Project Gutenberg's The Rulers of the Mediterranean, by Richard Harding Davis

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Title: The Rulers of the Mediterranean

Author: Richard Harding Davis

Release Date: April 23, 2012 [EBook #39522]

Language: English

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Produced by Mark C. Orton, Linda McKeown, Julia Neufeld
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The Rulers
The Mediterranean




Publisher's Logo


Copyright, 1893, by Harper & Brothers.
All rights reserved.










If you have always crossed the Atlantic in the spring-time or in the summer months, as do most tourists, you will find that leaving New York in the winter is more like a relief expedition to the north pole than the setting forth on a pleasure tour to the summer shores of the Mediterranean.

There is no green grass on the hills of Staten Island, but there is, instead, a long field of ice stretching far up the Hudson River, and a wind that cuts into the face, and dashes the spray up over the tugboats in frozen layers, leaving it there like the icing on a cake. The Atlantic Highlands are black with bare branches and white with snow, and you observe for the first time that men who go down to the sea in ships know nothing[2] of open fireplaces. An icy wind keeps the deck as clear as a master-at-arms could do it; and sudden storms of snow, which you had always before associated with streets or fields, and not at all with the decks of ships, burst over the side, and leave the wood-work wet and slippery, and cold to the touch.

And then on the third or fourth day out the sea grows calm, and your overcoat seems to have taken on an extra lining; and strange people, who apparently have come on board during the night, venture out on the sunlit deck and inquire for steamer chairs and mislaid rugs.

These smaller vessels which run from New York to Genoa are as different from the big North Atlantic boats, with their twin screws and five hundred cabin passengers, as a family boarding-house is from a Broadway hotel. This is so chiefly because you are sailing under a German instead of an English flag. There is no one so important as an English captain—he is like a bishop in gold lace; but a German captain considers his passengers as one large happy family, and treats them as such, whether they like their new relatives or not. The discipline on board the Fulda was like that of a ship of war, where the officers and crew were concerned, but the passengers might have believed they were on their own private yacht.

There was music for breakfast, dinner, and tea; music when the fingers of the trombonist were frozen and when the snow fell upon the taut surface[3] of the big drum; and music at dawn to tell us it was Sunday, so that you awoke imagining yourself at church. There was also a ball, and the captain led an opening march, and the stewards stood at every point to see that the passengers kept in line, and "rounded up" those who tried to slip away from the procession. There were speeches, too, at all times, and lectures and religious services, and on the last night out a grand triumph of the chef, who built wonderful candy goddesses of Liberty smiling upon the other symbolic lady who keeps watch on the Rhine, and the band played "Dixie," which it had been told was the national anthem, and the portrait of the German Emperor smiled down upon us over his autograph. All this was interesting, because it was characteristic of the Germans; it showed their childish delight in little things, and the same simplicity of character which makes the German soldiers who would not move out of the way of the French bullets dance around a Christmas-tree. The American or the Englishman will not do these things, because he has too keen a sense of the ridiculous, and is afraid of being laughed at. So when he goes to sea he plays poker and holds auctions on the run.

There was only one passenger on board who objected to the music. He was from Detroit, and for the first three days remained lashed to his steamer chair like a mummy, with nothing showing but a blue nose and closed eyelids. The[4] band played at his end of the deck, and owing to the fingers of the players being frozen, and to the sudden lurches of the ship, the harmony was sometimes destroyed. Those who had an ear for music picked up their steamer chairs and moved to windward; but this young man, being half dead and firmly lashed to his place, was unable to save himself.

On the morning of the fourth day, when the concert was over and the band had gone to thaw out, the young man suddenly sat upright and pointed his forefinger at the startled passengers. We had generally decided that he was dead. "The Lord knows I'm a sick man," he said, blinking his eyes feebly; "but if I live till midnight I'll find out where they hide those horns, and I'll drop 'em into the Gulf Stream, if it takes my dying breath." He then fell over backwards, and did not speak again until we reached Gibraltar.

There is something about the sight of land after one has been a week without it which supplies a want that nothing else can fill; and it is interesting to note how careless one is as to its name, or whether it is pink or pale blue on the maps, or whether it is ruled by a king or a colonial secretary. It is quite sufficient that it is land. This was impressed upon me once, on entering New York Harbor, by a young man who emerged from his deck cabin to discover, what all the other passengers already knew, that we were in the upper bay. He gave a shout of ecstatic relief and pleasure. "That," he cried, pointing to the west,[5] "is Staten Island, but that," pointing to the right, "is Land."

The first land you see on going to Gibraltar is the Azores Islands. They are volcanic and mountainous, and accompany the boat for a day and a half; but they could be improved if they were moved farther south about two hundred miles, as one has to get up at dawn to see the best of them. It is quite warm by this time, and the clothes you wore in New York seem to belong to a barbarous period and past fashion, and have become heavy and cumbersome, and take up an unnecessary amount of room in your trunk.


And then people tell you that there is land in[6] sight again, and you find how really far you are from home when you learn that it is Portugal, and so a part of Europe, and not an island thrown up by a volcano, or stolen or strayed from its moorings at the mainland. Portugal is apparently a high red hill, with a round white tower on the top of it flying signal flags. Its chief industry is the arranging of these flags by a man. It is, on the whole, a disappointing country. After this, everybody begins to pack and to exchange visiting-cards; and those who are to get off at Gibraltar are pursued by stewards and bandmasters and young men with testimonials that they want signed, and by the weak in spirit, who, at the eleventh hour, think they will not go on to Genoa, but will get off here and go on to Tangier, and who want you to decide for them. And which do you think would pay best, and what is there to see in Tangier, anyway? And as that is exactly what you are going to find out, you cannot tell.

When I left the deck the last night out the stars were all over the heavens; and the foremast, as it swept slowly from side to side, looked like a black pendulum upside down marking out the sky and portioning off the stars. And when I woke there was a great creaking of chains, and I could see out of my port-hole hundreds of fixed lights and rows and double rows of lamps, so that you might have thought the ship during the night had run aground in the heart of a city.

The first sight of Gibraltar is, I think, disappointing.[7] It means so much, and so many lives have been given for it, and so many ships have been sunk by its batteries, and such great powers have warred for twelve hundred years for its few miles of stone, that its black outline against the sky, with nothing to measure it with but the fading stars, is dwarfed and spoiled. It is only after the sun begins to turn the lights out, and you are able to compare it with the great ships at its base, and you see the battlements and the mouths of cannon, and the clouds resting on its top, that you understand it; and then when the outline of the crouching lion, that faces all Europe, comes into relief, you remember it is, as they say, the lock to the Mediterranean, of which England holds the key. And even while you feel this, and are greedily following the course of each rampart and terrace with eyes that are tired of blank stretches of water, some one points to a low line of mountains lying like blue clouds before the red sky of the sunrise, dim, forbidding, and mysterious—and you know that it is Africa.

Spain, lying to the right, all green and amethyst, and flippant and gay with white houses and red roofs, and Gibraltar's grim show of battlements and war, become somehow of little moment. You feel that you have known them always, and that they are as you fancied they would be. But this other land across the water looks as inscrutable, as dark, and as silent as the Sphinx that typifies it, and you feel that its Pillar[8] of Hercules still marks the entrance to the "unknown world."

Nine out of every ten of those who visit Gibraltar for the first time expect to find an island. It ought to be, and it would be one but for a strip of level turf half a mile wide and half a mile long which joins it to the sunny green hills of Spain. But for this bit of land, which they call "the Neutral Ground," Gibraltar would be an island, for it has the Mediterranean to the east, a bay, and beyond that the hills of Spain to the west, and Africa dimly showing fourteen miles across the sea to the south.


Gibraltar has been besieged thirteen times; by Moors and by Spaniards, and again by Moors, and again by Spaniards against Spaniards. It was during one of these wars between two factions in Spain, in 1704, that the English, who were helping one of the factions, took the Rock, and were so well pleased with it that they settled there, and have remained there ever since. If possession is nine points of the law, there was never a place in the history of the world held with nine as obvious points. There were three more sieges after the English took Gibraltar, one of them, the last, continuing for four years. The English were fighting America at the time, and rowing in the Nile, and so did not do much towards helping General George Elliot, who was Governor of the Rock at that time. It would appear to be, as well as one can judge from this distance, a case of neglect on the part of the[11] mother-country for her little colony and her six thousand men, very much like her forgetfulness of Gordon, only Elliot succeeded where Gordon failed (if you can associate that word with that name), and so no one blamed the home government for risking what would have been a more serious loss than the loss of Calais, had Elliot surrendered, and "Gib" gone back to its rightful owners, that is, the owners who have the one point. The history of this siege is one of the most interesting of war stories; it is interesting whether you ever expect to visit Gibraltar or not; it is doubly interesting when you walk the pretty streets of the Rock to-day, with its floating population of twenty thousand, and try to imagine the place held by six thousand half-starved, sick, and wounded soldiers, living at times on grass and herbs and handfuls of rice, and yet carrying on an apparently forlorn fight for four years against the entire army and navy of Spain, and, at the last, against the arms of France as well.

We are apt to consider the Gibraltar of to-day as occupying the same position to the Mediterranean as Queenstown does to the Atlantic, a place where passengers go ashore while the mails are being taken on board, and not so much for their interest in the place itself as to again feel solid earth under their feet. There are passengers who will tell you on the way out that you can see all there is to be seen there in three hours. As a matter of fact, one can live in Gibraltar for many weeks and see something new every day.[12] It struck me as being more different kinds of a place than any other spot of land I had ever visited, and one that changed its aspect with every shifting of the wind, and with each rising and setting of the sun. It is the clearing-house for three most picturesque peoples—the Moors, in their yellow slippers and bare legs and voluminous robes and snowy turbans; the Spaniards, with romantic black capes and cloaks and red sashes, the women with the lace mantilla and brilliant kerchiefs and pretty faces; and, mixed with these, the pride and glory of the British army and navy, in all the bravery of red coats and white helmets, or blue jackets, or Highland kilts. It is a fortress as imposing as the Tower of London, a winter resort as pretty as St. Augustine, and a seaport town of free entry, into which come on every tide people of many nations, and ships flying every flag.


Around its base are the ramparts, like a band of stone and steel; above them the town, rising like a staircase, with houses for steps—yellow houses, with light green blinds sticking out at different angles, and with sloping red roofs meeting other lines of red roofs, and broken by a carpeting of green where the parks and gardens make an opening in the yellow front of the town, and from which rise tall palms and palmettoes, and rows of sea-pines, and fluttering union-jacks which mark the barracks of a regiment. Above the town is the Rock, covered with a green growth of scrub and of little trees below, and[13] naked and bare above, stretching for several miles from north to south, and rearing its great bulk up into the sky until it loses its summit in the clouds. It is never twice the same. To-day it may be smiling and resplendent under a warm, brilliant sun that spreads out each shade of green, and shows each terrace and rampart as clearly as though one saw it through a glass; the sky becomes as blue as the sea and the bay, and the white villages of Spain seem as near to one as the red soldier smoking his pipe on the mountings half-way up the Rock. And to-morrow the whole top of the Rock may be lost in a thick curtain of gray clouds, and the waters of the bay will be tossing and covered with white-caps, and the lands about disappear from sight as though they had sunk into the sea during the night and had left you alone on an island. At times a sunset paints the Rock a martial red, or the moonlight softens it, and you see only the tall palms and the graceful balconies and the gardens of plants, and each rampart becomes a terrace and each casemate a balcony. Or at night, when[14] the lamps are lit, you might imagine yourself on the stage of a theatre, walking in a scene set for Fra Diavolo.

There are no such streets or houses outside of stage-land. It is only in stage cities that the pavements and streets are so conspicuously clean, or that the hanging lamps of beaten iron-work throw such deep shadows, or that there are such high, heavily carved Moorish doorways and mysterious twisting stairways in the solid rock, or shops with such queer signs, or walls plastered with such odd-colored placards—streets where every footfall echoes, and where dark figures suddenly appear from narrow alleyways and cry "Halt, there!" at you, and then "All's well" as you pass by.


Gibraltar has one main street running up and clinging to the side of the hill from the principal quay to the most southern point of the Rock. Houses reach up to it from the first level of the ramparts, and continue on up the hill from its other side. On this street are the bazars of the Moors, and the English shops and the Spanish cafés, and the cathedral, and the hotels, and the Governor's house, and every one in Gibraltar is sure to appear on it at least once in the twenty-four hours. But the color and tone of the street are military. There are soldiers at every step—soldiers carrying the mail or bearing reports, or soldiers in bulk with a band ahead, or soldiers going out to guard the North Front, where lies the Neutral Ground, or to target practice, or to[17] play football; soldiers in two or threes, with their sticks under their arms, and their caps very much cocked, and pipes in their mouths. But these make slow progress, for there is always an officer in sight—either a boy officer just out from England riding to the polo field near the Neutral Ground, or a commanding officer in a black tunic and a lot of ribbons across his breast, or an officer of the day with his sash and sword; and each of these has to be saluted. This is an interesting spectacle, and one that is always new. You see three soldiers coming at you with a quick step, talking and grinning, alert and jaunty, and suddenly the upper part of their three bodies becomes rigid, though their legs continue as before, apparently of their own volition, and their hands go up and their pipes and grins disappear, and they pass you with eyes set like dead men's eyes, and palms facing you as though they were trying to learn which way the wind was blowing. This is due, you discover, to the passing of a stout gentleman in knickerbockers, who switches his rattan stick in the air in reply. Sometimes when he salutes the soldier stops altogether, and so his walks abroad are punctuated at every twenty yards. It takes an ordinary soldier in Gibraltar one hour to walk ten minutes.

Everybody walks in the middle of the main street in Gibraltar, because the sidewalks are only two feet wide, and because all the streets are as clean as the deck of a yacht. Cabs of yellow wood and diligences with jangling bells and red[18] worsted harness gallop through this street and sweep the people up against the wall, and long lines of goats who leave milk in a natural manner at various shops tangle themselves up with long lines of little donkeys and longer lines of geese, with which the local police struggle valiantly. All of these things, troops and goats and yellow cabs and polo ponies and dog-carts, and priests with curly-brimmed hats, and baggy-breeched Moors, and huntsmen in pink coats and Tommies in red, and sailors rolling along in blue, make the main street of Gibraltar as full of variety as a mask ball.

Of the Gibraltar militant, the fortress and the key to the Mediterranean, you can see but the little that lies open to you and to every one along the ramparts. Of the real defensive works of the place you are not allowed to have even a guess. The ramparts stretch all along the western side of the rock, presenting to the bay a high shelving wall which twists and changes its front at every hundred yards, and in such an unfriendly way that whoever tried to scale its slippery surface at one point would have a hundred yards of ramparts on either side of him, from which two sides gunners and infantry could observe his efforts with comfort and safety to themselves; and from which, when tired of watching him slip and scramble, they could and undoubtedly would blow him into bits. But they would probably save him the trouble of coming so far by doing that before he left his vessel in the bay. The[19] northern face of the Rock—that end which faces Spain, and which makes the head of the crouching lion—shows two long rows of teeth cut in its surface by convicts of long ago. You are allowed to walk through these dungeons, and to look down upon the Neutral Ground and the little Spanish town at the end of its half-mile over the butts of great guns. And you will marvel not so much at the engineering skill of whoever it was who planned this defence as at the weariness and the toil of the criminals who gave up the greater part of their lives to hewing and blasting out these great galleries and gloomy passages, through which your footsteps echo like the report of cannon.


Lower down, on the outside of this mask of rock, are more ramparts, built there by man, from which infantry could sweep the front of the enemy were they to approach from the only[20] point from which a land attack is possible. The other side of the Rock, that which faces the Mediterranean, is unfortified, except by the big guns on the very summit, for no man could scale it, and no ball yet made could shatter its front. To further protect the north from a land attack there is at the base of the Rock and below the ramparts a great moat, bridged by an apparently solid piece of masonry. This roadway, which leads to the north gate of the fortress—the one which is closed at six each night—is undermined, and at a word could be blown into pebbles, turning the moat into a great lake of water, and virtually changing the Rock of Gibraltar into an island. I never crossed this roadway without wondering whether the sentry underneath might not be lighting his pipe near the powder-magazine, and I generally reached the end of it at a gallop.


There is still another protection to the North Front. It is only the protection which a watch-dog gives at night; but a watch-dog is most important. He gives you time to sound your burglar-alarm and to get a pistol from under your pillow. A line of sentries pace the Neutral Ground, and have paced it for nearly two hundred years. Their sentry-boxes dot the half-mile of turf, and their red coats move backward and forward night and day, and any one who leaves the straight and narrow road crossing the Neutral Ground, and who comes too near, passes a dead-line and is shot. Facing them, a half-mile off, are the white[21] adobe sentry-boxes of Spain and another row of sentries, wearing long blue coats and queer little shakos, and smoking cigarettes. And so the two great powers watch each other unceasingly across the half-mile of turf, and say, "So far shall you go, and no farther; this belongs to me." There is nothing more significant than these two rows of sentries; you notice it whenever you cross the Neutral Ground for a ride in Spain. First you see the English sentry, rather short and very young, but very clean and rigid, and scowling fiercely over the chin strap of his big white helmet. His shoulder-straps shine with pipe-clay and his boots with blacking, and his arms are burnished and oily. Taken alone, he is a little atom, a molecule; but he is complete in himself, with his food and lodging on his back, and his arms ready to his hand. He is one of a great system that obtains from India to Nova Scotia, and from Bermuda to Africa and Australia; and he shows that he knows this in the way in which he holds up his chin and kicks out his legs as he tramps back and forward guarding the big rock at his back. And facing him,[22] half a mile away, you will see a tall handsome man seated on a stone, with the tails of his long coat wrapped warmly around his legs, and with his gun leaning against another rock while he rolls a cigarette; and then, with his hands in his pockets, he gazes through the smoke at the sky above and the sea on either side, and wonders when he will be paid his peseta a day for fighting and bleeding for his country. This helps to make you understand how six thousand half-starved Englishmen held Gibraltar for four years against the army of Spain.

This is about all that you can see of Gibraltar as a fortress. You hear, of course, of much more, and you can guess at a great deal. Up above, where the Signal Station is, and where no one, not even an officer in uniform not engaged on the works, is allowed to go, are the real fortifications. What looks like a rock is a monster gun painted gray, or a tree hides the mouth of another. And in this forbidden territory are great cannon which are worked from the lowest ramparts. These are the present triumphs of Gibraltar. Before they came, the clouds which shut out the sight of the Rock as well as the rest of the world from its summit rendered the great pieces of artillery there as useless in bad weather as they are harmless in times of peace. The very elements threatened to war against the English, and a shower of rain or a veering wind might have altered the fortunes of a battle. But a clever man named Watkins has invented a position-finder,[23] by means of which those on the lowest ramparts, well out of the clouds, can aim the great guns on the summit at a vessel unseen by the gunners lost in the mist above, and by electricity fire a shot from a gun a half-mile above them so that it will strike an object many miles off at sea. It will be a very strange sensation to the captain of such a vessel when he finds her bombarded by shells that belch forth from a drifting cloud.

No stranger has really any idea of the real strength of this fortress, or in what part of it its real strength lies. Not one out of ten of its officers knows it. Gibraltar is a grand and grim practical joke; it is an armed foe like the army in Macbeth, who came in the semblance of a wood, or like the wooden horse of Troy that held the pick of the enemy's fighting-men. What looks like a solid face of rock is a hanging curtain that masks a battery; the blue waters of the bay are treacherous with torpedoes; and every little smiling village of Spain has been marked down for destruction, and has had its measurements taken as accurately as though the English batteries had been playing on it already for many years. The Rock is undermined and tunnelled throughout, and food and provisions are stored away in it to last a siege of seven years. Telephones and telegraphs, signal stations for flagging, search-lights, and other such devilish inventions, have been planted on every point, and only the Governor himself knows what other modern improvements have been introduced[24] into the bowels of this mountain or distributed behind bits of landscape gardening on its surface.

On the 25th of February, at half-past ten in the morning, three guns were fired in rapid succession from the top of the Rock, and the windows shook. Three guns mean that Gibraltar is about to be attacked by a fleet of war-ships, and that "England expects every man to do his duty." So I went out to see him do it. Men were running through the streets trailing their guns, and officers were galloping about pulling at their gloves, and bodies of troops were swinging along at a double-quick, which always makes them look as though they were walking in tight boots, and bugles were calling, and groups of men, black and clearly cut against the sky, were excitedly switching the air with flags from every jutting rock and every rampart of the garrison.


Behind the ramparts, quite out of sight of the vessels in the bay, were many hundreds of infantrymen with rifles in hand, and only waiting for a signal to appear above the coping of the wall to empty their guns into the boats of the enemy. The enlisted men, who enjoy this sort of play, were pleased and interested; the officers were almost as calm as they would be before a real enemy, and very much bored at being called out and experimented with. The real object of the preparation for defence that morning was to learn whether the officers at different points could[27] communicate with the governor as he rode rapidly from one spot to another. This was done by means of flags, and although the officer who did the flagging for the Governor's party had about as much as he could do to keep his horse on four legs, the experiment was most successful. It was a very pretty and curious sight to see men talking a mile away to a party of horsemen going at full gallop.

The life of a subaltern of the British army, who belongs to a smart regiment, and who is stationed at such a post as Gibraltar, impresses you as being as easy and satisfactory a state of existence as a young and unmarried man could ask. He has always the hope that some day—any day, in fact—he will have a chance to see active service, and so serve his country and distinguish his name. And while waiting for this chance he enjoys the good things the world brings him with a clear conscience. He has duties, it is true, but they did not strike me as being wearing ones, or as threatening nervous prostration. As far as I could see, his most trying duty was the number of times a day he had to change his clothes, and this had its ameliorating circumstance in that he each time changed into a more gorgeous costume. There was one youth whom I saw in four different suits in two hours. When I first noticed him he was coming back from polo, in boots and breeches; then he was directing the firing of a gun, with a pill-box hat on the side of his head, a large pair of field-glasses[28] in his hand, and covered by a black and red uniform that fitted him like a jersey. A little later he turned up at a tennis party at the Governor's in flannels; and after that he came back there to dine in the garb of every evening. When the subaltern dines at mess he wears a uniform which turns that of the First City Troop into what looks in comparison like a second-hand and ready-made garment. The officers of the 13th Somerset Light Infantry wore scarlet jackets at dinner, with high black silk waistcoats bordered with two inches of gold lace. The jackets have gold buttons sewed along every edge that presents itself, and offer glorious chances for determining one's future by counting "poor man, rich man, beggar-man, thief." When eighteen of these jackets are placed around a table, the chance civilian feels and looks like an undertaker.

