« EdellinenJatka »
THE OVERLAND PASSAGE.
Our intercourse with India has dinary individual, suddenly raised to become so important within these an independent rank, and actually few years, and the rapid transit by possessing a most influential interest the isthmus of Suez has become so in the eyes of Europe and Asia. favourite a passage, that the public The route of the travellers begins naturally feel an extreme curiosity with Ceylon. Ceylon is a fine picrelative to every circumstance of the turesque island, very fertile, strikingroute. The whole is a splendid no- ly placed for commerce, and containvelty, sufficiently strange to retain ing a tolerably intelligent population. some portion of the old wonder which Yet we do not seem to have made belongs to all things Arabian ; suffi- much of its advantages hitherto; Sinciently wild to supply us with the gapore and even Hong-Kong are likely scenes and adventures of barbarism ; to throw it into eclipse ; and the chief and yet sufficiently brought within benefit of its possession is in keeping the sphere of European interests, to away foreign powers from too near an combine with the romance of the wil- inspection of our settlements in India. derness, at once Oriental pomp and But its shores have the richness of the powers and utilities of civilized vegetation which belongs to the troand Christian society. The contrast is pics, and the variety of aspect which of the most exciting kind :-we have is so often found in the Asiatic islands. the Bedouin, with his lance and desert The Major and his wife embarked home, hovering round the European on board the steamer “ The India," in carriage, but now guarding what his May 1844. The view from the Point fathers would have plundered; the de Galle is striking. The town is caravan with all its camels, turbaned shaded by trees, which give it the merchants, and dashing cavalry, look of richness and freshness that moving along the river's bank, on contributes such a charm to the Oriwhose waters the steam-boat is rush- ental landscape. On the left of the
the many-coloured and many- bay.is a headland clothed with tropic named tribes of the South, meeting vegetation. In front are two islands, the men of every European nation in giving variety to the bay. Behind the streets where the haughty Os- the esplanade, shut in by hills covered manli was once master. The build- with cocoa-nut trees. At the foot of ings offer scarcely a less singular those hills is the native town and contrast :—the lofty, prison-like, close bridge, also shaded by trees. Crowds casemented fronts of the huge Ma- of canoes, of various shapes and hometan dwellings, frowning in grim colours, moored along the shore, repose upon the spruce shops and complete the scene. glittering hotels of the French and The passengers were discontented Italian trader and tavern-keeper; with the India. They never saw any and though last, most memorable of thing like the dirt of the ship. The all—the old Pasha, the only man in coal-dust penetrated into every thing. existence who has given a new being It was in vain to sigh for a clean face to a people ; the true regenerator of and hands, for they were unattainhis country, or rather the creator of able. This must be true; yet it passes a nation out of one of the most ab- our comprehension. We cannot unject, exhausted, and helpless races of derstand why coal-dust should make mankind. Egypt, the slave of the its appearance at all for the affliction stranger for a thousand years, tram- of the passengers. It certainly blackpled on by Saracen, Turk, Mameluke, ens no one in our European steamers. and Frenchman; but by the enter : Its business is in the engine-room, prise and intelligence of this extraor- and we never heard of its making its
A Journey across the Desert from Ceylon to Marseilles, &c. &c. By Major and Mrs GRIFFITA. 2 vols.
entrée into either the saloon or the was treatment which probably John cabin. The India is complained of Bull would not like ; but being a as being very ill adapted for the ser- philosopher, and besides a native of vice, as unwieldy, and inadequate to an island, he would endure it as one face the south-west monsoon. Yet of the necessities of nature. But the vessel was handsomely decorated: there were four French passengers the saloon was profusely ornamented on board who took it in a different with gilding, cornices, and mirrors; way, and probably conceiving that a the tables were richly veneered, and vessel at sea was something in the the furniture was of morocco leather. nature of a stage-coach, and the Indian All this exhibits no want of liberality ocean a high-road, they felt themselves on the part of the proprietors ; but à peculiarly ill-used by this tossing; and much heavier charge is laid on the at every instance of having a bottle of carelessness which allowed this hand- wine emptied into their drapery, they some vessel to be infested with dis regarded it as a national insult, and gusting vermin. “ The swarms of complained bitterly to the captain. cock-roaches,” says Mrs Darby Grif- The French are a belligerent people, fiths, “ almost drove me out of my and we are surprised that this series senses. The other day sixty were of aggressions by the billows has not killed in our cabin, and we might been taken up by Mons. Thiers and have killed as many more. They are his friends, as an additional evidence very large, about two inches and a of the malice of England to the grande half long, and run about my pillows nation. Sea-sickness, starvation, and and sheets in the most disgusting the loss of their claret, were acts
Rats are also very nume- worthy, indeed, of perfide Albion. rous." Now, all this we can as little The captain himself was one of the comprehend as the coal-dust. If such victims to the “ movement.” The things were, they must have arisen fair tourist thus draws his portraitfrom the most extraordinary negli- whether the captain will admire either gence; and we hope the proprietors, the sketch or the limner, is another enlightened by Mrs Darby Griflith's question. He is described as “an book, will have the vessel cleansed out immensely fat, punchy man, resembefore her next voyage.
