Queer Things About Egypt - Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen - ebook

Queer Things About Egypt ebook

Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen

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This book is filled with varied information about Egypt. Everything is touched upon—the people, their customs, and manner of writing English, descriptions of scenery, history and social conditions—in the manner of a well informed traveler willing to tell all he knows. It is an entertaining book, and one which a visitor to Egypt could hardly afford to be without, especially the seekers of recreation in perusing passages of sprightly talk about things new and old, maintained by a man who is likely to have cheered many a table and fireside by his traveler's tales.

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Queer Things About Egypt

 

DOUGLAS B. W. SLADEN

 

 

 

 

Queer Things About Egypt, D. B. W. Sladen

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9

Deutschland

 

ISBN: 9783849652401

 

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

[email protected]

 

Availability: Publicly available via the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) through the following Creative Commons attribution license: “You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; to make commercial use of the work. Under the following conditions: By Attribution. You must give the original author credit. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.” (Status: unknown)

 

Page referrals inside this book refer to the original edition and may mot work properly inside this volume.

 

Cover Design: This image comes from the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) where it is available at the following Uniform Resource Identifier: 10183. Original source: From: Margoliouth, David Samuel. "Cairo, Jerusalem, & Damascus: three chief cities of the Egyptian Sultans". With illus. in colour by W.S.S. Tyrwhitt, and additional playes by Reginald Barratt. Chatto and Windus: London, 1907. p 96. All of TIMEA's content is licensed under a CC-BY-2.5 license. Depending on their publication date, some images might be in the public domain.

 

 

 

CONTENTS:

PREFACE. The Call of Egypt1

INTRODUCTION. Cairo an Arab  City of the Middle Ages. 5

PART I. ANECDOTES ILLUSTRATING  THE EGYPTIAN CHARACTER.. 12

CHAPTER .I English as She is Wrote in Egypt12

CHAPTER II. On the Humours of the  Suffragi, the Egyptian Servant23

CHAPTER III. How Foreigners Live in Cairo. 30

CHAPTER IV. Queer Things About Cairo Society. 32

CHAPTER V. The Woes of  the Egyptian Housekeeper34

CHAPTER VI. More about Agenoria's Servants. 40

CHAPTER VII. Doing Business with Egyptians. 43

CHAPTER VIII. The Pasha. 51

CHAPTER IX The Naughty Princess. 53

CHAPTER X Chips from the Court56

CHAPTER XI. The Man About Town in Egypt60

CHAPTER XII. The Humours of  the Country Egyptian. 64

CHAPTER XIII. The Gyps at Home. 68

CHAPTER XIV. On the Humours of Egyptian Hotels. 72

CHAPTER XV. The Egyptian's Idea  of Serving His Country. 81

CHAPTER XVI. Of the Humours  of Egyptian Donkey-boys. 85

CHAPTER XVII. On the Most Interesting Things to Buy in Egypt if you have not much to Spend91

PART II. THE LIFE AND CITIES OF THE NILE: FROM ALEXANDRIA TO ASSUAN95

CHAPTER XVIII. Landing at Alexandria. 95

CHAPTER XIX. Some Reflections on  the Forgotten Cleopatra. 105

CHAPTER XX. The Egyptian State Railways. 114

CHAPTER XXI. Damietta. 120

CHAPTER XXII. Rosetta. 129

CHAPTER XXIII. Abûkir and the Battle of the Nile. 135

CHAPTER XXIV. A Visit to the Fayum,  the Land of a Thousand Days. 140

CHAPTER XXV. Assyut and Abydos. 151

CHAPTER XXVI. Crossing the  Libyan Desert to the Great Oasis. 160

CHAPTER XXVII. The Marvels of the Great Oasis. 168

CHAPTER XXVIII. Cleopatra's Temple of Denderah. 179

CHAPTER XXIX. Luxor, the City  of the Lotus-eater183

CHAPTER XXX. The Tombs of  the Pharaohs at Thebes. 189

CHAPTER XXXI Hundred-pyloned Thebes. 195

CHAPTER XXXII. Three Great Temples— Esna, Edfu, and Komombo. 203

CHAPTER XXXIII. Assuan, the  City of the Idle Wealthy. 211

CHAPTER XXXIV. The Great Dam of Assuan. 220

CHAPTER XXXV. Elephantine. 223

CHAPTER XXXVI. Philæ the Melted Pearl227

CHAPTER XXXVII. The Humours and the Beauties of the Nile as seen from Cook's Steamers232

CHAPTER XXXVIII. Life at Luxor243

CHAPTER XXXIX. The Ruins of Karnak. 247

PREFACE. The Call of Egypt

EGYPT has two calls—one for England and one for all the world. To England she is a brand snatched from the burning. A century and more ago, in the two battles of Abûkir, by land and sea, Nelson and Abercromby saved her from becoming an Algeria; and less than a generation ago English blood and treasure rescued Egypt from rebellion, rapine, and massacre, in a long-drawn series of battles from Alexandria to Omdurman and Omdebrekat.

To the land it had rescued the Pax Britannica gave the priceless gifts of security of person and property, and unfailing and equitably distributed water, till the whole land smiled as it had never smiled since it lost the Pax Romana.

Therefore Egypt has an interest for the Briton beyond other nations.

But Egypt has also a double call for all the world—the call of an enchanting climate, and the call of the Motherland. The expulsion from Eden has fallen most heavily upon Europe, for there winter stalks in its naked ferocity (except on the playground of Switzerland), and there the millions exposed to its malignity are people of sensitive organisations, which expand like flowers in the sunshine. In Canada the cold is crisp, with unsullied skies; in Northern Asia mankind is satisfied with a sufficiency of food and a stove to sleep on. For the Englishman and the Frenchman, to winter in Egypt is to winter in Paradise—to a few of them it is only in Egypt that they can live through the winter at all, without the fear of tropical scourges before their eyes.

Assuan is on the northern horizon of the tropics; Herodotus thought it stood on the tropic line, having been shown a deep, deep well, still to be seen, where the sun was said to shine to the very bottom at the noon of a certain day. Yet Assuan has no yellow fever, no malaria, not one of the pestilences of miasma to throw a shadow on the sport and gaiety at its Cataract Hotel. Luxor, that has never known a winter, has a Winter Palace—a hotel on the same palatial scale. At the one, the northerner, flying from winter, can have his golf, his Tennis , his croquet, his riding, and his sailing, in the most perfect winter climate in the world; at the other he can wander through the most extensive ruins of antiquity in the next most perfect climate. If he is satisfied with sunshine, without uniformity of temperature, in Cairo he can have the gayest of winter Society, combined with all sorts of sport and the contemplation of monuments innumerable in a mediæval Arabian city—the capital of the Caliphs, against whom the Crusades were waged.

