And now the train stops at Jerusalem. This railroad is a tiny affair, and the officials marked up the class of some of its carriages by painting out one numeral from "II," leaving it a "I" class carriage, thus turning a second into a first just to keep up the spirit of deception that is the potent atmosphere of the Holy Land. But we were in Jerusalem and didn't care a rap, even though the varnish on the seats was wet and we were stuck to them like limpets to a rock in the sea.
It was quite a strain on the Holy City to take care of such a crowd, but all was well managed and we were comfortably stowed away somewhere (many in convents), and only the most confirmed "kickers" could offer any fair objection to the arrangements.
Very few writers and hardly any lecturers and speakers who have visited Jerusalem have told the truth about it, or if some of them have, they told only the pleasant part of it. In fact, it has usually been given a treble coat of whitewash, entirely misleading to those who are to follow them. When the writer holds Jerusalem to be the greatest of historical cities with all the reverence due to it, and yet finds it in the hands of the Turkish government—which does not know the meaning of truth nor of honesty; which by its example prostitutes every decent feeling in the minds of the people to its own base ends, and permits the barefaced robbery and oppression, not only of the visitor but of its own citizens—then I say the modern writer has a delicate task to perform in describing it, for in relating the facts he might seem to be railing and scoffing at religion and biblical history, whereas nothing is farther from his mind or his intention. Everything is so interwoven that it is hard to separate the serious and truthful from the ridiculous and fraudulent. This deceit is not alone of to-day; it goes back to the times when landmarks and historic evidences were obliterated by wars, earthquakes and revolutions, and when all traces of locations during these upheavals of centuries were lost and covered with debris sometimes one hundred and fifty feet deep, the city of Jerusalem itself not having a single inhabitant for over fifty years in one period of its history. Then the "holy men" of those old days saw at once their opportunity to make religion both popular and paying, as well as the necessity for doing so, and they therefore invented a system of "pious frauds" by selecting bogus sites on particular spots for this, that, and the other incident which occurred in the great religious dramas in the Holy Land. These selections gave the ignorant, to whom they wholly appealed, some material, practical object on which to lay hold—something to worship which they could see and feel; and this was where the profit lay. Thus we find that there are crowded in the rooms of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over thirty "sacred sites." There is the exact spot where the clay was found to make Adam; Adam's grave; the tears of the Virgin petrified in the form of a cross. Then there is the Stone of Unction; near by the Chapel of the Parted Raiment, where Christ's clothes were gambled for; again, the spot where He was crowned with thorns; the place where they scourged Him; that spot beyond is where they nailed Him to the cross—and the hole for the cross has been carefully cut out, no doubt by the best local stone-cutter not so many years ago. Then there is the long story of the finding of the true cross—but why further speak of these absurd fictions, intended to fool and work upon the poor Greek, Armenian, Syrian, Latin, Copt, Abyssinian and Russian pilgrims—in fact, all who are ignorant and credulous and will give bakshish to these fat and sleek bandits, who never did an honest day's work in their lives and who couldn't be driven with a shotgun to do any kind of labor! At birth they are dedicated to organized robbery and oppression and they have no thought of disturbing this dedication—not if they know it! For fees, they show the "Cradle," a heavy, marble bath tub that would take many men to rock it with a crowbar. They exhibit the "Manger," also in marble (!), that never had a straw in it, and if you seem credulous they will tell you anything they think you will swallow. I pretended to believe them, and in consequence got a load of lies that would have made Ananias clap his hands with joy. And so on ad infinitum! By one "holy" pretence and another they rob these poor victims of their money till it is all gone, when they are allowed to go home as best they may. All religions, including the Roman Catholic and the Protestant, should combine to form a universal commission, which should be supplied with funds raised by public subscription the world over for the purpose of regulating Jerusalem. The objectionable buildings and "fake" objects should be razed to the ground, and it should be the duty of this commission to set forth and establish the authentic, historical sites and locations as nearly as reasoning and induction can locate them, and it should also be its province to see that proper treatment, protection and accommodation are given the poor pilgrims who go there annually; the rich and educated can take care of themselves.
The whole city is in a most disgusting state—unclean, vile and unspeakable in almost every respect; it is the sink of Christendom and its condition is a disgrace to humanity and to all sects of religion.
Jerusalem is a very old city: Abraham lived there and it was David's capital. When Solomon was king it was one of the mighty and magnificent cities of the world. Sixteen sieges have destroyed it, and the city of to-day is really built on the ruins of its seven predecessors. How utterly preposterous, then, is it for any one to attempt to identify the sacred places! The present population is 60,000. It is a walled city and has eleven gates. The Mosque of Omar is its principal feature; this was completed by Solyman the Magnificent in 1561; parts of the construction were done by the Crusaders. It has a noble dome and is a masterpiece of architectural beauty; it is said to be one of the finest buildings in Asia.
In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the various sects have certain portions allotted to them for worship; the lines between them are guarded by armed soldiers, and if even an unintentional trespass is committed, a bloody riot usually ensues. In one of these three men were killed and many wounded a few days before we arrived, and the defeated sects were planning reprisals when we were leaving. This is Christianity at high pressure, and is characteristic of the whole place.
We saw Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, the Damascus Gate, Calvary, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda, and the other celebrated places mentioned in the Bible. These were fairly authentic, as they were not "spots," but wide places of considerable dimensions, and not gathered under one roof.
The condition of the "Wall of Wailing"—which, by the way, is an open, paved court—is particularly offensive in a sanitary sense and no self-respecting person should enter it. Some writers have spoken plainly about these things. Here is a quotation from an eminent writer on the East, Dr. D. E. Lorenz, who knows his subject thoroughly, and to whom I am indebted for other data herewith:
"The moral degeneracy of the people as a whole is incredible. Profanity and obscenity are said to be mingled in the speech of the common people to an extent unknown among almost any other people on earth. Filthy homes and utter uncleanliness of person are the general rule. Sanitation is almost wholly disregarded, and it is a wonder that a plague does not sweep away all the inhabitants. . . . Dishonesty is reduced to a fine art. . . . The crowded streets with their Babel of confusion—the shouts of the donkey boys, the loud cries of the camel drivers, and the calls of those who would sell their wares to every passer-by, together with the hurly-burly of people in strange garb and speaking in strange tongues—all this tends to destroy . . . the religious glamour."
The "puller-in" and the "barker" of Baxter Street and the Bowery are mere sucking doves compared with the vendors of Jerusalem: they will get in front of you and pull you into their shops, and the only way you can prevent an assault is to jump to the other side of the street or dive into an alley. If you do not buy from them they will guy you and tell you to your face that they wish Americans would stay at home unless they will spend their money like the gentlemen they pretend to be. If at the end you buy nothing, they will shout derisively, "Skidoo! twenty-three! no good!" and other slang of a more or less complimentary nature. The English rule them with a rod of iron; they thrash them with a cane or whip which they carry for the purpose, and consequently the natives do not bother Johnnie Bull but allow him to pass in silence. The Emperor William was here a short time since, and they opened a new gate to let him in and removed the small boulders from the road so that his Imperial Majesty might not be jolted in driving about the country. William wants to be friendly and get a big slice of the "melon" at the cutting. Lady Burdett-Coutts, noticing the dangerous character of the water, offered to equip a fine, free system for the city, taking the supply from the head waters of the Jordan, but the sultan refused the offer unless he did the building. This proposal Lady Coutts declined, well knowing that if she accepted it there would be no works, but that the "Brother of the Sun" would keep the money.
The "Corks" were invited to a reception in Jerusalem given by a native lady in her own home, surrounded by every luxury and refinement as these are known in Asia Minor. She received us very graciously, with a distinguished, high-bred air, knowing just what to say and do at the psychological moment. She treated Mrs. Galley-West with the same impartiality that she showed toward some of the aristocratic members of the Rittenhouse Square set of Philadelphia who honored us with their presence. She was highly educated and an accomplished linguist, so practically all the varieties of Volapuk were alike familiar to her, and she could make Jean, Ivan, Hans, Franz or Johnny equally at home in her presence; as, if she could not quite "hit it off" with him in one language, she could quickly shift to another and talk to him in the kind in which he could best express himself.
Music was rendered and refreshments served by natives in oriental style and costume. Her husband was an American, an enthusiastic collector of ceramics and Levantine bric-a-brac, and the owner of a celebrated collection of scarabs—not bought at the Luxor factory, but separated from the mummies with the golden lever one must use to acquire these treasures; because it is the same, whether a collector has them dug from the graves for gold or whether he buys them after some one else has dug them. We know the practice here in another form (only ours is on a silver basis), when we catch our speckled beauties in the mountain streams with a silver hook and hang them high on a pole at supper time for local fame and universal admiration. Anyhow, the "real thing" in scarabs is not to be sneezed at when it is a fact that they have lain beside a Pharaoh in his grave long before Noah thought of laying the keel of his Mauretania. And don't forget that our first captain must have had a live pair of them on his historic houseboat, in order that they should be cavorting on the banks of the Nile to-day. But this indulgence in "piffle" has led us away from the main entrance, and we must come back to the floor of the salon in which our reception was being conducted.
Large operations in excavation are now in progress in the East, and sometimes they "strike it rich," as the boys used to say in Nevada. One of these companies uncovered a terra-cotta lamp factory, in which were found literally thousands of small, crude lamps, each with a strupe to hold the wick through which the oil passed. These were of two sizes, the small ones being called "wise virgins," and the larger ones "foolish virgins." There were at least a thousand of them on hand at the beginning of the reception, and each guest was given one by our hostess. When it came to my turn, my heart was in my mouth! She asked which I would have, so I said,
"Oh, madam, give me a 'foolish virgin,' by all means!"
