Sir Francis Ronalds' Travel Journal: Egypt - Western Nile Delta
Alexandria 23rd Jany 1820
I sailed from Valletta on the 6th inst in a Turkish Vessell belonging to Zadig Gibralta, agent of the Pasha of Egypt at Malta. She was a dirty slow sailing Brig and her captain, though a turk, a drunken careless fellow. As she was in quarantine I could not go on board previously to examine her accommodations and Zadig's represented her in a much too favourable light. I had determined by way of amusement to keep a seaman's journal of the voyage which is of no particular interest now, therefore I shall not insert it. The Wind varied between SE and W, the most general point was SSE, the air was generally hazy, the weather sometimes rather boisterous and now and then a very heavy sea. We were obliged frequently to alter our course and were driven one night very close to the S coast of Candia. The Thermometer in the shade shewed an evident increase of mean temperature as we advanced eastward but did not seem so much affected by our southerly course. The greatest mean heat at noon was 69, the least 64, the greatest heat in the sun (with a black ball), 100.
My companions de Voyage were a little dirty jew whom his father sent to seek his fortune at Alexandria or Cairo with about 20 dollars in his pocket & who was extreemly ill all the time. Another was a captain of a vessell which he had contrived to loose on the Candian shore a short time before and the third a Maltese who belonged to a class of men who go about these parts to engage themselves as interpreters or servants. The only conversable person on board was the Pilot, a great politician, he complained bitterly of the effect of the peace upon the commerce of the Mediterranean and of the combination or conspiracy as he called it of the sovereigns against the people. I was obliged by the dirtiness and disagreeable manners of the captain to prefer the long boat to live in to the cabin notwithstanding the bad weather which we sometimes had so that upon the whole the voyage was very uncomfortable, and I was extreemly glad at day break of the 19th to make out indistinctly the low sandy shore near Aboukir and soon after to come in view of the Castle &c which brought to my mind all I could recollect of the famous proceedings of our army under Abercrombie &c. On the 19th of Jany we anchored at about 5pm in the harbour of Alexandria amidst an immense crowd of vessells of every kind, many more than I expected to see, and more surprised to hear that the harbour was then considered as containing much fewer than the usual number but many were laid up.
"The principal street, thickly crowded with greeks, turks, arabs, Camels in long files, Asses, Horses & Dogs... The confusion of sounds, the yells of the Camel and ass drivers, the bawling arabs, the cries of some women who were sitting with a dead man in a house, altogether I was perfectly astonished"
I was not allowed to land until the morning of the 20th when in walking to the Italian Inn (the best, but a very bad one) I was struck notwithstanding the accounts of travellers with the deserted and rubbishy condition of the streets or rather lanes I had to go through, they resembled more the lanes between soldiers' huts in an encampment than any thing else I can compare them with, but the houses are a little higher. I have no hope of conveying to you a better Idea of a Turkish town than other people have given me. A just notion can I think only be obtained by actual observation. The principal street, thickly crowded with greeks, turks, arabs, Camels in long files, Asses, Horses & Dogs (these last as numerous as men almost) which is not broader than Crooked lane and in some parts almost darkened by pentings, presented an appearance quite novel to me and almost sufficient to produce a perfect chaos of ideas. The confusion of sounds, the yells of the Camel and ass drivers, the bawling arabs, the cries of some women who were sitting with a dead man in a house, altogether I was perfectly astonished and so would any of you have been. How it is possible to avoid touching people in time of the plague appears inexplicable.
"they smoke away the day beginning in the morning early with an Argilla which impregnates the lungs well and clears off the phlegm of the night and afterwards use the long cherry wood pipes with now and then a little cup of fine coffee... made as thick as gruel. Certainly there is some comfort in this practice"
"One of Cleopatra's Needles as it is called still lies prostrate in the sand only to prove how much easier it is to pull down than to sit up"
The shops consist generally of a sort of platform 3 or 4 feet high & from 6 to 8 long & 2 to 3 broad covered with a mat upon which the merchant sits sucking his long pipe of cherry tree wood and apparently quite indifferent about selling his wares, which are placed in a sort of cupboard or chamber behind the platform or sometimes also upon the mat as is the case with tobacco piled up in enormous conical heaps. The coffee Houses are large rooms or rather sheds around which both inside and out and round the supports of the roof are platforms covered with mats called divans to sit upon a la turque. Here they smoke away the day beginning in the morning early with an Argilla which impregnates the lungs well and clears off the phlegm of the night and afterwards use the long cherry wood pipes with now and then a little cup of fine coffee generally without sugar or milk and made as thick as gruel. Certainly there is some comfort in this practice or at least there would be if cleanliness accompanied it.