Of all the climates of the world there is none to equal the winter climate of Upper Egypt: it is so dry, so genial, so equable, so wedded to blue skies and pageants of sunrise and sunset.

Such is the call of Egypt's climate. There remains the call of the Motherland.

I do not mean by this that any of us—except perhaps the not too reputable gipsies—are descended from the Ancient Egyptians, or that our countries were colonised by them. Not one inch of Europe was ever included in the Empire of the greatest of the Pharaohs. But civilisation makes us all one country, and civilisation was born in Egypt. There is no historical and attested antiquity to compare with that of Egypt and Chaldæa. The Chinese and Japanese use large figures; but their proofs get shaky no further back than the Middle Ages. The world-power of Babylon was as short-lived as that of Athens. But in Egypt we have documentary proofs for at least five thousand years. We need take nothing from hearsay; for in their marvellous system of hieroglyphics the Pharaohs and their subjects wrote on every temple and tomb the date and circumstances of its erection, the story of its founder, and the uses to which it was to be put. The Carthaginians and Etruscans frankly borrowed their civilisation from the Egyptians—many of their tombs might have been hewn out by Egyptian artificers, and they are rich in Egyptian jewels and implements. Through them, as well as direct, the Greeks and Romans felt the influences of Egypt.

Of what character are the remains left by the Pharaohs in the fifty centuries during which they were laying the basis of civilisation? Tombs and temples, and the tiniest minutiæ of household implements and personal ornaments, but hardly one house that was not built of mud. From their houses we learn little except the antiquity of the vaulted ceiling. All we know of their dwellings we learn from their tombs, when they had left off building mountains of stone, and taken to hewing mausoleums—some of the dimensions of cathedrals—out of the living rock. It would be worth while going to Egypt, were it only to see the tombs of the Pharaohs at Thebes, and of their viziers at Memphis, which have the whole life of ancient Egypt illuminated on their smooth limestone walls, and have yielded furniture (put into them for the use of the doubles of the dead) which helps us to picture almost every detail in the domestic life of ancient Egypt. For perfect preservation the temples of Egypt have no rivals among monuments of high antiquity. If the religion of the Pharaohs were to be revived the Edfu temple would only need the attentions of the upholsterer. For majesty, the ruins of others, such as Karnak's, a mile and a half round, are hard to match, and they possess the extraordinary interest of having all their uses marked in plain figures on their walls. Everything has its hieroglyphic explanation painted on it.

There are few more impressive moments in your life than when you enter for the first time a perfect temple of ancient Egypt, with every foot of its vast interior sculptured and painted with the mythologies of gods and men.

There are some—and I am one of them—who feel the call of the City of the Caliphs as strongly as the call of the temples of Karnak and tombs of Thebes. In the Arab city at Cairo you seem to be walking in Bagdad or Granada and back in the Middle Ages. There is such a bewildering succession of antique mosques, tombs, palaces, fountains, and baths, culminating in the domed and minareted tombs of the Caliphs on the edge of the Eastern Desert and the mosque-crowned citadel of Saladin.

That is the white side of the shield. If the Egyptian had as much sense as the Greek—out of Greece—there would be no other. The Greek knows when he is well off. He is as willing to live under other people's governments as the Jew, if those governments can ensure him equitable taxation, respect for his property, and good conditions for his commerce. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks were quite willing to put up with the government of the late Sultan of Turkey to be allowed to trade in Constantinople and the Asia Minor ports.

The Egyptian would have prefered to live under the rule of Abdul Hamid to living under the rule of Lord Cromer, apart from religious considerations, because he would have lived in the hope of rising to be one of the fountains of corruption. He does not desire equitable conditions for trade, because he has no capacity for trade. He has not the nerve to take responsibility or the honesty to retain credit. Little of the trade of Egypt is in his hands. He may be a book-keeper in a merchant's office or an assistant in a shop, but the business will belong to some one else. The wealth of Egyptians, rich and poor, arises solely from land. One man is lucky enough to own land which the foreigners require for building. He gets a bountiful price, and puts it away in sovereigns. He does not often invest it. Many Arabs still consider that investment is a breach of the prophet's injunctions about usury, though they make an exception for the building and hiring out of houses. Others let their own lands or hire other people's for the cultivation of cotton and sugar-cane. It is seldom that an Egyptian does any productive work except as a clerk or an agricultural labourer. The Egyptian student abroad is said by those who know him best to show no great capacity for picking up anything but bad habits. He is also generally like the babu, a conspirator. In short, the inhabitant of Egypt was created to live by agriculture. In the country, superintending the cultivation of his lands, he is a gentleman, though he is not the kind of gentleman you could trust with the distribution of water and justice.

The evil of communication with Levantines has made the town Egyptian hopelessly corrupt. If he could be kept from evil communications he would become a good citizen like the country Egyptian, for he likes peace and hates responsibility. Vanity and venality are his besetting sins, and they are the roots of his parliamentary aspirations. He wishes to swagger about independence, and sell himself to the highest bidder—where he cannot sell himself to all the bidders. How little the Egyptian desires to serve his country, which he considers himself competent enough to rule, I show in my chapter on the subject. (Chapter XV).

If the English could run Egypt on the same principles as the French run Tunis all would be well. Firm paternal government is what the Egyptian requires. He is not irreconcilable, he is not keen, he is not pertinacious; he is merely demonstrative; he has a passion for demonstrations, and is a born orator.

In this book I do not concern myself with him, though Egypt is on the brink of a Revolution unless the nettle is firmly grasped. I gave him a very complete diagnosis in Egypt and the English. Now I take up my pen to describe the humours of Egyptian society, Egyptian servants, and, above all, the humours and delights of travel in Upper Egypt. I give glimpses of all the everyday life of the Englishman in Egypt, from doing business (with Egyptians) to donkey-riding.

I also devote several chapters to the eccentricities of the Egyptian Court. The incidents in them were the actual experiences of a very high official and his wife, given me for publication.

Not less interesting to some people than the humours of Egyptian high-life, Egyptian patriotism and Egyptian morality will be the advice on curio-buying in Egypt when you have not much money to spend, which concludes Part I.

