תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

board each ship. The men are now allowed to smoke in watches, and a certain number each night are permitted to go to their families, who live near the town. There was an air of great simplicity in the officers' berths, even in that of the captain's ; a plain deewan surrounded two sides of the cabin-a table with writing materials, and a couple of chairs and on the side of each was hung a plain glazed frame, in which was written the name of God, and sometimes a verse of the Koorán underneath.From a desire to avoid even the appearance

of

any graven image," there are no figure-heads to any of the Egyptian vessels. There is a naval academy at Alexandria, where the

young

officers are instructed; a noble establishment, having accommodation for 1200 students.

There is an extensive native hospital outside the city, in the large barracks erected by Napoleon, but in a professional point of view it is lamentably deficient. The chief surgeon, an Italian, was going his rounds at the time I called. In addition to a most incongruous Franko-Turkish costume, he had on a large linen apron, tucked under his chin, of any colour but white, with a capacious pocket in front, well stored with plasters, pills, and potions, caustics and instruments, which were plied in turns as he went along, preceded by an hospital mate, with a tin pan containing burning incense, which, though a perfume and highly needful, was stifling in the extreme.

THE SLAVE MARKET.

267

There are many good bazaars in Alexandria, and in the Frank quarter, shops kept mostly by Greeks and Italians, where every description of European article may be obtained. By far the best part of the modern town is that lately built by the Basha, for the residence of the different consuls. This encloses a handsome square, and the houses, which are mostly detached, are some of the finest in Egypt. On the roof of each is placed a flagstaff, which each diplomat endeavours to erect higher than the rest.

The slave market here is so insignificant, that but for the incident of my introduction into it, I should have passed it over. While groping my way one day through some of the dirtiest and darkest parts of the city, our Maltese servant, Paulo, assuming a most comic grin, ushered me suddenly through a small, arched passage, into a filthy, gloomy court, little removed in wretchedness from an Irish pound. On entering, about a dozen or two young creatures of both sexes, but principally girls, perfectly black, and with scarcely a rag of covering on them, rushed tumultuously out of the low dens by which the court was surrounded, wondering at my Frank dress, and particularly delighted at the sight of a dead flamingo I carried in my hand, and which they seemed to recognize as an old acquaintance, these birds being very plenty in the Dongola country, from whence most of those slaves are taken. So sudden and unexpected was my entré,

268

THE FISH MARKET.

and so very strange the scene, that I almost forgot where I was, till an involuntary start awoke me from my reverie, as one of the slave dealers, a most kidnapping-looking scoundrel, stept up, and inquired if I wished to become a purchaser. I did not, as I dared not, knock him down.

The greater number of those slaves are girls, from ten to fifteen years of age, and generally bought for the purpose of household servants. They seemed quite unconscious of a situation which Christians look upon as so degrading. These young ladies, although nearly in a state of nature, had all necklaces and bracelets of blue beads—had their hair plaited in small twists, and were already beginning to assume the modesty of Mohammadan women, and to attempt a covering over their faces, while the rest of their persons were totally devoid of garments !

The fish-market is very uncertain ; at times it has a good supply both of sea-fish and those procured in the Nile, and the different ponds, and lagoons left by the inundation, particularly the binney of Bruce, and mullet, the largest I have ever seen, some weighing from eight to one hundred pounds.*

The number of dromedaries in Alexandria is very great, on account of the different caravans, and hundreds of young ones may be seen daily in the neigh

* See Appendix L.

[blocks in formation]

bourhood. Except, perhaps, a young buffalo, no animal presents a more grotesque appearance than a young camel or dromedary, with a thick coating of hair, of a very light fawn colour, almost approaching to white; their thin, drawn-up body, which at this age appears even shorter than in adult life, supported on legs that look like stilts, and with an awkwardness of gait natural to all, but rendered truly ridiculous, by their attempt at playful gambol. It is curious that all the young I have ever seen of this beautifully constructed animal, have a quantity of shaggy hair ; this, in some places, rather increases as they grow up, especially in camels, which are habituated to the variable climate of parts of Asia Minor. Here, they are, however, all nearly devoid of hair, when full grown. Now, although the camel is well adapted to receive its Arab name

“the ship of the desert”—yet in the warm climates where they are now known, whence comes this provision of warm clothing ? What does remain on them is close shaven, except a tuft on either hip, and on the forehead, and the tail, which is closely clipt on the back, but with a row of stiff hairs on either side, like the shaft and plumelets of a feather. The dromedaries here are much larger than those of the Canary Islands. The true Bactrian, or two-hunched camel, is unknown in this part of the east, and is now extremely rare. The distinction made in common usage between the camel and dromedary, is the same as that between

270

HISTORY OF THE DROMEDARY.

the dray and the race-horse. The former being animals of exceeding slow gait, clumsy make, and solely adapted for burden ; while the latter, which are very rare, in comparison with the number of the others, are much taller, and slighter made; more light, easy, and active in their movements, going at a pace of eight or ten miles an hour ; travelling upwards of seventy miles a day, and used solely for the purpose of dispatch, and by the couriers, who sit cross-legged on a wooden framework, placed upon the hump. The movement is a kind of slinging trot, the animal moving its long neck from side to side as it goes along. They are generally very smooth, in good condition, and may be at once known by their “ blood.” It appears to be to such a beast that Jeremiah alludes, when speaking of the “swift dromedary.” The water is carried about the city in large leathern bags, slung on the sides of camels, and these are most miserable-looking brutes. Docile and obedient as the camel generally is, yet when vexed and enraged, it becomes a truly formidable animal. When heated or overburdened, besides attempting to lie down, they have a power of inflating the pinkish flaccid membrane of the mouth and tongue, and blowing it out of the side of the mouth, where it hangs down a considerable way, covered with frothy saliva ; the animal moves its head rapidly from side to side, and frequently (if ridden) turns round, and looks furiously into

« הקודםהמשך »