I had determined to use as much expedition as possible in hopes of overtaking Sir Fredk before he left Cairo so proceeded the next morning to see the antiquities &c. Pompey's pillar or as it should be called the column of Diocletian altho' defective in proportions inspires by its tremendous height & the consideration of its shaft being formed of one entire piece of Granite a very exalted idea of the architects and mechanics of days of yore. "Here stands a post, who sat it there?" Better men than me certainly and we have not dared to touch it. One of Cleopatra's Needles as it is called still lies prostrate in the sand only to prove how much easier it is to pull down than to sit up. Some Englishman has I think written a work on the machines of the Ancients, if it is well done it must be interesting. The other Obelisk stands solitary and mourny[?] over its companion of so many ages & will I hope remain there for many future ages. Granite of all other rocks is (altho' the hardest) the most subject to decay in a moist atmosphere such as ours which may probably arise from its very compound nature. The catacombs are according to all accounts very similar but far inferior to those of Sicily, therefore I did not loose my time in visiting them. Of the other Monuments I have nothing to say, they are nothing extraordinary and have been often described.
"he soused me all over with a large bowl of scalding water... This made me roar a little but he seemed perfectly regardless of that and repeated the dose 2 or 3 times... This part of the operation resembled very much that of scalding & scraping a pig... he pulled all my joints until they cracked... and pressed down my shoulders almost to dislocation I think"
I was curious to try a Turkish warm bath and for this purpose went one morning (23rd) to the best of them near a christian church a little way out of the town towards Pompey's pillar. I entered first a very large square hall covered by a cupola around which were divans like those in the coffee houses occupied by people who had bathed and were smoaking and dressing their beards & mustachios & drinking coffee. In the centre was a fountain playing into a fine large marble basin & on one side in a sort of large recess a wooden floor was raised abt 4 feet high, this was occupied by Matts & cushions in little divisions which were separated from each other by low wooden railing painted fancifully in Red & gold. Having taken off my shoes I was conducted by a turk to one of these divisions and assisted to undress after which I was invested with a turban of coarse linen and a cloth round the waist. Another man then came and led me into a smaller octagon Hall paved in Mosaic and containing also a handsome fountain. This was very hot I think equal to 110. From it 4 doors on opposite sides led into 4 little rooms still hotter into one of which having taken me my conductor muttered a prayer and desired me to lie down on my back upon a marble slab, which I had no sooner done than he soused me all over with a large bowl of scalding water taken from a little cistern into which it constantly ran. This made me roar a little but he seemed perfectly regardless of that and repeated the dose 2 or 3 times more seeming to enjoy the fun.
Then the merciless rascal put on a glove of seal skin and proceeded to scrub my skin off almost (the villain made no account of a European skin being more tender than a turk's). This part of the operation resembled very much that of scalding & scraping a pig. Then he soused me again and then shampooed me i.e. he pulled all my joints until they cracked as loud as a drayman's whip and pressed down my shoulders almost to dislocation I think. He would now have taken some horse hair and soap and given me a second working with them had I not resisted for as it was I am sure I had undergone a much more thorough wash than ever good Mother Cogan gave me and was as happy to get out of his clutches as ever a lap dog from a washing tub. All the rest was delightfull. He returned me into the custody of the first performer in the dressing place, my servant brought my linen & some perfume and I reclined upon the cushions for about an hour drinking the very best Moka coffee and smoaking excellent tobacco & feeling a little initiated. I took a looking glass and arranged my mustachios like all the other grave personages who now and then looked at each other and at me in such a manner that I thought they rather marvelled at my desire to be acquainted with their ceremony of the bath, but no one even smiled for that would have been both irreligious and impolite neither of which the turks are accused of being I believe.
When I got back to the Inn some franks to whom I recounted my adventure were somewhat surprised at my hardihood and if I had known the process previously I don't think I should have undergone it. However it seems to me to be a very good thing in a hot climate and am surprised that Dr Clarke should think it strange that hot baths are so commonly used in hot climates, surely it is one of their best religious ceremonies of the Mohammedans. May not the neglect of the bath be the cause of those cutaneous disorders which are so common amongst the arabs arising from an obstructed action of the pores and vessells of the skin & which are attributed by Neihbuhr to the effect of the Nile Water? Perhaps Dr Mohammed was a better physician than Dr Clarke.