Dining at mess is a very serious function in a British regiment. At other times her Majesty's officers have a reticent air; but at dinner, when you are a guest, or whether you are a guest or not, there is an intent to please and to be pleased which is rather refreshing.

We have no regimental headquarters in America, and owing to our officers seeking promotion all over the country, the regimental esprit de corps is lacking. But in the English army regimental feeling is very strong; father and son follow on in the same regiment, and now that they are naming them for the counties from which[29] they are recruited, they are becoming very close corporations indeed. At mess the traditions of the regiment come into play, and you can learn then of the actions in which it has been engaged from the engravings and paintings around the walls, and from the silver plate on the table and the flags stacked in the corner.


When a man gets his company he presents the regiment with a piece of plate, or a silver inkstand, or a picture, or something which commemorates a battle or a man, and so the regimental headquarters are always telling a story of what has been in the past and inspiring fine deeds for the future. Each regiment has its peculiarity of uniform or its custom at mess, which is distinctive to it, and which means more the longer it is observed. Those in authority are trying to do away with these signs and differences[30] in equipment, and are writing themselves down asses as they do so.

You will notice, for instance, if you are up in such things, that the sergeants of the 13th Light Infantry wear their sashes from the left shoulder to the right hip, as officers do, and not from the right shoulder, as sergeants should. This means that once in a great battle every officer of the 13th was killed, and the sergeants, finding this out, and that they were now in command, changed their sashes to the other shoulder. And the officers ever after allowed them to do this, as a tribute to their brothers in command who had so conspicuously obliterated themselves and distinguished their regiment. There are other traditions, such as that no one must mention a woman's name at mess, except the title of one woman, to which they rise and drink at the end of the dinner, when the sergeant gives the signal to the band-master outside, and his men play the national anthem, while the bandmaster comes in, as Mr. Kipling describes him in "The Drums of the Fore and Aft," and "takes his glass of port-wine with the orfficers." The Sixtieth, or the Royal Rifles, for instance, wear no marks of rank at the mess, in order to express the idea that there they are all equal. This regiment had once for its name the King's American Rifles, and under that name it took Quebec and Montreal, and I had placed in front of me at mess one night a little silver statuette in the equipment of a Continental soldier, except[31] that his coat, if it had been colored, would have been red, and not blue. He was dated 1768. In the mess-room are pictures of the regiment swarming over the heights of Quebec, storming the walls of Delhi, and running the gauntlet up the Nile as they pressed forward to save Gordon. All of this goes to make a subaltern feel things that are good for him to feel.

Every day at Gibraltar there is tennis, and bands playing in the Alameda, and parades, or riding-parties across the Neutral Ground into Spain, and teas and dinners, at which the young ladies of the place dance Spanish dances, and twice a week the members of the Calpe Hunt meet in Spain, and chase foxes across the worst country that any Englishman ever rode over in pink. There are no fences, but there are ravines and cañons and precipices, down and up and over which the horses scramble and jump, and over which they will, if the rider leaves them alone, bring him safely.

And if you lose the rest of the field, you can go to an old Spanish inn like that which Don Quixote visited, with drunken muleteers in the court-yard, and the dining-room over the stable, and with beautiful dark-eyed young women to give you omelet and native wine and black bread. Or, what is as amusing, you can stop in at the officer's guard-room at the North Front, and cheer that gentleman's loneliness by taking tea with him, and drying your things before his fire while he cuts the cake, and the women of the party[32] straighten their hats in front of his glass, and two Tommies go off for hot water.

There was a very entertaining officer guarding the North Front one night, and he proved so entertaining that neither of us heard the sunset gun, and so when I reached the gate I found it locked, and the bugler of the guard who take the keys to the Governor each night was sounding his bugle half-way up the town. There was a dark object on a wall to which I addressed all my arguments and explanations, which the object met with repeated requests to "move on, now," in the tone of expostulation with which a London policeman addresses a very drunken man.


I knew that if I tried to cross the Neutral Ground I would be shot at for a smuggler; for, owing to Gibraltar's being a free port of entry, these gentlemen buy tobacco there, and carry it home each night, or run it across the half-mile of Neutral Ground strapped to the backs of dogs. So I wandered back again to the entertaining officer, and he was filled with remorse, and sent off a note of entreaty to his Excellency's representative, to whom he referred as a D. A. A. G., and whose name, he said, was Jones. We then went to the mess of the officers guarding the different approaches, and these gentlemen kindly offered me their own beds, proposing that they themselves should sleep on three chairs and a pile of overcoats; all except one subaltern, who excused his silence by saying diffidently that he fancied I would not care to sleep in the fever[35] officer of the keys pass every night, and the guards turn out to salute the keys, and I had rather imagined that it was more or less of a form, and that the pomp and circumstance were all there was of it. I did not believe that the Rock was really closed up at night like a safe with a combination lock. But I know now that it is. A note came back from the mysterious D. A. A. G. saying I could be admitted at eleven; but it said nothing at all about sentries, nor did the entertaining officer. Subalterns always say "Officer" when challenged, and the sentry always murmurs, "Pass, officer, and all's well," in an apologetic growl. But I suppose I did not say "Officer" as I had been told to do, with any show of confidence, for every sentry who appeared that night—and there seemed to be a regiment of them—would not have it at all, and wanted further data, and wanted it quick. Even if you have an order from a D. A. A. G. named Jones, it is very difficult to explain about it when you don't know whether to speak of him as the D. A. A. G. or as General Jones, and especially when a young and inexperienced shadow is twisting his gun about so that the moonlight plays up and down the very longest bayonet ever issued by a civilized nation. They were not nice sentries, either, like those on the Rock, who stand where you can see them, and who challenge you drowsily, like cabmen, and make the empty streets less lonely than otherwise.

[36]They were, on the contrary, fierce and in a terrible hurry, and had a way of jumping out of the shadow with a rattle of the gun and a shout that brought nerve-storms in successive shocks. To make it worse, I had gone over the post, while waiting for word from the D. A. A. G., to hear the sentries recite their instructions to the entertaining officer. They did this rather badly, I thought, the only portion of the rules, indeed, which they seemed to have by heart being those which bade them not to allow cows to trespass "without a permit," which must have impressed them by its humor, and the fact that when approached within fifty yards they were "to fire low." I found when challenged that night that this was the only part of their instructions that I also could remember.

This was the only trying experience of my stay in Gibraltar, and it is brought in here as a compliment to the force that guards the North Front. For of them, and the rest of the inhabitants and officers of the garrison, any one who visits there can only think well; and I hope when the Rock is attacked, as it never will be, that they will all cover themselves with glory. It never will be attacked, for the reason that the American people are the only people clever enough to invent a way of taking it, and they are far too clever to attempt an impossible thing.




A great many thousand years ago Hercules built the mountain of Abyla and its twin mountain which we call Gibraltar. It was supposed to mark the limits of the unknown world, and it would seem from casual inspection, as I suggested in the last chapter, that it serves the same purpose to this day. Men have crept into Africa and crept out again, like flies over a ceiling, and they have gained much renown at Africa's expense for having done so. They have built little towns along its coasts, and run little rocking, bumping railroads into its forests, and dragged launches over its cataracts, and partitioned it off among emperors and powers and trading companies, without having ventured into the countries they pretend to have subdued. But from Paul du Chaillu to W. A. Chanler, "the Last Explorer," as he has been called, just how much more do we know of Africa than did the Romans whose bridges still stand in Tangier?

The "Last Explorer" sounds well, and is distinctly[38] a mot, but there will be other explorers to go, and perhaps to return. There are still a few things for us to learn. The Spaniards and the Pilgrim fathers touched the unknown world of America only four hundred years ago, and to-day any commercial traveller can tell you, with the aid of an A B C railroad guide, the name of every town in any part of it. But Turks and Romans and Spaniards, and, of late, English and Germans and French, have been pecking and nibbling at Africa like little mice around a cheese, and they are still nibbling at the rind, and know as little of the people they "protect," and of the countries they have annexed and colonized, as did Hannibal and Scipio. The American forests have been turned into railroad ties and telegraph poles, and the American Indian has been "exterminated" or taught to plough and to wear a high hat. The cowboy rides freely over the prairies; the Indian agent cheats the Indian—the Indian does not cheat him; the Germans own Milwaukee and Cincinnati; the Irish rule everywhere; even the much-abused Chinaman hangs out his red sign in every corner of the country. There is not a nation of the globe that has not its hold upon and does not make fortunes out of the continent of America; but the continent of Africa remains just as it was, holding back its secret, and still content to be the unknown world.

You need not travel far into Africa to learn this; you can find out how little we know of it[39] at its very shore. This city of Tangier, lying but three hours off from Gibraltar's civilization, on the nearest coast of Africa, can teach you how little we or our civilized contemporaries understand of these barbarians and of their barbarous ways.

A few months since England sent her ambassador to treat with the Sultan of Morocco; it was an untaught blackamoor opposed to a diplomat and a gentleman, and a representative of the most civilized and powerful of empires; and we have Stephen Bonsal's picture of this ambassador and his suite riding back along the hot, sandy trail from Fez, baffled and ridiculed and beaten. So that when I was in Tangier, half-naked Moors, taking every white stranger for an Englishman, would point a finger at me and cry, "Your Sultana a fool; the Sultan only wise." Which shows what a superior people we are when we get away from home, and how well the English understand the people they like to protect.

Tangier lies like a mass of drifted snow on the green hills below, and over the point of rock on which stands its fortress, and from which waves the square red flag of Morocco. It is a fine place spoiled by civilization. And not a nice quality of civilization either. Back of it, in Tetuan or Fez, you can understand what Tangier once was and see the Moor at his best. There he lives in the exclusiveness which his religion teaches him is right—an exclusiveness to[40] which the hauteur of an Englishman, and his fear that some one is going to speak to him on purpose, become a gracious manner and suggest undue familiarity. You see the Moor at his best in Tangier too, but he is never in his complete setting as he is in the inland cities, for when you walk abroad in Tangier you are constantly brought back to the new world by the presence and abodes of the foreign element; a French shop window touches a bazar, and a Moor in his finest robes is followed by a Spaniard in his black cape or an Englishman in a tweed suit, for the Englishman learns nothing and forgets nothing. He may live in Tangier for years, but he never learns to wear a burnoose, or forgets to put on the coat his tailor has sent him from home as the latest in fashion. The first thing which meets your eye on entering the harbor at Tangier is an immense blue-and-white enamel sign asking you to patronize the English store for groceries and provisions. It strikes you as much more barbarous than the Moors who come scrambling over the vessel's side.


They come with a rush and with wild yells before the little steamer has stopped moving, and remind you of their piratical ancestors. They look quite as fierce, and as they throw their brown bare legs over the bulwarks and leap and scramble, pushing and shouting in apparently the keenest stage of excitement and rage, they only need long knives between their teeth and a cutlass to convince you that you are at the[43] mercy of the Barbary pirates, and not merely of hotel porters and guides.

My guide was a Moor named Mahamed. I had him about a week, or rather, to speak quite correctly, he had me. I do not know how he effected my capture, but he went with me, I think, because no one else would have him, and he accordingly imposed on my good-nature. As we say a man is "good-natured" when there is absolutely nothing else to be said for him, I hope when I say this that I shall not be accused of trying to pay myself a compliment. Mahamed was a tall Moor, with a fine array of different-colored robes and coats and undercoats, and a large white turban around his fez, which marked the fact that he was either married or that he had made a pilgrimage to Mecca. He followed me from morning until night, with the fidelity of a lamb, and with its sheeplike stupidity. No amount of argument or money or abuse could make him leave my side. Mahamed was not even picturesque, for he wore a large pair of blue spectacles and Congress gaiters. This hurt my sense of the fitness of things very much. His idea of serving me was to rush on ahead and shove all the little donkeys and blind beggars and children out of my way, at which the latter would weep, and I would have to go back and bribe them into cheerfulness again. In this way he made me most unpopular with the masses, and cost me a great deal in trying to buy their favor. I was never so completely at the[44] mercy of any one before, and I hope he found me "intelligent, courteous, and a good linguist."

As a matter of fact, there is very little need of a guide in Tangier. It has but few show places, for the place itself is the show. You can find your best entertainment in picking your way through its winding, narrow streets, and in wandering about the open market-places. The highways of Tangier are all very crooked and very steep. They are also very uneven and dirty, and one walks sometimes for hundreds of yards in a maze of dark alleys and little passageways walled in by whitewashed walls, and sheltered from the sun by archways and living-rooms hanging from one side of the street to the other. Green and blue doorways, through which one must stoop to enter, open in from the street, and you are constantly hearing them shut as you pass, as some of the women of the household recognize the presence of a foreigner. You are never quite sure as to what you will meet in the streets or what may be displayed at your elbow before the doors of the bazars. The odors of frying meat and of fresh fruit and of herbs, and of soap in great baskets, and of black coffee and hasheesh, come to you from cafés and tiny shops hardly as big as a packing-box. These are shut up at night by two half-doors, of which the upper one serves as a shield from the sun by day and the lower as a pair of steps. In the wider streets are the bazars, magnificent with color and with the glitter of gold lace and of brass plaques and[45] silver daggers; handsome, comfortable-looking Moors sit crossed-legged in the middle of their small extent like soldiers in a sentry-box, and speak leisurely with their next-door neighbor without gesture, unless they grow excited over a bargain, and with a haughty contempt for the passing Christian. There is always something beneficial in feeling that you are thoroughly despised; and when a whole community combines to despise you, and looks over your head gravely as you pass, you begin to feel that those Moors who do not apparently hold you in contempt are a very poor and middle-class sort of people, and you would much prefer to be overlooked by a proud Moor than shaken hands with by a perverted one. But the pride of the rich Moorish gentlemen is nothing compared to the fanatic intolerance of the poor farmers from the country of the tribes who come in on market-day, and who hate the Christian properly as the Koran tells them they should. They stalk through the narrow street with both eyes fixed on a point far ahead of them, with head and shoulders erect and arms swinging. They brush against you as though you were a camel or a horse, and had four legs on which to stand instead of two. Sometimes a foreigner forgets that these men from the desert, where the foreign element has not come, are following out the religious training of a lifetime, and strikes at one of them with his riding-whip, and then takes refuge in a consulate and leaves on the next boat.

[46]I find it very hard not to sympathize with the Moors. The Englishman is always preaching that an Englishman's house is his castle, and yet he invades this country, he and his French and Spanish and American cousins, and demands that not only he shall be treated well, but that any native of the country, any subject of the Sultan, who chooses to call himself an American or an Englishman shall be protected too. Of course he knows that he is not wanted there; he knows he is forcing himself on the barbarian, and that all the barbarian has ever asked of him is to be let alone. But he comes, and he rides around in his baggy breeches and varnished boots, and he gets up polo games and cricket matches, and gallops about in a pink coat after foxes, and asks for bitter ale, and complains because he cannot get his bath, and all the rest of it, quite as if he had been begged to come and to stop as long as he liked. Sometimes you find a foreigner who tries to learn something of these people, a man like the late Mr. Leared or "Bébé" Carleton, who can speak all their dialects, and who has more power with the Sultan than has any foreign minister, and who, if the Sultan will not pay you for the last shipment of guns you sent him, or for the grand-piano for the harem, is the man to get you your money. But the average foreign resident, as far as I can see, neither adopts the best that the Moor has found good, nor introduces what the Moor most needs, and what he does not know or care[47] enough about to introduce for himself. Tangier, for instance, is excellently adapted by nature for the purposes of good sanitation, but the arrangements are as bad and primitive as they were before a foreigner came into the place. They consist in dumping the refuse of the streets, into which everything is thrown, over the sea-wall out on the rocks below, where the pigs gather up what they want, and the waves wash the remainder back on the coast.


If some of the foreign ministers would use their undoubted influence with the Bashaw to amend this, instead of introducing point-to-point pony races, they might in time show some reason for their invasion of Morocco other than the curious and obvious one that they all grow rich there while doing nothing. The foreign resident has a very great contempt for the Moor. He[48] says the Moor is a great liar and a rogue. When people used to ask Walter Scott if it was he who wrote the Waverley Novels he used to tell them it was not, and he excused this afterwards by saying that if you are asked an impertinent or impossible question you have the right not to answer it or to tell an untruth. The very presence of the foreigner is an impertinence in the eyes of the Moor, and so he naturally does not feel severe remorse when he baffles the foreign invader, and does it whenever he can.

As a matter of fact, the foreign invader at Tangier is not, in a number of cases, in a position in which he can gracefully throw down gauntlets. There is something about these hot, raw countries, hidden out of the way of public opinion and police courts and the respectability which drives a gig, that makes people forget the rules and axioms laid down in the temperate zone for the guidance of tax-payers and all reputable citizens. As the sailors say, "There is no Sunday south of the equator." It is hard to tell just what it is, but the sun, or the example of the barbarians, or the fact that the world is so far away, breeds queer ideas, and one hears stories one would not care to print as long as the law of libel obtains in the land. You have often read in novels, especially French novels, or have heard men on the stage say: "Come, let us leave this place, with its unjust laws and cruel bigotry. We will go to some unknown corner of the earth, where we will make a new home.[49] And there, under a new flag and a new name, we will forget the sad past, and enter into a new world of happiness and content."

When you hear a man on the stage say that, you can make up your mind that he is going to Tangier. It may be that he goes there with somebody else's money, or somebody else's wife, or that he has had trouble with a check; or, as in the case of one young man who was fêted and dined there, had robbed a diamond store in Brooklyn, and is now in Sing Sing; or, as in the case of a recent American consul, had sold his protection for two hundred dollars to any one who wanted it, and was recalled under several clouds. And you hear stories of ministers who retire after receiving an income of a few hundred pounds a year with two hundred thousand dollars they have saved out of it, and of cruelty and bursts of sudden passion that would undoubtedly cause a lynching in the chivalric and civilized states of Alabama or Tennessee. And so when I heard why several of the people of Tangier had come there, and why they did not go away again, I began to feel that the barbarian, whose forefathers swept Spain and terrorized the whole of Catholic Europe, had more reason than he knew for despising the Christian who is waiting to give to his country the benefits of civilization.

Tangier's beauty lies in so many different things—in the monk-like garb of the men and in the white muffled figures of the women; in the brilliancy of its sky, and of the sea dashing upon[50] the rocks and tossing the feluccas with their three-cornered sails from side to side; and in the green towers of the mosques, and the listless leaves of the royal palms rising from the centre of a mass of white roofs; and, above all, in the color and movement of the bazars and streets. The streets represent absolute equality. They are at the widest but three yards across, and every one pushes, and apparently every one has something to sell, or at least something to say, for they all talk and shout at once, and cry at their donkeys or abuse whoever touches them. A water-carrier, with his goat-skin bag on his back and his finger on the tube through which the water comes, jostles you on one side, and a slave as black and shiny as a patent-leather boot shoves you on the other as he makes way for his master on a fine white Arabian horse with brilliant trappings and a huge contempt for the donkeys in his way. It is worth going to Tangier if for no other reason than to see a slave, and to grasp the fact that he costs anywhere from a hundred to five hundred dollars. To the older generation this may not seem worth while, but to the present generation—those of it who were born after Richmond was taken—it is a new and momentous sensation to look at a man as fine and stalwart and human as one of your own people, and feel that he cannot strike for higher wages, or even serve as a parlor-car porter or own a barbershop, but must work out for life the two hundred dollars his owner paid for him at Fez.

[51]There is more movement in Tangier than I have ever noticed in a place of its size. Every one is either looking on cross-legged from the bazars and coffee-shops, or rushing, pushing, and screaming in the street. It is most bewildering; if you turn to look after a particularly magnificent Moor, or a half-naked holy man from the desert with wild eyes and hair as long as a horse's mane, you are trodden upon by a string of donkeys carrying kegs of water, or pushed to one side by a soldier with a gun eight feet long.

There is something continually interesting in the muffled figures of the women. They make you almost ashamed of the uncovered faces of the American women in the town; and, in the lack of any evidence to the contrary, you begin to believe every Moorish woman or girl you meet is as beautiful as her eyes would make it appear that she is. Those of the Moorish girls whose faces I saw were distinctly handsome; they were the women Benjamin Constant paints in his pictures of Algiers, and about whom Pierre Loti goes into ecstasies in his book on Tangier. Their robe or cloak, or whatever the thing is that they affect, covers the head like a hood, and with one hand they hold one of its folds in front of the face as high as their eyes, or keep it in place by biting it between their teeth.

The only time that I ever saw the face of any of them was when I occasionally eluded Mahamed and ran off with a little guide called Isaac, the especial protector of two American[52] women, who farmed him out to me when they preferred to remain in the hotel. He is a particularly beautiful youth, and I noticed that whenever he was with me the cloaks of the women had a fashion of coming undone, and they would lower them for an instant and look at Isaac, and then replace them severely upon the bridge of the nose. Then Isaac would turn towards me with a shy conscious smile and blush violently. Isaac says that the young men of Tangier can tell whether or not a girl is pretty by looking at her feet. It is true that their feet are bare, but it struck me as being a somewhat reckless test for selecting a bride. I will recommend Isaac to whoever thinks of going to Tangier. He speaks eight languages, is eighteen years old, wears beautiful and barbarous garments, and is always happy. He is especially good at making bargains, and he entertained me for many half-hours while I sat and watched him fighting over two dollars more or less with the proprietors of the bazars. He was an antagonist worthy of the oldest and proudest Moor in Tangier. He had no respect for their rage or their contempt or their proffered bribes or their long white beards. Sometimes he would laugh them to scorn—them and their prices; and again he would talk to them sadly and plaintively; and again he would stamp and rage and slap his hands at them and rush off with a great show of disgust, until they called him back again, when he and they would go over the performance once more with unabated interest.[53] Mahamed always paid them what they asked, and got his commission from them later, as a guide should; but Isaac would storm and finally beat them down one-half. Isaac can be found at the Calpe Hotel, and is welcome to whatever this notice may be worth to him.


