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RECOLLECTIONS BY A QUARANTINE DETENU.
TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT days, the system, as they have not yet recovered the during my wanderings in the Mediterranean, fright occasioned by the memorable plague of having been unavoidably passed in the lazza- | 1720, which carried off 45,000 persons. The rettos of France, Italy, Egypt, and Malta, I feel barbarous codes of the Health-office, and their I have some right to record a few jottings accompanying train of bugbears and extoranent the miseries, impositions, and thousand tior., are never-failing sources of patronage torments, entailed upon unfortunate travellers and profit, independent of being ready engines by that monster-piece of charlatanism yclept l of tyranny in the hands of the petty despots Quarantine. When the Duke of Buckingham who govern some of the shores of this sea. In laid, as his heaviest anathema, upon the cur the first place, shoals of hungry government that snapped at his ducal fingers the wish | hangers-on are provided for; secondly, the that the brute “was married and settled in ' mulcts imposed in the shape of fees are no the country," his grace evidently knew little contemptible addition to their finances; and of quarantine, or I ween the sentence of a ! thirdly, during seasons of popular excitement, banishment to Chowbent, or the depths of the the means afforded by the pretext of contagious New Forest, for the term of a life, would no disease raging in any other country possessing doubt have been exchanged for a month's institutions of a liberal order, cut off all interresidence in the lazzaretto of Alexandria, amid course between the respective inhabitants until the flies and other Egyptian plagues, and the dangerous period has passed by. perhaps during a Khamseen wind, bearing Malta, which is so dependent upon Sicily upon its hot breath clouds of sand, so subtle for supplies of nearly every description, has at as to penetrate even the recesses of a watch, various times suffered much inconvenience by to say nothing of the parched and excoriated this most arbitrary system, and more parti. throat and blood-shot eyes of the traveller cularly during the late outbreak in the latter but lately landed from Beirout or Jaffa, and island, as the Neapolitan authorities were constricken, perhaps, with the fatal Syrian fever. I stantly spreading reports of small-pox and other
Quarantine, as a sanatory measure, is, in diseases as having broken out in the former, reality, in the Mediterranean states, but of solely owing to British policy having inclined secondary importance, when compared with towards the cause of the insurgent Sicilians : its other less ostensible uses, although the these falsehoods, until disproved, and in all checking of contagion through its means is ' cases with much delay and trouble, were the made the pretext for its troublesome enact- ! means of interrupting the communication bements, and the fussy, provoking puerilities | tween the islands,--the teeming productions of the legions of officials living by the abuse; of Sicily rotting in her fields, while the craving who seem, however, I must say, as far as they Maltese sighs in vain for the picturesque are concerned, to be in solemn earnest in their speronara,* with raking mast and tapering ideas of its importance as an efficacious stayer of the progress of the destroyer. The good * A kind of large, open boat, with latteen sails, people of Marseilles are devout adherents to a number of which trade between Sicily and Malta,
yard, and whose gaudily-painted hull, decply submerged with plentiful stores of pulse, grain, and wine, and gunwales high-heaped with the orange, the grape, and the melon, once gladdened his eyes at the Marina, at the custom-house, and at the stairs of Nix Mangiare,* the soubriquet of these famous steps being at such a juncture very appropriate.
The intercourse between Egypt and Syria is greatly trammelled by quarantines, each country being considered, in the Health-office phraseology of the other, as "suspected ;” an evil which told heavily upon the comforts of the crew of a little English schooner, named the Emmetjee, which for some years conveyed the mails between Alexandria and Beirout. Under this system of retaliatory measures, she rode quarantine at both places, and actually has had, for the period of a year or more, the yellow flag continually flying, and her crew confined to their diminutive bark, not larger than a fishing-smack-a run on shore being as unattainable by them as by the phantom mariners of the fabled ghost-ship of the Cape of Good Hope. The little Emmetjee was for some years the retreat of a venerable man, whose white hairs and services in every clime had given him just claims to the “ red flag at the fore ;” but, lacking friends and interest, he performed, as a lieutenant, the humble duty of guarding the letter-bag. The schooner being a merchant vessel, upon her services being dispensed with by the Admiralty, the fine old officer was sent adrift at Alexandria, nearly 3,000 miles from England, without government having made any provision for his departure, from a coast on which the comforts necessary to his declining years were so much abridged by the pitiless regulations of quarantine. The well-known liberality, however, of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, in giving this gentleman a passage from Alexandria, remedied the shortcomings of the Admiralty.