Her smiling face turned at once to stone. She handed me a lamp with a freezing look, in this way trying to stem the tide of giggles that this request provoked. It was no use; the character of the sacred function was forever lost through my thoughtless way of asking for the lamp.
Slowly and alone, I "hiked" back to the hotel, feeling that as a receptionee I had "put my foot in it," and must in future be regarded as a social back number.
The Jordan and the Dead Sea
After visiting all the places in Jerusalem that were of interest to us, we set out in carriages for a long and tiresome drive to Jericho and its environs. We passed Gethsemane and went over the Mount of Olives to Bethany. The Mount of Olives is four thousand feet above sea level, and consequently has a perfect climate even in hot weather. From it we saw the plain of the Jordan and the mountains of Moab in the distance—truly a magnificent panorama. After awhile we reached the "Good Samaritan" Inn and had some rest and refreshments there. An old Bedouin, tall, spare, and with a fine, military bearing, had a lot of old flint-lock guns for sale at the inn, but his historical knowledge and dates were decidedly mixed. He didn't care anything about facts or the truth if he could only sell a gun to a credulous customer. To give verisimilitude to his statements, he said he had fought at Waterloo on the English side and had killed Napoleon with one of these guns—he did not know which, but the buyer could have his choice. As this was the grandest and most daring lie I had ever heard, I gave him an American quarter, for which he was very grateful, as he needed the money.
We went down through wild mountain gorges to the plain below. In former times the Bedouins who infest these mountains robbed the visitors and were a menace to travel, so it became the custom to "settle" with the chiefs for "protection" (from themselves) before starting. The management paid up for us and we were duly protected. In none of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas can any incident be found that is more delicious in its comicality and topsy-turvyism than was our experience with these bandit chiefs. They were mounted on small, nimble horses which had all the sure-footedness and agility of the chamois, and sprang from rock to rock with surprising certainty. The rider chief was armed to the teeth: he had a long rifle, that had not been fired since the last siege of Jerusalem slung across his back, round his body were courses of daggers, pistols and dirks—awfully bloodthirsty-looking things, don't you know; then he wore a magnificent, three-story turban, topped off with a big bunch of dyed green alfalfa; the tout ensemble was completed by a dark red, flowing robe which swept behind him in the wind like the wings of an angel of death. This great man would bow to us ceremoniously, place his hand on his heart, put spurs to his horse and dash to the top of the nearest hill; then, shading his eyes, he would scan the horizon with careful scrutiny. Now with leaps and bounds he would descend again, and planting himself before us in the road, would announce that there were no robbers in sight, or that his appearance had frightened them off, and then shout at the top of his voice,
although he had been already paid. There were four of them guarding us, and at the end they lined up across the road with the idea that we would have to settle, but we brushed through them, pushing some of them on their backs, so their bluff was "called."
Rooms were scarce at the Jordan hotels, and the drivers of the light carriages were anxious to get there ahead of one another in order to secure the first choice for their fares; so a general edging up took place which resulted finally in a steeplechase across the fields, in which several were thrown out. Our carriage led for the last mile, but was passed by two others at the finish, thus giving us third place and single rooms as our reward.
My apartment was a whitewashed cell, without ventilation, but it was "mine own" and I was happy. The mirror was hung so high that I had to make a pyramid of three boxes on which to stand while shaving. They were quite rickety, and I was between the Scylla of cutting my throat with the razor and the Charybdis of breaking my bones by a fall on the floor. Neither happened, however.
We went in to dinner. The hotel put up a fine showing of red napkins, plated cruet stands (with nothing in the bottles), bundles of toothpicks, last week's bread, bright green pickles (that had been dropped into some kind of pungent, commercial acid which would have made excellent rat poison); paper napkins with Corot landscapes printed on them; and plenty of gingersnaps and lady fingers, pretty thoroughly flyblown; the whole supplemented with sheaves of wild flowers cut in the fields with a scythe. It all looked grand and imposing for the money, but somehow lacked the substantial body (as well as fragrance) of beefsteak and onions. The piece de resistance however, really consisted of stewed kid and roast goat. I could not stomach either, so I went out and bought three fresh eggs from a native who kept hens, had them boiled four minutes and was the envy of the entire crowd ever after.
There was a large courtyard, and a big, dark, Byronic-looking dragoman came round and proposed a barbaric dance to our people. Ali Cocash was his name, and he described this dance as an imitation of a fierce and bloody orgy, such as the Bedouins indulge in after a great victory. They were to shout, grunt and brandish their guns, dirks, pistols and swords, and to behave generally in a very disreputable manner; in fact, Ali gravely intimated that it would be no place for timid ladies. This simply whetted our appetites and we promptly closed with him for the dance for a certain amount of "teep." The hat was passed and the tips put in. Then a row of about twenty-five as hangdog-looking Bedouins as were ever strung up in the Valley of Jehoshaphat began a kind of mewling cry, such as a rat would make in a trap. This did not satisfy us and we went for Cocash; we wanted "blood!" or at least an imitation of crime and deviltry. Ali consulted with the Bedouins and came back with a smiling solution of our difficulty. He said,
"My men have had a hard day's work and are tired and not able to do themselves justice, but if you give them more 'teep,' they will give you a good show and you will see something, sure."
Again the hat was passed, and the sons of the desert, after some rest, began anew. This time they brought torches with them, and they did make an abominable lot of noise and flung their armory about in a really reckless fashion. One of them dropped a burning torch on his neighbor and set fire to his clothes; this led to a fight which soon became general, and they began to bang one another right and left with anything that came to hand. Blood was flowing freely and the dragoman was in despair. He rushed into a stable and came out with a wooden pitchfork with which he drove them back, and restored order once more.
Two accomplished young ladies from the Cork then gave us a skirt dance, which happily closed a very exciting day. I went to bed in my cell. It was a fine, moonlight night, and a three-cornered contest soon started between donkeys braying, jackals howling and dogs barking; but we were very tired, and they made no more impression on us than would Raff's Cavatina played on the violin with a mute.
We were up early next morning and off for the Jordan and the Dead Sea. We stopped to look at and drink of Elisha's Fountain, a fine, copious spring forming a large stream. Near it I talked with several German officers who were making excavations for some German savants. They had got down to where the old buildings had been, and were pleased with their prospects. They were nice fellows, and very hospitable—strangers in a strange land usually are.
Next we came to Gilgal, and then to the Jordan. I crossed it in a canoe for sixpence—not that I had any business on the other side, but just to say that I did it, and to make some kind of a voyage for once without tips to the stewards on the passage. The river is about one hundred and thirty-seven miles long and falls three thousand feet on its way to the Dead Sea. They do a large bottling business at places on the banks, where the natives bottle the water and sell it to visitors for baptismal purposes all over the world.
Lower down is the Dead Sea; it is forty-seven miles long, nine miles wide, and thirteen hundred feet deep. Its surface is thirteen hundred feet below sea level; this and the shelter of the hills makes the country very hot in this valley. The Dead Sea water contains five times as much salt as the ocean. Six and a half million tons of water flow into it from the Jordan daily, which amount is evaporated, as the sea has no outlet. No living thing can exist in it, and the bathers who try to swim rise to the surface like corks.
We returned to Jerusalem the way we had come, meeting a train of eighty camels on the way, which some one called the "oriental express." After staying a couple of days at Jerusalem, we returned to the Cork, which was waiting for us at Joppa. The natives had not "moved" Simon the tanner's house again and we saw it once more.
We sailed for Alexandria and reached it next day. Alexandria is now a big, modern town and has a great history behind it, too long for any repetition here. Not long ago, before "Charley" Beresford, the popular Irish admiral, had gained his title, he commanded the Condor at the siege of this city, and before the Turks knew it he had stolen under their forts and they could not point their "graft"-made guns down on him. Through this advantage he "batted out" a famous victory and the Turks surrendered in short order. After he had completed the coup, his admiral signaled the now famous words, "Well done, Condor!" which rival the Duke's, "Up, Guards, and at them!" of Waterloo memory. He is to-day almost as well known and as great a favorite in America as he is in London.
We took the train and arrived at Cairo in four hours.
Cairo is the largest city in Africa, having a population of 570,000, of whom 35,000 are Europeans. It is the Paris of the East, and is the most varied and fascinating place on the earth. It is a military city with English soldiers, Arab lancers, Soudanese infantry and Egyptian cavalry, all in picturesque variety of uniform; added to this is the gayety of the official government life, all on pleasure bent. Most of their time is spent in play, as they only work from 10 till 1 P.M.—the climate prevents longer hours. Cairo has every amusement of the European capital, and each is played for all it is worth. I was there in 1874 on my way round the world, and I now found it so much changed and improved that it was a strange place to me. I stayed at "Shepheard's" both times. On my first visit this hotel was set in a tropical park and had no buildings near it; now it is closely surrounded by high, costly, substantial structures quite cosmopolitan in their appearance. It was the only good hotel then; now there are half a dozen rivals, as Egypt has become a great winter resort for fashion and health. From Shepheard's veranda, crowded with tourists, one may see hawkers of all kinds yelling, or coaxing possible purchasers, and offering post-cards, ornamental fly-whisks, walking-sticks, shawls, scarabs, etc.; snake charmers, boys with performing animals, jugglers, and every possible thing you can think of that might be bought for a souvenir; then we have the Egyptian women with blue gowns and their faces below the eyes hidden by hideous black veils; Bedouins from the desert; a pasha in state, with runners both before and behind his carriage; a professional letter-writer who for a couple of piastres will write a letter in almost any desired language; a camel train laden with oriental merchandise passing in the midst of trolley-cars, bicycles and automobiles; a fellah woman with a donkey loaded with baskets of poultry, or a turkey vendor driving his flock before him, guiding its movements by a palm branch; a milkman driving his cow and milking it in public for his waiting customers; a wedding procession preceded by a group of dancing girls, or two half-naked mountebanks engaging in pretended combats; a gaudily bedecked bride riding in a gorgeous palanquin borne by two camels, followed by camels carrying furniture and presents; a funeral procession with black-shawled professional mourners howling their mercenary grief—all this and more too is Cairo.