I had read in books on Morocco and had been given to understand that when you were told that the price of anything in a bazar was worth three dollars, you should offer one, and that then the Moor would cry aloud to Allah to take note of the insult, and would ask you to sit down and have a cup of coffee, and that he would then beat you up and you would beat him down, and that at the end of two or three hours you would get what you wanted for two dollars. It struck me[54] that this, if one had several months to spare and wanted anything badly enough, might be rather amusing. The first thing I saw that I wanted badly was a long gun, for which the Moor asked me twelve dollars. I offered him eight. I then waited to see him tear his beard and unwrap his turban and cry aloud to Allah; but he did none of these things. He merely put the gun back in its place and continued the conversation, which I had so flippantly interrupted, with a long-bearded friend. And no further remarks on my part affected him in the least, and I was forced to go away feeling very much ashamed and very mean. The next day a man at the hotel brought in the gun, having paid fourteen dollars for it, and said he would not sell it for fifty. We would pay much more than that for it at home, which shows that you cannot always follow guide-books.

There are only five things the guides take you to see in Tangier—the café chantant, the governor's palace, the prisons, and the harem, to which men are not admitted. They also take you to see the markets, but you can see them for yourself. The markets are bare, open places covered with stones and lined with bazars, and on market-days peopled with thousands of muffled figures selling or trying to sell herbs and eggs and everything else that is eatable, from dates to haunches of mutton. It is a wonderfully picturesque sight, with the sun trickling through the palm-leaf mats overhead on the piles of yellow melons at your feet, and with strings of camels dislocating their[55] countenances over their grain, and dancing-men and snake-charmers and story-tellers, as eloquent as actors, clamoring on every side.

The café chantant is a long room lined with mats, and with rugs scattered over the floor, on which sit musicians and the regular customers of the place, who play cards and smoke long pipes, with which they rap continually on the tin ash-holders. The music is very strange, to say the least, and the singing very startling, full of sudden pauses, and beginning again after one of these when you think the song is over. It is not a particularly exciting place to visit, but there is no choice between that and the hotel smoking-room. Tangier is not a town where one can move about much at night. There is also a place where the guests tell you that you can see Moorish women dance the dance which so startled Paris in the Algerian exhibit at the exposition. As I had no desire to be startled in that way again, I did not go to see them, and so cannot say what they are like. But it is quite safe to say that any visitor to Tangier who thinks he is seeing anything that is real and native to the home life of the people, and that is not a show gotten up by the guides, is going to be greatly taken in. The harem to which they lead women is not a harem at all, but the home of the widow of an ex-governor, who sits with her daughters for strange women to look at. It is a most undignified proceeding on the part of the widow of a dead Bashaw, and no one but the guides know what she is doing. I[56] came to find out about it through some American women who went there with Isaac in the morning, and were taken to call at the same place by an English lady resident in the afternoon. The English woman laughed at them for thinking they had seen the interior of a harem, and they did not tell her that they had already visited her friends and paid their franc for admittance to their society.

The other show places are the governor's palace and the prisons. The palace is a very handsome Moorish building, and the prisons are very dirty. All that the tourist can see of them is the little he can discern through a hole cut in the stout wooden door of each, which is the only exit and entrance. You cannot see much even then, for the prisoners, as soon as they discover a face at the opening, stick it full of the palm-leaf baskets that they make and sell in order to buy food. The government gives them neither water, which is expensive in Tangier, nor bread, unless they are dying for want of it, but expects the family or friends of each criminal to see that he is kept alive until he has served out his term of imprisonment.


A great deal has been written about these prisons of the Sultan, and of the cruelty shown to the inmates, notably of late by a Mr. Mackenzie in the London Times. You are told that in Tangier, within the four square walls of the prison, there are madmen and half-starved murderers and rebels, loaded with chains, dying of disease[59] and want, who are tortured and starved until they die. For this reason no one in Morocco is sentenced for more than ten or twelve years, so you are told, because he is sure to die before that time has expired. It seemed to me that if this were true it would be worth while to visit the prison and to tell what one saw there. When I was informed that, with the exception of two residents of Tangier, no one has been allowed to enter the Sultan's prison for the last ten years, I suspected that there must be something there which the Sultan did not want seen: it was not a difficult deduction to make. So I set about getting into the prison. It is not at all necessary to go into the details of my endeavors, or to tell what proposals I made; it is quite sufficient to say that in every way I was eminently unsuccessful. It was interesting, however, to find a people to whom the arguments and inducements which had proved effective with one's own countrymen were foolish and incomprehensible. For two days I haunted the outer walls of the prison, and was smiled upon contemptuously by the Bashaw's counsellors, who sat calmly in the cool hallway of the palace, and watched me kicking impatiently at the stones in the court-yard and broiling in the sun, while the governor or Bashaw returned me polite expressions of his regret. I finally dragged the Consul-General into it, and brought things to such a pass that I could see no way out of it but my admittance to the prison or a declaration of war from the United States.

[60]Either event seemed to promise exciting and sensational developments. Colonel Mathews, the Consul-General, did not, however, share my views, but arranged that I should have an audience with the Bashaw, during the course of which he promised he would bring up the question of my admittance to the prison.

On board the Fulda, I had had the pleasure of sitting at table next to the Rev. Dr. Henry M. Field, the editor of the Evangelist, and a distinguished traveller in many lands. While on the steamer I had twitted the doctor with not having seen certain phases of life with which, it seemed to me, he should be more familiar, and I offered, on finding we were making the same tour for the same purpose, to introduce him to bull-fights and pig-sticking and cafés chantants, and other incidents of foreign travel, of which he seemed to be ignorant. He refused my offer with dignity, but I think with some regret. I was, nevertheless, glad to find that he was in Tangier, and that he was to be one of the party to call at the governor's palace. On learning of my desire to visit the prison Dr. Field added his petition to mine, and I am quite sure that Colonel Mathews wished we were both in the United States.

We first called upon the Sultan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, who received us in a little room leading from a pretty portico near the street entrance. It was furnished, I was pained to note, not with divans and rugs, but with a set of red plush and walnut sofas and chairs, such as you[61] would find in the salon of a third-rate French hotel. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was a dear, kindly old gentleman, with a fine white beard down to his waist, but he had a cold in his head, and this kept him dabbing at his nose with a red bandanna handkerchief rolled up in a ball, which was not in keeping with the rest of his costume, nor with the dignity of his appearance. He and Dr. Field got on very well; they found out that they were both seventy years of age, and both highly esteemed in their different churches. Indeed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was good enough to say, through Colonel Mathews, that Dr. Field had a good face, and one that showed he had led a religious life. He rather neglected me, and I was out of it, especially when both the doctor and the cabinet minister began hoping that Allah would bless them both. I thought it most unorthodox language for Dr. Field to use.

We then walked up the hill upon which stand the fort, the prisons, the treasury, and the governor's palace, and were received at the entrance to the latter by the same gentlemen who had for the last two days been enjoying my discomfiture. They were now most gracious in their manner, and bowed proudly and respectfully to Colonel Mathews as we passed between two rows of them and entered the hall of the palace. We went through three halls covered with colored tiles and topped with arches of ornamental scrollwork of intricate designs. At the extreme end[62] of these rooms the Bashaw stood waiting for us. He was the finest-looking Moor I had seen; and I think the Moorish gentleman, though it seems a strange thing to say, is the most perfect type of a gentleman that I have seen in any country. He is seldom less than six feet tall, and he carries his six feet with the erectness of a soldier and with the grace of a woman. The bones of his face are strong and well-placed, and he looks kind and properly self-respecting, and is always courteous. When you add to this clothing as brilliant and robes as clean and soft and white as a bride's, you have a very worthy-looking man. The Bashaw towered above all of us. He wore brown and dark-blue cloaks, with a long under-waistcoat of light-blue silk, yellow shoes, and a white turban as big as a bucket, and his baggy trousers were as voluminous as Letty Lind's divided skirts. He could not speak English, but he shook hands with us, which Moors do not do to one another, and walked on ahead through court-yards and halls and up stairways to a little room filled with divans and decorated with a carved ceiling and tiled walls. There we all sat down, and a soldier in a long red cloak and with numerous swords sticking out of his person gave us tea, and sweet cakes made entirely of sugar. As soon as we had finished one cup he brought in another, and, noticing this, I indulged sparingly; but the doctor finished his first, and then refused the rest, until the Consul-General told him he must drink or be guilty of a breach of etiquette.


[63]The Bashaw and Colonel Mathews talked together, and we paid the governor long and laborious compliments, at which he smiled indulgently. He did not strike me as being at all overcome by them; he had, on the contrary, very much the air of a man of the world, and seemed rather to be bored, but too polite to say so. He looked exactly like Salvini as Othello. While the tea-drinking was going on we were making asides to Colonel Mathews, and urging him to propose our going into the prison, which he said he would do, but that it must be done diplomatically. We told him we would give all the prisoners bread and water, or a lump sum to the guards, or whatever he thought would please the Bashaw best. He and the Bashaw then began to talk about it, and the doctor and I looked consciously at the ceiling. The Bashaw said that never since he had been governor of Tangier had he allowed either a native or a foreigner to enter the prison; and that if a European did so, he would be torn to[64] pieces by the fanatics imprisoned there, who would think they were pleasing Allah by abusing an unbeliever. Colonel Mathews also added, on his own account, that we would probably catch some horrible disease. The more they did not want us to go, the more we wanted to go, the doctor rising to the occasion with a keenness and readiness of resource worthy of a New York reporter after a beat. I can pay him no higher compliment. After a long, loud, and excited debate the Bashaw submitted, and the Consul-General won.

The first prison they showed us was the county jail, in which men are placed for a month or more. It was dirty and uninteresting, and we protested that it was not the one which the Bashaw had described, and asked to be shown the one where the enemies of the government were incarcerated. Colonel Mathews called back the Bashaw's soldiers, and we went on to the larger prison immediately adjoining. Some time ago the inmates of this made a break for liberty, and forced open the one door which bars those inside from the outer world. The guards fired into the mass of them, and the place shows where the bullets struck. To prevent a repetition of this, three heavy bars were driven into the masonry around the door, so close together that it is impossible for more than one man to leave or enter the prison at one time even when the door is open. And the opening is so small that to do this he must either crawl in on his hands and knees, or[65] lift himself up by the crossbar and swing himself in feet foremost. It impressed me as a particularly embarrassing way to make an entrance among a lot of people who meditated tearing you to pieces. I pointed this out to the doctor, but he was determined, though pale. So the guards swung the door in, and the first glimpse of a Christian gentleman the prisoners had in ten years was a pair of yellow riding-boots which shot into space, followed by a young man, and a moment later by an elderly gentleman with a white tie. We made a combined movement to the middle of the prison, which was lighted from above by a square opening in the roof, protected by iron bars. This was the only light in the place. All around the four sides of the patio or court were rows of pillars supporting a portico, and back of these was a second and outer corridor opening into the porticos, and so into the patio. The whole place—patio, porticos, and outer corridor—was about as big as the stage of a New York theatre. It was paved with dirt and broken slabs, and littered with straw. There was no furniture of any sort. With the exception of the sink upon which we stood, directly under the opening in the roof, the place was in almost complete darkness, although the sun was shining brilliantly outside.

I think there must have been about fifty or sixty men in the prison, and for a short time not one of them moved. They were apparently, to judge by the way they looked at us, as much[66] startled as though we had ascended from a trap like goblins in a pantomime, and then half of them, with one accord, came scrambling towards us on their hands and knees. They were half naked, and their hair hung down over their eyes; and this, and their crawling towards us instead of walking, made them look more or less like animals. As they came forward there was a clanking of chains, and I saw that it was because their legs were fettered that they came as they did, and not standing erect like human beings. The guard who followed us in was over two minutes in getting the door fastened behind him, and my mind was more occupied with this fact than with what I saw before me; for it seemed to me that if there was any tearing to pieces to be gone through with, I should hate to have to wait that long while the door was being opened again. This thought, with the shock of seeing thirty wild men moving upon us out of complete darkness on their hands and knees, was the only sensation of any interest that I received while visiting the prison.


The inmates looked exactly like the poorer of the Moors outside, except that their hair was longer and their clothing was not so white. There was one man, however, quite as well dressed as any of the Sultan's counsellors, and he seemed to be the only one who objected to our presence. The rest did nothing except to gratify their curiosity by staring at us; they did not even hold out their hands for money. They were very dirty[69] and poorly clothed, and their long imprisonment had made them haggard and pale, and the iron bars around their legs gave them a certain interest. The atmosphere of the place was horribly foul, but not worse than the atmosphere of either the men's or women's ward at night in a precinct station-house in New York city. Indeed, I was not so much impressed with the horrors of the Sultan's prison as with the fact that our own are so little better, considering our advanced civilization. I do not mean our large prisons, but the cells and the vagrants' rooms in the police stations. There the vagrant is given a sloping board and no ventilation. In Tangier he is given straw and an opening in the roof. To be fair, you must compare a prisoner's condition in jail with that which he is accustomed to in his own home, and the homes of the Moors of the lower class are as much like stables as their stables are like pigsties. The poor of Tangier are allowed, through the kindness of the Sultan, to sleep on the bare stones around the entrance to one of the mosques. For the poor sick there has been built a portico, about as large as a Fifth Avenue omnibus, opposite this same mosque. This is called the hospital of Tangier. It is considered quite good enough for sick people and for those who have no homes. And every night you will see bundles of rags lying in the open street or under the narrow roof of the portico, exposed to the rain and to the bitter cold. If this, in the minds of the Moors, is fair treatment of the sick and the poor, one cannot expect them[70] to give their criminals and murderers white bread and a freshly rolled turban every morning.

If I had seen horrible things in the Sultan's prison—men starving, or too sick to rise, or chained to the walls, or half mad, or loathsome with disease—I should certainly have been glad to call the attention of other people to it, not from any philanthropic motives perhaps, but as a matter of news interest. I did not, however, see any of these things. Dr. Field, I believe, was differently impressed, and is of the opinion that the outer corridor contained many things much too horrible to believe possible. He compared this to Dante's ninth circle of hell, and made a point of the fact that the guard had called me back when I walked towards it. I, however, went into it while the doctor and the guard were getting the door open for us to return, and saw nothing there but straw. It seemed to me to be the place where the men slept when the rain, coming through the opening in the roof, made it unpleasant for them to remain in the court.

It may seem that my persistence in visiting the prison is inconsistent with what I have said of foreigners forcing themselves into places in Morocco where they are not wanted, but I am quite sure that, had any one heard the stories told me of the horror of these jails, he would have considered himself justified in learning the truth about them; and I cannot understand why, if the members of the legations who tell these stories believe them, they have not used their influence[71] to try and better the condition of the prisoners, rather than to introduce game-laws for the protection of partridges and wild-boars. It is, perhaps, gratifying to note that the two gentlemen of whom I spoke as having visited the prison in the last ten years were the American Consul-General and another resident American. Both of these contributed food to the prisoners, and reported what they had seen to our government.

On the whole, Tangier impresses one as a fine thing spoiled by civilization. Barbarism with electric lights at night is not attractive. Tangier to every traveller should be chiefly interesting as a stepping-stone towards Tetuan or Fez. Tetuan can be reached in a day's journey, and there the Moor is to be seen pure and simple, barbarous and beautiful.




There are certain places and things with which the English novel has made us so familiar that it is not necessary for us to go far afield or to study guide-books in order to feel that we have known them intimately and always. We know Paddington Station as the place where the detective interrogates the porter who handled the luggage of the escaping criminal, and as the spot from which the governess takes her ticket for the country-house where she is to be persecuted by its mistress and loved by all the masculine members of the household. We also know that a P. and O. steamer is a means of conveyance almost as generally used by heroes and heroines of English fiction as a hansom cab. It is a vessel upon which the heroine meets her Fate, either in the person of a young man on his way home from India, or by being shipwrecked on a desert island on her way to Australia, and where the only other surviving passenger tattooes his will upon her back, leaves her all his fortune, and considerately[73] dies. Long ago a line of steamers ran to the Peninsula of Spain; later they shortened their sails, as the Romans shortened their swords, and, like the Romans, extended their boundaries to the Orient. This line is now an institution with traditions and precedents and armorial bearings and time-hallowed jokes, and when you step upon the deck of a P. and O. steamer for the first time you feel that you are not merely an ordinary passenger, but a part of a novel in three volumes, or of a picture in the London Graphic, and that all sorts of things are imminent and possible. It may not have occurred to you before embarking, but you know as soon as you come over the side that you expected to find the deck strewn with laces and fans and daggers from Tangier, and photographs of Gibraltar, and such other trifles for possible purchase by the outbound passengers, and that the crew would be little barefooted lascars in red turbans and long blue shirts, with a cumberband about their persons, and that you would be called to tiffin instead of to lunch.

A fat little lascar balanced himself in the jolly-boat outlined against the sky and held aloft a red flag until the hawser swung clear of the propeller, when he raised a white flag above him and stood as motionless as the Statue of Liberty, while the Sutlej cleared Europa Point of Gibraltar and headed towards the East. Then he pattered across the deck and leaned over the side and crooned in a lazy, barbarous monotone to the waves. The sun fell upon the boat like a spell[74] and turned us into sleepy and indolent fixtures wherever it first found us, and showed us the white-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada of Spain to the north, and the dim blue mountains of Africa to the south. The deck below was scrubbed as white as a bread-board, and the masts and rigging threw black shadows on the awning overhead, and on every side the blue Mediterranean and the bluer Mediterranean sky met and sparkled and reflected each other's brilliancy like mirrors placed face to face.

For four days the sun greeted the Sutlej by day and the moon by night, and the coast of Africa played hide-and-seek along her starboard side, disappearing in a white mist of cloud for an hour or so, and then running along with us again in comfortable proximity. On the other side boats passed at almost as frequent intervals, and at such friendly range that one could count the people on the decks and read their flag signals without a glass. The loneliness of the North Atlantic, where an iceberg stands for land, and only an occasional tramp steamer rests the eye, is as different to this sea as a railroad journey over the prairie is to the jaunt from New York to Washington. On the second night out we see Algiers, glowing and sparkling in the night like a million of fire-flies, and with the clear steady eye of the light-house warning us away, as though the quarantine had not warned some of us away already. And on the third night we pass Cape Bon, and can imagine Tunis lying tantalizingly[75] near us, behind its light-house, shut off also by the quarantine that the cholera at Marseilles has made imperative wherever the French line of steamers touch. By this time the twoscore passengers have foregathered as they would never have done had they all been Americans, or had there been three hundred of them, and their place of meeting the deck of a transatlantic steamer instead of one of this picturesque fleet, upon which you expect strange things to happen.


When an American goes to sea, he reads books,[76] or he calculates the number of tons of coal it is taking to run the vessel at that rate of speed, and he determines that rate of speed by counting the rise and fall of the piston-rod, with his watch in his hand; and when this ceases to amuse him he plays cards in the smoking-room or holds pools on the run and on the pilot's number. The Englishman joins in these latter amusements, because nothing better offers. But when his foot is on his native heath or on the deck of one of his own vessels, he demonstrates his preference for that sort of entertainment which requires exercise and little thought. If it is at a country-house, he plays games which entail considerable running about, and at picnics he enjoys "Throw the handkerchief," and on board ship he plays cricket and other games dear to the heart of the American at the age of five. This is partly because he always exercises and likes moving about, as Americans do not, and because the reading of books (except such books as Mr. Potter of Texas, which, I firmly believe, every Englishman I ever met has read, and upon which they have bestowed the most unqualified approval as the truest picture of American life and character they have ever found) entertains him for but a very short period at a time.

So a netting is placed about the upper deck for him, and he plays cricket; not only he, but his wife and his sister and his mother and the unattached young ladies under the captain's care, who are going out to India, presumably to be met[77] at the wharf by prospective husbands. There is something most charming in the absolute equality which this sport entails, and the seriousness with which the English regard it. We could not in America expect a white-haired lady with spectacles to bowl overhand, or to see that it is considered quite as a matter of course that she should do it by the member of the last Oxford eleven, nor would our young women be able to hold a hot ball, or to take it with the hands crossed and only partly open, and not palm to palm and wide apart. An American, as a rule, walks in order that he may reach a certain point, but the Englishman walks for the sake of the walking. And he plays games, also, apparently for the exercise there is in them; games in which people sit in a circle and discuss whether love or reason should guide them in going into matrimony do not appeal to him so strongly as do "Oranges and lemons," or "Where are you, Jacob?" which is a very fine game, in which an early training in sliding to bases gives you a certain advantage. It is certainly instructive to hear a captain who got his company through storming Fort Nilt last year in the Pamir inquire, anxiously, "Oranges or lemons? Yes, I know. But which should I say, old chap? I'm a little rusty in the game, you know." If people can get back to the days when they were children by playing games, or in any other way, no one can blame them.

The island of Gozo rose up out of the sea on the fourth day—a yellow rib of rock on the[78] right, with houses and temples on it—and demonstrated how few days of water are necessary to rob one's memory of the usual look of a house. One would imagine by the general interest in them that we had spent the last few years of our lives in tents, or in the arctic regions under huts of snow and ice. And then the ship heads in towards Malta, and instead of dropping anchor and waiting for a tender, glides calmly into what is apparently its chief thoroughfare. It is like a Venice of the sea, and you feel as though you were intruding in a gentleman's front yard. The houses and battlements and ramparts lie close on either side, so near that one could toss a biscuit into the hands of the Tommies smoking on the guns, or the natives lounging on the steps that run from the front doors into the sea itself. The yard-arms reach above the line of the house-tops, and the bowsprit seems to threaten havoc with the window-panes of the custom-house. We are not apparently entering a harbor, but steaming down the main street of a city—a city of yellow limestone, with streets, walls, houses, and waste places all of yellow limestone. We might, for all the disturbance we are making, be moving forward in a bark canoe, and not in an ocean steamer drawing twenty-five feet of water. And then when the anchor drops, dozens of little boats, yellow and green and blue, with high posts at the bow and sterns like those on gondolas, shoot out from the steps, and their owners clamor for the proud[81] privilege of carrying us over the few feet of water which runs between the line of houses and the ship's sides.


There was at the Centennial Exposition the head of a woman cut in butter, which attracted much attention from the rural visitors. For this they passed by the women painted on canvas or carved in marble, they were too like the real thing, and the countrymen probably knew how difficult it is to make butter into moulds. For some reason Malta reminds you of this butter lady. It is a real city—with real houses and cathedral and streets, no doubt, but you have a feeling that they are not genuine, and that though it is very cleverly done, it is, after all, a city carved out of cheese or butter. Some of the cheese is mouldy and covered with green, and some of the walls have holes in them, as has aerated bread or Schweitzerkase, and the streets and the pavements, and the carved façades of the churches and opera-house, and the earth and the hills beyond—everything upon which your eye can rest is glaring and yellow, with not a red roof to relieve it; it is all just yellow limestone, and it looks like Dutch cheese. It is like no other place exactly that you have ever seen. The approach into the canal-like harbor under the guns and the search-lights of the fortifications, the moats and drawbridges, and the glaring monotony of the place itself, which seems to have been cut out of one piece and painted with one brush, suggest those little toy fortresses of yellow[82] wood which appear in the shop windows at Christmas-time.

