CHAPTER VII. SUEZ TO ADEN.
In a very clever work, I have seen the whole sum of the miseries of human life comprised in one word, "servants;" and until we can procure human beings with all the perfections of our fallen nature, and none of our faults, to minister to our wants and wishes, the complaint, so sickening and so general, and frequently so unjust, will be reiterated. Anglo-Indians, however, seem to be more tormented by these domestic plagues than any other set of people. The instant a stranger lands upon Asiatic ground, we hear of nothing else. It is considered to be polite conversation in the drawing-room, aid delicate-looking women will listen with the greatest complacence to the most brutal threats uttered by their male associates against the wretched people whom hard fate has placed about their persons. By some mischance, these very individuals are equally ill-served at home, the greater number who return to England being either rendered miserable there, or driven back to India in consequence of the impossibility of managing their servants. As far as my own experience goes, with the exception of the people in the Berenice, who were not in the slightest degree under the control of the passengers, or, it may be said, attached to them in any way, I have always found it easy, both at home and abroad, to obtain good servants, at least quite as good as people, conscious of the infirmities of humanity in their own persons, have a right to expect. My simple rule has been, never to keep a person who did not suit me, and to treat those who did with kindness and indulgence. The system has always answered, and I am probably on that account the less inclined to sympathize with persons who are eternally complaining.
There may be some excuse at Aden for the conversation turning upon domestic matters of this kind, and perhaps I do the station injustice in supposing that they form a common topic. With the exception of those persons who take pleasure in the anticipation of the improvement of the surrounding tribes, there is very little to interest European residents in this arid spot. Should, however, the hopes which many enlightened individuals entertain be realized, or the prospect of their fulfilment continue unclouded, those who now endure a dreary exile in a barren country, and surrounded by a hostile people, will or ought to derive much consolation from the thought, that their employment upon a disagreeable duty may prove of the utmost benefit to thousands of their fellow-creatures. It is pleasant to look forward to the civilization of Abyssinia, and other more remote places, by means of commercial intercourse with Aden.