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The next object we were conducted to was Joseph's well-not the Joseph of Scripture, but the celebrated Sooltán Saladin. The soldier at the gate was very unwilling to admit us without the talismanic buckshese or present ; and snatching the key from the old sibyl who performs the part of cicerone, shouldered his musket, made it rattle with a slap, and stood boldly in the doorway. So formidable à front by the soldier of any other nation might have deterred persons from proceeding farther; and rather than accede to his lawless demand, we were about to apply for admission to a superior officer, when one of our company who had resided long in Egypt, and knew what an Egyptian soldier was, seizing the man by the shoulder, proceeded to administer a rebuke a posteriori, which so frightened the fellow that, laying down the musket in great trepidation, he instantly produced the required' key! This well is cut through a solid rock, 270 feet in depth, of a greyish fossil limestone, similar to that at the pyramids, but differing in the shells it contains from the Mokattam rocks behind it. The shaft of this well is of considerable width, and externally the natural wall of rock is hewn out into a large winding descent, with apertures cut to admit light and a view of the well ; and about midway down there is an extensive chamber and a landing-place, where a pair of bullocks work a Persian wheel that raises the water thus far, from whence it is again conducted to the top by a similar contrivance. At this landing-place is shown the tomb of one of the servants of Saladin. Although rudely constructed, the whole is a noble work, and quite capable of supplying the citadel with good water 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 opening to a splendid marble staircase; and from the gallery to which it conducted we were led into the presence-chamber, a large and well-proportioned 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, raised about two feet from the floor, and covered with wellstuffed cushions, ran round three sides of the room, at each corner of which was placed a velvet and gold cushion, and an embroidered carpet—that for the Básha on the right hand side of the entrance being of the 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 window-curtains completed the furniture. The roof was domed, and above the cornice were painted in good 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 Básha so often endeavours to read the mind of the wily diplomate. Beside it is the entrance to the hareém, where some of the viceregal family still reside. A thick crimson curtain hung 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 there 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 would be turned towards the more useful art of erecting steam engines to increase the irrigation of the Nile, or some similar object of permanent and national benefit to the country. Some of the arms made here would not disgrace Birmingham. Each department of gun-making is separate, and there is also 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 Mohammad 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. This and the other arms factories in Cairo are capable of sending out 4000 muskets a month.
Our way out of the citadel lay through a place that will be ever memorable in Egypt, and is generally 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, and the lower opening into the space that surrounds the mosque of
MASSACRE OF THE MEMLOOKS.
Sooltan Hassan. Here, on the high festival held on the occasion of his son Toussoon's becoming a Básha 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 up and poured down a fire of musketry, that in a few minutes annihilated the dynasty of six hundred 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 around 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 wall, leaped him over the parapet of the turret on the right side of the gate, and, strange to say, although the horse was crushed to 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 Básha, whom it is said he particularly resembles in appearance.
What a scene must not this narrow space have presented with the bodies of five hundred men, arrayed in all the gorgeous trappings with which they delighted to deck themselves, 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 Alée's has been often discussed, and doing so now would be to review his whole life, policy, and government of Egypt. Certain it is that 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 steppingstones 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 from high authority, and that, as a very great favour to be allowed to enter it, 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 edifices 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
MOSQUE OF SOOLTAN HASSAN.
a variety of black and white marbles, and pieces of red porphyrythe 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, when a difficulty arose, as no pious Mooslim, no not even the moollah himself, would enter 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 Mooslims were at their devotions, and although they looked at the intrusion of the Giaours with a scowling eye, we were allowed to pass on 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 have arisen from the blood shed in one of the many disgraceful broils which took place during the reign of the Memlooks; and on the wall the old Imam called our notice to a round mark, some eighteen inches in diameter, which was the size of the loaf sold in Sooltan Hassan's time for six paras, (three farthings,)-golden age indeed! -the old gentleman seemed to regret it much, and bemoaned the present times in comparison.
At several corners of the streets there are handsome reservoirs for water, surrounded with gilt trellis-work, having a number of spouts and chained goblets for the refreshment of the passengers. The crowds in some of the streets and bazaars make them at particular times of the day almost impassable. If we except China and Japan, I do believe that natives of every country of the world will be met with in the streets of Cairo. Next to the resident
population of Egypt, consisting of Arabs, Turks, Copts, and Jews, the Greeks are, I think, the most numerous. The number of Levantine Christians, Syrians, and Europeans of every country, travellers to Egypt, and those passing and repassing to India; besides its being the line of the different caravans to Mekka twice a year, and the great commercial city of this part of Africa, may have, at an earlier date, earned for it the name it still deserves of the greatest thoroughfare in the world. Crowds of donkeys with Europeans, bear down upon you at every turn, on stepping aside from which you are very likely to encounter a train of some twenty camels, which either crush you against the wall or tread you under foot with the greatest unconcern. Groups of Bedawee cavalry (the irregular troops, nominally under Mohammad Alee) are constantly passing through the town, whose enormous Memlook stirrups threaten you with decapitation, an accident that would apparently gratify their savage occupants. The streets, from their running in circles which enclose handsome gardens and palaces, intersect each other even less than at Alexandria, so that you are obliged to go a circuit of miles to a place that may not be a tenth of the distance in a direct line. There is an extensive Frank quarter, in which the shops are mostly French ; and where as usual every thing is of the worst and the dearest description.
Each street has its own gate, which is locked at night, and has a guard attached to it, no person being allowed to pass without a lantern, which is formed of paper, made to fold up, and is carried by every one in his pocket, for as yet, lighting the streets has not been introduced into the oriental cities.
Some of the bazaars of Cairo are of great extent and magnificence, and are generally covered over-head; no beast is allowed a passage through them, and, although the shops appear at first insignificant, they will be found to contain much wealth. Each different trade and each separate article has its particular quarter. The Turkish shopkeeper uses little art to induce you to purchase, for the most part sitting in solemn silence, scarcely deeming it worth while to remove the pipe when you wish to see or know the price of any thing. But towards each other, or to those Franks whom they know, or who are habited in eastern costume, they are exceedingly courteous, and provide a pipe and coffee during the negociation of the most insignificant article. They are sure to ask a Frank, but more especially an Englishman,