An absurd anomaly amid the strictness of Egyptian quarantine requires notice. Suppose, for instance, a traveller has arrived at Alexandria, by sea, from the Holy Land, and is desirous of proceeding to Malta by the English steamer; he is of course immured in the lazzaretto until the vessel sails, and at the proper time is released from his prison, and placed in a wretched boat, both dirty and leaky, and which is dragged at the stern of another, rowed by Arabs, to the anchorage of
the packet. Upon coming alongside, it is probable he discovers that the vessel is not ready for sea--the “mails" are not on board-and he is in consequence forbidden to ascend the gangway ladder, as such a proceeding would entail an immediate quarantine, and at once cut off all communication between the ship and the shore,-a very serious inconvenience at the busy hour or two previous to departure. In this predicament, the Arabs immediately make the poor royageur's boat fast to the
rudder-chains of the steamer, and leave him | in solitary grandeur, perched on the summit
of a pile of trunks, to contemplate, like another Marius, tawny ruins on the distant beach, their crumbling outlines wavering or trembling in the loom of the hot haze; or, nearer at hand, his eye rests upon the rudder, the cabin windows, and the keel of the jolly-boat which dangles above him; while ever and anon the old adage of " listeners never hearing any good of themselves,” is exemplified, to the marvellous disturbance of his equanimity of temper, by facetious early arrivals among the passengers, who, stealing a peep, retreat a few paces from the taffrail, and, sotto voce, thus indulge, more candidly than politely, in speculations as to the unknown:-“I wonder who upon earth that is !"_“Did you ever see such an outrageous hat upon any man ? "_“I wonder where did that fellow shave last ? "_"How they would stare at him in the park!”-“I say, is it not preciously hot ? come, let us see if we can't find a bottle of soda water."
Time wears on-one, two, three, four long hours run their sluggish sands out; the sun gets fierce and fiercer still ; in vain the eye, averted from the dusty palms and painfully glittering shore of the South, wanders seaward to the cooler North, in search of the long dark lines, which, making the blue deeper still, and tinging the shallower waters near the reefs with streaks of fainter green, till at last, overleaping the rocky barriers of El Kott and El Hout in snowy flakes, herald the welcome sea breezes ;-fruitless is the search; the birdlike sail of the humble djerme 1--the white turban and swarthy face of her “rais," or steersman—even the chibouk, with which he soothes himself into a tranquillity rivalling Nature's calm-are faithfully reflected on the unruffled harbour. During these weary hours, our poor traveller has passed through the various stages of annoyance and irritation ;
* Nix mangiare means in Maltese dialect, “ Nothing to eat ;" and the stairs, having been made during a period of scarcity, to give employment to the poor, derive their soubriquet from that season.
+ Rocks forming part of the barrier stretching across the mouth of the harbour, and between which are the passages.
Djerme, a kind of boat with latteen sails.