Journal of my voyage from Alexandria to Cairo written at different times between the 24th & 29th Jany on board a Cangia
I left Alexandria on Monday the 24th Jany at 10 in the Morning in a Cangia which had brought Goods from Cairo. I had waited a little for an opportunity to go by the new canal from Alexandria to Foueh and could obtain no better boat, for it had been opened finally for navigation only 10 days before. I was the first Englishman who passed on it. It begins (or ends) at about ¾ of a mile from the SE side of the town & about ¼ mile from Pompey's pillar. The glowing accounts of new houses, magazines &c on the banks which have been stated by newspapers &c to have been erected by the munificence of the Pasha for the good of his subjects are quite without truth. A few miserable cabins erected by the boatmen or people concerned in the conveyance of goods have been put up about a week ago at this end, and not another single new house or building of any kind is to be seen on the banks in any other place.
We sailed with a gentle breeze and arrived in about an hour at a small canal which carries water to the town; this is one of the principal advantages of it as water was previously brought in boats from a considerable distance. At this place I observed many small granite columns & other small fragments of ruins lying in the mud which had been dug out but I could not find any parts of friezes. Soon after we came to the larger canal which communicates with the Lake of Aboukir & at abt noon at the place which had been cut through by Sir Sidney Smith. Nothing else very remarkable presented itself during the rest of the voyage of the canal. We met about 12 Cangias loaded principally with fresh vegetables from the villages on the Nile & a little merchandize from Cairo. The Direction varies frequently between S & SE as far as a little village at some distance from the banks called Birkat where it begins to take a direction almost E & falls into the Nile about ½ a mile below Foueh (that is ½ a mile nearer the Sea than Foueh). I saw frequently small fragments of ruins (generally small shafts of granite columns or pieces of them) and in one place near Birkat the remains of an ancient wall. The soil dug out consists principally of a black sandy mud mixed with innumerable marine shells, I think the quantity of shells equalled a fourth part at least. In some places rain or some other cause had washed away the sand from the surface and left a perfectly white surface of shining shells. The view from the water except near the cut made by Sir S. Smith is entirely excluded by the high muddy banks but I frequently landed & walked on the top of them. Nothing could be more dreary than the prospect. The last time I landed it was becoming dusk & I never witnessed any thing so well calculated to inspire that kind dearthless[?] horror which Shakespeare in Mackbeth [sic] & Burns in [blank] & Scott in [blank] have so well painted as the view of the unbounded muddy plain & the silent motionless lakes, relieved only by a village or two of mud or now and then a half starved wretched camel or an ass driven before a scarcely human figure apparently in no better case or even in greater misery perhaps. The Man, the Camel, the Ass, the Village, the Soil, all were of one colour. The three first differed but a little in tint, they seemed to have acquired the hue of the grave prematurely.
"three hundred thousand arabs were compelled to work upon [the canal] by overseers with whips in their hands... they were at first allowed neither food nor pay nor even tools... thirty thousand of these poor devils died under the fatigue... I went to bed more disposed to Grumpiness this evening than ever I was before"
"The enormous expanse of water rolling through a land of the most gigantic vegetation of the freshest green, Clumps of Palms beautifully disposed... villages & islands scattered here and there & troops of Camels & arabs slowly pacing the banks..."
View from the Nile
When I returned to the Cangia the Reis (or Captain) told me a long story about the manner in which the Pasha had procured the execution of this canal. He said (and I have had it confirmed by Mr Salt our consul at Cairo) that three hundred thousand arabs were compelled to work upon it by overseers with whips in their hands, that they were at first allowed neither food nor pay nor even tools (for they scooped out the mud with their hands) and that thirty thousand of these poor devils died under the fatigue and want of good water to drink. Now this is the greatest and most enlightened pasha which Egypt has ever had we are told, the great encourager of civilization & promoter of commerce and the arts, the friend of the English. I went to bed more disposed to Grumpiness this evening than ever I was before, even Peter will allow that I had some reason I hope, but I never rose (25th) with more agreeable sensations in as much as beautiful views can produce them for it was a fine smiling morning & we had just entered the Nile at the season of its greatest pride. The genius of Claude reigned over the prospect and there was that kind of rosy harmony which he so much delighted in (a good dish curiously seasoned). The enormous expanse of water rolling through a land of the most gigantic vegetation of the freshest green, Clumps of Palms beautifully disposed in the fore ground and in thick forests of them in the distance intermixed with dark Charoubs &c, villages & islands scattered here and there & troops of Camels & arabs slowly pacing the banks. All these objects combined formed a very striking contrast with the mountain scenery of Italy & Sicily which I had been used to & particularly with the stingy Malta. Even the slight haziness of the air seemed to add gracefulness to the picture & the gentle sharpish breeze which saluted me after passing through the hellish stagnated atmosphere of the Canal (crowded with mosquitoes) harmonized with all around to greet my arrival upon one of the most noble rivers in the world, the bosom of the ancient arts and Sciences, the future theatre for a new display of talent, the mother of Mysteries.
