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MOSQUE of SOOLTAN HASSAN.
a variety of black and white marbles, and pieces of red 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, 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 212
BAZAARS OF CAIRO.
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,
more than five times the value of any article, and will invariably sell cheaper to a Mohammadan.
Our accommodation at the hotel was tolerable, though not so good as we should have had at the English one; and even thus high up the Nile, the mornings and evenings are yet cool.
The extreme stillness and quiet of this immense city after dark was to us most extraordinary at first ; and when about nine or ten o'clock I opened the window of my apartment, and looked out upon the noble panorama spread beneath and around me, I could scarcely believe that it was the scene of action for so many thousand living beings; who but a few hours before thronged every avenue, street, and lane of this immense metropolis. It was while so musing, and with
“The deep blue moonlight like a pall
Of solemn beauty round me”that those thrilling strains of the Mooeddin's call to worship broke upon my ear, so sweet, so clear and musical, as the first notes of prayer broke from the minaret of the mosque of Hassan, and were carried distinct and sonorous upon the midnight air, not broken by a single echo, but heard until their dying tones faded in the distance, and minaret after minaret took up the chant, until the whole rose in one swelling chorus—“Come to prayer-come to prayer ! come to the temple of salvation ! great God! great God! I attest there is no God but God, and Mohammad is the prophet of the Lord ! !” I have heard it often ; never, however, upon so great a scale as here ; never so distinct and musical, or with that startling note that wakes every fibre of the frame, gives a double beat to every vessel, and rivets every sense, as the ear takes in the sound, and the mind assumes a tone of fervour and devotion at the thought of a nation, in many respects so far beneath our own, thus calling to the worship of our common God, and answered by her people, not with the sneer of scorn, the silence of contempt, or the apathy of indifference, but with a decorum and apparent piety, that would well become professing Christian nations, who, in their attempt to do away with all national religion, would do well to listen to the Mooeddin's chant.
Suburbs of Cairo-The Mekka Pilgrimage-Camels-Bedaweeg-Tombs of the Memlooks-
THURSDAY, 25th.-We rode out this morning by the gate of victory, the best entrance to the city; it is an exceedingly handsome structure, and affords a beautiful specimen of eastern ornamental architecture. Beyond it, the desert commences almost immediately; the roads dusty and unpleasant, and then a suburb of small huts and low Arab tents, similar to that I before mentioned at Alexandria, stretches into the plain. No two places can present characters so different as the opposite sides of the city of Cairo. On the other, 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, extending as far as the eye can reach, and 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 pavilions, many of silk, and of different colours, glittered in the sun. The horses were tied by the forefoot to one of the stakes of the tent-ropes, like as in the time of Elisha, when the Syrians filed and left the "horses and asses
THE MEKKA PILGRIMAGE.
tied, and the tents as they were.”—2nd Kings, vii. 10. Many of these animals 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 every part of their bodies.
Hundreds of camels were ranged in rows sitting upon their haunches, waiting to be loaded. The power of knowing when they are sufficiently loaded is truly wonderful in these animals. The moment a single stone weight of burden is placed upon one of them more than it is in the habit of carrying, it becomes uneasy, utters its threatening note, and attempts to rise; if it be held down, and the attempt to overload it persisted in, it becomes quite ungovernable, and rises up in spite of every effort of the attendants 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 such things as they required on their journey. Beyond this, 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 manœuvring 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 cloth or leather, and gold fringe, &c. The riders present a curious appearance wrapt up in their flowing white dresses, which are 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 the burnoose 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. This, with their grim faces, piercing black eyes, grisly beards, and invariable frown, gives them a very formidable look. As characteristic of this race I should mention, that they are invariably the leanest men I ever beheld ; being nothing but bone and