he, however, is now completely "used up,” The orders are quickly obeyed, and our traand, in dreamy resignation, oscillates with the veller, scrambling up the ladder, rushes to his rocking of his boat upon the light ground cabin, and, in an hour, bathed, shaved, and swell ; his head is aching violently; his nose curled, is haply recognized, on his re-appearis blistered ; does he close his eyes to exclude ance, as the very Antinous of Curzon-street the glare ? millions of little bubbling atoms | and the embryo lion of the season, the Eothen spring up and down in fantastic polkas, till, of Belgravia. quite bewildered, he once more opens them, In the meantime the ship, now placed in to cherish a very pardonable delusion of his quarantine, emerges from amid the pasha's having become, somehow or other, a denizen line-of-battle ships, and timber-carrying friof a world in which sea, sky, land, trees, ships gates of that great utilitarian; and, steaming -all, are glowing copper; and in this hal past a perfect grove of windmills, turns sharp lucination, caused by the rays of a noontide to the right, when, abreast of the Tombs of Egyptian sun at his highest northern declina- the Kings, and keeping to starboard the lighttion, at last approaches the welcome period of house and palace on Point Eunostos, and far his release. A greater bustle ensues—the to the left the island and fortifications of mails and captain come off together; the Marabut, threads her devious course amid the former are tossed on board without ceremony, reefs, forming the Boghaz Pass + or Channel, and the latter, running up the ladder, says, in and regains the open sea. a breath, to the officer receiving him at the When the soundings, deepening to sixteen gangway, “Now, Mr. Topmaul, bundle the feet, signify to the Arab pilot that his knowmails in at once, if you please. Are you hove ledge is no longer needed, he descends from short?"_“Yes, sir, to a stay peak.”_"Run the paddle-box; the clanking engines pause a line out to that corvette to get her head for a space, and a boat, hitherto towed astern round. Have your jibs clear,” &c. &c. The of the ship, is hauled up to the gangway, and busy skipper, then, at a glance, comprehends the follower of the prophet prepares to leave the occupants of the thronged quarter-deck, the packet, but first begging the usual “ backthe grizzled ex-commander-in-chief of Tank- | sheesh" of a couple of bottles of booza or ale, square presidency, the collector of Apollo Bun and a loaf or two of bread; he also receives der, the deputy-judge of Cooley Bazaar, and | his certificate of pilotage on paper, and unthe senior kettle-drum of the Currywallahbad avoidably comes in contact with the crew cavalry, with the political resident at the when going over the side. It is hardly to be Ladrone Islands, are the great guns; a crowd credited, after all the fuss that had been made of less distinguished liver-affected Qui-His, about the poor passenger, that the pilot and Ducks, and Mulls,* with a filling-in of little his boat's crew land again, in perhaps an hour, sore-eyed, rice-crammed babies, and their dingy at Alexandria, freed from all restrictions imayahs, parroquets, and Persian cats, complete posed by quarantine; yet were the ship from his survey; during which, brief as it is, dire any cause to put back, she would be subalarm seizes his soul, in consequence of un- jected to the same length of quarantine as mistakeable manifestations being made by that allotted to the Syrian traveller such is some of the nabobs of a desire to appeal to one of the inconsistencies of this system ! him, at the early stage of four hours before Cloth, hair, wool, silk, feathers, and many dinner, to settle the important matter of pre other articles are, in the jargon of quarantine, cedency at table, generally a quæstio vexata styled “susceptible,” that is, capable of conamong Indian passengers. By an eel-like veying contagion. Does the skirt of a fellowmaneuvre he escapes the snare, and gains the detenu in the lazzaretto touch yours, you are stern, where, looking over the taffrail, the detained to share the remainder of his caphapless stranger, now almost baked to a turn, tivity, even if your quarantine should expire catches his eye. Inquiries are rapidly made this evening and his to-morrow morning. Does and answered; the skipper, melted with pity, a poor bird escape from its cage, a whole bawls out lustily," Mr. Topmaul, clear the ship garrison trembles,-as at Gibraltar, when a at once of strangers from the shore.”—“Bless beautiful Himalayan pheasant, belonging to me, here's a poor gentleman four hours under Lord E- , flew upon the rocks near the New the stern."-" What a treat he must have had Mole, from the packet on board which his of it under such a sun!”
lordship was passenger; yet, strange to say, * Noms de guerre given in badinage to the residents of the three presidencies, Calcutta, Bombay, * The central channel through the reefs, and and Madras, among themselves.
possessing the deepest water.
the pigeons of Valletta seem to have a pre daily intercourse with St. Roque and Algeciras, scriptive claim to set all sanatorial regulations and also how indispensable Sicily is to Malta, at defiance, and, although feathered, and of we cannot marvel at the anxiety displayed by course “susceptible," keep up a regular com- the authorities of our Mediterranean strongmunication between Valletta and the lazza- holds to maintain a state of free pratique. rettos in the following manner.