Of course the first and last thought one has of Malta is that the island was the home of the Order of the Knights of St. John, or Knights Hospitallers. This order, which was the most noble of those of the days of mediæval chivalry, was composed of that band of warrior monks who waged war against the infidels, who kept certain vows, and who, under the banner of the white cross, became honored and feared throughout the then known world. Their headquarters changed from place to place during the four hundred years that stretched from the eleventh century, when the order was first established, up to 1530, when Charles V. made over Malta and all its dependencies in perpetual sovereignty to the keeping of these Knights. They had no sooner fortified the island than there began the nine months' siege of the Turks, one of the most memorable sieges in history. When it was ended, the Turks re-embarked ten thousand of the forty thousand men they had landed, and of the nine thousand Knights present under the Grand Master Jean de la Valette when the siege had opened, but six hundred capable of bearing arms remained alive.

The order continued in possession of their island until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the French, under General Bonaparte, took it with but little trouble. The French in turn were besieged by Maltese and English, and[83] after two years capitulated. In 1814 the island was transferred to England. It now, in its monuments and its memories, speaks of the days of chivalry; but present and mixed with these is the ubiquitous red coat of the British soldier; and the eight-pointed Maltese cross, which suggests Ivanhoe, is placed side by side with the lion and the unicorn; the culverin has given way to the quick-throbbing Maxim gun, the Templar's sword to the Lee-Metford rifle, and the heroes of Walter Scott to the friends of Mr. Rudyard Kipling.

The most conspicuous relic of the French occupation is not a noble one. It is the penitential hood of the Maltese woman—a strangely picturesque article of apparel, like a cowl or Shaker bonnet, only much larger than the latter, and with a cape which hangs over the shoulders. The women hold the two projecting flaps of the hood together at the throat, and unless you are advancing directly towards them, their faces are quite invisible. The hoods and capes are black, and are worn as a penance for the frailty of the women of Malta when the French took the place and robbed the churches, and pillaged the storehouses of the Knights, and bore themselves with less restraint than the infidel Turks had done.

Malta retains a slight suggestion of mediævalism in the garb of the Capuchin monks, whose tonsured heads and bare feet and roped waists look like a masquerade in their close proximity to the young officers in tweeds and varnished boots.[84] But one gets the best idea of the past from the great Church of St. John, which is full of the trophies and gifts of the Grand Masters of the Order, and floored with two thousand marble tombs of the Knights themselves. Each Grand Master vied with those who had preceded him in enriching this church, and each Knight on his promotion made it a gift, so that to-day it is rich in these and wonderfully beautiful. This is the chief show-place, and the Governor's palace is another, and, to descend from the sublimity of the past to the absurdity of the present, so is also the guard-room of the officer of the day, which generations of English subalterns have helped to decorate. Each year a committee of officers go over the pictures on its walls and rub out the least amusing, and this survival of the fittest has resulted in a most entertaining gallery of black and white.

The Order of Jerusalem, or of St. John, still obtains in Europe, and those who can show fourteen quarterings on one side and twelve on the other are entitled to belong to it; but they are carpet knights, and wearing an enamel Maltese cross on the left side of an evening coat is a different thing from carrying it on a shield for Saracens to hack at.


Sicily showed itself for a few hours while the boat continued on its way to Brindisi; and as that day happened to be the 4th of March, the captain of the Sutlej was asked to make a calculation for which there will be no further need for[87] four years to come. This calculation showed at what point in the Mediterranean ocean the Sutlej would be when a President was being inaugurated in Washington, and at the proper time the passengers were invited to the cabin, and the fact that a government was changing into the hands of one who could best take care of it was impressed upon them in different ways. And later, after dinner, the captain of the Sutlej made a speech, and said things about the important event (which he insisted on calling an election) which was then taking place in America, and the English cheered and drank the new President's health, and the two Americans on board, who fortunately were both good Democrats, felt not so far from home as before.

You must touch at Brindisi, which is situated on the heel of the boot of Italy, if you wish to go a part of the way by land from the East to London or from London to the East. And as many people prefer travelling forty-eight hours across the Continent to rounding Gibraltar, one hears often of Brindisi, and pictures it as a shipping port of the importance of Liverpool or Marseilles. Instead of which it is as desolate as a summer resort in midwinter, and is like that throughout the year. There was a long, broad stone wharf, and tall stucco houses behind, and banks of coal which suggested the rear approach to Long Island City, and the soft blue Italian skies of which we had read were steely blue, and most of us wore overcoats. We lay bound fast to the wharf,[88] with a plank thrown from the boat's side to the quay, for the day, and we had free permission to learn to walk on streets again for full twenty-four hours; but after facing the wind, and dodging guides who had nothing to show, we came back by preference to the clean deck and the steamer-chair. Desperate-looking Italian soldiers with feathers in their hats, and custom-house officers, and gendarmes paraded up and down the quay for our delectation, and a wicked little boy stood on the pier-head and sang "Ta-ra-ra-boom-chi-ay," pointedly varying this knowledge of our several nationalities by crying: "I say, buy box matches. Get out." This show of learning caused him to be regarded by his fellows with much envy, and they watched us to see how far we were impressed.


There are two things which need no newspaper advertising and which recognize no geographical lines; one is a pretty face and the other is a good song. I have seen photographs for sale of Isabelle Irving and Lillian Russell in as different localities as Santiago in Cuba, and Rotterdam, and I saw a play-bill in San Antonio, Texas, upon which the Countess Dudley and the Duchess of Leinster were reproduced under the names of the Walsh Sisters. A good song will travel as far, changing its name, too, perhaps, and its words, but keeping the same melody that has pleased people in a different part of the world. When the moon came out at Brindisi and hid the heaps of coal, and showed only the white houses and[91] the pillar of Cæsar, a party of young men with guitars and mandolins gathered under the bow and sang a song called "Oh, Caroline," which I had last heard Francis Wilson sing as a part of the score of "The Lion-tamer," to very different words. As the scene of "The Lion-tamer" is laid in Sicily, the song was more or less in place; but the contrast between the dark-browed Italian and Mr. Wilson's genial countenance which the song brought back was striking. And on the night after we had left Brindisi, when the crew gave a concert, one of them sang "Oh, promise me," and some one asked if the song had yet reached America. I did not undeceive him, but said it had.

After Brindisi the hands of the clock go back a few thousand years, and we see Cethdonia, where Ulysses owned much property, and Crete, from whence St. Paul set sail, with its long range of mountains covered with snow, and then we come back to the present near the island of Zante, where the earthquake moved a month ago and swallowed up the homes of the people.

The Sutlej had been going out of her course all of the fourth day in order to dodge possible islands thrown up by the earthquake, and she was late. That night, as she steamed forward at her best speed, the level oily sea fell back from her bows with a steady ripple as she cut it in two and turned it back out of the way. A light on the horizon, like a policeman's lantern, which changed to the burnt-out end of a match and[92] back again to a bull's-eye, told us that beyond the light lay the level sands of Egypt, almost as far-reaching and monotonous as the sea that touched its shore.


The force of habit is very strong on many people, and if they approach the land of the Pharaohs and of Cleopatra an hour after their usual bedtime, they feel no inclination to diverge from their usual habits on that account. When you consider how many hours there are for slumber, and how many are given to dances, you would think one hour of sleep might be spared out of a lifetime in order that you could see Port Said at night. There was a long line of lamps on the shore, like a gigantic row of footlights or a prairie fire along the horizon, and we passed towards this through buoys with red and green lights, with a long sea-wall reaching out on one side, and the natural reef of jagged rocks rising black out of the sea in the path of the moon on the other. Then black boats shot out from the shore and assailed us with strange cries, and men in turbans and long robes, and negroes in what looked like sacking, and which probably was sacking, but which could not hide the suppleness and strength of their limbs, climbed up over the high sides. These were the coal-trimmers making way for the black islands, filled with black coal and blacker men, who made fast to the side and began feeding the vessel through a blazing hole like an open fireplace in her iron side. Four braziers filled with soft coal burnt with a fierce red flame[95] from the corners of the barges, and in this light from out of the depths half-naked negroes ran shrieking and crying with baskets of coal on their shoulders to the top of an inclined plank, and stood there for a second in the full glare of the opening until one could see the whites of their eyes and the sweat glistening on the black faces. Then they pitched the coal forward into the lighted opening, as though they were feeding a fire, and disappeared with a jump downward into the pit of blackness. The coal dust rose in great curtains of mist, through which the figures of the men and the red light showed dimly and with wavering outline, like shadows in an iron-mill, and through it all came their cries and shouts, and the roar of the coal blocks as they rattled down into the hold.

Port Said occupies the same position to the waters of the world as Dodge City once did to the Western States of America—it is the meeting-place of vessels from every land over every water, just as Dodge City was the meeting-place of the great trails across the prairies. When a cowboy reached Dodge City after six months of constant riding by day and of sleeping under the stars by night, and with wild steers for company, he wanted wickedness in its worst form—such being the perversity of man. And you are told that Port Said offers to travellers and crew the same attractive features after a month or weeks of rough voyaging that Dodge City once offered to the trailsmen. In The Light that Failed we are told[96] that Port Said is the wickedest place on earth, that it is a sink of iniquity and a hole of vice, and a wild night in Port Said is described there with pitiless detail. Almost every young man who leaves home for the East is instructed by his friends to reproduce that night, or never return to civilization. And every sea-captain or traveller or ex-member of the Army of Occupation in Egypt that I met on this visit to the East either smiled darkly when he spoke of Port Said or raised his eyes in horror. They all agreed on two things—that it was the home of the most beautiful woman on earth, which is saying a good deal, and that it was the wickedest, wildest, and most vicious place that man had created and God forgotten. One would naturally buy pocket-knives at Sheffield, and ginger ale in Belfast, and would not lay in a stock of cigars if going to Havana; and so when guides in Continental cities and in the East have invited me to see and to buy strange things which caused me to doubt the morals of those who had gone before, I have always put them off, because I knew that some day I should visit Port Said. I did not want second-best and imitation wickedness, but the most awful wickedness of the entire world sounded as though it might prove most amusing. I expected a place blazing with lights, and with gambling-houses and cafés chantants open to the air, and sailors fighting with bare knives, and guides who cheated and robbed you, or led you to dives where you could be drugged and robbed by others.[97]


[99]So I went on shore and gathered the guides together, and told them for the time being to sink their rivalry and to join with loyal local pride in showing me the worst Port Said could do. They consulted for some time, and then said that they were sorry, but the only gambling-house in the place closed at twelve, and so did the only café chantant; and as it was now nearly half-past twelve, every one was properly in bed. I expressed myself fully, and they were hurt, and said that Egypt was a great country, and that after I had seen Cairo I would say so. So I told them I had not meant to offend their pride of country, and that I was going to Cairo in order to see things almost as old as wickedness, and much more worth while, and that all I asked of Port Said was that it should live up to its name. I told them to hire a house, and wake the people in Port Said up, and show me the very worst, lowest, wickedest, and most vicious sights of which their city boasted; that I would give them four hours in which to do it, and what money they needed. I should like to print what, after long consultation, the five guides of Port Said—which is a place a half-mile across, and with which they were naturally acquainted—offered me as the acme of riotous dissipation. I do not do so, not because it would bring the blush to the cheek of the reader, but to the inhabitants of Port Said, who have enjoyed a notoriety they do not deserve, and who are like those desperadoes in the West who would rather be considered "bad"[100] than the nonentities that they are. I bought photographs, a box of cigarettes, and a cup of black coffee at Port Said. That cannot be considered a night of wild dissipation. Port Said may have been a sink of iniquity when Mr. Kipling was last there, but when I visited it it was a coaling station. I would hate to be called a coaling station if I were Port Said, even by me.

When I awoke after my night of riot at Port Said the Sutlej was steaming slowly down the Suez Canal, and its waters rippled against its sandy banks and sent up strange odors of fish and mud. On either side stretched long levels of yellow sand dotted with bunches of dark green grass, like tufts on a quilt, over which stalked an occasional camel, bending and rocking, and scorning the rival ship at its side. You have heard so much of the Suez Canal as an engineering feat that you rather expect, in your ignorance, to find the banks upheld by walls of masonry, and to pass through intricate locks from one level to another, or at least to see a well-beaten towpath at its side. But with the exception of dikes here and there, you pass between slipping sandy banks, which show less of the hand of man than does a mill-dam at home, and you begin to think that Ferdinand de Lesseps drew his walking-stick through the sand from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and twenty thousand negroes followed him and dug a ditch. On either side of this ditch you see reproduced in real life the big colored prints which hung on the walls of the Sunday-School.[101] There are the buffaloes drawing the ploughs of wood, and the wells of raw sun-baked clay, and the ditches and water-works of two cog-wheels and clay pots for irrigating the land, and the strings of camels, and the veiled women carrying earthen jars on the left shoulder. And beyond these stretches the yellow sand, not white and heavy, like our own, but dun-colored and fine, like dust, and over it amethyst skies bare of clouds, and tall palms. And then the boat stops again at Ismaïlia to let you off for Cairo, and the brave captains returning from leave, and the braver young women who are going out to work in hospitals, and the young wives with babies whom their fathers have not seen, and the commissioners returning to rule and bully a native prince, pass on to India, and you are assaulted by donkey-boys who want you to ride "Mark Twain," or "Lady Dunlo," or "Two-Pair-of-Black-Eyes-Oh-What-a-Surprise-Grand-Ole-Man." A jerky, rumbling train carries you from Ismaïlia past Tel-el-Kebir station, where the British army surprised the enemy by a night march and took a train back to Cairo in three hours. And then, after a five hours' ride, you stop at Cairo, and this chapter ends.




As a rule, when you visit the capital of a country for the first time it is sufficient that you should have studied the history of that particular country in order that you may properly appreciate the monuments and the show-places of its chief cities; it is not necessary that you should be an authority on the history of Norway and Sweden to understand Paris or New York. For a full appreciation of most of the great cities of the world one finds a single red-bound volume of Baedeker to be all-sufficient; but when you go to Cairo, in order that you may understand all that lies spread out for your pleasure, you should first have mastered the Old and the New Testament, a complete history of the world, several of Shakespeare's plays, and the files of the London Times for the past ten years. Almost every man who was great, not only in the annals of his own country, but in the history of the world, has left his mark on this oldest country of Egypt, as tourists to the Colosseum have scratched their[103] initials on its stones, and so hope for immortality. You are shown in Cairo the monuments of great monarchs and of a great people, who were not known beyond the limits of their own country in contemporaneous history only because there was no contemporaneous history, and of those who came thousands of years later. The isle of Rodda, between the two banks of the Nile at Cairo, marks where Moses was found in the bulrushes; a church covers the stones upon which Mary and Joseph rested; in the city of Alexandria is the spot where Alexander the Great scratched his name upon the sands of Egypt; the mouldering walls of Old Cairo are the souvenirs of Cæsar, as are the monuments upon which the Egyptians carved his name with "Autocrator" after it. At Actium and Alexandria you think of Antony and of the two women, so widely opposed and so differently beautiful, whom Sarah Bernhardt and Julia Neilson re-embody to-day in Paris and in London, and to whom Shakespeare and Kingsley have paid tribute. Mansoorah marks the capture of Saint-Louis of France, and the crescent and star which is floating over Cairo at this minute speak of Osman Sultan Selim I., with whom began the dependence of Egypt as a part of the Ottoman Empire. From there you see the windmills and bake-ovens of Napoleon, which latter, stretching for miles across the desert, mark the march of his army. Abukir speaks of Nelson and the battle of the Nile; and after him come the less momentous names Tel-el-Kebir[104] and "England's Only General," Wolseley, and the fall of Khartoom and the loss of Gordon. The history of Egypt is the history of the Old World.

Moses, Rameses II., Darius, Alexander, Cæsar, Napoleon, Mehemet Ali, and Nelson—these are all good names; and yet what they failed to do is apparently being done to-day by an Army of Occupation without force, but with the show of it only: not by a single great military hero, but by a lot of men in tweed suits who during business hours irrigate land and add up columns of irritating figures, and in their leisure moments solemnly play golf at the very base of the pyramids. The best of Cairo lies, of course, in that which is old, and not in what has been imported from the New World, and its most amusing features are the incongruities which these importations make possible. I am speaking of Cairo now from a tourist's point of view, and not from that of a political economist. He would probably be interested in the improved sanitation and the Mixed Tribunal.


I had pictured Cairo as an Oriental city of much color, with beautiful minarets piercing the sky-line, and with much richness of decoration on the outside of its palaces and mosques. Cairo is divided into two parts, that which is old and decaying and that which is European and modern; the prevailing colors of both are gray, a dull yellow, and white. The mosques are of gray stone, the houses of dirty white, and in the new[105] part the palaces and residences remind one of white Italian villas. These are surrounded by tropical gardens, which alone save the city from one monotonous variation of sombre colors. It is not, therefore, the buildings, either new or old, which make Cairo one of the most picturesque and incongruous and entertaining of cities in the whole world; it is the people who live in it and who move about in it, and who are so[106] constantly in the streets that from the Citadel above the city its roar comes to you like the roar of London. In that city it is the voice of traffic and steam and manufactures, but in Cairo it emanates from the people themselves, who talk and pray and shout and live their lives out-of-doors. These people are the natives, the European residents, the Army of Occupation, and, during the winter months, the tourists. When you say natives you include Egyptians, Arabians, Copts, Syrians, negroes from the Upper Nile, and about a hundred other subdivisions, which embrace every known nationality of the East.

Mixed with these are the residents, chiefly Greek and French and Turks, and the Army of Occupation, who, when they are not in beautiful uniforms, are in effective riding-clothes, and their wives and sisters in men's shirts and straw hats or Karkee riding-habits. The tourists, for their part, wear detective cameras and ready-made ties if they are Americans, and white helmets and pugarees floating over their necks and white umbrellas if they are English. This latter tropical outfit is spoiled somewhat by the fact that they are forced to wear overcoats the greater part of the time; but as they always take the overcoats off when they are being photographed at the base of the pyramids, their envious friends at home imagine they are in a warm climate.

The longer you remain in Cairo the more satisfying it becomes, as you find how uninterruptedly the old, old life of the people is going on[107] about you, and as you discover for yourself bazars and mosques and tiny workshops and open cafés of which the guide-books say nothing, and to which there are no guides. You can see all the show-places in Cairo of which you have read in a week, and yet at the end of the week you feel as though what you had seen was not really the city, but just the goods in the shop-window. So keep away from show-places. Lose yourself in the streets, or sit idly on the terrace of your hotel and watch the show move by, feeling that the best of it, after all, lies in the fact that nothing you see is done for show; that it is all natural to the people or the place; that if they make pictures of themselves, they do so unconsciously; and that no one is posing except the tourist in his pith helmet.

The bazars in Cairo cover much ground, and run in cliques according to the nature of the goods they expose for sale. From a narrow avenue of red and yellow leather shoes you come to another lane of rugs and curtains and cloth, and through this to an alley of brass—brass lamps and brass pots and brass table-tops—and so on into groups of bookbinders, and of armorers, and sellers of perfumes. These lanes are unpaved, and only wide enough at places for two men to push past at one time; at the widest an open carriage can just make its way slowly, and only at the risk of the driver's falling off his box in a paroxysm of rage. The houses and shops that overhang these filthy streets are as[108] primitive and old as the mud in which you tramp, but they are fantastically and unceasingly beautiful. On the level of the street is the bazar—a little box with a show-case at one side, and at the back an oven, or a forge, or a loom, according to the nature of the thing which is being made before your eyes. Goldsmiths beat and blow on the raw metal as you stand at their elbow; bakers knead their bread; laundrymen squirt water over the soiled linen; armorers hammer on a spear-head, which is afterwards to be dug up and sold as an assegai from the Soudan; and the bookbinders to the Khedive paste and tool the leather boxes for his Highness with the dust from the street covering them and their work, with two dogs fighting for garbage at their feet, and the uproar of thousands of people ringing in their ears. The Oriental cannot express himself in the street without shouting. Everybody shouts—donkey-boys and drivers, venders of a hundred trifles, police and storekeepers, auctioneers and beggars. They do not shout occasionally, but continually. They have to shout, or they will either trample on some one or some one will as certainly trample on them. Camels and donkeys and open carriages and mounted police move through the torrent of pedestrians as though they were figures of the imagination, and had no feelings or feet. On the second story over each bazar is the home of its owner. The windows of this story are latticed, and bulge forward so that the women of the harem may look[111] down without being themselves seen. Above these are square, heavy balconies of carved open wood-work, very old and very beautiful. Scattered through the labyrinth of the bazars are the mosques, with wide, dirty steps covered with the red and yellow shoes of the worshippers within, and with high minarets, and façades carved in relief with sentences from the Koran, or with the name of the Sultan to whom the temple is dedicated.


The bazars are very much as one imagines they should be, the fact that impresses you most about them being, I think, that such beautiful things should come from such queer little holes of dirt and poverty, and that you should stand ankle-deep in mud while you are handling turquoises and gold filigree-work as delicate as that of Regent Street or Broadway. At the bazars to which the dragomen take tourists you will be invited to sit down on a cushion and to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, but you will pay, if you purchase anything, about a pound for each cup of coffee you take. The best bazars for bargains are those in Old Cairo, to which you should go alone. In either place it is the rule to offer one-third of what you are asked—as I found it was not the rule to do in Tangier—and it is not always safe to offer a third unless you want the article very much, as you will certainly get it at that price. You feel much more at home in the bazars and the cafés and in all of the out-of-door life of Cairo than in that of Tangier, owing to[112] the good-nature of the Egyptian. The Moor resents your presence, and though that in itself is attractive, the absolute courtesy of the Egyptian, when it is not, as it seldom is, servility, has also its advantage. If you raised your stick to a Moorish donkey-boy, for instance, you would undoubtedly have as much rough-and-tumble fighting as you could attend to at one time; but you have to beat an Egyptian donkey-boy, or strike at him, or a dozen of him, if you want peace, and every time you hit him he comes up smiling, and with renewed assurances that the Flying Dutchman is a very good donkey, and that all the other donkeys are "velly sick." There is nothing so inspiring as the sight of a carefully bred American girl, who would feel remorse if she scolded her maid, beating eight or nine donkey-boys with her umbrella, until she breaks it, and so rides off breathless but triumphant. This shows that necessity knows no laws of social behavior.

