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Arab cultivators are decent and industrious men, and form the servants of the town. Whether we shall ever make a great southern colony of the country adjoining the peninsula, must be a question of the future. But it is said that a very fine and healthy country extends to the north, and that the mountains visible from Aden enclose valleys of singular productiveness and beauty.
Taste in personal decoration differs a good deal in the south from that of the north. The Arab, with a face as black as ink, thinks an enormous shock of red hair the perfeclion of taste; he accordingly dyes his hair with lime, and thus makes himself, unconsciously, the regular demon of the stage.
The entrance to the new British settlement is through masses of the boldest and wildest rocks. After passing a defile between two mountains, we come to the only access on this side, the "lofty mountains forming an impregnable fortification." This entrance is cut through the solid rock. A strong guard of sepoys is posted there. The passage is so high and narrow, that " one might almost compare it to the eye in a darning needle." This is a female comparison, but an expressive one. Issuing from the pass, the whole valley of Aden lay like a map beneath, bounded on three sides by precipitous mountains, rising up straight and barren like a mighty wall, while on the fourth was the sea; but even there the view was bounded by the island rock of Sera, thus completing the fortification of this Eastern Gibraltar.
Here the travellers were welcomed by a hospitable garrison surgeon and his wife, found a dinner, an apartment, great civility, and a romantic view of the Arab landscape by moonlight. They heard the drums and pipes of one of the regiments, and were " startled by the lond report of a cannon, which shook the frail tenement, and resounded with a lengthened echo through the hills. It was the eight o'clock gun, which stood only a stone's throw from the house, and on the same rock." The lady, as a soldier's wife, ought to have been less alarmed; but she was in a land where every thing was strange. "We
were literally sleeping out in the open air; as there were no doors, windows, or Venetians to close, and every breath of wind agitated the frail walls of bamboo and matting, I was awoke in the night by the musquitto curtains blowing up; the wind had risen, and came every now and then with sndden gusts; but its breath was so soft, warm, and dry, that I, who had never ventured to bear a night-blast in Ceylon, felt that it was harmless."
Aden, in earlier times, formed one of the thirteen states of Yemen; and prodigious tales are told of its opulence, its mosques and minarets, its baths of jasper, and its crescents and colonnades. But Arabia is proverbially a land of fable, and the glories of Aden exhibit Arabian imagination in its highest stage. Possibly, while it continued a port for the Indian trade, it may have shared the wealth which India has always lavished on commerce. But a spot without a tree, without a mine, and without a mannfacture, could never have possessed solid wealth under the languid industry and wild rapine of an Arab population. When we recollect, too, how long the Turks were masters of this corner of Arabia, we may well be sceptical of the opulence of periods when the sword was the law. No memorials of its prosperity remain; no ruined temples or broken columns attest the magnificence or the taste of an earlier generation. Its only hope of opulence must be dated from its first possession by the British. But the barrenness of the soil forbids substantial wealth; and though the native merchants, relying on the honour of British laws and the security of British arms, are flocking into it by hundreds, and will soon flock into it by thousands, it must be at best but a warehouse and a fortress, though both will, in all probability, be of the most magnificent description. The population is of the miscellaneous order which is to be found in all the Eastern ports. The Parsees, the handsome and industrious race who are to be seen every where in India; the Jews, keen and indefatigable, who are to be seen in every part of the world; and the Arabs, whose glance and gesture seem to despise h already crowding this half camp,
capital. From eighty to a hundred camels, every morning, supply the markets of Aden. They bring in baskets of fine fruit, grapes, melons, dates, and peaches. The greater number bring also poultry, grass, and straw. Troops of donkeys carry water in skins to every part of the town; and there is no want of the necessaries of life, though of course they are dear. Aden is excessively hot, but regarded as healthy. The air is pure, dry, and elastic. The engineers are building works on the different commanding positions; and Aden, within a few years, will probably be the strongest fortification, as it is already one of the finest ports, east of the Mediterranean. But we look to nobler prospects; the inland country is perhaps one of the finest regions in the world. Almost within view of Aden lies a country as picturesque as Switzerland, and as fertile as the valleys of the tropics. It is singularly salubrious; and, in point of extent, may be regarded as unlimited. We see no possible reason why Aden should not, in the course of a few years, be made the capital of a great Arabian colony. Conquest must not be the means, but purchase might not be difficult; and civilization and Christianity might be spread together through immense territories, formed in the bounty of nature, and only waiting to be filled with a free and vigorous population. It is only the centre and north of Arabia that is desert. The coast, and especially the southern extremity, are fertile. Without the ambition of empire, or the desire of encroachment, British enterprize might here find a superb field, and the Arabian peninsula might, for the first time in history, be added to the civilized world.