I once, at Malta, was a witness of the inMalta imports large quantities of corn, prin convenience caused by that island being put cipally from Ibraila, Galatz, and Odessa, and in quarantine, occasioned by the captain of which is discharged into open lighters while an English brig which had arrived from in quarantine ; the grain, thus temptingly | Alexandria, and was anchored, as usual, in displayed, attracts numbers of pigeons, that the quarantine harbour. The unsophisticated alight upon the rigging of the vessels, and Northcountryman landed in the most open from which clothes, perhaps, are hanging to and natural manner at Marsamuscetto steps, dry, and thence, perching on the grain-lighters, and, unquestioned, walked across the city with fill their crops, and when-satisfied, wheel back his wife tucked under his arm; the worthy in airy circles to their dove-cots in Valletta. couple took it leisurely, remarking this and Vessels, too, from Barbary and Egypt have wondering at that, until they found their way generally several pigeons on board; I have | to the Marina, or quay of the grand harbour, frequently seen them vary the monotony of where the agent of the skipper meeting them, their floating homes by flights into the city, the was of course quite confounded at their apregulations of the marine police being a dead pearance, and precipitately hurried the unwelletter to the pretty strayers.
come visitors back to their brig. The news A curious difference is made in the wisdom flew fast, and the foreign consuls in the island of this yellow-flag legislature with regard to lost no time in advertising their various gothe “susceptibility” of gold and silver, as vernments of the circumstance. The Neaspecie, or when wrought into those ornaments politan packet was sent away by the consul for the fabrication of which Malta is so famous. without being allowed to land her passengers; All money taken from a person in quarantine the French steamer was driven away in the is plunged into a bucket of water prior to the same manner; the Bull-dog steam sloop-of-war, receiver touching it, and it is customary, when dispatched on a mission of importance to Italy, landing a quantity in bags, to rip the latter was placed in strict quarantine upon her arrival open, and pass the treasure through a mixture at Genoa, and all Malta declared to be in the of vinegar and water, lest contagion should same predicament. The poor skipper- the be communicated; yet, in the face of such cause of all this hurly-burly-was imprisoned, needless particularity, articles of jewellery are and people spoke of hanging, or transportation handed from a seller in pratique * to a pur at least, as his probable doom : however, upon chaser in quarantine on the end of a short its being discovered that he, not having visited board of two feet in length; the buyer handles the Mediterranean before, was quite ignorant the articles, and those rejected are again re of the subtleties of quarantine, government ceived by the jeweller without his having released him upon the payment of a small thought it at all necessary to submit them to penalty. the dipping process. Why such a distinction A proof of the anxiety of the Maltese to should be made is, I suppose, one of the choice preserve their pratique may be inferred from subtleties of quarantine.
one or two anecdotes :While thus arraigning the stupidities and A poor shopkeeper of Valletta, who, among annoyances of this bête noir of Mediterranean others, flocked across to the parlatorio of the travel, it must be admitted that, in self de lazzaretto to offer his wares to the homeward fence, our possessions of Gibralta and Malta Indian passengers, had sold a pair of lace are forced to adhere to its ordonnances ; for, mittens to an officer of the Indian army; the were they infringed by them, Spain, in the latter, dissatisfied with his purchase, threw first place, and Naples, in the second, would them back in the man's face. The moment rejoice in finding a pretext for their isolation ; they came in contact with him, the surrounding and, as it is known how much the comfort of crowd, like the fellow herd of the hunted deer, the population of the Rock depends upon a at once drove him from amongst them, and
sprang off in all directions, screaming “Qua* Pratique signifies not being in quarantine ; it
rantine, quarantine.” The poor fellow was is also applied to those who, having undergone
instantly made liable to the twelve days' imquarantine, have just been released,
prisonment, and, in addition to the interruption
of his business during that period, incurred the usual expense of a guardiano: his appeals to the gentleman for some remuneration were piteous; the latter, however, imperious and selfish, turned upon his heel, and again embarking for the good fare and comfort of the packet, bestowed not a thought upon the poor smaitch,* thus the victim of the proverbially insolent humours of a spoiled Anglo-Indian.
