Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

the means by which he rose from obscurity to rank and power. No sooner did he effect that object, than he began to take measures for the assertion of his independence, which led to a chain of important events, which, as we have seen, were likely to have involved the whole of Europe in a war.

Of these events we have no connected record, although the great doings of the Pascha of Egypt have been the universal topic of conversation. For a long period, very erroneous notions were entertained concerning them, in consequence of the garbled statements of interested parties, more especially the French, who (having so engaged His Highness' good graces that he would listen to nobody else) made a point of flattering his vanity, and of crying him up to all Europe, and, I may add, -through the silence also of many respectable and experienced travellers, who were thoroughly acquainted with the real condition of the country, and might have disabused the public mind. But this, I apprehend, is no longer the case : the Pascha's policy is seen through and understood; and though it may suit the purpose of merchants and the East India Company's agents to compliment him from time to time, these gentlemen are too intelligent and too humane to shut their eyes and their hearts to the eloquent appeals which are continually made to them by the patient but wretched population of Egypt. They may not be aware of the full extent of the Pascha's avarice and monopoly, but they cannot be altogether ignorant of the misery which his reckless ambition has entailed upon his subjects. The objects then of this work are, first, for want of a more complete history, to furnish a record of passing events since the battle of the Nile in 1801, but more especially during

[blocks in formation]

the last twelve years : --- secondly, to bring before the reader a faithful and impartial account of the Pascha's character and proceedings, and an undisguised statement of the condition of the country:-with, lastly, observations on the climate, its diseases and capabilities--the whole being exhibited in a personal Narrative of the Author's intercourse with the people during a long residence in the East.

In order really to understand the character of an uncivilized people, it is necessary to mix with all classes, and to see them under every variety of cir cumstance, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in trouble ; but the generality of those who quit the “ Halls of their Fathers" to wander in more distant regions, very naturally shun the abode of misery, and are deterred from entering the habitations of the poor, lest they should contract some pestilential disease; and others are so delicately constituted, that their feelings revolt at sights which they are compelled to witness, even in the public streets. The medical man, however, who is accustomed to such scenes, and who is regarded by barbarians with superstitious veneration, has opportunities of eliciting the real sentiments and feelings of a nation, which none but a medical man can expect to meet with; and I do not hesitate to assert that in Syria and Asia Minor, I have been well received, in districts where others would have met with rough usage, being mistaken for spies and the secret agents of hostile tribes—to say nothing of the mistaken zeal of fanatical bigots, to which all are more or less exposed. The sick, the halt, and the blind were brought down to me in great numbers wherever I went, hoping that I would “lay my hands on them, and heal them.” I administered to their necessities as

[blocks in formation]

far as circumstances permitted, which called forth their gratitude, and obtained for me their entire confidence : they laid aside their wonted caution, and did not hesitate to unburden their thoughts, which they certainly would not have done to an ordinary stranger, for reasons which will appear in the sequel. But the narrative of a traveller is always best appreciated by those who have trodden the same ground : it unfortunately happens that, owing to the great variety of contending interests, very discrepant accounts obtain a ready circulation, and the public at large have no means of knowing what they ought to believe. Again, some readers, of an ardent imagination, not unfrequently suffer their eyes to be dazzled by the superficial gloss of ingenuity, and judge of a work rather by the manner than the matter, and are thus in danger of being led into error.

A tale well told may amuse, though it instruct us little : an author may be more remarkable for his talent than perspicuity ;-his pictures may be overdrawn,—and having once discovered that an historian mixes fable with his facts, we remain in doubt as to what is real, and may possibly regard the whole as a romance. The following pages profess to contain no more than plain matter-of-fact, and if at any time an opinion is given, it is only after carefully examining the subject in all its bearings. I frequently meet with statements copied chiefly from foreign journals, which have obviously emanated from the Pascha's agents, and which any impartial observer, who is practically acquainted with the political machinery of Mohammed Ali, well knows to be false from beginning to end ; yet the articles are well written, and calculated to deceive the most intelligent. Those who have resided some time in Egypt,

[blocks in formation]

will doubtless find many things here recorded which are familiar to them; and if to such persons they do not offer the attraction of novelty, they may at least claim the merit of accuracy. To all such I can with confidence appeal; and I am satisfied that whoever has visited the East as I did, on his own account, as an independent traveller, will, without hesitation, confirm all that I have advanced,—although, as regards the correctness of my inferences, I am liable to fallacy like other men.

I have simply related what I saw, and what I know to be true; and having no private interests to serve, I feel myself in a position to speak my sentiments without reserve: but the better to enable the reader to draw his own conclusions, I have adduced the evidence of others, whose judgment, experience, and principles are worthy of respect.

No man can travel in these countries without seeing a great deal to admire: to such I have given my unqualified approbation, and, in some cases, I have even ventured to bring them in competition with those of civilized Europe, feeling that we might profit by the comparison : but I am sorry to say, that we also see a great deal which every man of principle must condemn. We cannot always judge other nations by the standard of European excellence; and whilst writing this work, I have often paused to consider what I should how I should act respecting those things which I could not approve. Willingly I would have passed the subject over in silence, but I felt that I could not conscientiously do so. I conceived that if I wrote at all, the public had a right to know the truth. In justice to mankind, every author ought to forget himself, and be ready to bear the anger of those who, from interested

say, and

[blocks in formation]

motives, are not in a situation to express their real sentiments.

The termination of the Syrian campaigns, the ascendency of British influence, and the Overland communicaiion with India, have turned the public attention to Egypt more particularly ; and although I speak generally of Syria and the Turkish Empire, my observations refer chiefly to the banks of the Nile. The present is a most important epoch in the history of the world, and it is interesting to watch the changes which are taking place. I have commented on the progress of civilization, and illustrated Scripture by facts, customs, and the fulfilment of ancient prophecy : and I am not without hope that my remarks may tend, in some degree to counteract the spirit of infidelity which has, of late years, been gradually insinuating itself throughout Europe: nevertheless, the publication cannot be considered a religious one. I have adopted the style of a narrative, and carefully avoided politics, attaching myself to no party. My opportunities in the country were known to be extensive, being in daily communication with natives and Europeans; and since my return, I have kept up a regular correspondence with public and official individuals. I am in possession of important documents relative to the late crisis, and I have preserved from authentic sources, faithful records of passing events up to the present date; so that, although I have refrained from entering upon those minutiæ and political reasonings, which characterize purely historical writings, these volumes will be found to contain every thing which is important in reference to Mohammed Ali and his own times. I have continually appealed to the Pascha's actions, be

« PreviousContinue »