit of ground, without, however,
deigning to show us where our jaded beasts might rest. At last, after
long wrangling, we found the usual spot; the camels were unloaded, the
boxes and baggage were disposed in a circle for greater security
against the petty pilferers in which this part of the road abounds, and
my companions spread their rugs so as to sleep upon their valuables. I
was invited to follow the general example; but I absolutely declined
the vicinity of so many steaming and snoring fellow-travellers. Some
wonder was excited by the Afghan Haji's obstinacy and recklessness; but
resistance to these people is sometimes bien place, and a man from
Kabul is allowed to say and to do strange things. In answer to their
warnings of nightly peril, I placed a drawn sword by my side[FN#19] and
a cocked pistol under my pillow, the saddle-bag: a carpet spread upon
the cool loose sand formed by no means an uncomfortable couch, and upon
it I enjoyed a sound sleep till day-break.

Rising at dawn (July 21), I proceeded to visit the village. It is built
upon a narrow shelf at the top of a precipitous hill to the North, and
on the South runs a sandy

[p.254] Fiumara about half a mile broad. On all sides are rocks and
mountains rough and stony; so you find yourself in another of those
punch-bowls which the Arabs seem to consider choice sites for
settlements.[FN#20] The Fiumara, hereabouts very winding, threads the
high grounds all the way down from the plateau of Al-Madinah: during
the rainy season it becomes a raging torrent, carrying westwards to the
Red Sea the drainage of a hundred hills. Water of good quality is
readily found in it by digging a few feet below the surface at the
angles where the stream forms the deepest hollows, and in some places
the stony sides give out bubbling springs.[FN#21]

Al-Hamra itself is a collection of stunted houses or rather hovels,
made of unbaked brick and mud, roofed over with palm leaves, and
pierced with air-holes, which occasionally boast a bit of plank for a
shutter. It appears thickly populated in the parts where the walls are
standing, but, like all settlements in the Holy Land, Al-Hijaz,[FN#23]
it abounds in ruins. It is well supplied with provisions, which are
here cheaper than at Al-Madinah,-a circumstance that induced Sa'ad the
Demon to overload his hapless camel with a sack of wheat. In the
village are a few shops where grain, huge plantains, ready-made bread,

[p.255] clarified butter, and other edibles are to be purchased. Palm
orchards of considerable extent supply it with dates. The bazar is,
like the generality of such places in the villages of Eastern Arabia, a
long lane, here covered with matting, there open to the sun, and the
narrow streets-if they may be so called-are full of dust and glare.
Near the encamping ground of caravans is a fort for the officer
commanding a troop of Albanian cavalry, whose duty it is to defend the
village,[FN#24] to hold the country, and to escort merchant travellers.
The building consists of an outer wall of hewn stone, loopholed for
musketry, and surmounted by "Shararif," "remparts coquets," about as
useful against artillery as the sugar gallery round a Twelfth-cake.
Nothing would be easier than to take the place: a false attack would
draw off the attention of the defenders, who in these latitudes know
nothing of sentry-duty, whilst scaling-ladders or a bag full of powder
would command a ready entrance into the other side. Around the Al-Hamra
fort are clusters of palm-leaf huts, where the soldiery lounge and
smoke, and near it is the usual coffee-house, a shed kept by an
Albanian. These places are frequented probably on account of the
intense heat inside the fort. We passed a comfortless day at the "Red
Village." Large flocks of sheep and goats were being driven in and out
of the place, but their surly shepherds would give no milk, even in
exchange for bread and meat. The morning was spent in watching certain
Badawin, who, matchlock in hand, had climbed the hills in pursuit of a
troop of cranes: not one bird was hit of the many fired at-a
circumstance which did not say much for their vaunted marksmanship.
Before breakfast I bought a moderately sized sheep for a dollar.

[p.256] Shaykh Hamid "halaled[FN#25]" (butchered) it, according to
rule, and my companions soon prepared a feast of boiled mutton. But
that sheep proved a "bone of contention." The boy Mohammed had, in a
fit of economy, sold its head to a Badawi for three piastres, and the
others, disappointed in their anticipations of "haggis," lost temper.
With the "Demon's" voluble tongue and impudent countenance in the van,
they opened such a volley of raillery and sarcasm upon the young
"tripe-seller," that he in his turn became excited-furious. I had some
difficulty to keep the peace, for it did not suit my interests that
they should quarrel. But to do the Arabs justice, nothing is easier for
a man who knows them than to work upon their good feelings. "He is a
stranger in your country-a guest!" acted as a charm; they listened
patiently to Mohammed's gross abuse, only promising to answer him when
in his land, that is to say, near Meccah. But what especially soured
our day was the report that Sa'ad, the great robber-chief, and his
brother were in the field; consequently that our march would be delayed
for some time: every half-hour some fresh tattle from the camp or the
coffee-house added fuel to the fire of our impatience.

A few particulars about this Schinderhans of Al-Hijaz[FN#26] may not be
unacceptable. He is the chief of the Sumaydah and the Mahamid, two
influential sub-families of the Hamidah, the principal family of the
Beni-Harb tribe of Badawin. He therefore aspired to rule all the
Hamidah, and through them the Beni-Harb, in which case he would have
been, de facto, monarch of the Holy Land. But the Sharif of Meccah, and
Ahmad Pasha,

[p.257] the Turkish governor of the chief city, for some political
reason degraded him, and raised up a rival in the person of Shaykh
Fahd, another ruffian of a similar stamp, who calls himself chief of
the Beni-Amr, the third sub-family of the Hamidah family. Hence all
kinds of confusion. Sa'ad's people, who number it is said 5000, resent,
with Arab asperity, the insult offered to their chief, and beat Fahd's,
who do not amount to 800. Fahd, supported by the government, cuts off
Sa'ad's supplies. Both are equally wild and reckless, and-nowhere doth
the glorious goddess, Liberty, show a more brazen face than in this

"Inviolate land of the brave and the free;"

both seize the opportunity of shooting troopers, of plundering
travellers, and of closing the roads. This state of things continued
till I left the Hijaz, when the Sharif of Meccah proposed, it was said,
to take the field in person against the arch-robber. And, as will
afterwards be seen in these pages, Sa'ad, had the audacity to turn back
the Sultan's Mahmil or litter-the ensign of Imperial power-and to shut
the road against its cortege, because the Pashas of Al-Madinah and of
the Damascus caravan would not guarantee his restitution to his former
dignity. That such vermin is allowed to exist proves the imbecility of
the Turkish government. The Sultan pays pensions in corn and cloth to
the very chiefs who arm their varlets against him; and the Pashas,
after purloining all they can, hand over to their enemies the means of
resistance. It is more than probable, that Abd al-Majid has never heard
a word of truth concerning Al-Hijaz, and that fulsome courtiers
persuade him that men there tremble at his name. His government,
however, is desirous, if report speaks truth, of thrusting Al-Hijaz
upon the Egyptian, who on his side would willingly pay a large sum to
avert such calamity. The Holy Land drains off Turkish gold and blood in
abundance, and the

[p.258] lords of the country hold in it a contemptible position. If
they catch a thief, they dare not hang him. They must pay black-mail,
and yet be shot at in every pass. They affect superiority over the
Arabs, hate them, and are despised by them. Such in Al-Hijaz are the
effects of the charter of Gulkhanah, a panacea, like Holloway's Pills,
for all the evils to which Turkish, Arab, Syrian, Greek, Egyptian,
Persian, Armenian, Kurd, and Albanian flesh is heir to. Such the
results of the Tanzimat, the silliest copy of Europe's
folly-bureaucracy and centralisation-that the pen of empirical
statecraft ever traced.[FN#27] Under a strong-handed and strong-hearted
despotism, like Mohammed Ali's, Al-Hijaz, in one generation, might be
purged of its pests. By a proper use of the blood feud; by vigorously
supporting the weaker against the stronger classes; by regularly
defeating every Badawi who earns a name for himself; and, above all, by
the exercise of unsparing, unflinching justice,[FN#28] the few
thousands of half-naked bandits, who now make the land a fighting
field, would soon sink into utter insignificance.

[p.259] But to effect such end, the Turks require the old stratocracy,
which, bloody as it was, worked with far less misery than the charter
and the new code. What Milton calls

"The solid rule of civil government"

has done wonders for the race that nurtured and brought to perfection
an idea spontaneous to their organisation. The world has yet to learn
that the admirable exotic will thrive amongst the country gentlemen of
Monomotapa or the ragged nobility of Al-Hijaz.[FN#29] And it requires
no prophetic eye to foresee the day when the Wahhabis or the Badawin,
rising en masse, will rid the land of its feeble conquerors.[FN#30]

Sa'ad, the Old Man of the Mountains, was described to me as a little
brown Badawi; contemptible in appearance, but remarkable for courage
and ready wit. He has for treachery a keen scent, which he requires to
keep in exercise. A blood feud with Abd al-Muttalib, the present Sharif
of Meccah, who slew his nephew, and the hostility of several Sultans,
has rendered his life eventful. He lost all his teeth by poison, which
would have killed him, had he not, after swallowing the potion,
corrected it by drinking off a large potfull of clarified butter. Since
that time he has lived entirely upon fruits, which he gathers for
himself, and

[p.260] coffee which he prepares with his own hands. In Sultan Mahmud's
time he received from Constantinople a gorgeous purse, which he was
told to open, as it contained something for his private inspection.
Suspecting treachery, he gave it for this purpose to a slave, bidding
him carry it to some distance; the bearer was shot by a pistol
cunningly fixed, like Rob Roy's, in the folds of the bag. Whether this
far-known story be "true or only well found," it is certain that Shaykh
Sa'ad now fears the Turks, even "when they bring gifts." The Sultan
sends, or is supposed to send him, presents of fine horses, robes of
honour, and a large quantity of grain. But the Shaykh, trusting to his
hills rather than to steeds, sells them; he gives away the dresses to
his slaves, and he distributes the grain amongst his clansmen. Of his
character, men, as usual, tell two tales: some praise his charity, and
call him the friend of the poor, as certainly as he is a foe to the
rich. Others, on the contrary, describe him as cruel, cold-blooded, and
notably, even among Arabs, revengeful and avaricious. The truth
probably lies between these two extremes, but I observed that those of
my companions who spoke most highly of the robber chief when at a
distance seemed to be in the sudori freddi whilst under the shadow of
his hills.

Al-Hamra is the third station from Al-Madinah in the Darb Sultani, the
"Sultan's" or "High Road," the Westerly line leading to Meccah along
the sea-coast. When the robbers permit, the pilgrims prefer this route
on account of its superior climate, the facility of procuring water and
supplies, the vicinity of the sea, and the circumstance of its passing
through "Badr," the scene of the Prophet's principal military exploits
(A.H. 2). After mid-day, on the 21st July, when we had made up our
minds that Fate had determined we should halt at Al-Hamra, a caravan
arrived from Meccah; and the new travellers had interest to procure an
escort, and permission

[p.261] to proceed without delay towards Al-Madinah. The good news
filled us with joy. A little after four P.M. we urged our panting
camels over the fiery sands to join the Meccans, who were standing
ready for the march, on the other side of the torrent bed. An hour
afterwards we started in an Easterly direction.

My companions having found friends and relations in the Meccan
caravan,-the boy Mohammed's elder brother, about whom more anon, was of
the number,-were full of news and excitement. At sunset they prayed
with unction: even Sa'ad and Hamid had not the face to sit their camels
during the halt, when all around were washing, sanding
themselves,[FN#31] and busy with their devotions. We then ate our
suppers, remounted, and started once more. Shortly after night set in,
we came to a sudden halt. A dozen different reports rose to account for
this circumstance, which was occasioned by a band of Badawin, who had
manned a gorge, and sent forward a "parliamentary," ordering us
forthwith to stop. They at first demanded money to let us pass; but at
last, hearing that we were Sons of the Holy Cities, they granted us
transit on the sole condition that the military,-whom they, like Irish
peasants, hate and fear,-should return to whence they came. Upon this,
our escort, 200 men, wheeled their horses round and galloped back to
their barracks. We moved onwards, without, however, seeing any robbers;
my camel-man pointed out their haunts, and showed me a small bird
hovering over a place where he supposed water trickled from the rock.
The fellow had attempted a sneer at my expense when the fray was
impending. "Why don't you load your pistols, Effendi,"

[p.262] he cried, "and get out of your litter, and show fight?"
"Because," I replied as loudly, "in my country, when dogs run at us, we
thrash them with sticks." This stopped Mansur's mouth for a time, but
he and I were never friends. Like the lowest orders of Orientals, he
required to be ill-treated; gentleness and condescension he seemed to
consider a proof of cowardice or of imbecility. I began with kindness,
but was soon compelled to use hard words at first, and then threats,
which, though he heard them with frowns and mutterings, produced
manifest symptoms of improvement.

"Oignez vilain, il vous poindra!
Poignez vilain, il vous oindra!"

says the old French proverb, and the axiom is more valuable in the East
even than in the West.

Our night's journey had no other incident. We travelled over rising
ground with the moon full in our faces; and, about midnight, we passed
through another long straggling line of villages, called
Jadaydah,[FN#32] or Al-Khayf.[FN#33] The principal part of it lies on
the left of the road going to Al-Madinah; it has a fort like that of
Al-Hamra, springs of tolerable drinking water, a Nakhil or date-ground,
and a celebrated (dead) saint, Abd al-Rahim al-Burai. A little beyond
it lies the Bughaz[FN#34] or defile, where in A.D. 1811 Tussun Bey and
his 8000 Turks were totally defeated by 25,000 Harbi Badawin and

[p.263] This is a famous attacking-point of the Beni-Harb. In former
times both Jazzar Pasha, the celebrated "butcher" of Syria, and
Abdullah Pasha of Damascus, were baffled at the gorge of
Jadaydah[FN#36]; and this year the commander of the Syrian caravan,
afraid of risking an attack at a place so ill-omened, avoided it by
marching upon Meccah via the Desert road of Nijd. At four A.M., having
travelled about twenty-four miles due East, we encamped at Bir Abbas.

[FN#1] Alluding to the celebrated mountain, the "Hindu-kush," whence
the Afghans sallied forth to lay waste India.
[FN#2] Throughout this work I have estimated the pace of a Hijazi
camel, laden and walking in caravan line, under ordinary circumstances,
at two geographical miles an hour. A sandy plain or a rocky pass might
make a difference of half a mile each way, but not more.
[FN#3] See Chap. VIII., page 152, note 1, ante.
[FN#4] The reader must be warned that these little villages in Arabia,
as in Sind and Baluchistan, are continually changing their names,
whilst the larger settlements always retain the same. The traveller,
too, must beware of writing down the first answer he receives; in one
of our maps a village on the Euphrates is gravely named "M'adri,"
("Don't know").
[FN#5] Here called Samn, the Indian ghee.
[FN#6] The "Kahk" in this country is a light and pleasant bread made of
ground wheat, kneaded with milk, leavened with sour bean flour, and
finally baked in an oven, not, as usual, in the East, upon an iron
plate. The Kahk of Egypt is a kind of cake.
[FN#7] Stale unleavened bread is much relished by Easterns, who say
that keeping it on journeys makes it sweet. To prevent its becoming
mouldy, they cut it up into little bits, and, at the risk of hardening
it to the consistence of wood, they dry it by exposure to the air.
[FN#8] This Akit has different names in all parts of Arabia; even in
Al-Hijaz it is known by the name of Mazir, as well as, "Igt," (the
corruption of Akit). When very sour, it is called "Saribah," and when
dried, without boiling, "Jamidah." The Arabs make it by evaporating the
serous part of the milk; the remainder is then formed into cakes or
lumps with the hand, and spread upon hair cloth to dry. They eat it
with clarified butter, and drink it melted in water. It is considered a
cooling and refreshing beverage, but boasts few attractions to the
stranger. The Baluchis and wild tribes of Sindians call this
preparation of milk "Krut," and make it in the same way as the Badawin
[FN#9] In Arabic and Hebrew, milk; the Maltese give the word a very
different signification, and the Egyptians, like the Syrians, confine
their use of it to sour milk or curds-calling sweet milk "laban halib,"
or simply "halib."
[FN#10] In a previous work (History of Sind), I have remarked that
there exists some curious similarity in language and customs between
the Arabs and the various races occupying the broad ranges of hills
that separate India from Persia. Amongst these must be numbered the
prejudice alluded to above. The lamented Dr. Stocks, of Bombay, who
travelled amongst and observed the Brahui and the Baluchi nomads in the
Pashin valley, informed me that, though they will give milk in exchange
for other commodities, yet they consider it a disgrace to make money by
it. This, methinks, is too conventional a point of honour to have
sprung up spontaneously in two countries so distant, and apparently so
[FN#11] At Aden, as well as in Sind, these dry storms abound, and there
the work of meteorological investigation would be easier than in
[FN#12] "Beni-Kalb," (or Juhaynah, Chap. X.), would mean the
"Dogs'-Sons"-"Beni-Harb," the "Sons of Fight."
[FN#13] The Shintiyan is the common sword-blade of the Badawin; in
Western Arabia, it is called Majar (from the Magyars?), and is said to
be of German manufacture. Good old weapons of the proper curve, marked
like Andrew Ferraras with a certain number of lines down their length,
will fetch, even in Arabia, from L7 to L8. The modern and cheap ones
cost about 10s. Excellent weapons abound in this country, the reason
being that there is a perpetual demand for them, and when once
purchased, they become heir-looms in the family. I have heard that when
the Beni Bu Ali tribe, near Ras al-Khaymah, was defeated with slaughter
by Sir Lionel Smith's expedition, the victors found many valuable old
European blades in the hands of the slain.
[FN#14] The way of carrying off a camel in this country is to loosen
him, and then to hang on heavily to his tail, which causes him to start
at full gallop.
[FN#15] The Arabic Misyal, Masyal, Masil, or Masilah, is the Indian
Nullah and the Sicilian "Fiumara," a hill water-course, which rolls a
torrent during and after rain, and is either partially or wholly dry at
other seasons,-the stream flowing slowly underground. In England we
want the feature, and therefore there is no single word to express it.
Our "River" is an imperfect way of conveying the idea.
[FN#16] Generalisation is not the forte of the Arabic language.
"Al-Kulzum" (the Red Sea), for instance, will be unintelligible to the
native of Jeddah; call it the Sea of Jeddah, and you at once explain
yourself; so the Badawin will have names for each separate part, but no
single one to express the whole. This might be explained by their
ignorance of anything but details. The same thing is observable,
however, in the writings of the Arabian geographers when they come to
treat of the objects near home.

[FN#17] About the classic "Harrah," I shall have more to say at a
future time. The word "Ria" in literary and in vulgar Arabic is almost
synonymous with Akabah, a steep descent, a path between hills or a
mountain road.
[FN#18] Valleys may be divided into three kinds. 1. Longitudinal, i.e.
parallel to the axis of their ridges; 2. Transversal or perpendicular
to the same; and, 3. Diagonal, which form an acute or an obtuse angle
with the main chain of mountains.
[FN#19] This act, by the bye, I afterwards learned to be a greater act
of imprudence than the sleeping alone. Nothing renders the Arab thief
so active as the chance of stealing a good weapon.
[FN#20] Probably, because water is usually found in such places. In the
wild parts of the country, wells are generally protected by some
fortified building, for men consider themselves safe from an enemy
until their supply of water is cut off.
[FN#22] Near Al-Hamra, at the base of the Southern hills, within fire
of the forts, there is a fine spring of sweet water. All such fountains
are much prized by the people, who call them "Rock-water," and
attribute to them tonic and digestive virtues.
[FN#23] As far as I could discover, the reason of the ruinous state of
the country at present is the effect of the old Wahhabi and Egyptian
wars in the early part of the present century, and the misrule of the
Turks. In Arabia the depopulation of a village or a district is not to
be remedied, as in other countries, by an influx of strangers; the land
still belongs to the survivors of the tribe, and trespass would be
visited with a bloody revenge.
[FN#24] Without these forts the Turks, at least so said my companions,
could never hold the country against the Badawin. There is a little
amour propre in the assertion, but upon the whole it is true. There are
no Mohammed Alis, Jazzars, and Ibrahim Pachas in these days.
[FN#25] To "halal" is to kill an animal according to Moslem rites: a
word is wanted to express the act, and we cannot do better than to
borrow it from the people to whom the practice belongs.
[FN#26] He is now dead, and has been succeeded by a son worse than
[FN#27] The greatest of all its errors was that of appointing to the
provinces, instead of the single Pasha of the olden time, three
different governors, civil, military, and fiscal, all depending upon
the supreme council at Constantinople. Thus each province has three
plunderers instead of one, and its affairs are referred to a body that
can take no interest in it.
[FN#28] Ziyad bin Abihi was sent by Al-Mu'awiyah, the Caliph, to reform
Al-Basrah, a den of thieves; he made a speech, noticed that he meant to
rule with the sword, and advised all offenders to leave the city. The
inhabitants were forbidden under pain of death to appear in the streets
after evening prayers, and dispositions were made to secure the
execution of the penalty. Two hundred persons were put to death by the
patrol during the first night, only five during the second, and not a
drop of blood was shed afterwards. By similar severity, the French put
an end to assassination at Naples, and the Austrians at Leghorn. We may
deplore the necessity of having recourse to such means, but it is a
silly practice to salve the wound which requires the knife.
[FN#29] These remarks were written in 1853: I see no reason to change
them in 1878.
[FN#30] A weak monarch, a degenerate government, a state whose
corruption is evidenced by moral decay, a revenue bolstered up by a
system of treasury paper, which even the public offices discount at
from three to six per cent., an army accustomed to be beaten, and
disorganised provinces; these, together with the proceedings of a
ruthless and advancing enemy, form the points of comparison between the
Constantinople of the present day and the Byzantine metropolis eight
hundred years ago. Fate has marked upon the Ottoman Empire in Europe
"delenda est": we are now witnessing the efforts of human energy and
ingenuity to avert or to evade the fiat.
[FN#31] When water cannot be obtained for ablution before prayers,
Moslems clap the palms of their hands upon the sand, and draw them down
the face and both fore-arms. This operation, which is performed once or
twice-it varies in different schools-is called Tayammum.
[FN#32] I write this word as my companions pronounced it. Burckhardt
similarly gives it "Djedeyde," and Ali Bey "Djideïda." Giovanni Finati
wrongly calls the place "Jedeed Bughaz," which Mr. Bankes, his editor,
rightly translates the "new opening or pass."
[FN#33] Al-Khayf is a common name for places in this part of Arabia.
The word literally means a declivity or a place built upon a declivity.
[FN#34] Bughaz means in Turkish the fauces, the throat, and signifies
also here a gorge, or a mountain pass. It is the word now commonly used
in Al-Hijaz for the classical "Nakb," or "Mazik." Vincent (Periplus)
errs in deriving the word from the Italian "Bocca."
[FN#35] Giovanni Finati, who was present at this hard-fought field as a
soldier in Tussun's army, gives a lively description of the disastrous
"day of Jadaydah" in vol. i. of his work.
[FN#36] This Abdullah, Pasha of Damascus, led the caravan in A.D. 1756.
When the Shaykhs of the Harb tribe came to receive their black-mail, he
cut off their heads, and
sent the trophies to Stambul. During the next season the Harb were
paralysed by the blow, but in the third year they levied 80,000 men,
attacked the caravan, pillaged it, and slew every Turk that fell into
their hands.



THE 22nd July was a grand trial of temper to our little party. The
position of Bir Abbas exactly resembles that of Al-Hamra, except that
the bulge of the hill-girt Fiumara is at this place about two miles
wide. There are the usual stone-forts and palm-leaved hovels for the
troopers, stationed here to hold the place and to escort travellers,
with a coffee-shed, and a hut or two, called a bazar, but no village.
Our encamping ground was a bed of loose sand, with which the violent
Samum filled the air; not a tree or a bush was in sight; a species of
hardy locust and swarms of flies were the only remnants of animal life:
the scene was a caricature of Sind. Although we were now some hundred
feet, to judge by the water-shed, above the level of the sea, the
mid-day sun scorched even through the tent; our frail tenement was more
than once blown down, and the heat of the sand made the work of
repitching it painful. Again my companions, after breakfasting, hurried
to the coffee-house, and returned one after the other with dispiriting
reports. Then they either quarrelled desperately about nothing, or they
threw themselves on their rugs, pretending to sleep in very sulkiness.
The lady Maryam soundly rated her surly son for refusing to fill her
chibuk for the twelfth time that morning, with the usual religious
phrases, "Allah direct thee into the right way, O my son!"-meaning that
he was going to the bad, and "O my calamity, thy mother is a lone
woman, O Allah!"-equivalent to the

[p.265] European parental plaint about grey hairs being brought down in
sorrow to the grave. Before noon a small caravan which followed us came
in with two dead bodies,-a trooper shot by the Badawin, and an Albanian
killed by sun-stroke, or the fiery wind.[FN#1] Shortly after mid-day a
Caravan, travelling in an opposite direction, passed by us; it was
composed chiefly of Indian pilgrims, habited in correct costume, and
hurrying towards Meccah in hot haste. They had been allowed to pass
unmolested, because probably a pound sterling could not have been
collected from a hundred pockets, and Sa'ad the Robber sometimes does a
cheap good deed. But our party,

[p.266] having valuables with them, did not seem to gather heart from
this event. In the evening we all went out to see some Arab Shaykhs who
were travelling to Bir Abbas in order to receive their salaries.
Without such douceurs, it is popularly said and believed, no stone
walls could enable a Turk to hold Al-Hijaz against the hill-men. Such
was our system in Afghanistan-most unwise, teaching in limine the
subject to despise rulers subject to blackmail. Besides which, these
highly paid Shaykhs do no good. When a fight takes place or a road is
shut, they profess inability to restrain their clansmen; and the richer
they are, of course the more formidable they become. The party looked
well; they were Harb, dignified old men in the picturesque Arab
costume, with erect forms, fierce thin features, and white beards, well
armed, and mounted upon high-bred and handsomely equipped dromedaries
from Al-Shark.[FN#2] Preceded by their half-naked clansmen, carrying
spears twelve or thirteen feet long, garnished with single or double
tufts of black ostrich feathers, and ponderous matchlocks, which were
discharged on approaching the fort, they were not without a kind of
barbaric pomp.

Immediately after the reception of these Shaykhs, there was a parade of
the Arnaut Irregular horse. About 500 of them rode out to the sound of
the Nakus or little kettle-drum, whose puny notes strikingly contrasted
with this really martial sight. The men, it is true, were mounted on
lean Arab and Egyptian nags, ragged-looking as their clothes; and each
trooper was armed

[p.267] in his own way, though all had swords, pistols and matchlocks,
or firelocks of some kind. But they rode hard as Galway "buckeens," and
there was a gallant reckless look about the fellows which prepossessed
me strongly in their favour. Their animals, too, though notable
"screws," were well trained, and their accoutrements were intended for
use, not show. I watched their manoeuvres with curiosity. They left
their cantonments one by one, and, at the sound of the tom-tom, by
degrees formed a "plump" or "herse"-column[FN#3] it could not be
called-all huddled together in confusion. Presently the little
kettle-drum changed its note and the parade its aspect. All the serried
body dispersed as would Light Infantry, now continuing their advance,
then hanging back, then making a rush, and all the time keeping up a
hot fire upon the enemy. At another signal they suddenly put their
horses to full speed, and, closing upon the centre, again advanced in a
dense mass. After three-quarters of an hour parading, sometimes
charging singly, often in bodies, to the right, to the left, and
straight in front, halting when requisite, and occasionally retreating,
Parthian-like, the Arnauts turned en masse towards their lines. As they
neared them, all broke off and galloped in, ventre a terre, discharging
their shotted guns with much recklessness against objects assumed to
denote the enemy. But ball-cartridge seemed to be plentiful hereabouts;
during the whole of this and the next day, I remarked that bullets,
notched for noise, were fired away in mere fun.[FN#4]

[p.268] Barbarous as these movements may appear to the Cavalry Martinet
of the "good old school," yet to something of the kind will the tactics
of that arm of the service, I humbly opine, return, when the perfect
use of the rifle, the revolver, and field artillery shall have made the
present necessarily slow system fatal. Also, if we adopt the common
sense opinion of a modern writer,[FN#5] and determine that "individual
prowess, skill in single combats, good horsemanship, and sharp swords
render cavalry formidable," these semi-barbarians are wiser in their
generation than the civilised, who never practise arms (properly so
called), whose riding-drill never made a good rider, whose horses are
over-weighted, and whose swords are worthless. They have yet another
point of superiority over us; they cultivate the individuality of the
soldier, whilst we strive to make him a mere automaton. In the days of
European chivalry, battles were a system of well-fought duels. This was
succeeded by the age of discipline, when, to use the language of
Rabelais, "men seemed rather a consort of organ-pipes, or mutual
concord of the wheels of a clock, than an infantry and cavalry, or army
of soldiers." Our aim should now be to combine the merits of both
systems; to make men individually

[p.269] excellent in the use of weapons, and still train them to act
naturally and habitually in concert. The French have given a model to
Europe in the Chasseurs de Vincennes,-a body capable of most perfect
combination, yet never more truly excellent than when each man is
fighting alone. We, I suppose, shall imitate them at some future

A distant dropping of fire-arms ushered in the evening of our first
melancholy day at Bir Abbas. This, said my companions, was a sign that
the troops and the hill-men were fighting. They communicated the
intelligence, as if it ought to be an effectual check upon my
impatience to proceed; it acted, however, in the contrary way. I
supposed that the Badawin, after battling out the night, would be less
warlike the next day; the others, however, by no means agreed in
opinion with me. At Yambu' the whole party had boasted loudly that the
people of Al-Madinah could keep their Badawin in order, and had twitted
the boy Mohammed with their superiority in this respect to his
townsmen, the Meccans. But now that a trial was impending, I saw none
of the fearlessness so conspicuous when peril was only possible. The
change was charitably to be explained by the presence of their
valuables; the "Sahharahs," like conscience, making cowards of them
all. But the young Meccan, who, having sent on his box by sea from

[p.270] to Jeddah, felt merry, like the empty traveller, would not lose
the opportunity to pay off old scores. He taunted the Madinites till
they stamped and raved with fury. At last, fearing some violence, and
feeling answerable for the boy's safety to his family, I seized him by
the nape of his neck and the upper posterior portion of his nether
garments, and drove him before me into the tent.

When the hubbub had subsided, and all sat after supper smoking the pipe
of peace in the cool night air, I rejoined my companions, and found
them talking, as usual, about old Shaykh Sa'ad. The scene was
appropriate for the subject. In the distance rose the blue peak said to
be his eyrie, and the place was pointed out with fearful meaning. As it
is inaccessible to strangers, report has converted it into another
garden of Iram. A glance, however, at its position and formation
satisfied me that the bubbling springs, the deep forests, and the
orchards of apple-trees, quinces and pomegranates, with which my
companions furnished it, were a "myth," whilst some experience of Arab
ignorance of the art of defence suggested to me strong doubts about the
existence of an impregnable fortress on the hill-top. The mountains,
however, looked beautiful in the moonlight, and distance gave them a
semblance of mystery well suited to the themes which they inspired.

That night I slept within my Shugduf, for it would have been mere
madness to sleep on the open plain in a place so infested by banditti.
The being armed is but a poor precaution near this robbers' den. If you
wound a man in the very act of plundering, an exorbitant sum must be
paid for blood-money. If you kill him, even to save your life, then
adieu to any chance of escaping destruction. Roused three or four times
during the night by jackals and dogs prowling about our little camp, I
observed that my companions, who had agreed amongst themselves to keep
watch by turns, had all

[p.271] fallen into a sound sleep. However, when we awoke in the
morning, the usual inspection of goods and chattels showed that nothing
was gone.

The next day (July 23rd) was a forced halt, a sore stimulant to the
traveller's ill-humour; and the sun, the sand, the dust, the furious
Samum, and the want of certain small supplies, aggravated our
grievance. My sore foot had been inflamed by a dressing of onion skin
which the lady Maryam had insisted upon applying to it.[FN#7] Still
being resolved to push forward by any conveyance that could be
procured, I offered ten dollars for a fresh dromedary to take me on to
Al- Madinah. Shaykh Hamid also declared he would leave his box in
charge of a friend and accompany me. Sa'ad the Demon flew into a
passion at the idea of any member of the party escaping the general
evil; and he privily threatened Mohammed to cut off the legs of any
camel that ventured into camp. This, the boy-who, like a boy of the
world as he was, never lost an opportunity of making mischief-instantly
communicated to me, and it brought on a furious dispute. Sa'ad was
reproved and apologised for by the rest of the party; and presently he
himself was pacified, principally, I believe, by the intelligence that
no camel was to be hired at Bir Abbas. One of the Arnaut garrison, who
had obtained leave to go to Al-Madinah, came to ask us if we could
mount him, as otherwise he should be obliged to walk the whole way.
With him we debated the propriety of attempting a passage through the
hills by one of the many by-paths that traverse them: the project was
amply discussed, and duly rejected.

We passed the day in the usual manner; all crowded

[p.272] together for shelter under the tent. Even Maryam joined us,
loudly informing Ali, her son, that his mother was no longer a woman
but a man; whilst our party generally, cowering away from the fierce
glances of the sun, were either eating or occasionally smoking, or were
occupied in cooling and drinking water. About sunset-time came a report
that we were to start that night. None could believe that such good was
in store for us; before sleeping, however, we placed each camel's pack
apart, so as to be ready for loading at a moment's notice; and we took
care to watch that our Badawin did not drive their animals away to any
distance. At last, about 11 P.M., as the moon was beginning to peep
over the Eastern wall of rock, was heard the glad sound of the little
kettle-drum calling the Albanian troopers to mount and march. In the
shortest possible time all made ready; and, hurriedly crossing the
sandy flat, we found ourselves in company with three or four Caravans,
forming one large body for better defence against the dreaded
Hawamid.[FN#8] By dint of much manoeuvring, arms in hand,-Shaykh Hamid
and the "Demon" took the prominent parts,-we, though the last comers,
managed to secure places about the middle of the line. On such
occasions all push forward recklessly, as an English mob in the strife
of sight-seeing; the rear, being left unguarded, is the place of
danger, and none seeks the honour of occupying it.

We travelled that night up the Fiumara in an Easterly direction, and at
early dawn (July 24th) found ourselves in an ill-famed gorge called
Shuab al-Hajj,[FN#9] the "Pilgrimage Pass." The loudest talkers became
silent as we neared it, and their countenances showed apprehension
written in legible characters. Presently from the high precipitous

[p.273] cliff on our left, thin blue curls of smoke-somehow or other
they caught every eye-rose in the air; and instantly afterwards rang
the sharp cracks of the hillmen's matchlocks, echoed by the rocks on
the right. My Shugduf had been broken by the camel's falling during the
night, so I called out to Mansur that we had better splice the
framework with a bit of rope: he looked up, saw me laughing, and with
an ejaculation of disgust disappeared. A number of Badawin were to be
seen swarming like hornets over the crests of the hills, boys as well
as men carrying huge weapons, and climbing with the agility of cats.
They took up comfortable places on the cut-throat eminence, and began
firing upon us with perfect convenience to themselves. The height of
the hills and the glare of the rising sun prevented my seeing objects
very distinctly, but my companions pointed out to me places where the
rock had been scarped, and where a kind of rough stone breastwork-the
Sangah of Afghanistan-had been piled up as a defence, and a rest for
the long barrel of the matchlock. It was useless to challenge the
Badawin to come down and fight us like men upon the plain; they will do
this on the Eastern coast of Arabia, but rarely, if ever, in Al-Hijaz.
And it was equally unprofitable for our escort to fire upon a foe
ensconced behind stones. Besides which, had a robber been killed, the
whole country would have risen to a man; with a force of 3,000 or
4,000, they might have gained courage to overpower a Caravan, and in
such a case not a soul would have escaped. As it was, the Badawin
directed their fire principally against the Albanians. Some of these
called for assistance to the party of Shaykhs that accompanied us from
Bir Abbas; but the dignified old men, dismounting and squatting in
council round their pipes, came to the conclusion that, as the robbers
would probably turn a deaf ear to their words, they had better spare
themselves the trouble of speaking.

[p.274] We had therefore nothing to do but to blaze away as much
powder, and to veil ourselves in as much smoke, as possible; the result
of the affair was that we lost twelve men, besides camels and other
beasts of burden. Though the bandits showed no symptoms of bravery, and
confined themselves to slaughtering the enemy from their hill-top, my
companions seemed to consider this questionable affair a most gallant

After another hour's hurried ride through the Wady Sayyalah, appeared
Shuhada, to which we pushed on,

"Like nighted swain on lonely road,
When close behind fierce goblins tread."

Shuhada is a place which derives its name, "The Martyrs," because here
are supposed to be buried forty braves that fell in one of Mohammed's
many skirmishes. Some authorities consider it the cemetery of the
people of Wady Sayyalah.[FN#10] The once populous valley is now barren,
and one might easily pass by the consecrated spot without observing a
few ruined walls and a cluster of rude Badawin graves, each an oval of
rough stones lying beneath the thorn trees on the left of and a little
off the road. Another half hour took us to a favourite halting-place,
Bir al-Hindi,[FN#11] so called from some forgotten Indian

[p.275] who dug a well there. But we left it behind, wishing to put as
much space as we could between our tents and the nests of the Hamidah.
Then quitting the Fiumara, we struck Northwards into a well-trodden
road running over stony rising ground. The heat became sickening; here,
and in the East generally, at no time is the sun more dangerous than
between eight and nine A.M. Still we hurried on. It was not before
eleven A.M. that we reached our destination, a rugged plain covered
with stones, coarse gravel, and thorn trees in abundance; and
surrounded by inhospitable rocks, pinnacle-shaped, of granite below,
and in the upper parts fine limestone. The well was at least two miles
distant, and not a hovel was in sight; a few Badawi children belonging
to an outcast tribe fed their starveling goats upon the hills. This
place is called "Suwaykah"; it is, I was told, that celebrated in the
history of the Arabs.[FN#12] Yet not for this reason did my comrades
look lovingly upon its horrors: their boxes were safe and with the eye
of imagination they could now behold their homes. That night we must
have travelled about twenty-two miles; the direction of the road was
due East, and the only remarkable feature in the ground was its steady

[p.276] We pitched the tent under a villainous Mimosa, the tree whose
shade is compared by poetic Badawin to the false friend who deserts you
in your utmost need. I enlivened the hot dull day by a final affair
with Sa'ad the Demon. His alacrity at Yambu' obtained for him the loan
of a couple of dollars: he had bought grain at Al-Hamra, and now we
were near Al-Madinah: still there was not a word about repayment. And
knowing that an Oriental debtor discharges his debt as he pays his
rent, namely, with the greatest unwillingness,-and that, on the other
hand, an Oriental creditor will devote the labour of a year to
recovering a sixpence, I resolved to act as a native of the country,
placed in my position, would; and by dint of sheer dunning and
demanding pledges, to recover my property. About noon Sa'ad the Demon,
after a furious rush, bare-headed, through the burning sun, flung the
two dollars down upon my carpet: however, he presently recovered
temper, and, as subsequent events showed, I had chosen the right part.
Had he not been forced to repay his debt, he would have despised me as
a "freshman," and would have coveted more. As it was, the boy Mohammed
bore the brunt of unpopular feeling, my want of liberality being traced
to his secret and perfidious admonitions. He supported his burden the
more philosophically, because, as he notably calculated, every dollar
saved at Al-Madinah would be spent under his stewardship at Meccah.

At four P.M. (July 24th) we left Suwaykah, all of us in the crossest of
humours, and travelled in a N.E. direction. So "out of temper" were my
companions, that at sunset, of the whole party, Omar Effendi was the
only one who would eat supper. The rest sat upon the ground, pouting,
grumbling, and-they had been allowed to exhaust my stock of
Latakia-smoking Syrian tobacco as if it were a grievance. Such a game
at naughty children, I have seldom seen played even by Oriental men.
The boy Mohammed

[p.277] privily remarked to me that the camel-men's beards were now in
his fist,-meaning that we were out of their kinsmen, the Harb's, reach.
He soon found an opportunity to quarrel with them; and, because one of
his questions was not answered in the shortest possible time, he
proceeded to abuse them in language which sent their hands flying in
the direction of their swords. Despite, however, this threatening
demeanour, the youth, knowing that he now could safely go to any
lengths, continued his ill words, and Mansur's face was so comically
furious, that I felt too much amused to interfere. At last the
camel-men disappeared, thereby punishing us most effectually for our
sport. The road lay up rocky hill and down stony vale; a tripping and
stumbling dromedary had been substituted for the usual monture: the
consequence was that we had either a totter or a tumble once per mile
during the whole of that long night. In vain the now fiery Mohammed
called for the assistance of the camel-men with the full force of his
lungs: "Where be those owls, those oxen of the oxen, those beggars,
those cut-off ones, those foreigners, those Sons of Flight[FN#13]?
withered be their hands! palsied be their fingers! the foul mustachioed
fellows, basest of the Arabs that ever hammered tent-peg, sneaking
cats, goats of Al-Akhfash![FN#14] Truly I will torture them the torture
of the oil,[FN#15] the mines of infamy! the cold of
countenance![FN#16]" The Badawi brotherhood of the camel-men looked at
him wickedly, muttering the while,-"By Allah! and by Allah!

[p.278] and by Allah! O boy, we will flog thee like a hound when we
catch thee in the Desert!" All our party called upon him to desist, but
his temper had got completely the upper hand over his discretion, and
he expressed himself in such classic and idiomatic Hijazi, that I had
not the heart to stop him. Some days after our arrival at Al-Madinah,
Shaykh Hamid warned him seriously never again to go such perilous
lengths, as the Beni Harb were celebrated for shooting or poniarding
the man who ventured to use to them even the mild epithet "O jackass!"
And in the quiet of the city the boy Mohammed, like a sobered man
shuddering at dangers braved when drunk, hearkened with discomposure
and penitence to his friend's words. The only immediate consequence of
his abuse was that my broken Shugduf became a mere ruin, and we passed
the dark hours perched like two birds upon the only entire bits of
framework the cots contained.