Another affair of this nature caused much merriment, as the sufferer happened to be one of the principal officials of the lazzaretto, who, although attending to their duties at the establishment during the day, still are not in quarantine, by their taking good care to aroid coming in contact with those who are ; having seen all the poor wights locked up for the night, they cross the harbour to enjoy the society of their families in Valletta.
The burly and smiling-countenanced Signor Janino had locked up all for the night, and wending his way to the boat, was happy in the anticipation of escorting his fair sposa in all her glories of silk faldetta,t massive earrings, and weighty chain, to some fantasia or other-whether the illumination of the church of St. John, the fête of St. Publio, or the baptism of the new cathedral bell—when all the gobe-mouches of Malta rejoiced in seeing the complaisant governor and his lady becoming its sponsors,—I know not; some pleasure expedition of the kind, nevertheless, he had in view, when a black-bearded, mustachoed, and spectacled commissaire, or purser of a French packet from Alexandria, landed for a moment to read some document to Signor J., and which, when perused, was by the polite Gaul torn up and thrown into the water; one tiny fragment, however, wafted back by an eddying zephyr, alighted upon the shiny boot of our poor Signor,-a tremendous assault, which frightened the attendant yuardianos, and caused them to fly from their tainted chief, all uttering the terrible cry of “ Quarantine.” The poor fellow, with rueful face, meekly ordered his own incarceration, and was locked up, to the intense delight of the other inmates, to share their imprisonment.
A young midshipman was very near being the cause of putting the squadron in quarantine
upon one occasion: the little fellow was sent in a boat, with ten or twelve men, to Marsamuscetto harbour, to deliver despatches to one of the Oriental packets, which, as usual, had called at Malta on her way from Alexandria to England; the steamer was surrounded by coallighters and other craft, and, instead of putting his packet upon the gunwale of one of these, whence it would have been handed into the ship, the thoughtless boy ran up her side, and gave his letters to one of the crew. An outcry was immediately raised by the host of guardianos surrounding the vesse', by which he saw the mistake he had made; however, he rushed back to his boat, and of course placed his crew in the same dilemma. At once, they rowed away manfully to reach the Grand Harbour and regain their ship (one of the line); then ensued a mos: animating chase on the part of the quarantine and police boats: but our little hero, after a long pull, being unfortunately headed off by one of the yellow pack, was compelled to row to the lazzaretto, where, for twelve days, he and his men rusticated, the lulling melody of the grinding holystones, $ and the four o'clock reveille, being unheard by them until exactly one day after the packet had landed her passengers in free pratique at Southampton.
Among the many lazzarettos of the Mediterranean, that of Malta is, with regard to comfort, interior economy, and the civility of its officials, immeasurably superior to any other; and as a slight peep into the menage of such an establishment may be a novelty to those who “ live at home at ease,” I shall place my reader's eye at the little hole in the showman's box, and let him judge for himself.
On the north-east side of the island of Malta are two deep indentations, which, cutting into the coast for a depth of nearly two miles, form, with the aid of their interior and land-locked creeks of Bighi, Burmola, the Coradino, Missida, and Pietà, two safe and spacious harbours; they are parallel to each other, and on the tongue of land, which like a high ridge separates them, and about half-a-mile across, is built the city of Valletta. The easternmost, or largest basin, is called the “Grand Harbour," and that to the westward is named “Marsamuscetto,” and appropriated solely to vessels in quarantine. The entrance of the latter haven is very narrow, and has on the right, when sailing in, a small fortress called Fort Tigné, which displays a union jack upon the
* Smaitch, the universal appellation bestowed hy the English upon the lower classes of the Maltese.
4. Faldetta, a black silk hood, covering the head, and descending below the waist; a Maltese woman alone understanding how to wear it with grace.
Fantasia, a name applied by the Levantines to all public amusements indiscriminately.
S Soft flattened stones with which sailors scrub | the decks, sand and water also being used.