American Egyptomania Search

From West Africa to Palestine

Freetown: Manchester, 1873

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Art & Architecture

own times with such transcendent importance as to lose all reverence for the past, and all care and forethought for the future?

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When we arrived at the Mission House, on our return from the pyramids, the day was far spent. Though anxious to see some of the accessible curiosities of Cairo that day, as my time for sojourn- ing in the city was spent, I was obliged to pass the whole evening in bed, on account of the fatigue of the day's exercise, which I felt for several days afterwards.

Next morning, under the guidance of Mr. Strang, I started out to "do" the lions of Cairo. It is impossible to convey to one who has not visited the east any accurate idea of the appearance pre- sented by the streets of this thoroughly oriental city. Persons of all races and nations are met in their peculiar costumes. Carriages, and camels, and horses, and mules, and asses come into continual contact in the narrow streets—some of them so narrow that two horses or donkeys cannot walk abreast. And as they are not paved, and are of light, sandy soil, the tread of the various animals is not heard : it is necessary, therefore, for riders to warn pedestrians of their approach, which they do in a peculiar kind of shout. When the carriage of a wealthy person is approaching, the servant runs before—a proper footman—with a long stick clearing the streets, informing crowds on foot that a vehicle is coming; so that they may draw themselves up as closely as possible to the sides of the streets, or, whatever those narrow passages ought to be called. Thus he "prepares the way" of his master, and makes "his paths straight". No stranger attracts attention from the peculiarity of his dress. In the streets we met persons of all races and costumes.


First we went to the famous mosque of the celebrated Mohammed Ali, an energetic ruler of Egypt, who lived in the early part of this century. This magnificent structure is built on a low hill to the east of the city. On presenting ourselves at the entrance of the large open square, on the eastern side of which stands the. house of prayer, we were not allowed to enter until we had drawn over our shoes red slippers, with which we were provided by the door- keepers. The sacred ground must not be trodden with what has touched the common dust. But for this privilege we had to pay two shillings. We found several Moslems engaged in their devotions under a splendid dome, not excelled for beauty of interior decora-