Chapter XX. On the Mediterranean.

On Monday morning, September 26th, at 4:00 o'clock a.m., I stepped on board the steamship "Avoca" to take passage for Alexandria. Brindisi, like Havre, is one of the finest places in the world to leave! Almost everything about it is repulsive. I saw many children there that have possibly never seen a washing day in their lives! I sailed for Egypt with great reluctance, for I had already my misgivings about the property of tourists from civilized nations going thither for sight-seeing. Well one does see sights there - but, such sights!

Our voyage to Egypt was a very prosperous and, I may say, a pleasant one. Time, some eighty hours. As first and second class passage is unreasonably high, boarding costing $9 - $10 per day, I took third class passage, and with a special outlay of a few dollars obtained acceptable meals. The steamer belonged to an English line, and it was one of the most pleasant incidents of my entire tour, to hear a company of sailors chime in one evening and sing "Kiss Me Mother, Kiss Your Darling." I had heard little English speaking for months, and now to hear that old familiar tune, five thousand miles away from home, made me feel as if America could after all not be so very far off! There were no storms, nor was their any cool night air upon that "summer seat." I slept one night on deck, without even an awning of canvass over me, - how pleasant it was at night to awake and see the winter constellation of Orion as high up already in September, as I was wont to see it in America in the month of January! We reached


on the fourth day after leaving the coasts of Italy. Perhaps I can not give the reader a better idea of what a blank Egypt seems to one who has luxuriated for months amid the scenes of Europe, than by leaving my chapter on Egypt a blank one. A great deal too much has been written about Egypt and the East, already. What profitable example can we take from those semi-barbarians? A young man who was just returning from a tour through Egypt and Greece, had told me already at Rome, that "going to see the East is done mostly for the name of having done the thing." He had been disappointed, and so was I. Why do tourists speak so much about the pyramids, after returning from Egypt? Because there is little else to be seen there or to talk about! And these are not half the wonders that many imagine who falsely presume that the building of the entire structures were undertaken at once. The broad foundation of 13 acres, which constitutes the base of the greatest, was not undertaken at one time; but only a small pyramid was at first reared, and around this, as a nucleus, was built layer after layer, until the structure assumed the amazing proportions which now characterize the astounding magnificence of the great pyramids on the plains of Geezeh. Thus at whatever time the sovereign might die, his pyramid would be almost complete, and would be large or small, in proportion to the time spent upon it. Perhaps succeeding generations built at some of the larger pyramids. They are monuments erected to the memory of kings or ruling families, and contain their tombs. Such, at least, is a plausible solution of the problem of pyramid-building.


At Cairo I engaged a guide whom I paid three dollars for accompanying me as many hours, and bargained with him that he must furnish the mules, (or donkeys I should have said), and pay all the contingent expenses. We visited the Mosk of Mohamet Ali in the Citadel, the Mosk of Hassen and others. Attendants at the doors provided us with slippers, for no one is allowed to tread the fine carpet (or matting?) of these holy temples with his shoes. Hats must be kept on, however. A large mosque generally consists of porticoes surrounded a square open court, containing a fountain or tank in the center. Here every Mussulman washes his hands and feet before he goes to prayers. They sometimes would here bathe their whole bodies in former times! It is not at all surprising that washing of feet should have become a part of the religious ceremonies in countries like Egypt, where washing is quite as necessary to existence, as eating and drinking, even. I wish they had pure water enough to wash themselves a dozen times a day. They would certainly be, what we consider very dirty, more than half the time, even then. As it is, they must take their untanned goat-skin bags and collect the luke-warm water which they find in dirty pools, and take it home for drinking purposes! It is impossible for the poor Egyptians to keep themselves clean. It rains only about three days in a year, and the wind takes so much dust into the air that one can often neither see or breath for a few seconds. This dust collected in such a thick layer upon my body, the first day, that I could in the evening plow furrows with my fingers upon any portion of my skin. I protected my eyes, by hiding my face in my shawl, during the most dangerous busts; but being ignorant of the necessity of putting cotton into my ears, I lost the hearing of one of them, which I only recovered quite lately. Hundreds of people in Cairo are blind, and certainly the majority of them have but poor sight or have very sore eyes! What wretched houses they live in! Many of the huts in their villages consist of but a single apartment, large enough for a person to lie down lengthwise in it, but not more than 5 feet wide. The walls and roof are all mud, and so low that a man cannot stand erect in some of them! These mud-huts have no doors even! The men as well as the women wear long flowing garments, like those represented in our picture Bibles. Many of the poor women have but a single garment to cover their bodies with. This consists of a hood-like covering for the head, and a loose flowing robe, all in one piece; having neither shoes nor the other garments to make themselves presentable in any decent or refined society. Many present pictures of indescribable wretchedness. I saw a woman nurse her child in the cars, who, when presented with an apple for her babe, returned her thanks without a smile, even, to the giver! These people are in too great misery to know what it is to feel happy! I saw men and women speak by the hour in the train without once turning into any pleasant mood. How my pity might have turned into joy, could I only have seen them indulge in a hearty laugh occasionally! Some of their girls and women of all ages will still ride the donkey, after the oriental style. The middle and poorer classes of Egyptians will eat little snails and fish fried with the heads, scales and all the appurtenances of their internal structures! In the East they churn the butter in bags made of untanned goat-skins, having the hair inside. Moreover, they bring the butter upon the table without doing so much as to comb it, even!

