American Egyptomania Search

From West Africa to Palestine

Freetown: Manchester, 1873

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Art & Architecture

described by some travellers as, architecturally, the finest in Cairo. I confess that—probably for want of sufficiently cultivated taste in that department of art—after having visited the mosque of Mohammed All, I could see nothing to admire in the old dilapidated structure of Sultan Hassan. The devotees about it, however, obliged us to take off our shoes—furnishing us no slippers—before entering. I fancy that my health was not very much benefited by walking thus exposed on the cold marble pavement.

I was struck with the rigid and impressive simplicity of the interior of the mosque. There are no pews, nor chairs, nor seats of any kind; no pictures or statues. They are intended for places of prayer—not of luxurious ease—whither people go, not to gaze around or criticize, but for devotional purposes. All we saw present had, at least, the appearance of worshippers. No one man was there professedly to lead the devotions of the people, but practically —so far as many are concerned—to be their substitute in worship, while they look on as spectators paying for a weekly entertainment. The people all kneel or sit cross-legged on the floor, which is matted or carpeted. There is a pulpit, affording standing room for only one man, from which the people are sometimes addressed by the Moolah.

Around the mosque of Sultan Hassan is an open space, called the Roumaylee, a place of general resort. Here I saw the finest herd of camels I have seen in the east. The camel by itself has very little comeliness, but a drove of camels is certainly a beautiful sight.

Anxious to overtake the Russian steamer for Beyrout, which was to leave Alexandria on the afternoon of the 13th, I started by the earliest train on the following morning (the 13th), and reached Alexandria just in time to get my things on board comfortably, without enjoying the pleasure of giving the parting salaam to the affable consul-general, who was away at dinner when I reached his office.

I now bade adieu to the land of Egypt—land of my "father's sepulchres"—feeling more than repaid for any discomforts or privations suffered on the voyage; happy to undergo them all again, or double their number, intensified, for the sake of the instruction and enjoyment which my visit to this great country afforded.