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AN EGYPTIAN MAN-OF-WAR. were dressed in black, the only colour they are permitted to wear in Egypt.
But we must visit those fine vessels now upon the stocks ;and here is one just ready to be launched, which I will tell you something about, without having your ears assailed by that most stunning of all poises, the calking and coppering of a man-ofwar. This is a two-decker, but corresponding in number of guns to our three deckers, than any of which it is larger; being 3000 tons. It is not so long, however, as some of ours, being but 189 feet, by 40 feet in beam ; it will, however, when finished, mount 100 guns.* The timber of these vessels is confessedly very inferior, and much smaller than would be used in any English vessel of war; but as there are no forest trees in this land, considerable difficulty existed on this head, and most of it was imported from Trieste. They endeavour to make up in quantity for deficiency in quality, so that the bottoms of those vessels are perfect beds of timber. This was the tenth that had been built of this class, and there were eight in commission. The ninth was brought out of the docks yesterday to be rigged and got ready for sea. The complement of men on board each of these was 1005, including officers, who in rank and number correspond to those of the English navy. Besides the ten lineof-battle ships, there are seven frigates, an armed steamer, four corvettes, eight brigs, and several other small craft in commission. So far as the vessels go, they are, I suspect, rather more than a match for the Porte.t
In our walk round the yard, we were surprised at the number and extent of the works, all divided into their several departments—and at the order and regularity that prevailed. Brass founders, carvers, blacksmiths, carpenters, sail-makers, and all the different artisans, and requisites in ship-building, were upon a most extensive scale ; and the workmen, who are all natives, amount to about 800. The arsenal and stores were as neat, as clean, and as orderly as could possibly be. Originally the heads
* The Rodney, of 92 guns, is 243 feet in length, and 2598 tons burden,
† The events of the Syrian campaign, with regard to the Egyptian navy, are too recent, and too well known to require to be noticed in this place.
A MATRIMONIAL SPECULATION.
of the different departments were Europeans ; but at present, the situations are nearly all filled by natives, who rose under their instruction, or were educated in France or England ; among them was the principal mathematical instrument maker, a very intelligent young man. How very fluently, and with what a good accent, many of these people speak our language! There is an extensive rope-walk, where we saw some of the cables worked by an English patent machine; the head of this department was a Spaniard, but there was also a native fully capable of conducting the work. I was much struck with the skill and neatness of several of the tradesmen, particularly in brass-turning and carving, &c. We were also shown a handsome room set apart for the drawings, plans, engine-work, and models of several of the crack English vessels.
There is a mosque in the yard, whither the men go five times a day to pray, for about five or ten minutes at a time; it is a small but pretty building, covered with clematis and other creepers, now in blow, and has a pretty fountain attached to it, where the men perform their ablutions each time they go to worship. All these workmen are enlisted in the Bashas's service, as sailors or soldiers, and are drilled occasionally, so as to be capable of almost immediate service. They are fed, clothed, and get from fifteen to thirty piastres a month pay, which they and all the men in the service of Mohammad Alee receive into their own hands, to prevent any sort of peculation. The wages of these artizans are raised according to their merits, and are never in the same arrear as those of the army or navy. The greater number are married, their wives inhabiting some wretched hovels outside the town—if they have sons, each receives fifteen piastres a month from the government, and the child must be brought to receive it in his own hand. Their wives are all in some sort of traffic or huxtering, and thus tend much to the support of their husbands ; so that the more wives a soldier or tradesman in Alexandria has, the better he lives! The majority have a plurality, and if sons are the result, it is rather a good speculation.
The men work from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of an hour at breakfast and at dinner; they get three meals a day, and during our visit the drum beat to the mid-day meal, which consisted of a plentiful supply of coarse brown bread and bean porridge ; and for breakfast they are allowed, in addition, olives 188
THE EGYPTIAN NAVY.
with some vinegar and oil. All the artisans are given meat once a week, and the troops once a month. They were divided into messes of three or five each; the greatest order and quiet prevailed, and if the countenance be an index of the inner man, contentment seemed to reign amongst them. The anchors, and most of the foreign goods in the dock-yard were English, and there were also a vast number of fine brass and metal guns in most perfect preservation lately fished up in Aboukir bay.
Next day, I visited one of the vessels of war, No. 8, along with its surgeon, Mr. Abbott, an Englishman, whose salary of £10 a month and rations (consisting of beans and brown bread), although equal to the ordinary expenses of a country where necessaries are so cheap, is yet insufficient inducement to any number of well-educated English medical men to enter the service of the Basha, and consequently, with the exception of the professors at Cairo and those filling high stations, the general run of European medical men in the service are ignorant and uneducated Italians and Frenchmen.* · I found this vessel and others I visited particularly clean and orderly, and this was the more marked, as there is a greater quantity of brass inlaying and ornamental work in them than is usual in any of our men-of-war. This is a 100 gun ship, but equal in tonnage to any of ours carrying 120. The naval uniform is a dark brown, and the officers are principally distinguished from the men by the fineness of the regimentals, and having an anchor, star, or crescent, emblematic of their rank, and composed of silver, gold, or jewels on the left breast. In the navy as well as the army neither beard nor whiskers are allowed; except the moustache, all must be close shaven daily ; this at first was considered a very great innovation, and was loudly complained of as quite too Christian and uncircumcised a form. The men are trained to military tactics, as well as to go aloft, and in this latter they are often, it must be confessed, very clumsy, to the no small amusement of any English tars who may be lowering top-gallants, or reefing topsails at the same time. But much cannot be expected from a navy called
* Mr. Abbott has since left the Básha's service, and now practises at Cairo.
into existence since the battle of Navarino, and whose service has heretofore consisted of a visit to Candia during the summer.
There is a moolah or priest on 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; the furniture consisted of a plain deewan that surrounded two sides of the cabin-a table with writing materials, and a couple of chairs; and on each side 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; it is a noble establishment, having accommodation for 1200 students.
There is an extensive hospital outside the city, in the large barrack 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 visited it; and in addition to a most incongruous Franco-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, caystics and instruments, which were administered, and applied 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.
There are many good bazaars in Alexandria, and in the Frank quarter there are some 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. It 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 flag-staff, which each diplomate endeavours to erect higher than that of his neighbour.
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
THE SLAVE MARKET.
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, exceedingly 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 recognise 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, 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 these slaves were girls, from ten to fifteen years of age; they are generally bought for the purpose of household servants, and 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 coquette, and assume the modesty of Mohammadan women, by attempting to cover 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 Binny of Bruce, * and the mullet ;—the latter were the largest I have ever seen, some weighing from eighty to one hundred pounds.
e unconscious of purpose of househars of age ;
* Among the many inaccuracies attributed to the celebrated and illtreated Abyssinian traveller, I find the following note in the tenth volume of Griffith's translation of Cuvier's Animal Kingdom, page 378:“Bruce, after giving the history of the true Binny, refers to it, by mistake, the figure and description of a Polynemus, which he had designed in the Red Sea, from which has originated the imaginary species of the Polyn. Niloticus.” In answer to this statement, I can say, that I saw several specimens of the fish he has figured, in my voyage up the Nile, that corresponded in every particular to the plate given in Bruce's Travels.