But the book is not entirely taken up with anecdotes and absurdities. Like Queer Things about Japan and Queer  Things about Persia, it devotes half its pages to the monuments, the romance, the mystery, and the poetry of the Orient. The fascination of Egypt is extraordinary; its monuments are matchless. My pen lingers lovingly round the glories of its scenery and art. And here I have the privilege of giving the traveller in search of fresh holiday-grounds, and the still larger, but not less appreciative, public who can only expect to travel in the pages of a book, a bird's-eye view of the glories of Egypt, the most remarkable country in the world, as seen by one who has spent his manhood in the pursuit of sunshine and beauty. I have visited a large proportion of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, and (not even excepting Italy and Japan—my two favourite playgrounds heretofore) never has any country so surprised and fascinated me as Egypt. It is so full of different interests. The history of Egypt covers countless centuries; the most ancient and perfect of monuments are those of Pharaonic Egypt; the most exquisite monuments of Arabian art are those in mediæval Cairo, but interesting above all are the life of the fields and the bazars, where people still live and work as they did in the days of the Bible and the Pharaohs.

I have also much to say about the exhilaration of riding and camping in the desert; the utterly strange life in the Great Oasis; the comedy of the Nile steamers which go up from Cairo to Assuan and the Sudan; the life in unbeaten tracks like the Fayum; the life in the dead cities of the Delta, like Rosetta and Damietta; the lotus life and the exquisite beauty of Luxor, where you are within a short walk of the finest ruins in Egypt, while you are staying in a most luxurious hotel; and the gay winter season which society spends in Assuan, “the City of the Idle Rich.”

Cairo is an Arab capital, and Cairo needs a book to itself. There are thousands of natives in Cairo who have never heard of the Pharaohs and the monuments of ancient Egypt. If you want to see Egypt pure and simple, naked and unashamed, you must go down into the Delta, or up into Upper Egypt. I give a general sketch of the rural life, which you will see, in my chapters on the Egyptian State railways and the Nile as seen from Cook's steamers. But the monuments have chapters to themselves, grouped round the principal temples and tombs, and mostly in connection with Luxor.

At Luxor, if you only reside at the Karnak end of the town, away from the vulgarities and toutings of the front, you live at the Court of the great Rameses, in an atmosphere so exquisitely mild that life is a dream.

I have given many pages to describing that dream, not forgetting the humours of the donkey-boys who conduct you to the Court.

DOUGLAS SLADEN.

 

INTRODUCTION. Cairo an Arab City of the Middle Ages

MEDIÆVAL Cairo is a subject so fascinating, so full of details, that it demands a volume to itself. The only way in which I could include it in the present work without devoting to it at least fifty or sixty thousand words, and thereby curtailing the space indispensable for a description of the life and cities on the Nile, from the Sea to Assuan, was to generalise upon it in an introductory essay. My point of view is indicated by the title I have chosen for it, Cairo  an Arab City of the Middle Ages. I have an additional reason for relegating this little historical study of the glorious old buildings of Cairo into an introduction. For it is written in a serious vein, while the rest of the book, especially the dozen chapters about the irresistible drolleries of education, Society, and housekeeping in Egypt, which follow the Introduction, present queer things about Egypt at every turn.

In the Ismailia quarter, where the Savoy Hotel lies, Cairo  is a cross between Northumberland Avenue and Victoria Street. A mile away, in the Bab-es-Suweyla, the apparition of Saladin, the chivalrous Sultan who fought against our Richard Cœsur de Lion in the Crusades, would look quite natural.

And Saladin must often have passed here, for he was one of the principal founders of the greatness of Cairo, and the Bab-es-Suweyla is one of the gates of El-Kahira, the city founded by his predecessors two hundred years before.

It was Saladin who gave Cairo her Citadel; it was Saladin who founded the first Medressa, or mosque-college, which he attached to the venerable Mosque of Imam Shafyi, now surrounded by the tombs of the Mamelukes, one of the three mosques in Cairo which Christians are not allowed to visit, and the only one of the three which is worth a visit from the artistic point of view.

The Citadel of Cairo may be taken as an example of the surviving mediæval spirit of the Arab builder almost as much as the Mosque of El-Bordeini, built in the seventeenth century, and the Mosque of Mohammed Bey, built in the eighteenth. Its appearance from below is altogether mediæval, though the two principal features, the Bab-el-Azab and the Mosque of Mehemet Ali, were, the former, rebuilt in the eighteenth century, and the latter built altogether in the nineteenth. The Mosque of Mehemet Ali, whose beauties are all external, and depend on distance for enchantment, is the crowning grace of Cairo. No matter whether you are on your house-top courting the breeze at sunset, or floating on the waters of the Nile, or seated on the Great Pyramid, the landscape is always crowned by the vast dome and obelisk minarets of the mosque erected to the memory of the founder of the dynasty of the Khedives. But its arcaded courtyard is only tolerable, and its interior not better than that of the Brighton Pavilion.

The Bab-el-Azab, inside, shows less of the cloven foot of modern cheapness. And this historic gateway admits the wayfarer to a true bit of the Middle Ages—a narrow, winding, climbing lane, commanded by the wall of the Citadel on one side, and on the other by its rocks scarped until they are almost steeper than the wall. This was the scene of the famous massacre of the Mamelukes—the turbulent barons in armour, each with his commando of armed retainers, who were no doubt only waiting for an opportunity to throw off the rule of Mehemet Ali. Even if Mehemet Ali, who had wrested the virtual independence of Egypt from the Turks, and his son, the warlike Ibrahim, who as a general outshone himself, could have controlled the Mamelukes, their weak descendants like Ismail would have fallen an easy prey, and Egypt would have been plunged back into the civil wars of the Middle Ages. Mehemet Ali determined to remove them at a single blow. He asked them all to a state reception, and gave them a splendid escort of his choicest troops to take them home. When the whole cortège was between the middle gate of the Citadel and the Bab-el-Azab, he caused both gates to be closed, and this was the signal for the escort to fall on them. They were so dazed that few offered any resistance, and these were shot down by marksmen on the rocks and walls. But one survived, and he did not take the famous Mameluke leap from the Citadel walls, though he may have galloped off to Syria when he found himself shut outside, while his kinsmen were being massacred within.