bling a huge ball, with great fat red The monsoon
direct cheeks which almost conceal his eyes, against them, and the probability was, and a small turned-up nose.” He was, that instead of getting to Aden in its of course, always seated at the head teeth, their coal-dust would fail, and of the table, and, she supposed, conthey would be driven back to Bom- sidered it beneath his dignity to have bay for more. But the commander his chair tied ; but this world is all of one of the Oriental Company's made up of compromises and compenships, who was fortunately a passen- sations—if the captain preserved his ger, advised the captain to go south, dignity, he lost his balance. A surge for the purpose of meeting winds came, “his fixity of tenure was gone which would afterwards blow him to in a moment, and this solid dignitary the north-west. The advice was as was shot forth, chair and all, and fortunately taken. They steamed till rolled against the bulkhead. Every within two degrees of the line, and body was in roars of laughter." then met with a south wind. This, But though all this was toil and however, though it drove them on trouble for the miserable lords and their course, made them roll terribly. ladies of the creation, it was delight The India was not prepared for this for the masters and mistresses of the rough treatment. There was not a mighty element around them. The swing-table in the ship. The conse- inhabitants of the ocean were in full quence was, that bottles of wine were sport ; whales were seen rushing rolling in every direetion ; geese, tur- through the brine, porpoises were keys, and curry were precipitated sporting with their sleek skins in the into the laps of the unfortunate peo- highest enjoyment through the bilple on the lee-side ; while those on the lows, and shoals of dolphins filled the weather-side were thrown forward waves with their splendid pea-green with their faces on their plates. This and azure. It was an ocean fête, a
bal-paré of the finny tribe, a gala- mus, is fortified. The passengers of day of nature; while miserable men the India were disturbed during the and women were shrinking, and shiver- whole day by the yells of the Arabs ing, and sinking in heart, in the midst who were bringing the coals on board. of the animation, enjoyment, and mag- They look more like demons than nificence of the world of waters. On human beings.
human beings. "The coal-dust, of the third night of their sailing, the which we had lost sight for some wind became higher, and the swell time, now began once more to turn from the south stronger than ever. every thing into its own colour. The They pitched about in the most dread- coolies employed in this service come ful manner, and during the night two from the coast of Zanzibar. They sails were carried away, and the fore- keep up a continual yell during their topmast. They were now in peril; work, and perform a kind of dance but they had the steam in reserve, all the time.” They must be very and steered for their port. On the well paid, and this is the true secret 9th of June they were in smooth of making men work. The African water, running up between the coasts is no more lazy than other men, when of Arabia and Africa. The weather he can get value for his labour. This now suddenly changed; the sun be- is the true secret for abolishing the came intensely hot, and though forty slave trade. Those men come hunmiles from the shore, they were visited dreds or thousands of miles to cover by numerous butterflies, dragon-flies, themselves with coal-dust, in an atand moths. In two days after, they mosphere where the thermometer sailed through an orange-coloured sea, sometimes rises to 120° in the shade, filled with a shoal of animalculæ and work “ day and night until they fifteen miles long. On the next day have finished their task," roaring and they came in sight of the harbour of dancing all the time, besides—and all Aden. This whole track was the this for the stimulant of wages. It voyage from which the Arabian story is to be presumed that their performtellers have fabricated such wonders. ance is “piece-work,” the only work One of the voyages of the celebrated which brings out the true effort of the Sinbad the sailor, the most pictu- labourer. Their zeal was said to be resque of all voyagers, was over this so great, that every hundred tons of very ocean. The orange - coloured coal embarked cost the life of a waters, the strong effluvium of the
But the Africans have learned waves intoxicating the brain, the wild to drink grog; an accomplishment headlands of Africa-each the dwell- which we should have thought they ing of a necromancer—the Maldives, would not be long in acquiring, and filled with mermaids and sea-monsters, since that period, they live longer. the volcanic blaze that guarded the This, we must acknowledge, is a new entrance to the Red Sea, the fiery merit in grog; it is the first time that mountains of Aden, the Hadramant, we have heard of it as a promoter of or region of Death, the Babelmandeb, longevity. or Gate of Tears, the Isle of Perim, The Arabs on the coast form two and the Cape of Burials, wild, black, classes, perfectly distinct, at least in and terrific-fill the Arab imagination their conduct to the English. The with wonders that throw all modern class of warriors, being robbers by invention to an immeasurable dis- profession, are extremely anxious to tance.