The sun had nearly risen (July 25th) before I shook off the lethargic
effects of such a night. All around me were hurrying their camels,
regardless of rough ground, and not a soul spoke a word to his
neighbour. "Are there robbers in sight?" was the natural question.
"No!" replied Mohammed; "they are walking with their eyes,[FN#17] they
will presently see their homes!" Rapidly we passed the Wady
al-Akik,[FN#18] of which,

"O my friend, this is Akik, then stand by it,

Endeavouring to be distracted by love, if not really a lover,"[FN#19]

[p.279] and a thousand other such pretty things, have been said by the
Arab poets. It was as "dry as summer's dust," and its "beautiful trees"
appeared in the shape of vegetable mummies. Half an hour after leaving
the "Blessed Valley" we came to a huge flight of steps roughly cut in a
long broad line of black scoriaceous basalt.	This is termed the
Mudarraj or flight of steps over the western ridge of the so-called
Al-Harratayn.[FN#20] It is holy ground; for the Apostle spoke well of
it. Arrived at the top, we passed through a lane of dark lava, with
steep banks on both sides, and after a few minutes a full view of the
city suddenly opened upon us.[FN#21]

We halted our beasts as if by word of command. All of us descended, in
imitation of the pious of old, and sat down, jaded and hungry as we
were, to feast our eyes with a view of the Holy City.

"O Allah! this is the Harim (sanctuary) of Thy Apostle; make it to us a
Protection from Hell Fire, and a Refuge from Eternal Punishment! O open
the Gates of Thy Mercy, and let us pass through them to the Land of
Joy!" and "O Allah, bless the last of Prophets, the Seal of Prophecy,
with Blessings in number

[p.280] as the Stars of Heaven, and the Waves of the Sea, and the Sands
of the Waste-bless him, O Lord of Might and Majesty, as long as the
Corn-field and the Date-grove continue to feed Mankind[FN#22]!" And
again, "Live for ever, O Most Excellent of Prophets!-live in the Shadow
of Happiness during the Hours of Night and the Times of Day, whilst the
Bird of the Tamarisk (the dove) moaneth like the childless Mother,
whilst the West-wind bloweth gently over the Hills of Nijd, and the
Lightning flasheth bright in the Firmament of Al-Hijaz!"

Such were the poetical exclamations that rose all around me, showing
how deeply tinged with imagination becomes the language of the Arab
under the influence of strong passion or religious enthusiasm. I now
understood the full value of a phrase in the Moslem ritual, "And when
his" (the pilgrim's) "eyes shall fall upon the Trees of Al-Madinah, let
him raise his Voice and bless the Apostle with the choicest of
Blessings." In al[l] the fair view before us nothing was more striking,
after the desolation through which we had passed, than the gardens and
orchards about the town. It was impossible not to enter into the spirit
of my companions, and truly I believe that for some minutes my
enthusiasm rose as high as theirs. But presently when we
remounted,[FN#23] the traveller returned strong upon me: I made a rough
sketch of the town, put questions about the principal buildings, and in
fact collected materials for the next chapter.

[p.281] The distance traversed that night was about twenty-two miles in
a direction varying from easterly to north-easterly. We reached
Al-Madinah on the 25th July, thus taking nearly eight days to travel
over little more than 130 miles. This journey is performed with camels
in four days, and a good dromedary will do it without difficulty in
half that time.[FN#24]

[FN#1] The natives of Al-Hijaz assured me that in their Allah-favoured
land, the Samum never kills a man. I "doubt the fact." This Arnaut's
body was swollen and decomposing rapidly, the true diagnostic of death
by the poison-wind. (See Ibn Batuta's voyage, "Kabul.") However, as
troopers drink hard, the Arabs may still be right, the Samum doing half
the work, arrack the rest. I travelled during the months of July,
August, and September, and yet never found myself inconvenienced by the
"poison-wind" sufficiently to make me tie my Kufiyah, Badawi-fashion,
across my mouth. At the same time I can believe that to an invalid it
would be trying, and that a man almost worn out by hunger and fatigue
would receive from it a coup de grace. Niebuhr attributes the
extraordinary mortality of his companions, amongst other causes, to a
want of stimulants. Though these might doubtless be useful in the cold
weather, or in the mountains of Al-Yaman, for men habituated to them
from early youth, yet nothing, I believe, would be more fatal than
strong drink when travelling through the Desert in summer heat. The
common beverage should be water or lemonade; the strongest stimulants
coffee or tea. It is what the natives of the country do, and doubtless
it is wise to take their example. The Duke of Wellington's dictum about
the healthiness  of India to an abstemious man does not require to be
quoted. Were it more generally followed, we should have less of
sun-stroke and sudden death in our Indian armies, when soldiers, fed
with beef and brandy, are called out to face the violent heat. At the
same time it must be remembered, that foul and stagnant water,
abounding in organic matter, is the cause of half the diarrhoea and
dysentry which prove so fatal to travellers in these regions. To the
water-drinker, therefore, a pocket-filter is indispensable.
[FN#2] Al-Shark, "the East," is the popular name in the Hijaz for the
Western region as far as Baghdad and Bassorah, especially Nijd. The
latter province supplies the Holy Land with its choicest horses and
camels. The great heats of the parts near the Red Sea appear
prejudicial to animal generation; whereas the lofty table-lands and the
broad pastures of Nijd, combined with the attention paid by the people
to purity of blood, have rendered it the greatest breeding country in

[FN#3] I mean a civilised column. "Herse" is the old military name for
a column opposed to "Haye," a line. So we read that at far-famed Cressy
the French fought en battaille a haye, the English drawn up en herse.
This appears to have been the national predilection of that day. In
later times, we and our neighbours changed style, the French preferring
heavy columns, the English extending themselves into lines.
[FN#4] The Albanians, delighting in the noise of musketry, notch the
ball in order to make it sing the louder. When fighting, they often
adopt the excellent plan-excellent, when rifles are not procurable-of
driving a long iron nail through the bullet, and fixing its head into
the cartridge. Thus the cartridge is strengthened, the bullet is
rifled, and the wound which it inflicts is death. Round balls are apt
to pass into and out of savages without killing them, and many an
Afghan, after being shot or run through the body, has mortally wounded
his English adversary before falling. It is false philanthropy, also,
to suppose that in battle, especially when a campaign is commencing, it
is sufficient to maim, not to kill, the enemy. Nothing encourages men
to fight so much, as a good chance of escaping with a wound-especially
a flesh wound. I venture to hope that the reader will not charge these
sentiments with cruelty. He who renders warfare fatal to all engaged in
it will be the greatest benefactor the world has yet known.
[FN#5] The late Captain Nolan.
[FN#6] The first symptom of improvement will be a general training to
the Bayonet exercise. The British is, and for years has been, the only
army in Europe that does not learn the use of this weapon: how long
does it intend to be the sole authority on the side of ignorance? We
laughed at the Calabrese levies, who in the French war threw away their
muskets and drew their stilettos; and we cannot understand why the
Indian would always prefer a sabre to a rifle. Yet we read without
disgust of our men being compelled, by want of proper training, to
"club their muskets" in hand-to-hand fights,-when they have in the
bayonet the most formidable of offensive weapons,-and of the Kafirs and
other savages wresting the piece, after drawing off its fire, from its
unhappy possessor's grasp.
[FN#7] I began to treat it hydropathically with a cooling bandage, but
my companions declared that the water was poisoning the wound, and
truly it seemed to get worse every day. This idea is prevalent
throughout Al-Hijaz; even the Badawin, after once washing a cut or a
sore, never allow air or water to touch it.
[FN#8] Hawamid is the plural of Hamidah, Shaykh Sa'ad's tribe.
[FN#9] Shuab properly means a path through mountains, or a watercourse
between hills. It is generally used in Arabia for a "Valley," and
sometimes instead of Nakb, or the Turkish Bughaz, a "Pass."
 [FN#10] Others attribute these graves to the Beni Salim, or Salmah, an
extinct race of Hijazi Badawin. Near Shuhada is Jabal Warkan, one of
the mountains of Paradise, also called Irk al-Zabyat, or Thread of the
Winding Torrent. The Prophet named it "Hamt," (sultriness), when he
passed through it on his way to the Battle of Badr. He also called the
valley "Sajasaj," (plural of Sajsaj, a temperate situation), declared
it was a valley of heaven, that 70 prophets had prayed there before
himself, that Moses with 70,000 Israelites had traversed it on his way
to Meccah, and that, before the Resurrection day, Isa bin Maryam should
pass through it with the intention of performing the Greater and the
Lesser Pilgrimages. Such are the past and such the future honours of
the place.
[FN#11] The Indians sink wells in Arabia for the same reason which
impels them to dig tanks at home,-"nam ke waste,"-"for the purpose of
name"; thereby denoting, together with a laudable desire for posthumous
fame, a notable lack of ingenuity in securing it. For it generally
happens that before the third generation has fallen, the well and the
tank have either lost their original names, or have exchanged them for
others newer and better known.
[FN#12] Suwaykah derives its name from the circumstance that in the
second, or third, year of the Hijrah (Hegira), Mohammed here attacked
Abu Sufiyan, who was out on a foray with 200 men. The Infidels, in
their headlong fight, lightened their beasts by emptying their bags of
"Sawik." This is the old and modern Arabic name for a dish of green
grain, toasted, pounded, mixed with dates or sugar, and eaten on
journeys when it is found difficult to cook. Such is the present
signification of the word: M.C. de Perceval (vol. iii., p. 84) gives it
a different and a now unknown meaning. And our popular authors
erroneously call the affair the "War of the Meal-sacks."
[FN#13] A popular but not a bad pun-"Harb" (Fight), becomes, by the
alteration of the H, "Harb" (Flight).
[FN#14] The old Arabic proverb is "A greater wiseacre than the goat of
Akhfash"; it is seldom intelligible to the vulgar.
[FN#15] That is to say, "I will burn them (metaphorically) as the fiery
wick consumes the oil,"-a most idiomatic Hijazi threat.
[FN#16] A "cold-of-countenance" is a fool. Arabs use the word "cold" in
a peculiar way. "May Allah refrigerate thy countenance!" i.e. may it
show misery and want. "By Allah, a cold speech!" that is to say, a
silly or an abusive tirade.
[FN#17] That is to say, they would use, if necessary, the dearest and
noblest parts of their bodies (their eyes) to do the duty of the basest
(i.e. their feet).
[FN#18] Writers mention two Al-Akik. The superior comprises the whole
site of Al-Madinah, extending from the Western Ridge, mentioned below,
to the cemetery Al-Bakia. The inferior is the Fiumara here alluded to;
it is on the Meccan road, about four miles S.W. of Al-Madinah, and its
waters fall into the Al-Hamra torrent. It is called the "Blessed
Valley" because the Prophet was ordered by an angel to pray in it.
[FN#19] The esoteric meaning of this couplet is, "Man! this is a lovely
portion of God's creation: then stand by it, and here learn to love the
perfections of thy Supreme Friend."
[FN#20] Al-Harratayn for Al-Harratani, the oblique case of the dual and
plural noun being universally used for the nominative in colloquial
Arabic. The other one of the Two Ridges will be described in a future
part of this Book.
[FN#21] The city is first seen from the top of the valley called Nakb,
or Shuab Ali, close to the Wady al-Akik, a long narrow pass, about five
miles from Al-Madinah. Here, according to some, was the Mosque Zu'l
Halifah, where the Prophet put on the Pilgrim's garb when travelling to
Meccah. It is also called "The Mosque of the Tree," because near it
grew a fruit tree under which the Prophet twice sat. Ibn Jubayr
considers that the Harim (or sacred precincts of Al-Madinah) is the
space enclosed by three points, Zu'l Halifah, Mount Ohod, and the
Mosque of Kuba. To the present day pilgrims doff their worldly garments
at Zu'l Halifah.
[FN#22] That is to say, "throughout all ages and all nations." The
Arabs divide the world into two great bodies: first themselves, and,
secondly, "'Ajami," i.e. all that are not Arabs. Similar bi-partitions
are the Hindus and Mlenchhas, the Jews and Gentiles, the Greeks and
Barbarians, &c., &c.
[FN#23] Robust religious men, especially those belonging to the school
of Al-Malik, enter into Al-Madinah, after the example of Ali, on foot,
reverently, as the pilgrims approach Meccah.
[FN#24] Barbosa makes three days' journey from Yambu' to Al-Madinah,
D'Herbelot eight, and Ovington six. The usual time is from four to five
days. A fertile source of error to home geographers, computing
distances in Arabia, is their neglecting the difference between the
slow camel travelling and the fast dromedary riding.
	The following is a synopsis of our stations:-


1. From Yambu', 18th July, to Musahhal, N.E.----------16
2. From Musahhal, 19th July, to Bir Sa'id, S. and E.--34   64 miles
3. From Bir Sa'id, 20th July, to Al-Hamra, N.E.-------14

4. From Al-Hamra, 21st July, to Bir Abbas, E.---------24
5. From Bir Abbas, 23rd July, to Suwaykah, E.---------22   68 miles
6. From Suwaykah, 24thJuly, to Al-Madinah, N. and E.--22

Total English miles----------------------------------132

[p.285]CHAPTER XV.


As we looked Eastward, the sun arose out of the horizon of low hill,
blurred and dotted with small tufted trees, which gained from the
morning mists a giant stature, and the earth was stained with purple
and gold. Before us lay a spacious plain, bounded in front by the
undulating ground of Nijd: on the left was a grim pile of rocks, the
celebrated Mount Ohod, with a clump of verdure and a white dome or two
nestling at its base. Rightwards, broad streaks of lilac-coloured
mists, here thick with gathered dew, there pierced and thinned by the
morning rays, stretched over the date groves and the gardens of Kuba,
which stood out in emerald green from the dull tawny surface of the
plain. Below, distant about two miles, lay Al-Madinah; at first sight
it appeared a large place, but a closer inspection proved the
impression to be erroneous. A tortuous road from the Harrah to the city
wound across the plain, and led to a tall rectangular gateway, pierced
in the ruinous mud-wall which surrounds the suburb. This is the
"Ambari" entrance. It is flanked on the left (speaking as a sketcher)
by the domes and minarets of a pretty Turkish building, a "Takiyah,"
erected by the late Mohammed Ali for the reception of Darwaysh
travellers; on the right by a long low line of white-washed buildings

[p.286] with ugly square windows, an imitation of civilised barracks.
Beginning from the left hand, as we sat upon the ridge, the remarkable
features of the town thus presented themselves in succession. Outside,
among the palm trees to the north of the city, were the picturesque
ruins of a large old Sabil, or public fountain; and, between this and
the enceinte, stood a conspicuous building, in the Turkish pavilion
style-the Governor's palace. On the north-west angle of the town-wall
is a tall white-washed fort, partly built upon an outcropping mass of
rock: its ramparts and embrasures give it a modern and European
appearance, which contrasts strangely with its truly Oriental
history.[FN#1] In the suburb "Al-Manakhah," the "kneeling-place of
camels," the bran-new domes and minarets of the Five Mosques stand
brightly out from the dull grey mass of house and ground. And behind,
in the most Easterly part of the city, remarkable from afar, is the gem
of Al-Madinah,-the four tall substantial towers, and the flashing green
Dome under which the Apostle's remains rest.[FN#2] Half concealed by
this mass of buildings and by the houses of the town, are certain white
specks upon a green surface, the tombs that adorn the venerable
cemetery, Al-Bakia. From that point southwards begins the mass of palm
groves celebrated in Al-Islam as the "Trees of Al-Madinah."

[p.287] The foreground is well fitted to set off such a view; fields of
black basaltic scoriae showing clear signs of a volcanic origin, are
broken up into huge blocks and boulders, through which a descent,
tolerably steep for camels, winds down into the plain.

After a few minutes' rest I remounted, and slowly rode on towards the
gate. Even at this early hour the way was crowded with an eager
multitude coming out to meet the Caravan. My companions preferred
walking, apparently for the better convenience of kissing, embracing,
and s[h]aking hands with relations and friends. Truly the Arabs show
more heart on these occasions than any Oriental people I know; they are
of a more affectionate nature than the Persians, and their manners are
far more demonstrative than those of the Indians. The respectable
Maryam's younger son, a pleasant contrast to her surly elder, was
weeping aloud for joy as he ran round his mother's camel, he standing
on tiptoe, she bending double in vain attempts to exchange a kiss; and,
generally, when near relatives or intimates, or school companions, met,
the fountains of their eyes were opened. Friends and comrades greeted
one another, regardless of rank or fortune, with affectionate embraces,
and an abundance of queries, which neither party seemed to think of
answering. The general mode of saluting was to throw one arm over the
shoulder and the other round the side, placing the chin first upon the
left and then upon the right collar-bone, and rapidly shifting till a
"jam satis" suggested itself to both parties. Inferiors recognized
their superiors by attempting to kiss hands, which were violently
snatched away; whilst mere acquaintances gave each other a cordial
"poignee de mains," and then raising the finger tips to their lips,
kissed them with apparent relish.

Passing through the Bab Ambari we defiled slowly down a broad dusty
street, and traversed the Harat

[p.288] (Quarter), Al-Ambariyah, the principal in the Manakhah suburb.
The thoroughfare is by no means remarkable after Cairo; only it is
rather wider and more regular than the traveller is accustomed to in
Asiatic cities. I was astonished to see on both sides of the way, in so
small a place, so large a number of houses too ruinous to be occupied.
Then we crossed a bridge, a single little round arch of roughly hewn
stone, built over the bed of a torrent, Al-Sayh,[FN#3] which in some
parts appeared about fifty feet broad, with banks showing a high and
deeply indented water-mark. Here the road abuts upon an open space
called the "Barr al-Manakhah.[FN#4] or more concisely Al-Barr, "the
Plain." Straightforward a line leads directly into the Bab al-Misri,
the Egyptian gate of the city. But we turned off to the right; and,
after advancing a few yards, we found ourselves at the entrance of our
friend Hamid's house.

The Shaykh had preceded us early that morning, in order to prepare an
apartment for his guests, and to receive the first loud congratulations
and embraces of his mother and the "daughter of his uncle.[FN#5]"
Apparently he had not concluded this pleasing duty when we arrived, for
the camels were kneeling at least five minutes at his door, before he
came out to offer the usual hospitable salutation. I stared to see the
difference of his appearance this morning. The razor had passed over
his head

[p.289] and face[FN#6]; the former was now surmounted by a muslin
turband of goodly size, wound round a new embroidered cap; and the
latter, besides being clean, boasted of neat little moustaches turned
up like two commas, whilst a well-trimmed goat's beard narrowed until
it resembled what our grammars call an "exclamation point." The dirty,
torn shirt, with the bits of rope round the loins, had been exchanged
for a Jubbah or outer cloak of light pink merinos, a long-sleeved
Caftan of rich flowered stuff, a fine shirt of Halaili,[FN#7] silk and
cotton, and a sash of plaid pattern, elaborately fringed at both ends,
and, for better display, wound round two-thirds of his body. His
pantaloons were also of Halaili, with tasteful edgings about the ankles
like a "pantilette's," while his bare and sun-burnt feet had undergone
a thorough purification before being encased in new Mizz[FN#8] (inner
slippers), and Papush (outer slippers), of bright lemon-coloured
leather of the newest and most fashionable Constantinopolitan cut. In
one of his now delicate hands the Shaykh bore a mother-of-pearl rosary,
token of piety; in the other a handsome pipe with a jasmine stick, and
an expensive amber mouth-piece; his tobacco pouch, dangling from his
waist, like the little purse in the bosom pocket of his coat, was of
broadcloth richly embroidered with gold. In course of time I saw that

[p.290] my companions had metamorphosed themselves in an equally
remarkable manner. As men of sense they appeared in tatters where they
were, or when they wished to be, unknown, and in fine linen where and
when the world judged their prosperity by their attire. Their grand
suits of clothes, therefore, were worn only for a few days after
returning from the journey, by way of proof that the wearer had
wandered to some purpose; they were afterwards laid up in lavender, and
reserved for choice occasions, as old ladies in Europe store up their
state dresses.

The Shaykh, whose manners had changed with his garments, from the
vulgar and boisterous to a certain staid courtesy, took my hand, and
led me up to the Majlis
[FN#9] (parlour), which was swept and garnished, with all due
apparatus, for the forthcoming reception-ceremony. And behind us
followed the boy Mohammed, looking more downcast and ashamed of himself
than I can possibly describe; he was still in his rags, and he felt
keenly that every visitor staring at him would mentally inquire,-

"Who may that snob be?"

With the deepest dejectedness he squeezed himself into a corner, and
Shaykh Nur, who was foully dirty, as an Indian en voyage always is,
would have joined him in his shame, had I not ordered the "slave" to
make himself generally useful.

It is customary for all relations and friends to call upon the
traveller the very day he returns, that is to say, if amity is to
endure. The pipes therefore stood ready filled, the Diwans were duly
spread, and the coffee[FN#10] was being boiled upon a brazier in the

[p.291] Scarcely had I taken my place at the cool windowsill,-it was
the best in the room,-when the visitors began to pour in, and the
Shaykh rose to welcome and embrace them. They sat down, smoked, chatted
politics, asked all manner of questions about the other wayfarers and
absent friends; drank coffee; and, after half an hour's visit, rose
abruptly, and, exchanging embraces, took leave. The little men entered
the assembly, after an accolade at the door, noiselessly, squatted upon
the worst seats with polite conges to the rest of the assembly; smoked,
took their coffee, as it were, under protest, and glided out of the
room as quietly as they crept in.

The great people, generally busy and consequential individuals, upon
whose countenances were writ large the words "well to do in the world,"
appeared with a noise that made each person in the room rise
reverentially upon his feet; sat down with importance, monopolised the
conversation; and, departing in a dignified manner, expected all to
stand on the occasion.

The Jihad (Holy War), as usual, was the grand topic of conversation.
The Sultan had ordered the Czar to become a Moslem. The Czar had sued
for peace, and offered tribute and fealty. But the Sultan had exclaimed-

"No, by Allah! Al-Islam!"

[p.292] The Czar could not be expected to take such a step without a
little hesitation, but "Allah smites the faces of the Infidels!" Abd
al-Majid would dispose of the "Moskow[FN#11]" in a short time; after
which he would turn his victorious army against all the idolaters of
Feringistan, beginning with the English, the French, and the Arwam or
Greeks.[FN#12] Amongst much of this nonsense,-when applied to for my
opinion, I was careful to make it popular,-I heard news foreboding no
good to my journey towards Maskat. The Badawin had decided that there
was to be an "Arab contingent," and had been looking forward to the
spoils of Europe: this caused quarrels, as all the men wanted to go,
and not a ten-year-old would be left behind. The consequence was, that
this amiable people was fighting in all directions. At least so said
the visitors, and I afterwards found out that they were not far wrong.

The Samman is a great family, in numbers as in dignity; from 8 A.M.
till mid-day therefore the Majlis was crowded with people, and
politeness delayed our breakfasts until an unconscionable hour.

To the plague of strangers succeeded that of children. No sooner did
the parlour become, comparatively speaking, vacant than they rushed in
en masse, treading upon our toes, making the noise of a nursery of
madlings, pulling to pieces everything they could lay their hands upon,
and using language that would have alarmed an old
man-o'war's-man.[FN#13] In fact, no one can conceive the plague but

[p.293] those who have studied the "enfan[t]s terribles" which India
sends home in cargoes.

One urchin, scarcely three years old, told me, because I objected to
his perching upon my wounded foot, that his father had a sword at home
with which he would cut my throat from ear to ear, suiting the action
to the word. By a few taunts, I made the little wretch furious with
rage; he shook his infant fist at me, and then opening his enormous
round black eyes to their utmost stretch, he looked at me, and licked
his knee with portentous meaning. Shaykh Hamid, happening to come in at
the moment, stood aghast at the doorway, chin in hand, to see the
Effendi subject to such indignity; and it was not without trouble that
I saved the offender from summary nursery discipline. Another scamp
caught up one of my loaded pistols before I could snatch it out of his
hand, and clapped it to his neighbour's head; fortunately, it was on
half-cock, and the trigger was stiff. Then a serious and majestic boy
about six years old, with an inkstand in his belt, in token of his
receiving a literary education, seized my pipe and began to smoke it
with huge puffs. I ventured laughingly to institute a comparison
between the length of his person and the pipe-stick, when he threw it
upon the ground, and stared at me fixedly with flaming eyes and
features distorted by anger. The cause of this "bouldness" soon
appeared. The boys, instead of being well beaten, were scolded with
fierce faces, a mode of punishment which only made them laugh.

They had their redeeming points, however; they were manly angry boys,
who punched one another like Anglo-Saxons in the house, whilst abroad
they were always

[p.294] fighting with sticks and stones. And they examined our
weapons,-before deigning to look at anything else,-as if eighteen
instead of five had been the general age.

At last I so far broke through the laws of Arab politeness as to inform
my host in plain words-how inconceivably wretched the boy Mohammed was
thereby rendered!-that I was hungry, thirsty, and sleepy, and that I
wanted to be alone before visiting the Harim. The good-natured Shaykh,
who was preparing to go out at once in order to pray before his
father's grave, immediately brought me breakfast; lighted a pipe,
spread a bed, darkened the room, turned out the children, and left me
to the society I most desired-my own. I then overheard him summon his
mother, wife, and other female relatives into the store-room, where his
treasures had been carefully stowed away. During the forenoon, in the
presence of the visitors, one of Hamid's uncles had urged him, half
jocularly, to bring out the Sahharah. The Shaykh did not care to do
anything of the kind. Every time a new box is opened in this part of
the world, the owner's generosity is appealed to by those whom a
refusal offends, and he must allow himself to be plundered with the
best possible grace. Hamid therefore prudently suffered all to depart
before exhibiting his spoils; which, to judge by the exclamations of
delight which they elicited from feminine lips, proved highly
satisfactory to those most concerned.

After sleeping, we all set out in a body to the Harim, as this is a
duty which must not be delayed by the pious. The boy Mohammed was in
better spirits, the effect of having borrowed from Hamid, amongst other
articles of clothing, an exceedingly gaudy embroidered coat. As for
Shaykh Nur, he had brushed up his Tarbush, and, by means of some
cast-off dresses of mine, had made himself look like a respectable
Abyssinian slave, in a nondescript toilette, half Turkish, half Indian.
I propose to reserve

[p.295] the ceremony of Ziyarat, or Visitation, for another chapter,
and to conclude this with a short account of our style of living at the
Shaykh's hospitable house.

Hamid's abode is a small corner building, open on the North and East to
the Barr al-Manakhah: the ground floor shows only a kind of vestibule,
in which coarse articles, like old Shugdufs, mats and bits of sacking,
are lying about; the rest are devoted to purposes of sewerage.
Ascending dark winding steps of ragged stone covered with hard black
earth, you come to the first floor, where the men live. It consists of
two rooms to the front of the house, one a Majlis, and another
converted into a store. Behind them is a dark passage, into which the
doors open; and the back part of the first story is a long windowless
room, containing a Hanafiyah,[FN#14] or large copper water-pot, and
other conveniences for purification. On the second floor is the
kitchen, which I did not inspect, it being as usual occupied by the

The Majlis has dwarf windows, or rather apertures in the northern and
eastern walls, with rude wooden shutters and reed blinds; the
embrasures being garnished with cushions, where you sit, morning and
evening, to enjoy the cool air. The ceiling is of date-sticks laid
across palm-rafters stained red, and the walls are of rough scoriae,
burnt bricks, and wood-work cemented with lime. The only signs of
furniture in the sitting-room are a Diwan[FN#15] round the sides and a
carpet in the centre. A

[p.296] huge wooden box, like a seaman's chest, occupies one of the
corners. In the southern wall there is a Suffah, or little shelf of
common stone, sunk under a single arch; upon this are placed articles
in hourly use, perfume-bottles, coffee-cups, a stray book or two, and
sometimes a turband, to be out of the children's way. Two hooks on the
western wall, hung jealously high up, hold a pair of pistols with
handsome crimson cords and tassels, and half a dozen cherry-stick
pipes. The centre of the room is never without one or more
Shishas[FN#16] (water pipes), and in the corner is a large copper
brazier containing fire, with all the utensils for making coffee either
disposed upon its broad brim or lying about the floor. The passage,
like the stairs, is spread over with hard black earth, and is regularly
watered twice a day during the hot weather.

The household consisted of Hamid's mother, wife, some nephews and
nieces, small children who ran about in a half-wild and more than
half-nude state, and two African slave girls. When the Damascus Caravan

[p.297] in, it was further reinforced by the arrival of his three
younger brothers.

Though the house was not grand, it was made lively by the varied views
out of the Majlis' windows. From the East, you looked upon the square
Al-Barr, the town walls and houses beyond it, the Egyptian gate, the
lofty minarets of the Harim, and the distant outlines of Jabal
Ohod.[FN#17] The north commanded a prospect of Mohammed's Mosque, one
of the Khamsah Masajid,[FN#18] or the five suburban Mosques[FN#19]; of
part of the fort-wall; and, when the Damascus Caravan came in, of the
gay scene of the "Prado" beneath. The Majlis was tolerably cool during
the early part of the day: in the afternoon the sun shone fiercely upon
it. I have described the establishment at some length as a specimen of
how the middle classes are lodged at Al-Madinah. The upper ranks affect
Turkish and Egyptian luxuries in their homes, as I had an opportunity
of seeing at Omar Effendi's house in the "Barr;" and in these countries
the abodes of the poor are everywhere very similar.

Our life in Shaykh Hamid's house was quiet, but not disagreeable. I
never once set eyes upon the face of woman, unless the African slave
girls be allowed the title. Even these at first attempted to draw their
ragged veils over their sable charms, and would not answer the simplest
question; by degrees they allowed me to see them, and they ventured
their voices to reply to me; still they never threw off a certain
appearance of shame.[FN#20]

[p.298] I never saw, nor even heard, the youthful mistress of the
household, who stayed all day in the upper rooms. The old lady, Hamid's
mother, would stand upon the stairs, and converse aloud with her son,
and, when few people were about the house, with me. She never, however,
as afterwards happened to an ancient dame at Meccah, came and sat by my

When lying during mid-day in the gallery, I often saw parties of women
mount the stairs to the Gynaeconitis, and sometimes an individual would
stand to shake a muffled hand[FN#21] with Hamid, to gossip awhile, and
to put some questions concerning absent friends; but they were most
decorously wrapped up, nor did they ever deign to deroger, even by
exposing an inch of cheek.

At dawn we arose, washed, prayed, and broke our fast[FN#22] upon a
crust of stale bread, before smoking a pipe, and drinking a cup of
coffee.[FN#23] Then it was time to dress, to mount, and to visit the
Harim or one of the Holy Places outside the city. Returning before the
sun became intolerable, we sat together, and with conversation, Shishas
and Chibuks,[FN#24] coffee, and cold water perfumed with
mastich-smoke,[FN#25] we whiled away the time till our

[p.299] "Ariston," a dinner which appeared at the primitive hour of 11
A.M. The meal, here called Al-Ghada, was served in the Majlis on a
large copper tray, sent from the upper apartments. Ejaculating
"Bismillah"-the Moslem "grace"-we all sat round it, and dipped equal
hands in the dishes set before us. We had usually unleavened bread,
different kinds of meat and vegetable stews; and, at the end of the
first course, plain boiled rice eaten with spoons; then came the
fruits, fresh dates, grapes, and pomegranates.

After dinner I used invariably to find some excuse-such as the habit of
a "Kaylulah[FN#26]" (mid-day siesta) or the being a "Saudawi[FN#27]"-a
person of melancholy temperament-to have a rug spread in the dark
passage behind

[p.300] the Majlis; and there to lie reading, dozing, smoking, or
writing, en cachette, in complete deshabille, all through the worst
part of the day, from noon to sunset.

Then came the hour for receiving or paying visits. We still kept up an
intimacy with Omar Effendi and Sa'ad the Demon, although Salih Skakkar
and Amm Jamal, either disliking our society, or perhaps thinking our
sphere of life too humble for their dignity, did not appear once in
Hamid's house. The evening prayers ensued, either at home, or in the
Harim, followed by our Asha or "deipnon," another substantial meal like
the dinner, but more plentiful, of bread, meat, vegetables, plain rice
and fruits, concluding with the invariable pipes and coffee.

To pass our soiree, we occasionally dressed in common clothes,
shouldered a Nabbut,[FN#28] and went to the cafe; sometimes on festive
occasions we indulged in a Taatumah (or Itmiyah), a late supper of
sweetmeats, pomegranates, and dried fruits. Usually we sat upon
mattresses spread upon the ground in the open air at the Shaykh's door;
receiving evening visits, chatting, telling stories, and making merry,
till each, as he felt the approach of the drowsy god, sank down into
his proper place, and fell asleep.

Whatever may be the heat of the day, the night at Al-Madinah, owing, I
suppose, to its elevated position, is cool and pleasant. In order to
allay the dust, the ground before the Shaykh's door was watered every
evening, and the evaporation was almost too great to be safe,-the boy
Mohammed suffered from a smart attack of lumbago,

[p.301] which, however, yielded readily to frictions of olive oil in
which ginger had been boiled.

Our greatest inconvenience at night-time was the pugnacity of the
animal creation. The horses of the troopers tethered in the Barr were
sure to break loose once in twelve hours. Some hobbled old nag, having
slipped the headstall, would advance with kangaroo-leaps towards a
neighbour against whom it had a private grudge. Their heads would touch
for a moment; then came a snort and a whinny, a furious kick, and,
lastly, a second horse loose and dashing about with head and tail
viciously cocked. This was the signal for a general breaking of halters
and heel-ropes; after which, a "stampede" scoured the plain, galloping,
rearing, kicking, biting, snorting, pawing, and screaming, with the
dogs barking sympathetically, and the horse-keepers shouting in hot

It was a strange sight to see by moonlight the forms of these "demon
steeds" exaggerated by the shades; and, on more than one occasion, we
had all to start up precipitately from our beds, and yield them to a
couple of combatants who were determined to fight out their quarrel a
l'outrance, wherever the battle-field might be.

The dogs at Al-Madinah are not less pugnacious than the horses.[FN#29]
They are stronger and braver than those that haunt the streets at
Cairo; like the Egyptians, they have amongst themselves a system of
police regulations, which brings down all the posse comitatus upon the
unhappy straggler who ventures into a strange quarter of the town. They
certainly met in Al-Barr upon common

[p.302] ground, to decide the differences which must arise in so
artificial a state of canine society.

Having had many opportunities of watching them, I can positively assert
that they were divided into two parties, which fought with a skill and
an acharnement that astounded me. Sometimes when one side gave way, and
as the retreat was degenerating into a sauve qui peut, some proud
warrior, a dog-hero, would sacrifice himself for the public weal, and
with gnashing teeth and howls of rage encounter the assaults of the
insolent victors until his flying friends had time to recover heart.
Such an one my companions called "Mubariz.[FN#30]" At other times, some
huge animal, an Ajax of his kind, would plunge into the ring with
frantic yells, roll over one dog, snap at a second, worry a third for a
minute or two, and then dash off to a distant part, where a thicker
field required his presence. This uncommon sagacity has been remarked
by the Arabs, who look on amused at their battles. Current in Al-Hijaz
are also certain superstitions about the dog resembling ours; only, as
usual, more poetical and less grotesque. Most people believe that when
the animal howls without apparent cause in the neighbourhood of a
house, it forbodes death to one of the inmates; for the dog they say
can distinguish the awful form of Azrail, the Angel of Death, hovering
over the doomed abode, whereas man's spiritual sight is dull and dim by
reason of his sins.

When the Damascus Caravan entered Al-Madinah, our day became a little
more amusing. From the windows of Shaykh Hamid's house there was a
perpetual succession of strange scenes. A Persian nobleman, also, had
pitched his tents so near the door, that the whole course of his
private life became public and patent to the boy Mohammed,

[p.303] who amused his companions by reporting all manner of ludicrous
scenes. The Persian's wife was rather a pretty woman, and she excited
the youth's fierce indignation, by not veiling her face when he gazed
at her,-thereby showing that, as his beard was not grown, she
considered him a mere boy.

"I will ask her to marry me," said Mohammed, "and thereby rouse her

He did so, but, unhappy youth! the fair Persian never even ceased
fanning herself.

The boy Mohammed was for once confounded.

[FN#1] In the East, wherever there is a compound of fort and city, that
place has certainly been in the habit of being divided against itself.
Surat in Western India is a well-known instance. I must refer the
reader to Burckhardt (Travels in Arabia, vol. ii., page 281, and
onwards) for a detailed account of the feuds and affrays between the
"Agha of the Castle" and the "Agha of the Town." Their day has now gone
by,-for the moment.
[FN#2] Sir John Mandeville, writing in the 14th century, informed
Europe that "Machomet lyeth in the Cytee of Methone." In the 19th
century, Mr. Halliwell, his editor, teaches us in a foot-note that
"Methone" is Meccah! It is strange how often this gross mistake is
still made by respectable authors in France as well as in England.
[FN#3] This torrent is called Al-Sayh,-"the Running Water,"-which,
properly speaking, is the name of a well-wooded Wady outside the town,
in the direction of Kuba.
[FN#4] "Manakhah" is a place where camels kneel down; it is a
derivation from the better known root to "Nakh," or cause the animal to
[FN#5] Arabs, and, indeed, most Orientals, are generally received after
returning from a journey, with shrill cries of joy by all the fair part
of the household, and they do not like strangers to hear this
[FN#6] An Eastern Barber is not content to pass the razor over hairy
spots: he must scrape the forehead, trim the eyebrows, clean the
cheeks, run the blade rapidly over the nose, correct the upper and
under lines of the mustaches, parting them in the centre, and so on.
[FN#7] Halaili is a cotton stuff, with long stripes of white silk, a
favourite material amongst the city Arabs. At Constantinople, where the
best is sold, the piece, which will cut into two shirts, costs about
thirty shillings.
[FN#8] The "Mizz" (in colloquial Arabic Misd) are the tight-fitting
inner slippers of soft Cordovan leather, worn as stockings inside the
slipper; they are always clean, so they may be retained in the Mosque
or on the Diwan (divan or sofa).
[FN#9] The Majlis ("the Place of Sitting") is the drawing or reception
room; it is usually in the first story of the house, below the
apartments of the women.
[FN#10] The coffee drank at Al-Madinah is generally of a good quality.
In Egypt that beverage in the common coffee-shops is,-as required to be
by the people who frequent those places,-"bitter as death, black as
Satan, and hot as Jahannam." To effect this desideratum, therefore,
they toast the grain to blackness, boil it to bitterness, and then
drink scalding stuff of the consistency of water-gruel. At Al-Madinah,
on the contrary,-as indeed in the houses of the better classes even in
Egypt,-the grain is carefully picked, and that the flavour may be
preserved, it is never put upon the fire until required. It is toasted
too till it becomes yellow, not black; and afterwards is bruised, not
pounded to powder. The water into which it is thrown is allowed to boil
up three times, after which a cold sprinkling is administered to clear
it, and then the fine light-dun infusion is poured off into another
pot. Those who admire the "Kaimak," or froth, do not use a second
vessel. The Arabs seldom drink more than one cup of coffee at a time,
but with many the time is every half-hour of the day. The coffee-husk
or "Kishr" of Al-Yaman is here unknown.
[FN#11] The common name for the Russians in Egypt and Al-Hijaz.
[FN#12] The Greeks are well known at Al-Madinah, and several of the
historians complain that some of the minor holy places had fallen into
the hands of this race, (Moslems, or pretended Moslems, I presume), who
prevented people visiting them. It is curious that the impostor
Cagliostro should have hit upon the truth when he located Greeks at
[FN#13] Parents and full-grown men amuse themselves with grossly
abusing children, almost as soon as they can speak, in order to excite
their rage, and to judge of their dispositions. This supplies the
infant population with a large stock-in-trade of ribaldry. They
literally lisp in bad language.
[FN#14] The Hanafiyah is a large vessel of copper, sometimes tinned,
with a cock in the lower part, and, generally, an ewer, or a basin, to
receive the water.
[FN#15] It is wonderful that this most comfortable, inexpensive, and
ornamental style of furnishing a room, has not been oftener imitated in
India and the hot countries of Europe. The Diwan-it must not be
confounded with the leathern perversion which obtains that name in our
club smoking-rooms-is a line of flat cushions ranged round the room,
either placed upon the ground, or on wooden benches, or on a step of
masonry; varying in height according to the fashion of the day. When
such foundation is used, it should be about a yard in breadth, and
slope very gently from the outer edge towards the wall, for the greater
convenience of reclining. Cotton-stuffed pillows, covered with chintz
for summer, and silk for winter, are placed against the wall, and can
be moved to make a luxurious heap; their covers are generally all of
the same colour, except those at the end. The seat of honour is denoted
by a small square cotton-stuffed silk coverlet, placed in one of the
corners, which the position of the windows determines, the place of
distinction being on the left of the host. Thus in Egypt you have a
neatly-furnished room for L5 or L6.
[FN#16] The Madinah Shisha is a large cocoa-nut, with a tall wooden
stem, both garnished with brass ornaments; some trifling differences in
the latter distinguish it from the Meccah pipe. Both are inconveniently
mounted upon small brass tripods, and are easily overturned, scattering
fire and water over the carpets. The "lay," or snakes, are the
substantial manufacture of Al-Yaman. Some grandees at Al-Madinah have
glass Turkish Shishas and Constantinople snakes, which are of admirable
elegance, compared with the clumsy and unsightly Arab inventions. (See
page 80, ante.)
[FN#17] From this window I sketched the walls and the Egyptian gate of
[FN#18] "Five mosques."
[FN#19] This Mosque must not be confounded with the Harim. It is
described in Chapter XV.
[FN#20] Their voices are strangely soft and delicate, considering the
appearance of the organs from which they proceed. Possibly this may be
a characteristic of the African races; it is remarkable amongst the
Somali women.
[FN#21] After touching the skin of a strange woman, it is not lawful in
Al-Islam to pray without ablution. For this reason, when a fair dame
shakes hands with you, she wraps up her fingers in a kerchief, or in
the end of her veil.
[FN#22] Nafukku'r rik, literally, "Let us open the saliva," is most
idiomatic Hijazi for the first morsel eaten in the morning. Hence it is
called Fakkur' rik, also Gura and Tasbih: the Egyptians call it
[FN#23] Orientals invariably begin by eating an "akratisma" in the
morning before they will smoke a pipe, or drink a cup of coffee; they
have also an insuperable prejudice against the internal use of cold
water at this hour.
[FN#24] The tobacco generally smoked here is Syrian, which is brought
down in large quantities by the Damascus caravan. Latakia is more
expensive, and generally too dry to retain its flavour.
[FN#25] The interior of the water jar is here perfumed with the smoke
of mastich, exactly as described by Lane, (Mod. Egyptians, vol i. ch.
5). I found at Al-Madinah the prejudice alluded to by Sonnini, namely,
that the fumes of the gum are prejudicial, and sometimes fatal to
[FN#26] Kaylulah is the half hour's siesta about noon. It is a Sunnat,
and the Prophet said of it, "Kilu, fa inna 'sh' Shayatina la
Takil,"-"Take the mid-day siesta, for, verily, the demons sleep not at
this hour." "Aylulah" is slumbering after morning prayers (our "beauty
sleep"), which causes heaviness and inability to work. Ghaylulah is the
sleeping about 9 A.M., the effect of which is poverty and wretchedness.
Kaylulah (with the guttural kaf) is sleeping before evening prayers, a
practice reprobated in every part of the East. And, finally, Faylulah
is sleeping immediately after sunset,-also considered highly
[FN#27] The Arabs, who suffer greatly from melancholia, are kind to
people afflicted with this complaint; it is supposed to cause a
distaste for society, and a longing for solitude, an unsettled habit of
mind, and a neglect of worldly affairs. Probably it is the effect of
overworking the brain, in a hot dry atmosphere. I have remarked, that
in Arabia students are subject to it, and that amongst their
philosophers and literary men, there is scarcely an individual who was
not spoken of as a "Saudawi." My friend Omar Effendi used to complain,
that at times his temperament drove him out of the house,-so much did
he dislike the sound of the human voice,-to pass the day seated upon
some eminence in the vicinity of the city.
[FN#28] This habit of going out at night in common clothes, with a
Nabbut upon one's shoulders, is, as far as I could discover, popular at
Al-Madinah, but confined to the lowest classes at Meccah. The boy
Mohammed always spoke of it with undisguised disapprobation. During my
stay at Meccah, I saw no such costume amongst respectable people there;
though oftentimes there was a suspicion of a disguise.
[FN#29] Burckhardt (Travels in Arabia, vol. ii., p. 268) remarks that
Al-Madinah is the only town in the East from which dogs are excluded.
This was probably as much a relic of Wahhabi-ism, (that sect hating
even to look at a dog), as arising from apprehension of the Mosque
being polluted by canine intrusion. I have seen one or two of these
animals in the town, but I was told, that when they enter it in any
numbers, the police-magistrate issues orders to have them ejected.
[FN#30] The "Mubariz" is the single combatant, the champion of the
Arabian classical and chivalrous times.