It was Saladin who scarped the Citadel's rocks and gave it its noble ring of walls, though En-Nasir strengthened and extended his fortifications so much that the work of Saladin cannot be distinguished. Within the walls he built a superb palace, which lasted till the present dynasty replaced it with their mosque, and a palace even worse in taste than the interior of the mosque. Its massive vaults and foundations may yet be seen. The most beautiful buildings in the Citadel are the roofless halls of the royal mosque founded by En-Nasir and the marble Mosque of Sultan Selim, the gem of sixteenth-century Cairo. The most interesting feature is the well, going back to the times of the Pharaohs, though it may have been called Joseph's well after Saladin himself, whose name was Youssuf. This is 300 ft. deep, and may still be descended to half its depth by the path which winds round it, like that which used to ascend the fallen campanile of Venice. It was the well which made Saladin choose this site, for there is a higher rock behind, which even the poor artillery of Mehemet Ali could render untenable. The anomaly of the city being built before its citadel is only apparent, for the founder of El-Kahira already possessed two citadels, the Babylon of Old Cairo on the Nile and the Citadel of the Air, the palace founded by the great Sultan Ibn Tulun, beside his mosque, which still survives. These were quite strong enough to give the powerful Sultans of Egypt time to recover from any blow an enemy could deal them till suddenly they were confronted by the better armed and more warlike chivalry of the Crusades. It was then that Saladin projected his Citadel, which was impregnable till the invention of artillery. The Cairo which is still a mediæval city with antique mosques and palaces and baths and fountains and churches, may be divided into three parts— Babylon, El-Katai, and El-Kahira; in other words, the Roman citadel behind Old Cairo , the quarter of which the Tulun Mosque is the centre, divided from the first by the mounds of El-Fustat, and the quarter which stretches from the Citadel to the Muski. It is the last which foreigners know best, though they seldom know more than a few picturesque spots in it, such as the bazars and the Blue Mosque.

I will begin with Babylon, which is now exclusively Christian. It and the well in the Citadel are the only things in Cairo anterior to the Saracen invasion. Its name, Bab-el-On, is thought to imply that it was an outwork of On or Heliopolis, one of the early capitals of Egypt, which is six miles away on the other side of Cairo. In the ‘mounds’ which cover the ruins of Fustat just outside its gates, little dumps of ancient Egyptian antiquities are found. I myself picked up a tiny image of Knum, the Ram-headed god, there, when I was howking for remains of Arab pottery. The Egyptian Babylon still has its Roman walls and one great Roman gate, as fine as those of Rome.

Inside it is a beehive of Copts. The Coptic Babylon is almost an underground city. The Copts built right over their streets as if they were bees, though now they are beginning to leave a little more of them open to the sky. And to reach their churches you always have to dive under a house. These churches are very, very ancient, and go back to the days when the churches were the particular object of Moslem persecution and insult. They are always, moreover, enclosed in a fortress. Those which are not in the ancient Roman citadel, are in ders—or little citadels of their own.

One of them, called the Mo'allaka, or hanging church, because it is built on to a Roman bastion, is among the most beautiful churches in the world; it can be mentioned in the same breath as St. Mark's at Venice or the Royal Chapel at Palermo, for the richness and perfect harmony of its decorations. The original entrance, through an underground passage, which the most savage persecutor would hesitate to enter for fear of a stab in the darkness, is no longer used. In more tolerant times the church has been given an approach of great beauty. In the high wall near the entrance is a white marble Coptic stoup. You enter an octagonal hall with old carved benches round its walls which leads into a gracious courtyard, with a fountain like an old Sicilian monastery and a pergola of vines. At its end are a noble flight of steps and a handsome porch opening into a delightful inner court, like the patios built at Tunis by the exiled Moors of Granada, light and bright, throwing into high relief the old church to which it admits.

You open the door and are almost stunned by the effect. The Mo'allaka is large for a Coptic church, especially when you consider the character of its decorations, for it is lined all round with the most perfect Coptic screens. Kait Bey, the chief builder of mediæval Cairo, four hundred years ago had one imitated on a mosque pulpit. Even in his day this cost him a thousand pounds. These Coptic screens are made of old dark wood, whose polished surface is inlaid with discs of ivory, ebony, and mother-of-pearl. Here they are extremely ancient, and their ivory discs are carved as delicately as the ivory crucifixes and reliquaries in the great days of Byzantine art. These old screens, which have Moresque arches inserted at a later date to lead to the sanctuary, have the mellow lines of antiquity. I suppose the chapels behind the beautiful screens which back on the entrance wall are in theory for the women, who are separated from the men in Coptic churches, for the Mo'allaka has not the usual place allotted to women. One of the chapels contains a very beautiful Byzantine Madonna painted before the Byzantines had lost the roundness and softness of ancient Roman pictures.

This little old church has wonderful grace as well as wonderful softness of colouring, and in its centre is a tall, long, narrow pulpit, made of old marble, which would be like the ambones of the Aracoeli at Rome if it were not supported on fifteen antique marble colonnettes instead of a base, panelled with porphyry and serpentine. In the chapel to the right of the sanctuary is an altar with a rich antique baldachin, a rare feature in Coptic churches, and behind the screens on the right is another antique church, less richly decorated, formed out of a room in the Roman bastion.

I have seen seven antique Coptic churches in and around this Babylon. The most perfect and important is Abu Sargeh, in whose crypt are shown the vaults in which the Holy Family lay concealed during their flight into Egypt. The most interesting is Abu Sefen, which preserves the features of a primitive basilica. Babylon contains also the most ancient Greek cathedral, well restored, built into another Roman bastion, with an arcade of high beauty running round it, and the finest view of Cairo. And just outside it is the oldest Cairo mosque—that of Amr the victorious, who conquered Egypt for the Caliphs, and named the city that he founded Al-Fustat, the City of the Tent. This mosque, going back to the first century of Mohammedanism, is all that remains of Al-Fustat, which was burnt by a twelfth-century Caliph to prevent it falling into the hands of the Crusaders. In the mounds of sand heaped upon its ruins by the winds of the desert any one who likes can fossick for the remains of Arab pottery (all dating from before A.D. 1160), of which such glowing fragments are exhibited in the South Kensington Museum. The almost deserted mosque of Amr has a humble exterior; but, inside, the forest of antique columns, restored in the fifteenth century, give its liwân a noble effect.

There is no better way to enter the city of Ibn Tulun, the second part of the mediæval city, than by walking over the mounds of Fustat, a mountainous desert in miniature, keeping on your right the aqueduct of Saladin, which might, but for its pointed arches, be the work of a Roman Emperor, and, fixing your eyes on the pageant of the Mameluke Tombs, second only to the Tombs of the Caliphs for splendour in the cemeteries of the Mohammedan world, and the Citadel crowned by the soaring Mosque of Mehemet Ali, rivalling the marvellous skyline of the Golden Horn. Behind the mosque and the tombs are the Golden Hills of the Mokattam range, with their horizon of desert broken by antique mosques, the true Citadel for Cairo.