rob us, and still more indignant at The town of Aden is not seen from our preventing their robbery of others. the sea; it lies behind the mountains, Their piracies have suffered grievously which are first visible. To look at from the vigilance of our gun-boats, the coast from this spot, nothing but and they have once or twice actually a sandy desert presents itself. The attempted to storm our fortifications. peninsula is joined to the mainland, The consequence is, that they have Arabia Felix, by a narrow sandy been soundly beaten, the majority isthmus, nearly level with the ocean. have left their carcasses behind them, It is only 14,000 feet wide. There and the survivors have been taught a are three rocky islands in the bay, "moral lesson,” which has kept them one of which, commanding the isth- at a respectful distance. But the
Arab cultivators are decent and in- were literally sleeping out in the open dustrious men, and for the servants air; as there were no doors, windows, of the town. Whether we shall ever or venetians to close, and every breath make a great southern colony of the of wind agitated the frail walls of country adjoining the peninsula, must bamboo and matting, I was awoke be a question of the future. But it in the night by the musquitto curtains is said that a very fine and healthy blowing up; the wind had risen, and country extends to the north, and came every now and then with sudden that the mountains visible from Aden gusts; but its breath was so soft, enclose valleys of singular productive- warm, and dry, that I, who had never ness and beauty.
ventured to bear a night-blast in Taste in personal decoration differs Ceylon, felt that it was harmless." a good deal in the south from that of Aden, in earlier times, formed one of the north. The Arab, with a face as the thirteen states of Yemen; and black as ink, thinks an enormous prodigious tales are told of its opushock of red hair the perfection of lence, its mosques and minarets, its taste; he accordingly dyes his hair baths of jasper, and its crescents and with lime, and thus makes himself, colonnades. But Arabia is proverunconsciously, the regular demon of bially a land of fable, and the glories the stage.
of Aden exhibit Arabian imagination The entrance to the new British in its highest stage. Possibly, while settlement is through masses of the it continued a port for the Indian boldest and wildest rocks. After trade, it may have shared the wealth passing a defile between two moun- which India has always lavished on tains, we come to the only access commerce. But a spot without a on this side, the “ lofty mountains tree, without a mine, and without a forming an impregnable fortifica- manufacture, could never have postion.” This entrance is cut through sessed solid wealth under the languid the solid rock. A strong guard of industry and wild rapine of an Arab sepoys is posted there. The passage population. When we recollect, too, is so high and narrow, that " how long the Turks were masters of might almost compare it to the eye in this corner of Arabia, we may well be a darning needle.” This is a female sceptical of the opulence of periods comparison, but an expressive one. when the sword was the law. No Issuing from the pass, the whole valley memorials of its prosperity remain ; of Aden lay like a map beneath, no ruined temples or broken columns bounded on three sides by precipitous attest the magnificence or the taste of mountains, rising up straight and an earlier generation. Its only hope barren like a mighty wall, while on of opulence must be dated from its the fourth was the sea; but even there first possession by the British. But the view was bounded by the island the barrenness of the soil forbids subrock of Sera, thus completing the for- stantial wealth ; and though the natification of this Eastern Gibraltar. tive merchants, relying on the honour
Here the travellers were welcomed of British laws and the security of by a hospitable garrison surgeon and British arms, are flocking into it by his wife, found a dinner, an apart- hundreds, and will soon flock into it ment, great civility, and a romantic by thousands, it must be at best but view of the Arab landscape by moon- a warehouse and a fortress, though light. They heard the drums and both will, in all probability, be of the pipes of one of the regiments, and most magnificent description. The were startled by the loud report of population is of the miscellaneous a cannon, which shook the frail tene- order which is to be found in all the ment, and resounded with a length- Eastern ports. The Parsees, the ened echo through the hills.
