CHAPTER VII. SUEZ TO ADEN.
* * * * *
Travellers assembling at Suez - Remarks on the Pasha's
Government - Embarkation on the Steamer - Miserable accommodation in the
Berenice, and awkwardness of the attendants - Government Ships not
adapted to carry Passengers - Cause of the miserable state of the Red
Sea Steamers - Shores of the Red Sea - Arrival at Mocha - Its appearance
from the Sea - Arrival at Aden - Its wild and rocky appearance on
landing - Cape Aden - The Town - Singular appearance of the Houses - The
Garrison expecting an attack by the Arabs - Discontent of the
Servants of Europeans at Aden - Complaints by Anglo-Indians against
Servants - Causes - Little to interest Europeans in Aden.
Amongst the travellers who came dropping in at the hotel, was the Portuguese governor of Goa and his suite, consisting of four gentlemen, the private and public secretaries, an aide-de-camp, and the fourth holding some other appointment. They came by the French steamer, which had left Marseilles on the day of our departure. The governor, a fine old soldier, and a perfect gentleman, proved a great acquisition to our party; and knowing the state of Goa, and the disappointment he would in all probability sustain upon arriving at the seat of his government in the present low condition to which it is reduced, we could not help feeling much interested in his welfare. This gentleman, who inherited the title of baron, and was moreover an old general officer, had mixed in the very best society, and was evidently well acquainted with courts and camps; he spoke several languages, and in the course of his travels had visited England. His retinue were quiet gentlemanly men, and the young aide-de-camp, in particular, made himself very agreeable.
There were two other travellers of some note at Suez, who had put up at Hill's Hotel; one, an American gentleman, who had come across the desert for the purpose of looking at the Red Sea. I saw him mounted upon a donkey, and gazing as he stood upon the shore at the bright but narrow channel, so interesting to all who have read the history of the Israelites, with reverential feelings. I felt a strong inclination to accost him; but refrained, being unwilling to disturb his reveries with what he might have thought an impertinent interruption. It was evidently a last look, for he was veiled for the journey, and at length, tearing himself away, he turned his donkey's head, and struck into the desert. The other traveller was a young Scotsman, who proposed to go as far as Aden in the Berenice, on his way to Abyssinia, trusting that a residence of some months in Egypt would enable him to pass for a Turk. He had no very precise object in view, but intended to make an attempt to explore the sources of the Nile.
There was nothing in Suez that could make a longer stay desirable, and we quitted it without regret. My journey through Egypt had been much too rapid for me to presume to give any decided opinion concerning the strongly agitated question respecting the merits of the Pasha's government. It is very evident that he has not learned the most instructive lesson of political economy, nor has yet understood that the way to render himself powerful is to make his subjects rich; nevertheless, though his exactions and monopolies may be felt at present as very serious evils, yet, in establishing manufactories, and in embodying a national force, there can be no doubt that he has sown the seeds of much that is good; and should his government, after his death, fall into the hands of people equally free from religious prejudices, we may reasonably hope that they will entertain more enlarged and liberal views, and thus render measures, now difficult to bear, of incalculable advantage to the future prosperity of the country.
The British Consul politely offered to conduct myself and my female friends on board the steamer; he accordingly called for us, and I bade, as I hoped, a last adieu to Suez, it being my wish and intention to return home by way of Cosseir. Previous to our embarkation, a series of regulations had been placed in our hands for the engagement of passages in the Honourable Company's armed steamers, with instructions to passengers, &c.