The travellers now ran up the Red Sea. The navigation has greatly improved within these few years, in consequence of the intercourse between England and India. Surveys have been made, and charts have been formed, which almost divest the passage of peril. But the navigation is still intricate, in consequence of the coral rocks and numerous shoals, which, however, may be escaped by due vigilance, and the experienced mariner has nothing to fear. The aspect of
the coast, of both Africa and Arabia, is wild and repulsive; but some compensation for the monotony of the shores is to be found in the sea itself. When calm, the transparency of the water exhibits the bottom to the depth of thirty fathoms. "And what a new world is discovered through this vale of waters ! what treasures for the naturalist!" The sands are overspread with forests of coral plants of every colour, shells of remarkable beauty; and, in the midst of this sub-aqueous landscape, fish of brilliant hues sporting in all directions. At length they reached the gulf of Suez, with the blue peaks of Sinai in the distance, and continued running up the gulf, which was one hundred and sixty miles long, until Suez came in sight. Here all is dreary: deserts and sandbanks form the whole landscape. Arab boats came alongside, and conveyed the passengers from the steamer. The town looked dismal; its walls and fortifications were in decay; the landing-place was crowded by sickly-looking creatures, the evident victims of malaria, and the chief ornament of the place was a large whitewashed tomb. This condition of things was not much improved when the party found themselves in the hotel of Messrs Hill and Co. Musquittoes, and every species of frightful insect, made war against sleep; and when their reign had passed away, and the travellers rose, crowds of flies continued the persecution. The travellers made a bad bargain in paying their passage-money at once from Suez to Alexandria; and it is described as the wiser mode to pay only to Cairo, and then take the choice of the several conveyances which are sure to be found there. The Arab drivers and carriers seem to have fully acquired those arts of extortion, which flourish in such abundance wherever English money is to be found. They cheat, and lie, and cajole, with extraordinary assiduity; and the majority of the passengers on this occasion seem to have been detained unnecessarily on the road, and treated badly at the station houses. The first part of the desert is rather rocky than sandy, and the road seems to have been formed chiefly by the carriage wheels. It is covered with great pieces of stone and rock, which sorely tried the patience of the travellers. Hundreds of carcasses of camels lie in the way; the flesh is soon eaten by the wolves and rats, while the bones bleach in the sun. Little troops of Arabs were met from time to time, sometimes on camels and sometimes on horses. They were armed to the teeth, as black as negroes, and looked ferocious enough to make any party of pacific travellers tremble for their goods and chattels. But they were the patrols of Mohammed Ali, and guardians of the goods which in other days they would have delighted to plunder. There are eight stations on this road through the desert, all built by that man of wonders, the Pasha. Of these, four are only stables; but four are houses for the reception of travellers. They are generally from twelve to sixteen miles apart. The station Mo. 6, though by no means possessing the comforts of an English hotel, must be a miracle to the old travellers of the desert. It consists of two chambers, a kitchen, and servants' room, with a large public saloon occupying the whole of one end, and completing a little centre court. Three sides of the saloon were furnished with divans. There was a long table in the centre, with several chairs, and a glass window at each end of the room. Hut this was unluckily the season of flics, and they were the torment of the travellers; table, wall, ceiling, and floors swarmed with them. They flew into the face, the eyes, and the mouth. Thousands of musquittoes were also buzzing round and biting every thing. The breakfast was no sooner laid on the table than it was blackened with flies. The beds were hiving, and intolerable. No. 4, the halfway - house, was rather better. It is the largest of them all, and has a long row of bedrooms, and two public saloons. It has a large courtyard, in which were turkeys, geese, sheep, and goats, for the use of travellers. The Arab coachman here tried a trick of the road, He sent up a message that he had observed the lady looked very much tired, and that he therefore advised them to- get to the end of their journey as quickly as possible; that they had better start in