The climate of Egypt is peculiar: from noon till 5 P.M. it is hot and uncomfortable; the other nineteen hours are delightfully cool in winter, the air being very dry and healthful, with little or no rain. At Cairo the Citadel is the main attraction. It stands on a rampart two hundred and fifty feet above the city and is a splendid fortress. The city has many mosques—hundreds of them; the most important one is that of Sultan Hassan. The Museum is very interesting, and contains the best things from all the temples of Egypt, objects that could not well stand exposure nor the risk of theft. Then, of course, there are the Pyramids of Gizeh, three in number, and the Sphinx. These world wonders are about six miles from Cairo. Few will realize that the big one sits on a base of thirteen acres and is over four hundred and fifty feet high. Pick out in your mind's eye some large field of about that size, and then build it up from that base and you will have some idea of what this structure is like. It contains three million cubic yards of stone and was simply a tomb for an Egyptian king. It has a majestic dignity and impressiveness exceeding that of any other work of man; as it is approached one feels like an ant in its presence.
The Sphinx near by is of the same nature. It is sixty-six feet high, hewn out of the living rock. No one has discovered with what intention it was made nor what it is meant to represent. It is said to be the emblem of immortality, and it impresses the visitor with the idea that it sits serene in its nobility above the earth and its inhabitants and all else that the world contains. It has always been a riddle and will always remain one. A thought struck me when looking at the Pyramids and the Sphinx, and that was that no object of any kind, natural or artificial, has ever been seen by so many great men in all ages as has this group at Gizeh. For six thousand years the great of all nations have made an effort to look upon these mammoth monuments: Alexander saw them, so did Napoleon and Admiral Nelson; also the heroes of Salamis and Marathon; all the Roman emperors who could spare the time; lines of European kings and emperors; poets, sculptors and dramatists of ancient and modern days; statesmen, painters and writers—all made pilgrimages to them; while these very same stones were seen by Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Joseph, Jacob and Abraham, as well as by thousands who preceded them in history. They are awe-inspiring, and the spectator, do what he may, cannot release himself from this feeling.
A short ride on a camel round the group winds up the visit, and the view from the "high ground" of its back across the great desert convinces the rider that he is really in the East. Since it rarely storms in lower Egypt and rains are unknown here, this would seem to be the ideal spot for our new wind wagons. They would carry you above the flies, the reflected heat and the dust. Then, too, what a nice, soft place the sand would make for a final landing place!
Cairo lately had a real estate boom which ended in a financial crash. One man made about three million dollars in it, and when he lost this fortune committed suicide. They employed American methods, holding auction sales of lots in tents, with brass bands, refreshments, etc. The East is hardly ready for that sort of thing just yet.
The Mummy and the Scarab
The word "mummy" is derived from the Arabic word mumiya, meaning bitumen, or wax, which was the principal ingredient used in preserving the human body by the Egyptians. To this were added spices, aromatic gums, salt and soda. The rich paid about the equivalent of $1200 per body to have the embalming done; the middle classes for a cheaper process paid about $100, while it cost the poor but a small sum to simply salt their dead. I saw the naked body of Rameses II. in the Cairo Museum; it had been preserved with bitumen, and was black and hard, but perfect, and will last forever. Many bodies more cheaply embalmed fall to pieces when the cloth is unrolled from them. The people of Thebes understood the business best, and brought the art to perfection, but each of the twenty-six dynasties had its own method and reputation. The reason for preserving the body was the belief that the soul after purification would return to it in ages to come, and the corpse was made impervious to decay so as to receive the spirit again. Egypt was consequently a vast sepulchre: it has been estimated by eminent authorities that there were over seven hundred millions of the dead preserved in tombs and graves.
The scarab is an Egyptian beetle of varying size; I have seen lots of living specimens on the Nile. The ancients believed that if this beetle were placed in the coffin or grave of the dead, no harm could come to them, and that its presence would promote their future happiness and bring them good luck; therefore, it became the custom to place the scarabs in all graves. At first the real insects were used, but it was found that these did not last, so imitations made of semi-precious stones were substituted, and then large quantities were allotted to the dead, so as to make sure. By easy transition, the custom of placing scarabs on the bodies of the dead passed to putting them on the living, and men and women wore the scarab as a silent act of homage to the Creator, who was not only the God of the dead but of the living also. These charms are easily carried and can be used in settings for many ornamental purposes; therefore they are the most popular and widely sought article in the market. They are as small as a coffee bean, and run up sometimes to the size of a walnut, green and brown being the most popular colors of the stones out of which they are made. Vast quantities of them have been taken from graves, but these have been absorbed by museums and amateur collectors, and now we have to fall back on imitations. No yearning desire is allowed to yearn long here, and so we find factories making scarabs at Luxor and in many other parts of Egypt. Of course there is a marked difference between a scarab cut by an old Egyptian, which has been buried for thousands of years, and something made out of glazed terra-cotta and sold by the dozen; the former being worth a good sum of money and the latter a mere trifle. I have spoken of this at such length because there is now a veritable and increasing boom in scarabs all over the Nile Valley, but particularly in Cairo. More than half the men you meet on the streets are peddling them, shouting that they sell only the "real thing." A man was trying to sell me a gem for $10, and I knocked him out by saying I wanted only an imitation; he put the gem in his pocket, pretending he was exchanging it for an imitation, brought it out again and sold it to me for five cents! I looked at him for a long time and smiled; then he smiled also—we understood each other. This fad is very like the tulip mania of old, and almost every one is touched by it. I saw a dragoman sell a lady three scarabs for $30, and I am quite sure they did not cost him fifty cents.
We took a train entirely filled with the "Corks," and went up the Nile to Luxor, nearly five hundred miles from Cairo; some of the party were going to other places and would take their turn on the Nile later. When you have seen the ruins at Luxor, Karnak and Thebes you have seen the best there is in Egypt, and there is but little use in looking at minor temples unless you desire to become an Egyptologist. Here is a feast in ruins that will satisfy almost any appetite.
We were quartered on a Nile steamer, moored to the dock, as the hotels were crowded. We had hardly landed on the deck when the flies lit on us in swarms. In all parts of the world I had encountered flies that held the record for abandoned cruelty to man, but they were white-winged angels of peace compared to these tarantulas! They stuck and hung and dug into your flesh with apparent glee. You have whips, whisks, fans and bunches of twigs to chase and defeat them, but it's all no use. You kill a dozen, and a hundred take their place. After standing the pests as long as I could, I got some netting and made bags for my head and hands. This was a great relief, but it had its penalties. Dying without flies is almost as attractive as living on the Nile with them.
Gooley Can was our guide. It may be here said of Gooley that he was an Arab of middle age, well set up for the most part; he spoke fair English, and was a conversational soloist of no mean pretensions. He had a brother who was just a plain guide, with a cast in one eye and a great admiration for Gooley; he was generally full of sadness (and grog), brought about by disappointments in his profession. Gooley had a great reputation, and as he was exclusive he always looked his party over and sized it up before taking the job; also he had one wife and was on the lookout for more. He claimed to have piloted rafts of big men up and down the Nile, and was not to be frowned down by anybody. He was a gorgeous, oriental dresser, and had a wardrobe as big and grand as Berry Wall's; so the "Corks" were fortunate indeed in securing the great man. He was known descriptively as the "Snowball of the Nile."
The Luxor Temple was near by, and we started right into business. Gooley gathered us together and gave us a lecture. He said:
"Laydies en genteelmen, ef you plaze: I shall be your guide for a week and I want you to pay attention to me. I want no disputing of what I say. I am an honest man; I speak the truth, and I know my beeziness. You can't expect less; you should not hope for more."
After this explicit statement, Gooley put a roll in his cuffs, cocked his turban at the correct angle, hitched up his sash, cleared his throat, and began the business of the day. He uncorked a new bottle of adjectives in florid description of each wonder as he reached the ever-lasting wilderness of courts, pillars and obelisks, of hieroglyphics, bas-reliefs, pylons, hypostyles, colonnades, giant rows of columns—till he got out of breath and our brains seemed muddled into a grand pot-pourri done in granite, marble and limestone—but alas! without salt or pepper! Gooley told us what King Bubastis said, what Setee I. did—he of the Armchair Dynasty; how Amenophis III. was no better than he should have been; and that the ladies of those days, including Cleopatra, painted and wore false hair just as they do now.
Gooley had a vein of sarcastic wit about him. He said:
"You Americans think you invent everything, but you don't: there's the cake-walk cut on that stone four thousand years ago. The girls do it in the latest fashion; and over there you will see Queen Hat-shep-set spanking her child, the young king, in the usual manner"—(and in the usual place).
"Lots of men would leave their footprints Time's eternal sands to grace, Had they gotten mother's slipper At the proper time and place."
The temples were very hot in the middle of the day, about ninety-five in the shade, and there was but little air moving, so we sat down for a rest, and it came to pass that Gooley considered this a good time to spring his scarabs on us, with the unvarying formula with which he constantly opened every description:
"Laydies en genteelmen, ef you plaze: you have no doubt heard in Cairo of the fraudulent imitations of scarabs that are being foisted on visitors to the Nile and sold as real scarabs. I have scarabs for sale"—(he was interrupted at this point by applause and hand-clapping, as the "Corks" were eager for the fray and wanted to get into the game).
