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fought siege of 1560, and portraits of the various Grand Masters of the Order of St. John.
Among the relies is a curious old musket, which seems to prove that there were Whitworths or Armstrongs three centuries ago, for it is constructed to load at the breech. As it is the only one of its kind, it would seem that the inventor lived before his time, and could not get his patent accepted by the red-tape government of the day.
From the Governor's house we go to the Cathedral of St. John, of no architectural beauty outside, but full within both of beauty and interest. The floor is covered with inlaid marble slabs, the tombstones of the more distinguished Knights of Malta. On either side of the nave are chapels assigned to the knights of particular nationalities : Spanish, Italian, French, English, &c. The whole interior of the church is covered almost to excess with inlaid marbles, bas-reliefs, mosaics, and ornamental stone-work ; and the arches, especially in the side aisles, are very handsome.
We take a short drive along the Strada Reale, out through the gate of L'Isle Adam, and across the broad moat which surrounds the city; but darkness comes on, and we return to be fleeced more or less in the shops of filagree and lace, which are here such tempting traps for the innocent traveller.
Few towns can boast such picturesque streets as those of Malta, with their rows of well-built houses and their projecting windows of many colours and tasty shapes. There is a clean fresh look, too, about both pavements and walls; and in every other street one can look down through a vista of gable-ends and balconies on to the sparkling waters and thronging ships of the Great, or of the Quarantine Harbour.
Soon after midnight, January 3 and 4, we are off again,
steering for Alexandria, and for the next three days we see nothing around us but salt water. The interval is enlivened by an extempore charity bazaar on a small scale, initiated by a certain energetic lady who sells oranges at the modest sum of 6d. each; and at last, in her zeal for the good cause, parts with an eyelash for the lucrative amount of 58. Sums thus earned for charitable purposes are probably among those of which an eminent divine, when asked if he thought they did any good, said they went to print the reports.'
Early on the morning of the 7th we enter the harbour of Alexandria. The view on entering consists merely of a white mass of houses, mosques, and public buildings, lining the water's edge, and stretching back over the level ground behind, while to the east and west lies an expanse of flat coast, dotted with houses or fringed with palm-trees.
But, directly we cast anchor, the peculiar characteristic of the place manifests itself in the motley crowd of boatmen, porters, guides, and hotel agents, who swarm on to our vessel's decks. They are dressed in various costumes, more or less Oriental, and scarcely any three of them seem of the same nation. Arabs, Turks, Copts, Nubians, Greeks, and others, are here jumbled together; complexions of every hue, from that of ebony to an almost Saxon fairness, contrast strongly with each other; sounds guttural, hoarse, and shrill, all equally unintelligible, issue from a dozen grinning mouths; and the only bond between these diverse specimens of the genus homo seems to be the eager desire which pervades them, one and all, of making money, by fair means or foul, out of the deafened and distracted passengers.
We go ashore in a small steam-tender, and then drive to the Hotel Abbat, through streets over which rolls a sea of mud, and compared to which Oxford Street after a thaw
would be dry land; we bump en route in and out of ruts and holes which could scarcely be matched in a road through an Irish bog. After lunch we sally out to see as much of Alexandria as is possible during an afternoon. Pompey's Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle are generally recognised as the lions of Alexandria. But they are both disappointing to a mind and senses of ordinary delicacy. The former stands on a raised piece of ground which seems the favourite place for the deposit of all foul rubbish; and the latter, with its base buried in a sand-heap, and surrounded by wretched mud hovels, looks as if it had been purposely degraded and neglected.
Modern Egypt seems to have no respect for, and no desire to imitate, its mighty ancestor: it is a slatternly descendant, reckless of the family name, and kicking about its heirlooms as if they were as worthless as itself. It is a pity that the Khedive did not divert some of the million sterling which he is said to have spent recently on th festivities at the opening of the Suez Canal to paving his muddy roads, and preserving and restoring the dilapidated monuments of the city.
The most interesting sight in Alexandria, at least to a new comer, is the bazaar. This bazaar consists of a number of narrow streets or passages, crossing each other at right angles, and lined on either side with small shops, or rather covered stalls, wherein are displayed numberless Eastern productions, along with their imitations from Birmingham or Manchester. The bazaar is divided into quarters, each quarter peopled with shopkeepers of some particular nationality, and filled with its own peculiar wares. Thus there is the Tunis quarter, the Jews' quarter, the Bedouin quarter, the Turkish quarter, and a score of other quarters. One street is filled with gold and silversiniths; another with silk weavers and embroiderers; a
third with money-changers; a fourth with tobacco-dealers, and so on.
The variety in expression, costume, and complexion, of the owners of the shops would afford ample study to an artist, a physiognomist, or an ethnologist; but nearly all seem alike in their perfect apathy as regards selling or not; they seem to nourish a stoical belief that if Allah sends a buyer the buyer will come, and if not—a shrug of the shoulders must fill up the sentence.
We have to wait in Alexandria for the steamer from Marseilles which will bring the passengers and mails to go on with us from Suez; and accordingly it is not till the evening of the day after our arrival that we find ourselves in the train starting on the only 'overland' portion of this overland 'route. The distance of 220 miles from Alexandria to Suez should be accomplished, according to English ideas of railway speed, in some five to six hours, but in Egypt it is a tacitly recognised maxim to do everything with a supreme indifference to time; so though our train is a special' one, it must be understood to have earned this title principally by being specially slow, and our average pace through the journey proves to be about sixteen miles an hour !
We roll along all night, stopping occasionally to supply the engine with water or the passengers with coffee, and passing through a uniformly flat country, diversified with lakes, scantily peopled, and partly cultivated. At day-break we are running through a flat gravelly desert, making a parallel course to the Canal, which is a few miles to the eastward. By 8 A.M. we pass into the middle of the scattered huts, houses, and hotels, which go by the name of Suez, and which seem to be inhabited partly by engineers at work on the Canal, and partly by a crew of mongrel natives, whose chief occupation is to beg 'bucksheesh' of passing travellers. The train carries us on to the quay at which the Mongolia’ is lying.
We go on board, and, while waiting for mails and luggage, we may have a look round at this spot, which is destined to see and participate in the transit of nearly all the trade from the East to the West. On either side of the quay at which our vessel is lying, and reaching some distance out into the bay, are numerous moles and low dock-walls, dividing a large expanse of salt water into so many squares and oblongs, and forming part of the great Canal scheme.
A mile away from us, towards the east, we can distinguish the mouth of the Canal by the huge dredges which stand up out of the level, but which, perhaps because the day is Sunday, are not at present working. No vessel is seen threading its way in or out of the Canal, and from a cursory glance one might be tempted to believe in the croakings of those who prophecy the failure of the gigantic scheme. But we may surely leave it to time to show that the undertaking was nobly planned, and destined both to be a lasting success, and to make us Englishmen rather ashamed that we did not give it a more timely and disinterested assistance. Outside the moles and dock-walls, away to the southern horizon, stretch the waters of the Red Sea, but, in variance with the name, of a brilliant emerald colour. The only red hue in the landscape is that on the bare rocky range of mountains to the west, which terminate towards the south in the headland of Jebel Ataka.
We leave the quayside early in the afternoon, and are soon fairly out on our way to Aden. A few miles down the gulf we passed abreast of what looks in the distance like a herd of cattle, but which in reality is a small