Having performed the greater ablution, and used the toothstick as
directed, and dressed ourselves in white clothes, which the Apostle
loved, we were ready to start upon our holy errand. As my foot still
gave me great pain, Shaykh Hamid sent for a donkey. A wretched animal
appeared, raw-backed, lame of one leg, and wanting an ear, with
accoutrements to match, a pack-saddle without stirrups, and a halter
instead of a bridle. Such as the brute was, however, I had to mount it,
and to ride through the Misri gate, to the wonder of certain Badawin,
who, like the Indians, despise the ass.

"Honourable is the riding of a horse to the rider,
But the mule is a dishonour, and the donkey a disgrace,"

says their song. The Turkish pilgrims, however, who appear to take a
pride in ignoring all Arab points of prejudice, generally mount donkeys
when they cannot walk. The Badawin therefore settled among themselves,
audibly enough, that I was an Osmanli, who of course could not
understand Arabic, and they put the question generally,

"By what curse of Allah had they been subjected to ass-riders?"

But Shaykh Hamid is lecturing me upon the subject of the Mosque.
The Masjid Al-Nabawi, or the Prophet's Mosque, is one of the Haramayn,
or the "two sanctuaries" of Al-Islam,

[p.305] and is the second of the three[FN#1] most venerable places of
worship in the world; the other two being the Masjid al-Harim at Meccah
(connected with Abraham) and the Masjid al-Aksa of Jerusalem (the
peculiar place of Solomon). A Hadis or traditional saying of Mohammed
asserts, "One prayer in this my Mosque is more efficacious than a
thousand in other places, save only the Masjid al-Harim.[FN#2]" It is
therefore the visitor's duty, as long as he stays at Al-Madinah, to
pray there the five times per diem, to pass the day in it reading the
Koran, and the night, if possible, in watching and devotion.

A visit to the Masjid al-Nabawi, and the holy spots within it, is
technically called "Ziyarat" or Visitation.[FN#3] An essential
difference is made between this rite and Hajj or pilgrimage. The latter
is obligatory by Koranic order upon every Moslem once in his life: the
former is only a meritorious action. "Tawaf," or circumambulation of
the House of Allah at Meccah, must never be performed at the Apostle's
tomb. This should not be visited in the Ihram or pilgrim dress; men
should not kiss it, touch it with the hand, or press the bosom against
it, as at the Ka'abah; or rub the face with dust collected near the
sepulchre; and those who prostrate themselves before it, like certain
ignorant Indians, are held to be

[p.306] guilty of deadly sin. On the other hand, to spit upon any part
of the Mosque, or to treat it with contempt, is held to be the act of
an Infidel.

Thus the learned and religious have settled, one would have thought,
accurately enough the spiritual rank and dignity of the Masjid
al-Nabawi. But mankind, especially in the East, must always be in
extremes. The orthodox school of Al-Malik holds Al-Madinah, on account
of the sanctity of, and the religious benefits to be derived from,
Mohammed's tomb, more honourable than Meccah. Some declare that the
Apostle preferred his place of refuge, blessing it as Abraham did
Meccah. Moreover, as a tradition declares that every man's body is
drawn from the ground in which he is buried, Al-Madinah evidently had
the honour of supplying materials for the Apostle's person. Others,
like Omar, were uncertain which to prefer. The Wahhabis, on the other
hand, rejecting the Intercession of the Apostle on the Day of Judgment,
considering the grave of a mere mortal unworthy of notice, and highly
disgusted by the idolatrous respect paid to it by certain foolish
Moslems, plundered the sacred building with sacrilegious violence, and
forbade visitors from distant countries to enter Al-Madinah.[FN#4]

The general consensus of Al-Islam admits the superiority of the Bayt
Allah ("House of God") at Meccah to the whole world; and declares
Al-Madinah to be more venerable than every part of Meccah, and
consequently all the earth, except only the Bayt Allah. This last is a
juste milieu view by no means in favour with the inhabitants of either
place. In the meanwhile the Meccans claim unlimited superiority over
the Madani: the Madani over the Meccans.

[p.307]Passing through muddy streets,-they had been freshly watered
before evening time,-I came suddenly upon the Mosque. Like that at
Meccah, the approach is choked up by ignoble buildings, some actually
touching the holy "enceinte," others separated by a lane compared with
which the road round St. Paul's is a Vatican Square.[FN#5] There is no
outer front, no general prospect of the Prophet's Mosque; consequently,
as a building, it has neither beauty nor dignity.

And entering the Bab al-Rahmah[FN#6]-the Gate of Pity,-by a diminutive
flight of steps, I was astonished at the mean and tawdry appearance of
a place so universally venerated in the Moslem world. It is not, like
the Meccan Temple, grand and simple, the expression of a single sublime
idea: the longer I looked at it, the more it suggested the resemblance
of a museum of second-rate art, an old Curiosity-shop, full of
ornaments that are not accessories, and decorated with pauper splendour.

The Masjid al-Nabi is a parallelogram about four hundred and twenty
feet in length by three hundred and forty broad, the direction of the
long walls being nearly north and south. As usual in Al-Islam, it is a
hypaethral building with a spacious central area, called Al-Sahn,
Al-Hosh, Al-Haswah, or Al-Ramlah,[FN#7] surrounded by a peristyle with
numerous rows of pillars like the colonnades of an Italian cloister.
The arcades or porticoes are flat-ceilinged, domed above with the small

[p.308] Naranja, or half-orange cupola of Spain, and divided into four
parts by narrow passages, three or four steps below the level of the
pavement. Along the whole inner length of the Northern short wall runs
the Majidi Riwak, so called from the then reigning Sultan.[FN#8] The
Western long wall is occupied by the Riwak of the Rahmah Gate; the
Eastern by that of the Bab al-Nisa, the "Women's Entrance.[FN#9]"

Embracing the inner length of the Southern short wall, and deeper by
nearly treble the amount of columns than the other porticoes, is the
main colonnade, called Al-Rauzah[FN#10] (the Garden), the adytum
containing all that is venerable in the building. These four Riwaks,
arched externally, are supported internally by pillars of different
shape and material, varying from fine porphyry to dirty plaster. The
Southern, where the sepulchre or cenotaph stands, is paved with
handsome slabs of white marble and marquetry work, here and there
covered with coarse matting, and above this by unclean carpets, well
worn by faithful feet.[FN#11]

But this is not the time for Tafarruj or lionising.

[p.309] Shaykh Hamid warns me, with a nudge, that other things are
expected of a Zair (visitor). He leads me to the Bab al-Salam, fighting
his way through a troop of beggars, and inquires markedly if I am
religiously pure.[FN#12] Then, placing our hands a little below and on
the left of the waist, the palm of the right covering the back of the
left, in the position of prayer, and beginning with the dexter
feet,[FN#13] we pace slowly forwards down the line called the Muwajihat
al-Sharifah, or "the Illustrous Fronting," which, divided off like an
aisle, runs parallel with the Southern wall of the Mosque. On my right
hand walks the Shaykh, who recites aloud the following prayer, making
me repeat it after him.[FN#14] It is literally rendered, as, indeed,
are all the formulae, and the reader is requested to excuse the
barbarous fidelity of the translation.

"In the Name of Allah and in the faith of Allah's Apostle! O Lord,
cause me to enter the Entering of Truth, and cause me to issue forth
the Issuing of Truth, and permit me to draw near to Thee, and make me a
Sultan Victorious[FN#15]!" Then follow blessings upon the Apostle, and
afterwards: "O Allah! open to me the Doors of Thy Mercy, and grant me
Entrance into it, and protect me from the Stoned Devil!"

During this preliminary prayer we had passed down two-thirds of the
Muwajihat al-Sharifah. On the left hand is a dwarf wall, about the
height of a man, painted with arabesques, and pierced with four small
doors which

[p.310] open into the Muwajihat. In this barrier are sundry small
erections, the niche called the Mihrab Sulaymani,[FN#16] the Mambar, or
pulpit, and the Mihrab al-Nabawi.[FN#17]

The two niches are of beautiful mosaic, richly worked with various
coloured marbles, and the pulpit is a graceful collection of slender
columns, elegant tracery, and inscriptions admirably carved. Arrived at
the Western small door in the dwarf wall, we entered the celebrated
spot called Al-Rauzah, after a saying of the Apostle's, "Between my
Tomb and my Pulpit is a Garden of the Gardens of Paradise.[FN#18]" On
the North and West sides it is

[p.311] not divided from the rest of the portico; on the South runs the
dwarf wall, and on the East it is limited by the west end of the
lattice-work containing the tomb.

Accompanied by my Muzawwir I entered the Rauzah, and was placed by him
with the Mukabbariyah[FN#19] behind me, fronting Meccah, with my right
shoulder opposite to, and about twenty feet distant from, the dexter
pillar of the Apostle's Pulpit.[FN#20] There, after saying the
afternoon prayers,[FN#21] I performed the usual two bows in honour of
the temple,[FN#22] and at the end of them recited the hundred and ninth
and the hundred and twelfth chapters of the Koran-the "Kul, ya
ayyuha'l-Kafiruna," and the "Surat al-Ikhlas," called also the "Kul,
Huw' Allah," or the Declaration of Unity; and may be thus translated:

"Say, He is the one God!
"The eternal God!
"He begets not, nor is He begot!

[p.312] "And unto Him the like is not."

After which was performed a single Sujdah (Prostration) of
Thanks,[FN#23] in gratitude to Allah for making it my fate to visit so
holy a spot.

This being the recognised time to give alms, I was besieged by beggars,
who spread their napkins before us on the ground, sprinkled with a few
coppers to excite generosity. But not wishing to be distracted by them,
before leaving Hamid's house I had changed two dollars, and had given
the coin to the boy Mohammed, who accompanied me, strictly charging him
to make that sum last through the Mosque.

My answer to the beggars was a reference to my attendant, backed by the
simple action of turning my pockets inside out; and, whilst he was
battling with the beggars, I proceeded to cast my first coup-d'oeil
upon the Rauzah.

The "Garden" is the most elaborate part of the Mosque. Little can be
said in its praise by day, when it bears the same relation to a
second-rate church in Rome as an English chapel-of-ease to Westminster
Abbey. It is a space of about eighty feet in length, tawdrily decorated
so as to resemble a garden. The carpets are flowered, and the pediments
of the columns are cased with bright green tiles, and adorned to the
height of a man with gaudy and unnatural vegetation in arabesque. It is
disfigured by handsome branched candelabras of cut crystal, the work, I
believe, of a London house, and presented to the shrine by the late
Abbas Pasha of Egypt.[FN#24]

The only admirable feature of the view is the light

[p.313] cast by the windows of stained glass[FN#25] in the Southern
wall. Its peculiar background, the railing of the tomb, a splendid
filigree-work of green and polished brass, gilt or made to resemble
gold, looks more picturesque near than at a distance, when it suggests
the idea of a gigantic bird-cage. But at night the eye, dazzled by
oil-lamps[FN#26] suspended from the roof, by huge wax candles, and by
smaller illuminations falling upon crowds of visitors in handsome
attire, with the richest and the noblest of the city sitting in
congregation when service is performed,[FN#27] becomes less critical.
Still the scene must be viewed with Moslem bias, and until a man is
thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the East, the last place the
Rauzah will remind him of, is that which the architect primarily
intended it to resemble-a garden.

Then with Hamid, professionally solemn, I reassumed the position of
prayer, and retraced my steps. After passing through another small door
in the dwarf wall that bounds the Muwajihah, we did not turn to the
right, which would have led us to the Bab al-Salam; our course was in
an opposite direction, towards the Eastern wall of the temple.
Meanwhile we repeated, "Verily Allah and His Angels[FN#28] bless the
Apostle! O ye who believe, bless him,

[p.314] and salute Him with Honour!" At the end of this prayer, we
arrived at the Mausoleum, which requires some description before the
reader can understand the nature of our proceedings there.

The Hujrah[FN#29] or "Chamber" as it is called, from the circumstance
of its having been Ayishah's room, is an irregular square of from fifty
to fifty-five feet in the South-East corner of the building, and
separated on all sides from the walls of the Mosque by a passage about
twenty-six feet broad on the South side, and twenty on the East. The
reason of this isolation has been before explained, and there is a
saying of Mohammed's, "O Allah, cause not my Tomb to become an Object
of Idolatrous Adoration! May Allah's Wrath fall heavy upon the People
who make the Tombs of their Prophets Places of Prayer[FN#30]!"

[p.315] Inside there are, or are supposed to be, three tombs facing the
South, surrounded by stone walls without any aperture, or, as others
say, by strong planking.[FN#31] Whatever this material may be, it is
hung outside with a curtain, somewhat like a large four-post bed. The
external railing is separated by a dark narrow passage from the inner,
which it surrounds; and is of iron filigree painted of a vivid grass
green,-with a view to the garden. Here carefully inserted in the
verdure, and doubly bright by contrast, is the gilt or burnished brass
work forming the long and graceful letters of the Suls character, and
disposed into the Moslem creed, the Profession of Unity, and similar
religious sentences.

On the South side, for greater honour, the railing is plated over with
silver, and silver letters are interlaced with it. This fence, which
connects the columns and forbids passage to all men, may be compared to
the baldacchino of Roman churches. It has four gates: that to the South
is the Bab al-Muwajihah; Eastward is the gate of our Lady Fatimah;
westward the Bab al-Taubah (of Repentance), opening into the Rauzah or
garden; and to the North, the Bab al-Shami or Syrian gate. They are
constantly kept closed, except the fourth, which admits, into the dark
narrow passage above alluded to, the officers who have charge of the
treasures there deposited; and the eunuchs who sweep the floor, light
[p.316] the lamps, and carry away the presents sometimes thrown in here
by devotees.[FN#32]

In the Southern side of the fence are three windows, holes about half a
foot square, and placed from four to five feet above the ground; they
are said to be between three and four cubits distant from the Apostle's
head. The most Westerly of these is supposed to front Mohammed's tomb,
wherefore it is called the Shubak al-Nabi, or the Prophet's window. The
next, on the right as you front it, is Abu Bakr's, and the most
Easterly of the three is Omar's.

Above the Hujrah is the Green Dome, surmounted outside by a large gilt
crescent springing from a series of globes. The glowing imaginations of
the Moslems crown this gem of the building with a pillar of heavenly
light, which directs from three days' distance the pilgrims' steps
towards Al-Madinah. But alas! none save holy men (and perhaps, odylic
sensitives), whose material organs are piercing as their spiritual
vision, may be allowed the privilege of beholding this poetic splendour.

Arrived at the Shubak al-Nabi, Hamid took his stand about six feet or
so out of reach of the railing, and at that respectful distance from,
and facing[FN#33] the Hazirah (or presence),

[p.317] with hands raised as in prayer, he recited the following
supplication in a low voice, telling me in a stage whisper to repeat it
after him with awe, and fear, and love:-

"Peace be upon Thee, O Apostle of Allah, and the Mercy of Allah and his
Blessings! Peace be upon Thee, O Apostle of Allah! Peace be upon Thee,
O Friend of Allah! Peace be upon Thee, O best of Allah's Creation!
Peace be upon Thee, O pure Creature of Allah! Peace be upon Thee, O
Chief of Prophets ! Peace be upon Thee, O Seal of the Prophets! Peace
be upon Thee, O Prince of the Pious! Peace be upon Thee, O Apostle of
the Lord of the (three) Worlds! Peace be upon Thee, and upon Thy
Family, and upon Thy pure Wives! Peace be upon Thee, and upon all Thy
Companions! Peace be upon Thee, and upon all the Prophets, and upon
those sent to preach Allah's Word! Peace be upon Thee, and upon all
Allah's righteous Worshippers! Peace be upon Thee, O thou Bringer of
Glad Tidings! Peace be upon Thee, O Bearer of Threats! Peace be upon
Thee, O thou bright Lamp! Peace be upon Thee, O thou Apostle of Mercy!
Peace be upon Thee, O Ruler of Thy Faith! Peace be upon Thee, O Opener
of Grief! Peace be upon Thee! and Allah bless Thee! and Allah repay
Thee for us, O Thou Apostle of Allah! the choicest of Blessings with
which He ever blessed Prophet! Allah bless Thee as often as Mentioners
have mentioned Thee, and Forgetters have forgotten Thee! And Allah
bless Thee among the First and the Last, with the best, the highest,
and the fullest of Blessings ever bestowed on Man; even as we escaped
Error by means of Thee, and were made to see after Blindness, and after
Ignorance were directed

[p.318] into the Right Way. I bear Witness that there is no god but the
God (Allah), and I testify that Thou art His Servant, and His Apostle,
and His Faithful Follower, and Best Creature. And I bear Witness, O
Apostle of Allah! that Thou hast delivered thy Message, and discharged
Thy Trust, and advised Thy Faith, and opened Grief, and published
Proofs, and fought valiantly for Thy Lord, and worshipped Thy God till
Certainty came to Thee (i.e. to the hour of death). And we Thy Friends,
O Apostle of Allah! appear before Thee, Travellers from distant lands
and far Countries, through Dangers and Difficulties, in the Times of
Darkness, and in the Hours of Day, longing to give Thee Thy Rights
(i.e. to honour Thee by benediction and visitation), and to obtain the
Blessings of Thine Intercession, for our Sins have broken our Backs,
and Thou intercedest with the Healer. And Allah said,[FN#34] ‘And
though they have injured themselves, they came to Thee, and begged Thee
to secure their Pardon, and they found God an Acceptor of Penitence,
and full of Compassion.' O Apostle of Allah, Intercession!
Intercession! Intercession[FN#35]! O Allah, bless Mohammed and
Mohammed's Family, and give Him Superiority and high Rank, even as Thou
didst promise Him, and graciously allow us to conclude this Visitation.
I deposit on this spot, and near Thee, O Apostle of God, my everlasting
Profession (of faith) from this our Day, to the Day of Judgment, that
there is no god but Allah, and that our Lord Mohammed is His Servant
and His Apostle.[FN#36] Amen! O Lord of the (three) Worlds![FN#37]"

[p.319] After which, performing Ziyarat[FN#38] for ourselves, we
repeated the Fatihah or "opening" chapter of the Koran.

"In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate!
"Praise be to Allah, who the (three) Worlds made.
"The Merciful, the Compassionate.
"The King of the Day of Faith.
"Thee (alone) do we worship, and of Thee (alone) do we ask Aid.
"Guide us to the Path that is straight-
"The Path of those for whom thy Love is great, not those on whom is
Hate, nor they that deviate.
"Amen! O Lord of Angels, Jinnis, and Men![FN#39]"

After reciting this mentally with upraised hands, the forefinger of the
right hand being extended to its full length, we drew our palms down
our faces and did alms-deeds, a vital part of the ceremony. Thus
concludes the first part of the ceremony of visitation at the Apostle's

[p.320] Hamid then stepped about a foot and half to the right, and I
followed his example, so as to place myself exactly opposite the second
aperture in the grating called Abu Bakr's window. There, making a sign
towards the mausoleum, we addressed its inmate, as follows:-

"Peace be upon Thee, O Abu Bakr, O Thou Truthful One! Peace be upon
Thee, O Caliph of Allah's Apostle over his People! Peace be upon Thee,
O Companion of the Cave, and Friend in Travel! Peace be upon Thee, O
Thou Banner of the Fugitives and the Auxiliaries! I testify Thou didst
ever stand firm in the right Way, and wast a Smiter of the Infidel, and
a Benefactor to Thine own people. Allah grant Thee through His Apostle
Weal! We pray Almighty God to cause us to die in Thy Friendship, and to
raise us up in Company with His Apostle and Thyself, even as He hath
mercifully vouchsafed to us this Visitation.[FN#40]"

After which we closed one more step to the right, and standing opposite
Omar's window, the most easterly of the three, after making a sign with
our hands, we addressed the just Caliph in these words:-

"Peace be upon Thee, O Omar! O Thou Just One! Thou Prince of True
Believers! Peace be upon Thee, who spakest with Truth, and who madest
Thy Word agree with the Strong Book! (the Koran): O Thou Faruk! (the
Separator).[FN#41] O Thou Faithful One! who girdedst thy Loins with the
Apostle, and the First Believers, and with them didst make up the full
Number forty,[FN#42] and thus causedst to be accomplished the Apostle's
Prayer,[FN#43] and

[p.321] then didst return to Thy God a Martyr leaving the World with
Praise! Allah grant Thee, through his Apostle and his Caliph and his
Followers, the best of Good, and may Allah feel in Thee plenary

Shaykh Hamid, after wrenching a beggar or two from my shoulders, then
permitted me to draw near to the little window, called the Apostle's,
and to look in. Here my proceedings were watched with suspicious eyes.
The Persians have sometimes managed to pollute the part near Abu Bakr's
and Omar's graves by tossing through the aperture what is externally a
handsome shawl intended as a present for the tomb.[FN#44] After
straining my eyes for a time, I saw a curtain,[FN#45] or rather
hangings, with

[p.322] three inscriptions in long gold letters, informing readers that
behind them lie Allah's Apostle and the first two Caliphs.

The exact place of Mohammed's tomb is moreover distinguished by a large
pearl rosary, and a peculiar ornament, the celebrated Kaukab-al-Durri,
or constellation of pearls, suspended to the curtain
breast-high.[FN#46] This is described to be a "brilliant star set in
diamonds and pearls," placed in the dark that man's eye may be able to
bear its splendours: the vulgar believe it to be a "jewel of the jewels
of Paradise." To me it greatly resembled the round glass stoppers used
for the humbler sort of decanters; but I thought the same of the
Koh-i-Nur. Moreover I never saw it quite near enough to judge fairly,
and I did not think fit to pay an exorbitant sum for the privilege of
entering the inner passage of the baldaquin.[FN#47]

[p.323] Altogether the coup-d'oeil had nothing to recommend it by day.
At night, when the lamps, hung in this passage, shed a dim light upon
the mosaic-work of the marble floors, upon the glittering inscriptions,
and the massive hangings, the scene is more impressive.

Never having seen the Tomb,[FN#48] I must depict it from books,-by no
means an easy task. Most of the historians are silent after describing
the inner walls of the Hujrah. Al-Kalkashandi declares in eo lapidem
nobilem continere sepulchra Apostoli, Abubecr et Omar, circumcinctum
peribole in modum conclavis fere usque ad tectum assurgente, quae velo
serico nigro obligatur. This author, then, agrees with my Persian
friends, who declare the sepulchre to be a marble slab. Ibn Jubayr, who
travelled in A.H. 580, relates that the Apostle's coffin is a box of
ebony (abnus) covered with sandal-wood, and plated with silver; it is
placed, he says, behind a curtain, and surrounded by an iron grating.
Al-Samanhudi,[FN#49] quoted by Burckhardt, declares that the curtain
covers a square building of black stones, in the interior of which are
the tombs of Mohammed and of his two immediate successors. He adds that
the tombs are

[p.324] deep holes; and that the coffin which contains the Apostle is
cased with silver, and has on the top a marble slab inscribed
"Bismillah! Allahumma salli alayh!" ("In the name of Allah! Allah have
Mercy upon Him[FN#50]!")

The Apostle's body, it should be remembered, lies, or is supposed to
lie, stretched at full length on the right side, with the right palm
supporting the right cheek, the face fronting Meccah, as Moslems are
always buried, and consequently the body lies with the head almost due
West and the feet due East. Close behind him is placed Abu Bakr, whose
face fronts the Apostle's shoulder[FN#51]; and, lastly, Omar holds the
same position with respect to his predecessor.

The places they are usually supposed to occupy, then, would be thus
disposed. But Moslem historians are not agreed even upon so simple a
point as this. [p.325] Many prefer this position, in line [figure]
-some thus, in unicorn [figure] -and others the right angle.[FN#52]

It is popularly asserted that in the Hujrah there is now spare place
for only a single grave, reserved for Isa bin Maryam after his second
coming. The historians of Al-Islam are full of tales proving that
though many of their earlier saints, as Osman the Caliph and Hasan the
Imam, were desirous of being buried there; and that although Ayishah,
to whom the room belonged, willingly acceded to their wishes, son of
man has as yet been unable to occupy it.

After the Fatihah pronounced at Omar's tomb, and the short inspection
of the Hujrah, Shaykh Hamid led me round the south-east corner of the
baldaquin.[FN#53] Turning

[p.326] towards the north, we stopped at what is commonly called the
Mahbat Jibrail ("Place of the Archangel Gabriel's Descent with the
Heavenly Revelations"), or simply Al-Malaikah-the Angels. It is a small
window in the Eastern wall of the Mosque; we turned our backs upon it,
and fronting the Hujrah, recited the following prayer:-

"Peace be upon You, O Angels of Allah, the Mukarrabin (cherubs), and
the Musharrifin (seraphs), the pure, the holy, honored by the Dwellers
in Heaven, and by those who abide upon the Earth. O beneficent Lord! O
Long-suffering! O Almighty! O Pitier! O thou Compassionate One! perfect
our Light, and pardon our Sins, and accept Penitence for our Offences,
and cause us to die among the Holy! Peace be upon Ye, Angels of the
Merciful, one and all! And the Mercy of God and His Blessings be upon
You!" After which I was shown the spot in the Hujrah where Sayyidna Isa
shall be buried[FN#54] by Mohammed's side.

[p.327] Then turning towards the West, at a point where there is a
break in the symmetry of the Hujrah, we arrived at the sixth station,
the sepulchre or cenotaph of the Lady Fatimah. Her grave is outside the
enceinte and the curtain which surrounds her father's remains; so
strict is Moslem decorum, and so exalted its opinion of the
"Virgin's"[FN#55] delicacy. The Eastern side of the Hujrah, here
turning a little Westward, interrupts the shape of the square, in order
to give this spot the appearance of disconnection with the rest of the
building. The tomb, seen through a square aperture like those above
described, is a long catafalque, covered with a black pall. Though
there is great doubt whether the Lady be not buried with her son Hassan
in the Bakia cemetery, this place is always visited by the pious
Moslem. The following is the prayer opposite the grave of the amiable

"Peace be upon Thee, Daughter of the Apostle of Allah! Peace be upon
Thee, Daughter of the Prophet of Allah! Peace be upon Thee, thou
Daughter of Mustafa! Peace be upon Thee, thou Mother of the
Shurafa![FN#56] (seed of Mohammed.) Peace be upon Thee, O Lady amongst
Women! Peace be upon Thee, O fifth of the Ahl al-Kisa![FN#57] Peace be
upon Thee, O Zahra and Batul![FN#58] (Pure and Virgin).

[p.328] Peace be upon Thee, O Daughter of the Apostle! Peace be upon
Thee, O Spouse of our Lord Ali al-Murtaza! Peace be upon Thee, O Mother
of Hasan and Husayn, the two Moons, the two Lights, the two Pearls, the
two Princes of the Youth of Heaven, and Coolness of the Eyes[FN#59]
(i.e. joy and gladness) of true Believers! Peace be upon Thee, and upon
Thy Sire, Al-Mustafa, and Thy Husband, our Lord Ali! Allah honour his
Face, and Thy Face, and Thy Father's Face in Paradise, and Thy two
Sons, the Hasanayn! And the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings!"

We then broke away as we best could from the crowd of female "askers,"
who have established their Lares and Penates under the shadow of the
Lady's wing; and, advancing a few paces, we fronted to the North, and
recited a prayer in honour of Hamzah, and of the martyrs who lie buried
at the foot of Mount Ohod.[FN#60] We then turned to the right, and,
fronting the Easterly wall, prayed for the souls of the blessed whose
mortal spirits repose within Al-Bakia's hallowed circuit.[FN#61]

After this we returned to the Southern wall of the Mosque, and, facing
towards Meccah, we recited the following supplication:-"O Allah! (three
times repeated) O Compassionate! O Beneficent! O Requiter (of good and

[p.329] evil)! O Prince! O Ruler! O ancient of Benefits! O Omniscient!
O Thou who givest when asked, and who aidest when Aid is required,
accept this our Visitation, and preserve us from Dangers, and make easy
our Affairs, and broaden our Breasts, (gladden our hearts), and receive
our Prostration, and requite us according to our good Deeds, and turn
not against us our evil Deeds, and place not over us one who feareth
not Thee, and one who pitieth not us, and write Safety and Health upon
us and upon Thy Slaves, the Hujjaj (pilgrims), and the Ghuzzat
(fighters for the faith), and the Zawwar[FN#62] (visitors to the tomb),
and the Home-dwellers and the Wayfarers of the Moslems, by Land and by
Sea, and pardon those of the Faith of our Lord Mohammed One and All!"

>From the Southern wall we returned to the "Apostle's Window," where we
recited the following tetrastich and prayer:-

"O Mustafa! verily, I stand at Thy door,
A man, weak and fearful, by reason of my sins:
If Thou aid me not, O Apostle of Allah!
I die-for, in the world there is none generous as Thou art!"

"Of a Truth, Allah and His Angels bless the Apostle! O Ye who believe,
bless Him and salute Him with salutation![FN#63] O Allah! verily I
implore Thy Pardon and supplicate Thine Aid in this World as in the
next! O Allah! O Allah! abandon us not in this Holy Place to the
consequences of our Sins without pardoning them, or to our Griefs
without consoling them, or to our Fears, O Allah! without removing
them. And Blessings and Salutation to Thee, O Prince of Apostles,
Commissioned (to preach the word), and laud be to Allah, the Lord of
the (three) Worlds!"

We turned away from the Hujrah, and after gratifying

[p.330] a meek-looking but exceedingly importunate Hindi beggar, who
insisted on stunning me with the Chapter Y, S.,[FN#64] we fronted
Southwards, and taking care that our backs should not be in a line with
the Apostle's face, stood opposite the niche called Mihrab Osman. There
Hamid proceeded with another supplication. "O Allah! (three times
repeated), O Safeguard of the Fearful, and Defender of those who trust
in Thee, and Pitier of the Weak, the Poor, and the Destitute! accept
us, O Beneficent! and pardon us, O Merciful! and receive our Penitence,
O Compassionate! and have Mercy upon us, O Forgiver!-for verily none
but Thou canst remit Sin! Of a Truth Thou alone knowest the hidden, and
veilest Man's Transgressions: veil, then, our Offences, and pardon our
Sins, and broaden our Breasts, and cause our last Words at the Supreme
Hour of Life to be the Words, ‘There is no god but Allah,[FN#65] and
our Lord Mohammed is the Apostle of Allah!' O Allah! cause us to live
according to this Saying, O thou Giver of life; and make us to die in
this Faith, O thou Ruler of Death! And the best of Blessings and the
completest of Salutations upon the sole Lord of Intercession, our Lord
Mohammed and His Family, and His Companions One and All!"

Lastly, we returned to the Garden,[FN#66] and prayed another two-bow
prayer, ending, as we began, with the worship of the Creator.

[p.331] Unfortunately for me, the boy Mohammed had donned that grand
embroidered coat. At the end of the ceremony the Aghas, or eunuchs of
the Mosque, a race of men considered respectable by their office, and
prone to make themselves respected by the freest administration of
club-law, assembled in Al-Rauzah to offer me the congratulation
Ziyaratak Mubarak-"Blessed be thy Visitation,"-and to demand fees. Then
came the Sakka, or water-carrier of the Mosque well, Zemzem,[FN#67]
offering a tinned saucer filled from the holy source. And lastly I was
beset by beggars.

Some were mild beggars and picturesque, who sat upon the ground
immersed in the contemplation of their napkins; others, angry beggars
who cursed if they were not gratified; and others noisy and petulant
beggars, especially the feminine party near the Lady's tomb, who
captured me by the skirt of my garment, compelling me to ransom myself.
There were, besides, pretty beggars, boys who held out the right hand
on the score of good looks; ugly beggars, emaciated rascals whose long
hair, dirt, and leanness entitled them to charity; and lastly, the
blind, the halt, and the diseased, who, as Sons of the Holy City,
demanded from the Faithful that support with which they could not
provide themselves. Having been compelled by my companions, highly
against my inclination, to become a man of rank, I was obliged to pay
in proportion, and my almoner in the handsome coat, as usual, took a
kind of pride in being profuse. This first visit cost me double what I
had intended-four dollars-nearly one pound sterling, and never
afterwards could I pay less than half that sum.[FN#68]

[p.332] Having now performed all the duties of a good Zair, I was
permitted by Shaykh Hamid to wander about and see the sights. We began
our circumambulation at the Bab al-Salam,[FN#69] the Gate of Salvation,
the South-Western entrance pierced in the long wall of the Mosque. It
is a fine archway handsomely encrusted with marble and glazed tiles;
the many gilt inscriptions on its sides give it, especially at
night-time, an appearance of considerable splendour. The
portcullis-like doors are of wood, strengthened with brass plates, and
nails of the same metal. Outside this gate is a little Sabil, or public
fountain, where those who will not pay for the water, kept ready in
large earthen jars by the "Sakka" of the Mosque, perform their
ablutions gratis. Here all the mendicants congregate in force, sitting
on the outer steps and at the entrance of the Mosque, up and through
which the visitors must pass.

About the centre of the Western wall is the Bab alRahmah, the Gate of
Pity, which admits the dead bodies of the Faithful when carried to be
prayed over in the Mosque. There is nothing remarkable in its
appearance; in common with the other gates it has huge folding doors,
iron-bound, an external flight of steps, and a few modern inscriptions.

The Bab Majidi, or Gate of the Sultan Abd al-Majid, stands in the
centre of the Northern wall; like its portico, it is unfinished, but
its present appearance promises that it will eclipse all except the Bab

The Bab al-Nisa, or Gate of Women, is in the Eastern wall opposite the
Bab al-Rahmah, with which it is connected by the "Farsh al-Hajar," a
broad band of stone, two or three steps below the level of the portico,

[p.333] and slightly raised above the Sahn or the hypaethral portion of
the Mosque. And lastly, in the Southern portion of the same Eastern
wall is the Bab Jibrail, the Gate of the Archangel Gabriel.[FN#70]

All these entrances are arrived at by short external flights of steps
leading from the streets, as the base of the temple, unlike that of
Meccah, is a little higher than the foundation of the buildings around
it. The doors are closed by the attendant eunuchs immediately after the
night prayers, except during the blessed month Al-Ramazan and in the
pilgrimage season, when pious visitors pay considerable fees there to
pass the night in meditation and prayer.

The minarets are five in number; but one, the Shikayliyah, at the
North-West angle of the building, has been levelled, and is still in
process of being rebuilt. The Munar Bab al-Salam stands by the gate of
that name: it is a tall, handsome tower, surmounted by a large ball or
cone[FN#71] of brass gilt or burnished. The Munar Bab al-Rahmah, about
the centre of the Western wall, is of more simple form than the others:
it has two galleries, with the superior portion circular, and
surmounted by the conical "extinguisher"-roof so common in Turkey and
Egypt. On the North-East angle of the Mosque stands the Sulaymaniyah
Munar, so named after its founder, Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent. It
is a well-built and substantial stone-tower divided into three stages;
the two

[p.334] lower portions are polygonal, the upper cylindrical, and each
terminates in a platform with a railed gallery carried all round for
the protection of those who ascend.

And lastly, from the South-East angle of the Mosque, supposed to be
upon the spot where Belal, the Apostle's loud-lunged crier, called the
first Moslems to prayer,
[FN#72] springs the Munar Raisiyah, so called because it is
appropriated to the Ruasa or chiefs of the Mu'ezzins. Like the
Sulaymaniyah, it consists of three parts: the first and second stages
are polygonal; and the third, a cylinder, is furnished like the lower
two with a railed gallery. Both the latter minarets end in solid ovals
of masonry, from which project a number of wooden triangles. To these
and to the galleries on all festive occasions, such as the arrival of
the Damascus caravan, are hung oil-lamps-a poor attempt at
illumination, which may rationally explain the origin of the Madinite
superstition concerning the column of light which crowns the Prophet's
tomb. There is no uniformity in the shape or the size of these four
minarets, and at first sight, despite their beauty and grandeur, they
appear somewhat bizarre and misplaced. But after a few days I found
that my eye grew accustomed to them, and I had no difficulty in
appreciating their massive proportions and lofty forms.

Equally irregular are the Riwaks, or porches, surrounding the
hypaethral court. Along the Northern wall there will be, when finished,
a fine colonnade of granite, paved with marble. The Eastern Riwak has
three rows of pillars, the Western four, and the Southern, under which
stands the tomb, of course has its columns ranged deeper than all the
others. These supports of the building are of different material; some
of fine marble, others of

[p.335] rough stone, plastered over and painted with the most vulgar of
arabesques,-vermilion and black in irregular patches and broad streaks,
like the stage-face of a London clown.[FN#73] Their size, moreover, is
different, the Southern colonnade being composed of pillars palpably
larger than those in the other parts of the Mosque. Scarcely any two
shafts own similar capitals; many have no pedestal, and some of them
are cut with a painful ignorance of art. I cannot extend my admiration
of the minarets to the columns-in their "architectural lawlessness"
there is not a redeeming point.

Of these unpraisable pillars three are celebrated in the annals of
Al-Islam, for which reason their names are painted upon them, and five
others enjoy the honour of distinctive appellations. The first is
called Al-Mukhallak, because, on some occasion of impurity, it was
anointed with a perfume called Khaluk. It is near the Mihrab al-Nabawi,
on the right of the place where the Imam prays; and it notes the spot
where, before the invention of the Pulpit, the Apostle, leaning upon
the Ustuwanat al-Hannanah-the Weeping Pillar[FN#74]-used to recite the
Khutbah or Friday sermon.

The second stands third from the Pulpit, and third from the Hujrah. It
is called the Pillar of Ayishah, also the Ustuwanat al-Kurah, or the
Column of Lots, because the Apostle, according to the testimony of his
favourite wife, declared that if men knew the value of the place, they
would cast lots to pray there: in some books it is known as the Pillar
of the Muhajirin or Fugitives, and others mention it as
Al-Mukhallak-the Perfumed.

Twenty cubits distant from Ayishah's Pillar, and the

[p.336] second from the Hujrah, and the fourth from the Pulpit, is the
Pillar of Repentance, or of Abu Lubabah. It derives its name from the
following circumstance. Abu Lubabah was a native of Al-Madinah, one of
the Auxiliaries and a companion of Mohammed, originally it is said a
Jew, according to others of the Beni Amr bin Auf of the Aus tribe.
Being sent for by his kinsmen or his allies, the Benu Kurayzah, at that
time capitulating to Mohammed, he was consulted by the distracted men,
women, and children, who threw themselves at his feet, and begged of
him to intercede for them with the offended Apostle. Abu Lubabah swore
he would do so: at the same time, he drew his hand across his throat,
as much as to say, "Defend yourselves to the last, for if you yield,
such is your doom." Afterwards repenting, he bound himself with a huge
chain to the date-tree in whose place the column now stands, vowing to
continue there until Allah and the Apostle accepted his penitence-a
circumstance which did not take place till the tenth day, when his
hearing was gone and he had almost lost his sight.