"Laydies en genteelmen, ef you plaze; I am glad to see you are interested in my goods, and I will now show them to you. I am an honest man, and so was my father before me. Father and son, we have sold scarabs to the crowned heads of Europe and to the nobility and gentry of England, Scotland and Ireland—think of that, Mr. Bayne! I would not cheat you; I am too proud to do that, and if I told you a lie my father would turn in his grave! There were twenty-six dynasties of Pharaohs, and each one of them had scarabs of his own pattern. I have many examples of the oldest and best, some of them having but one eye."
Assured in this wholesale and convincing fashion, the "Corks" fell to and made many purchases from Gooley, who told them that his uncle, Hajie Hassan, was a professional excavator and had lately made an important find in some graves at Thebes, and that every one of his scarabs had been taken by this uncle from the coffins. (By the way, at Thebes they dig mummies with scarabs attached about as we dig our potatoes, and of course the big bugs are the most valuable and expensive.) The prevailing average price was one hundred piastres each, but he was very concise and particular about his prices, and for some he charged a few piastres less, for others a trifle more, as he said he knew their exact value and asked only the rate that the Museum, the crowned heads and the savants were anxious to pay for them. Some of the "Corks" openly scoffed at this line of talk and threw the gaff into him without mercy. This hurt the great man's feelings, and he jumped up and told them that he was rarely asked for a guarantee, but since suspicion had been cast upon him in an unfair way, he would clear himself by giving each purchaser a written guarantee. Whereupon he pulled out a book like a cheque-book and filled out the details, signed it, and handed each purchaser a "guarantee." This had a tendency to restore confidence and he made some more sales; but it was getting late and we adjourned to the steamer.
We had a table d'hote dinner, and when the Nile fish course was reached, Gooley appeared between the tables, arrayed in gorgeous, Arabic robes, and addressed his audience thus:
"Laydies en genteelmen, ef you plaze: my family has been story-tellers on the Nile for many generations, and ef you plaze I shall tell you some Arabian Nights tales."
With many gestures and admirable poise he told his stories between the courses; the "Corks" laughed, but the laughter had an apologetic ring that did not speak well for its sincerity. The truth is, the men were afraid to laugh in the presence of the ladies, as the stories were full flavored and spicy; but still, no one fainted. I may say that during our voyage Gooley repeated this performance at each dinner and changed his costume on every occasion, always coming out with some little pleasing surprise, such as a silver ornament stuck through the top of his ear (where there was a hole for it). Some of the Arab stewards also wore these, but none was so grand as Gooley's.
Dinner over, we sat out on deck in comfort, as the sun had set and the flies had quit for the day. Beside us was anchored J. P. Morgan's dahabiyeh, Mr. Morgan and his party dining on board. He had been up the river and was coming down in easy stages, landing at the various points of interest.
Next morning we mounted donkeys, and with Gooley Can leading we started for Karnak. It was a funny experience, as some of us had never ridden a donkey, and many had not been on horseback for years. We were a weird looking crew, with our heads in net bags and using our fly-whips like flails. Each donkey has a "boy" (half of them are men), who prods and whips his charge, but without any cruelty, as the riders would not allow it. These boys are full of tricks: when I alighted squarely on the ground, one of them had edged up to me and he set up a loud howl, claiming I had lit on his toes and had broken two of them. I had seen the trick played before, and noticing an Englishman near with a heavy whip I reached for it and made the "boy" really suffer. His friends laughed at his failure, and before long he joined in the merriment at his own expense. He had asked me for three dollars damages, equal to a dollar and a half a toe. On comparing notes in the evening we found that three passengers had parted with bakshish on similar claims.
We now entered the largest ruin in the world, the Temple of Karnak, a monument of unparalleled grandeur, whose vast proportions overpower the imagination. The temples at Karnak and Luxor are connected by an avenue six thousand five hundred feet long, with a width of eighty feet, on each side of which are ranged a row of sphinxes. To describe these wonders in detail would require weeks, as will be understood when it is explained that one place, called the "Hall of Columns," alone contains a vast forest of pillars arranged in groups running from thirty-five to sixty feet high and each having a circumference of twenty-seven feet, all highly carved and ornamented. Another object of interest, the First Pylon or Corner Tower, is three hundred and seventy-five feet wide and a hundred and forty-two feet high. Many kings and rulers had a hand in the construction of these great buildings, and it took fifteen centuries to complete them, but one character stands out above all other men and things as a builder of these ruins and the king-pin of Egypt—
Rameses II. was the greatest advertiser of any age or time. He erected rows of colossal statues to himself all over Egypt, and for fear some one would not notice a single figure, he would place half a dozen side by side. He was usually represented in his Sunday clothes, with a pleasing smile, and a granite goatee on his chin as big as a narrow-gauge freight car. (See photograph.) "Ram" was the most celebrated of the Pharaohs; he reigned seventy years, and was over a hundred years old when he died. As a young man he won a real battle, and he spent the rest of his life singing about it through paid, professional poets. He had one hundred and eleven sons and fifty-nine daughters. (That was going some!) However, suspicious hieroglyphics have been found that go to show that Ram was chased in many battles, and that one barbarian had the audacity to tin-can him into the neighboring desert, from which he did not return for many moons. Kadesh was his Thermopylae, and the Khetas compelled him to recognize their independence at the treaty of Tanis. This made the old man sick, as he was not accustomed to taking "second money." They had no "germans" in those days, but Ram is shown in one of the alto-rilievos in his temple nimbly leading the cake-walk, leaning as far back as ever Dixey did when exploiting that dance. In the matter of carving, Ward McAllister couldn't hold a candle to him: he used no knife nor fork, but slashed his Christmas turkey in pieces with his dirk, ate it and called for the next course. His wife never got any of the white meat—the drum-sticks were good enough for her. He was more than a two-bottle man: this is made plain in the reliefs by the number of "empties" that are stacked upon his table, and also by the fact that he built and stocked a celebrated wine cellar at Thebes, his best vintage being "1333 B.C."
When Ram dropped into his smoking den after the coronation, the first thing he did was to order all the stone-cutters, from Cairo to the Sixth Cataract, to get out their tools and cut his praises on the stones, rocks, pyramids, tombs and obelisks, according to the plans and specifications of his architects, professional poets and press agents, all along the river right down to low-water mark, and there they stand to this day. One of the favorite postscripts is that this great king never took off his hat to anybody that ever "blew up" the Nile. Even in those very, very early days they had a masonic understanding that he who sails on the Nile must "contribute," and it is a curious fact that that requisition has never been revoked even unto this writing.
On the whole, Ram was a magnanimous man and did not forget his wife; he had her done in a group with himself in which she stands behind his leg and hardly reaches his knee; something like a prize doll at a fair. He got other men to do the most of his fighting and, for that matter, almost everything else, but he never failed to take the credit for whatever they did.
The great men of England are buried in Westminster Abbey, and succeeding generations gaze on their statues with awe and admiration; but as there is nothing of the kind in Egypt, the authorities content themselves with placing the conspicuous heroes and kings of the past in full view in glass cases in the museums, where even the small boys may stare at them in the "altogether," without blanket, bathrobe or pajamas to cover their physical imperfections. After "life's fitful fever," poor old Ram and his historical rivals and friends sleep well in these hard, ebony boxes in the museum at Cairo. Ram had lots of air and elbow room during his spectacular career, and it seems hardly fair that he should be kept on exhibition now, although his mummy is most interesting and always draws a crowd. To parody William a little, it might be said:
To what base uses may we come! * * * * Imperial Ram'ses dead and turn'd to clay Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. O, that that earth, which set the Nile on fire, Should lie in glass! this is a fate too dire!
Ram, scarabs, flies, and bakshish are, after all, the main things of Egypt and the Nile. I once asked Gooley Can confidentially:
"How many statues did the great king put up for himself—two hundred?"
"Oh, very many more than that! he was a busy man."
But in many departments he had his rivals. Now there was Bubastis I. of the twenty-second dynasty. (His name seems somewhat similar to that of our old friend Bombastes, when pronounced by a man with a cold in his head—but anyway, we'll call him "Bub.") He was a man of not a few accomplishments, many habits and some deeds: for instance, he made a grand-stand play when he started out for Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots, sixty thousand horsemen and four hundred thousand footmen. He took it hands down in a canter—and took a whole lot of other things, too, when he got his hands in the bags of Solomon's temple. This was a "classy" performance and gave him some small change for the evening of his days. Thebes was his home town and he was as well known in the all-night restaurants as Oscar Hammerstein is on Forty-second Street. He was a great poker player, and wore an amalgamated copper mask when engaged in a stiff game; it was a helpful foil when trying to work his passage on a pair of trays. This, mind you, was in the stone age of poker, when a man couldn't hide his feelings when he held a full hand. To-day the player sits disconsolate and looks woebegone when glancing at his royal flush.
When Bub got hard up he made raids on the "capitulists" of the day, and often cleaned up both banks of the Nile, from Wady Halfa to Port Said. When short of funds he frequently staked ten cars of watermelons or a bunch of steers on a single hand, and most always "pulled it off." He became infatuated with an odalisk who was a popular favorite at the Beni Hassan opera house—the rock he split on was Annie Laurie, that good old song, then well known in Lower Egypt, which she sang with chic and abandon. Bub met her at the stage door after the performance, took her to a "canned lobster palace," and then eloped with her to the Second Cataract, instead of coming right over here to Niagara Falls and doing the thing up in regulation style. I assume they had a Maid of the Mist at the cataract, and if so he certainly had his photograph taken in a suit of oilskin—but, of course, this is only an assumption. However, it is a certainty that he was a plunger and often cornered the melon crop in the Produce Exchange at Abydos, when the sprouting season was delayed by floods. It is said that Bubastis I. had more scarabs buried with him than had any other king that ever ruled the land; I have no doubt of it, for some of them are offered daily at Shepheard's by a dozen scarab scalpers.