When I had seen these things, and was informed that on account of the cholera which was still raging in Syria, the surrounding nations had interposed a quarantine, so that if I would venture to go on to Joppa (which I could have reached in a few hours), I would become a prisoner, I soon decided that I would rather not see a people (the Syrians) that is more miserable than the Egyptians, even, than be in danger of being obliged to partake of food that could scarcely have failed to make me sick. Crossing the desert by rail, meeting large caravans of camels, and seeing the palm-trees, the minarets, the mosks, the pyramids, the muddy waters of the Nile, and above all the curious styles of the oriental costume, are interesting enough to one that comes to Egypt with ordinary expectations and correct information in regard to the country; but I did not expect to find the Egyptians a black inferior race, that would fight with each other on the pavements in the largest cities in broad daylight, violently tear my property out of my hands in sight of the finest square in Alexandria, carry naked children upon their shoulders in their large towns, and seat themselves around large dishes of rice and gravy mixing the same with their fingers and conveying it to their mouths in the palms of their hands! Numbers of them will dine without the use of either knives, forks or spoons, and when dinner is over, there is but one dish to be washed. Each has two hands and ten fingers to clean, and washing those, ends the whole matter! These are extreme cases, of course. Some live decently, too. Some few of the ruling classes, in luxury, perhaps. From Cairo I traveled by rail to Ismalia, thence by the Suez Canal to Port Said, where I spent the Sunday (October 3rd). On Tuesday I reached Alexandria again. I there put up at a first-class hotel (for travelers from civilized and refined nations can not enjoy themselves at inferior hotels in Egypt), and stayed five days, until the next steamer sailed for Brindisi. The hotel contained an excellent cafe, where ten intelligent and refined ladies and four gentlemen, all natives of Austria, were engaged to render music every evening for a whole year. One evening as I sat in the cafe at my supper, a poor boy came in to sell flowers; for what we must pay in this country for a drink, I bought a bouquet almost as large as a bucket, and when the next lady came to collect for the music, I gave her the bouquet as a present to the whole company. It was worth more than an introduction to the entire party, and for the balance of my stay I was always well entertained, and was kindly informed of anything that I asked in regard to the manners and customs of oriental life. The people of every nation under the sun, travel in Egypt in the habits of their own peculiar national costumes - the Turk with his turban, the Greek with his red cap, and the Arabians, East Indians, Russians, and all the nations of Western Europe are represented here, all wearing their own peculiar styles and fashions. The money too is a mixture of the coins of a dozen different countries. None except the poorest women will come out of their houses without having their faces covered with thick black veils.

On the "Home-Stretch."

I do not know where I was the happiest, when I reached the coasts of Italy and saw dear Europe again, when I reached Paris, or when I landed at New York and was finally again ushered into the sweet scenes of home! But I remember well that I left no city with so much regret as Paris. How I watched to see the last glimmering rays of its ten thousand gas-jets, as our train moved away at the silent midnight hour of October 22nd.

I had stopped at Milan to see the grand peagent of Emperor William of Germany, and King Victor Emanuel of Italy, with a retinue of some 22,000 militia, with which they held a military drill, and saw the illumination of the Cathedral on that memorable occasion; besides I had stopped a day at Rome, and two at Paris; yet I made my return trip from Alexandria to New York in 25 days, sleeping but 7 nights in comfortable beds in all that time. Sleeping in the cars and on the ships, never amounted to much. I made this haste on account of the now rapidly approaching winter.


Notwithstanding the influence which the church and the political powers of Rome, in earlier times, and which Paris and the spirit of progress in later years, have exerted to the contrary, the manners, customs and institutions of the people are still so different that the people of the Western Continent can not form correct ideas of European life without having first visited portions of it. For want of a standard of comparison, the reader is often utterly deceived by fine poetical descriptions, because he can not properly construe the language.

A tour of ordinary length and duration can now be made through the western nations of Europe, with less expense than is generally believed, as may be inferred from the fact that my entire tour of nearly fourteen thousand miles, cost less than seven hundred dollars. Many travelers lose forty percent of their money by imposition, and others are more careless and extravagant than they ought. If I could not have spoken German, it would have cost me several hundred dollars more. Could I have spoken French, it might have cost me a hundred dollars less. The expenses of making the tour of England, France and Switzerland are from $300 to $1,000, according to the style in which one wishes to travel; but a young man who wishes to spent $1,000 in educating himself, will make the best investment by spending half of it in traveling in foreign lands. He will there lay such a sure foundation for a correct knowledge of the institutions of the world, as no amount of reading can ever afford him. Let the enterprising "go west," but the student should see eastern countries.

The End.