The less celebrated pillars are the Ustuwanat al-Sarir, or Column of
the Cot, where the Apostle was wont to sit meditating on his humble
couch-frame of date-sticks. The Ustuwanat Ali notes the spot where the
fourth Caliph used to pray and watch near his father-in-law at night.
At the Ustuwanat al-Wufud, as its name denotes, the Apostle received
envoys, couriers, and emissaries from foreign places. The Ustuwanat
al-Tahajjud now stands where Mohammed, sitting upon his mat, passed the
night in prayer. And lastly is the Makam Jibrail (Gabriel's place), for
whose other name, Mirbaat al-Bair, "the Pole of the Beast of Burden," I
have been unable to find an explanation.

The four Riwaks, or porches, of the Madinah Mosque open upon a
hypaethral court of parallelogramic shape.

[p.337] The only remarkable object in it[FN#75] is a square of wooden
railing enclosing a place full of well-watered earth, called the Garden
of our Lady Fatimah.[FN#76] It now contains a dozen date-trees-in Ibn
Jubayr's time there were fifteen. Their fruit is sent by the eunuchs as
presents to the Sultan and the great men of Al-Islam; it is highly
valued by the vulgar, but the Olema do not think much of its claims to
importance. Among the palms are the venerable remains of a Sidr, or
Lote tree,[FN#77] whose produce is sold for inordinate sums. The
enclosure is entered by a dwarf gate in the South-Eastern portion of
the railing, near the well, and one of the eunuchs is generally to be
seen in it: it is under the charge of the Mudir, or chief treasurer.
These gardens are not uncommon in Mosques, as the traveller who passes
through Cairo can convince himself. They form a pretty and an
appropriate feature in a building erected for the worship of Him "Who
spread the Earth with Carpets of Flowers and drew shady Trees from the
dead Ground." A tradition of the Apostle also declares that "Acceptable
is Devotion in the Garden and in the Orchard."

[p.338] At the South-East angle of this enclosure, under a wooden roof
supported by pillars of the same material, stands the Zemzem, generally
called the Bir al-Nabi, or "the Apostle's well." My predecessor
declares that the brackishness of its produce has stood in the way of
its reputation for holiness. Yet a well-educated man told me that it
was as "light" (wholesome) water[FN#78] as any in Al-Madinah,-a fact
which he accounted for by supposing a subterraneous passage[FN#79]
which connects it with the great Zemzem at Meccah. Others, again,
believe that it is filled by a vein of water springing directly under
the Apostle's grave: generally, however, among the learned it is not
more revered than our Lady's Garden, nor is it ranked in books among
the holy wells of Al-Madinah.

Between this Zemzem well and the Eastern Riwak is the Stoa, or
Academia, of the Prophet's city. In the cool mornings and evenings the
ground is strewed with professors, who teach the young idea, as an
eminent orientalist hath it, to shout rather than to shoot.[FN#80] A
few feet to the South of the palm garden is a moveable wooden planking
painted green, and about three feet high; it serves to separate the
congregation from the Imam when he prays here; and at the North-Eastern
angle of the enclosure is a

[p.339] Shajar Kanadil, a large brass chandelier, which completes the
furniture of the court.

After this inspection, the shadows of evening began to gather round us.
We left the Mosque, reverently taking care to issue forth with the left
foot, and not to back out of it as is the Sunnat or practice derived
from the Apostle, when taking leave of the Meccan Temple.

To conclude this long chapter. Although every Moslem, learned and
simple, firmly believes that Mohammed's remains are interred in the
Hujrah at Al-Madinah, I cannot help suspecting that the place is
doubtful as that of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It must be
remembered that a tumult followed the announcement of the Apostle's
death, when the people, as often happens, believing him to be
immortal,[FN#81] refused to credit the report, and even Omar threatened
destruction to any one that asserted it.

Moreover the body was scarcely cold when the contest about the
succession arose between the fugitives of Meccah and the auxiliaries of
Al-Madinah: in the ardour of which, according to the Shi'ahs, the house
of Ali and Fatimah-within a few feet of the spot where the tomb of the
Apostle is now placed-was threatened with fire, and Abu Bakr was
elected Caliph that same evening. If anyone find cause to wonder that
the last resting-place of a personage so important was not fixed for
ever, he may find many a parallel case in Al-Madinah. To quote no
other, three several localities claim the honour of containing the Lady
Fatimah's mortal spoils, although one might suppose that the daughter
of the Apostle and the mother of the Imams would not be laid in an
unknown grave. My reasons for incredulity are the following:
[p.340] From the earliest days the shape of the Apostle's tomb has
never been generally known in Al-Islam. For this reason it is that
graves are made convex in some countries, and flat in others. Had there
been a Sunnat,[FN#82] such would not have been the case.

The accounts of the learned are discrepant. Al-Samanhudi, perhaps the
highest authority, contradicts himself. In one place he describes the
coffin; in another he expressly declares that he entered the Hujrah
when it was being repaired by Kaid-Bey, and saw in the inside three
deep graves, but no traces of tombs.[FN#83] Either, then, the mortal
remains of the Apostle had, despite Moslem superstition,[FN#84] mingled
with the dust, (a probable circumstance

[p.341] after nearly nine hundred years' interment), or, what is more
likely, they had been removed by the Shi'ah schismatics who for
centuries had charge of the sepulchre.[FN#85]

And lastly, I cannot but look upon the tale of the blinding light which
surrounds the Apostle's tomb, current for ages past and still
universally believed upon the authority of the attendant eunuchs, who
must know its falsehood, as a priestly gloss intended to conceal a

I here conclude the subject, committing it to some future and more
favoured investigator. In offering the above remarks, I am far from
wishing to throw a doubt upon an established point of history. But
where a suspicion of fable arises from popular "facts," a knowledge of
man and of his manners teaches us to regard it with favouring

[FN#1] Others add a fourth, namely, the Masjid al-Takwa, at Kuba.
[FN#2] The Moslem divines, however, naïvely remind their readers, that
they are not to pray once in the Al-Madinah Mosque, and neglect the
other 999, as if absolved from the necessity of them. The passage in
the text merely promises 1000 blessings upon that man's devotion who
prays at the Prophet's Mosque.
[FN#3] The visitor, who approaches the Sepulchre as a matter of
religious ceremony, is called "Zair," his conductor "Muzawwir," whereas
the pilgrim at Meccah becomes a "Haji." The Imam Malik disapproved of a
Moslem's saying, "I have visited the Prophet's tomb," preferring him to
express himself thus-"I have visited the Prophet." Others again dislike
the latter formula, declaring the Prophet too venerable to be so
visited by Amr and Zayd.
[FN#4] In A.D. 1807, they prevented Ali Bey (the Spaniard Badia) from
entering Al-Madinah, and it appears that he had reason to congratulate
himself upon escaping without severe punishment.
[FN#5] Nothing in the Spanish cathedrals suggests their oriental origin
and the taste of the people, more than the way in which they are hedged
in by secular buildings.
[FN#6] The ceremony of Ziyarat, however, begins at the Bab al-Salam. We
rode up to this gate only in order to avoid the sun.
[FN#7] Haswah is a place covered with gravel: Ramlah, one which is
sanded over. Both are equally applicable, and applied to the areas of
Mosques. Al-Sahn is the general word; Al-Hosh is occasionally used, but
is more properly applied to the court-yard of a dwelling-house.
[FN#8] This Riwak was begun about five or six years ago by Abd
al-Majid. To judge from the size of the columns, and the other
preparations which encumber the ground, this part of the building will
surpass all the rest. But the people of Al-Madinah assured me that it
will not be finished for some time,-a prophecy likely to be fulfilled
by the present state of Turkish finance.
[FN#9] This gate derives its peculiar name from its vicinity to the
Lady Fatimah's tomb; women, when they do visit the Mosque, enter it
through all the doors indifferently.
[FN#10] It is so called by the figure synecdoche: it contains the
Rauzah or the Prophet's Garden, and therefore the whole portico enjoys
that honoured name.
[FN#11] These carpets are swept by the eunuchs, who let out the office
for a certain fee to pilgrims, every morning, immediately after
sunrise. Their diligence, however, does by no means prevent the
presence of certain little parasites, concerning which politeness is
[FN#12] Because if not pure, ablution is performed at the well in the
centre of the hypaethra. Zairs are ordered to visit the Mosque
perfumed, and in their best clothes, and the Hanafi school deems it
lawful on this occasion only to wear dresses of pure silk.
[FN#13] In this Mosque, as in all others, it is proper to enter with
the right foot, and to retire with the left.
[FN#14] I must warn the reader that almost every Muzawwir has his own
litany, which descends from father to son: moreover, all the books
differ at least as much as do the oral authorities.
[FN#15] That is to say, "over the world, the flesh, and the devil."
[FN#16] This by strangers is called the Masalla Shafe'i, or the Place
of Prayer of the Shafe'i school. It was sent from Constantinople about
100 years ago, by Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent. He built the
Sulaymaniyah minaret, and has immortalised his name at Al-Madinah, as
well as at Meccah, by the number of his donations to the shrine.
[FN#17] Here is supposed to have been one of the Prophet's favourite
stations of prayer. It is commonly called the Musalla Hanafi, because
now appropriated by that school.
[FN#18] This tradition, like most others referring to events posterior
to the Prophet's death, is differently given, and so important are the
variations, that I only admire how all Al-Islam does not follow Wahhabi
example, and summarily consign them to oblivion. Some read "Between my
dwelling-house (in the Mosque) and my place of Prayer (in the Barr
al-Manakhah) is a Garden of the Gardens of Paradise." Others again,
"Between my house and my pulpit is a Garden of the Gardens of
Paradise." A third tradition-"Between my tomb and my pulpit is a Garden
of the Gardens of Paradise, and verily my pulpit is in my Full
Cistern," or "upon a Full Cistern of the Cisterns of Paradise," has
given rise to a new superstition. "Tara," according to some
commentators, alludes especially to the cistern Al-Kausar; consequently
this Rauzah is, like the black stone at Meccah, bona fide, a bit of
Paradise, and on the day of resurrection, it shall return bodily to the
place whence it came. Be this as it may, all Moslems are warned that
the Rauzah is a most holy spot. None but the Prophet and his son-in-law
Ali ever entered it, when ceremonially impure, without being guilty of
deadly sin. The Mohammedan of the present day is especially informed
that on no account must he here tell lies, or even perjure himself.
Thus the Rauzah must be respected as much as the interior of the Bayt
Allah at Meccah.
[FN#19] This is a stone desk on four pillars, where the Muballighs (or
clerks) recite the Ikamah, the call to divine service. It was presented
to the Mosque by Kaid-Bey, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt.
[FN#20] I shall have something to say about this pulpit when entering
into the history of the Harim.
[FN#21] The afternoon prayers being Farz, or obligatory, were recited,
because we feared that evening might come on before the ceremony of
Ziyarat (visitation) concluded, and thus the time for Al-Asr (afternoon
prayers) might pass away. The reader may think this rather a curious
forethought in a man who, like Hamid, never prayed except when he found
the case urgent. Such, however, is the strict order, and my Muzawwir
was right to see it executed.
[FN#22]. This two-bow prayer, which generally is recited in honour of
the Mosque, is here, say divines, addressed especially to the Deity by
the visitor who intends to beg the intercession of his Prophet. It is
only just to confess that the Moslems have done their best by all means
in human power, here as well as elsewhere, to inculcate the doctrine of
eternal distinction between the creature and the Creator. Many of the
Maliki school, however, make the ceremony of Ziyarat to precede the
prayer to the Deity.
[FN#23] The Sujdah is a single "prostration" with the forehead touching
the ground. It is performed from a sitting position, after the Dua or
supplication that concludes the two-bow prayer. Some of the Olema,
especially those of the Shafe'i school, permit this "Sujdah of thanks"
to be performed before the two-bow prayer if the visitor have any
notable reason to be grateful.
[FN#24] The candles are still sent from Cairo.
[FN#25] These windows are a present from Kaid-Bey, the Mamluk Sultan of
[FN#26] These oil lamps are a present from the Sultan.
[FN#27] The five daily liturgies are here recited by Imams, and every
one presses to the spot on account of its peculiar sanctity.
[FN#28] In Moslem theology "Salat" from Allah means mercy, from the
angels intercession for pardon, and from mankind blessing. The act of
blessing the Prophet is one of peculiar efficacy in a religious point
of view. Cases are quoted of sinners being actually snatched from hell
by a glorious figure, the personification of the blessings which had
been called down by them upon Mohammed's head. This most poetical idea
is borrowed, I believe, from the ancient Guebres, who fabled that a
man's good works assumed a beautiful female shape, which stood to meet
his soul when winding its way to judgment. Also when a Moslem blesses
Mohammed at Al-Madinah, his sins are not written down for three
days,-thus allowing ample margin for repentance,-by the recording
angel. Al-Malakayn (the two Angels), or Kiram al-Katibin (the Generous
Writers), are mere personifications of the good principle and the evil
principle of man's nature; they are fabled to occupy each a shoulder,
and to keep a list of words and deeds. This is certainly borrowed from
a more ancient faith. In Hermas II. (command. 6), we are told that
"every man has two angels, one of godliness, the other of iniquity,"
who endeavour to secure his allegiance,-a superstition seemingly
founded upon the dualism of the old Persians. Mediaeval Europe, which
borrowed so much from the East at the time of the Crusades, degraded
these angels into good and bad fairies for children's stories.
[FN#29] Burckhardt writes this word Hedjra (which means "flight"). Nor
is M. Caussin de Perceval's "El Hadjarat" less erroneous. At Madinah it
is invariably called Al-Hujrah-the chamber. The chief difficulty in
distinguishing the two words, meaning "chamber" and "flight," arises
from our only having one h to represent the hard and soft h of Arabic,
???? [Arabic text] and ???? [Arabic text]. In the case of common
saints, the screen or railing round the cenotaph is called a "Maksurah."
[FN#30] Yet Mohammed enjoined his followers to frequent graveyards.
"Visit graves; of a verity they shall make you think of futurity!" And
again, "Whoso visiteth his two parents' grave, or one of the two, every
Friday, he shall be written a pious child, even though he might have
been in the world, before that, a disobedient."
[FN#31] The truth is no one knows what is there. I have even heard a
learned Persian declare that there is no wall behind the curtain, which
hangs so loosely that, when the wind blows against it, it defines the
form of a block of marble, or a built-up tomb. I believe this to be
wholly apocryphal, for reasons which will presently be offered.
[FN#32] The peculiar place where the guardians of the tomb sit and
confabulate is the Dakkat al-Aghawat (eunuch's bench) or Al-Mayda-the
table-a raised bench of stone and wood, on the North side of the
Hujrah. The remaining part of this side is partitioned off from the
body of the Mosque by a dwarf wall, inclosing the "Khasafat al-Sultan,"
the place where Fakihs are perpetually engaged in Khitmahs, or perusals
of the Koran, on behalf of the reigning Sultan.
[FN#33] The ancient practice of Al-Islam during the recitation of the
following benedictions was to face Meccah, the back being turned
towards the tomb, and to form a mental image of the Prophet, supposing
him to be in front. Al-Kirmani and other doctors prefer this as the
more venerable custom, but in these days it is completely exploded, and
the purist would probably be soundly bastinadoed by the eunuchs for
attempting it.
[FN#34] This is the usual introduction to a quotation from the Koran.
[FN#35] It may easily be conceived how offensive this must be to the
Wahhabis, who consider it blasphemy to assert that a mere man can stand
between the Creator and the creature on the last day.
[FN#36] This is called the Testification. Like the Fatihah, it is
repeated at every holy place and tomb visited at Al-Madinah.
[FN#37] Burckhardt mentions that in his day, among other favours
supplicated in prayer to the Deity, the following request was
made,-"Destroy our enemies, and may the torments of hell-fire be their
lot!" I never heard it at the Prophet's tomb. As the above benediction
is rather a long one, the Zair is allowed to shorten it a discretion,
but on no account to say less than "Peace be upon Thee, O Apostle of
Allah"-this being the gist of the ceremony.
[FN#38] Though performing Ziyarat for myself, I had promised my old
Shaykh at Cairo to recite a Fatihah in his name at the Prophet's tomb;
so a double recitation fell to my lot. If acting Zair for another
person (a common custom, we read, even in the days of Al-Walid, the
Caliph of Damascus), you are bound to mention your principal's name at
the beginning of the benediction, thus: "Peace be upon Thee, O Apostle
of Allah from such an one, the son of such an one, who wants Thine
Intercession, and begs for Pardon and Mercy." Most Zairs recite
Fatihahs for all their friends and relations at the tomb.
[FN#39] I have endeavoured in this translation to imitate the imperfect
rhyme of the original Arabic. Such an attempt, however, is full of
difficulties: the Arabic is a language in which, like Italian, it is
almost impossible not to rhyme.
[FN#40] It will not be necessary to inform the reader more than once
that all these several divisions of prayer ended with the Testification
and the Fatihah.
[FN#41] Faruk,-the separator,-a title of Omar.
[FN#42] When the number of the Ashab or "Companions" was thirty-nine,
they were suddenly joined by Omar, who thus became the fortieth.
[FN#43] It is said that Mohammed prayed long for the conversion of Omar
to Al-Islam, knowing his sterling qualities, and the aid he would lend
to the establishment of the faith.
[FN#44] This foolish fanaticism has lost many an innocent life, for the
Arabs on these occasions seize their sabres, and cut down every Persian
they meet. Still, bigoted Shi'ahs persist in practising and applauding
it, and the man who can boast at Shiraz of having defiled Abu Bakr's,
Omar's, or Osman's tomb becomes at once a lion and a hero. I suspect
that on some occasions when the people of Al-Madinah are anxious for an
"avanie," they get up some charge of the kind against the Persians. So
the Meccans have sometimes found these people guilty of defiling the
house of Allah-at which Infidel act a Shi'ah would shudder as much as a
Sunni. This style of sacrilege is, we read, of ancient date in Arabia.
Nafil, the Hijazi, polluted the Kilis (Christian church) erected by
Abrahah of Sanaa to outshine the Ka'abah, and draw off worshippers from
Meccah. The outrage caused the celebrated "affair of the Elephant."
(See D'Herbelot, Bibl. Or., v. "Abrahah.")
[FN#45] Burckhardt, with his usual accuracy, asserts that a new curtain
is sent when the old one is decayed, or when a new Sultan ascends the
throne, and those authors err who, like Maundrell, declare the curtain
to be removed every year. The Damascus Caravan conveys, together with
its Mahmil or emblem of royalty, the new Kiswah (or "garment") when
required for the tomb. It is put on by the eunuchs, who enter the
baldaquin by its Northern gate at night time, and there is a
superstitious story amongst the people that they guard their eyes with
veils against the supernatural splendours which pour from the tomb. The
Kiswah is a black, purple, or green brocade, embroidered with white or
with silver letters. A piece in my possession, the gift of Omar
Effendi, is a handsome silk and cotton Damascus brocade, with white
letters worked in it-manifestly the produce of manual labour, not the
poor dull work of machinery. It contains the formula of the Moslem
faith in the cursive style of the Suls character, seventy-two varieties
of which are enumerated by calligraphists. Nothing can be more elegant
or appropriate than its appearance. The old curtain is usually
distributed amongst the officers of the Mosque, and sold in bits to
pilgrims; in some distant Moslem countries, the possessor of such a
relic would be considered a saint. When treating of the history of the
Mosque, some remarks will be offered about the origin of the curtain.
[FN#46] The place of the Prophet's head is, I was told, marked by a
fine Koran hung up to the curtain This volume is probably a successor
to the relic formerly kept there, the Cufic Koran belonging to Osman,
the fourth Caliph, which Burckhardt supposes to have perished in the
conflagration which destroyed the Mosque.
[FN#47] The eunuchs of the tomb have the privilege of admitting
strangers. In this passage are preserved the treasures of the place;
they are a "Bayt Mal al-Muslimin," or public treasury of the Moslems;
therefore to be employed by the Caliph (i.e. the reigning Sultan) for
the exigencies of the faith. The amount is said to be enormous, which I
[FN#48] And I might add, never having seen one who has seen it. Niebuhr
is utterly incorrect in his hearsay description of it. It is not
"enclosed within iron railings for fear lest the people might
surreptitiously offer worship to the ashes of the Prophet." The tomb is
not "of plain mason-work in the form of a chest," nor does any one
believe that it is "placed within or between two other tombs, in which
rest the ashes of the first two Caliphs." The traveller appears to have
lent a credulous ear to the eminent Arab merchant, who told him that a
guard was placed over the tomb to prevent the populace scraping dirt
from about it, and preserving it as a relic.
[FN#49] Burckhardt writes this author's name El Samhoudy, and in this
he is followed by all our popular book-makers. Moslems have three ways
of spelling it: 1. Al-Samhudi, 2. Al-Samahnudi, and 3. Al-Samanhudi. I
prefer the latter, believing that the learned Shaykh, Nur al-Din Ali
bin Abdullah al-Hasini (or Al-Husayni) was originally from Samanhud in
Egypt, the ancient Sebennitis. He died in A.H. 911, and was buried in
the Bakia cemetery.
[FN#50] Burckhardt, however, must be in error when he says "The tombs
are also covered with precious stuffs, and in the shape of catafalques,
like that of Ibrahim in the great Mosque of Meccah." The eunuchs
positively declare that no one ever approaches the tomb, and that he
who ventured to do so would at once be blinded by the supernatural
light. Moreover the historians of Al-Madinah all quote tales of certain
visions of the Apostle, directing his tomb to be cleared of dust that
had fallen upon it from above, in which case some man celebrated for
piety and purity was let through a hole in the roof, by cords, down to
the tomb, with directions to wipe it with his beard. This style of
ingress is explained by another assertion of Al-Samanhudi, quoted by
Burckhardt. "In A.H. 892, when Kaid-Bey rebuilt the Mosque, which had
been destroyed by lightning, three deep graves were found in the
inside, full of rubbish, but the author of this history, who himself
entered it, saw no traces of tombs. The original place of Mohammed's
tomb was ascertained with great difficulty; the walls of the Hujrah
were then rebuilt, and the iron railing placed round it, which is now
[FN#51] Upon this point authors greatly disagree. Ibn Jubayr, for
instance, says that Abu Bakr's head is opposite the Apostle's feet, and
that Omar's face is on a level with Abu Bakr's shoulder.
[FN#52] The vulgar story of the suspended coffin has been explained in
two ways. Niebuhr supposes it to have arisen from the rude drawings
sold to strangers. Mr. William Bankes (Giovanni Finati, vol. ii., p.
289) believes that the mass of rock popularly described as hanging
unsupported in the Mosque of Omar at Jerusalem was confounded by
Christians, who could not have seen either of these Moslem shrines,
with the Apostle's Tomb at Al-Madinah.
[FN#53] Some Moslems end their Ziyarat at the Apostle's Tomb; others,
instead of advancing, as I did, return to the Apostle's window, pray,
and beg pardon for their parents and themselves, and ask all they
desire, concluding with prayers to the Almighty. Thence they repair to
the Rauzah or Garden, and standing at the column called after Abu
Lubabah, pray a two-bow prayer there; concluding with the "Dua," or
benediction upon the Apostle, and there repeat these words: "O Allah,
Thou hast said, and Thy word is true, ‘Say, O Lord, pardon and show
Mercy; for Thou art the best of the Merciful,' (chap. 23). O God,
verily we have heard Thy Word, and we come for Intercession to Thy
Apostle from our own Sins, repenting our Errors, and confessing our
Shortcomings and Transgressions! O Allah, pity us, and by the Dignity
of Thy Apostle raise our Place, (in the Heavenly Kingdom)! O Allah,
pardon our Brothers who have preceded us in the Faith!" Then the Zair
prays for himself, and his parents, and for those he loves. He should
repeat, "Allah have mercy upon Thee, O Apostle of Allah!" seventy
times, when an angel will reply, "Allah bless thee, O thou blesser."
Then he should sit before the Pulpit, and mentally conceive in it the
Apostle surrounded by the Fugitives and the Auxiliaries. Some place the
right hand upon the pulpit, even as Mohammed used to do. The Zair then
returns to the column of Abu Lubabah, and repents his sins there.
Secondly, he stands in prayer at Ali's Pillar in front of the form.
And, lastly, he repairs to the Ustuwanat al-Ashab (the Companions'
Column) the fourth distant from the Pulpit on the right, and the third
from the Hujrah on the left; here he prays and meditates, and blesses
Allah and the Apostle. After which, he proceeds to visit the rest of
the holy places.
[FN#54] It is almost unnecessary to inform the reader that all Moslems
deny the personal suffering of Christ, cleaving to the heresy of the
Christian Docetes,-certain "beasts in the shape of men," as they are
called in the Epistles of Ignatius to the Smyrneans,-who believed that
a phantom was crucified in our Saviour's place. They also hold to the
second coming of the Lord in the flesh, as a forerunner to Mohammed,
who shall reappear shortly before the day of judgment. Bartema
(Appendix 2) relates a story concerning the Saviour's future tomb.
[FN#55] This epithet will be explained below. The reader must bear in
mind, that this part of the Harim was formerly the house of Ali and
Fatimah; it was separated from the Hujrah-the abode of Mohammed and
Ayishah-only by a narrow brick wall, with a window in it, which was
never shut. Omar Bin Abd al-Aziz enclosed it in the mosque, by order of
Al-Walid, A.H. 90.
[FN#56] Plural of Sharif, a descendant of Mohammed.
[FN#57] The "people of the garment," so called, because on one occasion
the Apostle wrapped his cloak around himself, his daughter, his
son-in-law, and his two grandsons, thereby separating them in dignity
from other Moslems.
[FN#58] Burckhardt translates "Zahra" "bright blooming Fatimah." This I
believe to be the literal meaning of the epithet. When thus applied,
however, it denotes "virginem [Greek text] nescientem," in which state
of purity the daughter of the Apostle is supposed to have lived. For
the same reason she is called Al-Batul, the Virgin,-a title given by
Eastern Christians to the Mother of our Lord. The perpetual virginity
of Fatimah, even after the motherhood, is a point of orthodoxy in
[FN#59] Meaning "joy and gladness in the sight of true believers."
[FN#60] The prayer is now omitted, in order to avoid the repetition of
it when describing a visit to Mount Ohod.
[FN#61] The prayers usually recited here are especially in honour of
Abbas, Hasan, (Ali, called) Zayn al-Abidin, Osman, the Lady Halimah,
the Martyrs, and the Mothers of the Moslems, (i.e. the Apostle's
wives), buried in the holy cemetery. When describing a visit to
Al-Bakia, they will be translated at full length.
[FN#62] Hujjaj is the plural of Hajj-pilgrims; Ghuzzat, of
Ghazi-crusaders; and Zawwar of Zair-visitors to Mohammed's tomb.
[FN#63] "Taslim" is "to say Salam" to a person.
[FN#64] The Ya Sin (Y, S), the 36th chapter of the Koran, frequently
recited by those whose profession it is to say such masses for the
benefit of living, as well as of dead, sinners. Most educated Moslems
commit it to memory.
[FN#65] Or more correctly, "There is no Ilah but Allah," that is,
"There is no god but the God."
[FN#66] Some Zairs, after praying at the Caliph Osman's niche, leave
the Mosque, especially when the "Jama'at," or public worship, is not
being performed in the Rauzah. Others, as we did, pray alone in the
Garden, and many authors prefer this conclusion to Visitation, for the
reason above given.
[FN#67] This has become a generic name for a Well situated within the
walls of a Mosque.
[FN#68] As might be expected, the more a man pays, the higher he
estimates his own dignity. Some Indians have spent as much as 500
dollars during a first visit. Others have "made Maulids," i.e., feasted
all the poor connected with the temple with rice, meat, &c., whilst
others brought rare and expensive presents for the officials. Such
generosity, however, is becoming rare in these unworthy days.
[FN#69] This gate was anciently called the Bab al-Atakah, "of
[FN#70] Most of these entrances have been named and renamed. The Bab
Jibrail, for instance, which derives its present appellation from the
general belief that the archangel once passed through it, is generally
called in books Bab al-Jabr, the Gate of Repairing (the broken fortunes
of a friend or follower). It must not be confounded with the Mahbat
Jibrail, or the window near it in the Eastern wall, where the archangel
usually descended from heaven with the Wahy or Inspiration.
[FN#71] By some wonderful process the "Printer's Devil" converted, in
the first edition, this "ball or cone" into "bull or cow."
[FN#72] Belal, the loud-lunged crier, stood, we are informed, by Moslem
historians, upon a part of the roof on one of the walls of the Mosque.
The minaret, as the next chapter will show, was the invention of a more
tasteful age.
[FN#73] This abomination may be seen in Egypt on many of the
tombs,-those outside the Bal al-Nasr at Cairo, for instance.
[FN#74] The tale of this Weeping Pillar is well known. Some suppose it
to have been buried beneath the pulpit: others-they are few in
number-declare that it was inserted in the body of the pulpit.
[FN#75] The little domed building which figures in the native sketches,
and in all our prints of the Al-Madinah Mosque, was taken down three or
four years ago. It occupied part of the centre of the square, and was
called Kubbat al-Zayt-Dome of Oil; or Kubbat al-Shama-Dome of
Candles,-from its use as a store-room for lamps and wax candles.
[FN#76] This is its name among the illiterate, who firmly believe the
palms to be descendants of trees planted there by the hands of the
Prophet's daughter. As far as I could discover, the tradition has no
foundation, and in old times there was no garden in the hypaethral
court. The vulgar are in the habit of eating a certain kind of date,
"Al-Sayhani," in the Mosque, and of throwing the stones about; this
practice is violently denounced by the Olema.
[FN#77] Rhamnus Nabeca, Forsk. The fruit, called Nabak, is eaten, and
the leaves are used for the purpose of washing dead bodies. The visitor
is not forbidden to take fruit or water as presents from Al-Madinah,
but it is unlawful for him to carry away earth, or stones, or cakes of
dust, made for sale to the ignorant.
[FN#78] The Arabs, who, like all Orientals, are exceedingly curious
about water, take the trouble to weigh the produce of their wells; the
lighter the water, the more digestible and wholesome it is considered.
[FN#79] The common phenomenon of rivers flowing underground in Arabia
has, doubtless, suggested to the people these subterraneous passages,
with which they connect the most distant places. At Al-Madinah, amongst
other tales of short cuts known only to certain Badawi families, a man
told me of a shaft leading from his native city to Hazramaut: according
to him, it existed in the times of the Prophet, and was a journey of
only three days!
[FN#80] The Mosque Library is kept in large chests near the Bab
al-Salam; the only MS. of any value here is a Koran written in the
Sulsi hand. It is nearly four feet long, bound in a wooden cover, and
padlocked, so as to require from the curious a "silver key."
[FN#81] So the peasants in Brittany believe that Napoleon the First is
not yet dead; the Prussians expect Frederick the Second; the Swiss,
William Tell; the older English, King Arthur; and certain modern
fanatics look forward to the re-appearance of Joanna Southcote. Why
multiply instances in so well known a branch of the history of popular
[FN#82] The Sunnat is the custom or practice of the Apostle, rigidly
conformed to by every good and orthodox Moslem.
[FN#83] The reader will bear in mind that I am quoting from Burckhardt.
When in Al-Hijaz and at Cairo, I vainly endeavoured to buy a copy of
Al-Samanhudi. One was shown to me at Al-Madinah; unhappily, it bore the
word Wakf (bequeathed), and belonged to the Mosque. I was scarcely
allowed time to read it. (See p. 102, ante.)
[FN#84] In Moslem law, prophets, martyrs, and saints, are not supposed
to be dead; their property, therefore, remains their own. The Olema
have confounded themselves in the consideration of the prophetic state
after death. Many declare that prophets live and pray for forty days in
the tomb; at the expiration of which time, they are taken to the
presence of their Maker, where they remain till the blast of Israfil's
trumpet. The common belief, however, leaves the bodies in the graves,
but no one would dare to assert that the holy ones are suffered to
undergo corruption. On the contrary, their faces are blooming, their
eyes bright, and blood would issue from their bodies if wounded.
Al-Islam, as will afterwards appear, abounds in traditions of the
ancient tombs of saints and martyrs, when accidentally opened, exposing
to view corpses apparently freshly buried. And it has come to pass that
this fact, the result of sanctity, has now become an unerring
indication of it. A remarkable case in point is that of the late Sharif
Ghalib, the father of the present Prince of Meccah. In his lifetime he
was reviled as a wicked tyrant. But some years after his death, his
body was found undecomposed; he then became a saint, and men now pray
at his tomb. Perhaps his tyranny was no drawback to his holy
reputation. La Brinvilliers was declared after execution, by her
confessor and the people generally, a saint;-simply, I presume, because
of the enormity of her crimes.
[FN#85] NOTE TO THIRD EDITION.-I have lately been assured by Mohammed
al-Halabi, Shaykh al-Olema of Damascus, that he was permitted by the
Aghawat to pass through the gold-plated door leading into the Hujrah,
and that he saw no trace of a sepulchre.
[FN#86] I was careful to make a ground-plan of the Prophet's Mosque, as
Burckhardt was prevented by severe illness from so doing. It will give
the reader a fair idea of the main point, though, in certain minor
details, it is not to be trusted. Some of my papers and sketches, which
by precaution I had placed among my medicines, after cutting them into
squares, numbering them, and rolling them carefully up, were damaged by
the breaking of a bottle. The plan of Al-Madinah is slightly altered
from Burckhardt's. Nothing can be more ludicrous than the views of the
Holy City, as printed in our popular works. They are of the style
"bird's-eye," and present a curious perspective. They despise distance
like the Chinese,-pictorially audacious; the Harrah, or ridge in the
foreground appears to be 200 yards, instead of three or four miles,
distant from the town. They strip the place of its suburb Al-Manakhah,
in order to show the enceinte, omit the fort, and the gardens north and
south of the city, enlarge the Mosque twenty-fold for dignity, and make
it occupy the whole centre of the city, instead of a small corner in
the south-east quarter. They place, for symmetry, towers only at the
angles of the walls, instead of all along the curtain, and gather up
and press into the same field all the venerable and interesting
features of the country, those behind the artist's back, and at his
sides, as well as what appears in front. Such are the Turkish
lithographs. At Meccah, some Indians support themselves by depicting
the holy shrines; their works are a truly Oriental mixture of ground
plan and elevation, drawn with pen and ink, and brightened with the
most vivid colours-grotesque enough, but less unintelligible than the
more ambitious imitations of European art.



IBN ABBAS has informed the world that when the eighty individuals
composing Noah's family issued from the ark, they settled at a place
distant ten marches and twelve parasangs[FN#1] (thirty-six to
forty-eight miles) from Babel or Babylon. There they increased and
multiplied, and spread into a mighty empire. At length under the rule
of Namrud (Nimrod), son of Kanaan (Canaan), son of Ham, they lapsed
from the worship of the true God: a miracle dispersed them into distant
parts of the earth, and they were further broken up by the one
primaeval language being divided into seventy-two dialects.

A tribe called Aulad Sam bin Nuh (the children of Shem), or Amalikah
and Amalik,[FN#2] from their ancestor Amlak bin Arfakhshad bin Sam bin
Nuh, was inspired

[p.344]with a knowledge of the Arabic tongue[FN#3]: it settled at
Al-Madinah, and was the first to cultivate the ground and to plant
palm-trees. In course of time these people extended over the whole
tract between the seas of Al-Hijaz (the Red Sea) and Al-Oman,
(north-western part of the Indian Ocean), and they became the
progenitors of the Jababirah[FN#4] (tyrants or "giants") of Syria, as
well as the Farainah (Pharaohs) of Egypt.[FN#5] Under these Amalik such

[p.345]was the age of man that during the space of four hundred years a
bier would not be seen, nor "keening" be heard, in their cities.

The last king of the Amalik, "Arkam bin al-Arkam,[FN#6]" was, according
to most authors, slain by an army of the children of Israel sent by
Moses after the Exodus,[FN#7] with orders thoroughly to purge Meccah
and Al-Madinah of their Infidel inhabitants. All the tribe was
destroyed, with the exception of the women, the children, and a youth
of the royal family, whose extraordinary beauty persuaded the invaders
to spare him pending a reference to the Prophet. When the army
returned, they found that Moses had died during the expedition, and
they were received with reproaches by the people for having violated
his express command. The soldiers, unwilling to live with their own
nation under this reproach, returned to Al-Hijaz, and settled there.

Moslem authors are agreed that after the Amalik the Benu Israel ruled
in the Holy Land of Arabia, but the learned in history are not agreed
upon the cause of their emigration. According to some, when Moses was
returning from a pilgrimage to Meccah, a multitude of his followers,
seeing in Al-Madinah the signs of the city which, according to the
Taurat, or Pentateuch, should hear the preaching of the last Prophet,
settled there, and were joined by many Badawin of the neighbourhood who

[p.346]conformed to the law of Moses. Ibn Shaybah also informs us that
when Moses and Aaron were wending northwards from Meccah, they, being
in fear of certain Jews settled at Al-Madinah, did not enter the
city,[FN#8] but pitched their tents on Mount Ohod. Aaron being about to
die, Moses dug his tomb, and said, "Brother, thine hour is come! turn
thy face to the next world!" Aaron entered the grave, lay at full
length, and immediately expired; upon which the Jewish lawgiver covered
him with earth, and went his way towards the Promised Land.[FN#9]

Abu Hurayrah asserted that the Benu Israel, after long searching,
settled in Al-Madinah, because, when driven from Palestine by the
invasion of Bukht al-Nasr (Nebuchadnezzar), they found in their books
that the last Prophet would manifest himself in a town of the towns of
Arabiyah,[FN#10] called Zat Nakhl, or the "Place of Palm trees." Some
of the sons of Aaron occupied the city; other tribes settled at
Khaybar,[FN#11] and in the neighbourhood,

[p.347]building "Utum," or square, flat-roofed, stone castles for
habitation and defence. They left an order to their descendants that
Mohammed should be favourably received, but Allah hardened their hearts
unto their own destruction. Like asses they turned their backs upon
Allah's mercy,[FN#12] and the consequence is, that they have been
rooted out of the land.

The Tarikh Tabari declares that when Bukht al-Nasr,[FN#13] after
destroying Jerusalem, attacked and slew the king of Egypt, who had
given an asylum to a remnant of the house of Israel, the persecuted
fugitives made their way into Al-Hijaz, settled near Yasrib
(Al-Madinah), where they founded several towns, Khaybar, Fadak, Wady
al-Subu, Wady al-Kura, Kurayzah, and many others. It appears, then, by
the concurrence of historians, that the Jews at an early time either
colonised, or supplanted the Amalik at, Al-Madinah.

At length the Israelites fell away from the worship of the one God, who
raised up against them the Arab tribes of Aus and Khazraj, the
progenitors of modern Ansar. Both these tribes claimed a kindred
origin, and

[p.348]Al-Yaman as the land of their nativity. The circumstances of
their emigration are thus described. The descendants of Yarab bin
Kahtan bin Shalik bin Arkfakhshad bin Sam bin Nuh, kinsmen to the
Amalik, inhabited in prosperity the land of Saba.[FN#14] Their sway
extended two months' journey from the dyke of Mareb,[FN#15] near the
modern capital of Al-Yaman, as far as Syria, and incredible tales are
told of their hospitality and of the fertility of their land. As usual,
their hearts were perverted by prosperity. They begged Allah to relieve
them from the troubles of extended empire and the duties of hospitality
by diminishing their possessions. The consequence of their impious
supplications was the well-known Flood of Iram.

The chief of the descendants of Kahtan bin Saba, one of the ruling
families in Al-Yaman, was one Amru bin Amin Ma al-Sama,[FN#16] called
"Al-Muzaykayh" from his rending in pieces every garment once worn. His
wife Tarikah Himyariah, being skilled in divination, foresaw the fatal
event, and warned her husband, who, unwilling to break from his tribe
without an excuse, contrived the following stratagem. He privily
ordered his adopted son, an orphan

[p.349]to dispute with him, and to strike him in the face at a feast
composed of the principal persons in the kingdom. The disgrace of such
a scene afforded him a pretext for selling off his property, and,
followed by his thirteen sons,-all borne to him by his wife
Tarikah,-and others of the tribe, Amru emigrated Northwards. The little
party, thus preserved from the Yamanian Deluge, was destined by Allah
to become the forefathers of the Auxiliaries of his chosen Apostle.

All the children of Amru thus dispersed into different parts of Arabia.
His eldest son, Salabah bin Amru, chose Al-Hijaz, settled at
Al-Madinah, then in the hands of the impious Benu Israel, and became
the father of the Aus and Khazraj. In course of time, the new comers
were made by Allah an instrument of vengeance against the disobedient
Jews. Of the latter people, the two tribes Kurayzah and Nazir claimed
certain feudal rights (well known to Europe) upon all occasions of Arab
marriages. The Aus and the Khazraj, after enduring this indignity for a
time, at length had recourse to one of their kinsmen who, when the
family dispersed, had settled in Syria. Abu Jubaylah, thus summoned,
marched an army to Al-Madinah, avenged the honour of his blood, and
destroyed the power of the Jews, who from that moment became Mawali, or
clients to the Arabs.

For a time the tribes of Aus and Khazraj, freed from the common enemy,
lived in peace and harmony. At last they fell into feuds and fought
with fratricidal strife, until the coming of the Prophet effected a
reconciliation between them. This did not take place, however, before
the Khazraj received, at the battle of Buas (about A.D. 615), a decided
defeat from the Aus.

It is also related, to prove how Al-Madinah was predestined to a high
fate, that nearly three centuries before the siege of the town by Abu
Jubaylah, the Tobba

[p.350]al-Asghar[FN#17] marched Northward, at the requisition of the
Aus and Khazraj tribes, in order to punish the Jews; or, according to
others, at the request of the Jews to revenge them upon the Aus and
Khazraj. After capturing the town, he left one of his sons to govern
it, and marched onwards to conquer Syria and Al-Irak.