Some sceptical readers may raise their brows at this synopsis of a great man's life, but no suspicions need exist. It was all told to me in strict confidence by Gooley Can in his tent at Luxor, over a cup of afternoon tea. He explained that he had dug out these facts in the museums in the slack season when tourists were scarce, and that I could rely on them implicitly.
While he was at it, Gooley gave me a few tabloid truths regarding Setee I., who, it seems, rivaled and even excelled both Ram and Bub in the realm of sport. Setee, as his name implies, was not of royal blood, but was descended from a line of chair makers, having their main factory at Beni Suef. As a youth of eighteen he won the single sculls championship, defeating a large field. He was the captain of the cricket eleven, and defeated the Asia Minors in a game which lasted most of the summer, scoring three hundred and seventy-five runs off his own bat in the first innings. This was a great boost for cricket, and it has been popular in England ever since. He was fullback on the Pyramids eleven, and was famous in his day as a punter. He kicked as many goals for his side as ever Cadwalader did when "Cad" was Yale's great centre rush. It was Setee's custom, of a Sunday morning after church was out, to take his pole and vault the Sphinx, just to astonish the Arabs on their native heath; and he was never known to touch her back in making the record. In common with most of the great Pharaohs I have been describing, Setee had a trick of cutting his name on any statue of a dead one that he thought would advance his fame with future generations; he never hesitated to hack out the other fellow's signature and insert his own. In these cases he usually asked the stone-cutter to add a few kind words to show posterity that he was a great man and a good fellow. It will be seen at a glance that this broad-gauge and fearless type of man would be eminently fitted for a dazzling banking career, and feeling entire confidence in himself, Setee organized the First National Bank and Trust Company of Wady Halfa—a comprehensive title, perhaps, but that was what was wanted. He became its first president, and inaugurated a splendid system of banking—one very much needed to-day. Some of his plans embraced the charging of "reverse interest "—i.e., five per cent. for the responsibility of caring for the depositor's money. He had an act passed compelling all of his subjects worth a thousand piastres to deposit in the royal bank, and they had to do it. If anybody failed on him, the debtor had a tooth pulled every month till the debt was paid. But somehow the snap was too soft, for it fell out that in a few years Setee had all the money and there was no more to get nor any customers to do business with, so he closed the bank and with great success promoted the first Nile Irrigating Company, the remnants of which are slowly working out their salvation to-day.
Gooley also stated that the men were not the whole thing by any means:
"Just think what a bird-of-paradise Queen Hatshepset was, and all the history she made!" enthusiastically exclaimed my historical Boswell. She was the daughter of King Thothmes I., who gave her a Pullman palace car name; she was regarded as the Boadicea of the Orient. "Hattie" built temples, fought battles, and was, in fact, found on the firing line during most of her reign. Like most other ladies, she had her personal idiosyncrasies: for instance, she wore men's clothes when not engaged in court functions; she shaved twice a week, but let her beard grow when on an extended campaign so as to give her all the appearance of a warrior. Hattie made a famous expedition to a place called Punt, and there she swindled the natives by exchanging the cheap dry-goods she had with her for gold and rare jewels. She married her half-brother, Thothmes II., and made it very hot for him during their reign. She wore the "pants" in theory as well as in practice and was the undisputed leader of the "four hundred" in Cairo, being the headliner in the Levantine book of Who's Who? Her greatest work was the erection of the vast temple of Der-al-Bahari, part of it ornamented in fine gold. Hattie smote her pocketbook for the count on this structure—like as not she had to mortgage her Luxor villa to meet the final pay-roll. Den Mut was her architect and he grew rich as the buildings increased. He owned a centipede barge on the Nile, which was the badge of big money in those days.
Gooley wasn't always a treasure; he frequently irritated me by designating certain things as "cool-o-sall'." I said to him one day:
"Gooley, when I was a boy they pronounced that word colossal."
"Mr. Bayne, I don't care what they called it when you were a boy; I call it cool-o-sall', and that goes on the Nile. What's been good enough for King Edward you will have to put up with."
The crowd laughed and I subsided—for awhile. Afterward I caught Gooley on his dates, but he again called me down:
"Mr. Bayne, if you think you can do this thing better than I can, why, get up here and try it!"
And so we rattled along from one gibe to another till we mounted our donkeys, rode out from the temples and started for the steamer. As we came away we passed Mr. Morgan, who had chosen the cool of the evening for his visit, even though the light was not so good.
There is an art in horse-racing known as the "hand ride," perfected by Todd Sloan—i.e., swinging the hands from side to side and thus rolling the bit to excite the animal. I tried it on my donkey and as he had never experienced it before, it excited him so much that he started out with a rush that threw me over his head before we had gone ten yards. I was somewhat crestfallen, but remounted, and took "an humbler flight" for the rest of the journey.
Next day we started down the Nile, stopping at many places, but as they did not compare in interest or importance with Luxor, Karnak or Thebes, I shall not try to describe them. The season was closing, the river had fallen six feet while we were coming down stream, and the Nile was now so low that we frequently stuck on the shifting sand-bars. As the pilots could not see the channels in the dark, we tied up at some town on the banks every night and consequently made slow time. After dinner the shopkeepers brought down their wares, spread sheets on the ground and opened up for business by torchlight and the light furnished by the steamer. The "Corks" were active buyers for home consumption, and after a violent passage of arms usually got what they wanted at a discount of ninety per cent. from the first offer. If there is anything on earth that these towns did not bring down to us, I want to see it!—from monkeys to tame snakes in the line of living things, and from lion skins to mummies in the dead. The natives were not allowed on board, and as there was great jostling on shore, the "Corks" stood on the deck and the articles for sale were rolled in bundles and fired at them for inspection, the owners giving the price in piastres by signs on their fingers. After a native made a sale, his fellows took him by the throat and ran him to the back of the dock. He had been successful and they would not allow him to compete again that evening. Toward the end, some "Corks" would risk it and mix with the crowd on shore, but their clothes were literally torn off them in a few moments, which caused an immediate retreat. The natives were so excited and each so persistent in his efforts to get more than his share of the trade, that they frequently pushed one another into the Nile, wetting themselves and their wares, much to the amusement of the onlookers. But high above this rude brawling the scarab stood alone. When a fresh bag of them was opened, a blight fell on all other wares. Bargaining in them, indeed, was regarded as a kind of sacred function, as it was believed we were dealing in the jewels and mascots of the deadest people in all history. No greater investment could possibly be made than to float a corporation and start a factory in Connecticut for their manufacture and distribution, for it is but the few who may own the genuine—there aren't enough to go round. None of the manufactured product need be offered in America; they can all be absorbed on the Nile. One man shouted with glee, as he waved a small bag of them in the air:
"What's the use of bothering with Steel common? See what I have got for a five-dollar bill!"
The sport ran high, and while it was active an Arab appeared on deck with a basket. He approached me and said he had five sacred kittens and some scarabs, and as he was not much of a salesman, a little short in his English and out of funds, he wanted me to auction them off to help him out. As I had done this kind of thing before, I accepted the delicate position and in a short time had planted his stock in new and responsible hands that would not be likely to throw it again on the market in its present critical condition. He gave me his oriental blessing and stole out softly into the night; his parents haven't seen him since.
Perhaps it may have been noticed that wherever we went there were unusual doings and excitement. This is true, as, long before we arrived anywhere, our coming was heralded in the papers, and as the party was exceptionally large, all Southern Europe and North Africa felt bound to get a whack at our pocketbooks.
Two striking things may be seen on the Nile. One is the irrigation of the land by hand: this is accomplished by lifting up the water in buckets by means of poles balanced with a weight equal to that of the water. This hard work is done by hundreds of thousands of natives, who are practically naked and do this labor in the hot sun. The banks are lined with them on each side for more than a thousand miles. When the length of the Nile is reckoned from its extreme source, it is four thousand and ninety-eight miles long, making it perhaps the longest river in the world, although the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Congo are about as long. Between Khartoum and the sea the Nile has six cataracts, some of them very rapid. Dry up the Nile and Egypt would be like the Desert of Sahara in a month; the river is its very heart's blood and makes it everything it is. Labor is cheap on the Nile: the men who hoist the irrigating water get only a few cents a day; a hotel waiter gets a dollar a month, with board and lodging; and so it goes in proportion.
The other activity that arrests one's attention is the planting of melon seeds in rows on the flat banks at low water. Later the river overflows them and when the flood subsides the plants are well on the way toward bearing. Our negroes call them "water-millions;" that name would be most appropriate in Egypt.
When Beni-Hassan was reached we made an early start and rode out on donkeys to see the famous tombs hewn out of the living rock. As we were returning we met Mr. Morgan and his party coming up the hill. A sand-storm had blown up, and it was quite dark and very disagreeable. I am sure he would have liked to be out of it, but he had his nerve and poise with him and went through to the bitter end. We had started while this same sandstorm was still in action; not being able to see clearly, we ran into a flight of Nile freight boats, and in trying to avoid sinking one of them got on a rock and it punched a large hole in our steamer's bottom. We sank almost immediately, but as our keel was near the river bed we had not far to go. It took twelve hours to pump out the boat and patch the hole, during which time the Morgan dahabiyeh came up, but finding we were not in danger, passed on. Later we went after them and took the lead, but lost it again in shallow water.
