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of Milnes—from the calm researches of Wilkinson and Lane, to the brilliant sketches of Eöthen—from the scoffing scepticism of Volney, to the graceful piety of Lord Lindsay.
The only apologies I have to offer for intruding on such company are these. Previously to visiting the East, I had made myself familiar with their works, notwithstanding which, I found much novelty, as well as interest, in my own personal experience; and I hoped to be fortunate enough to communicate some of that sense of interest, if not of novelty, to my readers. . The information, too, to be found in Eastern writers is so various, and scattered over so wide a surface, that I thought a slight compentlium of its more important or interesting points might prove acceptable to that extensive class who, in these hurried times, can only “ read as they run.” Moreover, our relations with the East have considerably altered within the last few years; Egypt is become our shortest, and, therefore, our only path to India ; the Church of England is at length represented at Jerusalem; and the brave, industrious, and intelligent Tribes of the Lebanon have made overtures for our protection and our missionaries.
I have not intentionally) followed in the footsteps, or used the thoughts of any author ; but I confess to have borrowed freely, in other respects, from as many as seemed suited to my purpose. I have pursued no settled plan of writing or classification, but have spoken of each matter as it seemed to suggest itself in the course of a sort of imaginary conversation with the reader.
I am anxious to guard against the charge of presumption in adopting a title for my work, which might seem ostentatious when compared with its very humble pretensions. It
suggested itself to me as being comprehensive of the Oriental races, as well as of their creeds; and, at the same time, so vague as not to pledge me to any particular line of dissertation. I should also, perhaps, apologize for using our old Oriental appellations, instead of those which the Arabic mode of pronunciation has now rendered customary. I scarcely fear, however, that the reader of the Arabian Nights will object to hear of Viziers, Sultans, Cairo and Damascus; instead of Wezeers, Sooltauns, Masr, and El Shām.
Finally I have to apologize for apologizing at such a length, and will at once put myself en route with the reader who is kind enough to accompany me. Now, Travel! we are all thine own. Onward with the eager horses that bound forward at thy voice! Onward with thy gallant ship, that lies straining at her anchor! Onward ! over the wide, deep, dashing sea, that owns thee for its master, to the boundless desert that soon shall be thy slave.
E. W. LONDON, November, 1844.
We took leave of Old England and the Old Year together.. New Year's daylight found us standing on Southampton Pier, in front of an avalanche of sun-gilt mist, through which a few spires shot up, by way of signal that a town lay buried beneath it. The Oriental steam-ship lay about a gun-shot from the shore, sucking in a mingled mass of passengers and luggage through a cavernous mouth in her cliff-like sides; boatload after boatload was swallowed like mere spoonfuls, and it seemed marvellous how even her aldermanic bulk could find “ stomach for: them all." I had the Polyphemian boon of being devoured last,
and was thus a mere observer of the partings and departings of the “ Outward bound.”
Mrs. Norton's noble song has given a definite form of poetry to what many a rugged heart has felt that phrase imply. One cannot look upon a hundred people, leaving their native country for
years, if not for ever, and think of it as an indifferent event. One knows that all these queer-looking externals of dress and feature are rude hieroglyphics, containing as deep a meaning of exile, adventure, dangers, and self-sacrificing love, as ever agitated the heart of a Tancred, a Columbus, or the pilgrim fathers, and that's a pretty wide range. Nor are such the only cares that distract those pea-jacketed bosoms at a time like this: many a parting pang is shared by solicitude about a portmanteau, and many an exile starts from a home-sick reverie—to wonder “what the deuce they've done with his carpet-bag.”
On mounting the ship's side, I found the lower deck one vast pile of luggage, vainly endeavoring to be identified by its distracted owners. It seemed as if some village of valises and boxes had been overthrown by an earthquake, and the surviving inhabitants were rushing about among the ruins, vainly seeking for their dead. No one seemed to find anything they wanted ; cyclopean portmanteaus, “to be opened at Calcutta,” presented themselves freely; saddlery and bullock-trucks were quite ob. trusive; but little “indispensables” for the voyage were nowhere to be found-night garments were invisible, and remedies for sea-sickness reserved themselves for the overland journey.
Search and suspense were soon terminated by the sinking of the whole chaotic mass into the yawning depths of the hold, and the tomb-like hatches closed over our “loved and lost.” After this bereavement, we all assembled on the upper-deck, in involuntary and unconscious muster, each inspecting and inspected by his fellow-travellers.
With the exception of two or three families, every one seemed to be a stranger to every one, and each walked the deck in a solitude of his own. There were old men, with complexions as yellow as the gold for which they had sold their youth, returning to India in search of the health which their native country, longed for through life, denied them. There were young cadets,
all eagerness and hope, though these, their predecessors, stood before them, like the mummies at Egyptian banquets, mementoes of the end of their young life's festival. There were missionary clergymen, with Ruth-like wives; merchants, with portfolios that never left their hands; young widows, with eyes black as their mourning, and sparkling as their useless marriage-ring and one or two fair girls, Heaven knows what sorrow sent ther. straying from their English homes of peace and purity, over the ocean and the desert, to encounter the worse danger of Indian society. Then there were little cadets, in whom the pride of new-born independence and uniform contended with the thoughts of home; there were sailors, with the blunt, manly bearing, and free and open speech of their profession: and, lastly, there were two or three vague wanderers, like myself, who were only leaving England, as men leave a crowded room, to breathe awhile freely in the open East.
All these, in various groups, were scattered over the spacious upper deck, where there was no stain, or interruption to the lady's walk or the sailor's rush; flush, smooth, and level, except for the graceful and almost imperceptible swell and rise towards the bows.
Below, the busy, bustling scene was very different. Miss Mitford herself might recognize the lower deck as a complete village. It was a street of cabins, over whose doors you read the names of the doctor, the baker, the butcher, the confectioner, the carpenter, and many others; besides the “quality at the west end,” in the shape of officers' quarters. This street ter. minated in a rural scene, where the smell of new-mown hay, the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, and the crowing of cocks, produced quite a pastoral effect. It is true, however, that the dairy-maid wore moustaches, boathooks stood for shepherds' crooks, and the only swains were the boatswain and coxswain, the former of whom was more given to whistling than to sing. ing. Among these signs of peace and plenty, four carronades frowned rather gloomily; but a lamb tethered to one, and an unfortunate cat picketed to another, detracted from their awful.
Beneath the farm-yard throbbed the iron heart of the gigantic engine; and the village tree” was represented by a