Suddenly informed that the people of Al-Madinah had treacherously
murdered their new prince, the exasperated Tobba returned and attacked
the place; and, when his horse was killed under him, he swore that he
would never decamp before razing it to the ground. Whereupon two Jewish
priests, Ka'ab and Assayd, went over to him and informed him that it
was not in the power of man to destroy the town, it being preserved by
Allah, as their books proved, for the refuge of His Prophet, the
descendant of Ishmael.[FN#18]

The Tobba Judaized. Taking four hundred of the priests with him, he
departed from Al-Madinah, performed pilgrimage to the Ka'abah of
Meccah, which he invested with a splendid covering[FN#19]; and, after
erecting a house

[p.351]for the expected Prophet, he returned to his capital in
Al-Yaman, where he abolished idolatry by the ordeal of fire. He treated
his priestly guests with particular attention, and on his death-bed he
wrote the following tetrastich:-

"I testify of Ahmad that he of a truth
"Is a prophet from Allah, the Maker of souls.
Be my age extended into his age,
I would be to him a Wazir and a cousin."

Then sealing the paper he committed it to the charge of the High
Priest, with a solemn injunction to deliver the letter, should an
opportunity offer, into the hands of the great Prophet; and that, if
the day be distant, the missive should be handed down from generation
to generation till it reached the person to whom it was addressed. The
house founded by him at Al-Madinah was committed to a priest of whose
descendants was Abu Ayyub the Ansari, the first person over whose
threshold the Apostle passed when he ended the Flight. Abu Ayyub had
also charge of the Tobba's letter, so that after three or four
centuries, it arrived at its destination.

Al-Madinah was ever well inclined to Mohammed. In[FN#20]

[p.352]the early part of his career, the emissaries of a tribe called
the Benu Abd al-Ashhal came from that town to Meccah, in order to make
a treaty with the Kuraysh, and the Apostle seized the opportunity of
preaching Al-Islam to them. His words were seconded by Ayyas bin Ma'az,
a youth of the tribe, and opposed by the chiefs of the embassy; who,
however, returned home without pledging themselves to either
party.[FN#21] Shortly afterwards a body of the Aus and the Khazraj came
to the pilgrimage of Meccah: when Mohammed began preaching to them,
they recognised the person so long expected by the Jews, and swore to
him an oath which is called in Moslem history the "First Fealty of the

After the six individuals who had thus pledged themselves returned to
their native city, the event being duly bruited abroad caused such an
effect that, when the next pilgrimage season came, twelve, or according
to others forty persons, led by As'ad bin Zara[r]ah, accompanied the
original converts, and in the same place swore the "Second Fealty of
the Steep." The Prophet dismissed them in company with one Musab bin
Umayr, a Meccan, charged to teach them the Koran and their religious
duties, which in those times consisted only of prayer and the
Profession of Unity. They arrived at Al-Madinah on a Friday, and this
was the first day on which the city witnessed the public devotions of
the Moslems.

After some persecutions, Musab had the fortune to convert a cousin of
As'ad bin Zararah, a chief of the Aus, Sa'ad bin Ma'az, whose
opposition had been of the fiercest. He persuaded his tribe, the Benu
Abd al-Ashhal, to break

[p.353]their idols and openly to profess Al-Islam. The next season,
Musab having made many converts, some say seventy, others three
hundred, marched from Al-Madinah to Meccah for their pilgrimage; and
there induced his followers to meet the Prophet at midnight upon the
Steep near Muna. Mohammed preached to them their duties towards Allah
and himself, especially insisting upon the necessity of warring down
infidelity. They pleaded ancient treaties with the Jews of Al-Madinah,
and showed apprehension lest the Apostle, after bringing them into
disgrace with their fellows, should desert them and return to the faith
of his kinsmen, the Kuraysh. Mohammed, smiling, comforted them with the
assurance that he was with them, body and soul, for ever. Upon this
they asked him what would be their reward if slain. He replied,
"Gardens 'neath which the streams flow,"-that is to say, Paradise.

Then, in spite of the advice of Al-Abbas, Mohammed's uncle, who was
loud in his denunciations, they bade the Preacher stretch out his hand,
and upon it swore the oath known as the "Great Fealty of the Steep."
After comforting them with an Ayat, or Koranic verse, which promised
heaven, the Apostle divided his followers into twelve bodies; and
placing a chief at the head of each,[FN#23] dismissed them to their
homes. He rejected the offer made by one of the party-namely, to slay
all the idolaters present at the pilgrimage-saying that Allah had
favoured him with no such order. For the same reason he refused their
invitation to visit Al-Madinah, which was the principal object of their
mission; and he then took an affectionate leave of them.

[p.354]Two months and a half after the events above detailed, Mohammed
received the inspired tidings that Al-Madinah of the Hijaz was his
predestined asylum. In anticipation of the order, for as yet the time
had not been revealed, he sent forward his friends, among whom were
Omar, Talhah, and Hamzah, retaining with him Abu Bakr[FN#24] and Ali.
The particulars of the Flight, that eventful accident to Al-Islam, are
too well known to require mention here; besides which they belong
rather to the category of general than of Madinite history.

Mohammed was escorted into Al-Madinah by one Buraydat al-Aslami and
eighty men of the same tribe, who had been offered by the Kuraysh a
hundred camels for the capture of the fugitives. But Buraydat, after
listening to their terms, accidentally entered into conversation with
Mohammed; and no sooner did he hear the name of his interlocutor, than
he professed the faith of Al-Islam. He then prepared for the Apostle a
standard by attaching his turband to a spear, and anxiously inquired
what house was to be honoured by the presence of Allah's chosen
servant. "Whichever," replied Mohammed, "this she-camel[FN#25] is
ordered to show me." At the last

[p.355]halting-place, he accidentally met some of his disciples
returning from a trading voyage to Syria; they dressed him and his
companion Abu Bakr in white clothing which, it is said, caused the
people of Kuba to pay a mistaken reverence to the latter. The Moslems
of Al-Madinah were in the habit of repairing every morning to the
heights near the city, looking out for the Apostle; and, when the sun
waxed hot, they returned home. One day, about noon, a Jew, who
discovered the retinue from afar, suddenly warned the nearest party of
Ansar, or Auxiliaries of Al-Madinah, that the fugitive was come. They
snatched up their arms and hurried from their houses to meet him.

Mohammed's she-camel advanced to the centre of the then flourishing
town of Kuba. There she suddenly knelt upon a place which is now
consecrated ground; at that time it was an open space, belonging, they
say, to Abu Ayyub the Ansari, who had a house there near the abodes of
the Benu Amr bin Auf. This event happened on the first day of the week,
the twelfth of the month Rabia al-Awwal[FN#26] (June 28, A.D. 622), in
the first year of the Flight: for which reason Monday, which also
witnessed the birth, the mission, and the death of the Prophet, is an
auspicious day to Al-Islam.

After halting two days in the house of Kulsum bin Hadmah at Kuba, and
there laying the foundation of the

[p.356]first Mosque upon the lines where his she-camel trod, the
Apostle was joined by Ali, who had remained at Meccah, for the purpose
of returning certain trusts and deposits committed to Mohammed's
charge. He waited three days longer; on Friday morning (the 16th Rabia
al-Awwal, A.H. 1,=2nd July, A.D. 622), about sunrise he mounted
Al-Kaswa, and, accompanied by a throng of armed Ansar on foot and on
horseback, he took the way to the city. At the hour of public
prayer,[FN#27] he halted in the Wady or valley near Kuba, upon the spot
where the Masjid al-Jum'ah now stands, performed his devotions, and
preached an eloquent sermon. He then remounted. Numbers pressed forward
to offer him hospitality; he blessed them, and bade them stand out of
the way, declaring that Al-Kaswa would halt of her own accord at the
predestined spot. He then advanced to where the Apostle's pulpit now
stands. There the she-camel knelt, and the rider exclaimed, as one
inspired, "This is our place, if Almighty Allah please!"

Descending from Al-Kaswa, he recited, "O Lord, cause me to alight a
good Alighting, and Thou art the Best of those who cause to alight!"
Presently the camel rose unaided, advanced a few steps, and then,
according to some, returning, sat down upon her former seat; according
to others, she knelt at the door of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, whose abode in
those days was the nearest to the halting-place. The descendant of the
Jewish High Priest in the time of the Tobbas, with the Apostle's
permission, took the baggage off the camel, and carried it into his
house. Then ensued great rejoicings. The Abyssinians came and played
with their spears. The

[p.357]maidens of the Benu Najjar tribe sang and beat their
kettle-drums. And all the wives of the Ansar celebrated with shrill
cries of joy the auspicious event; whilst the males, young and old,
freemen and slaves, shouted with effusion, "Allah's Messenger is come!
Allah's Messenger is here!"

Mohammed caused Abu Ayyub and his wife to remove into the upper story,
contenting himself with the humbler lower rooms. This was done for the
greater convenience of receiving visitors without troubling the family;
but the master of the house was thereby rendered uncomfortable in mind.
His various remarks about the Apostle's diet and domestic habits,
especially his avoiding leeks, onions, and garlic,[FN#28] are gravely
chronicled by Moslem authors.

After spending seven months, more or less, at the house of Abu Ayyub,
Mohammed, now surrounded by his wives and family, built, close to the
Mosque, huts for their reception. The ground was sold to him by Sahal
and Suhayl, two orphans of the Benu Najjar,[FN#29] a noble family of
the Khazraj. Some time afterwards one Harisat bin al-Nu'uman presented
to the Prophet all his houses in the vicinity of the temple. In those
days the habitations of the Arabs were made of a framework of Jarid or
palm sticks, covered over with a cloth of camel's hair, a curtain of
similar stuff forming the door. The more splendid had walls of unbaked
brick, and roofs of palm fronds plastered

[p.358]over with mud or clay. Of this description were the abodes of
Mohammed's family. Most of them were built on the North and East of the
Mosque, which had open ground on the Western side; and the doors looked
towards the place of prayer. In course of time, all, except Abu
Bakr[FN#30] and Ali, were ordered to close their doors, and even Omar
was refused the favour of having a window opening into the temple.

Presently the Jews of Al-Madinah, offended by the conduct of Abdullah
bin Salam, their most learned priest and a descendant from the
Patriarch Joseph, who had become a convert to the Moslem dispensation,
began to plot against Mohammed.[FN#31] They were headed by Hajj bin
Akhtah, and his brother Yasir bin Akhtah, and were joined by many of
the Aus and the Khazraj. The events that followed this combination of
the Munafikun, or Hypocrites, under their chief, Abdullah, belong to
the domain of Arabian history.[FN#32]

Mohammed spent the last ten years of his life at Al-Madinah. He died on
Monday, some say at nine A.M., others at noon, others a little after,
on the twelfth of Rabia al-Awwal in the eleventh year of the Hijrah.
When his family and companions debated where he should be buried, Ali
advised Al-Madinah, and Abu Bakr, Ayishah's chamber,

[p.359]quoting a saying of the deceased that prophets and martyrs are
always interred where they happen to die. The Apostle was placed, it is
said, under the bed where he had given up the ghost, by Ali and the two
sons of Abbas, who dug the grave. With the life of Mohammed the
interest of Al-Madinah ceases, or rather is concentrated in the history
of its temple. Since then the city has passed through the hands of the
Caliphs, the Sharifs of Meccah, the Sultans of Constantinople, the
Wahhabis, and the Egyptians. It has now reverted to the Sultan, whose
government is beginning to believe that, in these days when religious
prestige is of little value, the great Khan's title, "Servant of the
Holy Shrines," is purchased at too high a price. As has before been
observed, the Turks now struggle for existence in Al-Hijaz with a
soldier ever in arrears, and officers unequal to the task of managing
an unruly people. The pensions are but partly paid,[FN#33] and they are
not likely to increase with years. It is probably a mere consideration
of interest that prevents the people rising en masse,

[p.360]and re-asserting the liberties of their country. And I have
heard from authentic sources that the Wahhabis look forward to the day
when a fresh crusade will enable them to purge the land of its
abominations in the shape of silver and gold.

The Masjid al-Nabi, or Prophet's Mosque, is the second in Al-Islam in
point of seniority, and the second, or, according to others, the first
in dignity, ranking with the Ka'abah itself. It is erected around the
spot where the she-camel, Al-Kaswa, knelt down by the order of Heaven.
At that time the land was a palm grove and a Mirbad, or place where
dates are dried. Mohammed, ordered to erect a place of worship there,
sent for the youths to whom it belonged, and certain Ansar, or
Auxiliaries, their guardians; the ground was offered to him in free
gift, but he insisted upon purchasing it, paying more than its value.
Having caused the soil to be levelled and the trees to be felled, he
laid the foundation of the first Mosque.

In those times of primitive simplicity its walls were made of rough
stone and unbaked bricks: trunks of date-trees supported a palm-stick
roof, concerning which the Archangel Gabriel delivered an order that it
should not be higher than seven cubits, the elevation of Moses's
temple. All ornament was strictly forbidden. The Ansar, or men of
Al-Madinah, and the Muhajirin, or Fugitives from Meccah, carried the
building materials in their arms from the cemetery Al-Bakia, near the
well of Ayyub, north of the spot where Ibrahim's Mosque now stands, and
the Apostle was to be seen aiding them in their labours, and reciting
for their encouragement,

"O Allah! there is no good but the good of futurity,
Then have mercy upon my Ansar and Muhajirin!"

The length of this Mosque was fifty-four cubits from North to South,
and sixty-three in breadth, and it was hemmed in by houses on all sides
save the Western. Till the seventeenth

[p.361]month of the new aera the congregation faced towards the
Northern wall. After that time a fresh revelation turned them in the
direction of Meccah, Southwards: on which occasion the Archangel
Gabriel descended and miraculously opened through the hills and wilds a
view of the Ka'abah, that there might be no difficulty in ascertaining
its true position.

After the capture of Khaybar in A.H. 7, the Prophet and his first three
successors restored the Mosque, but Moslem historians do not consider
this a second foundation. Mohammed laid the first brick, and Abu
Hurayrah declares that he saw him carry heaps of building materials
piled up to his breast. The Caliphs, each in the turn of his
succession, placed a brick close to that laid by the Prophet, and aided
him in raising the walls. Al-Tabrani relates that one of the Ansar had
a house adjacent which Mohammed wished to make part of the place of
prayer; the proprietor was promised in exchange for it a home in
Paradise, which he gently rejected, pleading poverty. His excuse was
admitted, and Osman, after purchasing the place for ten thousand
dirhams, gave it to the Apostle on the long credit originally offered.

This Mosque was a square of a hundred cubits. Like the former building,
it had three doors: one on the South side, where the Mihrab al-Nabawi,
or the "Prophet's Niche," now is; another in the place of the present
Bab al-Rahmah; and the third at the Bab Osman, now called the Gate of
Gabriel. Instead of a Mihrab or prayer-niche,[FN#34] a large block of
stone directed the congregation; at first it was placed against the
Northern wall

[p.362]of the Mosque, and it was removed to the Southern when Meccah
became the Kiblah.

In the beginning the Prophet, whilst preaching the Khutbah or Friday
sermon, leaned when fatigued against a post.[FN#35] The Mambar,[FN#36]
or pulpit, was the invention of a Madinah man, of the Benu Najjar. It
was a wooden frame, two cubits long by one broad, with three steps,
each one span high; on the topmost of these the Prophet sat when he
required rest. The pulpit assumed its present form about A.H. 90,
during the artistic reign of Al-Walid.

In this Mosque Mohammed spent the greater part of the day[FN#37] with
his companions, conversing, instructing, and

[p.363]comforting the poor. Hard by were the abodes of his wives, his
family, and his principal friends. Here he prayed, at the call of the
Azan, or devotion-cry, from the roof. Here he received worldly envoys
and embassies, and the heavenly messages conveyed by the Archangel
Gabriel. And within a few yards of the hallowed spot, he died, and
found a grave.

The theatre of events so important to Al-Islam could not be
allowed-specially as no divine decree forbade the change-to remain in
its pristine lowliness. The first Caliph contented himself with merely
restoring some of the palm pillars, which had fallen to the ground:
Omar, the second successor, surrounded the Hujrah, or Ayishah's
chamber, in which the Prophet was buried, with a mud wall; and in A.H.
17, he enlarged the Mosque to 140 cubits by 120, taking in ground on
all sides except the Eastern, where stood the abodes of the "Mothers of
the Moslems.[FN#38]" Outside the Northern wall he erected a Suffah,
called Al-Batha-a raised bench of wood, earth, or stone, upon which the
people might recreate themselves with conversation and quoting poetry,
for the Mosque was now becoming [a] place of peculiar reverence to

The second Masjid was erected A.H. 29, by the third Caliph, Osman, who,
regardless of the clamours of the people, overthrew the old walls and
extended the building

[p.364]greatly towards the North, and a little towards the West; but he
did not remove the Eastern limit on account of the private houses. He
made the roof of Indian teak,[FN#40] and the walls of hewn and carved
stone. These innovations caused some excitement, which he allayed by
quoting a tradition of the Prophet, with one of which he appears
perpetually to have been prepared. The saying in question was,
according to some, "Were this my Mosque extended to Safa"-a hill in
Meccah-"it verily would still be my Mosque"; according to others, "Were
the Prophet's Mosque extended to Zu'l Halifah[FN#41] it would still be
his." But Osman's skill in the quotation of tradition did not prevent
the new building being in part a cause of his death. It was finished on
the first Muharram, A.H. 30.

At length, Al-Islam, grown splendid and powerful, determined to surpass
other nations in the magnificence of its public buildings.[FN#42] In
A.H. 88, Al-Walid[FN#43] the First, twelfth Caliph of the Benu Ummayah
race, after building, or rather restoring, the noble "Jami' al-Ammawi"
(cathedral of the Ommiades) at Damascus, determined to

[p.365]display his liberality at Al-Madinah. The governor of the place,
Umar bin Abd Al-Aziz, was directed to buy for seven thousand Dinars
(ducats) all the hovels of raw brick that hedged in the Eastern side of
the old Mosque. They were inhabited by descendants of the Prophet and
of the early Caliphs, and in more than one case, the ejection of the
holy tenantry was effected with considerable difficulty. Some of the
women-ever the most obstinate on such occasions-refused to take money,
and Omar was forced to the objectionable measure of turning them out of
doors with exposed faces[FN#45] in full day. The Greek Emperor, applied
to by the magnificent Caliph, sent immense presents, silver lamp
chains, valuable curiosities,[FN#46] forty loads of small cut stones
for pietra-dura, and a sum of eighty thousand Dinars, or, as others
say, forty thousand Miskals of gold. He also despatched forty Coptic
and forty Greek artists to carve the marble pillars and the casings of
the walls, and to superintend the gilding and the mosaic work. One of
these Christians was beheaded for sculpturing a hog on the Kiblah wall;
and another, in an attempt to defile the roof, fell to the ground, and
his brains were dashed out. The remainder Islamized, but this did not
prevent the older Arabs murmuring that their Mosque had been turned
into a Kanisah, a Christian idol-house.

The Hujrah, or chamber, where, by Mohammed's permission, Azrail, the
Angel of Death, separated his

[p.366]soul from his body, whilst his head was lying in the lap of
Ayishah, his favourite wife, was now for the first time taken into the
Mosque. The raw-brick enceinte[FN#46] which surrounded the three graves
was exchanged for one of carved stone, enclosed by an outer precinct
with a narrow passage between.[FN#47] These double walls were either
without a door, or had only a small blocked-up wicket on the Northern
side, and from that day (A.H. 90), no one, says Al-Samanhudi, has been
able to approach the sepulchre.[FN#48] A minaret was erected at each
corner of the Mosque.[FN#49] The building was enlarged to 200 cubits by
167, and was finished in A.H. 91. When Al-Walid, the Caliph, visited it
in state, he inquired of his lieutenant why greater magnificence had
not been displayed in the erection; upon which Omar, the governor,
informed him,

[p.367]to his astonishment, that the walls alone had cost forty-five
thousand ducats.[FN#50]

The fourth Mosque was erected in A.H. 191, by Al-Mahdi, third prince of
the Benu Abbas or Baghdad Caliphs-celebrated in history only for
spending enormous sums upon a pilgrimage. He enlarged the building by
adding ten handsome pillars of carved marble, with gilt capitals, on
the Northern side. In A.H. 202, Al-Ma'amun made further additions to
this Mosque. It was from Al-Mahdi's Masjid that Al-Hakim bi'Amri 'llah,
the third Fatimite Caliph of Egypt, and the deity of the Druze sect,
determined to steal the bodies of the Prophet and his two companions.
About A.H. 412, he sent emissaries to Al-Madinah: the attempt, however,
failed, and the would-be violators of the tomb lost their lives. It is
generally supposed that Al-Hakim's object was to transfer the
Visitation to his own capital; but in one so manifestly insane it is
difficult to discover the spring of action. Two Christians, habited
like Maghrabi pilgrims, in A.H. 550, dug a mine from a neighbouring
house into the temple. They were discovered, beheaded, and burned to
ashes. In relating these events the Moslem historians mix up many
foolish preternaturalisms with credible matter. At last, to prevent a
recurrence of such sacrilegious attempts, Al-Malik al-Adil Nur al-Din
of the Baharite Mamluk Sultans, or, according to others, Sultan Nur
al-Din Shahid Mahmud bin Zangi, who, warned by a vision of the Apostle,
had started for Al-Madinah only in time to discover the two Christians,
surrounded the holy place with a deep trench filled with molten lead.
By this means Abu Bakr and Omar, who had run considerable risks of
their own, have ever since been enabled to occupy their last homes

In A.H. 654, the fifth Mosque was erected in consequence of a fire,
which some authors attribute to a

[p.368]volcano that broke out close to the town in terrible
eruption[FN#51]; others, with more fanaticism and less probability, to
the schismatic Benu Husayn, then the guardians of the tomb. On this
occasion the Hujrah was saved, together with the old and venerable
copies of the Koran there deposited, especially the Cufic MSS., written
by Osman, the third Caliph. The piety of three sovereigns, Al-Mustasim
(last Caliph of Baghdad), Al-Muzaffar Shems al-Din Yusuf, chief of
Al-Yaman, and Al-Zahir Beybars, Baharite Sultan of Egypt, completed the
work in A.H. 688. This building was enlarged and beautified by the
princes of Egypt, and lasted upwards of two hundred years.

The sixth Mosque was built, almost as it now stands, by Kaid-Bey,
nineteenth Sultan of the Circassian Mamluk kings of Egypt, in A.H. 888:
it is now therefore more than four centuries old. Al-Mustasim's Mosque
had been struck by lightning during a storm; thirteen men were killed
at prayers, and the destroying element spared nothing but the interior
of the Hujrah.[FN#52] The railing and dome were restored; niches and a
pulpit were sent from Cairo, and the gates and minarets were
distributed as they are now. Not content with this, Kaid-Bey
established "Wakf" (bequests) and pensions, and introduced order among
the attendants on the tomb. In the tenth century, Sultan Sulayman the
Magnificent paved with fine white marble the Rauzah or garden, which
Kaid-Bey, not daring to alter, had left of earth, and erected the fine
minaret that bears his name.

[p.369]During the dominion of the later Sultans, and of Mohammed Ali, a
few trifling presents, of lamps, carpets, wax candles and chandeliers,
and a few immaterial alterations, have been made. The present head of
Al-Islam is, as I have before said, rebuilding one of the minarets and
the Northern colonnade of the temple.

Such is the history of the Mosque's prosperity.

During the siege of Al-Madinah by the Wahhabis,[FN#53] the principal
people seized and divided amongst themselves the treasures of the tomb,
which must have been considerable. When the town surrendered, Sa'ud,
accompanied by his principal officers, entered the Hujrah, but,
terrified by dreams, he did not penetrate behind the curtain, or
attempt to see the tomb. He plundered, however, the treasures in the
passage, the "Kaukab al-Durri[FN#54]" (or pearl star), and the
ornaments sent as presents from every part of Al-Islam. Part of these
he sold, it is said, for 150,000 Riyals (dollars), to Ghalib, Sharif of
Meccah, and the rest he carried with him to Daraiyah, his
capital.[FN#55] An accident prevented any further desecration of the
building. The greedy Wahhabis, allured by the appearance of the golden
or gilt globes and crescents surmounting the green dome, attempted to
throw down the latter. Two of their number, it is said, were killed by

[p.370]from the slippery roof,[FN#56] and the rest, struck by
superstitious fears, abandoned the work of destruction. They injured,
however, the prosperity of the place by taxing the inhabitants, by
interrupting the annual remittances, and by forbidding visitors to
approach the tomb. They are spoken of with abhorrence by the people,
who quote a peculiarly bad trait in their characters, namely, that in
return for any small religious assistance of prayer or recitation, they
were in the habit of giving a few grains of gunpowder, or something
equally valuable, instead of "stone-dollars.[FN#57]"

When Abdullah, son of Sa'ud, had concluded in A.D. 1815 a treaty of
peace with Tussun Pasha, the Egyptian General bought back from the
townspeople, for 10,000 Riyals, all the golden vessels that had not
been melted down, and restored the treasure to its original place. This
I have heard denied; at the same time it rests upon credible evidence.
Amongst Orientals the events of the last generation are, usually
speaking, imperfectly remembered, and the Olema are well acquainted
with the history of vicissitudes which took place 1200 years ago, when
profoundly ignorant of what their grandfathers witnessed. Many
incredible tales also I heard concerning the present wealth of the
Al-Madinah Mosque: this must be expected when the exaggeration is
considered likely to confer honour upon the exaggerator.

The establishment attached to the Al-Madinah Mosque is greatly altered
since Burckhardt's time,[FN#58] the result of the increasing influence
of the Turkish half-breeds

[p.371]It is still extensive, because in the first place the principle
of divided labour is a favourite throughout the East, and secondly
because the Sons of the Holy Cities naturally desire to extract as much
as they can from the Sons of other cities with the least amount of
work. The substance of the following account was given to me by Omar
Effendi, and I compared it with the information of others upon whom I
could rely.

The principal of the Mosque, or Shaykh al-Harim, is no longer a
neuter.[FN#59] The present is a Turkish Pasha, Osman, appointed from
Constantinople with a salary of about 30,000 piastres a month. His Naib
or deputy is a black eunuch, the chief of the Aghawat,[FN#60] upon a
pay of 5000 piastres. The present principal of this college is one
Tayfur Agha, a slave of Esma Sultanah, sister to the late Sultan
Mahmud. The chief treasurer is called the Mudir al-Harim; he keeps an
eye upon the Khaznadar, or treasurer, whose salary is 2000 piastres.
The Mustaslim is the chief of the Katibs, or writers who settle the

[p.372]accounts of the Mosque; his pay is 1500, and under him is a
Nakib or assistant upon 1000 piastres. There are three Shaykhs of the
eunuchs who receive from 700 to 1000 piastres a month each. The
eunuchs, about a hundred and twenty in number, are divided into three
orders. The Bawwabin, or porters, open the doors of the Mosque. The
Khubziyah sweep the purer parts of the temple, and the lowest order,
popularly called "Battalin," clean away all impurities, beat those
found sleeping, and act as beadles, a duty here which involves
considerable use of the cane. These men receive as perquisites presents
from each visitor when they offer him the usual congratulation, and for
other small favours, such as permitting strangers to light the
lamps,[FN#61] or to sweep the floor. Their pay varies from 250 to 500
piastres a month: they are looked upon as honourable men, and are,
generally speaking, married, some of them indulging in three or four
wives,-which would have aroused Juvenal's bile. The Agha's character is
curious and exceptional as his outward conformation. Disconnected with
humanity, he is cruel, fierce, brave, and capable of any villany. His
frame is unnaturally long and lean, especially the arms and legs, with
high shoulders, protruding joints, and a face by contrast
extraordinarily large; he is unusually expert in the use of weapons,
and sitting well "home," he rides to admiration, his hoarse, thick
voice investing him with all the circumstances of command.

Besides the eunuchs, there are a number of free servants, called
Farrashin, attached to the Mosque; almost all the middle and lower
class of citizens belong to this order. They are divided into parties
of thirty each, and are changed every week, those on duty receiving a
Ghazi or twenty-two piastres for their services. Their business

[p.373]is to dust, and to spread the carpets, to put oil and wicks into
the lamps which the eunuchs let down from the ceiling, and, generally
speaking, diligently to do nothing.

Finally, the menial establishment of the Mosque consists of a Shaykh
al-Sakka (chief of the water-carriers), under whom are from forty-five
to fifty men who sprinkle the floors, water the garden, and, for a
consideration, supply a cupful of brackish liquid to visitors.

The literary establishment is even more extensive than the executive
and the menial. There is a Kazi, or chief judge, sent every year from
Constantinople. After twelve months at Al-Madinah, he passes on to
Meccah, and returns home after a similar term of service in the second
Holy City. Under him are three Muftis,[FN#62] of the Hanafi, the
Shafe'i, and the Maliki schools; the fourth, or Hanbali, is not
represented here or at Cairo.[FN#63] Each of these officers receives as
pay about two hundred and fifty piastres a month. The Ruasa,[FN#64] as
the Mu'ezzins (prayer-callers) here call themselves, are extensively
represented; there are forty-eight or forty-nine of the lowest order,
presided over by six Kubar or Masters, and these again are under the
Shaykh al-Ruasa, who alone has the privilege of calling to prayers from
the Raisiyah minaret. The Shaykh receives a hundred and fifty piastres,
the chiefs about a hundred, and the common criers sixty; there are

[p.374]forty-five Khatibs, who preach and pray before the congregation
on Fridays for a hundred and twenty piastres a month; they are under
the Shaykh al-Khutaba. About the same sum is given to seventy-five
Imams, who recite the five ordinary prayers of every day in the Mosque;
the Shaykh al-Aimmat is their superior.[FN#65]

Almost all the citizens of Al-Madinah who have not some official charge
about the temple qualify themselves to act as Muzawwirs. They begin as
boys to learn the formula of prayer, and the conducting of visitors;
and partly by begging, partly by boldness, they often pick up a
tolerable livelihood at an early age. The Muzawwir will often receive
strangers into his house, as was done to me, and direct their devotions
during the whole time of their stay. For such service he requires a sum
of money proportioned to his guests' circumstances, but this fee does
not end the connexion. If the Muzawwir visit the home of his Zair, he
expects to be treated with the utmost hospitality, and to depart with a
handsome present. A religious visitor will often transmit to his
cicerone at Meccah and at Al-Madinah yearly sums to purchase for
himself a prayer at the Ka'abah and the Prophet's Tomb. The remittance
is usually wrapped up in paper, and placed in a sealed leathern bag,
somewhat like a portfolio, upon which is worked the name of the person
entitled to receive it. It is then given in charge either to a
trustworthy pilgrim, or to the public treasurer, who accompanies the
principal caravans.

I could procure no exact information about the amount of money
forwarded every year from Constantinople and Cairo to Al-Madinah; the
only point upon which men seemed to agree was that they were defrauded
of half their dues. When the Sadaka and Aukaf (the alms and bequests)
arrive at the town, they are committed by the Surrah, or

[p.375]financier of the caravan, to the Muftis, the chief of the
Khatibs, and the Kazi's clerk. These officers form a committee, and
after reckoning the total of the families entitled to pensions, divide
the money amongst them, according to the number in each household, and
the rank of the pensioners. They are divided into five orders:-
The Olema, or learned, and the Mudarrisin, who profess, lecture, or
teach adults in the Harim.
The Imams and Khatibs.
The descendants of the Prophet.
The Fukaha, poor divines, pedadogues, gerund-grinders, who teach boys
to read the Koran.
The Awam, or nobile vulgus of the Holy City, including the Ahali, or
burghers of the town, and the Mujawirin, or those settled in the place.
Omar Effendi belonged to the second order, and he informed me that his
share varied from three to fifteen Riyals per annum.