In El-Katai, the city of Ibn Tulun, there is not a trace of the famous Golden House, for which he and his son exhausted the art, the luxury, and the imaginativeness of their times. But of Ibn Tulun's mosque only the colour and the pulpit carvings have gone, though a thousand years are beginning to tell their tale on the rich plaster tracery of the windows of the clerestory at the back of the sanctuary. The hardest stone of Gothic church-builders would have stood no longer than this marvellous stucco. The mosque is of vast extent, one of the largest in the world, and every roof and every pier is standing in its place, though it was abandoned for the very poor to fill with mud houses till the wise English rule induced the Mohammedan Wakfs to look after their monuments. It was the first mosque to employ piers instead of columns, the suggestion of a Christian slave, for otherwise every church in Egypt would have been robbed of the columns garnered from antique temples. In the centre stands the famous minaret, with an outside staircase winding round its exterior, for which Ibn Tulun twisted the design out of a piece of paper, when his architect's ingenuity ran dry.

At the back of the mosque—if you can find your tortuous way beneath the tall, overhanging houses of the Mameluke period, whose harem windows (vast oriels decorated with old meshrebiya screens) are a delight to artists—lies the Mosque of Kait Bey, one of the gems of Cairo, the most perfect specimen of the period when Egyptian mosques ceased to be open cloisters, with their Eastern colonnade deepened to shelter the worshippers from the sun as they prostrated themselves before the mihrab.

The Kait Bey type of mosque was like the hall of an emir's palace, hardly longer than its height, with a richly painted roof, and windows with tiny bits of coloured glass set like gems in a delicate filigree of plaster. The sunken floor under the exquisitely graceful dome was inlaid, like the walls, in rare marbles with the choicest taste, and surrounded by four daïses, cut off by the lofty Moorish arches which sustained the dome. The eastern daïs was adorned with a mihrab in delicate mosaics, and a tall pulpit with a Jacob's ladder stair of the same rare woodwork as the Coptic screens.

No part of Cairo is so rich in small ancient buildings as El-Katai. Between it and El-Kahira lie the ancient mosques and dervish tekkes of the Hilmiya and the Gamamise, leading to the palace of Sheikh Sadat, the type of the great Arab mansion, where, till he was poisoned by a would-be son-in-law a few years ago, the chief descendant of the Prophet lived. His palace is quite a castle, which has a selamlik as large as a mosque, with its lofty walls inlaid with old Persian tiles, and a range of superb oriels, screened by the richest meshrebiya, for the ladies of the harem, over a feudal gateway.

There are three approaches from El-Katai to the Bab-es-Suweyla, the chief gate of El-Kahira—the Bazar of the Armourers, starting by Sultan Hassan's mosque, the most majestic in Cairo; the Sharia Serougiya, a little to the left of this, and the Sharia-el-Magar, leading down from the shoulder of the Citadel hill. All of them abound in mediæval beauties. The Sharia Serougiya takes you past a succession of little mosques with domes which are dreams of slender grace, and a few old mansions, into the busy Bazar of the Tentmakers, who embroider the awnings which render Mohammedan festivals so gay. At its end is the Bab-es-Suweyla. The Sûk of the Armourers conducts you through a magnificent old street lined on both sides with ancient Arab mansions, and containing the lovely mediæval baths of Sultan Beshtak, still in use, to the back of the El-Merdani mosque, five centuries old, the most gracious in all Cairo, with its wide gateways revealing its sunny court and the antique glories of its sanctuary.

In the Haret-es-Merdani is the old mansion whose court-yard artists love to paint. For one side of it is rich with all the architectural graces of the Arabs—its Mak'ad or open hall, has three great arches rising to the roof, a recessed doorway, almost as lofty, at the head of the steps which lead up from the court, and a balcony graced with two pavilions of meshrebiya for the harem ladies: its windows are screened with old woodwork, and its walls are arabesqued. At El-Merdani this joins the Sharia-el-Tabbana, the continuation of the Sharia-el-Magar, the finest of the three approaches. For that starts on the ridge, between the procession of old mosques which leads up from Sultan Hassan's mosque to the gate of the Citadel, and the lordly mediæval cemetery called the Tombs of the Caliphs, whose shrines, stretching into the desert, form the most beautiful and romantic vision in the kingdom of Arabian art.

From this point the road leads swiftly down past mosque after mosque, mansion after mansion—fantastic creations, mostly like Ibrahim Agha's (called the Blue Mosque from the old Persian tiles which line its spacious sanctuary), mellowed by the hands of time and decay into lines of exquisite softness.

The Kitchmas mosque, perfect, and of the fifteenth century, is built across the street. As you round it you come on a vision hardly less lovely than the Tombs of the Caliphs. For there, below you, capped by the fantastic minarets of the old El-Muayyad mosque, profiled against the blue Egyptian sky, is the Bab-es-Suweyla gate—the heart of ancient Cairo.

Here you can put off Europe and modernity as the worshipper, entering the mosque beside the gate, puts off his shoes. For in the Sukkariya, the broad road spanned by the gate—though it is vulgarised by European haberdashery, you are never out of sight of one of its noble mosques and sebils. The street, in Arab fashion, changes its name twice or thrice before you reach the Sudanese bazar, with its painted chests and leopard skins, and turn up to the vast and ancient precincts of El-Azhar, the thousand-year-old university of all Islam.

Step across the Muski, and for a while the spell is broken, for, though the Khordaguiya is guarded at its entrance by an ancient mosque, and has on its left the narrow-laned bazar, crowded with veiled women, where the goldsmiths are forging their delicate filigree over charcoal flames, this street, and the brass market at its end, have intrusions of foreigners and foreign wares flowing out of the Khan-il-Khalil,  the great bazar on the right, where the sellers of carpets, embroideries, precious stones, laces, and antiquities arrange their wares in foreign ways for the foreigners to buy.

You are soon through this nightmare and back in your pleasant dream of the Middle Ages in the Mosque land of El-Nahassin, the most romantic highway of antiquity in all Cairo. The Muristan and mosque of Sultan Kalaûn, the mosque and tomb of Sultan En-Nasr, the mosque of Sultan Barkûk, and the old sheikh's house beyond—where else is such a thicket of the flowers of old Arab architecture to be found? This majestic cluster of mosques has a Gothic richness and a Gothic gateway, a captive from Acre; the exquisite minarets present a diapering of hoary stone, like the handiwork of the lacemaker or the chaser of precious metals. And, within, there is every antique grace, from the ruins in the hospital of Kalaûn and the tomb of En-Nasr to the resurrection of mediæval art, from its ashes in Kalaûn's mosque, and the imperishable splendour of the fifteenth century.

