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VISIT TO SHOUBRAH.
who throng this avenue, gave a spirit and animation that added to the charms of our ride. As the viceroy had taken up his residence for the present at Shoubrah we could not well expect admittance to the palace, so we were contented to visit the grounds and gardens, which are worth seeing, as being laid out in the true Arab style, and though partaking of the stiffness and formality of straight walks and clipt hedges which were in fashion among
ourselves some years ago, are not without their beauty and their admirers. These gardens are most extensive, and kept in beautiful order, the walks bordered with hedges of rosemary and lavender, enclosing plats filled with orange trees. They are divided into different compartments, and the walks radiate from a centre, in which is placed a lovely spacious fountain, shaded by the wide-spreading branches of some noble tamarisk or acacia, or by the feathery plumes of tall and waving palms. The water is managed with great taste, and plays in fountains of the clearest snow-white marble :
; the floor is paved in mosaic, and a low seat surrounds the whole, raised at one end for the Basha. I know of nothing I have seen in this clime that realized to my mind the ideas I had formed of oriental luxury, like those fountains. It is here, beneath the shade of evergreens which constitute the sides and roof of these embowered halls, beside the sweet murmur of the sparkling waters, whose spray cooled the air already loaded with the delicious perfumes of the
GARDENS OF THE HAREEM.
tropic flower--the stillness left by parting day, broken only by the music of the evening songster, or the touching notes of woman's voice—that an eastern prince, surrounded by all that youth and beauty, the fascination of external charms, and the witcheries of allurement can bestow, may, with his corrupt notions of religion, be almost excused for feeling that such is paradise, such the garden where black-eyed houries with
minister to the pleasures of the brave and pious descendant of the prophet of Mekka.
In his younger days these fountains were the evening refuge of Egypt's present lord, when, attended by his hareem, he wooed the quiet of a daylight's close, and sought, in the solace of these calm retreats, a moment's release from the torturing cares of public life.
At one end of this garden is an extensive aviary, and at the other a most sumptuous bath: here the water, which fills a large space, issues from the mouths of enormous marble crocodiles, placed around a central basin, where a pure and sparkling jet plays to a great height; while at each of the outer corners is placed a huge lion, emitting from distended jaws the crystal fluid in continuous streams. The bath is surrounded by a sumptuous colonnade, with white marble pillars whose bases and Co.
rinthian capitals are of burnished brass. Two of the sides of this colonnade are formed into chambers and refectories, in the usual style, the whole well lighted with gas. The side of this garden verges off into a park, where some magnificent white deer and several ostriches are kept. The whole of these grounds were once the daily walk of the viceregal hareem, and death awaited the man whom accident or design might cause to linger in its precincts after the ladies entered; but beautiful and extensive as it is, those females felt it was still a bondage, and could each plant or fountain find utterance for its secret, it would perhaps echo the sigh of many a fair Circassian maid, who longed to wander amidst the colder climes and sterner beauties of her native land.
On our return we stopped at a kiosk in order to rest and obtain some refreshment. Immediately on our entrance pipes and coffee were presented to us, although we had not yet ordered any, and on some of our party stating their unwillingness to partake of it, they were informed that it had been ordered for us by a Turkish merchant who sat near us playing chess; he saw that we were strangers, and directed them to be prepared on our approachthis is hospitality worthy of imitation. After pipes, coffee, and sweetmeats had been served, a tray, with glasses of rum, and bumpers too, was handed to each. Although meant in kindness, I confess I felt ashamed of the compliment, for to a Mohammadan
it would have been a gross insult, but the Turk had been led to think, from experience, that it was a stimulant congenial to the taste of a Christian and an Englishman.
While remounting, Mohammad Alee Basha passed on his way to visit his daughter, who is married in Cairo; a father, brother, or uncle being the only males allowed to visit a Turkish lady, except her husband. Seeing a company of Franks, his pace slackened to salute us, thus affording us a view of this extraordinary man. He is a fine-looking old man, now upwards of seventy,* with a very long silver beard; he was dressed in scarlet, and wore the simple turboosh, which he is anxious to introduce, and sets the example in his own person.
The turban would have been, to him at least, a much more becoming head-dress. Slight as was our view of him, it did not pass without making us feel the power of an eye of more brilliancy and penetration than I ever beheld. His equipage was very plain— he sat in an old lumbering machine, which in England would be styled a superannuated family coach ; drawn, however, by four most magnificent white horses, which were managed with considerable skill by an Arab coachman ; about a dozen cavalry officers of his staff rode beside his carriage, and six or eight dromedaries followed, each carrying some
* 1769, the birth year of Napoleon, Wellington, and Mohammad Alee.
THE EGYPTIAN SOCIETY,
different article, such as the small table and tray used at meals, pipes, &c. This plain and unostentatious retinue is quite an anomaly in a Basha of Egypt; and such as would have been considered quite too plain for one of the very least of the Memlook lords.
Our short stay in the capital, and his Highness being particularly engaged on our arrival, prevented our presentation ; nor do I, for my own part, at all regret it, as I am the less likely when summing up the character and criticizing the actions of Mohammad Alee, to be influenced by his reception of, or attention to us.
Our very intelligent countryman, the British vice-consul, Dr. Walne, obligingly opens his house twice a week for the entertainment of foreigners. We accepted his invitation this evening, and met several very agreeable and well-informed people of different nations, but principally English, either settlers in the country, travellers like ourselves, or passengers to India. The conversation naturally turned on the country we were in, and the prospects and advantages of the “ Egyptian Society," lately got up by Dr. Walne, and which offers to the traveller and foreign resident, a source of information and improvement he could not possibly have obtained by any other means. Rooms have been fitted up, a collection of the best works on Egypt procured, and a museum is in progress of collection. Here the literary and scientific investigator, engaged in the study of Egypt, (for it is a study