[FN#1] In Oriental geography the parasang still, as in the days of
Pliny, greatly varies, from 1500 to 6000 yards. Captain Francklin,
whose opinion is generally taken, makes it (in his Tour to Persia) a
measure of about four miles (Preface to Ibn Haukal, by Sir Gore
[FN#2] M.C. de Perceval (Essai sur l'Histoire des Arabes avant
l'Islamisme), makes Amlak son of Laoud (Lud), son of Shem, or,
according to others, son of Ham. That learned writer identifies the
Amalik with the Phoenicians, the Amalekites, the Canaanites, and the
Hyksos. He alludes, also, to an ancient tradition which makes them to
have colonised Barbary in Africa.
[FN#3] The Dabistan al-Mazahib relates a tradition that the Almighty,
when addressing the angels in command, uses the Arabic tongue, but when
speaking in mercy or beneficence, the Deri dialect of Persian.
[FN#4] These were the giants who fought against Israel in Palestine.
[FN#5] In this wild tradition we find a confirmation of the sound
geographical opinion which makes Arabia "Une des pepinieres du genre
humain" (M. Jomard). It must be remembered that the theatre of all
earliest civilisation has been a fertile valley with a navigable
stream, like Sind, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The existence of such a spot
in Arabia would have altered every page of her history; she would then
have become a centre, not a source, of civilisation. Strabo's Malothes
river in Al-Yaman is therefore a myth. As it is, the immense population
of the peninsula-still thick, even in the deserts-has, from the
earliest ages, been impelled by drought, famine, or desire of conquest,
to emigrate into happier regions. All history mentions two main streams
which took their rise in the wilds. The first set to the North-East,
through Persia, Mekran, Baluchistan, Sind, and the Afghan Mountains, as
far as Samarkand, Bokhara, and Tibet; the other, flowing towards the
North-West, passed through Egypt and Barbary into Etruria, Spain, the
Isles of the Mediterranean, and Southern France. There are two minor
emigrations chronicled in history, and written in the indelible
characters of physiognomy and philology. One of these set in an
exiguous but perennial stream towards India, especially Malabar, where,
mixing with the people of the country, the Arab merchants became the
progenitors of the Moplah race. The other was a partial emigration,
also for commercial purposes, to the coast of Berberah, in Eastern
Africa, where, mixing with the Galla tribes, the people of Hazramaut
became the sires of the extensive Somali and Sawahil nations. Thus we
have from Arabia four different lines of emigration, tending N.E. and
S.E., N.W. and S.W. At some future time I hope to develop this curious
but somewhat obscure portion of Arabian history. It bears upon a most
interesting subject, and serves to explain, by the consanguinity of
races, the marvellous celerity with which the faith of Al-Islam spread
from the Pillars of Hercules to the confines of China-embracing part of
Southern Europe, the whole of Northern and a portion of Central Africa,
and at least three-fourths of the continent of Asia.
[FN#6] Of this name M.C. de Perceval remarks, "Le mot Arcam etait une
designation commune a tous ces rois." He identifies it with Rekem
(Numbers xxxi. 8), one of the kings of the Midianites; and recognises
in the preservation of the royal youth the history of Agag and Samuel.
[FN#7] And some most ignorantly add, "after the entrance of Moses into
the Promised Land."
[FN#8] In those days, we are told, the Jews, abandoning their original
settlement in Al-Ghabbah or the low lands to the N. of the town,
migrated to the highest portions of the Madinah plain on the S. and E.,
and the lands of the neighbourhood of the Kuba Mosque.
[FN#9] When describing Ohod, I shall have occasion to allude to Aaron's
dome, which occupies the highest part. Few authorities, however,
believe that Aaron was buried there; his grave, under a small stone
cupola, is shown over the summit of Mount Hor, in the Sinaitic
Peninsula, and is much visited by devotees.
[FN#10] It must be remembered that many of the Moslem geographers
derive the word "Arabia" from a tract of land in the neighbourhood of
[FN#11] Khaybar in Hebrew is supposed to signify a castle. D'Herbelot
makes it to mean a pact or association of the Jews against the Moslems.
This fort appears to be one of the latest as well as the earliest of
the Hebrew settlements in Al-Hijaz. Benjamin of Tudela asserts that
there were 50,000 Jews resident at their old colony, Bartema in A.D.
1703 found remnants of the people there, but his account of them is
disfigured by fable. In Niebuhr's time the Beni Khaybar had independent
Shaykhs, and were divided into three tribes, viz., the Benu Masad, the
Benu Shahan, and the Benu Anizah (this latter, however, is a Moslem
name), who were isolated and hated by the other Jews, and therefore the
traveller supposes them to have been Karaites. In Burckhardt's day the
race seems to have been entirely rooted out. I made many inquiries, and
all assured me that there is not a single Jewish family now in Khaybar.
It is indeed the popular boast in Al-Hijaz, that, with the exception of
Jeddah (and perhaps Yambu', where the Prophet never set his foot),
there is not a town in the country harbouring an Infidel. This has now
become a point of fanatic honour; but if history may be trusted, it has
become so only lately.
[FN#12] When the Arabs see the ass turn tail to the wind and rain, they
exclaim, "Lo! he turneth his back upon the mercy of Allah!"
[FN#13] M.C. de Perceval quotes Judith, ii. 13, 26, and Jeremiah, xlix.
28, to prove that Holofernes, the general of Nebuchadnezzar the First,
laid waste the land of Midian and other parts of Northern Arabia.
[FN#14] Saba in Southern Arabia.
[FN#15] The erection of this dyke is variously attributed to Lukman the
Elder (of the tribe of Ad) and to Saba bin Yashjab. It burst according
to some, beneath the weight of a flood; according to others, it was
miraculously undermined by rats. A learned Indian Shaykh has mistaken
the Arabic word "Jurad," a large kind of mouse or rat, for "Jarad," a
locust, and he makes the wall to have sunk under a "bar i Malakh," or
weight of locusts! No event is more celebrated in the history of pagan
Arabia than this, or more trustworthy, despite the exaggeration of the
details-the dyke is said to have been four miles long by four broad-and
the fantastic marvels which are said to have accompanied its bursting.
The ruins have lately been visited by M. Arnaud, a French traveller,
who communicated his discovery to the French Asiatic Society in 1845.
[FN#16] Ma al-Sama, "the water (or "the splendour") of heaven," is,
generally speaking, a feminine name amongst the pagan Arabs; possibly
it is here intended as a matronymic.
[FN#17] This expedition to Al-Madinah is mentioned by all the
pre-Islamatic historians, but persons and dates are involved in the
greatest confusion. Some authors mention two different expeditions by
different Tobbas; others only one, attributing it differently, however,
to two Tobbas,-Abu Karb in the 3rd century of the Christian era, and
Tobba al-Asghar, the last of that dynasty, who reigned, according to
some, in A.D. 300, according to others in A.D. 448. M.C. de Perceval
places the event about A.D. 206, and asserts that the Aus and Khazraj
did not emigrate to Al-Madinah before A.D. 300. The word Tobba or
Tubba, I have been informed by some of the modern Arabs, is still used
in the Himyaritic dialect of Arabic to signify "the Great" or "the
[FN#18] Nothing is more remarkable in the annals of the Arabs than
their efforts to prove the Ishmaelitic descent of Mohammed; at the same
time no historic question is more open to doubt.
[FN#19] If this be true it proves that the Jews of Al-Hijaz had in
those days superstitious reverence for the Ka'abah; otherwise the
Tobba, after conforming to the law of Moses, would not have shown it
this mark of respect. Moreover there is a legend that the same Rabbis
dissuaded the Tobba from plundering the sacred place when he was
treacherously advised so to do by the Benu Hudayl Arabs. I have lately
perused "The Worship of Ba'alim in Israel," based upon the work of Dr.
R. Dozy, "The Israelites in Mecca." By Dr. H. Oort. Translated from the
Dutch, and enlarged, with Notes and Appendices, by the Right Rev. John
William Colenso, D.D. (Longmans.) I see no reason why Meccah or Beccah
should be made to mean "A Slaughter"; why the Ka'abah should be founded
by the Simeonites; why the Hajj should be the Feast of Trumpets; and
other assertions in which everything seems to be taken for granted
except etymology, which is tortured into confession. If Meccah had been
founded by the Simeonites, why did the Persians and the Hindus respect
[FN#20] It is curious that Abdullah, Mohammed's father, died and was
buried at Al-Madinah, and that his mother Aminah's tomb is at Abwa, on
the Madinah road. Here, too, his great-grandfather Hashim married Salma
Al-Mutadalliyah, before him espoused to Uhayhah, of the Aus tribe.
Shaybah, generally called Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's grandfather,
was the son of Salma, and was bred at Al-Madinah.
[FN#21] Ayyas bin Ma'az died, it is said, a Moslem.
[FN#22] "Bayat al-Akabat al-ula." It is so called because this oath was
sworn at a place called Al-Akabah (the Mountain-road), near Muna. A
Mosque was afterwards built there to commemorate the event.
[FN#23] Some Moslem writers suppose that Mohammed singled out twelve
men as apostles, and called them Nakil, in imitation of the example of
our Saviour. Other Moslems ignore both the fact and the intention. M.C.
de Perceval gives the names of these Nakils in vol. iii. p. 8.
[FN#24] Orthodox Moslems do not fail to quote this circumstance in
honour of the first Caliph, upon whom moreover they bestow the title of
"Friend of the Cave." The Shi'ahs, on the other hand, hating Abu Bakr,
see in it a symptom of treachery, and declare that the Prophet feared
to let the "Old Hyena," as they opprobriously term the venerable
successor, out of his sight for fear lest he should act as spy to the
Kuraysh. The voice of history and of common sense is against the
Shi'ahs. M.C. de Perceval justly remarks, that Abu Bakr and Omar were
men truly worthy of their great predecessor.
[FN#25] This animal's name, according to some, was Al-Kaswa ("the tips
of whose ears are cropped"); according to others Al-Jada'a ("one
mutilated in the ear, hand, nose, or lip"). The Prophet bought her for
800 dirhams, on the day before his flight, from Abu Bakr, who had
fattened two fine animals of his own breeding. The camel was offered as
a gift, but Mohammed insisted upon paying its price, because, say the
Moslem casuists, he being engaged in the work of God would receive no
aid from man. According to M.C. de Perceval, the Prophet preached from
the back of Al-Kaswa the celebrated pilgrimage sermon at Arafat on the
8th March, A.D. 632.
[FN#26] The Prophet is generally supposed to have started from Meccah
on the first of the same month, on a Friday or a Monday. This
discrepancy is supposed to arise from the fact that Mohammed fled his
house in Meccah on a Friday, passed three days in the cave on Jabal
Saur, and finally left it for Al-Madinah on Monday, which therefore,
according to Moslem divines, was the first day of the "Hijrah." But the
aera now commences on the 1st of the previous Muharram, an arrangement
made seventeen years after the date of the flight by Omar the Caliph,
with the concurrence of Ali.
[FN#27] The distance from Kuba to Al-Madinah is little more than three
miles, for which six hours-Friday prayers being about noon-may be
considered an inordinately long time. But our author might urge as a
reason that the multitude of people upon a narrow road rendered the
Prophet's advance a slow one, and some historians relate that he spent
several hours in conversation with the Benu Salim.
[FN#28] Mohammed never would eat these strong smelling vegetables on
account of his converse with the angels, even as modern "Spiritualists"
refuse to smoke tobacco; at the same time he allowed his followers to
do so, except when appearing in his presence, entering a Mosque, or
joining in public prayers. The pious Moslem still eats his onions with
these limitations. Some sects, however, as the Wahhabis, considering
them abominable, avoid them on all occasions.
[FN#29] The name of the tribe literally means "sons of a carpenter";
hence the error of the learned and violent Humphrey Prideaux, corrected
by Sale.
[FN#30] Some say that Abu Bakr had no abode near the Mosque. But it is
generally agreed upon, that he had many houses, one in Al-Bakia,
another in the higher parts of Al-Madinah, and among them a hut on the
spot between the present gates called Salam and Rahmah.
[FN#31] It is clear from the fact above stated, that in those days the
Jews of Arabia were in a state of excitement, hourly expecting the
advent of their Messiah, and that Mohammed believed himself to be the
person appointed to complete the law of Moses.
[FN#32] In many minor details the above differs from the received
accounts of Pre-Islamitic and early Mohammedan history. Let the blame
be borne by the learned Shaykh Abd al-Hakk al-Muhaddis of Delhi, and
his compilation, the "Jazb al-Kulub ila Diyar al-Mahhub (the "Drawing
of Hearts towards the Holy Parts"). From the multitude of versions at
last comes correctness.
[FN#33] A Firman from the Porte, dated 13th February, 1841, provides
for the paying of these pensions regularly. "It being customary to send
every year from Egypt provisions in kind to the two Holy Cities, the
provisions and other articles, whatever they may be, which have up to
this time been sent to this place, shall continue to be sent thither."
Formerly the Holy Land had immense property in Egypt, and indeed in all
parts of Al-Islam. About thirty years ago, Mohammed Ali Pasha bought up
all the Wakf (church property), agreeing to pay for its produce, which
he rated at five piastres the ardeb, when it was worth three times as
much. Even that was not regularly paid. The Sultan has taken advantage
of the present crisis to put down Wakf in Turkey. The Holy Land,
therefore, will gradually lose all its land and house property, and
will soon be compelled to depend entirely upon the presents of the
pilgrims, and the Sadakah, or alms, which are still sent to it by the
pious Moslems of distant regions. As might be supposed, both the
Meccans and the Madani loudly bewail their hard fates, and by no means
approve of the Ikram, the modern succedaneum for an extensive and
regularly paid revenue. At a future time, I shall recur to this subject.
[FN#34] The prayer-niche and the minaret both date their existence from
the days of Al-Walid, the builder of the third Mosque. At this age of
their empire, the Moslems had travelled far and had seen art in various
lands; it is therefore not without a shadow of reason that the Hindus
charge them with having borrowed their two favourite symbols, and
transformed them into an arch and a tower.
[FN#35] The Ustawanat al-Hannanah, or "Weeping-Post." See page 335,
chapter XVI., ante.
[FN#36] As usual, there are doubts about the invention of this article.
It was covered with cloth by the Caliph Osman, or, as others say, by
Al-Mu'awiyah, who, deterred by a solar eclipse from carrying out his
project of removing it to Damascus, placed it upon a new framework,
elevated six steps above the ground. Al-Mahdi wished to raise the
Mambar six steps higher, but was forbidden so to do by the Imam Malik.
The Abbasides changed the pulpit, and converted the Prophet's original
seat into combs, which were preserved as relics. Some historians
declare that the original Mambar was burnt with the Mosque in A.H. 654.
In Ibn Jubayr's time (A.H. 580), it was customary for visitors to place
their right hands upon a bit of old wood, inserted into one of the
pillars of the pulpit; this was supposed to be a remnant of the
"weeping-post." Every Sultan added some ornament to the Mambar, and at
one time it was made of white marble, covered over with a dome of the
"eight metals." It is now a handsome structure, apparently of wood,
painted and gilt of the usual elegant form, which has been compared by
some travellers with the suggesta of Roman Catholic churches. I have
been explicit about this pulpit, hoping that, next time the knotty
question of Apostolic seats comes upon the tapis, our popular authors
will not confound a Curule chair with a Moslem Mambar. Of the latter
article, Lane (Mod. Egyptians, chap. iii.) gave a sketch in the
"Interior of a Mosque."
[FN#37] The Prophet is said to have had a dwelling-house in the
Ambariyah, or the Western quarter of the Manakhah suburb, and here,
according to some, he lodged Mariyah, the Coptic girl. As pilgrims do
not usually visit the place, and nothing of the original building can
be now remaining, I did not trouble myself about it.
[FN#38] Meaning the Prophet's fifteen to twenty-five wives. Their
number is not settled. He left nine wives and two concubines. It was
this title after the Koranic order (chap, xxxiii. v. 53) which rendered
their widowhood eternal; no Arab would willingly marry a woman whom he
has called mother or sister.
[FN#39] Authors mention a place outside the Northern wall called
Al-Suffah, which was assigned by Mohammed as a habitation to houseless
believers; from which circumstance these paupers derived the title of
Ashab al-Suffah, "Companions of the Sofa."
[FN#40] So I translate the Arabicised word "Saj."
[FN#41] A place about five miles from Al-Madinah, on the Meccan way.
See Chap. XIV.
[FN#42] And curious to say Al-Islam still has the largest cathedral in
the world-St. Sophia's at Constantinople. Next to this ranks St.
Peter's at Rome; thirdly, I believe, the "Jumma Masjid," or cathedral
of the old Moslem city Bijapur in India; the fourth is St. Paul's,
[FN#43] It is to this monarch that the Saracenic Mosque-architecture
mainly owes its present form. As will be seen, he had every advantage
of borrowing from Christian, Persian, and even Indian art. From the
first he took the dome, from the second the cloister-it might have been
naturalised in Arabia before his time-and possibly from the third the
minaret and the prayer-niche. The latter appears to be a peculiarly
Hindu feature in sacred buildings, intended to contain the idol, and to
support the lamps, flowers, and other offerings placed before it.
[FN#44] The reader will remember that in the sixth year of the Hijrah,
after Mohammed's marriage with Zaynab, his wives were secluded behind
the Hijab, Pardah, or curtain. A verse of the Koran directed the
Moslems to converse with them behind this veil. Hence the general
practice of Al-Islam: now it is considered highly disgraceful in any
Moslem to make a Moslemah expose her face, and she will frequently
found a threat upon the prejudice. A battle has been prevented by this
means, and occasionally an insurrection has been caused by it.
[FN#45] Amongst which some authors enumerate the goblet and the mirror
of Kisra.
[FN#46] The outer wall, built by Al-Walid, remained till A.H. 550, when
Jamal al-Din of Isafahan, Wazir to Nur al-Din Shahid Mahmud bin Zangi,
supplied its place by a grating of open sandal woodwork, or, as others
say, of iron. About the same time, Sayyid Abu 'l Hayja sent from Egypt
a sheet of white brocade, embroidered in red silk with the chapter
Y.S., in order to cover the inner wall. This was mounted on the
accession of Al-Mustazi bi'llah, the Caliph, after which it became the
custom for every Sultan to renew the offering. And in A.H. 688, Kalaun
of Egypt built the outer network of brass as it now is, and surmounted
it with the Green Dome.
[FN#47] The inner wall, erected by Al-Walid, seems to have resisted the
fire which in A.H. 654 burnt the Mosque to the ground. Also, in A.H.
886, when the building was consumed by lightning, the Hujrah was spared
by the devouring element.
[FN#48] After the Prophet's death and burial, Ayishah continued to
occupy the same room, without even a curtain between her and the tomb.
At last, vexed by the crowds of visitors, she partitioned off the
hallowed spot with a wall. She visited the grave unveiled as long as
her father Abu Bakr only was placed behind the Prophet; but when Omar's
corpse was added, she always covered her face.
[FN#49] One of these, the minaret at the Bab-al-Salam, was soon
afterwards overthrown by Al-Walid's brother Sulayman, because it shaded
the house of Marwan, where he lodged during his visit to Al-Madinah in
the cold season.
[FN#50] The dinar (denarius) was a gold piece, a ducat, a sequin.
[FN#51] I purpose to touch upon this event in a future chapter, when
describing my route from Al-Madinah to Meccah.
[FN#52] "On this occasion," says Al-Samanhudi, quoted by Burckhardt,
"the interior of the Hujrah was cleared, and three deep graves were
found in the inside, full of rubbish, but the author of this history,
who himself entered it, saw no traces of tombs." Yet in another place
he, an eye-witness, had declared that the coffin containing the dust of
Mohammed was cased with silver. I repeat these details.
[FN#53] Burckhardt has given a full account of this event in his
history of the Wahhabis.
[FN#54] See Chapter XVI., ante.
[FN#55] My predecessor estimates the whole treasury in those days to
have been worth 300,000 Riyals,-a small sum, if we consider the length
of time during which it was accumulating. The chiefs of the town
appropriated 1 cwt. of golden vessels, worth at most 50,000 dollars,
and Sa'ud sold part of the plunder to Ghalib for 100,000 (I was told
one-third more), reserving for himself about the same amount of pearls
and corals. Burckhardt supposes that the governors of Al-Madinah, who
were often independent chiefs, and sometimes guardians of the tombs,
made occasional draughts upon the generosity of the Faithful.
[FN#56] I inquired in vain about the substance that covered the dome.
Some told me it was tinfoil; others supposed it to be rivetted with
green tiles.
[FN#57] The Badawi calls a sound dollar "Kirsh Hajar," or "Riyal
Hajar," a "stone dollar."
[FN#58] At the same time his account is still carefully copied by our
popular and general authors, who, it is presumed, could easily become
better informed.
[FN#59] The Persians in remote times, as we learn from Herodotus (lib.
6), were waited upon by eunuchs, and some attribute to them the
invention. Ammianus Marcellinus (lib. 14) ascribes the origin to
Semiramis. In Al-Islam, the employment of such persons about the Mosque
is a "Bida'ah" or custom unknown in the time of the Prophet. It is said
to have arisen from the following three considerations: 1. These people
are concentrated in their professions; 2. They must see and touch
strange women at the shrines; and 3. The shrines are "Harim," or
sacred, having adyta which are kept secret from the prying eyes of men,
and, therefore, should be served by eunuchs. It is strange that the
Roman Catholic church, as well as the Moslem Mosque, should have
admitted such an abomination.
[FN#60] One of these gentry, if called "Tawashi,"-his generic
name,-would certainly insult a stranger. The polite form of address to
one of them is "Agha"-Master,-in the plural "Aghawat." In partibus,
they exact the greatest respect from men, and the title of the Eunuch
of the Tomb is worth a considerable sum to them. The eunuchs of
Al-Madinah are more numerous and better paid than those of Meccah: they
are generally the slaves of rich men at Constantinople, and prefer this
city on account of its climate.
[FN#61] The "Sons of the City," however, are always allowed to do such
service gratis; if, indeed, they are not paid for it.
[FN#62] Others told me that there were only two muftis at Al-Madinah,
namely, those of the Hanafi and Shafe'i schools. If this be true, it
proves the insignificance of the followers of Malik, which personage,
like others, is less known in his own town than elsewhere.
[FN#63] The Hanbali school is nowhere common except in Nijd, and the
lands Eastward as far as Al-Hasa. At present it labours under a sort of
imputation, being supposed to have thrown out a bad offshoot, the
[FN#64] "Ruasa" is the plural of Rais, a chief or president. It is the
term generally applied in Arabia to the captain of a vessel, and in
Al-Yaman it often means a barber, in virtue, I presume, of its
root-Ras, the head.
[FN#65] Some say that the Egyptian distinction between the Imam Khatib
and the Imam Ratib does not obtain at Al-Madinah.



IT is equally difficult to define, politically and geographically, the
limits of Al-Hijaz. Whilst some authors, as Abulfeda,[FN#1] fix its
Northern frontier at Aylah (Fort Al-'Akabah) and the Desert, making
Al-Yaman its Southern limit, others include in it only the tract of
land lying between Meccah and Al-Madinah. The country has no natural
boundaries, and its political limits change with every generation;
perhaps, therefore, the best distribution of its frontier would be that
which includes all the property called Holy Land, making Yambu' the
Northern, and Jeddah the Southern extremes, while a line drawn through
Al-Madinah, Suwayrkiyah, and Jabal Kora-the mountain of Taif-might
represent its Eastern boundary. Thus Al-Hijaz would be an irregular
parallelogram, about two hundred and fifty miles in length, with a
maximum breadth of one hundred and fifty miles.

Two meanings are assigned to the name of this venerated region. Most
authorities make it mean the "Separator," the "Barrier," between Nijd
and Tahamah,[FN#2] or between Al-Yaman and Syria. According to others,
it signifies the "colligated," i.e. by mountains. It is to be observed
that the people of the country, especially the Badawin, distinguish the
lowlands from the high region

[p.377]by different names; the former are called Tahamat al-Hijaz-the
sea coast of Al-Hijaz, as we should say in India, "below the Ghauts;"
the latter is known peculiarly as Al-Hijaz.[FN#3]

Madinat al-Nabi,[FN#4] the Prophet's City, or, as it is

[p.378]usually called for brevity, Al-Madinah, the City, is situated on
the borders of Nijd, upon the vast plateau of high land

[p.379] which forms central Arabia. The limits of the sanctuary called
the Hudud al-Harim, as defined by the Apostle, may still serve to mark
out the city's plain. Northwards, at a distance of about three miles,
is Jabal Ohod, or, according to others, Jabal Saur, a hill somewhat
beyond Ohod; these are the last ribs of the vast tertiary and primitive
chine[FN#5] which, extending from Taurus to near Aden, and from Aden
again to Maskat, fringes the Arabian trapezium. To the South-west the
plain is bounded by ridges of scoriaceous basalt, and by a buttress of
rock called Jabal Ayr, like Ohod, about three miles distant from the
town. Westward, according to some authors, is the Mosque Zu'l-Halifah.
On the East there are no natural landmarks, nor even artificial, like
the "Alamayn" at Meccah; an imaginary line, therefore, is drawn,
forming an irregular circle of which the town is the centre, with a
diameter from ten to twelve miles. Such is the sanctuary.[FN#6]
Geographically considered, the

[p.380]plain is bounded, on the East, with a thin line of low dark
hills, traversed by the Darb al-Sharki, or the "Eastern road," through
Al-Nijd to Meccah: Southwards, the plateau is open, and almost
perfectly level as far as the eye can see.

Al-Madinah dates its origin doubtless from ancient times, and the cause
of its prosperity is evident in the abundant supply of water, a
necessary generally scarce in Arabia. The formation of the plateau is
in some places salt sand, but usually a white chalk, and a loamy clay,
which even by the roughest manipulation makes tolerable bricks. Lime
also abounds. The town is situated upon a gently-shelving part of the
plain, the, lowest portion of which, to judge from the versant, is at
the southern base of Mount Ohod, hence called Al-Safilah, and the
highest at the Awali, or plains about Kuba, and the East.

The Southern and South-Eastern walls of the suburb are sometimes
carried away by violent "Sayl," or torrents, which, after rain, sweep
down from the Western as

[p.381]well as from the Eastern highlands. The water-flow is towards
Al-Ghabbah, lowlands in the Northern and Western hills, a little beyond
Mount Ohod. This basin receives the drainage of the mountains and the
plain; according to some absorbing it, according to others collecting
it till of sufficient volume to flow off to the sea. Water, though
abundant, is rarely of good quality. In the days of the Prophet, the
Madani consumed the produce of wells, seven of which are still
celebrated by the people.[FN#7] Historians relate that Omar, the second
Caliph, provided the town with drinking-water from the Northern parts
of the plains by means of an aqueduct. The modern city is supplied by a
source called the Ayn al-Zarka or Azure Spring,[FN#8] which arises some
say at the foot of Mount Ayr, others, with greater probability, in the
date-groves of Kuba. Its waters were first brought to Al-Madinah by
Marwan, governor in Al-Mu'awiyah's day. It now flows down a
subterraneous canal, about thirty feet below the surface; in places the
water is exposed to the air, and

[p.382]steps lead to it for the convenience of the inhabitants: this
was the work of Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent. After passing through
the town it turns to the North-west, its course being marked by a line
of circular walls breast high, like the Kariz of Afghanistan, placed at
unequal distances, and resembling wells: it then loses itself in the
Nakhil or palm-groves. During my stay at Al-Madinah, I always drank
this water, which appeared to me, as the citizens declared it to be,
sweet and wholesome.[FN#9] There are many wells in the town, as water
is found at about twenty feet below the surface of the soil: few
produce anything fit for drinking, some being salt and others bitter.
As usual in the hilly countries of the East, the wide beds and
Fiumaras, even in the dry season, will supply travellers for a day or
two with an abundance of water, filtrated through, and, in some cases,
flowing beneath the sand.

The climate of the plain is celebrated for a long, and, comparatively
speaking, a rigorous winter; a popular saying records the opinion of
the Apostle "that he who patiently endures the cold of Al-Madinah and
the heat of Meccah, merits a reward in Paradise." Ice is not seen in
the town, but may frequently be met with, it is said, on Jabal Ohod;
fires are lighted in the houses during winter, and palsies attack those
who at this season imprudently bathe in unwarmed water. The fair
complexions of the people prove that this account of the brumal rigours
is not exaggerated. Chilly and violent winds from the Eastern Desert
are much dreaded, and though Ohod screens the town on the North and
North-East, a gap in the mountains to the North-West fills the

[p.383]air at times with raw and comfortless blasts.	The rains begin
in October, and last with considerable intervals through six months;
the clouds, gathered by the hill-tops and the trees near the town,
discharge themselves with violence, and about the equinoxes,
thunder-storms are common. At such times the Barr al-Manakhah, or the
open space between the town and the suburbs, is a sheet of water, and
the land near the Southern and the South-Eastern wall of the faubourg
becomes a pool. Rain, however, is not considered unhealthy here; and
the people, unlike the Meccans and the Cairenes, expect it with
pleasure, because it improves their date-trees and fruit
plantations.[FN#10] In winter it usually rains at night, in spring
during the morning, and in summer about evening time. This is the case
throughout Al-Hijaz, as explained by the poet Labid in these lines,
which describe the desolate site of an old encampment:-

"It (the place) hath been fertilised by the first spring showers of the
constellations, and hath been swept by
The incessant torrents of the thunder-clouds, falling in heavy and
in gentle rains,
>From each night-cloud, and heavily dropping morning-cloud,
And the even-cloud, whose crashings are re-echoed from around."
"It (the place) hath been fertilised by the first spring showers of the
constellations, and hath been swept by
The incessant torrents of the thunder-clouds, falling in heavy and in
gentle rains,
>From each night-cloud, and heavily dropping morning-cloud,
And the even-cloud, whose crashings are re-echoed from around."

And the European reader will observe that the Arabs generally reckon
three seasons, including our autumn, in their summer. The hot weather
at Al-Madinah appeared to me as extreme as the hibernal cold is
described to be, but the air was dry, and the open plain prevented the
faint and stagnant sultriness which distinguishes Meccah. Moreover,
though the afternoons were close, the nights and the mornings were cool
and dewy. At this season the citizens sleep on the house-tops, or on
the ground

[p.384]outside their doors. Strangers must follow this example with
considerable circumspection; the open air is safe in the Desert, but in
cities it causes, to the unaccustomed, violent catarrhs and febrile

I collect the following notes upon the diseases and medical treatment
of the Northern Hijaz. Al-Madinah has been visited four times by the
Rih al-Asfar[FN#11] (yellow wind), or Asiatic Cholera, which is said to
have committed great ravages, sometimes carrying off whole households.
In the Rahmat al-Kabirah, the "Great Mercy," as the worst attack is
piously called, whenever a man vomited, he was abandoned to his fate;
before that, he was treated with mint, lime-juice, and copious draughts
of coffee. It is still the boast of Al-Madinah, that the Taun, or
plague, has never passed her frontier.[FN#12] The Judari, or smallpox,
appears to be indigenous to the countries bordering upon the Red Sea;
we read of it there in the earliest works of the Arabs,[FN#13] and even
to the present time it sometimes sweeps through Arabia and the Somali

[p.385] country with desolating violence. In the town of Al-Madinah it
is fatal to children, many of whom, however, are in these days
inoculated[FN#14]: amongst the Badawin, old men die of it, but adults
are rarely victims, either in the City or in the Desert. The nurse
closes up the room whilst the sun is up, and carefully excludes the
night air, believing that, as the disease is "hot,[FN#15]" a breath of
wind will kill the patient. During the hours of darkness, a lighted
candle or lamp is always placed by the side of the bed, or the sufferer
would die of madness, brought on by evil spirits or fright. Sheep's
wool is burnt in the sick-room, as death would follow the inhaling of
any perfume. The only remedy I have heard of is pounded Kohl (antimony)
drunk in water, and the same is drawn along the breadth of the eyelid,
to prevent blindness. The diet is Adas (lentils),[FN#16] and a peculiar
kind of date, called Tamr al-Birni. On the twenty-first day the patient
is washed with salt and tepid water.

Ophthalmia is rare.[FN#17] In the summer, quotidian and

[p.386]tertian fevers (Hummah Salis) are not uncommon, and if
accompanied by emetism, they are frequently fatal.

[p.387]The attack generally begins with the Naffazah, or cold fit, and
is followed by Al-Hummah, the hot stage. The principal remedies are
cooling drinks, such as Sikanjabin (oxymel) and syrups. After the fever
the face and body frequently swell, and indurated lumps appear on the
legs and stomach. There are also low fevers, called simply Hummah; they
are usually treated by burning charms in the patient's room. Jaundice
and bilious complaints are common, and the former is popularly cured in
a peculiar way. The sick man looks into a pot full of water, whilst the
exorciser, reciting a certain spell, draws the heads of two needles
from the patient's ears along his eyes, down his face, lastly dipping
them into water, which at once becomes yellow. Others have "Mirayat,"
magic mirrors,[FN#18] on which the patient looks, and looses the

[p.388] Dysenteries frequently occur in the fruit season, when the
greedy Arabs devour all manner of unripe

[p.389]peaches, grapes, and pomegranates. The popular treatment is by
the actual cautery; the scientific affect the use of drastics and
astringent simples, and the Bizr al-Kutn (cotton-seed), toasted,
pounded, and drunk in warm water. Almost every one here, as in Egypt,
suffers more or less from haemorrhoids; they are treated by
dietetics-eggs and leeks-and by a variety of drugs, Myrobalans,
Lisan-al-Hamal (Arnoglossum), etc. But the patient looks with horror at
the scissors and the knife, so that they seldom succeed in obtaining a
radical cure. The Filaria Medinensis, locally called "Farantit," is no
longer common at the place which gave it its European name. At Yambu',
however, the people suffer much from the Vena appearing in the legs.
The complaint is treated here as in India and in Abyssinia: when the
tumour bursts, and the worm shows, it is extracted by being gradually
wound round a splinter of wood. Hydrophobia is rare, and the people
have many superstitions about it. They suppose that a bit of meat falls
from the sky, and that a dog eating it becomes mad. I was assured by
respectable persons, that when a man is bitten, they shut him up with
food, in a solitary chamber, for four days, and that if at the end of
that time he still howls like a dog, they expel the Ghul (demon) from
him, by pouring over him boiling water mixed with ashes-a certain cure
I can easily believe. The only description of leprosy known in Al-Hijaz
is that called "Al-Baras": it appears in white patches on the skin,
seldom attacks any but the poorer classes, and is considered incurable.
Wounds are treated by Marham, or ointments, especially by the
"Balesan," or Balm of Meccah; a cloth is tied round the limb, and

[p.390]not removed till the wound heals, which amongst this people of
simple life, generally takes place by first intention. Ulcers are
common in Al-Hijaz, as indeed all over Arabia. We read of them in
ancient times. In A.D. 504, the poet and warrior, Amr al-Kays, died of
this dreadful disease, and it is related that when Mohammed Abu Si
Mohammed, in A.H. 132, conquered Al-Yaman with an army from Al-Hijaz,
he found the people suffering from sloughing and mortifying sores, so
terrible to look upon that he ordered the sufferers to be burnt alive.
Fortunately for the patients, the conqueror died suddenly before his
inhuman mandate was executed. These sores here, as in Al-Yaman,[FN#19]
are worst when upon the shin bones; they eat deep into the leg, and the
patient dies of fever and gangrene. They are treated on first
appearance by the actual cautery, and, when practicable, by cutting off
the joint; the drugs popularly applied are Tutiya (tutty) and
verdigris. There is no cure but rest, a generous diet, and change of

By the above short account it will be seen that the Arabs are no longer
the most skilful physicians in the world. They have, however, one great
advantage in their practice, and they are sensible enough to make free
use of it. As the children of almost all the respectable citizens are
brought up in the Desert, the camp becomes to them a native village. In
cases of severe wounds or chronic diseases, the patient is ordered off
to the Black Tents, where he lives as a Badawi, drinking camels' milk
(a diet for the first three or four days highly cathartic), and doing
nothing. This has been the practice from time immemorial in Arabia,
whereas Europe is only beginning to systematise the adhibition of air,
exercise, and simple living. And even now we are obliged to veil it
under the garb of charlatanry-to call it a "milk-cure" in Switzerland,

[p.391]a "water-cure" in Silesia, a "grape-cure" in France, a
"hunger-cure" in Germany, and other sensible names which act as dust in
the public eyes.

Al-Madinah consists of three parts,-a town, a fort, and a suburb little
smaller than the body of the place. The town itself is about one-third
larger than Suez, or nearly half the size of Meccah. It is a walled
enclosure forming an irregular oval with four gates. The Bab al-Shami,
or " Syrian Gate," in the North-West side of the enceinte, leads
towards Jabal Ohod, Hamzah's burial-place, and the mountains. In the
Eastern wall, the Bab al-Jum'ah, or Friday Gate, opens upon the Nijd
road and the cemetery, Al-Bakia. Between the Shami and the Jum'ah
gates, towards the North, is the Bab al-Ziyafah (of Hospitality); and
Westwards the Bab al-Misri (Egyptian) opens upon the plain called the
Barr al-Manakhah. The Eastern and the Egyptian gates are fine massive
buildings, with double towers close together, painted with broad bands
of red, yellow, and other colors, not unlike that old entrance of the
Cairo citadel which opens upon the Ramayliyah plain. They may be
compared with the gateway towers of the old Norman castles-Arques, for
instance. In their shady and well-watered interiors, soldiers keep
guard, camel-men dispute, and numerous idlers congregate, to enjoy the
luxuries of coolness and of companionship. Beyond this gate, in the
street leading to the Mosque, is the great bazar. Outside it lie the
Suk al-Khuzayriyah, or greengrocers' market, and the Suk al-Habbabah,
or the grain bazar, with a fair sprinkling of coffee-houses. These
markets are long masses of palm-leaf huts, blackened in the sun and
wind, of a mean and squalid appearance, detracting greatly from the
appearance of the gates. Amongst them there is a little domed and
whitewashed building, which I was told is a Sabil or public fountain.
In the days of the Prophet the town

[p.392] was not walled. Even in Al-Idrisi's time (twelfth century), and
as late as Bartema's (eighteenth century), the fortifications were
mounds of earth, made by order of Kasim al-Daulat al-Ghori, who
re-populated the town and provided for its inhabitants. Now, the
enceinte is in excellent condition. The walls are well built of granite
and lava blocks, in regular layers, cemented with lime; they are
provided with "Mazghal" (or "Matras") long loopholes, and "Shararif" or
trefoil-shaped crenelles: in order to secure a flanking fire,
semicircular towers, also loopholed and crenellated, are disposed in
the curtain at short and irregular intervals. Inside, the streets are
what they always should be in these torrid lands, deep, dark, and
narrow, in few places paved-a thing to be deprecated-and generally
covered with black earth well watered and trodden to hardness. The most
considerable lines radiate towards the Mosque. There are few public
buildings. The principal Wakalahs are four in number; one is the
Wakalat Bab Salam near the Harim, another the Wakalat Jabarti, and two
are inside the Misri gate; they all belong to Arab citizens. These
Caravanserais are used principally as stores, rarely for
dwelling-places like those of Cairo; travellers, therefore, must hire
houses at a considerable expense, or pitch tents to the detriment of
health and to their extreme discomfort. The other public buildings are
a few mean coffee-houses and an excellent bath in the Harat Zarawan,
inside the town: far superior to the unclean establishments of Cairo,
it borrows something from the luxury of Stambul. The houses are, for
the East, well built, flat-roofed and double-storied; the materials
generally used are a basaltic scoria, burnt brick, and palm wood. The
best enclose spacious courtyards and small gardens with wells, where
water basins and date trees gladden the owners' eyes. The latticed
balconies, first seen by the overland European traveller at Malta, are
here common, and the windows are

[p.393]mere apertures in the wall, garnished, as usual in Arab cities,
with a shutter of planking. Al-Madinah fell rapidly under the Wahhabis,
but after their retreat, it soon rose again, and now it is probably as
comfortable and flourishing a little city as any to be found in the
East. It contains between fifty and sixty streets, including the alleys
and culs-de-sac. There is about the same number of Harat or quarters;
but I have nothing to relate of them save their names. Within the town
few houses are in a dilapidated condition. The best authorities
estimate the number of habitations at about 1500 within the enceinte,
and those in the suburb at 1000. I consider both accounts exaggerated;
the former might contain 800, and the Manakhah perhaps 500; at the same
time I must confess not to have counted them, and Captain Sadlier (in
A.D. 1819) declares that the Turks, who had just made a kind of census,
reckoned 6000 houses and a population of 18,000 souls. Assuming the
population to be 16,000 (Burckhardt raises it as high as 20,000), of
which 9000 occupy the city, and 7000 the suburbs and the fort, this
would give a little more than twelve inhabitants to each house, a fair
estimate for an Arab town, where the abodes are large and slaves

The castle joins on to the North-West angle of the city enceinte, and
the wall of its Eastern outwork is pierced for

[p.394]a communication through a court strewed with guns and warlike
apparatus, between the Manakhah Suburb and the Bab al-Shami, or the
Syrian Gate. Having been refused entrance into the fort, I can describe
only its exterior. The outer wall resembles that of the city, only its
towers are more solid, and the curtain appears better calculated for
work. Inside, a donjon, built upon a rock, bears proudly enough the
banner of the Crescent and the Star; its whitewashed walls make it a
conspicuous object, and guns pointed in all directions, especially upon
the town, project from their embrasures. The castle is said to contain
wells, bomb-proofs, provisions, and munitions of war; if so, it must be
a kind of Gibraltar to the Badawin and the Wahhabis. The garrison
consisted of a Nisf Urtah,[FN#21] or half battalion (four hundred men)
of Nizam infantry, commanded by a Pasha; his authority also extends to
a Sanjak, or about five hundred Kurdish and Albanian Bash-Buzuks, whose
duty it is to escort caravans, to convey treasures, and to be shot at
in the Passes. The Madani, who, as usual with Orientals, take a
personal pride in their castle, speak of it with much exaggeration.
Commanded by a high line of rocks on the North-West, and built as it is
in most places without moat, glacis, earthwork, or outworks, a few
shells and a single battery of siege guns would soon render it
untenable. In ancient times it has more than once been held by a party
at feud with the town, for whose mimic battles the Barr al-Manakhah was
a fitting field. Northward from the fort, on the road to Ohod, but
still within fire, is a long many-windowed building, formerly Da'ud
Pasha's palace. In my time it had been bought by Abbas Pasha of Egypt.

[p.395]The suburbs lie to the South and West of the town. Southwards
they are separated from the enceinte by a wide road, called the Darb
al-Janazah, the Road of Biers, so called because the corpses of certain
schismatics, who may not pass through the city, are carried this way to
their own cemetery near the Bab al-Jumah, or Eastern Gate. Westwards,
between Al-Madinah and its faubourg, lies the plain of Al-Manakhah,
about three-quarters of a mile long, by three hundred yards broad. The
straggling suburbs occupy more ground than the city: fronting the
enceinte they are without walls; towards the West, where open country
lies, they are enclosed by mud or raw brick ramparts, with little round
towers, all falling to decay. A number of small gates lead from the
suburb into the country. The only large one, a poor copy of the Bab
al-Nasr at Cairo, is the Ambari or Western entrance, through which we
passed into Al-Madinah. The suburb contains no buildings of any
consequence, except the Khaskiyah, or official residence of the Muhafiz
(governor), a plain building near the Barr al-Manakhah, and the Khamsah
Masajid, or the Five Mosques, which every Zair is expected to visit.
They are

The Prophet's Mosque in the Manakhah.
Abu Bakr's near the Ayn al-Zarka.
Ali's Mosque in the Zukak al-Tayyar of the Manakhah. Some authors call
this the "Musalla al-Id," because the Prophet here prayed the Festival
Omar's Mosque, near the Bab Kuba of the Manakhah, and close to the
little torrent called Al-Sayh.
Belal's Mosque, celebrated in books; I did not see it, and some Madani
assured me that it no longer exists.

A description of one of these buildings will suffice, for they are all
similar. Mohammed's Mosque in the Manakhah stands upon a spot formerly
occupied, some say, by the Jami Ghamamah. Others believe it to be
founded upon the Musalla al-Nabi, a place where the

[p.396]Apostle recited the first Festival prayers after his arrival at
Al-Madinah, and used frequently to pray, and to address those of his
followers who lived far from the Harim,[FN#22] or Sanctuary. It is a
trim modern building of cut stone and lime in regular layers, of
parallelogramic shape, surmounted by one large and four small cupolas.
These are all whitewashed; and the principal is capped with a large
crescent, or rather a trident, rising from a series of gilt globes: the
other domes crown the several corners. The minaret is of the usual
Turkish shape, with a conical roof, and a single gallery for the
Mu'ezzin. An Acacia-tree or two on the Eastern side, and behind it a
wall-like line of mud houses, finish the coup-d'oeil; the interior of
this building is as simple as is the exterior. And here I may remark
that the Arabs have little idea of splendour, either in their public or
in their private architecture. Whatever strikes the traveller's eye in
Al-Hijaz is always either an importation or the work of foreign
artists. This arises from the simple tastes of the people, combined,
doubtless, with their notable thriftiness. If strangers will build for
them, they argue, why should they build for themselves? Moreover, they
have scant inducement to lavish money upon grand edifices. Whenever a
disturbance takes place, domestic or from without, the principal
buildings are sure to suffer. And the climate is inimical to their
enduring. Both ground and air at Al-Madinah, as well as at Meccah, are
damp and nitrous in winter, in summer dry and torrid: the lime is poor;
palm-timber soon decays: even foreign wood-work suffers, and a few
years of neglect suffice to level the proudest pile with the dust.

The suburbs to the South of Al- Madinah are a collection

[p.397]of walled villages, with plantations and gardens between. They
are laid out in the form, called here, as in Egypt, Hosh-court-yards,
with single-storied tenements opening into them. These enclosures
contain the cattle of the inhabitants; they have strong wooden doors,
shut at night to prevent "lifting," and they are capable of being
stoutly defended. The inhabitants of the suburb are for the most part
Badawi settlers, and a race of schismatics who will be noticed in
another chapter. Beyond these suburbs, to the South, as well as to the
North and Northeast, lie gardens and extensive plantations of

[FN#1] To the East he limits Al-Hijaz by Yamamah (which some include in
it), Nijd, and the Syrian desert, and to the West by the Red Sea. The
Greeks, not without reason, included it in their Arabia Petraea.
Niebuhr places the Southern boundary at Hali, a little town south of
Kunfudah (Gonfoda). Captain Head (Journey from India to Europe) makes
the village Al-Kasr, opposite the Island of Kotambul, the limit of
Al-Hijaz to the South.
[FN#2] Or, according to others, between Al-Yaman and Syria.
[FN#3] If you ask a Badawi near Meccah, whence his fruit comes, he will
reply "min Al-Hijaz," "from the Hijaz," meaning from the mountainous
part of the country about Taif. This would be an argument in favour of
those who make the word to signify a "place tied together," (by
mountains). It is notorious that the Badawin are the people who best
preserve the use of old and disputed words; for which reason they were
constantly referred to by the learned in the palmy days of Moslem
philology. "Al-Hijaz," also, in this signification, well describes the
country, a succession of ridges and mountain chains; whereas such a
name as "the barrier" would appear to be rather the work of some
geographer in his study. Thus Al-Nijd was so called from its high and
open lands, and, briefly, in this part of the world, names are most
frequently derived from some physical and material peculiarity of soil
or climate.
[FN#4] Amongst a people, who, like the Arabs or the Spaniards, hold a
plurality of names to be a sign of dignity, so illustrious a spot as
Al-Madinah could not fail to be rich in nomenclature. A Hadis declares,
"to Al-Madinah belong ten names": books, however, enumerate nearly a
hundred, of which a few will suffice as a specimen. Tabah, Tibah,
Taibah, Tayyibah, and Mutayyibah, (from the root "Tib," "good,"
"sweet," or "lawful,") allude to the physical excellencies of
Al-Madinah as regards climate-the perfume of the Prophet's tomb, and of
the red rose, which was a thorn before it blossomed by the sweat of his
brow-and to its being free from all moral impurity, such as the
presence of Infidels, or worshippers of idols. Mohammed declared that
he was ordered by Allah to change the name of the place to Tabah, from
Yasrib or Asrib. The latter, according to some, was a proper name of a
son of Noah; others apply it originally to a place west of Mount Ohod,
not to Al-Madinah itself; and quote the plural form of the word,
"Asarib," ("spots abounding in palms and fountains,") as a proof that
it does not belong exclusively to a person. However this may be, the
inauspicious signification of Yasrib, whose root is "Sarab,"
(destruction,) and the notorious use of the name by the Pagan Arabs,
have combined to make it, like the other heathen designation,
Al-Ghalabah, obsolete, and the pious Moslem who pronounces the word is
careful to purify his mouth by repeating ten times the name
"Al-Madinah." Barah and Barrah allude to its obedience and purity;
Hasunah to its beauty; Khayrah and Khayyarah to its goodness; Mahabbah,
Habibah and Mahbubah, to the favour it found in the eyes of the
Prophet; whilst Jabirah, Jabbarah, and Jabarah, (from the root Jabr,
joining or breaking), at once denote its good influence upon the
fortunes of the Faithful and its evil effects upon the Infidel.
"Al-Iman," (the Faith,) is the name under which it is hinted at in the
Koran. It is called Shafiyah (the Healer), on account of the curative
effects of earth found in its neighbourhood; Nasirah, the Saving, and
Asimah, the Preserving, because Mohammed and his companions were there
secure from the fury of their foes; Fazihah, the Detector, from its
exposing the Infidel and the hypocrite; Muslimah and Muminah, the
Faithful City; Mubarakah, the Blessed; Mahburah, the Happy; and
Mahturah, the Gifted. Mahrusah, the Guarded; and Mahfuzah, the
Preserved, allude to the belief that an angel sits in each of its ten
main streets, to watch over the town, and to prevent "Antichrist"
entering therein. "Al-Dajjal," as this personage is called, will arise
in the East and will peregrinate the earth; but he will be unable to
penetrate into Meccah; and on approaching Jabal Ohod, in sight of
Al-Madinah, he will turn off towards his death-place, Al-Sham
(Damascus). In the Taurat or Pentateuch, the town is called Mukaddasah,
the Holy, or Marhumah the Pitied, in allusion to the mission of
Mohammed; Marzukah, the Fed, is a favourable augury of plenty to it,
and Miskinah, the Poor, hints that it is independent of treasure of
gold or store of silver to keep up its dignity. Al-Makarr, means the
Residence or the Place of Quiet; Makinat, the Firmly-fixed, (in the
right faith); Al-Harim, the Sacred or Inviolable; and, finally,
Al-Balad, the Town, and Al-Madinah, the City by excellence. So an
inhabitant calls himself Al-Madani, whilst the natives of other and
less-favoured "Madinahs" affix Madini to their names. Its titles are
Arz-Allah, Allah's Land; Arz al-Hijrah, the Land of Exile; Akkalat
al-Buldan, the Eater of Towns; and Akkalat al-Kura, the Eater of
Villages, on account of its superiority, even as Meccah is entitled Umm
al-Kura, the Mother of Villages; Bayt Rasul Allah, House of Allah's
Prophet; Jazirat alArab, Isle of the Arab; and Harim Rasul Allah, the
Sanctuary of Allah's Prophet. In books and letters it has sometimes the
title of Madinah Musharrafah, the Exalted; more often that of Madinah
Munawwarah, the Enlightened-scil. by the lamp of faith and the column
of light supposed to be based upon the Prophet's tomb. The Moslems are
not the only people who lay claim to Al-Madinah. According to some
authors-and the legend is more credible than at first sight it would
appear-the old Guebres had in Arabia and Persia seven large fire
temples, each dedicated to a planet. At "Mahdinah," as they pervert the
word, was an image of the Moon, wherefore the place was originally
called the "Religion of the Moon." These Guebres, amongst other sacred
spots, claim Meccah, where they say Saturn and the Moon were conjointly
venerated; Jerusalem, the Tomb of Ali at Najaf, that of Hosayn at
Kerbela, and others. These pretensions of course the Moslems deny with
insistance, which does not prevent certain symptoms of old and decayed
faith peeping out in localities where their presence, if duly
understood, would be considered an abomination. This curious fact is
abundantly evident in Sind, and I have already alluded to it (History
of Sind).
[FN#5] Such is its formation in Al-Hijaz.
[FN#6] Within the sanctuary all Muharramat, or sins, are forbidden; but
the several schools advocate different degrees of strictness. The Imam
Malik, for instance, allows no latrinae} nearer to Al-Madinah than
Jabal Ayr, a distance of about three miles. He also forbids slaying
wild animals, but at the same time he specifies no punishment for the
offence. Some do not allow the felling of trees, alleging that the
Prophet enjoined their preservation as an ornament to the city, and a
pleasure to visitors. Al-Khattabi, on the contrary, permits people to
cut wood, and this is certainly the general practice. All authors
strenuously forbid within the boundaries slaying man (except invaders,
infidels, and the sacrilegious), drinking spirits, and leading an
immoral life. As regards the dignity of the sanctuary, there is but one
opinion; a number of Hadis testify to its honour, praise its people,
and threaten dreadful things to those who injure it or them. It is
certain that on the last day, the Prophet will intercede for, and aid,
all those who die, and are buried, at Al-Madinah. Therefore, the Imam
Malik made but one pilgrimage to Meccah, fearing to leave his bones in
any other cemetery but Al-Bakia. There is, however, much debate
concerning the comparative sanctity of Al-Madinah and Meccah. Some say
Mohammed preferred the former, blessing it as Abraham did Meccah.
Moreover, as a tradition declares that every man's body is drawn from
the dust of the ground in which he is buried, Al-Madinah, it is
evident, had the honour of supplying materials for the Prophet's
person. Others, like Omar, were uncertain in favour of which city to
decide. Others openly assert the pre-eminence of Meccah; the general
consensus of Al-Islam preferring Al-Madinah to Meccah, save only the
Bayt Allah in the latter city. This last is a juste-milieu view, by no
means in favour with the inhabitants of either place. In the meanwhile
the Meccans claim unlimited superiority over the Madani; the Madani
over the Meccans.
[FN#7] These seven wells will be noticed in Chapter XIX., post.
[FN#8] I translate Al-Zarka "azure," although Sir G. Wilkinson remarks,
apropos of the Bahr al-Azrak, generally translated by us the "Blue
Nile," that, "when the Arabs wish to say dark or jet black, they use
the word ‘Azrak.'" It is true that Azrak is often applied to
indeterminate dark hues, but "Aswad," not Azrak, is the opposite to
Abyaz, "white." Moreover, Al-Zarka in the feminine is applied to women
with light blue eyes; this would be no distinctive appellation if it
signified black eyes, the almost universal colour. Zarka of Yamamah is
the name of a celebrated heroine in Arab story, and the curious reader,
who wishes to see how much the West is indebted to the East, even for
the materials of legend, will do well to peruse her short history in
Major Price's "Essay," or M.C. de Perceval's "Essai," &c., vol. i., p.
101. Both of these writers, however, assert that Zarka's eyes, when cut
out, were found to contain fibres blackened by the use of Kohl, and
they attribute to her the invention of this pigment. I have often heard
the legend from the Arabs, who declare that she painted her eyes with
"Ismid," a yellow metal, of what kind I have never been able to
determine, although its name is everywhere known.
[FN#9] Burckhardt confounds the Ayn al-Zarka with the Bir al-Khatim, or
Kuba well, of whose produce the surplus only mixes with it, and he
complains loudly of the "detestable water of Madinah." But he was ill
at the time, otherwise he would not have condemned it so strongly after
eulogising the salt-bitter produce of the Meccan Zemzem.
[FN#10] The people of Nijd, as Wallin informs us, believe that the more
the palms are watered, the more syrup will the fruit produce; they
therefore inundate the ground, as often as possible. At Al-Jauf, where
the date is peculiarly good, the trees are watered regularly every
third or fourth day.
[FN#11] Properly meaning the Yellow Wind or Air. The antiquity of the
word and its origin are still disputed.
[FN#12] Burckhardt (Travels in Arabia, vol. ii.) informs us, that in
A.D. 1815, when Meccah, Yambu', and Jeddah suffered severely from the
plague, Al-Madinah and the open country between the two seaports
[FN#13] Conjecture, however, goes a little too far when it discovers
small-pox in the Tayr Ababil, the "swallow birds," which, according to
the Koran, destroyed the host of Abrahat al-Ashram. Major Price (Essay)
may be right in making Ababil the plural of Abilah, a vesicle; but it
appears to me that the former is an Arabic and the latter a Persian
word, which have no connection whatever. M.C. de Perceval, quoting the
Sirat al-Rasul, which says that at that time small-pox first appeared
in Arabia, ascribes the destruction of the host of Al-Yaman to an
epidemic and a violent tempest. The strangest part of the story is,
that although it occurred at Meccah, about two months before Mohammed's
birth, and, therefore, within the memory of many living at the time,
the Prophet alludes to it in the Koran as a miracle.
[FN#14] In Al-Yaman, we are told by Niebuhr, a rude form of
inoculation-the mother pricking the child's arm with a thorn-has been
known from time immemorial. My Madinah friend assured me that only
during the last generation, this practice has been introduced amongst
the Badawin of Al-Hijaz.
[FN#15] Orientals divide their diseases, as they do remedies and
articles of diet, into hot, cold, and temperate.