Having duly "given way to my imagination" and invoked Isis & Osiris and all the gods & goddesses & demons I could think of who formerly played their parts on this Region we soon arrived at Foueh. On the left bank here I was delighted to find I could procure every requisite for a regular John Bull breakfast. So I went ashore and purchased capital fresh butter, eggs, cream, Lamb chops, Chickens, Geese & Muffins (aye muffins) not quite so good as ours but good & I got all these good things for (comparatively) a mere trifle, and found great content in the disposal of a proper proportion of them in their proper receptacle, for no Breakfast à l'anglaise that I had eaten since leaving the Upper Mall Hammersmith could for a moment compare with this which I enjoyed on board a Cangia on the Nile. There appeared very little difference between this place and Alexandria. I saw a man in a shop turning, he sat upon his haunches with a turn bench before him which he worked with a stick and piece of cord instead of a bow held in his left hand, and he held his tool with his 2 great toes and his other hand; he was making spindles to spin cotton, a very common occupation amongst the arab Women. He seemed to work with tolerable facility and dispatch.
On leaving Foueh we met 2 Cangias belonging to the Pasha going to Alexandria, one of which contained some of his Ladies (about a dozen), the other slaves and servants; they were in form as nearly resembling the boats used by our cockney Parties on the Thames as possible except that the room or cabin was provided with lattice work, but they were not painted. These are the kind of boats usually engaged by travellers up the Nile and if they were kept in good condition and painted would furnish the best mode in the world not only of travelling but of lodging in Egypt, for the Inns at Alexandria & Cairo are most wretched, the palming oneself upon the Consuls is not pleasant and the trouble of pitching tents very great.
At about 1 o clock we had made considerable progress altho' the wind had slackened very much and the stream against us ran at about 2 miles an hour, we seemed to steal along the bank by some magic force the latine sails being of a most extraordinary size. The heat was equal to 75 & in the Sun 104. The scenery began to grow less interesting from its sameness so we took our pipes, but I have forgotten to introduce you (according to my usual custom) to my companions de Voyage. The first in point of rank and self importance was a handsome mameluke officer of the Pasha's guard who was particularly civil to me at first but became a little huffed at my obstinacy in paying for my provisions at Foueh for he said neither he nor any of his friends ever paid for anything to the Arabs. The second was the dirty little Jew who came with me from Malta, the third my servant Ferdinando whom I hired at Alexandria, a stout healthy Livornese who speaks Arab and Italian, a good cook but not a very finished valet & the fourth the Mameluke's slave, as expert a pipe lighter as any in Cairo I dare say. The Captain as far as I could make him out altho' an Arab seems to me as cute and human as most other folks of his stamp in other Countries. He is as great an amateur of Rum as Mr Bruce's captain at Cairo was -
"The Mameluke and I took our pipes and sitting a la turque on opposite sides of the Cabin... continued in solemn silence puffing most majestic clouds at each other"
"they were almost naked and their task master was standing over them with his whip... the spectacle of these poor wretched fellow beings, the rightfull proprietors of the finest soil in the world, being forced like brutes to work it to pamper the pride of a tyrant... will certainly fix in my mind a lasting hatred of such great enlighteners and improvers as the pasha of Egypt"
The Mameluke and I took our pipes and sitting a la turque on opposite sides of the Cabin for some time continued in solemn silence puffing most majestic clouds at each other, nor could I by repeated trials dispel his displeasure. At last we arrived at a place where some arabs were working at a small canal who were I was informed an exact example of those employed upon the Alexandria Canal, and a sad example it was, they were almost naked and their task master was standing over them with his whip. I assure you I affect no fine feeling when I say that the spectacle of these poor wretched fellow beings, the rightfull [sic] proprietors of the finest soil in the world, being forced like brutes to work it to pamper the pride of a tyrant (for this is all at last I believe) roused the strongest indignation of which I am capable and will certainly fix in my mind a lasting hatred of such great enlighteners and improvers as the pasha of Egypt. The Arabs are called robbers and certainly are so but if they only had the spirit to rob on a large scale instead of a small one they too might soon become enlighteners of the age.