Next day we arrived at Cairo, and I found at Shepheard's an invitation for dinner from De Cosson Bey, who controls and manages all the great public utilities of Cairo. He married a Philadelphia belle who had often visited at my house in New York, so we had a very pleasant evening, rehearsing the scenes and experiences of auld long syne. The evening was a social oasis in a strange land and quickly taught me how they live and what they do in Cairo. My hostess spoke the language like a native and managed her Arabic menage with skill, a plomb and distinction. I ate and drank many strange concoctions never previously included in any menu I had ever had the pleasure of exhausting. I did not dare to ask the names of the rare dishes, as I might not have liked them if I had—sometimes one had better not "know it all," or even a part of it. To be thoroughly happy in a case like this it is best to leave minute details and even a general knowledge of such things to the inquisitive. I had, however, sufficient curiosity to speculate on the dishes, and have made a tentative menu of them, assuming the courses, from their color, flavor and general appearance, to be as follows:
NILE GREEN POINTS A pearl in every oyster
GUM(BO) ARABIC PUREE Siccative
CROCODILE HARD-BOILED EGGS Sauce a la Queen Hat-shep-set
BREAST OF THE ONE-LEGGED PINK STORK Stuffed with Baby Sausages
BROILED SCARABS ON BUTTERED TOAST Sauce de la Pyramide
BRIE de BAGDAD Foil cases, Crimean vintage '34
CAFE a la BWANA TUMBO From the Wady Halfa bean
Wine SAMIAN FIZZ
Music By the "FLOWER BUDS OF CAIRO"
Decorations By the BEGUM MACCUDDYLEEKI, period of Akbar the Great
The De Cossons lived in the suburbs, about two miles out on the road to the Pyramids, in a detached place without a street or a number, and quite hard to find when the sun had set. My hostess had prepared an elaborate map in two colors, red and blue, showing where I was to go and what I was to do and say after crossing the great steel bridge that spans the Nile. Armed with this formidable document, I went to the noble bandit who controls the carriage service in front of Shepheard's, and in a confidential whisper explained the map and the circumstances to him, at the same time slipping into his extended, yawning paw a wad of bakshish. I stipulated that I must have a driver who understood at least some English. He made a great show of grasping the intricacies of the map and the instructions that went with it, and presently, with a wild gleam in his eye, as if he had found a sure way to his "graft," he announced that he was ready and willing to take all responsibility. He had an official, high-backed chair on the sidewalk and asked me to use it till he returned. Then darting into the darkness, he quickly found a man (who looked like the First Murderer in Macbeth) on whom he could depend to rob me and divide the spoils with him. Dressed in his flowing oriental robes as Cairo's most abandoned criminal, he shook me warmly by the hand and whispered, as I stepped into the carriage:
"I have arranged everything."
I had a sufficient glimmering of what was going on to meekly pipe to him:
"Yes, I haven't the slightest doubt of it."
We started out at a brisk pace which soon relaxed into a funereal jog, and went on and on through narrow, squalid streets till we reached the Nile. Although I had given myself an extra hour for emergencies, I became impatient and asked him:
"But where is the big bridge with the bronze sphinxes on it that we are to cross?" He sadly wailed in reply:
"Ah, sahib, it ees so hard to find eet in the dark!"
In a burst of sarcastic anger, I shouted at him:
"Well, get off and light a match, and maybe you'll hit it by accident!" Assuming with an innocent look that I had spoken seriously, he took me at my word, jumped off his perch, lit a match and peered all round him. Then I got "real" angry, and told him De Cosson Bey kept a professional torture chamber, and that I would have him ground to sausage meat if he trifled with me another moment. Well knowing the impotence of my "hot air" blast, he simply smiled and took up his burthen of "finding" the bridge. This he soon accomplished, as it was about as easy to find as a saloon in the "Great White Way." The instructions accompanying the map stated that the Maison Antonion was on the left of the Pyramid Road after three crossroads had been passed. I began to look out for and count the roads, so when we had crossed two and were approaching a third I halted the Jehu and said:
"This is the third road; turn down here."
"No, sahib, eet is de private entrance to Hunter Pasha's palace, an' he keep de mos' wicket dogs you ever see in awl yo' life."
So on we went till I began to realize that the kidnapper was trying to take me out to the Pyramids for a late dinner with the Sphinx. It was clear moonlight and I saw an English lady walking along the road. I tried to have the driver stop, but he pretended that he did not understand me, so I jumped out and, profusely apologizing to the lady, explained my emergency. She said:
"Why, you are a mile past De Cosson Bey's place: there it is with the flagstaff on the tower."
Then she had a heart-to-heart talk in Arabic with my friend and we returned briskly to the "third road." I halted the procession for a settlement about fifty yards from the house, well knowing that trouble was coming in pyramids, and feeling that I did not wish to assault the ears of my hosts with the clash which was now inevitable and which would undoubtedly contain a large percentage of language that could hardly be called diplomatic. He demanded about ten times the regular fare. I protested, but he explained that after sunset all fares were double and charged by the hour, at that; and that when the Nile had been crossed the driver had the privilege of fixing the fare according to the circumstances. This vested right, he claimed, had not been disputed since his ancestors had driven Napoleon out to the battle of the Pyramids a century ago. I could not deny his statement as I had not been among those present, but I reduced the settlement to a compromise by threatening to spring on him the Hessian troops that De Cosson Bey retained for such occasions. Then we drove up to the house as genially as if we had been long parted relatives, and I supposed we held the secrets of the passage of arms between ourselves. But I was mistaken, for I noticed at dinner that my hosts smiled knowingly at each other as if they had some amusing thought in common. When I could stand this no longer I asked what they were laughing at.
"Why, at your stopping so near the house for the usual stormy, cab-fare settlement. Wise visitors always settle out on the Pyramid Road, so they may regain their composure before alighting. We threw up the windows and heard every word of the picturesque, verbal duel, and we came to the conclusion when the flag fell that the oriental had had his hands full throughout the entire entertainment."
I left next day by train for Alexandria, and I remember it was thirty-five years ago that I started from that city for Port Said, whence I took a steamer for India, passing through the Suez Canal, then not long opened. Time flies, but the canal is still there, at the old stand, doing a steady business with all the nations of the earth that go down to the sea in great ships as daily customers. F. J. Haskin has written an interesting and graphic description of this great work, recently published in the New York Globe, in which he says:
"On the great breakwater at Port Said stands the bronze statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps, his right hand extended in a gesture of invitation to the mariners of all nations to take their ships through the great canal which was the fruit of his genius and diplomacy. Not one word is there to indicate that his fortune and good name lie buried in the failure of another canal, half way round the world.
"The romance of the Suez Canal is suggested by everything the visitor sees at Port Said, the 'turnstile of the nations.' But the tragedy of the canal, the terrible cost of life, the shameful waste of money, the enslavement of the Egyptians in governmental and financial bondage, the wreck of French hopes and aspirations—not one hint of all that tragedy is discernible. Ferdinand de Lesseps, Ismail Pasha and the Egyptian people gave civilization and commerce one of its greatest gifts in the Suez Canal, but the cost to them was all they had—and they were never repaid.
"Every day in the year a dozen great ships make the procession through the canal—the ninety miles of slow travelling which saves them the cost of circumnavigating the great continent of Africa. They pay well for it, and the owners of the canal shares wax fat. England controls the canal, the construction of which John Bull attempted in every manner to prevent. English ships bound from "home" to Bombay cut down the distance from 10,860 miles to 4,620 miles by taking the canal route, and the vast majority of ships which pay tolls to the canal company fly the British flag. Germany comes second, a long way after; Holland third, and the French, whose dreams of commercial empire cut the ditch, are fourth. The United States has not been represented in the canal in a decade by any commercial ship—only vessels of the navy and yachts of the Yankee millionaires show the Stars and Stripes to the Bedouins of the desert who bring their caravans from Mt. Sinai to the canal."
MOST IMPORTANT OF CANALS
"The tonnage of the Suez is not one-third as great as that of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal in the Great Lakes, but its importance to the commerce of the world is greater than that of any other passageway of the seas. Wherever there is a strait or a narrow passage through which commerce may go, there is sure to be a British flag flying, a British band playing, and a red-coated Tommy Atkins strutting about with a swagger stick. Suez is not an exception.
"Fourteen centuries before Christ, nearly 3,500 years ago, the Pharaoh Setee I., father of Rameses the Great, cut a canal fifty-seven miles long from a branch of the Nile delta to the bitter lakes, which are now part of the Suez Canal and which were then the northern extremity of the Gulf of Suez. That connected the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, and Egypt waxed great. But the nation decayed, and the sands of the desert filled up the ditch. Eight hundred years later the Pharaoh Necho undertook to dig the canal. More than a hundred thousand lives were sacrificed to the project, but it was abandoned when a priest predicted that its completion would cause Egypt to fall into the hands of a foreign usurper. A hundred years after Necho, the Persian Darius took up the work on the abandoned canal, but his engineers told him that its completion would cause a deluge, and he desisted. About three hundred years before Christ was born, Ptolemy Philadelphus constructed a lock-and-dam canal through which ships made the journey from one of the mouths of the Nile to the site of modern Suez. Continued wars interrupted commerce, and the locks and dams fell into decay, so that Cleopatra's navy was unable to escape to the Red Sea by canal. The Roman engineers later patched up the canal so that their galleys made their way from sea to sea; but when the Arabs came in A.D. 700 they found it choked up. Amrou, the Arab, cleared it out, but it was soon permitted to fill up again, and not until the great Napoleon reached Egypt was the canal project again considered. Napoleon abandoned the idea only because his engineers assured him that the level of the Mediterranean was thirty feet below that of the Red Sea. He then considered a lock-and-dam canal, but he evacuated Egypt before anything came of it. Of course, all those ancient canals were very narrow and shallow, and no boat now dignified with the business of carrying cargo for profit could have entered any one of them."