[FN#16] This grain is cheaper than rice on the banks of the Nile-a fact
which enlightened England, now paying a hundred times its value for
"Revalenta Arabica," apparently ignores.
[FN#17] Herodotus (Euterpe) has two allusions to eye disease, which
seems to have afflicted the Egyptians from the most ancient times.
Sesostris the Great died stone-blind; his successor lost his sight for
ten years, and the Hermaic books had reason to devote a whole volume to
ophthalmic disease. But in the old days of idolatry, the hygienic and
prophylactic practices alluded to by Herodotus, the greater cleanliness
of the people, and the attention paid to the canals and drainage,
probably prevented this malarious disease becoming the scourge which it
is now. The similarity of the soil and the climate of Egypt to those of
Upper Sind, and the prevalence of the complaint in both countries,
assist us in investigating the predisposing causes. These are, the
nitrous and pungent nature of the soil-what the old Greek calls "acrid
matter exuding from the earth,"-and the sudden transition from extreme
dryness to excessive damp checking the invisible perspiration of the
circumorbital parts, and flying to an organ which is already weakened
by the fierce glare of the sun, and the fine dust raised by the Khamsin
or the Chaliho. Glare and dust alone, seldom cause eye disease.
Everyone knows that ophthalmia is unknown in the Desert, and the people
of Al-Hijaz, who live in an atmosphere of blaze and sand, seldom lose
their sight. The Egyptian usually catches ophthalmia in his childhood.
It begins with simple conjunctivitis, caused by constitutional
predisposition, exposure, diet, and allowing the eye to be covered with
swarms of flies. He neglects the early symptoms, and cares the less for
being a Cyclops, as the infirmity will most probably exempt him from
military service. Presently the sane organ becomes affected
sympathetically. As before, simple disease of the conjunctiva passes
into purulent ophthalmia. The man, after waiting a while, will go to
the doctor and show a large cicatrix in each eye, the result of an
ulcerated cornea. Physic can do nothing for him; he remains blind for
life. He is now provided for, either by living with his friends, who
seldom refuse him a loaf of bread, or if industriously inclined, by
begging, by acting Mu'ezzin, or by engaging himself as "Yamaniyah," or
chaunter, at funerals. His children are thus predisposed to the
paternal complaint, and gradually the race becomes tender-eyed. Most
travellers have observed that imported African slaves seldom become
blind either in Egypt or in Sind. Few Englishmen settled in Egypt lose
their sight, except they be medical men, who cannot afford time to
nurse the early symptoms. The use of coffee and of water as beverages
has much to do with this. In the days of hard drinking our Egyptian
army suffered severely, and the Austrian army in Tuscany showed how
often blindness is caused by importing Northern habits into Southern
countries. Many Europeans in Egypt wash their eyes with cold water,
especially after walking, and some use once a day a mildly astringent
or cooling wash, as Goulard's lotion or vinegar and water. They avoid
letting flies settle upon their eyes, and are of opinion that the
evening dews are prejudicial, and that sleeping with open windows lays
the foundation of disease. Generally when leaving a hot room,
especially a Nile-boat cabin, for the cold damp night air, the more
prudent are careful to bathe and to wipe the eyes and forehead as a
preparation for change of atmosphere. During my short practice in Egypt
I found the greatest advantage from the employment of
counter-irritants,-blisters and Pommade Emetise,-applied to the temples
and behind the ears. Native practitioners greatly err by confining
their patients in dark rooms, thereby injuring the general health and
laying the foundation of chronic disease. They are ignorant that,
unless the optic nerve be affected, the stimulus of light is beneficial
to the eye. And the people by their dress favour the effects of glare
and dust. The Tarbush, no longer surrounded as of old by a huge
turband, is the least efficient of protectors, and the comparative
rarity of ophthalmic disease among the women, who wear veils, proves
that the exposure is one of its co-efficient causes.
[FN#18] This invention dates from the most ancient times, and both in
the East and in the West has been used by the weird brotherhood to
produce the appearances of the absent and the dead, to discover
treasure, to detect thieves, to cure disease, and to learn the secrets
of the unknown world. The Hindus called it Anjan, and formed it by
applying lamp-black, made of a certain root, and mixed with oil to the
palm of a footling child, male or female. The Greeks used oil poured
into a boy's hand. Cornelius Agrippa had a crystal mirror, which
material also served the Counts de Saint Germain and Cagliostro. Dr.
Dee's "show-stone" was a bit of cannel coal. The modern Sindians know
the art by the name of Gahno or Vinyano; there, as in Southern Persia,
ink is rubbed upon the seer's thumb-nail. The people of Northern Africa
are considered skilful in this science, and I have a Maghrabi magic
formula for inking the hand of a "boy, a black slave girl, a virgin, or
a pregnant woman," which differs materially from those generally known.
The modern Egyptians call it Zarb al-Mandal, and there is scarcely a
man in Cairo who does not know something about it. In selecting
subjects to hold the ink, they observe the right hand, and reject all
who have not what is called in palmistry the "linea media naturalis"
straight and deeply cut. Even the barbarous Finns look into a glass of
brandy, and the natives of Australia gaze at a kind of shining stone.
Lady Blessington's crystal ball is fresh in the memory of the present
generation, and most men have heard of Electro-Biology and the Cairo
magician. Upon this latter subject, a vexed one, I must venture a few
remarks. In the first account of the magician by Mr. Lane, we have a
fair and dispassionate recital of certain magical, mystical, or
mesmeric phenomena, which "excited considerable curiosity and interest
th[r]oughout the civilised world." As usual in such matters, the
civilised world was wholly ignorant of what was going on at home;
otherwise, in London, Paris, and New York, they might have found dozens
studying the science. But a few years before, Dr. Herklots had
described the same practice in India, filling three goodly pages; but
he called his work "Qanoon-i-Islam," and, consequently, despite its
excellencies, it fell still-born from the press. Lady H. Stanhope
frequently declared "the spell by which the face of an absent person is
thrown upon a mirror to be within the reach of the humblest and most
contemptible of magicians;" but the civilised world did not care to
believe a prophetess. All, however, were aroused by Mr. Lane's
discovery, and determined to decide the question by the ordeal of
reason. Accordingly, in A.D. 1844, Mr. Lane, aided by Lord Nugent and
others, discovered that a "coarse and stupid fraud" had been
perpetrated upon him by Osman Effendi, the Scotchman. In 1845, Sir G.
Wilkinson remarked of this rationalism, "The explanation lately
offered, that Osman Effendi was in collusion with the magician, is
neither fair on him nor satisfactory, as he was not present when those
cases occurred which were made so much of in Europe," and he proposed
"leading questions and accidents" as the word of the riddle. Eothen
attributed the whole affair to "shots," as schoolboys call them, and
ranked success under the head of Paley's "tentative miracles." A writer
in the Quarterly explained them by suggesting the probability of divers
(impossible) optical combinations, and, lest the part of belief should
have been left unrepresented, Miss Martineau was enabled to see clear
signs of mesmeric action, and by the decisive experiment of self,
discovered the magic to be an "affair of mesmerism." Melancholy to
relate, after all this philosophy, the herd of travellers at Cairo is
still divided in opinion about the magician, some holding his
performance to be "all humbug," others darkly hinting that "there may
be something in it."
[FN#19] They distinguish, however, between the Hijaz "Nasur" and the
"Jurh al-Yamani," or the "Yaman Ulcer."
[FN#20] I afterwards received the following information from Mr.
Charles Cole, H.B.M. Vice-Consul at Jeddah, a gentleman well acquainted
with Western Arabia, and having access to official information: "The
population of Al-Madinah is from 16,000 to 18,000, and the Nizam troops
in garrison 400. Meccah contains about 45,000 inhabitants, Yambu' from
6000 to 7000, Jeddah about 2500 (this I think is too low), and Taif
8000. Most of the troops are stationed at Meccah and at Jeddah. In
Al-Hijaz there is a total force of five battalions, each of which ought
to contain 800 men; they may amount to 3500, with 500 artillery, and
4500 irregulars, though the muster rolls bear 6000. The Government pays
in paper for all supplies, (even for water for the troops,) and the
paper sells at the rate of forty piastres per cent."
[FN#21] The Urtah or battalion here varies from 800 to 1000 men. Of
these, four form one Alai or regiment, and thirty-six Alai an Urdu or
camp. This word Urdu, pronounced "Ordoo," is the origin of our "horde."
[FN#22] One of the traditions, "Between my house and my place of
prayers is a Garden of the Gardens of Paradise," has led divines to
measure the distance: it is said to be 1000 cubits from the Bab Salam
of the Harim to this Musalla.



THE principal places of pious visitation in the vicinity of Al-Madinah
are the Mosques of Kuba, the Cemetery Al-Bakia, and the martyr Hamzah's
tomb, at the foot of Mount Ohod. These the Zair is directed by all the
Olema to visit, and on the holy ground to pray Allah for a blessing
upon himself, and upon his brethren of the faith.

Early one Saturday morning, I started for Kuba with a motley crowd of
devotees. Shaykh Hamid, my Muzawwir, was by my side, mounted upon an
ass more miserable than I had yet seen. The boy Mohammed had procured
for me a Meccan dromedary, with splendid trappings, a saddle with
burnished metal peaks before and behind, covered with a huge sheepskin
died crimson, and girthed over fine saddle-bags, whose enormous tassels
hung almost to the ground. The youth himself, being too grand to ride a
donkey, and unable to borrow a horse, preferred walking. He was proud
as a peacock, being habited in a style somewhat resembling the plume of
that gorgeous bird, in the coat of many colours-yellow, red, and golden
flowers, apparently sewed on a field of bright green silk-which cost me
so dear in the Harim. He was armed, as indeed all of us were, in
readiness for the Badawin, and he anxiously awaited opportunities of
discharging his pistol. Our course lay from Shaykh Hamid's house in the
Manakhah, along and up the

[p.399]Fiumara, "Al-Sayh," and through the Bab Kuba, a little gate in
the suburb wall, where, by-the-bye, my mounted companion was nearly
trampled down by a rush of half-wild camels. Outside the town, in this
direction, Southward, is a plain of clay, mixed with chalk, and here
and there with sand, whence protrude blocks and little ridges of
basalt. As far as Kuba, and the Harrah ridge to the West, the earth is
sweet and makes excellent gugglets.[FN#1] Immediately outside the gate
I saw a kiln, where they were burning tolerable bricks. Shortly after
leaving the suburb, an Indian, who joined our party upon the road,
pointed out on the left of the way what he declared was the place of
the celebrated Khandak, or Moat, the Torres Vedras of Arabian
History.[FN#2] Presently the Nakhil, or palm plantations, began.
Nothing lovelier to the eye, weary with hot red glare, than the rich
green waving crops and the cool shade, the "food of vision," as the
Arabs call it, and "pure water to the parched throat." For hours I
could have sat and looked at it. The air was soft and balmy; a perfumed
breeze, strange luxury in Al-Hijaz, wandered amongst the date fronds;
there were fresh flowers and bright foliage; in fact, at Midsummer,
every beautiful feature of Spring. Nothing more delightful to the ear
than the warbling of the small birds, that sweet familiar sound; the
splashing of tiny cascades from the wells into the wooden troughs,

[p.400]and the musical song of the water-wheels. Travellers-young
travellers-in the East talk of the "dismal grating," the "mournful
monotony," and the "melancholy creaking of these dismal machines." To
the veteran wanderer their sound is delightful from association,
reminding him of fields and water-courses, and hospitable villages, and
plentiful crops. The expatriated Nubian, for instance, listens to the
water-wheel with as deep emotion as the Ranz des Vaches ever excited in
the hearts of Switzer mercenary at Naples, or "Lochaber no more," among
a regiment of Highlanders in the West Indies. The date-trees of
Al-Madinah merit their celebrity. Their stately columnar stems, here,
seems higher than in other lands, and their lower fronds are allowed to
tremble in the breeze without mutilation.[FN#3] These enormous palms
were loaded with ripening fruits; and the clusters, carefully tied up,
must often have weighed upwards of eighty pounds. They hung down
between the lower branches by a bright yellow stem, as thick as a man's
ankle. Books enumerate a hundred and thirty-nine varieties of trees; of
these between sixty and seventy are well known, and each is
distinguished, as usual among Arabs, by its peculiar name. The best
kind is Al-Shelebi; it is packed in skins, or in flat round boxes
covered with paper, somewhat in the manner of French prunes, and sent
as presents to the remotest parts of the Moslem world.[FN#4] The fruit
is about two inches long, with a small stone,

[p.401]and has a peculiar aromatic flavour and smell; it is seldom
eaten by the citizens on account of the price, which varies from two to
ten piastres the pound. The tree, moreover, is rare, and is said to be
not so productive as the other species. The Ajwah[FN#5] date is eaten,
but not sold, because a tradition of the Prophet declares, that whoso
breaketh his fast every day with six or seven of these fruits, need
fear neither poison nor magic. The third kind, Al-Hilwah, also a large
date, derives a name from its exceeding sweetness: of this palm the
Moslems relate that the Prophet planted a stone, which in a few minutes
grew up and bore fruit. Next comes Al-Birni, of which was said, "It
causeth sickness to depart, and there is no sickness in it." The Wahshi
on one occasion bent its head, and "salamed" to Mohammed as he ate its
fruit, for which reason even now its lofty tuft turns earthwards. The
Sayhani (Crier) is so called, because when the founder of Al-Islam,
holding Ali's hand, happened to pass beneath, it cried, "This is
Mohammed the Prince of Prophets, and this is Ali the Prince of the
Pious, and the Progenitor of the Immaculate Imams.[FN#6]" Of course the
descendants of so intelligent a vegetable hold high rank in the kingdom
of palms, and the vulgar were in the habit of eating the Sayhani and of
throwing the stones about the Harim. The Khuzayriyah is thus named
because it preserves its green colour, even when ripe; it is dried and
preserved as a curiosity. The Jabali is the common fruit: the poorest
kinds are the Laun and

[p.402]the Hilayah, costing from four to seven piastres per mudd.[FN#7]

I cannot say that the dates of Al-Madinah are finer than those of
Meccah, although it is highly heretical to hold such tenet. The produce
of the former city was the favourite food of the Prophet, who
invariably broke his fast with it: a circumstance which invests it with
a certain degree of relic-sanctity. The citizens delight in speaking of
dates as an Irishman does of potatoes, with a manner of familiar
fondness: they eat them for medicine as well as for food; "Rutab," or
wet dates, being held to be the most saving, as it is doubtless the
most savoury, of remedies. The fruit is prepared in a great variety of
ways: the favourite dish is a broil with clarified butter, extremely
distasteful to the European palate. The date is also left upon the tree
to dry, and then called "Balah": this is eaten at dessert as the
"Nukliyat"-the quatre mendiants of Persia. Amongst peculiar
preparations must be mentioned the "Kulladat al-Sham[FN#8]" (necklace
of Sham). The unripe fruit is dipped in boiling water to preserve its
gamboge colour, strung upon a thick thread and hung out in the air to
dry. These strings are worn all over Al-Hijaz as necklaces by children,
who seldom fail to munch the ornament when not in fear of slappings;
and they are sent as presents to distant countries.

[p.403]January and February are the time for the masculation[FN#9] of
the palm. The "Nakhwali," as he is called, opens the female flower, and
having inserted the inverted male blossom, binds them together: this
operation is performed, as in Egypt, upon each cluster.[FN#10] The
fruit is ripe about the middle of May, and the gathering of it, forms
the Arabs' "vendemmia." The people make merry the more readily because
their favourite diet is liable to a variety of accidents: droughts
injure the tree, locusts destroy the produce, and the date crop, like
most productions which men are imprudent enough to adopt singly as the
staff of life, is often subject to complete failure.

One of the reasons for the excellence of Madinah dates is the quantity
of water they obtain: each garden or field has its well; and even in
the hottest weather the Persian wheel floods the soil every third day.
It has been observed that the date-tree can live in dry and barren
spots; but it loves the beds of streams and places where moisture is
procurable. The palms scattered over the other parts of the plain, and
depending solely upon rain water, produce less fruit, and that too of
an inferior quality.

Verdure is not usually wholesome in Arabia, yet invalids leave the
close atmosphere of Al-Madinah to seek health under the cool shades of
Kuba. The gardens are divided by what might almost be called lanes,
long narrow lines with tall reed fences on both sides. The graceful
branches of the Tamarisk, pearled with manna, and cottoned over with
dew, and the broad leaves of the castor plant, glistening in the sun,
protected us from the morning

[p.404]rays. The ground on both sides of the way was sunken, the earth
being disposed in heaps at the foot of the fences, an arrangement which
facilitates irrigation, by giving a fall to the water, and in some
cases affords a richer soil than the surface. This part of the Madinah
plain, however, being higher than the rest, is less subject to the
disease of salt and nitre. On the way here and there the earth crumbles
and looks dark under the dew of morning; but nowhere has it broken out
into that glittering efflorescence which denotes the last stage of the
attack. The fields and gardens are divided into small oblongs,
separated from one another by little ridges of mould which form
diminutive water-courses. Of the cereals there are luxuriant maize,
wheat, and barley, but the latter two are in small quantities. Here and
there patches of "Barsim," or Egyptian clover, glitter brightly in the
sunbeams. The principal vegetables are Badanjan (Egg-plant), the
Bamiyah (a kind of esculent hibiscus, called Bhendi in India), and
Mulukhiyah (Corchoris olitorius), a mucilaginous spinage common
throughout this part of the East. These three are eaten by citizens of
every rank; they are, in fact, the potatoes and the greens of Arabia. I
remarked also onions and leeks in fair quantities, a few beds of
carrots and beans; some Fijl (radishes), Lift (turnips), gourds,
cucumbers, and similar plants. Fruit trees abound. There are five
descriptions of vines, the best of which is Al-Sharifi, a long white
grape of a flavour somewhat resembling the produce of Tuscany.[FN#11]
Next to it, and very similar, is Al-Birni. The Hijazi is a round fruit,
sweet, but insipid, which is also the reproach of the Sawadi, or black
grape. And lastly, the Raziki is a small white fruit, with a diminutive
stone. The Nebek, Lote,

[p.405]or Jujube, is here a fine large tree with a dark green leaf,
roundish and polished like the olive; it is armed with a short, curved,
and sharp thorn,[FN#12] and bears a pale straw-coloured berry, about
the size of the gooseberry, with red streaks on the side next the sun.
Little can be said in favour of the fruit, which has been compared
successively by disappointed "Lotus eaters[FN#13]" to a bad plum, an
unripe cherry, and an insipid apple. It is, however, a favourite with
the people of Al-Madinah, who have reckoned many varieties of the
fruit: Hindi (Indian), Baladi ("native"), Tamri (date-like), and
others. There are a few peaches, hard like the Egyptian, and almost
tasteless, fit only for stewing, but greedily eaten in a half-ripe
state; large coarse bananas, lime trees, a few water-melons, figs, and
apples, but neither apricots nor pears.[FN#14] There are three kinds of
pomegranates: the best is the Shami (Syrian): it is red outside, very
sweet, and costs one piastre: the Turki is large, and of a white
colour: and the Misri has a greenish rind, and a somewhat sub-acid and
harsh flavour; the latter are sold at one-fourth the price of the best.
I never saw in the East, except at Meccah, finer fruits than the Shami:
almost stoneless like those of Maskat, they are delicately perfumed,
and as large as an infant's head. Al-Madinah is celebrated, like Taif,
for its "Rubb Rumman," a thick pomegranate syrup, drunk

[p.406]with water during the hot weather, and esteemed cooling and

After threading our way through the gardens, an operation requiring
less time than to describe them, we saw, peeping through the groves,
Kuba's simple minaret. Then we came in sight of a confused heap of huts
and dwelling-houses, chapels and towers with trees between, and foul
lanes, heaps of rubbish, and barking dogs,-the usual material of a
Hijazi village. Having dismounted, we gave our animals in charge of a
dozen infant Badawin, the produce of the peasant gardeners, who shouted
"Bakhshish" the moment they saw us. To this they were urged by their
mothers, and I willingly parted with a few paras for the purpose of
establishing an intercourse with fellow-creatures so fearfully and
wonderfully resembling the tailless baboon. Their bodies, unlike those
of Egyptian children, were slim[FN#15] and straight, but their ribs
stood out with curious distinctness; the colour of the skin was that
oily lamp-black seen upon the face of a European sweep; and the
elf-locks, thatching the cocoa-nut heads, had been stained by the sun,
wind, and rain to that reddish-brown hue which Hindu romances have
appropriated to their Rakshasas or demons. Each anatomy carried in his
arms a stark-naked miniature of himself, fierce-looking babies with
faces all eyes, and the strong little wretches were still able to
extend the right hand and exert their lungs with direful clamour. Their
mothers were fit progenitors for such progeny: long, gaunt, with
emaciated limbs, wall-sided, high-shouldered, and straight-backed, with
pendulous bosoms, spider-like arms, and splay feet. Their long
elf-locks, wrinkled faces, and high cheek-bones, their lips darker than
the epidermis, hollow staring eyes, sparkling as if to light up the

[p.407]ugliness around, and voices screaming as though in a perennial
rage, invested them with all the "charms of Sycorax." These "Houris of
Jahannam" were habited in long night-gowns dyed blue to conceal want of
washing, and the squalid children had about a yard of the same material
wrapped round their waists for all toilette. This is not an overdrawn
portrait of the farmer race of Arabs, the most despised by their
fellow-countrymen, and the most hard-favoured, morally as well as
physically, of all the breed.

Before entering the Mosque of Al-Kuba[FN#16] it will be necessary to
call to mind some passages of its past history. When the Apostle's
she-camel, Al-Kaswa, as he was approaching Al-Madinah after the flight
from Meccah, knelt down here, he desired his companions to mount the
animal. Abu Bakr and Omar[FN#17] did so; still she sat upon the ground;
but when Ali obeyed the order, she arose. The Apostle bade him loose
her halter, for she was directed by Allah, and the Mosque walls were
built upon the line over which she trod. It was the first place of
public prayer in Al-Islam. Mohammed laid the first brick, and with an
"Anzah," or iron-shod javelin, marked out the direction of
prayer[FN#18]: each of his successors followed his example. According
to most historians, the

[p.408]land belonged to Abu Ayyub the Ansari, the Apostle's host; for
which reason the "Bayt Ayyub," his descendants, still perform the
service of the Mosque, keep the key, and share with the Bawwabs, or
porters, the alms and fees here offered by the Faithful. Others
declared that the ground was the property of one Linah, a woman who was
in the habit of tethering her ass there.[FN#19] The Apostle used to
visit it every Saturday[FN#20] on foot, and always made a point of
praying the dawn-prayer there on the 17th Ramazan.[FN#21] A number of
traditions testify to its dignity: of these, two are especially
significant. The first assures all Moslems that a prayer at Kuba is
equal to a Lesser Pilgrimage at Meccah in religious efficacy; and the
second declares that such devotion is more acceptable to the Deity than
prostrations at the Bayt al-Mukuddas (Jerusalem). Moreover, sundry
miracles took place here, and a verset of the Koran descended from
heaven. For which reasons the Mosque was much respected by Omar, who,
once finding it empty, swept it himself with a broom of thorns, and
expressed his wonder at the lukewarmness of Moslem piety. It was
originally a square building of very small size; Osman enlarged it in
the direction of the minaret, making it sixty-six cubits each way. It
is no longer "mean and decayed" as in Burckhardt's time: the Sultan Abd
al-Hamid, father of

[p.409]the Sultan Mahmud, erected a minaret of Turkish shape and a neat
structure of cut stone, whose crenelles make it look more like a place
of defence than of prayer. It has, however, no preten[s]ions to
grandeur. To the South a small and narrow Riwak (porch), with
unpretending columns, looks out Northwards upon a little open area
simply sanded over; and this is the whole building.

The large Mastabah or stone bench at the entrance of the Mosque was
crowded with sitting people: we therefore lost no time, after ablution
and the Niyat ("the Intention") peculiar to this Visitation, in
ascending the steps, in pulling off our slippers, and in entering the
sacred building. We stood upon the Musalla al-Nabi (the Prophet's place
of Prayer)[FN22]: after Shaykh Nur and Hamid had forcibly cleared that
auspicious spot of a devout Indian, and had spread a rug upon the dirty
matting, we performed a two-bow prayer, in font of a pillar into which
a diminutive marble Mihrab or niche had been inserted by way of
memento. Then came the Dua, or supplication, which was as follows:

"O Allah! bless and preserve, and increase, and perpetuate, and
benefit, and be propit[i]ous to, our Lord Mohammed, and to his Family,
and to his Companions, and be Thou their Preserver! O Allah! this is
the Mosque Kuba, and the Place of the Prophet's Prayers. O Allah!
pardon our Sins, and veil our Faults, and place not over us one who
feareth not Thee, and who pitieth not us, and pardon us, and the true
Believers, Men and Women, the Quick of them and the Dead: for verily
Thou, O Lord, art the Hearer, the near to us, the Answerer of our
Supplications." After which we recited the Testification and the
Fatihah, and we drew our palms as usual down our faces.

We then moved away to the South-Eastern corner of the edifice, and
stood before a Mihrab in the Southern wall.

[p.410]It is called "Takat al-Kashf" or "Niche of Disclosure," by those
who believe that as the Prophet was standing undecided about the
direction of Meccah, the Archangel Gabriel removed all obstructions to
his vision. There again we went through the two-bow prayer, the
Supplication, the Testification, and the Fatihah, under difficulties,
for people mobbed us excessively. During our devotions, I vainly
attempted to decipher a Cufic inscription fixed in the wall above and
on the right of the Mihrab,-my regret however, at this failure was
transitory, the character not being of an ancient date. Then we left
the Riwak, and despite the morning sun which shone fiercely with a
sickly heat, we went to the open area where stands the "Mabrak
al-Nakah," or the "Place of kneeling of the she-Dromedary.[FB#23]"
This, the exact spot where Al-Kaswa sat down, is covered with a
diminutive dome of cut stone, supported by four stone pillars: the
building is about eight feet high and a little less in length and in
breadth. It has the appearance of being modern. On the floor, which was
raised by steps above the level of the ground, lay, as usual, a bit of
dirty matting, upon which we again went through, the ceremonies above

Then issuing from the canopy into the sun, a little outside the Riwak
and close to the Mabrak, we prayed upon the "Makan al-Ayat,[FN#24]" or
the "Place of Signs." Here was revealed to Mohammed a passage in the
Koran especially alluding to the purity of the place and of the people
of Kuba, "a Temple founded in Purity from its first Day;" and again:
"there live Men who love to be

[p.411]cleansed, and verily Allah delights in the Clean." The Prophet
exclaimed in admiration, "O ye Sons of Amr! what have ye done to
deserve all this Praise and Beneficence?" when the people offered him
an explanation of their personal cleanliness which I do not care to
repeat. The temple of Kuba from that day took a fresh title-Masjid
al-Takwa, or the "Mosque of Piety."

Having finished our prayers and ceremonies at the Mosque of Piety, we
fought our way out through a crowd of importunate beggars, and turning
a few paces to the left, halted near a small chapel adjoining the
South-West angle of the larger temple. We there stood at a grated
window in the Western wall, and recited a Supplication, looking the
while reverently at a dark dwarf archway under which the Lady Fatimah
used to sit grinding grain in a hand-mill. The Mosque in consequence
bears the name of Sittna Fatimah. A surly-looking Khadim, or guardian
stood at the door demanding a dollar in the most authoritative Arab
tone-we therefore did not enter.

At Al-Madinah and at Meccah the traveller's hand must be perpetually in
his pouch: no stranger in Paris or in London is more surely or more
severely taken in. Already I began to fear that my eighty pounds would
not suffice for all the expenses of sight-seeing, and the apprehension
was justified by the sequel. My only friend was the boy Mohammed, who
displayed a fiery economy that brought him into considerable disrepute
with his countrymen. They saw with emotion that he was preaching
parsimony to me solely that I might have more money to spend at Meccah
under his auspices. This being palpably the case, I threw all the blame
of penuriousness upon the young Machiavel's shoulders, and resolved, as
he had taken charge of my finances at Al-Madinah, so at Meccah to
administer them myself.

After praying at the window, to the great disgust of the Khadim, who
openly asserted that we were "low

[p.412]fellows," we passed through some lanes lined with beggars and
Badawi children, till we came to a third little Mosque situated due
South of the larger one. This is called the Masjid Arafat, and is
erected upon a mound also named Tall Arafat, because on one occasion
the Prophet, being unable to visit the Holy Mountain at the pilgrimage
season, stood there, saw through the intervening space, and in spirit
performed the ceremony. Here also we looked into a window instead of
opening the door with a silver key, and the mesquin appearance of all
within prevented my regretting the necessity of economy. In India or in
Sind every village would have a better Mosque. Our last visit was to a
fourth chapel, the Masjid Ali, so termed because the Apostle's
son-in-law had a house upon this spot.[FN#25] After praying there-and
terribly hot the little hole was!-we repaired to the last place of
visitation at Kuba-a large deep well called the Bir al-Aris, in a
garden to the West of the Mosque of Piety, with a little oratory
adjoining it. A Persian wheel was going drowsily round, and the cool
water fell into a tiny pool, whence it whirled and bubbled away in
childish mimicry of a river. The music sounded sweet in my ears; I
stubbornly refused to do any more praying-though Shaykh Hamid, for
form's sake, reiterated with parental emphasis, "how very wrong it
was,"-and I sat down, as the Prophet himself did not disdain to do,
with the resolution of enjoying on the brink of the well a few moments
of unwonted "Kayf." The heat was overpowering, though it was only nine
o'clock, the sound of the stream was soothing, that water-wheel was
creaking a lullaby, and the limes and pomegranates, gently rustling,
shed voluptuous fragrance through the morning air. I fell asleep,
and-wondrous the contrast!-dreamed that I was once more standing

"By the wall whereon hangeth the crucified vine,"

[p.413]looking upon the valley of the Lianne, with its glaucous seas
and grey skies, and banks here and there white with snow.

The Bir al-Aris,[FN#26] so called after a Jew of Al-Madinah, is one
which the Apostle delighted to visit. He would sit upon its brink with
his bare legs hanging over the side, and his companions used to imitate
his example. This practice caused a sad disaster. In the sixth year of
his caliphate, Osman, according to Abulfeda and Yakut, dropped from his
finger the propheti[c] ring which, engraved in three lines with
"Mohammed-Apostle-(of) Allah," had served to seal the letters sent to
neighbouring kings, and had descended to the first three
successors.[FN#27] The precious article was not recovered after three
days' search, and the well was thenceforward called Bir al-Khatim-of
the Seal Ring. It is also called the Bir al-Taflat-of
Saliva[FN#28]-because the Prophet honoured it by expectoration, as,
by-the-bye, he seems to have done to almost all the wells in
Al-Madinah. The effect of the operation upon the Bir al-Aris, says the
historians, was to sweeten the water, which before was salt. Their
testimony, however, did not prevent my detecting a pronounced medicinal
taste in the lukewarm draught drawn for me by Shaykh Hamid. In
Mohammed's days the total number of wells is recorded to

[p.414] have been twenty: most of them have long since disappeared; but
there still remain seven, whose waters were drunk by the Prophet, and
which, in consequence, the Zair is directed to visit.[FN#29] They are
known by the classical title of Saba Abar, or the seven wells, and
their names are included in this couplet:

"Aris and Ghars, and Rumah and Buza'at
And Busat, with Bayruha and Ihn."[FN#30]

[p.415]After my sleep, which was allowed to last until a pipe or two of
Latakia had gone round the party, we remounted our animals. Returning
towards Al-Madinah, my companions pointed out to me, on the left of the
village, a garden called Al-Madshuniyah. It contains a quarry of the
yellow loam or bole-earth, called by the Arabs, Tafl, by the Persians,
Gil-i-Sarshui, and by the Sindians, Metu. It is used as soap in many
parts of the East, and, mixed with oil, it is supposed to cool the
body, and to render the skin fresh and supple. It is related that the
Prophet cured a Badawi of the Benu Haris tribe, of fever, by washing
him with a pot of Tafl dissolved in water, and hence the earth of
Al-Madinah derived its healing fame. As far as I could learn from the
Madani, this clay is no longer valued by them, either medicinally or
cosmetically: the only use they could mention was its being eaten by
the fair sex, when in the peculiar state described by "chlorosis."