On the morning of the 26th we passed the mouth of the old canal to Alexandria near Rahmaniyeh, a town about a mile distant from the River, & here I saw some of the largest Water Wheels which have excited so much the admiration of people who do not seem to have known how to pitch upon objects enough in Egypt which display the ancient advanced state of the arts and sciences. This is another instance of the antiquarian's judgement having been misled by his enthusiasm for there is nothing about them which in reality can be regarded as worthy the attention of our modern mechanicks [sic]. They are mere wheels with hollow perimeters in which a number of holes are made at the outer surface and on the side and partitions are fixed near these holes so that when the wheel is revolving with about half of it immersed in the water it flows into the holes so immersed and out those not immersed, and it is made to revolve by an ox and the usual ratchet work for communicating a horizontal rotation to a perpendicular one. The invention may be very ancient for what I know but if they had been used in any country not bigoted to its antique customs would have long ago given place to a better method.
"our Reis went ashore for the night to pay his respects to his two wives... both came down to the River with him, one was old and very ugly, the other young and handsome for an arab woman. The former very naturally cried at the parting, the latter laughed"
The country continued the same as the day before and a little gaping took place on my part but the turks and arabs never gape, they smoke instead. At sun set we arrived at Sa el Hagar, the ancient Sais, where our Reis went ashore for the night to pay his respects to his two wives & returned early in the morning when they both came down to the River with him, one was old and very ugly, the other young and handsome for an arab woman. The former very naturally cried at the parting, the latter laughed. I regretted very much that I had not time to visit the mounds of ruins here, an Englishman whose name I could not learn began to excavate and arrived at a tomb closed by a large slab which after all his labour and expense he was not permitted by the natives or turks to raise least the Devil should be underneath it.
A Gentleman who has since me been there went to the ruins and found a large enclosure by an ancient Wall of sun burnt bricks and layers of reeds, some of which he brought away, and they are so perfectly well preserved & so hard that I shall have a toothpick case made with a piece of one which he has been so good as to give me.
As we proceeded on the voyage this day I observed that the Charoub & other trees of the same kind on the banks had all an inclination to the south east or east, and had very much the same appearance as trees near the sea coast arising from stinted growth of the upper branches and foliage turned towards the sea, perhaps this may be occasioned by the greater prevalence of N & NW winds than any others which Volney has remarked in Egypt. We passed this day several miserable villages & at one saw the celebration of a marriage, a number of men were dancing about and others engaged in a sort of mock fight with very long poles which they struck against each other.
At night we again stoped at a small town consisting principally of pidgeon [sic] houses of a sugar loaf shape such as I have sketched them. The injustice and oppression under which the inhabitants of these villages groan was manifest from the circumstance of my not being able at first to buy any pidgeons here altho' they were very abundant and sold to each other at an extreemly low rate, and when at last Ferdinando persuaded a woman to bring us some she required to be paid first least she should not be paid at all. These Pidgeon houses pay each a very heavy duty to the Pasha and even every single date tree, in short nothing is free from his rapacious grasp and he does not even consider his own interest in his greediness. Volney very justly remarks that the pasha in his time only used his arab subjects as labourers upon his great farm (the Delta) and that he was but a bad farmer for his exactions limited the production too much. The present Pasha does not seem to have taken any lessons from the disciples of Mr Pitt whatever of his improvements he may have adopted from the english for he seems to follow in his system of taxation that of his predecessors or even to go beyond them.
At Sun rise (28th) the inhabitants came down to the river to wash and say their prayers (these arab cultivators have I believe generally some religious belief which is most commonly the mohammedan). We sailed at about 8 with a stiff westerly Breeze which felt very cold tho' the thermometer stood at 58. In the course of the morning we overtook two men fishing upon the Raft made of canes and pumpkins so light that it could be easily carried by one man; its form is something like my sketch [not found]. One of them was occupied in drawing in a line to which a number of hooks were attatched [sic] and the other in rowing. Soon after we saw another man conveying his goods and chattels upon a similar raft which he dragged after him walking up to his knees in the water. In the afternoon the Germ got ashore as these Nile boats frequently do for the boatmen know very little about the shoals owing to the very great variations of the height of the water and to the sands frequently shifting their positions. We had considerable difficulty in getting off again as the wind was inshore and the sail as is always the case was fixed in such way that it could neither be lowered nor reefed without great lapse of time, thus they are frequently obliged to lie low if the wind is strong although it may blow fair. In tacking they frequently cannot luff round but are obliged to ware, another cause of great delay.