two hours, as the moon was very bright, and that he would take them into Cairo by breakfast-time in the morning. But it was suspected that this haste was in order that the passengers waiting at Cairo to go by the In«ia steamer should be conveyed across the desert by himself, so they declined his offer, and enjoyed their night's rest. On rising in the morning, they felt that they had reason to congratulate themselves on their refusal of the night's journey; for they found even the morning air bitter, and the atmosphere a wet fog. The aspect of the country had now changed. Chains of hills disappeared, and all was level sand. On the way they saw the mirage, sometimes assuming the appearance of a distant harbour, at others, of an inland lake reflecting the surrounding objects on its surface; and they met one of the picturesque displays of Arabia, a wealthy Bey going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He had a train of twenty or thirty camels. Those carrying himself and his harem had superb trappings. The women were seated in large open boxes, hanging on each side as panicrs. There were red silk embroidered curtains hung round, like those on a bedstead, and an awning over all. The bey was smoking his splendid pipe, and behind came a crowd of slaves with provisions. The road on approaching Cairo grew rougher than ever; it was often over ridges of rock just appearing above the sand. The Pasha's "commissioners of paving" seem to have slumbered on their posts as much as if they had been metropolitan. At last a "silvery stream " was seen winding in the horizon—the "glorious Nile!" Tho country now grew picturesque; a forest of domes and minarets arose in the distance; and the Pyramids became visible. The road then ran through a sort of suburb, where the Bedouins take up their quarters on their visits to buy grain, they being not suffered within the walls. It then passed between walled gardens filled with flowers, shrubs, orange and olive trees; most of the walls were also surmounted with a row of pillars, interlaced with vines—a species of ornament new to us, but which, wo should conceive, must add much to the beauty, external and internal, of a garden. Cairo was entered at last; and its lofty houses, and the general architecture of this noblest specimen of a Mahometan capital, delighted the eyes which had so long seen nothing but the sea, the rocky shore, and the desert. Cairo is, like all the rest of the world, growing European, and even English. It has its hotels; and the traveller, except that he hears more Arabic, and inhales more tobacco smoke, will soon begin to imagine himself in Regent street. The "Eastern Hotel" is a good house, where Englishmen get beefsteaks, port wine, and brown stout; read the London papers; have waiters who at least do their best to entertain them in their own tongue; and want nothing but operas and omnibuses. But the dress still makes a distinction, and it is wholly in favour of the Mussulman. All modern European dresses are mean; the Oriental is the only man whose dress adds dignity to the human form. When Sultan Mahmond stripped off the turban, and turned the noble dress of his people into the caricature of the European costume, he struck a heavier blow at his sovereignty than ever was inflicted by the Russian sabre or the Greek dagger. He smote the spirit of his nation. The Egyptian officials wear the fez, or red nightcap—the fitting emblem of an empire gone to sleep. But the general population of Egypt wear the ancient turban, the finest ornament of the head ever invented by man; that of the Egyptian Mahometan is white muslin; that of the Shereefs, or lino of Mahomet, is green; that of the Jews and Copts is black. The remaining portions of the costume are such as, perhaps, we shall soon see only upon the stage. The embroidered caftan, the flowing gown, the full trouser of scarlet or violet-coloured cloth, the yellow morocco boot, the jewelled dagger, and velvet-sheathed cimeter —all the perfection of magnificence and taste in costume. The ample beard gives completeness to the majesty of the countenance, and finishes the true character of the "lord of the creation."