MEHEMET ALI WAS WARY
"Mehemet Ali, the great pasha who founded the present Egyptian khedivate, was urged to attempt the canal project, but he was wary. At last he pushed it aside, and listened to the Englishman, Robert Stephenson—the father of the railroad. Under Stephenson's supervision he built a railroad from Cairo to Suez, connecting with the line from Cairo to Alexandria. This formed the "great overland route" to India, and brought great trade and many rich tolls to the Egyptians.
"The time came when Said Pasha ruled in Cairo. To him came Ferdinand de Lesseps. Years before, while a clerk in the French consulate general in Cairo, De Lesseps dreamed the dream of the great canal. He was not an engineer, but he was a master diplomatist. He unfolded his plans to Said, who loved France and all Frenchmen, and met with encouragement. It was a magnificent scheme. The canal was not to cost Egypt one cent, but was to pay fifteen per cent. of its receipts to the Egyptian government, and at the expiration of ninety-nine years was to become the absolute property of Egypt. On such terms the concession was given to De Lesseps in 1856.
"Then De Lesseps went forth to get the money. France had just come out of the Crimean War and could not advance money for ventures. England was opposed to a canal that would let anybody have a chance at India, and the English government did everything possible to prevent the Frenchman from obtaining funds. He failed in Europe, for he could not get enough even for a survey of the canal. Nothing daunted, he went back to Egypt and borrowed money enough from Said to survey the canal and to exploit it through Europe. Then came much planning and more concessions, and much stock jobbing; but by 1860 the French company was again without money. Again the appeal was made to Said, and not without avail; for he subscribed for more than one-third or the total capital stock and promised to advance money for the construction work—and all for a project that was not to cost Egypt anything. That was the beginning of Egypt's bondage to the money lenders of Europe, for Said had to borrow the money he gave to the canal."
ISMAIL PASHA WAS EASY
"In 1863 the magnificently extravagant Ismail Pasha came to the throne of Mehemet Ali. He burned with ambition to make himself the greatest ruler in the world, and the canal was a darling of his heart. He was the ready and willing victim of the loan sharks of Europe, and he would sign anything in the way of an obligation if there was a little yellow gold in sight.
"Meanwhile the canal was progressing slowly. Ismail ordered the Egyptian peasants to do the work under the ancient corvee system. Every three months 25,000 drafted fellaheen went to the big ditch to dig. Every three months a miserable remnant of the preceding 25,000 left the dead bodies of their comrades beneath the dump heaps.
"The Suez Canal was dug for the most part by those poor creatures who scooped up the sand and dirt with their bare hands and carried it up the steep banks to the dumps in palm-leaf baskets of their own making. Task masters with cruel whips of hippopotamus hide punished the sick and the fainting, as well as the lazy. There were no sanitary precautions, and the men died by the thousands.
"This horrible condition of affairs aroused the indignation of John Bull, who protested to the sultan. The sultan ordered the employment of fellaheen labor to be stopped. Then De Lesseps and the canal ring descended upon Ismail and held him responsible for damages. The case was left to the arbitration of Napoleon III., who decided for the canal ring, and Ismail was forced to pay a fine of nearly $10,000,000 because his titular sovereign lord had ordered that Ismail's subjects should not be murdered in the canal ditch. Each month a new obligation was fastened upon suffering Egypt. Finally, when the canal was completed, Ismail gave a great fete to celebrate its opening. Few festivals have been so magnificent, none so extravagant. The celebration cost $21,000,000. Verdi wrote the opera Aida to order that Ismail might give a box party one evening, and an opera house was built especially for that purpose."
ENGLAND IN CONTROL
"But Ismail had signed too many notes of hand. The day of reckoning came. Ismail sold his canal shares to the English government, and by their purchase Benjamin Disraeli gave the British empire dominion over the traffic between the East and the West. It was a bold stroke, and it brought to an end the commercial aspirations of the French of the Second Empire. The canal company still has its chief offices in Paris, its clerks speak French, and its tolls are charged in francs, but otherwise it is English.
"Ismail was dethroned and died in exile, his magnificence forgotten. De Lesseps ventured on another canal project, was plunged into disgrace, and died a mental wreck. Egypt, which once levied toll on all the commerce passing between Orient and Occident, now watches the trade ships pass by. The digging of the canal was the greatest blow ever given to Egyptian commerce. But the losses of Ismail and De Lesseps and Egypt make up the gain of the civilized world.
"Opened just forty years ago, its importance has increased with every year, and its revenues are expanding each month. It cost $100,000,000, half of which was spent in bribes and excessive discounts. With modern machinery, such as is being used at Panama, it could have been built for one-quarter as much. As an engineering problem it is to the Panama Canal as a boy's toy block house to a forty-story skyscraper. How it will compare with Panama as an avenue of commerce is a question to which Americans anxiously await the answer."
The jubilee of the Suez Canal, work on which commenced in 1859, took place on April 25, 1909. When I passed through in 1874 its depth was about twenty-six feet; the present depth is about thirty-two and a half feet, and improvements are now going on which will bring it to thirty-four feet. The original width was seventy-one feet on the bottom, and this has been gradually increased until at present the bottom width is ninety-seven and a half feet. In 1870 there passed through the canal four hundred and eighty-six ships, whose gross tonnage was 654,914. Last year 3,795 ships used the canal, and their total tonnage was over 19,000,000. Truly this is one of the world's greatest conveniences!
These reminiscences take me back again to Alexandria, as it was there that an original seaboard bank was founded. Its first president was Katchaskatchkan, a nephew of King Ram's. The old man saw to it that all the "squeeze" from the corn crop money was deposited here and that it held the margins on Joseph's grain corner. "Katch" broke his neck by falling into the wheat pit, but the incident was soon forgotten in the advancing prosperity of the bank. The place is in ruins, but we saw the "paying teller's gun," which was a decorated club with spikes on it; it lay unnoticed in a nook in the big amalgamated copper vault, covered with papyrus books and records of the bank. Some of the old past due notes on the shelves were still drawing interest and you could hear it tick like the clanking cogs when a ferry boat makes her landing. The writer fairly shudders at what the interest on those notes would now amount to, computed at five per cent. (the prevailing rate paid for call loans in that historic corner), remembering that the interest on a penny compounded at this rate since the dawn of the Christian era would now represent fourteen millions of globes of eighteen-karat gold, each globe the size of our earth! We could not help philosophizing on the change which had taken place in banking principles and methods since those old days; and the whole inspection was very interesting.
I am reluctant to leave Egypt without saying a word about the "teep," as this land is the very home, the embodiment—the Gibraltar, so to speak, of the wide-open palm for services rendered—or even when they are not rendered. Egypt is not the only place, however, of which this can be said; there are others. But no matter where the dear American tourist lands he "gets it" both coming and going, and the "neck" is usually the place where it first attracts his attention. It is not a new thing, by any means, for the Greeks suffered more from it than we ever have. They called it "gifts," and if a man didn't give, why, he got nothing, just as he gets nothing to-day in "Del's" if he tries to escape with a glad smile instead of the regulation tariff. Usually, as we all know, the rough time is at the reckoning and the departure, if you haven't done the handsome. The waiter, if he knows his business, makes you feel your cheapness if you attempt to "do" him with an affable "Good-night," instead of the real thing. The change is so arranged for you that you may have a wide choice of coins, but if that scheme misses fire, there are still left the overcoat and the hat. The man who can pass through these ordeals with his nerve unfrayed and look through the waiter as if he were a pane of glass, would never have turned a hair if placed in front at the charge of Balaclava. I remember writing a menu card for a dinner once, and when I came to the sweetbread course it was shown that if you hadn't a coin you must still do something. Lucullus was waiting on the bank of the river Styx for his turn on Charon's ferryboat, and of course, being a shade, he had no money in his clothes; but this is what was said:
When Lucullus got on Charon's skiff He didn't have a cent; So he handed out a sweetbread And on the boat he went.
This was as straight a tip as was ever given to a waiter or at a horse-race. There was nothing between Lucullus and the "bread line" except his last sweetbread; yet as a gentleman he gave it up to the ferryman rather than lose his poise when leaving the earth.
But to return to the twentieth century, about four thousand years since the incident just related occurred: we have a variety of names for the same thing. It is pour boire in France; tip in England; macaroni "for the crew" in Italy; sugar-cane "for the donkey" on the Nile; bakshish in Africa; "bakshish" the first word the traveler hears when he gets there, "bakshish" the last when he is leaving. Why, they say the Sphinx herself tears her hair and plaintively wails when the sun has set, "Bakshish! Bakshish!! Bakshish!!!" And the only reason she does not hold out her hands for it is that she hasn't any.
Sailing from Alexandria we headed for the Straits of Messina and reached them the day following, taking a passing look at Etna and Stromboli. Messina was not so badly damaged, we thought, as had been reported, and it will undoubtedly be rebuilt. Then we steamed past Capri and made fast to the wharf at Naples.
After strolling round Naples for a couple of days we took the train for Rome.