From one small village which we stoped at on account of a strong wind I walked towards the Desert and came to the confines of vegetation at about the distance of Three miles. Here I observed several little patches of cultivated ground which the inundation had left and others which had been merely turned up here and there apparently to examine whether they were fit for cultivation or not. I could discover no difference between these two kinds of patches, they both seemed composed of Nile mud mixed with sand. I should be glad to know what is the composition of this Nile mud which is I suppose the only source of vegetation. Bruce tells us that all the Rivers in Nubia and all the streams which supply the Nile run in beds of hard limestone and that the formation of the Delta is owing to the sand of the Desert being carried by winds into the river and deposited by its waters in its progress, and Volney says that the whole stratification of Egypt is a soft limestone (which I believe is the case) and all writers agree that the Delta is formed by alluvium. Now we know that many plants will grow in sand & water but I have always understood that what is called a richer soil is required for corn and the other chief productions of the Delta. Is this richer soil there derived from a decomposition of the vegetable matter mixed[?] with sand finely divided? (for the lightest particles only can be carried by the wind). I don't think an answer in the affirmation would be satisfactory, for how came the commencement of vegetation? Plants which produce nothing to eat would not be grown first and where the sands or mud banks have not been cultivated nothing grows spontaneously.
"I killed myself an excellent dinner of some beautiful little birds called in Italian Gallo el Paese very much like our wood cocks"
On my return to the village I met some Arabs armed with Guns & pistols who said something which I could not understand and seemed a little disposed to frighten me. I don't suspect that they would have attempted any thing even if I were not armed with the Mameluke's gun and I quite agree with Bruce that one may go up to Cairo as safely as up the Thames provided one does not quit the banks. I killed myself an excellent dinner of some beautiful little birds called in Italian Gallo el Paese very much like our wood cocks. The mameluke seemed to consider the chief excellence of his gun to consist in its weight "you need not fear its bursting" said he, it was equal in weight to about four of our doubles I think. We lied this night at a village where the arabs were repairing the embankment to regulate the inundation of their lands, they were cheerfull [sic] and civil and seemed to perform their labour with content because they were to profit by it.
"2 turkish chiefs or magistrates were attempting to flog the confession of some crime... out of an arab who lied extended upon the ground and held by 4 people... whilst another performed upon him with a large stick at least half an inch thick... recourse was had to a thong with which the backs of his thighs were soon laid open"
On the morning of the 29th the wind was still strong and foul. Therefore the men towed & I took the opportunity to walk as usual whenever I could, & came to a Village where the 2 turkish chiefs or magistrates were attempting to flog the confession of some crime or secret or rent out of an arab who lied extended upon the ground and held by 4 people each taking an arm or a leg whilst another performed upon him with a large stick at least half an inch thick. Ever and anon he ceased beating him to put a question but constantly without receiving any reply. So after some time (about ¼ of an hour) recourse was had to a thong with which the backs of his thighs were soon laid open, but he still remained perfectly inflexible; at last a lady's tears & perhaps something else had the desired effect for a woman came and kissed him & cried a little and he gave in. It was very evident by the slight interest which the people who were at work upon the embankment took in his sufferings (scarcely looking at him or when they did only with a smile or a joke) that the case was not an uncommon one & I can easily believe Mr Hamilton who says that he saw a quantity of whips hanging up in the house of a chief of a village which the man told him were the instruments by which he got his rent. Mr H quotes the following passage from [blank]. Perhaps the fellow was suffering for family pride's sake, he deserved some degree of respect even on this account if it were so.
We arrived this night at Zawiet Razin and left it at sun rise on the 30th. We saw some large rafts made of Canes and earthen pots conveying pottery down to Rosetta &c and at ½ past 3 in the afternoon on turning a neck of land came in sight of the Pyramids. As I did not expect to see them this evening and as the setting sun shewed them off to great advantage I was highly delighted and much struck with the symmetry and regularity of them, for I had thought to have found them much more ruined & that from a distance it would require some little trouble to distinguish them from Conical hills, but they appeared at the distance of 15 miles to be quite perfect, no defects were visible & the angles appeared sharp. My arab Reis could not be convinced that I had come so far to see the pyramids & Cairo & said that I should certainly loose my labour for that many franks had been at them before but found neither gold nor silver. Now I leave you at peace whilst I gape about Grand Cairo & these far famed ant-hills for something more to pester you with.