The citadel of Cairo has a melancholy and memorable name, from the horrid massacre of the Mamelukes in 1811,
when four hundred and seventy of those showysoldiers were murdered, and but one escaped by leaping his horse from the battlements. The horse was killed; the man is now a bey in the Pasha's service. The citadel stands on a hill, and contains the Pasha's palace, a harem, a council-hall, police-offices, and a large square, where the massacre was perpetrated. The view from the windows of the palace is superb. Cairo is seen immediately beneath, skirted by gardens on the right. Beyond those the mosques of the caliphs, and as far as the eye can reach, the Arabian desert. In front is the Nile, a silver stream, covered with sails of every description, till it is lost in the groves of the Delta. The ports of Boulac and old Cairo, with numerous villages, stnd its banks, and from its bosom rise verdant islands. To the left, the Nile is still visible, and beyond are seeu the Pyramids, which, though twelve miles off, appear quite close, from the transparency of the air. In the citadel is also a mosque, now building by the order of the Pasha. It is constructed of Oriental alabaster, is of great size, already exhibits fine taste, and promises to be one of the most beautiful structures in Egypt. But the Pasha has not yet attained the European improvement of lamps in the streets. After nightfall, the only light is from the shops, which, when they close, leave the street in utter darkness. However, most of the pedestrians carry lamps with them. How does it happen that no gas company has taken pity upon this Egyptian darkness, and saved the Cairans from the chance of having their throats cut, or at least their bones broken; for during the summer a considerable portion of the poorer population sleep in the streets? Still the Pasha is a man of taste, fond of living in gardens, and sensible enough to have the garden of his favourite palace at Shoobra laid out by a Scotch gardener. He used to reside a great deal there, but now chiefly lives, when at Cairo, in the house of his daughter, a widow, where his apartments are in the European style. Nothing surprises a European traveller more than the people themselves; and no problem can seem more mysterious than the means by which they are enabled to supply so much expensivo costume. The Egyptian gentleman seems to want for nothing, wherever they find the money to pay for it. Fine houses, fine furniture, fine horses, and fine clothes, seem to be constantly at the command of a crowd who have nothing to do, who produce nothing, and yet seem to have every thing. The Egyptian or Turkish lady is an absolute bale of costly clothing—the more breadths of silk they carry about them the better. Before leaving her home, she puts over her house costume a large loose robe called a.-tob, made of silk or satin, and always of some gay colour, pink, yellow, red, or violet. She next puts on her face veil, a long strip of the finest white muslin, often exquisitely embroidered. It is fastened just between the eyes, conceals all the other features, and reaches to the feet. She next envelopes herself in a large cloak of rich black silk, tied round the head by a piece of narrow riband. Her costume is completed by trousers of silk gauze, and yellow morocco boots, which reach a considerable way up the legs. How any human being can bear such a heap of clothing, especially under the fiery snn and hot winds of Egypt, is to us inconceivable. It must melt all vigour out of the body, and all life out of the soul; but it is the fashion, and fashion works its wonders in Egypt as well as elsewhere. The veil across the mouth, in a climate where every breath of fresh air is precious, must be but a slower kind of strangulation. But the preparative for a public appearance is not yet complete. Women of condition never walk. They ride upon a donkey handsomely caparisoned, sitting astride upon a high and broad saddle, covered with a rich Turkey carpet. They ride with stirrups, but they never hold the reins; their hands are busy in keeping down their cloaks. A servant leads the donkey by the bridle. Their figures, when thus in motion, are the most preposterous things imaginable. Huge as they arc, the wind, which has no respect for persons, gets under their cloaks, and blows them up to three times their natural size. Those are the ladies of Egypt; the lower orders imitate this absurdity and extravagance as far as they can, and with
their face veils, the most frightful things possible, shuffle through the streets like strings of spectres. Poverty and labour may by possibility keep the lower ranks in health; but how the higher amoug the females can retain health, between their want of exercise, their full feeding, their hot baths, and this perpetual hot bath of clothing, defies all rational conjecture. The Egyptians of all ranks are terribly afraid of what they call the evil eye, and stifle themselves and children in all kinds of rags to avoid being bewitched. The peasants are a fine-looking, strong-bodied race of men; but many of them are met blind of an eye. This is attributed to the reluctance to be soldiers for the glory of the Pasha. But Mohammed Ali was not to be thus tricked, and he raised a regiment of one-eyed men. In other instances they are said to have knocked out the fore-teeth to avoid biting a cartridge, or to have cut off a joint of the first finger to prevent their drawing a trigger. Even thus they are not able to escape the cunning Pasha. But this shows the natural horror of the conscription; and we arc not surprised that men should adopt any expedient to escape so great a curse and scandal to society. It is extraordinary that in this 19th century, even of the Christian world, such an abomination should be suffered to exist in Europe. It is equally extraordinary that it exists in every country but England, and she can have no pronder distinction. The habeas-corpus and her free enlistment, are two privileges without which no real liberty can ever exist, and which, in any country, it would be well worth a revolution, or ten revolutions, to obtain. Hers is the only army into which no man can be forced, and in which every man is a .volunteer. And yet she has never wanted soldiers, and her soldiers have never fought the worse It is true, that when she has a militia they are drawn by ballot from the population; but no militiaman is ever sent out of the country; and as to those who arc drawn, if they feel disinclined to serve in this force, which acts merely as a national guard, ten shillings will find a substitute at any time. It is also true that England has impressment for the navy; but