handsome and industrious race who the eight o'clock gun, which stood are to be seen every where in India ; only a stone's throw from
the house, the Jews, keen and indefatigable, who and on the same rock.” The lady, as are to be seen in every part of the a soldier's wife, ought to have been world; and the Arabs, whose glance less alarmed; but she was in a land and gesture seem to despise both, are where every thing was strange. “We already crowding this half camp, half
capital. From eighty to a hundred the coast, of both Africa and Arabia, camels, every morning, supply the is wild and repulsive ; but some commarkets of Aden. They bring in bas- pensation for the monotony of the kets of fine fruit, grapes, melons, shores is to be found in the sea itself. dates, and peaches. The greater When calm, the transparency of the number bring also poultry, grass, and water exhibits the bottom to the depth straw. Troops of donkeys carry wa- of thirty fathoms. “And what a new ter in skins to every part of the town; world is discovered through this vale and there is no want of the necessa- of waters! what treasures for the naries of life, though of course they are turalist!”
The sands are overspread dear. Aden is excessively hot, but with forests of coral plants of every regarded as healthy. The air is pure, colour, shells of remarkable beauty; dry, and elastic. The engineers are and, in the midst of this sub-aqueous building works on the different com- landscape, fish of brilliant hues sportmanding positions; and Aden, within ing in all directions. At length they a few years, will probably be the reached the gulf of Suez, with the strongest fortification, as it is already blue peaks of Sinai in the distance, one of the finest ports, east of the Me- and continued running up the gulf, diterranean. But we look to nobler which was one hundred and sixty prospects; the inland country is per- miles long, until Suez came in sight. haps one of the finest regions in the Here all is dreary: deserts and sandworld. Almost within view of Aden banks form the whole landscape. lies a country as picturesque as Swit- Arab boats came alongside, and conzerland, and as fertile as the valleys veyed the passengers from the steamof the tropics. It is singularly salu- The town looked dismal ; its brious ; and, in point of extent, may. walls and fortifications were in decay; be regarded as unlimited. We see the landing-place was crowded by no possible reason why Aden should sickly-looking creatures, the evident not, in the course of a few years, be victims of malaria, and the chief ornamade the capital of a great Arabian ment of the place was a large whitecolony. Conquest must not be the washed tomb. This condition of means, but purchase might not be dif- things was not much improved when
and civilization and Christianity the party found themselves in the might be spread together through im- hotel of Messrs Hill and Co. Musmense territories, formed in the boun- quittoes, and every species of frightful ty of nature, and only waiting to be insect, made war against sleep; and filled with a free and vigorous popu- when their reign had passed away, lation. It is only the centre and and the travellers rose, crowds of north of Arabia that is desert. The flies continued the persocution. The coast, and especially the southern ex- travellers made a bad bargain in paytremity, are fertile. Without the am- ing their passage-money at once from bition of empire, or the desire of en- Suez' to Alexandria ; and it is decroachment, British enterprize might scribed as the wiser mode to pay only here find a superb field, and the Ara- to Cairo, and then take the choice of bian peninsula might, for the first the several conveyances which are time in history, be added to the civil- sure to be found there. The Arab ized world.
drivers and carriers seem to have fully The travellers now ran up the Red acquired those arts of extortion, which Sea. The navigation has greatly im- flourish in such abundance wherever proved within these few years, in con- English money is to be found. They sequence of the intercourse between cheat, and lie, and cajole, with extraEngland and India. Surveys have ordinary assiduity; and the majority been made, and charts have been of the passengers on this occasion formed, which almost divest the pass- seem to have been detained unnecesage of peril. But the navigation is sarily on the road, and treated badly still intricate, in consequence of the at the station houses. The first part coral rocks and numerous shoals, which, of the desert is rather rocky than however, may be escaped by due vigi- sandy, and the road seems to have lance, and the experienced mariner been formed chiefly by the carriage has nothing to fear. The aspect of wheels. It is covered with great