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296

PALACE OF THE BASHA.

structed, the whole is a noble work, and quite capable of supplying the citadel in case of an attack.

In our walks through the citadel we were conducted to the palace of the great master of Egypt. A noble lofty hall opened to a splendid staircase of marble, and from the gallery to which it conducted we were led into the presence chamber, a large and wellproportioned apartment, fitted up with great taste, and partaking of the European as well as the Arabic style. It was perfectly devoid of what we would call furniture; a deewan, or low seat, ran round three sides of the room, raised about two feet from the floor, covered with well-stuffed cushions, and at each corner was placed a velvet and gold cushion, and an embroidered carpet—that for the Básha on the right hand side being of most elegant and costly workmanship. In an arched recess, at the lower end, were two slender Corinthian pillars, formed of the same marble of which the mosque is being built. A superb Persian carpet, and light blue silk windowcurtains completed the furniture. The roof is domed, and above the cornice are painted in perspective, views of all the different seats and palaces of Mohammad Alée. These, although not very well executed, gave an air of taste and lightness to the room. Adjoining it is a small closet for holding private conferences; and where, no doubt, the sharp piercing eye of the Basha so often endeavours to read the mind of the wily diplomate. Beside it is the entrance to the hareém, where some of the vice

THE ARMS FACTORY.

297

regal family still reside. A thick crimson curtain hangs before the forbidden entrance, behind which some of our party attempted to look; and, although a massive door was all they could see, it so frightened the attendant, that he, in a most beseeching tone cried out “ Oh Allah forbid, Allah forbid.”

Within the walls of the enclosure is an old tower of the Blenheim style of architecture, where the telegraph is worked that communicates with Alexandria.

We next visited the arms factory, where there were 1500 men at work, some of whom appeared most admirable artisans. I could not but wish them a better employment, but I anticipated the day when the same hands shall be turned towards the more useful art of erecting steam-engines to increase the irrigation of the Nile. Some of the arms made here would not disgrace Birmingham. Each department is separate, and it has a most extensive cannon foundry; most of the guns of Mohammad Alée are brass, of which he is particularly proud. Over the door of the boring department is this inscription—“ Vive Moham'mad Alée, patron de les arts !” Originally the overseers of each of these works, denominated instructors, were foreigners, but wherever it was possible they have been superseded by native hands.*

Our way out of the citadel lay through a place

* This and other arms factories in Cairo are capable of sending out 4000 muskets a month.

298

MASSACRE OF THE MEMLOOKS.

that will be ever memorable in Egypt, and one of the first inquired for by the traveller; the spot where the murder of the Memlooks took place. It is a long narrow entrance, with high battlements on either side, the upper gate leading to the palace of the Basha, the lower opening into the space

of the mosque of Sooltan Hassan. Here on the festival held on Toussoon's becoming a Basha they were invited, and when the procession of 500 was ranged in this narrow pass, both gates were closed, and the troops who were concealed behind the breast-wall, rose and poured down a fire that in a few minutes annihilated the dynasty of 600 years.

There were no means of escaping, or of attacking their destroyers—one instance alone occurred—a Memlook bey, amidst the shower of balls that poured round him, perceived a narrow staircase leading to the rampart, up which in a moment of despair he forced his horse, which actually clambered up the passage; and fighting his way through the soldiers on the ramparts, leaped him over the parapet of the turret on the right side of the gate, and, strange to say, although the horse was crushed in pieces, the man escaped unhurt. He fled for refuge to the adjoining mosque, and is still alive in Cairo, his life being granted him by the Basha, whom it is said he particularly resembles in appearance. What a scene must not this narrow space have presented with the bodies of 500 men, arrayed in all the gorgeous trappings with which they delighted to deck them

MOSQUE OF SOOLTAN HASSAN.

299

selves, mingled with the carcases of their splendidly caparisoned horses ; motionless in death but still retaining the expression of proud defiance, mortal fear, or wild despair, in which they severally met their cruel and unavoidable fate.

This act of Mohammad Alee's has been often discussed, and doing so now would be to review his whole life, policy, and government of Egypt. Certain it is he could have taken no step towards the improvement of the country during the existence of those ruthless tyrants, whose bodies became as it were stepping-stones to his present greatness.

The mosque of Sooltan Hassan is one of the best worth visiting in Cairo ; it was formerly inaccessible to Christians, or required a special order, but our large party did not experience the slightest difficulty in gaining admission. It is an old building of great height and extent, but like most public buildings in this crowded city, it is difficult to obtain a proper view of it. The porch and doorway are of great size and beauty, but at present much dilapidated. The ornamental work of the roof hangs like so many stalactites, in the most extraordinary manner; the court is more remarkable for its extent than beauty, and is paved with a variety of black and white marbles, and porphyry, the general decoration of the mosques of Cairo. The usual fountain plays in the centre, and from it we looked through a series of light arches and colonnades into the interior, which we were about to enter,

300

INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE.

when a difficulty arose, as not even the moollah, or pious Moos’lim would enter into his place of worship without taking off his shoes; but some of our party wearing straps and tight boots were unwilling to take them off lest they might not get them on again. This difficulty was however got over by our attendant, who lifting up the mat before us, permitted us to proceed with him round the walls of the interior.

A number of pious Moos’lims were at their devotions, and although they looked at the intrusion of the Giaours with a scowling eye, we were allowed to pass unmolested. A few years ago and it is more than probable death would have awaited the Christian who should dare to pollute a mosque with his shoes on; as it was, if one of us had touched the mat it would have been deemed impure, and must have been burned. In this way we were conducted round the mosque to an enclosure at the extreme end, where the tomb of Sooltan Hassan stands, constructed of plain black and white marble, with a very old edition of the Kooran laid upon its top, the whole surrounded by a close and ornamented grating. The dome that covers this part of the mosque must have been originally of great beauty, but its principal attraction, the stalactite work, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and coloured glass, is now fast falling into decay. On the floor are stains, said to arise from the blood shed in one of the many disgraceful broils which took place during the reign

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