When you are weary of fighting your way through the noise and movement of the bazars, you can find equal entertainment on the terrace of your hotel. There are several hotels in Cairo. There is one to which you should certainly go if you like to see your name encompassed by those of countesses and princes, and of Americans who spell Smith with a "y" and put a hyphen between their second and third names. There are, as I say, a great many hotels in Cairo, but Shepheard's is so historical, and its terrace has[113] been made the scene of so many novels, that all sorts of amusing people go there, from Sultans to the last man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo, and its terrace is like a private box at a mask ball. About the best way to see Cairo is in a wicker chair here under waving palms, something to smoke, and with a warm sun on your back, and the whole world passing by in front of you. Broadway, I have no doubt, is an interesting thoroughfare to those who do not know it. I should judge from the view one has of the soles of numerous boots planted against the windows of hotels along its course that Broadway to the visiting stranger is an infinite source of entertainment. But there are no camels on Broadway, and there are no sais.

A camel by itself is one of the most interesting animals that has ever been created, but when it blocks the way of a dog-cart, and a smart English groom endeavors to drive around it, the incongruity of the situation appeals to you as nothing on Broadway can ever do. Mr. Laurence Hutton, who was in Cairo before I reached it, has pointed out that the camel is the real aristocrat of Egypt. The camel belongs to one of the very first families; he was there when Mena ruled, and he is there now. It does not matter to him whether it is a Pharaoh or a Mameluke or a Napoleon or a Mixed Tribunal that is in power, his gods are unchanged, and he and the palm-tree have preserved their ancient individuality through centuries. He shows that he knows this[114] in the proud way in which he holds his head, and in his disdainful manner of waving and unwinding his neck, and in the rudeness with which he impedes traffic and selfishly considers his own comfort. These are the signs of ancient lineage all the world over. He is not the shaggy, moth-eaten object we see in the circus tent at home. He is nicely shaven, like a French poodle, and covered with fine trappings, and he bends and struts with the dignity of a peacock. He possesses also that uncertainty of conduct that is the privilege of a royal mind; fellahin and Arabs pretend they are his masters, and lead him about with a rope, but that never disturbs him nor breaks his spirit. When he wants to lie down he lies down, whether he is in the desert or in the Ezbekiyeh Road; and when he decides to get up he leaves you in doubt for some feverish seconds as to which part of him will get up first. To properly appreciate the camel you should ride him and experience his getting up and his sitting down. He never does either of these things the same way twice. Sometimes he breaks one leg in two or three places where it had never broken before, and sinks or rises in a northeasterly direction, and then suddenly changes his course and lurches up from the rear, and you grasp his neck wildly, only to find that he is sinking rapidly to one side, and rising, with a jump equal to that of a horse taking a fence, in the front. He can disjoint himself in more different places, than explorers have found sources for the[115] river Nile, and there is no keener pleasure than that which he affords you in watching the countenance of a friend who is being elevated on his back for the first time. He and the palm-tree can make any landscape striking, and he and the sais are the most picturesque features of Cairo.

The sais is a runner who keeps in front of a carriage and warns common people out of the way, and who beats them with a stick if they do not hurry up about it. He is a relic of the days when the traffic in all of the streets was so congested that he was an absolute necessity; now he makes it possible for a carriage to move forward at a trot, which without his aid it could not do. It is obvious that to do this he must run swiftly. Most men when they run bend their bodies forward and keep their mouths closed in order to save their wind. The sais runs with his shoulders thrown back and trumpeting like an enraged elephant. He holds his long wand at his side like a musket, and not trailing in his hand like a walking-stick, and he wears a soft shirt of white stuff, and a sleeveless coat buried in gold lace. His breeches are white, and as voluminous as a woman's skirts; they fall to a few inches above his knee; the rest of his brown leg is bare, and rigid with muscle. On his head he has a fez with a long black tassel, and a magnificent silk scarf of many colors is bound tightly around his waist. He is a perfect ideal of color and movement, and as he runs he bellows like a bull, or roars as you have heard a lion roar at feeding-time[116] in a menagerie. It is not a human cry at all, and you never hear it, even to the last day of your stay in Cairo, without a start, as though it were a cry of "help!" at night, or the quick-clanging bell of a fire-engine. There is nothing else in Cairo which is so satisfying. There are sometimes two sais running abreast, dressed exactly alike, and with the upper part of their bodies as rigid as the wand pressed against their side, and with the ends of their scarf and the long tassel streaming out behind. As they yell and bellow, donkeys and carriages and people scramble out of their way until the carriage they precede has rolled rapidly by. Only princesses of the royal harem, and consuls-general, and the heads of the Army of Occupation and the Egyptian army are permitted two sais; other people may have one. They appealed to me as much more autocratic appendages than a troop of lifeguards. The rastaquouère who first introduces them in Paris will make his name known in a day, and a Lord Mayor's show or a box-seat on a four-in-hand will be a modest and middle-class distinction in comparison.


These camels and sais are but two of the things you see from your wicker chair on the marble terrace at Shepheard's. The others are hundreds of donkey-boys in blue night-gowns slit open at the throat and showing their bare breasts, and with them as many long-eared donkeys, rendered even more absurd than they are in a state of nature by fantastic clippings of their coats and[119] strings of jangling brass and blue beads around their necks.

There are also the women of Cairo, the enslaved half of Egypt, who have been brought, through generations of training and tradition, to look upon any man save their husband as their enemy, as a thing to be shunned. This has become instinct with them, as it is instinctive with women of Northern countries to turn to men for sympathy or support, as being in some ways stronger than themselves. But these women of Cairo, who look like an army of nuns, are virtually shut off from mankind, with the exception of one man, as are nuns, and they have not the one great consolation allowed the nun—they have no souls to be saved, nor religion, nor a belief in a future life.

There was a young girl married while I was in Cairo. The streets around the palace of her father were hung with flags for a week; the garden about his house was enclosed with a tent which was worth in money twenty thousand dollars, and which was as beautiful to the eye as the interior of a mosque; for a week the sheiks who rented the estates of the high contracting parties were fed at their expense; for a week men sang and bands played and the whole neighborhood feasted; and on the last night everybody went to the wedding and drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and listened to a young man singing Arabian love-songs. I naturally did not see the bride. The women who did see her described[120] her as very beautiful, barely sixteen years old, and covered with pearls and diamonds. She was weeping bitterly; her mother, it appeared, had arranged the match. I did not see her, but I saw the bridegroom. He was fat and stupid, and over sixty, and he had white hair and a white beard. A priest recited the Koran before him at the door of the house, and a band played, and the people cheered the Khedive three times, and then the crowd parted, and the bridegroom was marched to the door which led to the stairs, at the top of which the girl awaited him. Two grinning eunuchs crouched on this dark staircase, with lamps held high above their heads, and closed the door behind him. His sixteen-year-old bride has him to herself now—him and his eunuchs—until he or she dies. We could show similitudes between this wedding and some others in civilized lands, but it is much too serious a matter to be cynical about.

The women of Egypt are as much slaves as ever were the negroes of our South. They are petted and fattened and given a home, but they must look at life through barriers—barriers across their boxes at the opera, and barriers across the windows of their broughams when they drive abroad, and barriers across their very faces. As long as one-half of the Egyptian people are enslaved and held in bondage and classed as animals without souls, so long will an Army of Occupation ride over the land, and insult by its presence the khedival power. No country[121] in these days can be truly great in which the women have no voice, no influence, and no respect. There are worse things in Egypt than bad irrigation, and the harem is the worst of them. If the Egyptians want to be free themselves, they should first free their daughters and their mothers. The educated Egyptian is ashamed of his national costume; but let him feel shame for some of his national customs. A frock-coat and a harem will not go together.

The English, who have done so many fine things for Egypt's good, and who keep an army there to emphasize the fact, have arranged that any slave who comes to the office of the Consul-General and claims his protection can have it; but these slaves of the married men are not granted even this chance of escape.

And so they live like birds in a cage. They eat and dress and undress, and expose their youth and beauty, and hide their age and ugliness, until they die. The cry along the Nile a few years ago was, "Egypt for the Egyptians," and a very good cry it was, although the wrong man first started it. But there was another cry raised in the land of Egypt many hundreds of years before of "Let my people go," and the woman who can raise that again to-day, and who can set free her sisters of the East, will be doing a greater work than any woman is doing at the present time or has ever done.

The women who pass before you in the procession at the foot of the terrace are of two classes[122] only. There is no middle class in Egypt. The poor are huddled up in a black bag that hides their bodies from the crown of the head to the feet. What looks like the upper end of a black silk stocking falls over the face from the bridge of the nose and fastens behind the ears, and a brass tube about the size of a spool is tied between the eyes. You see in consequence nothing but their eyes, and as these are perhaps their best feature, they do not all suffer from their enforced disguise. The only women whose bare faces you can see, and from whom you may judge of the beauty of the rest, are the good women of the Coptic village, who form a sort of sisterhood, and the dancing-girls, who are not so good. Some of these have the straight nose, the narrow eyes, and the perfect figure of Cleopatra, as we picture her; but the faces of the majority are formless, with broad, fat noses, full lips, and their figures are without waists or hips, and their ankles are as round as a man's upper arm. When they are pretty they are very pretty, but those that are so are so few and are so covered with gold that one suspects they are very much the exception. Of the women of the upper class you see only a glimpse as they are swept by in their broughams, with the sais in front and a eunuch on the box and the curtains half lowered.

(From a Photograph taken on the top of the Pyramid just before sunset)

Besides these, much passes that is intended for your especial entertainment. Sellers of turquoises, which they dig out from various creases in their robes; venders of stuffed crocodiles and[123] live monkeys; strange men from the desert with a jackal, which they throw, bound by all four legs, and snarling and snapping, on the marble at your feet; little girls who sing songs, and play accompaniments to them on their throats with the tips of their fingers; women conjurers, who draw strings of needles and burning flax from their mouths, and who swallow nasty little wriggling snakes, and hatch pretty fluffy little chickens out of the slabs of the terrace. Or else there is a troop of blue and white Egyptian soldiers marching by, or gorgeous young officers on polo ponies, or red-coated Tommies on donkeys, with their toes trailing in the dust and the ribbons of their Scotch caps floating out behind; and consuls-general with gorgeous guards in gold lace, and with wicked-looking curved silver[124] swords; or the young Khedive himself, who comes with a great clatter of hoofs and bellowing sais before, and another galloping troop of cavalry in the rear, at the sound of which the people run to the curb and touch the fez, as he raises his hand to his, and rolls by in a cloud of dust.

There are very good things to see, and with a companion on one side to explain them, and another on the other side to whom you can impart this information as though you had been born knowing it, you cannot spend a more entertaining afternoon. There is only one drawback, and that is a lurking doubt that you should be up and about seeing the show-places. Friday, in consequence, is the best day in Cairo, as all the things you ought to see are then closed, and you can sit still on the terrace with a clear conscience. Among the mosques and the tombs and the palaces and museums to which all good tourists go, and of which there are excellent descriptions, giving their various dimensions and other particulars, in the guide-books, there are the Citadel and the Mosque of Mehemet Ali. The Citadel is the fortress built on the hill above the city, but which, with the Oriental incompleteness of that time, was reared upon high but not upon the highest ground. The sequel to this naturally was that when Mehemet Ali wanted the city of Cairo he sought out the highest ground, and dropped cannon-balls into the fortress until it capitulated. He afterwards asked all the Mamelukes to dinner[125] at the Citadel, and then had them treacherously killed—all but one, who rode his horse down the side of the Citadel and escaped. If you can imagine the reservoir at Forty-second Street placed upon the top of Madison Square Garden, and a man riding down the side of it, you can understand what a very difficult and dangerous thing this was to do. There is no doubt that he did it, for I saw a picture of him in the very act in a book of history when I was at school, and I also have seen the marks of his horse's hoofs in the stone parapet of the Citadel, and they are just as fresh as they were three years ago, when they were on the other side.

The Mosque of Mehemet Ali surmounts the Citadel, and its twin minarets are the distinguishing mark of Cairo; they are as conspicuous for miles above the city as is the dome of St. Paul's over London, and they are as light and graceful as it is impressive and heavy. The men on guard tie big yellow shoes on your feet before they allow you to enter this mosque, the outer court-yard of which is floored with alabaster, over which you slide as though you were on a mirror or a sheet of ice. It is very beautiful, and one is as unwilling to walk on it as to tramp in muddy boots over a satin train. The floor of the mosque is covered with the most magnificent rugs, as wide-spreading as a sheet and as heavy as so much gold; alabaster pillars reach to the top of the square, empty building, and from these rise five domes, colored[126] blue and red, and lightened with gilded letters. It is very rich-looking, gloomy, silent, and impressive. It is the best of the mosques. From the outside, on the ramparts, you can see Cairo stretching out below for miles in a level gray jumble of flat roofs and rounded domes and slender minarets, with the high walls of a palace here and the thick green of a park there to break the monotony; beyond it lies the Nile, a twisting ribbon of silver; and beyond that rich green fields and canals and bunches of palm-trees; and seven miles away, where the green ceases and the desert begins, are three monuments of gray stone, looking, at that distance, disappointingly small and familiarly commonplace. It is not, I think, until you have seen them several times, and have climbed to their top and gazed up at them from below, that you appreciate the pyramids as you had expected to appreciate them; but after they have laid their charm upon you, you will find yourself twisting your neck to take another look, or going out of your way to see them again before the sun has said good-night to them, as it has done ever since it first climbed over the edge of the world and found them waiting there.

There is a mosque on the outside of the city which people visit on certain days to see the howling dervishes go through their peculiar form of worship. This mosque consists of four square walls with a dome. It is whitewashed within, and bare and rude and old. The sunlight enters[127] it through square holes cut in the dome, and beats upon thirty or forty men who stand in a semicircle facing the East. They are of all sorts, from Arabs of the desert with long hair and wild eyes, to fat, pleased-looking merchants from the bazars, and the beggars and water-carriers of the streets. Around them on chairs are the tourists and the residents, like the spectators at a play rather than the guests of a religious sect watching a religious ceremony. Most of the men wear their hats, and some of the women take careful notes and make sketches. They reminded me of medical students at a clinic when a man is being cut up. An archdeacon from one of our Western cities wore his hat, to show, probably, that he disapproved of the whole thing; but as he used to eat with his knife while on board the Fulda, his conduct in any place was not to be considered. The priest recites something from the Koran, and the men repeat it, moving their bodies back and forward as they do so with gradually increasing rapidity. What they may be saying is quite unintelligible, and the chorus they make resembles that of no human sound, but rather the gasping or panting of an animal. It is to the visitor absolutely without any religious significance; all that is impressive about it is its horrible earnestness and its at times repulsive results. As the voice of the priest grows more accentuated the bodies of the men swing farther and lower, until their hair sweeps the floor, and their eyes, when they throw their bodies back,[128] are on a level with those of the spectators. A drum beats in quickening time to the voice of the priest and to the gasps of the dervishes, and a flute playing a weird accompaniment seems to mock at their fierce grunts and breathings. It was one of the most unpleasant exhibitions I ever witnessed, and affected one's nerves to such a degree that several of the women had to leave. The eyes of the men rolled in their sockets, and their lips parted, and through their clinched teeth came fiercer and louder gasps, until the chorus of sound reached you like the quick panting of an engine as it draws out of a station. The sweat ran from them like water from a sponge, and the veins stood out on their faces, showing in congested knots beneath the skin. Some of them groaned, and others shrieked and cried out, "Allah! Allah!" This acted like the strokes of a whip on the others, who rocked more and more violently, and swung themselves almost off their feet. Then, as the music grew fainter the motion of the bending bodies grew less vigorous and finally ceased, and the men stood rigid, some apparently unmoved and unconcerned, and others turning and reeling in a fit.

While this was going forward, and you felt as though you were assisting at a heathen rite in which self-punishment was being inflicted as a bid for God's indulgence, two interesting things happened. An officer in the English Army of Occupation turned to his dragoman and cried at[129] the top of his voice, angrily: "Do you call this worth ten piasters? Well, I don't. Now if you've got anything to show me, take me to see it. This isn't worth coming to see. You're a rank impostor."


The other thing was the act of a native woman, who brought her child to the door and handed it to a priest, who took it in his arms and passed with it in front of the swinging, gasping, crazy semicircle of men. The child was about three years old, and was dying, and the mother had brought it there to be cured by the breath of the dervishes. As it passed before them, the hair of some of the men swept its[130] arm, and it turned its frightened eyes up to those of the priest, who smiled gravely down upon the baby and bore him outstretched in his arms three times in front of the swinging crescent. The faith of the child's mother appealed to some of us more than did the Englishman's desire to get his money's worth. The incident is only of interest here as showing perhaps why the Army of Occupation is not as popular as it might be. This officer was no doubt an excellent soldier—the ribbons on his tunic showed that—and no one would have thought of questioning his ability to handle raw recruits or his knowledge of tactics. But in handling the Egyptian tactics do not count for so much as tact.

There are several ways of reaching the pyramids, and it is eminently in keeping with the other incongruities of the place and time that the most popular way of visiting them is on a four-in-hand coach, with a guard in a red coat and a bell-shaped white beaver tooting on his horn, and a young gentleman with a boutonnière and an unhappy smile holding the reins and working his way in and out between long strings of camels. There is a very smart hotel about two hundred yards from the foot of the pyramids, and you take a donkey there or a camel and ride up a sandy road to the base of the Pyramid of Cheops. There are then several things that you may do. You can either climb to the top of this first pyramid, or crawl into its interior, or walk over to see the Sphinx, or make a tour of subterranean tombs[131] and passageways of alabaster and polished stones, which are lighted for you by magnesium wire or stumps of candles.

It seems absurd to say that the Sphinx is disappointing, but so many who have seen it say so that I feel I am one of many, and not individually lacking in reverence or imagination. In the first place, the approach to it is bad; you come at the Sphinx not from the front, but from the rear, where all you can see of it is a round ball of crumbling stone spreading out from a neck of broken outline, much smaller and meaner than you had imagined it would be. In the second place, instead of looking up at it, or having it look down at you, you view it first from a semicircular ridge of sand, at the bottom of which it reposes, and at such a near view that whatever outline or character of countenance it once possessed is lost. I have seen photographs of the Sphinx, taken while I was in Cairo, much more impressive than the Sphinx itself. Lying in a hollow of the sand hills as it does, the farther you move away from it in order to get a better focus, the less you see of it, and as you draw nearer to it it loses its meaning, as does the scenery of a theatre when you are on the wrong side of the foot-lights. I know that that is an unpopular thing to say, and that there are many who feel thrills when they first look upon the face of the Sphinx, and who describe their emotions to you at length, and who write down their impressions in their diaries when they get back to the hotel.[132] But they have come a long way expecting to be thrilled, and they do not intend to be disappointed. Some of the sphinxes in the museum of Gizeh, which you pass on your way to the pyramids, impressed me more than did the one great Sphinx, though they were indoors and surrounded by attendants and the cheap decoration of the museum, once a palace for the harem. They were of green stone and of huge proportions, and with "the curling lip and sneer of cold command"; and if you look at them long enough you feel uncomfortable shivers down your back, and a perfectly irrational impulse to rush at them and beat them in the face and force them to tell you what they know and what they have kept back and have been keeping back for centuries and centuries. Their faces show that they know all that we know and much besides that we shall never know, and when the world at last comes to an end they will stretch themselves and smile at one another and say: "Now they know it, but we knew it all the while. We could have told had we liked, but we have enjoyed watching them fretting and fuming and prying about and tinkering at our faces with their little hammers, and blowing us up with saltpetre only to try and put us back again with steam. We who have kept our secret from Herodotus and Cæsar, are we likely to give it up to Ebers and Mark Twain?"

But this same Sphinx by moonlight impressed me more than did anything I saw in the East. Not as one sees it by day, with tourists and photographers[133] and donkey-boys making it cheap and familiar, but at night, when the tourists had gone to bed, and the donkey-boys had been paid to keep out of sight, and the moonlight threw the great negro face and the pyramids back of it into shadows of black and lines of silver, and the yellow desert stretched away on either side so empty and silent that I thought I was alone and back two thousand years in the past, discovering the great monuments for myself, and for the first time.

Before you ascend the Pyramid of Cheops you must deal with a middle-man in the person of the sheik of the pyramids, who selects guides for you, and who acts as though the pyramids were his private show, and he was both sole proprietor and ticket-taker at the door. He lives in a village near by, and he and his forefathers have always been allowed a monopoly of the pyramids, and distribute their patronage to those guides who will pay them the highest percentage of what they receive from the visitors. You have three men to help you, two to pull, and one to push and to dilate on the view. It takes over ten minutes to climb to the top, with the men jerking at your wrists, and the third man shoving you from below. It is not a difficult feat, and women accomplish it every day, but it leaves you in a breathless state when you reach the summit, and you are stiff above the knees for a day or two after you have come down. When you have reached the summit the guides cheer feebly to give you the idea that you have accomplished[134] something which has often been attempted before, but never so successfully; but you are not deceived, and you do not feel like cheering yourself. The view is worth the climb, however, and the sight of the shadow of the pyramid, spreading out over the villages and canals below like a black cloud, impresses you more with its immensity than the fact that it is a hundred feet higher than the top of the Diana on the Madison Square Garden tower. I am sure of this fact, because the man who built the Madison Square Garden assured me of it between breaths on the summit of the pyramid. While you are resting, the thing to do is to pay one of the guides to attempt to run down the pyramid you are on, cross the heavy sand to the pyramid beyond, and reach its top in eight minutes. When you give the word he disappears with a bound and drops into space, skipping and jumping and growing smaller and smaller as he goes, until he looks like a fluttering handkerchief; and when he reaches the sand he is as small as a child of three, and his ascent of the other pyramid suggests a white pigeon shuffling up the steep roof of a barn. It is distinctly on his part a sporting thing to do. The descent of the pyramid is very much worse than going up, and you need to go very slowly, and not to look too often at the people crawling about like ants below. Only four men, however, in six years have slipped and fallen during this descent, and one of them had been drinking. They were all killed. The more you see of the pyramids the[137] more you want to see of them, although I think one ascent is all perhaps you will care about taking; but their dignity and the wonder of their being where they are, and for so long, increases with every look at them. You cannot grow too familiar with the pyramids. They will not have it.