There are the ruins of a Caliph's palace opposite and other old mosques beyond—El-Hakim itself, indeed, and the mighty wall and gates of the age of Saladin; but we must turn up to the Beit-el-Kadi, with the only five-arched Mak'ad in Cairo. Was it not the palace of the Grand Cadi, and of the Caliphs of El-Kahira before him?

Turning our backs on this, we are soon in the Gamaliya, the stronghold of Cairo mediævalism, the street which delights the heart of the Arab. At its entrance, look where you will, you see noble old Mameluke palaces overshadowing the street, with their ranges of harem oriels screened with the old brown pierced woodwork of their meshrebiya. Here is a ruined mosque; there is a stately fountain; there one of the ancient gates for closing the ends of streets at night. Push boldly through it. Step to the end of the alley and knock at a feudal doorway. This is the palace of Sultan Beybars. The major-domo of the courteous sheikh will come out and conduct you through a leafy court, with the grandest screen of meshrebiya in all Cairo, resting on the garden hall at the end, into the throne-room of Sultan Beybars, who died six hundred years ago. The carved wood throne, from which he administered justice, stands where it stood. Behind that is the hall of the fêtes of the harem, like a mosque of Kait Bey, as high as it is long, with mellow-painted ceiling and graceful moresco arches to separate the daïses from the sunken floor, tessellated with rare marbles, under the cupola. But here this floor has an added grace—an exquisite Moorish fountain in its centre, and the daïses are spread with the rich carpets and soft divans, which betoken that its mediæval splendour does not form a museum, but the home in which a Cairo notable of to-day leads his luxurious life.

 

PART I. ANECDOTES ILLUSTRATING THE EGYPTIAN CHARACTER

CHAPTER .I English as She is Wrote in Egypt

SUHAG (KISM) [UPP. EGYPT]. “At the First of April 1900.  “Messrs. TROLLOPE, SONS & CO., Bristol. “Gentlemen,

 “Wherefore have you not send me that sope—I am order from you. His it because you think my money is not so good as nobody else.

“Damn you Trollup, Sons & Co., wherefore have you not send me the sope—sent it at once and oblige.

“Your humble servant, “HASSAN, HASSAN EL KAMEL.

 “After I write this my wife have found the sope under the counter.”

>Killed by a serpent while it was trying to commit suicide. 

When Cromwell Rhodes had returned to England a Nekla correspondent sent him the following account of what he aptly termed a “strange event”:

“While a native from Kafr Awana, which is half a mile from Nekla, Behera, was fast asleep in the middle of the day under the shade of a tree in the field, some days ago, a serpent suddenly entered his mouth. The fellah got up at once, but, alas, everything was already in. He then kept it in mind day and night for a few days, during which he grew pale and ill and at last died, a murder of the would-be-killed reptile.”

Egyptians have a habit of sleeping with their mouths open. Under an arch by the Beit-el-Kadi at Cairo, I came upon a seller of magenta-coloured celluloid bracelets sleeping, with her head thrown back over the stone designed to prevent carriages from going too near the wall. Her mouth was like a black tunnel—you could not see a particle of red on tongue or palate, gums or linings—they were so thickly coated with crawling flies. It was large enough to take in a short snake like Cleopatra's asp, quite comfortably.

Mr. S. Awny is a specimen of the educated Egyptian, whom the Nationalist Press in Egypt considers ripe to govern the country—rather a good specimen, for his heart is in the right place. He wrote this:

“Serious Indictment.

“To the Editor “Of the Egyptian Morning News.

“SIR,

“Have they pitied the Poor, “Nay Nay.

“Now gently, gently! Thou our reverned Ministry of Public Instruction! Again, slowly! slowly! Thou our good honourable Ministry.

“Be patient and hurry not in publishing thy recent syllabus of the coming year: have the kindness as to look notionally and attentively at thy poor needed subject whom I supposed thou tyrannized and oppressed over. Oh, Mine tremulous hand just stop shaking, I pray, and firmly hold the glow-worm to pen all what thou could for defending about the duties of the poor whom I believe are always downhearted and were to be frequently seen shedding their hot tears from their sweet eyes for being unlucked enough.

“Conveniently thou mine jealous pen arise! Awake! Arise! I did not count you but for such states, and times, weep loudly, cry openly, shout in the vales of the columns of the daily newspapers—despair not of finding what you call a wakeful assistant who may candidly join his cry with your's: dare and fear not any bit of critical ideas, but reality and truth—do favour please and be a good vociferous to public, care not whether they call you an agitator or not, simply you have nothing to lean on, but your duties against your lovely country-home. Stop mockery, I say, you reprehensible criticiser who wants as it appears to me to test for some time shall to come. It is not I who write these pathetic lines, in fact it is the 12 and 16 £E. which the ministry has assigned as a school fees: it is the 4 £E. which our Public Instruction has issued as fees for entering the general examinations of the certificates: it is the poors' mercy which compiled me to write and venture to ask our Ministry 3 questions, and need not but answers if any can.

“1. Why the Ministry increased the school fees? Is it for increasing the teachers' salaries, or, do it to purchase with play grounds for football as usual…?

“2. Why the Ministry increased the examinations fees? Do it mean to abate the number of the candidates? Do it need not any body to apply…?

“3. What does the Ministry think by doing such deeds? Do it mean to get away the poor student and not to let them be taught or what it be is? If so, where do the poor go?

“If God has given me all tongues, I declure, it would do nothing for me to express my thoughts against the Ministry. Nowadays have we ever heard that any abroad ministry was to issued hard rules and laes for their poor to dismiss them away from schools and colleges? Have we ever heard from abroad that a pupil was last year in the fourth primary class, then was to be seen appointed as a teacher in his primary school again in year after? Have we ever heard any country abolished its training college of those whom are certificated with the ‘secondaries’ as Egypt, and exchanged it for ‘Half Central Normal’ for those whom are certificated with ‘primaries’ and would they were to stay all day long, only for sorrow half special days per month to be obliged to go? Have we ever heard a full-teacher being certificated with the ‘deplome’ which he had suffered great deal of trouble in obtaining it, and perhaps nearly has lost his health, then was to receive in spite of wishes 6 £E. per month, and for some further time if was fortuned enough 8 £E.? Have we ever heard a secretary insulted and blamed teachers while in a class before schollars? Have we ever, etc.…?

“Now our Ministry think and justly be sure that none in the coming year are to enter your schools' gates, but, few influently moneyed students, whilst the others who are poor and umoneyed students can be kindly welcomed by national schools and colleges which, all the world aware, are more better in teaching and instructing than yours, for it collected most of your wise olden good fitted teachers whom wearied your service.

“I am,

“Sir,

“Yours, etc., “S. AWNY.

