« AnteriorContinuar »
like promontories jutting into some noble harbour, to which the traveller seems to be approaching. Nor were there wanting living objects to animate the scene; our own little kafila was sufficiently large and cheerful to banish every idea of dreariness, and we encountered others much more picturesque.
After losing sight of the tombs we came upon a party who had bivouacked for the night; the camels, unladen, were, with their burthens, placed in a circle, and the people busily employed in preparing their evening meal. Evidences began to appear that the toils of the desert were but too frequently fatal to the wretched beasts of burthen employed in traversing these barren wastes. Our first stop was the shortest of the whole, and we came to the rest-house just as night closed in.
In consequence of several delays it was rather late, past nine o'clock, before we set forward. I had provided myself with a pair of crape spectacles and a double veil, but I speedily discarded both. Though the sun was rather warm, its heat was tempered by a fresh cold air which blew across the desert, though not strongly enough to lift the sand. I could not endure to mar the prospect by looking at it through a veil, and found my parasol quite sufficient protection from the rays of the sun.
Occasionally we saw a small party of Bedouins, easily distinguished by their fierce countenances, glaring from beneath the large rolls of cloth twisted over their turbans and round their throats, leaving nothing besides flashing eyes, a strongly developed nose, and a bushy beard to be
One or two, superior to the rest, were handsomely dressed, armed to the teeth, and rode camels well groomed and richly caparisoned: wild looking warriors, whom it would not have been agreeable to meet were the country in a less tranquil state.
When we reached the bungalow, or resting place, we found Ali, whom we had sent forward, busily superintending the cooking for dinner, which was performed in the open air. The share of bread and apples given to me upon the road I now bestowed upon my donkeys, not having reflected at the time that the drivers would be glad of it; so the next day, when the usual distributions were made, I gave the grapes, &c. to the donkey-men, who stuffed them into their usual repository, the bosoms of
their blue shirts, and seemed very well pleased to get them.
We were as usual rather late the following morning; our dear little plaything, the baby, bore the journey wonderfully, she appeared to enjoy the scene as much as ourselves : sometimes seated in the lap of her nurse, who travelled in a chair ; at others, at the bottom of one of our chairs : then in the arms of her male attendant, who rode a donkey, or in those of the donkey-men, trudging on foot. I mention her, not only for the delight she afforded us, but also to show how very easily infants at her tender age -she was not more than seven months old-could be transported across the desert. After breakfast, and just as we were about to start on our day's journey, we saw what must certainly be called a strange sight-a wheeled carriage approaching our encampment. It came along like the wind, and proved to be a phaeton, double bodied, with a driving seat in front, with a European charioteer guiding a pair of horses as the wheelers; while the leaders were camels, with an Arab riding postilion. During this day's journey we met several parties coming from Suez. We arrived at rather an early hour at our halting place for the night; and as we considered it to be desirable to get into Suez as speedily as possible, we agreed to start by three o'clock on the following morning. Just as we had finished our evening meal, three gentlemen of our ac. quaintance, who had scrambled across the desert from the Pyramids, came up, weary and wayworn, and as hungry as possible. We put the best that we had before them, and then retired to the opposite apartment. But in this place I found it impossible to stay; there was no free circulation of air throughout the room, and it had all the benefit of the smell from the stable.
Leaving, therefore, my companions asleep, and wrapping myself up in my shawl, I stole out into the passage, where there were several Arabs lying about, and not without difficulty contrived to step between them, and to unfasten the door which opened upon the desert. There was no moon, but the stars gave sufficient light to render the scene distinctly visible. A lamp gleamed from the window of the apartment which I had quitted, and the camels, donkeys, and people belonging to the united parties formed themselves into very picturesque groups upon the sand, constituting a picture which could not fail to excite many agreeable sensations. The whitened bones of animals perishing from fatigue and thirst, while attempting to cross the arid expanse, associated in our minds with pri. vation, toil, and danger, told too truly that these notions were not purely ideal. I had long desired to spend a night alone upon the desert; and without wandering to a dangerous distance, I placed a ridge of sand between my solitary station and the objects which brought the busy world in view, and indulged in thoughts of scenes and circumstances which happened in times long gone by. According to the best authorities, we were in the track of the Israelites; and in meditations suggested by this interesting portion of Bible history, the time passed so rapidly, that I was surprised when I found the people astir, and preparing for our departure. My garments were rather damp with the night-dews; I was not, therefore, sorry to find myself wrapped up in my chair, in which I should have slept very comfortably, had not the man who guided the donkeys taken it into his head to quarrel with one of his comrades, and to bawl out his grievances close to my ear. My wakefulness was, however, amply repaid by the most glorious sunrise I ever witnessed. The sky had been for some time obscured by clouds, which had gathered themselves in a bank upon the eastern horizon. The sun's rays started up at once, like an imperial crown, above this bank, and as they darted their glittering spears, for such they seemed, along the heavens, the clouds, dispersing, formed into a mighty arch, their edges becoming golden ; while all below was one flush of crimson light.