On the road back from the Pyramids of Gizeh there are other pyramids within sight of Cairo, but these are those with which the Sphinx is associated. You will see here one of the most beautiful sights of Cairo, the dahabeeyahs on the Nile. They and their white sails, especially when they come wing and wing before the wind, are the most beautiful of floating objects, and when there are hundreds of them coming towards you in lessening perspective, with the sun shining on the sails, and the banks on either side alive and moving with the palms, the river Nile becomes the best part of Cairo.

There is another place on the Nile which you should visit, and to which tourists seldom go. This is the isle of Rodda, on the bank of which Moses was found, and where you may see the Nilometer. This is a well about sixteen feet in diameter, connected by a channel with the Nile. It is made of masonry, and down one side there runs a column on which are inscribed ancient Arabian and Cufic numerals, or what answer for numerals. It was dug many centuries ago, and it marks the rising and falling of the river, and at the same time the prosperity or dismay of Egypt. When the tide begins to rise, this rude instrument[138] is watched hourly, and the hopes of the people rise and fall as the muddy water moves up or down the narrow well. When it reaches a certain height the sheik in charge declares that the time has come for cutting the banks and irrigating the land. In ancient days the rate of taxation was determined by the height of the inundation, and it is said that the sheik in charge of the Nilometer is still under the influence of the government, to whose advantage it is to make the fellahin believe that the inundation is favorable. It was the engineers under Napoleon who discovered that the Nilometer was being tampered with, but there is no likelihood of its being abused to-day under the English, whose improvement of the irrigation of Egypt has been their best work, and for the fellahin's best good. But it is interesting, nevertheless, to look down into the old well, overgrown with vines and surrounded by ruin and crumbling walls and broken lattices, and to think that for centuries it brought news of famine or of plenty, and that it was, primitive as its construction is, the pulse of Egypt.

The pulse of Egypt to-day is not shown in the mere rising or falling of a body of water. It is less primitive in its construction, and no one knows which way it is going to jump. In the next chapter I shall try to tell something of the men who have their fingers on Egypt's pulse, and who are agreed in only one thing—that there are too many fingers for Egypt's good.




When the visitor to Cairo first grasps the extent of his own ignorance of Egypt, and appreciates that if he is to understand its monuments and the signs of past times about him he must study the history of the whole world for forty centuries, he is apt to retreat precipitately. Later, as a compromise, he proposes skipping thirty-nine centuries and limiting his researches to the study of the political and social conditions of Egypt during the last ten years. And when he begins jauntily on this he finds that all that has gone before, from Rameses II. to Mehemet Ali, is as simple as the line of Popes in comparison with the anomalies and intricacies of government that have arisen within the last decade. Yet the very intricacies of the subject give to this study a fascination entirely apart from its rare picturesqueness, and no matter what manner of man he may be, he cannot but find some side of the situation which appeals to him. If his mind be constituted like that of a ready reckoner he[140] can revel in unravelling the intricacies of the Caisse and the Laws of Liquidation; if it is judicial, he can perhaps elucidate the powers of the Mixed Tribunal; if romantic, he has the career of Ismail, the most magnificent of patriots and profligate of monarchs; and if it turns towards adventure and the clash of arms, he can read of the heroic fanaticism of Fuzzy Wuzzy, the son of the Mahdi, of the futile mission of Gordon, of Stewart's march across the desert, and of the desperate valor of the fight at Aboo-Klea.

But it is the paradoxical nature of Egypt's present situation which gives it its chief interest, and lends to it the peculiar fascination of a puzzle, or one of Whistler's witticisms. For, while Egypt is not free, as is Morocco, nor under a protectorate, as is Tunis, she is still free and still protected. She is free to coin money, to maintain an army, and to make treaties; and yet she pays six million dollars a year tribute to Turkey as a part of the Ottoman Empire, and her army that she is allowed to maintain is officered by English soldiers, whom she is also allowed to maintain. She may not pay out the money she is allowed to coin without the consent of foreigners; she cannot punish the man who steals this money, be he Greek, English, or American, without the approval of these foreigners; and her official language is that of one foreign power, her ostensible protector is another, and her real protector is still another, whose commands are given under the irritating disguise of "advice."[141]


[143]Alfred Milner, the late under-secretary for finance in Egypt, whose England in Egypt is the best book on the subject, though it reads like a novel, has put it in this way: "It is not given to mortal intelligence to understand at one blow the complexities of Turkish suzerainty and foreign treaty rights; to realize the various powers of interference and obstruction possessed by consuls and consuls-general, by commissioners of the public debt, and other mixed administrations; to distinguish English officers who are English from English officers who are Egyptian, foreign judges of the international courts from foreign judges of the native courts; to follow the writhings of the Egyptian government in its struggle to escape from the fine meshes of the capitulations; to appreciate precisely what laws that government can make with the consent of only six powers, and for what laws it requires the consent of no less than fourteen."

It seems rather unfair to saddle the responsibility for all of these burdens and for this remarkable condition of affairs, which is unequalled in history, upon the shoulders of one man, but one man is responsible for it directly and indirectly. He is still alive, a hanger on at the court of the Sultan of Turkey, he who was at one time the most picturesque monarch of the world. Ismail Pasha became Khedive a little before the time of the close of our Civil War. Egypt had never been more prosperous than then—owing but fifteen million dollars. In 1876, when[144] Ismail was deposed and his son Tewfik Pasha put in his place, he had increased the debt of Egypt to four hundred and forty-five million dollars. Ismail was a typical Oriental ruler; he had the typical Oriental ruler's French veneer and education, a combination which has been found to produce most serious results. When an Oriental is left alone he is a barbarian, or he used to be; now, after he has been made the talk of Paris for nine days, and has been given a state dinner at Marlborough House, and a few stars for his coat, and called "cousin," he goes home with no particular disgust for his former eccentricities of mis-government, but with a quiver full of new tastes, desires, and ambitions, and thereafter plays his rôle of monarch with one eye on the grand stands of Europe. He wants their good opinion, but he wants to get it in his own way—the old way. He begins to build railroads and hospitals, but he continues, after his past custom, to draw the money for such improvements from licensed gambling-houses or from the sale of opium. He has a French cook, but he retains the kurbash; he puts up telephones, but he does not give up the bowstring.

Prime-minister of Egypt

Ismail was the first Khedive who discovered that the easiest way to get money is to borrow it. He found that all one has to do is to sign a paper, and you get the money. It was very easy for Ismail to borrow money, because the credit of Egypt was good and sound in itself, and because foreigners, who even at that time swarmed[145] in Egypt, knew that the repudiation of debts, while possible in a powerful or free government, was not to be feared from that country. So there began a reign of extravagance for which history has no parallel. If "money breeds money," it is also true that those who spend money freely are given more chances to do so than any one else. Adventurers, charlatans, rascals of every climate and every nationality, swarmed down upon Cairo, and fought with one another for a chance to glut themselves at the repast which this reckless profligate spread for all comers. No man probably was ever so basely cheated as was Ismail, or on so magnificent a scale. And nothing remains but ruins to show where the money spent on his own personal pleasure was bestowed. That other magnificent reprobate, William M. Tweed, left monuments like the Court House to commemorate his thefts of public money; but Ismail's palaces are falling in pieces, the rain has washed the paint off the boards, the tips of the crescents[146] are broken, and great gardens filled with fountains and mosaic paths are choked with weeds and covered with fallen leaves and the dirt and dust of neglect and decay. You can walk over long marble floors which have sunk by their own weight through the rotten foundations, and see yourself at full length in bleared mirrors surrounded by the gilt borders and blue silken curtains of the Second Empire. Ismail ordered these palaces as men order hats, and threw them away as you toss an empty cartridge from a gun-barrel. And that was all the most of them ever were, empty cartridges, mere shells of wood painted to look like marble, and gilding and mirrors, as tasteless as the buildings at the Centennial Exposition, and lasting as long.

And yet they pleased him, and he ordered more and more, so that wherever his eye might rest it would fall upon a palace which would serve as a fitting covering for his royal person, and as a testimony to his magnificence. He wanted many, and he wanted them at once. He had them built at night by the light of candles. The Palace of Gizeh, which is now a museum, was reared in this way while Cairo slept, and at a cost of twenty-four million dollars. The curtains ordered for its windows cost one thousand dollars each, and when it was found that they did not fit the windows, the entire front of the building was torn down, and a new front with windows to match the curtains was put in its place. He built an opera-house as fine as[147] that of Covent Garden in six months, and a grotto as dark and cool as the Mammoth Cave, with stalactites of painted rope and rocks of papier-maché and mud, with its sides lined with aquariums, in which swam strange fish. The wind and the dust play through this grotto to-day; for he no sooner reared a palace in air than he turned from it to some new toy. These are the things you can see. You can hear stories—some of them true, some of them possible—of things that are past, such as his swimming-tanks where a hundred of the slaves of the harem bathed together for his edification; the pie out of which, when it was opened, there stepped a ballet-dancer; and the story of the disappearance of the Pasha who grew too rich. This is, unfortunately, a true story, and not one out of the Arabian Nights. This Pasha was invited by Ismail to see a new dahabeeyah, and never returned. But one of the attendants on the Khedive came back some weeks later with his finger bitten off at the joint. He and Ismail alone know where the Pasha who was too rich has gone.

These extravagances and these eccentricities were all in keeping with our idea of what an Oriental despot should be, but it would be most unfair and ungenerous to give only this side of Ismail's character. He was a man of much mind and of large ideas, as well as a man with the tastes of a voluptuary, and the means, for a time, of a Count of Monte Cristo. It was he who built the harbor of Alexandria; and the railways[148] and canals that others have completed were started under his régime. All of these things—railroads, palaces, canals, and grottos made of mud—cost money; and there were other expenses. Knights of industry and rascals of all degrees extorted vast fortunes from him in indemnities for supposed failures on his part to keep up with his agreements, and to stick to the letter of concessions. Some of these, like the payment of fifteen million dollars to the Suez Canal Company, were just enough; but there was also an enormous sum given in backsheesh to Turkey to gain the consent of the Porte to a proposed change in the line of succession and the establishment of the rule of primogeniture. Up to that time the eldest male member of the ruling family had always succeeded to power, but Ismail obtained a firman from the Sultan allowing his son to follow him. The gratification of this natural vanity or love of family was not obtained for the asking, and cost his people dear. They were already groaning under a multitude of taxes; the army was unpaid; the bureaucracy was rotten throughout; bribery and extortion, unfair taxation, and open seizure of the property of others had reduced the country almost to bankruptcy. Ismail in sixteen years had brought about a state of things that threatened utter ruin, to not only the native, but to the strangers within and without the gates. The strangers made the move for reform. I have told this much of Ismail not because it is new or unfamiliar, but because[151] it shows how, through his misrule, the foreign element was able to obtain a footing upon the shore of Egypt, which footing has now grown to a trampling under foot of what is native and properly Egyptian. This entering wedge was called the Dual Control, and France and England were appointed receivers for Egypt, just as we appoint receivers for a badly managed railroad, and Ismail was deposed, his son Tewfik taking his place.


But although this was the first important and most official recognition of the right of the stranger to dictate to Egypt, he had already obtained peculiar rights in Egypt through capitulations, or those privileges granted in the past to foreign residents in Turkey and its dependent state of Egypt. In the sixteenth century the foreigners who traded in these Oriental countries stood in actual need of protection from the natives. Because they were foreigners they were regarded with such lack of consideration that, in order to balance the disadvantages of having their shops destroyed and their throats cut, the Sultan gave them certain privileges—such as immunity from taxation, immunity from arrest, the inviolability of domicile, and the exemption from the jurisdiction of the local courts.

These privileges were unimportant when the foreign element in Constantinople was so little and so weak that the position of the Chinamen in San Francisco in '49 was that of a powerful aristocracy in comparison; but the snake warmed at[152] the hearth-stone grew, and the Sultan's empire dwindled, and the privileges which were given to bribe the foreigner to come and to remain became a bane to Turkey and a curse to the weaker state of Egypt. The inviolability of domicile, for instance, is at this very day made use of by foreigners who are carrying on some wickedness or who have committed a crime for which they cannot be arrested by an Egyptian policeman unless he is accompanied by an official representative of the country to which the foreigner belongs. Let us suppose, for example, that the police of New York wished to raid a gambling-house. This, I know, is asking a good deal of the reader's intelligence, but we will suppose it to be a gambling-house which has not paid its assessment to the police regularly, and which should be given a lesson. All that the proprietor of the house would have to do, did capitulations extend in New York, would be to lease the house to an Italian, or to take out papers of naturalization from the British government. You can imagine the chagrin of an officer of the law who, when he goes to make an arrest, is confronted with a German who says he is an Englishman, and whose domicile is accordingly sacred. This, as you can imagine, would impede the wheels of justice.

When I was in Cairo a Greek, who had taken out papers as an American citizen, flaunted this fact in the faces of the native police whenever they came to arrest him for keeping a gambling-house. They applied to our consul-general,[153] Mr. E. C. Little, of Abilene, Kansas, who so far differed from the etiquette observed by some other consuls-general in Cairo as not to delay and not to warn the criminal. He sent his soldiers to be present at the arrest. The offender met this by bringing forth another American citizen of Greek parentage, to whom he claimed to have leased the house, and whose family were inside. Mr. Little, feeling that the American flag did not look well as a cloak for gambling-houses, and being a young man who has assisted at county-seat fights and who can pitch three curves, said that if the roulette tables were not out of the house in twenty-four hours he would himself break them into kindling-wood with an axe. This incident shows how the capitulations of the sixteenth century are acting as stumbling-blocks to the Egyptian of to-day, even when the consuls-general are willing to assist the native government, which is seldom.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

This is not all. The immunity from full taxation,[154] now that the foreigners are among the richest inhabitants of Cairo, is most manifestly unjust; and though the mixed courts of an international judiciary have done away with trial of the foreign resident, or lack of trial, in civil cases, by the several consuls-general, the abuses of the capitulations are still a grievous and most unjust imposition by the great powers, ourselves included, upon a weaker one. To return to the Dual Control and to the story of the growth of the foreigners' hold on Egypt. The Dual Control was unpopular; so was the foreigner and his capitulations, who, waxing fat on the weaknesses of the country after Ismail's debauchery of its strength, grew insolent—so insolent that the cry raised by a general in the Khedive's army of "Egypt for the Egyptians" was taken up, and found expression in the Arabist movement or rebellion. Its leader was Arabi Pasha. He wanted what the Know-Nothing party of America wanted—his country for his countrymen. What else he wanted for himself does not matter here. He was, in the eyes of the Khedive, a rebel. In the eyes of some of the people he was the would-be preserver of his country against the plague of the foreign invasion.

The trouble began at Alexandria, where the excited people attacked the foreign residents, killing some, and destroying valuable property. Men-of-war of the two powers represented in the Dual Control had already arrived to put down the rebellion. When the riot on shore was at its height, the English war-vessels bombarded the city. The[155] bombarding of Alexandria was war, but it was not magnificent. There are certain things made to be bombarded—forts and ships of war—but cities are not built for that purpose or with that ultimate end in view. The English people, as a people, however, regret the bombardment of Alexandria as much as any one. The French war-vessels, for their part, refused to join the bombardment, and so were requested by the English admiral to sail away and give the other half of the Dual Control a clear field. Different people give you different reasons for the departure of the French fleet at this crisis. Some say that M. Clemenceau, who hated M. Freycinet and his policy, possibly raised the cry of the German wolf on the frontier, and pointed out the danger at home if the army and navy were engaged otherwise than in protecting the border. Others say that, like the good one of the two robbers in the Babes in the Wood, one of the Dual Control drew the line at murder or at the bombardment of a country she was supposed to protect. Plundering the Egyptians was possible, but not bombarding their city. They stopped at that. The English followed up the bombardment of Alexandria by the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, which ended the rebellion. The Citadel of Cairo surrendered at their approach, and the Khedive's rule was again undisturbed. The English remained, however, to "restore order," and to see to the "organization of proper means for the maintenance of the Khedive's authority." They have been[156] doing that now for ten years, and it is interesting to note that they have made so little progress that the last "disorder" in Cairo was due to the action of the British consul-general himself in allowing the young Khedive just twenty-four hours in which to dismiss one of his cabinet. This can hardly be described as "maintaining the authority of the Khedive," which the English had promised to do.


After the battle of Tel-el-Kebir Great Britain stood undoubtedly in the position of the savior of the Khedive if not of Egypt. Her soldiers had crushed the rebellion, and as she had sent her Only General and one of the royal family and many thousands of good men to do it, and as she had lost not only men, but money, she thought she deserved something in return. The something she has taken in return has been taken gradually, and is the control of Egypt at the present day. It is possible that had the English not lost many more men and much more money in the campaign in the Soudan, which followed immediately after the suppression of Arabi, they might not have gone so far as they have gone in settling themselves in Egypt. But there was a not unnatural feeling that the Soudan campaign, which had cost so much, and which was a failure in all but in showing the bravery of the British troops, ought to be paid for, or made up to the English in some way. I should like to go into the story of this most picturesque and heroic of campaigns, but it would require a book by itself.[159] Its history is briefly this: The religious and military chieftain known as "the Mahdi," shortly after the defeat of Arabi, threatened all Egypt from the Soudan, which rose under his leadership. General Hicks, an Englishman, with ten thousand men, in the service of the Khedive, was sent against him. He was killed, and most of the troops with him. The English, who were at that time the only power in Egypt with authority of any sort back of it, and who were virtually in control, felt that they should take the responsibilities of their position as well as its benefits, and avenge the massacre, drive back the Mahdi's forces, and, if possible, crush him and them for all time. The campaign was later further complicated by the presence at Khartoom of Major-General C. G. Gordon, who had gone there to lead back in safety the Egyptian troops still remaining in the Soudan. He was, after his arrival at Khartoom, virtually a prisoner at that place, which is a mud city on the banks of the Nile far above the fifth cataract. The attempts to rescue him and to suppress the Mahdi were equally unsuccessful.

This is, in a few words, the story of a campaign which has been unequalled within the last twenty years in picturesqueness, heroism, and dramatic surprises. It had been said that the old days of personal bravery, of hand-to-hand slaughter, and of the attack and defence of man against man, were at an end; that owing to the new weapons of war, by which an enemy can be attacked[160] when several miles distant from the attacking party, when the pressing of an electric button destroys an army corps, and when turning a handle will send three hundred bullets a minute into a mass of infantry, the necessity for personal courage was over. But seldom in history has there been as fierce personal encounters as in the Soudan, or as unusual methods of warfare. On the one hand were the naked supporters of the Mahdi, armed with their spears and knives, and protected only by bull-hide shields, but actuated by a religious fanaticism that drove them exulting at their enemies, and with no fear of death, but with the belief that through it they would gain joyous and proud immortality. Against them were the British troops, outnumbered ten to one, with hundreds of miles of sandy desert before, behind, and on every side of them, cut off from communication with the outside world, in a country barren and unfamiliar, and attacked by tens of thousands, who came when they pleased and where they pleased, rising as swiftly as a sand-storm rises, and disappearing again as suddenly into the desert.

When I was in Cairo I was told of one of the Mahdi's men who continually rushed at a British square during an engagement holding his shield clear of his body as he advanced to throw a spear, and then retreated again. This looked like the worst form of foolhardiness to the English, until they saw that he was protecting with his shield his little boy, who was hiding behind it, and that[161] when the chance offered, this child, who could not have been more than seven, and who was as naked of protection as his father, would throw a spear of his own. The father was wounded four times, but each time the bullet struck him he only shook himself, as a dog shakes off water, and once more rushed forward. When he fell for the last time the boy tumbled across him, unconscious from a wound in his thigh. The surgeons dressed this wound and bandaged it; but when the child came to and saw what they had done, he leaped up and tore the clothes from around him, and then, as the blood from the reopened wound ran out, fell over backwards dead. The English officer who told this story asked if fighting such men could be considered agreeable work from any point of view.

Khedive of Egypt

But the Soudan is only of interest here as showing how, having lost so much through it, the British did not feel more inclined than before to evacuate Egypt, although there were many who thought, as a few still think, that Egypt has cost them too much already, and more than they can ever get back. The loss of Gordon was perhaps[162] the disaster of all the most keenly felt. How keenly is shown partly by the statue the English have placed to him in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by their kings and greatest generals. It shows him with one foot placed on the battlement of Khartoom, with his arms folded, and with the head thrown slightly forward, looking out, as he had done for so many weary months, for the relief that came too late. This monument is a reproach to those whose uncertainty of mind and purpose cost Gordon his life. It was doing a brave thing to put it up in a public place, being, as it is, a standing reminder of the neglect and half-heartedness that lost a valuable life, and one that had been risked again and again for his country. It is not only a monument to General Gordon, but to the English people, who have had the courage to admit in bronze and stone that they were wrong.

For the last ten years the English have been as tardy in getting out of Egypt as they were in going after Gordon into the Soudan. They have repeatedly declared their intention of evacuating the country, not only in answer to questions in the House, but in answer to the inquiries of foreign powers. But they are still there. They have not been idle while there, and they have accomplished much good, and have brought benefits innumerable to Egypt. They have improved her systems of irrigation, upon which the prosperity of the land depends, have strengthened her army, have done away with the corvee, or tax[163] paid on labor, and with the kurbash, or whip used in punishment, and, what is much the most wonderful, they have brought her out of ruin into such a condition of prosperity that she not only pays the interest on her enormous debt, but has a little left over for internal improvements. There has also been a marked change for the better in the condition of the courts of justice, and there has been an extension of a railroad up the Nile as far as Sirgeh.

But the English to-day not only want credit for having done all this, but they want credit for having done it unselfishly and without hope or thought of reward, and solely for the good of mankind and of Egypt in particular. They remind me of those of the G. A. R. who not only want pensions and medals, but to be considered unselfish saviors of their country in her hour of need. There is no reason why a man should not be held in honor for risking his life for his country's sake, and honors, if he wants them, should be heaped upon him, but not money too. He either served his country because he was loyal and brave, or because he wanted money in return for taking certain risks. Let him have either the honors or the money, but he should not be so greedy as to want both. England has made a very good thing out of Egypt, and she has not yet got all she will get, but she wants the world to forget that and look upon her as an unselfish and enlightened nation that is helping a less prosperous and less powerful people to get upon their[164] feet again. Of course it is none of our business (at least it is our policy to say so) when England stalks forth like a roaring lion seeking what she may devour all over the world. Americans travel chiefly upon the Continent, and unless they go into out-of-the-way corners of the world they have no idea how little there is left of it that has not been seized by the people of Great Britain. For my own part I find one grows a little tired of getting down and sailing forth and landing again always under the shadow of the British flag. If the United States should begin with Hawaii and continue to annex other people's property, we should find that almost all of the best corner lots and post-office sites of the world have been already pre-empted. Senator Wolcott once said to Senator Quay: "I understand, Quay, you want the chairmanship of the Library Committee. You seem to want the earth; if you don't look out you will interfere with my plans."

