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EGYPT AND ITS FAITH.

CHAPTER I.

FIRST SIGHT OF AFRICA.-FIRST SIGHTS IN AFRICA.— ALEXANDRIA.

My first sight of Africa was on a somewhat lurid November evening, when the descending sun marked out by its red light a group of purple rocks to the westward, which had not been visible till then, and which presently became again invisible when the sun had gone down behind them, and the glow of the sky had melted away. What we saw was the island of Zembra, and the neighbouring coast of Tunis. Nothing in Africa struck me more than this its first phantom appearance amidst the chill and gathering dusk of evening, and with a vast expanse of sea heaving red between us and it.

My next sight of Africa was when I came on deck early on the morning of the 20th of November. A Lybian headland was looming to the south-east. Bit by bit, more land appeared, low and grey: then the fragments united, and we had before us a continuous line of coast, level, sandy and white, with an Arab

tower on a single eminence. Twice more during the day we saw such a tower, on just such an eminence. The sea was now of a milky blue, and lustrous, as if it were one flowing and heaving opal. Presently it became of the lightest shade of green. When a tower and a ruined building were seen together, every one called out "Alexandria!" and we expected to arrive by noon but we passed the tower and ruins, and saw only a further stretch of low and sandy coast. It was three o'clock before we were in harbour.-When we came on deck after dinner, we found that we were waiting for a pilot; and that we ought to be growing impatient, as there was only an hour of daylight left, and the harbour could not be entered after dark. There was no response from a pilot-boat which we hailed; and one of our boats was sent off to require the attendance of the pilot, who evidently thought he could finish another piece of business before he attended to ours. He was compelled to come; and it was but just in time. The stars were out, and the last brilliant lights had faded from the waters, before we anchored. As we entered the harbour, there was to the south-west, the crowd of windmills which are so strange an object in an African port: before us was the town, with Pompey's Pillar rising behind the roofs: further north, the Pasha's palace and hareem, with their gardens and rows of palms coming down to the margin of the sea: further round, the lighthouse; and to the east, at the point of the land, a battery. The Pasha's men-of-war, which do not bear well a noon-day examination, looked imposing amidst the brilliant lights and deep shadows of evening, their red flag, with its crescent and single star,

floating and falling in the breeze and lull. But for the gorgeous light, there would have been nothing beautiful in the scene, except the flag (the most beautiful in the world) and the figure of our pilot as he stood robed, turbaned and gesticulating on the paddle-box;-a perfect feast to western eyes: but the light shed over the flat and dreary prospect a beauty as home-felt as it does over the grey rain-cloud when it brings out the bow. As we were turning and winding into the harbour, a large French steamer was turning and winding out,setting forth homewards, her passengers on deck, and lights gleaming from her ports. Before we came to anchor, she was aground; and sorry we were to see her lying there when we went ashore.

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Before our anchor was down, we had a crowd of boats about us, containing a few European gentlemen and a multitude of screaming Arabs. I know no din to be compared to it but that of a frog concert in a Carolina swamp. We had before wondered how our landing was to be accomplished; and the spectacle of the departure of some of our shipmates did not relieve our doubts. We could not pretend to lay about us with stout sticks, as we saw some amiable gentlemen do, purely from the strength of their philosophical conviction that this is the only way to deal with Arabs. Mr. E. had gone ashore among the first, to secure rooms for us: and what we three should have done with ourselves and our luggage without help, there is no saying. But we had help. An English merchant of Alexandria kindly took charge of us; put our luggage into one boat and ourselves into another, and accompanied us ashore. The silence of our little

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passage from the ship to the quay was a welcome respite but on the quay we found ourselves among a crowd of men in a variety of odd dresses, and boys pushing their little donkeys in among us, and carts pulled hither and thither,-every body vociferating and hustling in the starlight. Our luggage was piled upon a long cart, and we followed it on foot: but there was an immediate stoppage about some Custom House difficulty,-got over we know not how. Then the horse ran away, broke his girths, and scattered some of our goods. At last, however, we achieved the walk to our hotel;-a walk through streets not narrow for an eastern city. All the way we had glimpses of smoking householders in their dim interiors, turbaned artisans, and yellow lamplight behind latticed windows. The heat was oppressive to us, after our cool days at sea.-The rest of the evening was fatiguing enough.

The crowd of Bombay passengers hurrying over their preparations, their letter-writing and their tea, in order to start for Cairo at nine o'clock; the growling and snarling of the camels, loading in the Square; the flare of the cressets;-the heat, light, noise and hurry were overpowering after the monotony of sea life. I sought repose in letter-writing, and had nearly forgotten our actual position when I was spoken to by a departing ship-mate, and, looking up, saw a Greek standing at my elbow, an Arab filling up the door-way, and a Nubian nursemaid coming in for a crying child.-Before ten o'clock, all was comparatively quiet, the Square clear of omnibuses, camels, and the glare of torches, and our Hotel no

longer a scene of crowding and confusion. There was nothing to prevent our having a good night, in preparation for our first day of African sight-seeing.

When I looked out of my window early the next morning, I saw, at the moment, nothing peculiarly African. The Frank Square is spacious, and the houses large; but they would be considered shabby and ugly any where else. The consular flag-staves on the roofs strike the eye; and the flood of brilliant sunlight from behind the minaret made the mornings as little like England in November as could well be. Presently, however, a string of camels passed through the Square, pacing noiselessly along. I thought them then, as I think them now, after a long acquaintance with them, the least agreeable brutes I know. Nothing can be uglier,-unless it be the ostrich; which is ludicrously like the camel, in form, gait and expression of face. The patience of the camel, so celebrated in books, is what I never had the pleasure of seeing. So impatient a beast I do not know,-growling, groaning and fretting whenever asked to do or bear any thing, -looking on such occasions as if it longed to bite, if only it dared. Its malignant expression of face is lost in pictures but it may be seen whenever one looks for it. The mingled expression of spite, fear and hopelessness in the face of the camel always gave me the impression of its being, or feeling itself, a damned animal. I wonder some of the old painters of hell did not put a camel into their foreground, and make a traditional emblem of it. It is true, the Arab loves his own camel, kisses its lips, hugs its neck, calls it his darling and his jewel, and declares he loves it exactly

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