On one of these strolls I saw what seemed to me a curious funeral. There were six horses with nodding plumes, hung with black robes, and driven in three spans by a coachman who was a wonder in himself. He wore a hat with an enormous yellow cockade; a purple coat; patent leather Hessian boots, with tassels; green tights showing the shape of his fine calves (of which he was evidently very proud), and on his whip he carried many silk ribbon bows. "Beau Brummel" might have had a coachman like him—but I doubt it. Through a pane of glass might have been seen, thoroughly ornamented and painted for public inspection, the face of the principal whom these proceedings interested no more. The hearse sported a forest of plumes also, and behind it stalked six stalwart, high-class, professional mourners, likewise in green tights and Tower-of-London hats, all members of the Pallbearers' International Union (purple card), with flowing beards and curling moustaches—probably the only men on earth whom money causes to weep and pluck their beards in pretended sorrow when in the throes of their commercial emotion. If paid enough money they do not hesitate to use the onion freely to produce the real thing in tears. Next followed a dozen of mere puling mutes, of no caste or distinction whatever but that lent by a big brass badge on the breast of each. Then came four rickety carriages of the Columbus era; they hadn't a soul in them, but their cloth upholstered seats had been whitewashed with white lead and showed by many cracks the risk any live human would take in entering the vehicles. There were no relatives of the dead present—and you could not blame them. The question arose, What is the meaning of it all? It seemed as though they had consigned the man to the grave at the least expense with no bother—a curious form of burial from our standpoint; it was strictly professional.
Rome has been so thoroughly exploited that perhaps the writing of a layman on the subject would not interest the reader, so I shall not attempt to go into details, for they would fill a very large book. Since I last visited it the city had grown to be large, clean and prosperous, under the careful and serious management of the king, whose business in life seems to be the welfare of his people and the advancement of their best interests. I met him and the queen at the Arch of Constantine; he saluted, as he does to every one he meets when walking alone in the suburbs of the city.
The three things that I remembered with the greatest interest on leaving Rome—and I still admire them most of all—were Caracalla's Baths, the Coliseum and the Forum. Perhaps no purely secular work of man has ever approached the Baths of Caracalla in sumptuous, artistic magnificence and splendor. They were more than a mile long and a little less than that in width. They consisted of three vast baths, marble lined, with rare mosaic floors: one for cold water, one for tepid and a third for hot water. There were dressing rooms, refectories, lounging gardens, schools of art, a court for athletes, another court for gladiators. Highly carved marble columns supported the roofs and the rarest statues stood in niches. The bathing capacity was the largest ever planned. To sit there alone and people it, as when it was at its best, with all the glory of the emperor, the court ladies, the vestal virgins, senators, warriors, artists, men of letters and the rest, is a treat to the imagination that cannot be realized on any other spot.
The Coliseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built: it is more than a third of a mile in circumference; it had seats for fifty thousand and standing room for thousands more. The arena was two hundred and seventy-three by one hundred and twenty feet. Beneath it were the dens for lions, tigers, bears and bulls, with rooms for the gladiators and the human victims. It was opened by Titus with a festival lasting over three months in 80 A.D., and five thousand wild animals were killed during the festivities. It was the place where the Christian martyrs met their deaths under the persecuting emperors. The imagination runs riot while trying to picture the tragic scenes that took place within its walls in the presence of multitudes. It had a "bad eminence" all its own.
The Forum was in the early days the very heart of Rome, and all that was great in it. It contained over sixty temples, public buildings, tombs, triumphal arches, columns and great statues. Here Cicero and other orators spoke to the people, and famous teachers made it their resort; its name represented the thought and refinement of the age of which it was the glory.
When I was in Rome I happened to be domiciled in a bedroom that had a connecting door with another room of the same size. This door was of course locked, the other room being occupied by an Italian. We had to make a flying start for Naples at 5 A.M., and I got up at 4, in order to shave, dress and breakfast in time to catch the train. I opened the proceedings by starting to strop my razor on a big leather strop; the door being quite flimsy, my Italian neighbor heard me distinctly, and as he was trying to fall asleep he became very angry, jumped out of bed and protested in loud and profane language. I paid no attention to his protest and then he rang his bell long and violently. As I wanted to make a respectable appearance at breakfast, I kept on stropping diligently. This added to his indignation, and when the chambermaid entered his den in response to the bell, he ordered her to go into my room and stop the noise. She rushed toward me and intimated that the gentleman was at the point of death—that he might die at any moment from heart disease, unless he were permitted to sleep. I felt that a guest had a right to shave in his own room, therefore I did not desist. My irate neighbor then jumped out of bed and in his pajamas ran downstairs and brought up the manager, the cashier, the porter and a hall-boy. When I opened my door the deputation implored me to cease stropping and start shaving at once, and thus restore peace to the strained situation. I explained that I was hurrying to the train and that this would be the last of me; at which the Count rushed forward and grasping my hand, exclaimed:
"Pardon, signor! shave all you like and do it now, but don't, for heaven's sake, miss the train on any account, for if you commence that horrible slapping again I shall make my way to the nearest mad house!"
When the cause of the disturbance had ceased, he soon fell asleep, and when I began to lather my face he was artistically playing a "fluto" obligate with his nose. At this I began to knock on the door, and he at once called out:
"What now? What you want?"
"I want you to stop snoring or I'll alarm the house and have you expelled."
"Ah, you get even with me, you do! I catch the leetle joke. What will you haf to drink, signor? the wine is on me."
We left Rome and went by train to—
On a former visit to Pompeii I thought it a grand place, but after all, when the traveller has seen the best, it is ordinary and commonplace. It was a town of only about 30,000 people and almost all of them escaped, so no particular distinction belongs to it in any respect.
We continued on to Naples, and on the following morning took a local steamer for Sorrento. We had a look at Vesuvius, which was quiet and somewhat depressed—as it had lost six hundred feet of its cone at the last eruption.
Landing at Sorrento we took a thirty-mile carriage drive along the precipitous coast, resting and lunching in a convent at Amalfi, perched high up on the hillside whither we had to climb. Then another drive to the train, which landed us back in Naples in the early hours of the morning.
Again we embarked on the Cork, and landed at Villefranche. Next day we drove through Nice and on to Monte Carlo, where we witnessed the motor boat races. After dining at the Hotel de l'Hermitage, we visited the temple of chance with its twenty-five tables, devoted to a variety of games. It was all a distinct disappointment. The much vaunted decorations on the walls of the rooms were polychromatic but uninteresting—attempts at classic decoration such as an Italian sign-painter could easily equal when working for his board. The building itself was overdone in elaboration, and represented French architecture in the era when it had "broken loose." The grounds, however, were fine and the flower display the finest to be found anywhere. The players, men and women, were a debased crowd, of all nationalities. Sordid greed had eaten into their faces and there was no delight for them in anything except in grabbing the gold the turn of the wheel gave them—and it didn't give them much in return for what they staked. The games are "square." There is no cheating other than the well understood "percentage" in favor of the bank, but they are played so quickly that the player's capital is turned over thousands of times in a week, and as each turn means on the average a loss to him of the "percentage," the money does not last long. Some gamblers plunge for large sums for a short time, and are lucky enough to "break the bank at Monte Carlo;" but they return and give it all back to the prince with interest. All he asks of them is that they shall keep on playing at his game. The visitor wonders most at the dexterity with which the money of all varieties is raked, tossed and flung about the board by the croupiers, with apparently the utmost recklessness and without mistakes. They have spent their lives at it and know it the way Paderewski knows his keyboard. Three men are employed at each table to follow all the betting, and they watch like hawks every one playing. So perfectly is the whole thing done that never a word is spoken; it's all action—simply the placing of the coin on the spot. Most of the players have systems they follow, and prick their cards at each play. Hundreds of others who have no money follow their systems, just to see whether they would have won if they had had anything to risk.
We had a charming, moonlight drive back to Villefranche along the shores of the Mediterranean, where the Cork lay awaiting us, and when all were aboard we steamed out through the Straits of Gibraltar to Liverpool.
It was a general holiday at the time in that city, and I lounged about the streets, looking at the crowds of people. The "Pembroke Social Reform League" was holding a mass meeting at the foot of Wellington's monument in St. George's Square to protest against the Government's building eight Dreadnaughts at a cost of 14,000,000 pounds. The crowd was all composed of working men and was most orderly; the speakers were clever and moderate in their attitude. I became interested, and edged up to the foot of the steps in order to hear what was said. The meeting had lasted about an hour, when one speaker in finishing, remarked:
"I see an American here: will not the gentleman step up and tell us how America feels about these things?"
I was immediately threatened with heart disease and protested, but before I knew what I was about a couple of them had pulled me up on the steps and I was really "up against it," so I had to say something or beat an ignominious retreat. I have always been in full sympathy with disarmament and the reduction of naval fleets, so I told them I had just returned from Spain, Italy and Turkey, and had there seen the armies drilling and the idle navies anchored in the ports, for the most part at the expense of the poor people, many of whom had neither food nor decent clothing. At this point a young man called out:
"We are Englishmen—we want no Yankees here!"
"Young man, you have made a bad start: I was born less than three hundred miles from where I stand, and I visited this square many times before you were born."
This statement was received with applause and I was allowed to finish what little I had to say in peace. The meeting adjourned after unanimously passing a resolution protesting against the Dreadnaughts. Meetings of this character were held continuously all day.
Then we took a new steamer to New York, and the cruise of the Cork was a thing of the past.
Retrospectively I might add that we suffered from a kind of artistic and historical dyspepsia, brought about by our inability to digest the immensity of the things we had seen and their variety. After leaving Madeira the stopping places came so fast that our sightseeing was indeed hard work, each new place blotting out the one that had preceded it. Undoubtedly we would after a while remember the scenes and places visited, and we would surely do so if we read the standard writers on these subjects.
Of the management it may be said that it had a Herculean task to perform, and its work was well done. If the amount of detail it had to face and arrange had been placed in less skilful hands or neglected, it would have been fatal to our comfort and progress.