If the United States had taken away the little princess's island from her and continued to plunder weaker nations, she would have found that England wants the earth too, and that she is in a fair way of getting it if some one does not stop her very soon. There are a number of good people in England who believe that for the last ten years their countrymen have spent their time and money in redeeming Egypt as a form of missionary work, and there are others quite as naïve who put the whole thing in a word by saying, "What would we do with our younger sons if it was not for Egypt?"[165]


[167]Three-fourths of the officers in the army of the Khedive are English boys, who rank as second lieutenants at home and as majors in Egypt. They are paid just twice what they are paid in the English army, and it is the Khedive who pays them and not the English. In this way England obtains three things: she is saved the cost of supporting that number of officers; she gets the benefit of their experience in Egypt, which is an excellent training-school, at the expense of the Egyptians; and she at the same time controls the Egyptian army by these same officers, and guards her own interests at Egypt's cost. And as if this were not enough, she plants an Army of Occupation upon the country, and with it menaces the native authority. The irrigation of Egypt has of late been carried on by Englishmen entirely and paid for by Egypt; her railroads are built by the English; her big contracts are given out to English firms and to English manufacturers; and the railroad which will be built to Kosseir on the Red Sea may have been designed in Egypt's interest to carry wheat, or it may have been planned to carry troops to the Red Sea in the event of the seizure of the Suez Canal or of any other impediment to the shortest route to India. We may not believe that the Egyptians are capable of governing themselves, we may believe that it is written that others than themselves shall always rule them and their country, but we must prefer that whoever do this should declare themselves[168] openly, and act as conquerors who come and remain as conquerors, and not as "advisers" and restorers of order. Napoleon came to Cairo with flags flying and drums beating openly as an enemy; he did not come in the disguise of a missionary or an irrigation expert.

And there is always the question whether if left alone the Egyptians of the present day could not govern themselves. Those of the Egyptians I met who were in authority are not men who are likely to return to the debauchery and misrule of Ismail. They would be big men in any country; they are cultivated, educated gentlemen, who have served in different courts or on many important diplomatic missions, and whose tastes and ambitions are as creditable and as broad as are those of their English contemporaries.

The two most prominent advisers of the Khedive at present are his Prime-minister, Riaz Pasha, and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tigrane Pasha. The first of these is a Turk, the second an Armenian and a Christian. It is told of Riaz that he was brought to Egypt when a boy as a slave. A man who can rise from such a beginning to be Prime-minister must have something in him. He showed his spirit and his desire for his country's good in the time of Ismail, whose extravagances both he and Nubar Pasha strenuously opposed, and his aid to the English in establishing Egyptian finance on a firmer footing was ready and invaluable. He has held almost[169] every position in the cabinet of Egypt, and is not too old a man to learn new methods, and if left alone is experienced and accomplished enough as a statesman to manage for himself.

The English Diplomatic Agent in Egypt

Tigrane Pasha struck me as being more of a diplomat than a statesman, but he showed his strength by the fact that he understood the weak points of the Egyptians as well as their virtues. It is not the enthusiast who believes that all in his country is perfect who is the best patriot. To say that such a man as this—a man who has a better knowledge of many different governments than half of the English cabinet have of their own, and who wishes the best for his Khedive and his country—needs the advice or support of an English resident minister, is as absurd as to say that the French cabinet should govern themselves by the manifestoes of the Comte de Paris. These men are not barbarians nor despots; they have not gained their place in the world by favor or inheritance. Their homes are as rich in treasures of art and history and literature as are the homes of Lord Rosebery or Sir[170] Henry Drummond Wolff, and if they care for their country and the authority of their Khedive, it is certainly hard that they may not have the right of serving both undisturbed.

The Khedive himself has been very generally represented through the English press as a "sulky boy" who does not know what is best for him. It is just as easy to describe him as a plucky boy who wishes to govern his own country and his own people in his own way. And not only is he not allowed to do this, but he is treated with a lack of consideration by his protectors which adds insult to injury, and makes him appear as having less authority than is really his. He might very well say to Lord Cromer, "It was all very well to dissemble your love, but why did you kick me down-stairs?"

Sir Evelyn Baring, now Lord Cromer, and the ruling figure in Egypt, has served his country as faithfully and as successfully as any man in her debt to-day. He has been in Egypt from the beginning of these ten years, and he has been given almost unlimited power and authority by his own country, of which his nominal position of Consul-General and Diplomatic Agent is no criterion. He is a typical Englishman in appearance, broad-shouldered and big all over, with a smooth-shaven face, and the look of having just come fresh from a bath. In conversation he thinks much more of what he has to say than of how he says it; by that I mean that he is direct, and even abrupt; the Egyptians found him most[171] unpleasantly so. But were he more tactful, he would probably have been better liked personally, but would not have succeeded in doing what he has done so well.

I do not like what he has done, but I want to be fair in showing that for the work he was sent to do he is probably the best man England could have selected. A man less self-reliant might have feared to compromise himself with home authorities, and would have temporized and lost where Lord Cromer bullied and browbeat and won. He is a very remarkable man. He studies for a half-hour every day after breakfast, and plays tennis in the afternoon. When he is in his own room, with a pipe in his mouth, he can talk more interestingly and with more exact knowledge of Egypt than any man in the world, and your admiration for him is unbounded. In the rooms of the legation, on the contrary, or, again, when advising a minister of the Khedive or the Khedive himself, he can be as intensely disagreeable in his manner and as powerfully aggressive as a polar-bear. During the last so-called "crisis" he gave the Khedive twenty-four hours in which to dismiss his Prime-minister. He did this with the assurance from the English Foreign Office that the home government would support him. He then cabled with one hand to Malta for troops and with the other stopped the Black Watch at Aden on their way to India, and called them back to Cairo, after which he went out in full sight of the public and banged tennis[172] balls about until sunset. A man who can call out "forty, love!" "forty, fifteen!" in a calm voice two hours after sending an ultimatum to a Khedive and disarranging the movements of six thousand of her Majesty's troops will get what he wants in the end, and a boy of eighteen is hardly a fair match for him.

As I have said, the English press have misrepresented the young Khedive in many ways. He is, in the first place, much older both in appearance and manner and thought than his age would suggest, and if he is sulky to Englishmen it is not to be wondered at. They could hardly expect his Highness to regard them as seriously as his friends as they regard themselves. The Khedive gave me a private audience at the Abdine Palace while I was in Cairo, and from what he said then and from what others who are close to him told me of him, I obtained a very different idea of his personality than I had received from the English.


He struck me as being distinctly obstinate—a characteristic which is so marked in our President that it can only be considered one of the qualifications for success, and is probably the quality in the Khedive which the English describe as sulkiness. What I liked in him most was his pride in his army and in the Egyptian people as Egyptians. It is always well that a ruler should be so enthusiastic over what is his own that he shows it even to the casual stranger, for if he exhibits it to him, how much more will he show it to his[175] people! The Khedive has gentle tastes, and is said to find his amusement in his garden and among flowers and on the farm lands of his estates; he speaks several languages very well, and dresses and looks—except for the fez and his attendants—like any other young man of twenty-three or twenty-four in Paris or New York. His ministers, who know him best, describe him as having a high spirit, and one that, as he grows older and will be guided by greater experience, will lead him to firmer authority for his own good and for the good of his people.

One remark of the Khedive's which is of interest to Americans was to the effect that the officers in his army who had been trained by Stone Bey, and those other American officers who entered the Egyptian army after the end of our Civil War, were, in his opinion, the best-trained men in their particular department in his army. This is the topographical work, and the making of maps and drawings; but those Americans who are in charge of Egyptian troops on the frontier are also well esteemed. It is the English, however, who have made the fighting part of the army what it is. Before they came the troops were unpaid, and badly treated by their officers, but now the infantry and the camel corps and artillery have no trouble in getting recruits.

The Egyptian is not a natural fighter, as is the Soudanese, who fights for love of it, but he has shown lately that when properly officered and trained and well treated, he can defend a position[176] or attack boldly if led boldly. I suggested to the Khedive that he should borrow some of our officers, those who have succeeded so well with the negroes of the Ninth Cavalry and with the Indians, for it seemed to me that this would be of benefit to both the officers and the Egyptian soldier. It was this suggestion that called forth the Khedive's admiration for the Americans of his army; but, as a matter of fact, the English would never allow officers of any other nationality than their own to control even a company of the Egyptian army. They cannot turn out those foreigners who are already in, but they can dictate as to who shall come hereafter, and they fill all the good billets with their own people; and if there is one thing an Englishman apparently holds above all else, it is a "good billet." I know a good many English officers who would rather be stationed where there was a chance of their taking part in what they call a "show," and what we would grandly call a "battle," than dwell at ease on the staff of General Wolseley himself; but, on the other hand, if I were to give a list of all the subalterns who have applied to me for "good billets in America," where they seem to think fortunes grow on hedges, half the regimental colors from London to Malta would fade with shame.

And Egypt is full of "good billets." It is true the English have made them good, and they were not worth much before the English restored order; but because you have humanely[177] stopped a runaway coach from going over a precipice, that is no reason why you should take possession of it and fill it both inside and out with your own friends and relations. That is what England has done with the Egyptian coach which Ismail drove to the brink of bankruptcy.

It is true the Khedive still sits on the box and holds the reins, but Lord Cromer sits beside him and holds the whip.




Perhaps the greatest charm of Athens and of the islands and mountains round about it lies in their power to lure back your belief in a great many fine people of whose remarkable deeds you had grown sceptical—of whose existence even you had begun to doubt. It is something very serious when one loses faith in so delightful a young man as Theseus, and it is worth while sailing under the lee shores of Crete, where he killed the Minotaur, if for no other purpose than to have your admiration for him restored. If we could only be as sure of restoring by travel all of those other people of whom our elders ceased telling us when we left the nursery, I would head an expedition to the north pole, not to discover open seas and altitudes and eclipses and such weighty things, but to locate that nice and kindly old gentleman, and his toy store and his reindeer, who used to come at Christmas-time, and who has stopped coming since I left school. It is certainly worth while[179] going all the way to Greece to see the Hill of the Nymphs, and the very cave where Pan used to sleep in the hot midday, and to thrill over the four crossroads and the high, gloomy pass where the Sphinx lay in wait for Œdipus with her cruel claws and inscrutable smile.


The story that must always strike every child as most sad and unsatisfactory is the one which tells us how the father of Theseus killed himself when his son came sailing back triumphant, and so gallantly engaged in entertaining the beautiful Athenian maidens whose lives he had saved that he forgot to hoist the white sails, and caused his father to throw himself off the high rocks in despair.

This used to appeal to me as one of the most pathetic incidents in history; but as time wore on my sympathy for the father and indignation against Theseus passed away, and I forgot about them both. But when they point out where the[180] black sails were first seen entering the bay, and you stand on the rock from which the people watched for Theseus, and from which his father threw himself down, you feel just as sorry, and you rebel just as strongly against that morbid anticlimax, as you did when you first read the story in knickerbockers. It seems almost too sad to be true.

They had such a delightful way of mixing up the histories of gods and mortals in those days that the imaginative person who visits Athens will find himself gazing as gratefully and as open-eyed at the rocks in which the Centaur hid as at those from which Demosthenes delivered his philippics, just as in London the room at the Charter House where Colonel Newcome said "Adsum" for the last time is much more real than that room in Edinburgh in which Rizzio was killed, or as the rock from which Monte Cristo sprang, at the base of the Château d'If, is so much more actual than the entire field of Waterloo. It is hard to know just which was real and which a delightful myth; and yet there has been so little change in Greece since then that you are brought nearer to Alcibiades and to Pericles than you can ever come, in this world at least, to Dr. Johnson and Dean Swift. You cannot recreate Grub Street and the debtors' prison, but Eubœa still "looks on Marathon, and Marathon on the sea," and, if you are presumptuous, you can strut up and down the rocky plateau from which Demosthenes spoke, or take your seat in one of[181] the marble chairs of the Theatre of Dionysus, and pretend you are a worthy citizen of Athens listening to a satire of Sophocles.


The quiet and fresh cleanliness of modern Athens comes to you after the roar and dirt of Cairo's narrow lanes and dusty avenues like the touch of damask table linen and silver after the greasy oil-cloth of a Mediterranean coasting steamer. It is quiet, sunny, and well-bred. You do not fight your way through legions of donkey-boys[182] and dragomans, nor are your footsteps echoed by swarms of guides and beggars. It is a pretty city, with the look of a water-color. The houses are a light yellow, and the shutters a watery green, and the tile roofs a delicate red, and the sky above a blue seldom shown to ordinary mortals, but reserved for the eyes of painters and poets, who have a sort of second sight, and so are always seeing it and using it for a background. Athens is a very new city, with new streets and new public buildings, and a new King and Royal Palace. It is like a little miniature. There is a little army, chiefly composed of officers, and a miniature cabinet, and a beautiful miniature university, and everybody knows everybody else; and when the King or Queen drives forth, the guard turns out and blows a bugle, and so all Athens, which is always sitting at the cafés around the square of the palace, nods its head and says, "The Queen is going for a drive," or, "Her Majesty has returned early to-day," and then continues to clank its sword and to twirl its mustache and to sip its coffee. Modern Athens tends towards the Frank in dress and habit of thought. The men have adopted his costume, and the women wear little flat curls like the French ladies in Le Figaro, and peaked bonnets and high heels.


The national costume of the Greeks is taken from the Albanians, but it is much more honored in the breach than in the observance. Like all national costumes, it is only worn, except for[185] political effect and before a camera, by the lower classes, and also by three regiments of the army. You see it in the streets, but it is not so universally popular as one would suppose from the pictures of Athens in the illustrated papers and by the photographs in the shop-windows. It is a most remarkable costume, and as widely different from the flowing robe and short skirt of the early Greeks as men in accordion petticoats and heavy white tights and a Zouave jacket must evidently be. In the country it still obtains, and it is the farmers and peasants and their wives and the soldiers who supply the picturesque element of dress to the streets of the city.

It is an inscrutable problem why, with all the national costumes in the world to choose and pick from, the world should have decided upon the dress of the Frank, that is, of the foreigner—ourselves. In Spain the peasants have discarded their knickerbockers and short jackets, even in the country, for the long trousers and ill-fitting ready-made clothing of a French "sweater," and the Moors cover their robes with overcoats from Manchester, and the Arabs and Chinese and Swiss and Turks are giving up the picturesque garments that are comfortable and becoming to them, and look exceedingly ugly and uncomfortable in our own modern garb, which is the ugliest and most uncomfortable of national costumes yet devised by men or tailors. If you judge by the uniforms of the army of officers and by the dress of the women of Athens, you would[186] think you were in a French city and among French people. It seems a pity that this should be so; that Athens, of all cities, should be built of Italian villas, inhabited by people who ape the French, and governed by a King from Denmark; still, they did not make a success of it when they tried, fifty years ago, to govern themselves. It is perhaps hardly fair to expect the Greeks, or even the Athenians, to live up to the great rock and the monuments that crown it, and the people of Greece are no doubt as fine as those of other little kingdoms or principalities scattered about Europe; but then the other kingdoms and principalities have not the history of early Greece to call their own nor the Acropolis to look up to.


The rock of the Acropolis is hardly more a part of modern Greece than the Rock of Gibraltar is a part of Spain. Geographically it is, but it belongs as much to the visitor as to the native, so little inspiration has he apparently drawn from[187] it, and so little has it served to bring out in him to-day those qualities that made demigods of his ancestors. I think I represent the average intelligence, and yet at this moment I cannot think of any Greek within the last hundred years who has gained world-wide renown, either as a sculptor, an artist, a soldier, a writer of comedies and satires, a statesman, nor even as an archæologist; the very historians of Greece and the exponents of its secrets and the most distinguished of its excavators are of other countries. They have many heroes of their own; you see their portraits or their photographs in every shop-window; but they are not as familiar to you as the faces and histories of those other Greeks who sighed because there were no more worlds, and whose fame has lasted long after the other worlds were discovered. One would think that some young Greek, on arising in the morning and seeing the Acropolis against the sky, would say to himself, "To-day I shall do something worthy of that." And were he to say that often[188] enough, and try to live up to the fortress and the temple above him, he might help to make Greece in this known world what she was in the smaller world of her day of glory. It is not because the world has grown and given her more with which to compete that she has fallen into lesser and lesser significance; for though the world has increased in latitude and longitude, it has not yet carved another Hermes like that of Praxiteles; and though it has added three continents since his day, it has never equalled in marbles the fluttering draperies of the Flying Victory, nor the carvings over the doorway of the Erechtheum.


But, as far as in him lies, the Greek has endeavored to copy the traditions of his ancestors. He holds Olympic games in the ancient arena which King George has had excavated, and if victorious receives a wreath of wild olives from the hands of the King; and he builds the new market where the old market stood, and the new military hospital as near as is possible to the[189] hospital of Æsculapius. But he cannot restore to the market-place that very human citizen who cast in his shell against Aristides because he was aweary of hearing him called the Just; nor can either his games or his hospital bring back the perfect figure and health of the men whose figures and profiles have set the model for all time. He has, however, retained the Greek language, which is very creditable to him, as it is a language one learns only after much difficulty, and then forgets at once. He even goes so far[190] as to put up the names of the streets in Greek, which strikes the bewildered tourist trying to find his way back to his hotel as a trifle pedantic, and he prints his daily newspaper in this same tongue. This is, perhaps, going a little too far, as it leaves you in some doubt as to whether you have been reading of the Panama scandal or a reprint on the battle of Marathon.

Baron Sina, a Greek banker, has shown the most public-spirited and patriotic generosity, and taste as well, in erecting the buildings of the university at his own expense and giving them to the city. They are reproductions in many ways of different parts of the temples of the Acropolis in miniature. The Polytechnic is almost an exact copy of the front of the Parthenon. There is a picture of it from a photograph given in this article, but it can supply no idea of the beauty of the modern reproduction of this temple. The lines and measurements are the same in degree; and the Polytechnic, besides, is colored and gilded as was the original Parthenon, and for the first time makes you understand how brilliant reds and beautiful blues and gold and black on marble can be combined with the marble's purity and help rather than cheapen it. It is a lesson in loveliness, and is as wonderful and brilliantly beautiful a building as the marble and gold monument to the Prince Consort in Hyde Park is vulgar and atrocious. If this copy in miniature, this working model of the Parthenon, moves one as it does, it can be understood how great must be the strength and[193] purity of the Parthenon, even in ruins, with its gilt washed to a dull brown and its colors and bass-reliefs stripped from its pediment. I shall certainly not attempt to describe it.


There are very few tourists who visit Athens in proportion to those who visit far less momentous ruins; thousands go to Rome and see the Colosseum, to Egypt and view the storied walls of the great rude temples along the Nile, and as many more make the tour of the English cathedral towns; but in Athens it is almost difficult to find a guide. There are not more than a half-dozen, I am sure, in the whole city, and the Acropolis is yours if you wish, and you are often as much alone as though you had been the first to climb its sides. I do not mean by this that it is neglected, or that relic-hunters may chip at it or carry away pieces of its handiwork, or broken bits of the Turkish shells that have shattered it, but the guards are unobtrusive, and you are free to wander in and out in this forest of marble and fallen trunks of columns as though you were the ghost of some Athenian citizen revisiting the scenes of his former life.

There is no question that half of the pleasure you receive in wandering over the top of this great wind-blown rock, with the surrounding snow-touched mountains on a level with your eye, and the great temples rearing above you or lying broken at your feet, magnificent even there, is due to your seeing them alone, to the fact that no guide's parrot-like volubility harasses you, no[194] guard's scornful gloom chills your enthusiasm. The great bay of turquoise-blue and the green fields and the bunches of cactus and groves of dark olive-trees below are unspoiled by modern innovations, and the hills are still dotted with sheep and shepherds, as they were in the days of Sappho.


Overhead is the blue sky, with the ivory columns between, far below you is the steep naked rock, or, on the other hand, the two semicircles of marble seats cushioned with velvet moss and carpeted with daisies and violets, and beyond the limits of the yellow town and its red roofs and dark green gardens stretches the green plain until it touches the sea, or is blocked by Mount Hymettus or Mount Pentelicus, beyond which latter lies the field of Marathon. Sitting on the edge of the rock, you can imagine the actors strutting out into the theatre below, and the acquiescent chorus chanting its surprise or horror, and almost see the bent shoulders and heads of the people filling the half-circle and leaning forward to catch each word of the play as it comes to them through the actors' masks.[195]


Sounds, no matter how far afield, drift to you drowsily, like the voice of one reading aloud on a summer's day—the bleating of the sheep in the valley where Plato argued, and the jangling of a goat's bell, or the laughter of children flying kites on the Pnyx, a quarter of a mile away. And beyond the reach of sound is the Ægean Sea weltering in the sun, with little three-cornered sails, like tops, or a great vessel drawing a chalk-line after it through the still surface of the water. All things are possible at such a time in this place. You can almost hear the bees on Mount Hymettus, and you would receive the advance of a Centaur as calmly as Alice noted the approach of the White Rabbit. You believe in nymphs and satyrs. They have their homes there in those caves, and in the thick green, almost black, woods at the base of the Parnes range, and you love the bravery of St. Paul, who dared to doubt such things when he stood on the rock at your feet and told the men of Athens that they were in many things too superstitious. It is something to have seen the ribs cut in the rock on the top of the Acropolis[196] which kept the wheels of the chariots from slipping when the Panathenaic procession moved along the Via Sacra to the Eleusinian mysteries, to have looked upon the caryatides of the Erechtheum, and to have wanted back as a lost part of your own self, for the time being, the Elgin marbles. When Napoleon stole the Venus of Milo he placed her in the Louvre, where every one will see her sooner or later; for if he is good he goes to Paris when he dies, and if he is bad he is sure to go there in his lifetime. But who has ever been to the British Museum? One would as soon think of visiting Pentonville prison. And how do the marbles look under the soot-stained windows or the gray of London fog? Like the few Lord Elgin did not want, and that stand out like ivory in their proper height against the soft sky that knows and loves them? When the people of Great Britain have returned the Elgin marbles to Greece, and the Rock of Gibraltar to Spain, and the Koh-i-noor diamond to India, and Egypt to the Egyptians, they will be a proud and haughty people, and will be able to hold their heads as high as any one.

