American Egyptomania Search

From West Africa to Palestine

Freetown: Manchester, 1873

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Art & Architecture

decide upon my destination. At length an Arab, calling himself Hamad, and representing himself as a professed dragoman, came to my assistance, and relieved me of the disagreeable pressure. He assisted me in passing through the Custom House, which was a small affair. I then hired a carriage, and had myself conveyed with my baggage to the United States Consulate-General, where, after exhibiting a letter of introduction from Mr. Adams, the American minister in London, I was most kindly received by Mr. Hale, the Consul-General, a very polite and well-educated gentleman from New England.

Learning from Mr. Hale that the next railway train from Cairo that day would start about an hour's time, I deposited my baggage in his office, and taking a letter from him to the United States Consul at Cairo, I hastened to the railway station; and, arriving just in time to get a ticket and procure a seat, I was soon whirling up the valley of the Nile at the rate of thirty miles an hour.

I looked at my ticket, and found that it was printed in Arabic characters. I felt a strong desire to retain it as a curiosity, but was obliged to give it up at the end of the journey.
After losing sight of Pompey's pillar, Cleopatra's needle, and the city of Alexandria, we came suddenly upon villages consisting altogether of mud huts. I then began to realize that I was in Egypt- the land which every Sabbath-school boy desires to see, as he reads the simple narrative of Joseph and his brethren—of Moses con- cealed in the ark of bulrushes—of the persecution, hard labour, and exodus of the Jews—of the haughty and tyrannical Pharaoh— and of the flight of Mary and Joseph with the infant Saviour. All these things crowded into my mind; and everything in the scenery through which we passed seemed to call up incidents in Sacred Writ.

In the vegetation which presents itself there is a pleasing and curious variety. There are palms, oranges, lemons, mulberry, pome- granate, olive, lime, grape, cactus, sycamores, gorgeous roses, and gigantic oleanders. I was so deeply interested by the novelty of everything, and at the same time its seeming familiarity—as if I had lived for years in the land—that the five hours between Alexandria and Cairo passed away almost imperceptibly.

But there was one drawback to my enjoyment—the incessant cigar-smoking kept up by my fellow passengers in the carriage.

In Egypt everybody smokes. If you are travelling in company, or visiting a friend, or a friend comes to visit you, you must either smoke or be smoked. Woe to the man who cannot endure the scent of tobacco ! There are never any complimentary inquiries