“TANTA.”

This is how the Indictment impressed the Editor of the paper:

“We have read the foregoing through and through many times, and have finally come to the conclusion that Mr. Awny's letter constitutes a most serious indictment, and, as such, we recommend it to the study of the Ministry of Public Instruction.—E.M.N.”

I am fortunately in a position to give my readers a picture of Awnys in the making, for Berkeley, a friend of mine, who was a schoolmaster in Egypt, and wished to know the Egyptian boy's mind, set his class the following subjects for essays:

1. Write an account of life in the country you would like to live in.

2. Write an account of the life of the boy from his birth to his marriage.

The boys under him were of all ages up to fifty-three, though only one reached that, and the oldest of the rest was nowhere near thirty. The man of fifty-three had a son and grandson in the same class, and he was below both of them. He and his son were not the only fathers. I dilated upon the Egyptian boy's ideas of discipline, honour, and sport in my book, “Egypt and the English,” but I reserved the flowers of his composition for this volume, so I borrowed these essays from my friend.

Judging by the minuteness with which they describe the initial stage of our existence Egyptian boys seem to come in for the full amount of sense which they will afterwards enjoy from the moment that they are born.

It is interesting to note what countries appealed most to the young Egyptian. At least half of them put Turkey first, Switzerland came next, closely followed by Syria and the Desert. France and England had three each, Italy, the United States, and Japan one each. None of them desired to go to Germany.

In the essays upon Turkey, they generally began by saying that they wished to go to Turkey because its laws (under the late Sultan) were so much better and so much better administered than those of other countries, or because it had such a beautiful climate—its climate in reality being on a par with its institutions. Gradually it leaked out that they wanted to go to Turkey because it was the chief Mohammedan country, and to see “the good Sultan” (who has recently been deposed because Turkey could not tolerate his vices any longer).

Syria was likewise acceptable in the main because it belonged to a Mohammedan sovereign. But it had the incidental advantages of being the nearest and cheapest place to get to from Egypt, and the cheapest place to live in, and full of delightful summer-resorts well known to Egyptians, and of having Arabic for the country's language.

The boys who turned their eyes towards Switzerland were mostly ambitious of being doctors. Switzerland means education to the Egyptian, for education is cheap there, and much of it is conducted in French, which many Egyptians understand. Also to the dwellers on the hot, dry plains of Egypt the descriptions of snow-covered mountains and large fresh-water lakes are irresistibly attractive. The boy who wanted to go to the United States had perfectly vague ideas. The boy who wanted to go to Japan was the best educated and the best informed of all. His essay read almost like an English boy's, and was correctly spelt, and the half-dozen boys who chose England and France were also among the most advanced in spelling and grammar, and had tolerably accurate ideas of what they wished to see and do. They knew what institutions they wished to study. One feature was common to all, and significant: they were all glib. The Egyptian is always glib, and plausible, and anxious to create a good impression. The trouble with him is that he has no backbone.

Here are the essays: I give them all, good, bad, and indifferent, that the reader may see the workings of the Egyptian mind. He must remember that some of the writers of these guileless effusions were quite grown up—one, as I have said, was fifty-three—and judge how far the writers have in them the making of useful legislators.

“When the woman lays a child, she puts him in a small cloths made for that purpose and she nurses him for about two years. Then the child will begin to creep on his hands and kneels and each the walls. At the same time his mother teach him some trifles of language. Then the child will play at the door of his house and sometimes in the lanes with the boys who agree with him in age. At the age of seven, his father will send him to a kuttab, in which he will stay about a year. Then if the father is poor he will send his son to a workshop to learn some arts; but if the father is rich he will send his son to the schools to learn the lessons. After taking the certificates, the boy will be a man and will be employed in a service in the government. After that his father will marry him a beautiful girl and the boy will live with her happy.

MOSTAFA BAKIR”

 “When the boy is born his father brings him a nurse, which give him her milk till he knows how to walk and to eat and to drink. When the boy grows old his father sends him to the Kuttab, where he knows how to write and read well. After the Kuttab his father sends him to school and obtains the last certificate he might be an avocate or something else, or he gows to El Azhar where he knows one religion, or might be a farmer.

“HAMID WASFY.”

“When we are borne we are coached until we are able to speak, then his parents educate him, and when he becomes suitable for work, he may go to some art if he were poor and to go to school if they were rich or middle. Those go to school are said to take three, or eighter to take two or one at the least, and when they appointed, they are married after a few years after.

“OSMAN BADRAN.”

“The father and the mother of a boy must take care of his politeness and his learning from the time in which he was young till that in which he was a man.

“I know a boy who was sent to school when he was six years old, this boy was very polite, very clever, also by this qualities his teachers loved him very much and so his parents. This boy was always the top of his class by this, he took all his certificates in a short time. When he was able to know the good and bad things that is useful or not to his country, he did many good works and writes many useful books so in a very high rank between his natives and was married with a Pasha's daughter.

“MOHAMMED FERID.”

“When a boy is born his mother take care and breed him until the 7th of his age. After this his father take care of him by sending him schools if he was rich in order to be well-educate. After the boy take the Primary Education Certificate, enter the secondary school if he wants, to take the Secondary Certificate. After this he enter the High School to take the Doblomatical Certificate. Then became a great man, and is appointed in a high rank, or something which is fit for his high birth. But if his father is poor he sends him to one of the arts to be well experience in one of the arts. After this, the boy assists his father and his relative with money, if they were poor. After he enjoys in wealth and health, he married and became a father of a family.

“NAIM YOUSEF HASSAN.”

“When a boy is born he is well looked after by his nurses and parents. He is suckled till the 2nd of his age. After this his is taught to eat, and when he reaches the 5th of his age he will be sent to a kuttab, where he spends a year or two, and after this he will be sent a school till he finishes all the lessons and takes his diploma. That is in the case when his parents are rich. In this case he will be as he wishes, if he is willing to be employed he will be or if he prefers to go to one of the countries of Europe to learn more he will go where he prefers when he comes and be employed, he will marry whenever he likes. Some rich people think that they are not living till they see their boy married so they compell him to marry while in a shool, and that sometimes will be when he has not yet taken the primary certificate; of course this is a bad habit and even looses the boy's fortune from future. If they parents of the born boy are poor they sent him as a helper to an artist, such as a carpenter or a tailor to be taught, in the 5th of his age. Then he will marry when he is old enough and fit for it.

“MOHAMMED RUSHOYETRAFA.”