One cannot help feeling that the King of Greece has a much greater responsibility than he knows. Other monarchs must look after their boundaries; he must not only look after his boundaries, but his sky-line. Another such affront to good taste as the observatory on the Hill of the Nymphs, and the sky-line of Athens will be unrecognizable. And the tall chimneys[197] at the Piræus are not half as attractive to the view as the spars of the ships. It is much better not to have manufactories that must have chimneys than to spoil a view which no other kingdom can equal. Any king can put up a chimney; very few are given the care of an Acropolis; and if the King and Queen of Greece wish to be remembered as kindly by the rest of the world as they are loved dearly by their adopted people, they will guard the treasure put in their keeping, and sweep observatories from sacred hills, and continue to limit the guides on the Acropolis, and so win the gratitude of a civilized world.




A little Italian steamer drew cautiously away from the Piræus when the waters of the bay were quite black and the quays looked like a row of foot-lights in front of the dark curtain of the night. She grazed the anchor chains of H. M. S. the Colossus, where that ship of war's broad white deck lay level with the water, as heavy and solid as a stone pier. She seemed to rise like an island of iron from the very bottom of the bay. Her sailors, as broad and heavy and clean as the decks, raised their heads from their pipes as we passed under the glare of the man-of-war's electric lights, and a bugle call came faintly from somewhere up in the bow. It sounded as though it were a quarter of a mile away. Our lower deck was packed with Greeks and Albanians and Turks, lying as closely together on the hard planks as cartridges in the front of a Circassian's overcoat. They were very dirty and very handsome, in rakish little black silk pill-box caps, with red and gold tops, and the initials "H. I." worked[199] in the embroidery; their canvas breeches were as baggy and patched and muddy as those of a football-player, and their sleeveless jackets and double waistcoats of red and gold made them look like a uniformed soldiery that had seen very hard service. Priests of the Greek Church, with long hair and black formless robes, and hats like stovepipes with the brim around the upper end, paraded the narrow confines of the second cabin, and German tourists with red guide-books, and the Italian ship's officers with a great many medals and very bad manners, stamped up and down the main-deck and named the shadowy islands that rose from the sea and dropped out of sight again as we steamed past them.

In the morning the islands had disappeared altogether, and we were between high banks—higher than, but not so steep as the Palisades; rows of little scrubby trees ran along their fronts in lateral lines, and at their base mud forts with mud barracks and thatched roofs pointed little cannon at us from every jutting rock. We were so near that one could have hit the face of the high hills with a stone. These were the Dardanelles, the banks that nature has set between the Sea of Marmora and the Mediterranean to protect Constantinople from Mediterranean squadrons. We pass between these banks for hours, or between the high bank of Roumelia on one side and the low hilly country of Asia where Troy once stood on the other, until, at sunset, we are halted in the narrowest strait of the Dardanelles, between the Castle of[200] Asia and the Castle of Europe, "the Lock of the Sea"—that sea of which Gibraltar is the key. That night we cross through the Sea of Marmora, and by sunrise are at Constantinople.

Constantinople is such a long word, and so few of the people you know have visited it in comparison with those who have wintered at Cairo or at Rome, or who have spent a season at Vienna, or taken music-lessons in Berlin, that you approach it with a mind prepared for surprises and with the hope of the unexpected. I had expected that the heart of the Ottoman Empire would be outwardly a brilliant and flashing city of gilded domes and minarets, a cluster of colored house fronts rising from the dancing waters of the Bosporus, and with the banks lined with great white palaces among gardens of green trees. There are more gilded domes in New York city and in Boston than in Constantinople. In New York there are three, and in Boston there is the State House, which looks very fine indeed from the new bridge across the Charles when the river is blocked with gray ice, and a setting sun is throwing a light on the big yellow globe. But Constantinople is all white and gray; the palaces that line the Bosporus are of a brilliant white stucco, and the mosques like monster turtles, which give the city its chief distinction, are a dull white. In the Turkish quarter the houses are more sombre still, of a peculiar black wood, and built like the old log forts in which our great-great-grandfathers took refuge from the Indians—square buildings[203] with an overhanging story from which those inside could fire down upon the enemy below. The jutting balcony on the Turkish houses is for the less serious purpose of allowing the harem to look down upon the passers-by.


Constantinople is a fair-weather city, and needs the sun and the blue sky and the life of the waters about it, which give to the city its real individuality. It misses in winter the pleasure-yachts of the summer months, the white uniforms of the thousands of boatmen, and the brighter dressing of the awnings and flags of the ships and steamers. But the waters about Constantinople are its best part, and are fuller and busier and brighter than either those around the Battery or those below the Thames Embankment, and by standing on its wide wooden bridge, over which more people pass in a day than over any other (save London Bridge) in the world, one can see a procession of all the nations of the East.

Constantinople is a much more primitive city than one would expect the largest of all Eastern cities to be. It impresses you as a city without any municipal control whatsoever, and you come upon a building with the stamp of the municipal palace upon it with as much surprise as you would feel in finding an underwriter's office at the north pole. In many ways it is the most primitive city that I have ever been in. In all that pertains to the Sultan, to the religion of the people, of which he is the head, and to the army, the recognition due them is rigidly and impressively observed.[204] But in what regards the local life of the people there seems to be absolutely no interest and no responsibility. There is no such absolute power in Europe, not excepting that of the Czar or of the young Emperor, as is that exercised by the Sultan; and the mosques of the faithful are guarded and decorated and held more highly in reverence than are many churches of a more civilized people; and the army impresses you as one you would much prefer to lead than one from which you would elect to run away. But the comfort of the inhabitants of Constantinople is little considered. There is nothing that one can see of what we call public spirit, unless building a mosque and calling it after yourself, in a city already supplied with the most magnificent of such temples, can be called public-spirited. Of course one does not go to Constantinople to see electric lights and asphalt pavements, nor to gather statistics on the poor-rate, but it is interesting to find people so nearly in touch with the world in many things, and so far away from it in others. As long as I do not have to live in Constantinople, I find its lack of municipal spirit quite as interesting a feature of the city as its mosques.


Constantinople, for example, is a city with as large a population as has Berlin or Vienna, and its fire department is what you see in the illustration accompanying this chapter. They are very handsome men, as you can note for yourself, and very smart-looking, but when they go to a fire they make a bargain with the owner of the building[207] before they attempt to save his property. The great fire-tower in this capital of the Ottoman Empire is in Galata, and from it watchmen survey the city with glasses, and at the first sight of a blazing roof one of them runs down the tower and races through the uneven streets, calling out the fact that a house is burning, and where that house may be. Each watchman he meets takes up the cry, and continues calling out that the house is burning, even though the house is three miles away, until it burns down or is built up again, or the watchman is retired for long service and pensioned. Besides these amateur firemen there are two real fire companies, but they can do little in a city of 880,000 people.

The police who guard Constantinople at night are an equally primitive body of men. They carry a heavy club, about five feet long and as thick as a man's wrist, and with this they beat the stones in the streets to assure people that they are attending strictly to their work, and are not sleeping in doorways. The result of this is that no one can get to sleep, and all evil-minded persons can tell exactly where the night-watchman is, and so keep out of his way. The watchman under my window seemed to act on the idea of the gentleman who, on taking his first trip on a sleeping-car, declared that if he couldn't sleep no one else should, and acted accordingly.

There is nothing, so far as I can see, in which the Oriental delights as much as he does in making a noise. It is most curious to find a whole people[208] without nerves, who cannot talk without shouting, and who cannot shout without giving you the idea that they are in great pain, and that unless relief comes promptly they will die, and that it will be your fault. Those of them who sell bread or fruits or fish or beads, or whatever it may be, in the streets, bellow rather than shout, or cry in sharp, agonizing shrieks, high and nasal and fierce. They apparently never "move on." They always meet under your window or at the corners of a street, and there all shout at once, and no one pays the least attention to them. They might be lamp-posts or minarets, for all the notice they receive. I can imagine no fate or torture so awful as to be ill in Constantinople and to have to lie helpless and listen to the street cries, to the tin horns of the men who run ahead of the streetcars—which incidentally gives you an idea of the speed of these cars—and to the snarling and barking of the thousands of street dogs.


There are three or four intensely interesting ceremonies and many show-places in Constantinople which are unlike anything of the same sort in any other city. Apart from these and the bazars, which are very wonderful, there is nothing in the city itself which makes even the Oriental seek it in preference to his own mountains or plains or native village. Constantinople, so far as its population is to be considered, is standing still. It impresses you as stagnant before your statistical friend or the oldest member of the diplomatic corps or the oldest inhabitant tells [211] the Frank's finding a long residence in Cairo possible, or in pretty little Athens, where the boulevards and the classics are so strangely jumbled, but one cannot understand a man's settling down in Constantinople. Where there are no women there can be no court, and the few rich Greek residents and still fewer of the pashas and the diplomats make the society of the city. Even these last find it far from gay, for it so happens that the ambassadors are all either bachelors, widowers, or the husbands of invalid wives, and the result is a society which depends largely on a very smart club for its amusement. In the wintertime, when the snow and rain sweep over the three hills, and the solitary street of Galata is a foot deep in slush and mud, and the china stoves radiate a candle-like heat in a room built to let in all the air possible, I can imagine few less desirable places than the capital of the Ottoman Empire. This is in the winter only; as I have said, it is a fair-weather city, and I did not see it at its best.

There are three things to which one is taken in Constantinople—the mosque of St. Sophia, the treasures of the Sultan, and the Sultan going to pray in his own private mosque. The Sultan's own mosque is situated conveniently near his palace, not more than a few hundred feet distant. Once every Friday he rides this distance, and once a year journeys as far as the mosque of St. Sophia. With these outings he is content, and[212] on no other occasions does he show himself to his people or leave his palace. This is what it is to be a sovereign of many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the head of the Mussulman religion; and the ruler of nations and lands conquered by your ancestors, of which you see less than a donkey-boy in Cairo or the owner of a caïque on the Bosporus. We used to sing in college,

"The Sultan better pleases me; His life is full of jollity."

The jollity of a life which the possessor believes to be threatened by assassination in every form and at any moment is of a somewhat ghastly nature.

You obtain tickets for the Selamlik, as the ceremony of the Sultan's visit to his mosque is called, and you are requested, as you are supposed to be the guest of the Sultan on these occasions, not to bring opera-glasses. But it is nevertheless strongly suggestive of a theatrical performance. The mosque is on one side of a wide street; the houses in which the spectators sit, like the audience in a grand-stand, are on the other. One end of the street is blocked by a great square, and the other by the gateway of the palace from which the Sultan comes. The street is not more than a hundred yards in length. A band of music enters this square first and plays the overture to the ceremony. The musicians are mounted on horseback and followed by a double line of cavalrymen[213] on white horses, and each carrying a lance at rest with a red pennant. There are thousands of these; they stretch out like telegraph poles on the prairie to an interminable length, their scarlet pennants flapping and rustling in the sharp east wind like a forest of autumn leaves. You begin to suspect that they are going around the square and returning again many times, as the supers do in "Ours." Then the horses turn black and the overcoats of the men change from gray to blue, and more scarlet pennants stretch like an arch of bunting along the street leading to the palace, until they have all filed into the open square and halt there stirrup to stirrup, a moving mass of four thousand restless horses and four thousand scarlet flags. And then more bands and drums and bugle-calls come from every point of the city, and regiment after regiment swarms up the hill on which the palace rests, the tune of one band of music breaking in on the tune of the next, as do those of the political processions at home, until every approach to the gate of the palace is blocked from curb to curb with armed men, and you look out and down upon the points of five thousand bayonets crushed into a space not one-fifth as large as Madison Square. There is no populace to see this spectacle, only those of the faithful who stop on their way to Mecca to catch this glimpse of the head of their religion, and a few women who have brought petitions to present to him and who are allowed within the lines of soldiers.[214]


But pashas and beys and other high dignitaries are arriving every moment in full regalia, for this is like a drawing-room at Buckingham Palace, or a levee at St. James's, and every one must leave all other matters to attend it. Twenty men with twenty carts rush out suddenly from the curtain of Zouaves and sailors, and scatter soft gravel on the fifty yards of roadway over which the Sultan intends to drive. They remind you of the men in the circus who spread sawdust over the ring after the horses' hoofs have torn it. And then, high above the heads of the nine thousand soldiers and the few thousand more dignitaries, diplomats, and spectators, a priest in a green turban calls aloud from the top of the minaret. It is a very beautiful cry or call, in a strong, sweet tenor voice, inexpressibly weird and sad and impressive. It is answered by a bugle call given slowly and clearly like a man speaking, and at a certain note the entire nine thousand soldiers salute. It is done with a precision and shock so admirable that you would think, except for the volume of the noise, that but one man had moved his piece. The voice of the priest rises again, and is answered by triumphant strains of brass, and the gates of the palace open, and a glittering procession of officers and princes and pashas moves down the broad street, encircling a carriage drawn by two horses and driven by servants in gold. At the sight of this the soldiers cry "Long live the Sultan" three times. It is like the roar of a salute of cannon, and has all the feeling of a cheer. The[217] Sultan sits in the back of the open carriage, a slight, tired-looking man, with a pale face and black beard. He is dressed in a fur overcoat and fez. As he passes, the men of his army—and they are men—salute him, and the veiled women stand on tiptoe behind them and stretch out their petitions, and the pashas and chamberlains and cabinet officers bend their bodies and touch the hand to the heart, lip, and forehead, and drop it again to the knee. The pilgrims to Mecca fall prostrate on their faces, and the Sultan bows his head and touches his hand to his fez. Opposite him sits Osman Pasha, the hero of the last war, and one of the greatest generals of the world, his shoulders squared, his heart covered with stars, and his keen, observant eyes wandering from the pale face of his sovereign to the browned, hardy-looking countenances of his men.

The Sultan remains a half-hour in the mosque, and on his return drives himself back to the palace in an open landau. This was the first time I had seen the Turkish soldier in bulk, and he impressed me more than did any other soldier I had seen along the shores of the Mediterranean. I had seen the British troops repulse an imaginary attack upon the rock of Gibraltar, and half of the Army of Occupation in Egypt dislodge an imaginary enemy from the sand hills around Cairo, and I had seen French and Italian and Greek soldiers in lesser proportion and in lesser activity. But to me none of these had the build or the[218] bearing or the ready if rough look of these Turks. The French Zouaves of Algiers came next to them to my mind, and it may be that the similarity of the uniform would explain that; but as I heard the Sultan's troops that morning marching up the hills to their outlandish music, and looked into eyes that had never been shaded from the sun, and at the spring and swing of legs that had never worn civilized trousers, I recalled several notable battles of past history, and the more recent lines of Mr. Rudyard Kipling where he pays his compliments to the Russian on the frontier:

"I'm sorry for Mr. Bluebeard, I'd be sorry to cause him pain; But a hell of a spree There is sure to be When he comes back again."


The Oriental is one of those people who do things by halves. He has a fine army, but the bulk of his navy has not left the Golden Horn for many years, and it is doubtful if it could leave it; his palace walls are of mosaic and wonderfully painted tiles, and the roofs of rusty tin; his sons are given the questionable but expensive education of Paris, and his daughters are not allowed to walk abroad unless guarded by servants, and with the knowledge that every policeman spies upon them, knowing that, could he detect them in an indiscretion, he would be rewarded and gain promotion. Consequently it does not surprise[221] you when you find the Sultan's treasures heaped together under dirty glass cases, and treated with the indifference a child pays to its last year's toys.

The crown-jewels and regalia kept at the Tower, itself under iron bars and guarded by Beefeaters, are not half as impressive as are the jewels of the Sultan, which lie covered with dust under a glass show-case, and guarded by a few gloomy-looking effendis in frock-coats. All the presents from other monarchs and all the gifts of lesser notables who have sought some Sultan's favor, all the arms and trophies of generations of wars, are piled together in this treasury with less care than one would give to a rack of pipes. It is a very remarkable exhibition, and it is magnificent in its Oriental disregard for wealth through long association with it. Bronze busts of emperors, jewelled swords, imperial orders, music-boxes, gun-cases, weapons of gold instead of steel, precious stones, and silver dressing-cases are all heaped together on dusty shelves, without order and classification and without care. You can see here handfuls of uncut precious stones on china plates, or dozens of gold and silver pistols thrown in a corner like kindling-wood. And the most remarkable exhibition of all is the magnificent robes of those Sultans who are dead, with the jewels and jewelled swords and belts and insignia worn by them, placed on dummies in a glass case, as though they were a row of stuffed birds or specimens of rock. In the turbans of one of these figures there are pearls as large as a woman's[222] thumb, and emeralds and rubies as large as eggs, and ropes of diamonds. This sounds like a story from the Arabian Nights; but then these are the heroes of the Arabian Nights—the Sultans who owned the whole northern coast of Africa and Asia, and who spent on display and ornament what we put into education and railroads.

The present Sultan, Abd-ul-Hammed II., so far differs from those who have preceded him that he as well as ourselves spends money on education and railroads and all that they imply. As the head of a religion and of an empire he may not cheapen himself by being seen too often by his people, but his interests spread beyond even the great extent of his own boundaries, and his money is given to sufferers as far apart in all but misfortune as the Johnstown refugees and the victims of the earthquakes of Zante and Corfu. And his protection is extended to the American missionaries who enter his country to preach a religion to which he is opposed. While I was in Constantinople he showed the variety of his interests in the outside world by making two presents. To the Czar of Russia he gave a book of photographs of the vessels in his navy, and in contrast to this grimly humorous recognition of Russia's ambitions he presented to our government an emblem in gold and diamonds, commemorating in its design and inscription the discovering of this country, worth, intrinsically, many thousands of dollars. He was, I believe,[223] the only sovereign who showed a personal interest in our national celebration, and his gift was properly one of the government's most conspicuous exhibits at the Columbian Fair.

The Mosque of St. Sophia is one of the first things you are taken to see in Constantinople. It is to the Mussulman what St. Peter's is to the good Catholic, although Justinian built it, and the cross still shows in many parts of the great building. Three times during the year this mosque is illuminated within and without, and every good Mussulman attends there to worship.

There is something very fine about the religion of Mohammed—you do not have to know much about it to appreciate the faith of its followers, whether you know what it is they believe or not. In their outward observance, at least, of the rules laid down for them in the Koran, they show a sincerity which teaches a great lesson. You can see them at any hour of the day or in any place going through their devotions. A soldier will kneel down in a band stand, where a moment before he has been playing for the regiment, and say his prayers before two thousand spectators; and I have had some difficulty in getting my trunks on the Orient Express, because the porters were at another end of a crowded, noisy platform bowing towards the East. Once a year they fast for a month, the season of Ramazan, and as I was in Eastern countries during that month I know that they fast rigidly. Ramazan begins in Egypt when the new moon appears in a certain well near[224] Cairo. Two men watch this well, and when they see the reflection of the new moon on its surface they run into Cairo with the news, and Ramazan begins. There is nothing which so well illustrates the unchangeableness of the East and its customs as the sight of these men running through the streets of Cairo, with its dog-carts and electric lights, its calendars and almanacs, to tell that the moon has again reached that point that it had reached for many hundreds of years before, when all the faithful must fast and pray.


On one of the last days of Ramazan I went to the door of St. Sophia, and was led up a winding staircase in one of its minarets—a minaret-tower so broad and high that the staircase within it has no steps, but is paved smoothly like a street. It seemed as though we had been climbing nearly ten minutes before we stepped out into a great gallery, and looked down upon thousands of turbaned figures bowing and kneeling and rising again in long rows like infantry in close order. Between these worshippers and ourselves were fifty circles of floating tapers swinging from chains, and hanging like a smoky curtain of fire between us and the figures below. The voice of the priest rose in a high, uncanny cry, and the sound of the thousands of men falling forward on their faces and arms was like the rumble of the waves breaking on the shore. Outside, the tops of minarets were circled with lights and lamps strung on long ropes, with the ends flying free, and swinging to and fro in the night wind like necklaces[227] of stars. This was the most beautiful of all the sights of Constantinople; and as a matter of opinion, and not of fact, I think the best part of Constantinople is that part of it that is in the air.

Before ending this last chapter, I should like to make two suggestions to the reader who has not yet visited the Mediterranean and who thinks of doing so. Let him not be deterred, in the first place, by any idea of the difficulties of the journey, for he can go from Gibraltar along the entire northern coast of Africa and into Greece and Italy with as little trouble and with as much comfort as it is possible for him to make the journey from New York to Chicago. And in the second place, should he go in the winter or spring, let him not be misled by "Italian skies," or "the blue Mediterranean," or "the dancing waters of the Bosporus," into imagining that he is going to be any warmer on the northern coast of Africa than he is in New York. I wore exactly the same clothes in Italy that I wore the day I left the North River blocked with ice, and I watched a snow-storm falling on "the dancing waters of the Bosporus". There are some warm days, of course, but it is well to follow that good old-fashioned rule in any part of the world, that it is cold in winter and warm in summer, and people who spend their lives in trying to dodge this fact might as well try running away from death and the postal system.[228] To any one who has but a little time and a little money to spend on a holiday, I would suggest going to Gibraltar, and from there to Spain and Morocco. This is the only place, perhaps, in the world where three so widely different people and three such picturesque people as the Moor, the British soldier, and the Spaniard can be found within two hours of one another.

Morocco, from political causes, is less civilized than any other part of the northern part of Africa; and it can be seen, and with it the southern cities of Spain and the Rock of Gibraltar, in five or six weeks, and at a cost of a very few hundred dollars. This was to me the most interesting part of the Mediterranean, chiefly, of course—for it possesses few of the beauties or monuments or historical values of the other shores of that sea—because it was unknown to tourists and guide-books. A visit to the rest of the Mediterranean is merely verifying for yourself what you have already learned from others.


Transcriber's note:

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up paragraphs, thus the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in the List of Illustrations.

Inconsistent hyphenation remains as in the original.

Spelling has been made consistent throughout where the author's preference could be ascertained.

Punctuation has been normalized.

Page 203: "It all that pertains to the Sultan"

"It all" has been changed to "In all".


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