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306

SUBURBS OF CAIRO.

sun.

of Cairo. On the other side from that we are now upon, the fertile, verdant valley of Egypt, chequered with waving palms, spreads from either side of its mother Nile, while here the boundless arid sands commence in gentle undulations, now covered with the tents and horses of the rear of the Mekka pilgrimage, the major part of which set off yesterday. Some thousands still remained, and the spectacle they afforded was most imposing. Hundreds upon hundreds of tents and pavillions, many of silk, and of different colours, glistened in the

The horses were tied by the forefoot to one of the stakes of the tent-ropes;* many of them were of great beauty, as to shape and power, but few in what an English jockey would call high condition, I was particularly struck with their exceeding gentleness, and apparent affection for the children, who, with the greatest safety, played over any part of their bodies.

Hundreds of camels were ranged in rows upon their haunches, waiting to be loaded. of knowing when they are sufficiently loaded is truly wonderful in these animals. The moment a single stone weight of burden is placed upon it above what it is in the habit of carrying, it becomes uneasy, utters its threatening

The power

* Such was the method used in the time of Elisha, when the Syrians fled and left the “ horses and asses tied, and the tents as they were." 2nd Kings, vii. 10.

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note, and attempts to rise ; if it be held down, and the attempt to over-load it is persisted in, it becomes quite ungovernable, and rises up in spite of every effort of the attendant to keep it down.

Amidst the tents was held a kind of fair, of all sorts of necessaries, each of the Hádjees providing themselves with things required on their journey. Beyond them was a large collection of Bedawee cavalry, most of whom were the irregular troops in the pay of the viceroy. Their horses did not at all equal the opinion we had conceived of them, being small, lanky, and coated with a quantity of hair ; yet they are capable of enduring the greatest fatigue, and when manæuvring upon the plain, display more mettle and training than any horses I have ever seen. The enormous saddle which they wear is formed mostly of wood, and comes up behind and before so high, that although it is difficult to get out of it, yet if once the rider is thrown on the steed's neck, it is impossible to get back without dismounting. The saddle and saddle-cloth are generally ornamented with scarlet, and gold fringe, &c. The riders present a curious appearance, wrapt up in their flowing white dress, which is often so carried over the faces, that little more of their features are seen than those of the females. The usual rope of camel's hair confines this over the forehead, and a yellowish handkerchief is worn close to the head, with the ends hanging down on each side of the face to the shoulder.

308

APPEARANCE OF THE BEDAWEES.

This, with their grim faces, piercing black eyes, and invariable frown, gives them a very formidable look.

As a characteristic of this race I should mention, that they are invariably the leanest men I ever beheld; nothing but bone and muscle, and so perfectly devoid of fat, that many of the strongest appear wrinkled, from the want of that rotundity and cushioning given to other people by this useful material ; and the skin looks so dry, and shrivelled up, that they have, many of them, the

of them, the appearance of an old anatomical preparation, or well-preserved mummy; and yet the fatigue, hardships, and deprivation of food and water that these men endure, are beyond conception.

In order to comply with the latest order of the horseguards at Cairo, and yet to avoid the complete resignation of their original and accustomed weapons, these Bedawees have got a long bayonet attached to their firelocks, which are kept fixed, and slung across the back, and as the musket is long and light, it can be used as a lance, as well as a gun.

From this we bent our steps towards the tombs of the Memlooks, situate at about two miles from the city, in the desert, by the way leading to Suez. These magnificent mausolea present a most imposing appearance when viewed at some distance, rising up from the plain of sand like the towers and public buildings of a large town. They con

TOMBS OF THE MEMLOOKS.

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sist of a collection of mosques, many of which are of great magnitude ; the domes and minarets of most exquisite workmanship. The former deeply carved in the grey sand-stone in beautiful patterns, and the latter, some of the highest and most tasteful of the kind I have ever witnessed, but all going rapidly to decay since the extinction of the stranger lords, whose sepulchres they cover.

We found those we entered inhabited by a set of filthy old people, who live mostly on the terraces and upper stories, where their wretched huts, squalid misery, and the dirty tattered rags in which they are clad, form a mournful contrast to the gilding, and striking, though deserted grandeur, by which they are surrounded. The fountains, many of which were of great beauty, and whose murmur once re-echoed through the spacious courts around, are now dry, or the little water which their basins contained stagnant, and covered with a green scum.

The pulpits of the mosques are all of stone, carved with a taste and elegance of design worthy of imitation. Beside the open space of the mosques and underneath the dome, but still railed-in from the unholy touch of the Giaour, or the Nazarene, are the tombs, plain, and without ornament, and although the names of many an occupant of these sepulchres caused terror in their life, and were remembered with horror after their death, yet the poor people who conducted us to them, with that instinctive veneration which the Mohammadans

310

MOKATTAM ROCKS.

was

observe for their dead, appeared quite shocked at our requesting permission to enter the apartments. We spent some hours in wandering over this splendid necropolis, and left its precincts pondering over the period when its now silent tenants swayed with bloody hands the destinies of this hapless land. Our course

then directed round the south-eastern side of the citadel, where heaps of rubbish accumulating for centuries, formed by the cleaning of the city, have grown into hills, the magnitude of which can only be believed by those who have seen them. Beyond this commence the Mokattam rocks, which extend parrallel to the Nile, and bound the eastern side of the valley of Egypt for its whole extent. The number of fossils to be found here, but which time did not permit me to examine, are well worthy of the attention of the naturalist, as they have not, as far as I am aware, been yet accurately described, or have any number of them been yet brought to this country. From hence we turned to the tombs of the Kalíefs or Kháléifeh's,* of less magnitude, but in better state of preservation than those we had left. They are situated in rows, with large streets between, and in connection with the mosques. Attached to each tomb are collections of those sacred relics of their saints and martyrs, veneration for

* Improperly written caliphs by the English.

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