“When a child is born his father and his mother keeps him from anything hurt him and from cold and hot, and if his mother is not able to feed him from her nuture mile, they bring to him a nurse to serve and feed him. The child stays on that matter till he is able to take food and water. After that his father sends him to schools, and if his father is a poor one, he sends him to any work to be an artificial. Both the learned one and the artificial will follow their work till they are able to serve in the states or they do anything from which they bring money to live on, at that time they can marriage and will be a man like his father.

“MAHMOUD AHMED EL SWIFI.”

“When the child is born, his mother begin to be engaged of his employment. She suck him from her milk, wash his body, clean his clothes, tiol his dressings, etc. When the child is two years old she begin to prevent him from sucking her milk, and to give him a light food according to his stomach. She still engaging in his breeding till he is seven years old. His father then send him to the Kottab to learn the simple writing and reading. He sent him then to a primary School to learn the first lessons. As he obtained the primary Education Certificate he is sent to the Secondary School, and then to a high school such as Low or Medicine or engineering schools to complete his lessons there. When he obtained the Deplom he begin to seek for a vacant post in the Government offices, or he begin to make a doctor or Layer or an engineer.

“MOHAMED FAHMY K.”

“As the boy is born his mother takes care in feeding him with her fresh milk, till he reach the 3rd from his age. At this time his parents take care in educating him—firstly home education, secondly Kottab education till he reach the 5th from his age. At this time his father sent him to school to be educated more and more by reading and learning the useful books and by hearing the good advices from his teachers. He continue so till obtaining the Primary Education Certificate. … If he is poor and cannot complete his study in the High Schools, he will be employed in an office. During his employment his marriage will be happened, but if he is rich and able to complete his study he remains without marriaging till he obtain the secondary and the Deploma Certificates. After obtaining these high certificates, he will be employed in a high rank and his marriage will be happened and live a happy life.

“Written by your pupil MOHAMMED ATIAH.”

“A boy is borned mindless, his mother looks for him till he leaves her milk so, they begin to rear him till he comes to the 7th of his age, he enter the primary school for four years, then he takes the primary certificate, then enters the secondary school and after four years takes the secondary certificate, he then enters the high schools, any work he wished to go the school of law, polytechnic, agriculture, medicine, etc., in this time he can marriage and then stay in the serve of his country till he neither die or the government turns him out.

“GHALI SOLIMAN.”

“So sooner the boy was born, the nurse began to give him her milk till he was fourty days of old, the doctor vaccinated him. When he was one years of age, the nurse put some sour liquid, not poisonous, on her breasts, so that when the boy take it, he dislike the breasts. Then his mother and father began to teach him the good habits as faithfulness, obedience, truth and to be kind for everyone. When he was 6 years of age his father enter him in a primary school and after finishing the primary lessons, he enter him a Secondary school, and when he won the Secondary certificate he enter him a High School. Then when he employed in a position his father began to engage for him an honest wife. After short time he marriage with her.

“MOHAMMED SAID.”

“The boy as soon as he is borne, he taken by the nurse to give him milk and in order to grow to the 1st year of age. After that the nurse gives him little food till he reaches the 4th year of his age, then they sent him to the kuttab, there he learns the alphabets and to write and read little; he stays in the kuttabe one or two years and then he goes to the primary school; there he learns more; and stays 4 years and takes the Primary Certificate. He then goes to the secondary school and stays 4 years also and take its certificate, then he goes to a higher school. If he wants to be a doctor he goes to a ‘Doctorischool,’ and if he wants to be an engineer he goes to the engineering school and so on. After he takes the Doblomo he is now a good man and wants to be married so he can take a wife and makes a house for his own and wife, he now has servants and nurses to nurse his sons in order to grow men like him. The boy must prays his God when he is 15 years old.

“MOHAMMED ABD EL HALIM SIRRY.”

“If I were asked I would say that I should live in England because I know only English and Arabic, no more, so I am able to speak with English individual and government. For e.g. if I were to go at school and take some certificates and then I may be appointed there. On the whole men must depart to other nations so as to gain knowledge and science, and to increase them lest it shall be lost.

“OSMAN BADRAN.”

“I should like to be one of the inhabitans of the deserts. My life will be in a great pleasure far out from my home and relatives. I shall sleep under the sky in the open air, and I can bear the heat and cold especially for my wish. I prefers to eat the dates, found on the trees where better than I eat the white bread and meat for specially my wish. I can walk throught the desert with my pistol in my hand and not to fear any fierce animal even in day, and night specially for my wish. My wish will be the best I see for I want to be one of the inhabitants of the desert. At night I watch the purple sky, the bright moon, and the diamond stars which lead me while walking—they are my great friends. Everyday I prey my God in the calm dawn, in the silence of the desert at noon, in the fresh wind in the afternoon, in the evening, and in the dark while the moon appears, thereupon I shall be one of the hermit men in the world.

“MUSTAPHA ALY.”

There is poetry in this:

“If I am a learned man, I should live in the country, where there is no noise and no people to interrupt me from my work, I think of many sciences, which are not known to us, and I write my best and useful thoughts on paper to stay and to be used after my death; but if I dwell the cities, the good views and my ambition in a high rank of life might prevent me from authoring.

“Now, in this age, I like to live, without regarding Egypt, in France which is the most civilised country in the world, as I heard. My inclination to France is caused from its good laws and also I like to learn of its universities.

“MOH. MOGHAZY.”

“After two or three years I am going to leave for Switzerland to be a student of one its colleges. I am going to be a doctor, as I saw that doctors receive much money and all the people love them when they are clever and do all their doing only for God not for thanks. I heard about Switzerland from many years ago that it is very good country, as its colleges are fit for puting out good doctors. After I receive the Deplome I will return to Egypt again, as I am coming I am going to see my home, where my old family is, and live among them some months and then come back to Egypt, as I grow a good doctor and a chief rich one, I shall leave for America, because she is a beautiful country, and see London, and go to France and Turkey and Russia and Japan then to India and to Mecca and Medina for the Prophet. This journey takes me two or three or four years, then when I return back to Egypt I am going to be more chief as I see my curious thing to mention. Then go to America and live there, and when I see that I am ill and going to die I will come back or I shall ask them to return back my body after death.

“The reason for leaving and coming and leaving back again is to enlarge my thoughts, as One is not created to be as well as a donkey.

“MOS. EL MAHDY.”

“Everyone wishes to live in the open air. The deserts are the places where the open air founds. The deserts contain many animals, for him to shoot and to eat. There he can be taught how to rid and how to use the gun. This a very good lesson to him. That is the only reason for him to be courage and brave. There he could walk at night and meet some animals and therefore he could be able to meet the fierce animals and shoot them.