[FN#1] The Baradiyah or gugglets of Al-Madinah are large and heavy, of
a reddish-grey colour, and celebrated for cooling water, a property not
possessed by those of Meccan fabric.
[FN#2] I afterwards found reason to doubt this location. Ibn Jubayr
(12th century), places it an arrow-shot from the Westward wall of
Al-Madinah, and seems to have seen it. M.C. de Perceval states, I know
not upon whose authority, that it was dug to protect the North-west,
the North, and the North-eastern sides of the town: this is rendered
highly improbable by the features of the ground. The learned are
generally agreed that all traces of the moat had disappeared before our
15th century.
[FN#3] In Egypt, the lower branches of the date are lopped off about
Christmas time to increase the flavour of the fruit; and the people
believe that without this "Taklim," as it is called, the tree would
die. In Upper Egypt, however, as at Al-Madinah, the fronds are left
[FN#4] The visitor from Al-Madinah would be badly received by the women
of his family, if he did not present them on his return with a few
boxes of dates, some strings of the same fruit, and skins full of henna
powder. Even the Olema allow such articles to be carried away, although
they strictly forbid keepsakes of earth or stone.
[FN#5] This fruit must not be confounded with the enucleated conserve
of dates, which in Arabia, as in Egypt, is known by the name of Ajwah.
The Arabs infinitely despise the stuff sold at Alexandria and Cairo,
declaring that it is fit only for cows. The Ajwah of the Oases,
particularly of Siwah, is of excellent quality.
[FN#6] So in A.D. 1272 the Crucifix spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas.
Superstitions are of no age or country.
[FN#7] At Al-Madinah-
12 Dirhams--------------(drams)------------------make 1 Wukkiyah
20 Wukkiyah-------------------------------------------1 Ratl (pound).
33 Wukkiyah and 3-------(drams)-----------------------1 Wukkah (less
than 2 lbs).
 4 Wukkah---------------------------------------------1 Mudd.
24 Mudd-----------------------------------------------1 Ardeb.
This Ratl, or pound, is the larger one applied to particular articles
of commerce-such as meat, vegetables, and clarified butter; coffee,
rice, soap, &c., are sold by the smaller Ratl of Meccah, equal to 140
dirhams. In Egypt, the Ratl is 144 Dirhams or 12 Wukkiyahs,-about 1 lb.
2 oz. and 8 dwts. troy.
[FN#8] "Necklace of Syria." I was told they derive this name from the
place where they are made. "Al-Safra" (on the Meccah road) being also
called Al-Sham (Damascus).
[FN#9] This is a translation of the Arab word "Tazkir," which is
certainly more appropriate than our "caprification" applied to dates.
[FN#10] The male tree is known by its sterility. In some countries only
the fecundating pollen is scattered over the female flower, and this
doubtless must have been Nature's method of impregnating the date.
[FN#11] The resemblance is probably produced by the similarity of
treatment. At Al-Madinah, as in Italy, the vine is "married" to some
tall tree, which, selfish as a husband, appropriates to itself the best
of everything,-sun, breeze, and rain.
[FN#12] This thorn (the Rhamnus Nabeca, or Zizyphus Spina Christi) is
supposed to be that which crowned the Saviour's head. There are Mimosas
in Syria; but no tree, save the fabled Zakhum, could produce the
terrible apparatus with which certain French painters of the modern
school have attempted to heighten the terrors of the scene.
[FN#13] For what reason I am entirely unable to guess, our dictionaries
translate the word Sidr (the literary name of the tree that bears the
Nebek) "Lote-tree." No wonder that believers in "Homeric writ" feel
their anger aroused by so poor a realisation of the beautiful myth.
[FN#14] The only pears in Al-Hijaz, I believe, are to be found at Taif,
to which place they were transplanted from Egypt.
[FN#15] Travellers always remark the curious pot-bellied children on
the banks of the Nile. This conformation is admired by the Egyptians,
who consider it a sign of strength and a promise of fine growth.
[FN#16] I believe Kuba to be about three miles S.S.E. of Al-Madinah;
but Al-Idrisi, Ibn Haukal, and Ibn Jubayr all agree in saying two miles.
[FN#17] Osman, the fourth Companion, was absent at this time, not
having returned from the first or Little Flight to Abyssinia.
[FN#18] Some believe that in this Mosque the direction of prayer was
altered from Jerusalem to Meccah, and they declare, as will presently
be seen, that the Archangel Gabriel himself pointed out the new line.
M.C. de Perceval forgets his usual accuracy when he asserts "le Mihrab
de la Mosquee de Medine, qui fut d'abord place au Nord, fut transfere
au Midi: et la Mosquee prit le nom de ‘Masjid-el-Kiblatayn,' Mosquee
des deux Kiblah. In the first place, the Mihrab is the invention of a
later date, about ninety years; and, secondly, the title of Al-Kiblatyn
is never now given to the Mosque of Al-Madinah.
[FN#19] This degrading report caused certain hypocrites to build a kind
of rival chapel called the Mosque Zarar. It was burnt to the ground
shortly after its erection, and all known of it is, that it stood near
[FN#20] Some say on Monday, probably because on that day Mohammed
alighted at Kuba. But the present practice of Al-Islam, handed down
from generation to generation, is to visit it on the Saturday.
[FN#21] There is on this day at Kuba a regular Ziyarat or visitation.
The people pray in the Harim of Al-Madinah, after which they repair to
the Kuba Mosque, and go through the ceremonies which in religious
efficacy equal an Umrah or Lesser pilgrimage. In books I have read that
the 15th of Ramazan is the proper day.
[FN#22] This is believed to be the spot where the Prophet performed his
first Rukat, or prayer-bow.
[FN#23] "Mabrak" is the locative noun from the triliteral root
"Baraka-he blessed, or he (the camel) knelt upon the ground." Perhaps
this philological connection may have determined Mohammed to consider
the kneeling of the dromedary a sign that Allah had blessed the spot.
[FN#24] "Ayat" here means a verset of the Koran. Some authors apply the
above quoted lines to the Prophet's Mosque at Al-Madinah exclusively,
others to both buildings.
[FN#25] Ibn Jubayr informs us that Abu Bakr, Ayishah, and Omar had
habitations at Kuba.
[FN#26] Some authors mention a second Bir al-Aris, belonging in part to
the Caliph Osman. According to Yakut, "Aris" is the Hebrew or Syriac
word for a peasant; he quotes the plural form Arisun and Ararisah.
[FN#27] Others assert, with less probability, that the article in
question was lost by one Ma'akah, a favourite of Osman. As that
ill-fated Caliph's troubles began at the time of this accident, the
ring is generally compared to Solomon's. Our popular authors, who
assert that Mohammed himself lost the ring, are greatly in error.
[FN#28] According to some authors, Mohammed drew a bucket of water,
drank part of the contents, spat into the rest, and poured it back into
the well, which instantly became sweet. Ibn Jubayr applies the epithet
Bir Al-Taflat peculiarly to the Aris well: many other authors are not
so exact.
[FN#29] The pious perform the Lesser Ablution upon the brink of the
seven wells, and drink of the remnant of the water in "Tabarruk" or to
secure the blessings of God.
[FN#30] Some alter the 3rd, the 5th, and the 7th names to Bir al-Nabi,
a well in the Kuba gardens, Bir al-Ghurbal, and Bir al-Fukayyir, where
the Prophet, together with Salman the Persian and others of his
companions, planted date trees. The Bir al-Aris has already been
described. The Bir al-Ghars, Gharas or Ghurs, so called, it is said,
from the place where it was sunk, about half a mile N.E. of the Kuba
Mosque, is a large well with an abundance of water. Mohammed used to
perform ablution on its brink, and directed Ali to wash his corpse with
seven skins full of the water. The Bir Rumah is a large well with a
spring at the bottom, dug in the Wady al-Akik, to the north of the
Mosque Al-Kiblatayn. It is called "Kalib Mazni" (the old well of
Mazni), in this tradition; "the best of old wells is the old well of
Mazni." And ancient it must be if the legend say true, that when Abu
Karb besieged Al-Madinah (A.D. 495), he was relieved of sickness by
drinking its produce. Some assert that it afforded the only sweet water
in Al-Madinah when the Prophet arrived there. The town becoming crowded
by an influx of visitors, this water was sold by its owner, a man of
the Benu Ghaffar tribe, or according to others, by one Mazni, a Jew.
Osman at last bought it by paying upwards of 100 camels. The Bir
Buza'at, or Biza'at, or Bisa'at, is in the Nakhil or palm plantations,
outside the Bab al-Shami or North-western gate of Al-Madinah on the
right of the road leading to Ohod. Whoever washes in its waters three
times shall be healed. The Bir Busat is near the Bakia cemetery, on the
left of the road leading to Kuba. The Prophet used to bathe in the
water, and he declared it healthy to the skin. The Bir Bayruha, under
whose trees the Prophet was fond of sitting, lies outside the Bab Dar
al-Ziyafah, leading to Mount Ohod. The Kamus gives the word "Bayruha
upon the measure of Fayluha." Some authorities upon the subject of
Ziyarat, write Bayruha, "Bir Ha,"-the well of Ha, and variously suppose
"Ha" to be the name of a man, a woman, or a place. Yahut mentions other
pronunciations: "Bariha," "Bariha," "Bayriha," &c. The Bir Ihn is in a
large garden E. of Kuba. Little is said in books about this well, and
the people of Al-Madinah do not know the name.

[p.416]CHAPTER XX.


ON the morning of Sunday, the twenty-third Zu'l Ka'adah (28th August,
1853), arrived from Al-Sham, or Damascus,[FN#1] the great Caravan
popularly called Hajj al-Shami, the "Damascus pilgrimage," as the
Egyptian Cafila is Al-Misri,[FN#2] or the Cairo pilgrimage. It is the
main stream which carries off all the small currents that, at this
season of general movement, flow from Central Asia towards the great
centre of the Islamitic world, and in 1853 it amounted to about seven
thousand souls. The arrival was anxiously expected by the people for
several reasons. In the first place, it brought with it a new curtain
for the Prophet's Hujrah, the old one being in a tattered condition;
secondly, it had charge of the annual stipends and pensions of the
citizens; and thirdly, many families expected members returning under
its escort to their homes. The popular anxiety was greatly increased by
the disordered state of the country round about; and, moreover, the
great caravan had been one day late, generally arriving on the morning
of the twenty-second Zu'l Ka'adah.[FN#3]

[p.417]During the night three of Shaykh Hamid's brothers, who had
entered as Muzawwirs with the Hajj, came suddenly to the house: they
leaped off their camels, and lost not a moment in going through the
usual scene of kissing, embracing, and weeping bitterly for joy. I
arose in the morning, and looked out from the windows of the Majlis.
The Barr al-Manakhah, from a dusty waste dotted with a few Badawi
hair-tents, had assumed all the various shapes and the colours of a
kaleidoscope. The eye was bewildered by the shifting of innumerable
details, in all parts totally different from one another, thrown
confusedly together in one small field; and, however jaded with
sight-seeing, it dwelt with delight upon the variety, the vivacity, and
the intense picturesqueness of the scene. In one night had sprung up a
town of tents of every size, colour, and shape; round, square, and
oblong; open and closed,-from the shawl-lined and gilt-topped pavilion
of the Pasha, with all the luxurious appurtenances of the Harim, to its
neighbour the little dirty green "rowtie" of the tobacco-seller. They
were pitched in admirable order: here ranged in a long line,

[p.418]where a street was required; there packed in dense masses, where
thoroughfares were unnecessary. But how describe the utter confusion in
the crowding, the bustling, and the vast variety and volume of sound?
Huge white Syrian dromedaries, compared with which those of Al-Hijaz
appeared mere pony-camels, jingling large bells, and bearing
Shugdufs[FN#4] (litters) like miniature green tents, swaying and
tossing upon their backs; gorgeous Takht-rawan, or litters carried
between camels or mules with scarlet and brass trappings; Badawin
bestriding naked-backed "Daluls[FN#5]" (dromedaries), and clinging like
apes to the hairy humps; Arnaut, Kurd, and Turkish Irregular Cavalry,
fiercer looking in their mirth than Roman peasants in their rage;
fainting Persian pilgrims, forcing their stubborn camels to kneel, or
dismounted grumbling from jaded donkeys; Kahwajis, sherbet sellers, and
ambulant tobacconists crying their goods; country-people driving flocks
of sheep and goats with infinite clamour through lines of horses
fiercely snorting and biting and kicking and rearing; townspeople
seeking their friends; returned travellers exchanging affectionate
salutes; devout Hajis jostling one another, running under the legs of
camels, and tumbling over the tents' ropes in their hurry to reach the
Harim; cannon roaring from the citadel; shopmen, water-carriers, and
fruit vendors fighting over their bargains; boys with loud screams
bullying heretics; a well-mounted

[p.419]party of fine old Arab Shaykhs of the Hamidah clan, preceded by
their varlets, performing the Arzah or war dance,-compared with which
the Pyrenean bear's performance is grace itself,-firing their duck-guns
upwards, or blowing the powder into the calves of those before them,
brandishing their swords, leaping frantically the while, with their
bright coloured rags floating in the wind, tossing their long spears
tufted with ostrich feathers high in the air, reckless where they fall;
servants seeking their masters, and masters their tents, with vain
cries of Ya Mohammed[FN#6]; grandees riding mules or stalking on foot,
preceded by their crowd-beaters, shouting to clear the way; here the
loud shrieks of women and children, whose litters are bumping and
rasping against one another; there the low moaning of some poor wretch
that is seeking a shady corner to die in: add a thick dust which blurs
the outlines like a London fog, with a flaming sun that draws sparkles
of fire from the burnished weapons of the crowd, and the brass balls of
tent and litter; and-I doubt, gentle reader, that even the length, the
jar, and the confusion of this description is adequate to its subject,
or that any "word-painting" of mine can convey a just idea of the scene.

This was the day appointed for our visiting the martyrs of Ohod. After
praying the dawn prayers as directed at the Harim, we mounted our
donkeys; and, armed with pistols and knives, we set out from the city.
Our party was large. Sa'ad the Demon had offered to accompany us, and
the bustle around kept him in the best of humours; Omar Effendi was
also there, quiet-looking and humble as usual, leading his ass to avoid
the trouble of dismounting every second minute.[FN#7] I had the boy

[p.420]Mohammed and my "slave," and Shaykh Hamid was attended by half a
dozen relations. To avoid the crush of the Barr al-Manakhah, we made a
detour Westwards, over the bridge and down the course of the
torrent-bed "Al-Sayh." We then passed along the Southern wall of the
castle, traversed its Eastern outwork, and issued from the Bab
al-Shami. During the greater part of the time we were struggling
through a living tide; and among dromedaries and chargers a donkey is
by no means a pleasant monture. With some difficulty, but without any
more serious accident than a fall or two, we found ourselves in the
space beyond and northward of the city. This also was covered with
travellers and tents, amongst which on an eminence to the left of the
road, rose conspicuous the bright green pavilion of the Emir Al-Hajj,
the commandant of the Caravan.[FN#8] Hard by, half its height
surrounded by a Kanat or tent wall, stood the Syrian or Sultan's Mahmil
(litter), all glittering with green and gilding and gold, and around it
were pitched the handsome habitations of the principal officers and
grandees of the pilgrimage. On the right hand lay extensive palm
plantations, and on the left, strewed over the plain, were signs of
wells and tanks, built to supply the Hajj with water. We pass two small
buildings, one the Kubbat Al-Sabak, or Dome of Precedence, where the
Prophet's warrior friends used to display their horsemanship;

[p.421]the second the Makan, or burial-place of Sayyidna Zaki al-Din,
one of Mohammed's multitudinous descendants. Then we fall into a plain,
resembling that of Kuba, but less fertile. While we are jogging over
it, a few words concerning Mount Ohod may not be misplaced. A popular
distich says,

"Verily there is healing to the eye that looks
Unto Ohod and the two Harrahs[FN#9] (ridges) near."

And of this holy hill the Apostle declared, "Ohod is a Mountain which
loves Us and which We love: it is upon the Gate of Heaven[FN#10];"

[p.422]"And Ayr[FN#11] is a Place which hates Us and which We hate: it
is upon the Gate of Hell." The former sheltered Mohammed in the time of
danger; therefore, on Resurrection Day it will be raised to Paradise:
whereas Jabal Ayr, its neighbour, having been so ill-judged as to
refuse the Prophet water on an occasion while he thirsted, will be cast
incontinently into Jahannam. Moslem divines, be it observed, ascribe to
Mohammed miraculous authority over animals, vegetables, and minerals,
as well as over men, angels, and jinnis. Hence the speaking wolf, the
weeping post, the oil-stone, and the love and hate of these two
mountains. It is probably one of the many remains of ancient paganism
pulled down and afterwards used to build up the edifice of Al-Islam.
According to the old Persians, the sphere has an active soul. Some
sects of Hindus believe "mother earth," upon whose bosom we little
parasites crawl, to be a living being. This was a dogma also amongst
the ancient Egyptians, who denoted it by a peculiar symbol,-the globe
with human legs. Hence the "Makrokosmos" of the plagiaristic Greeks,
the animal on a large scale, whose diminutive was the
"Mikrokosmos"-man. Tota natura, repeats Malpighi, existit in minimis.
Amongst the Romans, Tellus or Terra was a female deity,
anthropomorphised according to their syncretic system, which furnished
with strange gods their Pantheon, but forgot to append the scroll
explaining the inner sense of

[p.423]the symbol. And some modern philosophers, Kepler, Blackmore, and
others, have not scrupled to own their belief in a doctrine which as
long as "Life" is a mere word on man's tongue, can neither be proved
nor disproved. The Mohammedans, as usual, exaggerate the dogma,-a Hadis
related by Abu Hurayrah casts on the day of judgment the sun and the
moon into hell fire.

Jabal Ohod owes its present reputation to a cave which sheltered the
Apostle when pursued by his enemies[FN#12]; to certain springs of which
he drank,[FN#13] and especially to its being the scene of a battle
celebrated in Al-Islam. On Saturday, the 11th Shawwal, in the third
year of the Hijrah (26th January, A.D. 625), Mohammed with seven
hundred men engaged three thousand Infidels under the command of Abu
Sufiyan; ran great personal danger, and lost his uncle Hamzah, the
"Lord of Martyrs." On the topmost pinnacle, also, is the Kubbat Harun,
the dome erected over Aaron's remains. It is now, I was told, in a
ruinous condition, and is placed upon the "pinnacle of seven
hills[FN#14]" in a position somewhat like that of certain buildings on
St. Angelo in the Bay of Naples. Alluding to the toil of reaching it,
the Madani quote a facetious rhyme inscribed upon the wall by one of
their number who had wasted his breath:-

"Malun ibn Malun
Man tala'a Kubbat Harun!"

Anglice, "The man must be a ruffian who climbs up to Aaron's dome."
Devout Moslems visit Ohod every Thursday morning after the dawn
devotions in the

[p.424]Harim; pray for the Martyrs; and, after going through the
ceremonies, return to the Harim in time for mid-day worship. On the
12th of Rajab, Zairs come out in large bodies from the city, encamp on
the plain for three or four days, and pass the time in feasting,
jollity, and devotion, as is usual at pilgrimages and at saints'
festivals in general.

After half an hour's ride we came to the Mustarah or resting-place, so
called because the Prophet sat here for a few minutes on his way to the
battle of Ohod. It is a newly-built square enclosure of dwarf
whitewashed walls, within which devotees pray. On the outside fronting
Al-Madinah is a seat like a chair of rough stones. Here I was placed by
my Muzawwir, who recited an insignificant supplication to be repeated
after him. At its end with the Fatihah and accompaniments, we remounted
our asses and resumed our way. Travelling onwards, we came in sight of
the second Harrah or ridge. It lies to the right and left of the road,
and resembles lines of lava, but I had not an opportunity to examine it
narrowly.[FN#15] Then we reached the gardens of Ohod, which reflect in
miniature those of Kuba; and presently we arrived at what explained the
presence of verdure and vegetable life,-a deep Fiumara full of loose
sand and large stones denoting an impetuous stream. It flows along the
Southern base of Ohod, said to be part of the plain of Al-Madinah, and
it collects the drainage of the high lands lying to the South and
South-east. The bed becomes impassable after rain, and sometimes the
torrents overflow the neighbouring gardens. By the direction of this
Fiumara I judged that it must supply the Ghabbah or "basin" in the
hills north of the plain. Good authorities,

[p.425]however, informed me that a large volume of water will not stand
there, but flows down the beds that wind through the Ghats westward of
Al-Madinah, and falls into the sea near the harbour of Wijh. To the
south of the Fiumara is a village on an eminence, containing some large
brick houses now in a ruinous state; these are the villas of opulent
and religious citizens who visited the place for change of air,
recreation, and worship at Hamzah's tomb. Our donkeys presently sank
fetlock-deep in the loose sand of the torrent-bed. Then reaching the
Northern side, and ascending a gentle slope, we found ourselves upon
the battle-field.

This spot, so celebrated in the annals of Al-Islam, is a shelving strip
of land, close to the Southern base of Mount Ohod. The army of the
Infidels advanced from the Fiumara in crescent shape, with Abu Sufiyan,
the general, and his idols in the centre. It is distant about three
miles from Al-Madinah, in a Northerly direction.[FN#16] All the visitor
sees is hard gravelly ground, covered with little heaps of various
coloured granite, red sandstone, and bits of porphyry, to denote the
different places where the martyrs fell, and were buried.[FN#17] Seen
from this point, there is something appalling in the look of the Holy
Mountain. Its seared and jagged flanks rise like masses of iron from
the plain, and the crevice into which the Moslem host retired, when the
disobedience of the archers in hastening to plunder enabled Khalid bin
Walid to fall upon Mohammed's rear, is the only break in the grim wall.
Reeking with heat, its surface produces

[p.426]not one green shrub or stunted tree; neither bird nor beast
appeared upon its inhospitable sides, and the bright blue sky glaring
above its bald and sullen brow, made it look only the more repulsive. I
was glad to turn away my eyes from it.

To the left of the road North of the Fiumara, and leading to the
mountains, stands Hamzah's Mosque, which, like the Harim of Al-Madinah,
is a Mausoleum as well as a fane. It is a small strongly built square
of hewn stone, with a dome covering the solitary hypostyle to the
South, and the usual minaret. The Westward wing is a Zawiyah or
oratory,[FN#18] frequented by the celebrated Sufi and Saint, Mohammed
al-Samman, the "Clarified Butter-Seller," one of whose blood, the
reader will remember, stood by my side in the person of Shaykh Hamid.
On the Eastern side of the building a half wing projects; and a small
door opens to the South, upon a Mastabah or stone bench five or six
feet high: this completes the square of the edifice. On the right of
the road opposite Hamzah's Mosque, is a large erection, now in ruins,
containing a deep hole leading to a well, with huge platforms for the
accommodation of travellers. Beyond, towards the mountains, are the
small edifices presently to be described.

Some Turkish women were sitting veiled upon the shady platform opposite
the Martyrs' Mosque. At a little distance their husbands, and the
servants holding horses and asses, lay upon the ground, and a large
crowd of Badawin, boys, girls, and old women, had gathered around to
beg, draw water, and sell dry dates. They

[p.427]were awaiting the guardian, who had not yet acknowledged the
summons. After half an hour's vain patience, we determined to proceed
with the ceremonies. Ascending by its steps the Mastabah subtending
half the Eastern wall, Shaykh Hamid placed me so as to front the tomb.
There standing in the burning sun, we repeated the following prayer:
"Peace be upon Thee, O our Lord Hamzah! O Paternal Uncle of Allah's
Apostle! O Paternal Uncle of Allah's Prophet! Peace be upon Thee, O
Paternal Uncle of Mustafa! Peace be upon Thee, O Prince of the Martyrs!
O Prince of the Happy! Peace be upon Thee, O Lion of Allah! O Lion of
His Prophet!" After which, we asked Hamzah and his companions to lend
us their aid in obtaining for us and ours pardon, worldly prosperity
and future happiness. Scarcely had we finished, when, mounted on a
high-trotting dromedary, appeared the emissary of Mohammed Kalifah,
descendant of Al-Abbas, who keeps the key of the Mosque, and who
receives the fees and donations of the devout. It was to be opened for
the Turkish pilgrims. I waited to see the interior. The Arab drew forth
from his pouch, with abundant solemnity, a bunch of curiously made
keys, and sharply directed me to stand away from and out of sight of
the door. When I obeyed, grumblingly, he began to rattle the locks, and
to snap the padlocks, opening them slowly, shaking them, and making as
much noise as possible. The reason of the precaution-it sounded like
poetry if not sense-is this. It is believed that the souls of martyrs,
leaving the habitations of their senseless clay,
[FN#19] are fond of sitting together in spiritual

[p.428]converse, and profane eye must not fall upon the scene. What
grand pictures these imaginative Arabs see! Conceive the majestic
figures of the saints-for the soul with Mohammedans is like the old
European spirit, a something immaterial in the shape of the body-with
long grey beards, earnest faces, and solemn eyes, reposing beneath the
palms, and discussing events now buried in the gloom of a thousand
years. I would fain be hard upon this superstition, but shame prevents.
When in Nottingham, eggs may not be carried out after sunset; when
Ireland hears Banshees, or apparitional old women, with streaming hair,
and dressed in blue mantles; when Scotland sees a shroud about a
person, showing his approaching death; when France has her loup-garous,
revenants, and poules du Vendredi Saint (i.e. hens hatched on Good
Friday supposed to change colour every year): as long as the Holy Coat
cures devotees at Treves, Madonnas wink at Rimini, San Januario melts
at Naples, and Addolorate and Estatiche make converts to hysteria at
Rome: whilst the Virgin manifests herself to children on the Alps and
in France, whilst Germany sends forth Psychography, whilst Europe, the
civilised, the enlightened, the sceptical, dotes over clairvoyance and
table-turning, and whilst even hard-headed America believes in
"mediums," in "snail-telegraphs," and "spirit-rappings,"[FN#20]-I must
hold the men of Al-Madinah to be as wise, and their superstition to be
as respectable, as that of others. But the realities of Hamzah's Mosque
have little to recommend them. The building is like that of Kuba, only
smaller: and the hypostyle is hung with oil lamps and ostrich eggs, the
usual paltry furniture of an Arab

[p.429]mausoleum. On the walls are a few modern inscriptions and framed
poetry, written in a calligraphic hand. Beneath the Riwak lies Hamzah,
under a mass of black basaltic stone,[FN#21] resembling that of Aden,
only more porous and scoriaceous, convex at the top, like a heap of
earth, without the Kiswah,[FN#22] or cover of a saint's tomb, and
railed round with wooden bars. At his head, or westward, lies Abdullah
bin Jaysh, a name little known to fame, under a plain whitewashed tomb,
also convex; and in the courtyard is a similar pile, erected over the
remains of Shammas bin Osman, another obscure Companion.[FN#23] We then
passed through a door in the Northern part of the Western wall, and saw
a diminutive palm plantation and a well. After which we left the
Mosque, and I was under the "fatal necessity" of paying a dollar for
the honour of entering it. But the guardian promised that the chapters
Y.S. and Al-Ikhlas should be recited for my benefit, the latter forty
times; and if their efficacy be one-twentieth part of what men say it
is, the reader cannot quote against me a certain popular proverb
concerning an order of men easily parted from their money.

Issuing from the Mosque, we advanced a few paces towards the mountain.
On our left we passed by-at a respectful distance, for the Turkish
Hajis cried out that their women were engaged in ablution-a large
Sahrij or tank, built of cut stone with steps, and intended to detain

[p.430] the overflowing waters of the torrent. The next place we prayed
at was a small square, enclosed with dwarf whitewashed walls,
containing a few graves denoted by ovals of loose stones thinly spread
upon the ground. This is primitive Arab simplicity. The Badawin still
mark the places of their dead with four stones planted at the head, the
feet, and the sides; in the centre the earth is either heaped up
Musannam (i.e. like the hump of a camel), or more generally left
Musattah (level). I therefore suppose that the latter was the original
shape of the Prophet's tomb. Within the enclosure certain martyrs of
the holy army were buried. After praying there, we repaired to a small
building still nearer to the foot of the mountain. It is the usual
cupola springing from four square walls, not in the best preservation.
Here the Prophet prayed, and it is called the Kubbat al-Sanaya, "Dome
of the Front Teeth," from the following circumstance. Five Infidels
were bound by oath to slay Mohammed at the battle of Ohod: one of
these, Ibn Kumayyah, threw so many stones, and with such goodwill, that
two rings of the Prophet's helmet were driven into his cheek, and blood
poured from his brow down his mustachios, which he wiped with a cloak
to prevent the drops falling to the ground. Then Utbah bin Abi Wakkas
hurled a stone at him, which, splitting his lower lip, knocked out one
of his front teeth.[FN#24] On the left of the Mihrab, inserted low down
in the wall, is a square stone, upon which Shaykh Hamid showed me the
impression of a tooth[FN#25]: he kissed it with peculiar reverence, and
so did I. But the boy Mohammed being by me objurgated-for I

[p.431]remarked in him a jaunty demeanour combined with neglectfulness
of ceremonies-saluted it sulkily, muttering the while hints about the
holiness of his birthplace exempting him from the trouble of stooping.
Already he had appeared at the Harim without his Jubbah, and with
ungirt loins-in waistcoat and shirt-sleeves. Moreover, he had conducted
himself indecorously by nudging Shaykh Hamid's sides during divine
service. Feeling that the youth's "moral man" was, like his physical,
under my charge, and determined to arrest a course of conduct which
must have ended in obtaining for me, the master, the reputation of a
"son of Belial," I insisted upon his joining us in the customary
two-bow prayers. And Sa'ad the Demon, taking my side of the question
with his usual alacrity when a disturbance was in prospect, the youth
found it necessary to yield. After this little scene, Shaykh Hamid
pointed out a sprawling inscription blessing the Companions of the
Prophet. The unhappy Abu Bakr's name had been half effaced by some
fanatic Shi'ah, a circumstance which seemed to arouse all the evil in
my companion's nature; and, looking close at the wall I found a line of
Persian verse to this effect:

"I am weary of my life (Umr), because it bears the name of

We English wanderers are beginning to be shamed out of our "vulgar"
habit of scribbling names and nonsense in noted spots. Yet the practice
is both classical and oriental. The Greeks and Persians left their
marks everywhere, as Egypt shows; and the paws of the Sphinx bears
scratches which, being interpreted, are found to be the same manner of
trash as that written upon the remains of Thebes in A.D. 1879. And
Easterns appear never to

[p.432]enter a building with a white wall without inditing upon it
platitudes in verse and prose. Influenced by these considerations, I
drew forth a pencil and inscribed in the Kubbat al-Sanaya,

[Arabic text]

"Abdullah, the servant of Allah." (A.H.) 1269.

Issuing from the dome, we turned a few paces to the left, passed
northwards, and thus blessed the Martyrs of Ohod:

"Peace be upon Ye, O Martyrs! Peace be upon Ye, O Blessed! ye Pious! ye
Pure! who fought upon Allah's Path the good Fight, who worshipped your
Lord until He brought you to Certainty.[FN#27] Peace be upon You of
whom Allah said (viz., in the Koran), ‘Verily repute not them slain on
God's Path (i.e., warring with Infidels); nay, rather they are alive,
and there is no Fear upon them, nor are they sorrowful!' Peace be upon
Ye, O Martyrs of Ohod! One and All, and the Mercy of Allah and His

Then again we moved a few paces forward and went through a similar
ceremony, supposing ourselves to be in the cave that sheltered the
Apostle. After which, returning towards the torrent-bed by the way we
came, we stood a small distance from a cupola called Kubbat al-Masra.
It resembles that of the "Front-teeth," and notes, as its name proves,
the place where the gallant

[p.433]Hamzah fell by the spear of Wahshi the slave.[FN#28] We faced
towards it and finished the ceremonies of this Ziyarat by a
Supplication, the Testification, and the Fatihah.

In the evening I went with my friends to the Harim. The minaret
galleries were hung with lamps, and the inside of the temple was
illuminated. It was

[p.434]crowded with Hajis, amongst whom were many women, a circumstance
which struck me from its being unusual.[FN#29] Some pious pilgrims, who
had duly paid for the privilege, were perched upon ladders trimming wax
candles of vast dimensions, others were laying up for themselves
rewards in Paradise, by performing the same office to the lamps; many
were going through the ceremonies of Ziyarat, and not a few were
sitting in different parts of the Mosque apparently overwhelmed with
emotion. The boys and the beggars were inspired with fresh energy, the
Aghawat were gruffer and surlier than I had ever seen them, and the
young men about town walked and talked with a freer and an easier
demeanour than usual. My old friends the Persians-there were about 1200
of them in the Hajj Caravan-attracted my attention. The doorkeepers
stopped them with curses as they were about to enter, and all claimed
from each the sum of five piastres, whilst other Moslems were allowed
to enter the Mosque free. Unhappy men! they had lost all the Shiraz
swagger, their mustachios dropped pitiably, their eyes would not look
any one in the face, and not a head bore a cap stuck upon it crookedly.
Whenever an "'Ajami," whatever might be his rank, stood in the way of
an Arab or a Turk, he was rudely thrust aside, with abuse muttered loud
enough to be heard by all around. All eyes followed them as they went
through the ceremonies of Ziyarat, especially as they approached the
tombs of Abu Bakr and Omar,-which every man is bound to defile if he
can,-and the supposed place of Fatimah's burial. Here they stood in
parties, after praying before the Prophet's window: one read from a
book the pathetic tale of the Lady's life, sorrows, and

[p.435]mourning death, whilst the others listened to him with
breathless attention. Sometimes their emotion was too strong to be
repressed. "Ay Fatimah! Ay Muzlumah! Way! way!-O Fatimah! O thou
injured one! Alas! alas!" burst involuntarily from their lips, despite
the danger of such exclamations; tears trickled down their hairy
cheeks, and their brawny bosoms heaved with sobs. A strange sight it
was to see rugged fellows, mountaineers perhaps, or the fierce Iliyat
of the plains, sometimes weeping silently like children, sometimes
shrieking like hysteric girls, and utterly careless to conceal a grief
so coarse and grisly, at the same time so true and real, that I knew
not how to behold it. Then the Satanic scowls with which they passed
by, or pretended to pray at, the hated Omar's tomb! With what curses
their hearts are belying those mouths full of blessings! How they are
internally canonising Fayruz-the Persian slave who stabbed Omar in the
Mosque-and praying for his eternal happiness in the presence of the
murdered man! Sticks and stones, however, and not unfrequently the
knife and the sabre, have taught them the hard lesson of disciplining
their feelings; and nothing but a furious contraction of the brow, a
roll of the eye, intensely vicious, and a twitching of the muscles
about the region of the mouth, denote the wild storm of wrath within.
They generally, too, manage to discharge some part of their passion in
words. "Hail Omar, thou hog!" exclaims some fanatic Madani as he passes
by the heretic-a demand more outraging than requiring a red-hot,
black-north Protestant to bless the Pope. "O Allah! hell him!" meekly
responds the Persian, changing the benediction to a curse most
intelligible to, and most delicious in, his fellows' ears.[FN#30]

[p.436]An evening hour in the steamy heat of the Harim was equal to
half a dozen afternoons; and I left it resolved never to revisit it
till the Hajj departed from Al-Madinah. It was only prudent not to see
much of the 'Ajamis; and as I did so somewhat ostentatiously, my
companions discovered that the Shaykh Abdullah, having slain many of
those heretics in some war or other, was avoiding them to escape
retaliation. In proof of my generalistic qualities, the rolling down of
the water jar upon the heads of the Maghribi Pilgrims in the "Golden
Thread" was quoted, and all offered to fight for me a l'outrance. I
took care not to contradict the report.

[FN#1] This city derives its names, the "Great Gate of Pilgrimage," and
the "Key of the Prophet's Tomb" from its being the gathering-place of
this caravan.
[FN#2] The Egyptians corruptly pronounce "Al-Misr," i.e. Cairo, as
[FN#3] NOTE TO FOURTH EDITION.-I reprint the following from the
Illustrated News in proof that the literati of England have still
something to learn:-"On the 1st instant the annual ceremony of the
departure of the Sure-emini with the Imperial gifts for the Prophet's
tomb at Mecca took place in front of the palace at Constantinople. The
Levant Herald states that the presents, which consist, beside the large
money donation, of rich shawls and gold-woven stuffs, were brought out
of the Imperial apartments and packed in presence of the Sultan, on two
beautiful camels, which, after the delivery of the usual prayers, were
then led in grand procession, accompanied by all the high officers of
state, to the landing-place at Cabatash, where the Sure-emini and
camels were embarked on a Government steamer and ferried over to
Scutari. There the holy functionary will remain some days, till the
‘faithful' of the capital and those who have come from the interior
have joined him, when the caravan will start for Damascus. At this
latter city the grand rendezvous takes place, and, that accomplished,
the great caravan sets out for Mecca under the Emir-el-Hadj of the
year. The Imperial presents on this occasion cost more than L20,000."
[FN#4] The Syrian Shugduf differs entirely from that of Al-Hijaz. It is
composed of two solid wooden cots about four feet in length, slung
along the camel's sides and covered over with cloth, in the shape of a
tent. They are nearly twice as heavy as the Hijazi litter, and yet a
Syrian camel-man would as surely refuse to put one of the latter upon
his beast's back, as the Hijazi to carry a Syrian litter. See p. 223,
[FN#5] This is the Arabic modern word, synonymous with the Egyptian
Hajin, namely, a she-dromedary. The word "Nakah," at present popular in
Al-Hijaz, means a she-dromedary kept for breeding as well as for riding.
[FN#6] One might as sensibly cry out "John" in an English theatre.
[FN#7] Respectable men in Al-Hijaz, when they meet friends,
acquaintances, or superiors, consider it only polite to dismount from a
[FN#8] The title of the Pasha who has the privilege of conducting the
Caravan. It is a lucrative as well as an honourable employment, for the
Emir enjoys the droit d'aubaine, becoming heir to the personal property
of all pilgrims who die in the Holy Cities or on the line of march. And
no Persian, even of the poorest, would think of undertaking a
pilgrimage by this line of country, without having at least L80 in
ready money with him. The first person who bore the title of Emir
Al-Hajj was Abu Bakr, who, in the ninth year of the Hijrah, led 300
Moslems from Al-Madinah to the Meccah pilgrimage. On this occasion
idolaters and infidels were for the first time expelled the Holy City.
[FN#9] "Harrah" from Harr (heat) is the generic name of lava, porous
basalt, scoriae, greenstone, schiste, and others supposed to be of
igneous origin. It is also used to denote a ridge or hill of such
formation. One Harrah has already been mentioned in Chapter XV. The
second is on the road to Ohod. There is a third Harrah, called Al-Wakin
or Al-Zahrah, about one mile Eastward of Al-Madinah. Here the Prophet
wept, predicting that the last men of his faith would be foully slain.
The prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Yazid, when the people of
Al-Madinah filled their assembly with slippers and turbands to show
that on account of his abominations they had cast off their allegiance
as a garment. The "Accursed" sent an aged sinner, Muslim bin Akbah
al-Marai, who, though a cripple, defeated the Madani in a battle called
the "Affair of the Ridge," slaying of them 10,000 citizens, 1700
learned and great men, 700 teachers of the Koran, and 97 Karashi
nobles. This happened in the month of Zu'l Hijjah, A.H. 63. For three
days the city was plundered, the streets ran blood, dogs ate human
flesh in the Mosque, and no fewer than 1000 women were insulted. It was
long before Al-Madinah recovered from this fatal blow, which old Muslim
declared would open to him the gates of Paradise. The occurrence is now
forgotten at Al-Madinah, though it will live in history. The people
know not the place, and even the books are doubtful whether this Harrah
be not upon the spot where the Khandak or moat was.
[FN#10] Meaning that on the Day of Resurrection it shall be so treated.
Many, however, suppose Ohod to be one of the four hills of Paradise.
The other three, according to Al-Tabrani from Amr bin Auf, are Sinai,
Lebanon, and Mount Warkan on the Meccan road. Others suppose Ohod to be
one of the six mountains which afforded materials for the Kaabah, viz.,
Abu Kubays, Sinai, Kuds (at Jerusalem), Warkan and Radhwah near Yambu'.
Also it is said that when the Lord conversed with Moses on Sinai, the
mountain burst into six pieces, three of which flew to Al-Madinah,
Ohod, Warkan and Radhwah, and three to Meccah, Hira (now popularly
called Jabal Nur), Sabir, (the old name for Jabal Muna), and Saur.
[FN#11] "Ayr" means a "wild ass," whereas Ohod is derived from Ahad,
"one,"-so called because fated to be the place of victory to those who
worship one God. The very names, say Moslem divines, make it abundantly
evident that even as the men of Al-Madinah were of two parties,
friendly and hostile to the Prophet, so were these mountains.
[FN#12] This Cave is a Place of Visitation, but I did not go there, as
it is on the Northern flank of the hill, and all assured me that it
contained nothing worth seeing. Many ignore it altogether.
[FN#13] Ohod, it is said, sent forth in the Prophet's day 360 springs,
of which ten or twelve now remain.
[FN#14] Meaning that the visitor must ascend several smaller eminences.
The time occupied is from eight to nine hours, but I should not advise
my successor to attempt it in the hot weather.
[FN#15] When engaged in such a holy errand as this, to have ridden away
for the purpose of inspecting a line of black stone, would have been
certain to arouse the suspicions of an Arab. Either, he would argue,
you recognise the place of some treasure described in your books, or
you are a magician seeking a talisman.
[FN#16] Most Arab authors place Ohod about two miles N. of Al-Madinah.
Al-Idrisi calls it the nearest hill, and calculates the distance at
6000 paces. Golius gives two leagues to Ohod and Ayr, which is much too
far. In our popular accounts, "Mohammed posted himself upon the hill of
Ohod, about six miles from Al-Madinah," two mistakes.
[FN#17] They are said to be seventy, but the heaps appeared to me at
least three times more numerous.
[FN#18] A Zawiyah in Northern Africa resembles the Takiyah of India,
Persia, and Egypt, being a monastery for Darwayshes who reside there
singly or in numbers. A Mosque, and sometimes, according to the
excellent practice of Al-Islam, a school, are attached to it.
[FN#19] Some historians relate that forty-six years after the battle of
Ohod, the tombs were laid bare by a torrent, when the corpses appeared
in their winding-sheets as if buried the day before. Some had their
hands upon their death wounds, from which fresh blood trickled when the
pressure was forcibly removed. In opposition to this Moslem theory, we
have that of the modern Greeks, namely, that if the body be not
decomposed within a year, it shows that the soul is not where it should
[FN#20] In fairness I must confess to believing in the reality of these
phenomena, but not in their "spiritual" origin.
[FN#21] In Ibn Jubayr's time the tomb was red.
[FN#22] In the common tombs of martyrs, saints, and holy men, this
covering is usually of green cloth, with long white letters sewn upon
it. I forgot to ask whether it was temporarily absent from Hamzah's
[FN#23] All these erections are new. In Burckhardt's time they were
mere heaps of earth, with a few loose stones placed around them. I do
not know what has become of the third martyr, said to have been
interred near Hamzah. Possibly some day he may reappear: meanwhile the
people of Al-Madinah are so wealthy in saints, that they can well
afford to lose sight of one.
[FN#24] Formerly in this place was shown a slab with the mark of a
man's head-like St. Peter's at Rome-where the Prophet had rested. Now
it seems to have disappeared, and the tooth has succeeded to its
[FN#25] Some historians say that four teeth were knocked out by this
stone. This appears an exaggeration.
[FN#26] In Persian characters the word Umr, life, and Umar, the name of
the hated caliph, are written in the same way; which explains the pun.
[FN#27] That is to say, "to the hour of death."
[FN#28] When Jubayr bin Mutim was marching to Ohod, according to the
Rauzat al-Safa, in revenge for the death of his uncle Taymah, he
offered manumission to his slave Wahshi, who was noted for the use of
the Abyssinian spear, if he slew Hamzah. The slave sat in ambush behind
a rock, and when the hero had despatched one Siba'a bin Abd al-Ayiz, of
Meccah, he threw a javelin which pierced his navel and came out of his
back. The wounded man advanced towards his assassin, who escaped.
Hamzah then fell, and his friends coming up, found him dead. Wahshi
waited till he saw an opportunity, drew the javelin from the body, and
mutilated it, in order to present trophies to the ferocious Hinda
(mother of Mu'awiyah), whose father Utbah had been slain by Hamzah. The
amazon insisted upon seeing the corpse: having presented her necklace
and bracelets to Wahshi, she supplied their place with the nose, the
ears, and other parts of the dead hero. After mangling the body in a
disgusting manner, she ended by tearing open the stomach and biting the
liver, whence she was called "Akkalat al-Akbad." When Mohammed saw the
state of his father's brother, he was sadly moved. Presently comforted
by the inspirations brought by Gabriel, he cried, "It is written among
the people of the seven Heavens, Hamzah, son of Muttalib, is the Lion
of Allah, and the Lion of his Prophet," and ordered him to be shrouded
and prayed over him, beginning, says the Jazb al-Kulub, with seventy
repetitions of "Allah Akbar." Ali had brought in his shield some water
for Mohammed, from a Mahras or stone trough, which stood near the scene
of action (M.C. de Perceval translates it "un creux de rocher formant
un bassin naturel"). But the Prophet refused to drink it, and washed
with it the blood from the face of him "martyred by the side of the
Mahras." It was of the Moslems slain at Ohod, according to Abu Da'ud,
that the Prophet declared that their souls should be carried in the
crops of green birds, that they might drink of the waters and taste the
fruits of Paradise, and nestle beneath the golden lamps that hang from
the celestial ceiling. He also forbade, on this occasion, the still
popular practice of mutilating an enemy's corpse.
[FN#29] The Prophet preferred women and young boys to pray privately,
and in some parts of Al-Islam they are not allowed to join a
congregation. At Al-Madinah, however, it is no longer, as in
Burckhardt's time, "thought very indecorous in women to enter the
[FN#30] I have heard of a Persian being beaten to death, because
instead of saying "Peace be with thee, Ya Omar," he insisted upon
saying "Peace be with thee, Ya Humar (O ass!)" A favourite trick is to
change "Razi Allahu anhu-may Allah be satisfied with him!"-to "Razi
Allahu Aan." This last word is not to be found in Richardson, but any
"Luti" from Shiraz or Isfahan can make it intelligible to the curious

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