We made no stay at the rest-house, which we reached about nine o'clock in the morning; and here we saw the Governor of Jiddah and his party winding along at some distance, giving life and character to the desert. The fantastic appearance of the hills increases as we advance; the slightest stretch of fancy was alone necessary to transform many
into fortresses and towers; and at length a bright glitter at a distance revealed the Red Sea. The sun gleaming upon its waters showed them like a mirror, and soon afterwards the appearance of some low buildings indicated the town of Suez.
Moscow BEFORE THE CONFLAGRATION.
THERE is nothing more extraordinary in this country than the transition of the seasons. The people of Moscow have no springs. Winter vanishes and summer is This is not the work of a week, or a day, but of one instant; and the manner of it exceeds belief. We came from Petersburg to Moscow in sledges. The next day snow was gone. On the 8th of April, at mid-day, snow beat in at our carriage windows. On the same day, at sunset, arriving in Moscow, we had difficulty in being dragged through the mud to the commandant's. The next morning the streets were dry, the double windows had been removed from the houses, the casements thrown open, all the carriages were upon wheels, and the balconies filled with spectators. Another day brought with it twenty-three degrees of heat of Celsius, when the thermometer was placed in the shade at noon.
We arrived at the season of the year when this city is most interesting to strangers. Moscow is in every thing extraordinary; as well in disappointing expectation, as in surpassing it; in causing wonder and derision, pleasure and regret. Let me conduct the reader back with me again to the gate by which we entered, and thence through the streets. Numerous spires, glittering with gold, amidst burnished domes and painted palaces, appear in the midst of an open plain, for several versts before you reach this gate. Having passed, you look about and wonder what is become of the city, or where you are; and are ready to ask, once more, how far is it to Moscow ? They well tell you, “ This is Moscow;" and you behold nothing but a wide and scattered suburb, huts, gardens, pig-sties, brickwalls, churches, dunghills, palaces, timber-yards, warehouses, and a refuse, as it were, of materials sufficient to stock an empire with miserable towns and miserable vil. lages. One might imagine all the states of Europe and Asia had sent a building, by way of representative, to Moscow; and under this impression the eye is presented with deputies from all countries, holding congress : timber huts from regions beyond the Arctic; plastered palaces from Sweden and Denmark, not whitewashed since their arri.
val; painted walls from the Tyrol; mosques from Constantinople; Tartar temples from Bucharia; pagodas, pavilions, and verandas from China; cabarets from Spain; dungeons, prisons, and public offices from France; architectural ruins from Rome; terraces and trellises from Naples; and warehouses from Wapping.
Having heard accounts of its immense population, you wander through deserted streets. Passing suddenly towards the quarter where the shops are situated, you might walk upon the heads of thousands. The daily throng is there so immense, that unable to force a passage through it, or assign any motive that might convene such a multitude, you ask the cause; and are told that it is always the same.
Nor is the costume less various than the aspect of the buildings; Greeks, Turks, Tartars, Cossacks, Chinese, Muscovites, English, French, Italians, Poles, Germans, all parade in the habits of their respective countries.—Dr. Clarke.
EARTHQUAKE AT CALABRIA.
An account of this dreadful earthquake is given by the celebrated father Kircher. It happened whilst he was on his journey to visit Mount Ætna, and the rest of the wonders that lie towards the south of Italy. Kircher is considered, by scholars, as one of the greatest prodigies of learning.
Having hired a boat, in company with four more, (two friars of the order of St. Francis, and two seculars,) we launched from the harbour of Messina in Sicily, and arrived, the same day, at the promontory of Pelorus. Our destination was for the city of Euphæmia, in Calabria, where we had some business to transact, and where we designed to tarry for some time. However, Providence seemed willing to cross our design, for we were obliged to continue three days at Pelorus, on account of the weather; and though we often put out to sea, yet we were as often driven back. At length, wearied with the delay, we resolved to prosecute our voyage; and although the sea appeared to be uncommonly agitated, we ventured forward. The gulf of Charybdis, which we approached, seemed whirled round in such a manner, as to form a vast hollow, verging to a point in the centre. Proceeding on