A GENERAL plunge into worldly pursuits and pleasures announced the end of the pilgrimage ceremonies. All the devotees were now “whitewashed”— the book of their sins was a tabula rasa: too many of them lost no time in making a new departure “down south,” and in opening a fresh account. The faith must not bear the blame of the irregularities. They may be equally observed in the Calvinist, after a Sunday of prayer, sinning through Monday with a zest, and the Romanist falling back with new fervour upon the causes of his confession and penance, as in the Moslem who washes his soul clean by running and circumambulation; and, in fairness, it must be observed that, as amongst Christians, so in the Moslem persuasion, there are many notable exceptions to this rule of extremes. Several of my friends and acquaintances date their reformation from their first sight of the Ka’abah.
The Moslem’s “Holy Week” over, nothing detained me at Meccah. For reasons before stated, I resolved upon returning to Cairo, resting there for awhile, and starting a second time for the interior, via Muwaylah.1
The Meccans are as fond of little presents as are nuns: the Kabirah took an affectionate leave of me, begged me to be careful of her boy, who was to accompany me to Jeddah, and laid friendly but firm hands upon a brass pestle and mortar, upon which she had long cast the eye of concupiscence.
Having hired two camels for thirty-five piastres, and paid half the sum in advance, I sent on my heavy boxes with Shaykh, now Haji Nur, to Jeddah.2 Omar Effendi was to wait at Meccah till his father had started, in command of the Dromedary Caravan, when he would privily take ass, join me at the port, and return to his beloved Cairo. I bade a long farewell to all my friends, embraced the Turkish pilgrims, and mounting our donkeys, the boy Mohammed and I left the house. Abdullah the Melancholy followed us on foot through the city, and took leave of me, though without embracing, at the Shabayki quarter.
Issuing into the open plain, I felt a thrill of pleasure — such joy as only the captive delivered from his dungeon can experience. The sunbeams warmed me into renewed life and vigour, the air of the Desert was a perfume, and the homely face of Nature was as the smile of a dear old friend. I contemplated the Syrian Caravan, lying on the right of our road, without any of the sadness usually suggested by a parting look.
It is not my intention minutely to describe the line down which we travelled that night: the pages of Burckhardt give full information about the country. Leaving Meccah, we fell into the direct road running south of Wady Fatimah, and traversed for about an hour a flat surrounded by hills. Then we entered a valley by a flight of rough stone steps, dangerously slippery and zigzag, intended to facilitate the descent for camels and for laden beasts. About midnight we passed into a hill-girt Wady, here covered with deep sands, there hard with gravelly clay: and, finally, about dawn, we sighted the maritime plain of Jeddah.
Shortly after leaving the city, our party was joined by other travellers, and towards evening we found ourselves in force, the effect of an order that pilgrims must not proceed singly upon this road. Coffee-houses and places of refreshment abounding, we halted every five miles to refresh ourselves and the donkeys.3 At sunset we prayed near a Turkish guard-house, where one of the soldiers kindly supplied me with water for ablution.
Before nightfall I was accosted, in Turkish, by a one-eyed old fellow, who,
“with faded brow,
Entrenched with many a frown, and conic beard,”
and habited in unclean garments, was bestriding a donkey as faded as himself. When I shook my head, he addressed me in Persian. The same manœuvre made him try Arabic; still he obtained no answer. Then he grumbled out good Hindustani. That also failing, he tried successively Pushtu, Armenian, English, French, and Italian. At last I could “keep a stiff lip” no longer; at every change of dialect his emphasis beginning with “Then who the d — are you?” became more emphatic. I turned upon him in Persian, and found that he had been a pilot, a courier, and a servant to Eastern tourists, and that he had visited England, France, and Italy, the Cape, India, Central Asia, and China. We then chatted in English, which Haji Akif spoke well, but with all manner of courier’s phrases; Haji Abdullah so badly, that he was counselled a course of study. It was not a little strange to hear such phrases as “Come ’p, Neddy,” and “Cre nom d’un baudet,” almost within earshot of the tomb of Ishmael, the birthplace of Mohammed, and the Sanctuary of Al-Islam.
About eight P.M. we passed the Alamayn, which define the Sanctuary in this direction. They stand about nine miles from Meccah, and near them are a coffee-house and a little oratory, popularly known as the Sabil Agha Almas. On the road, as night advanced, we met long strings of camels, some carrying litters, others huge beams, and others bales of coffee, grain, and merchandise. Sleep began to weigh heavily upon my companions’ eye-lids, and the boy Mohammed hung over the flank of his donkey in a most ludicrous position.
About midnight we reached a mass of huts, called Al-Haddah. Ali Bey places it eight leagues from Jeddah. At “the Boundary” which is considered to be the half-way halting-place, Pilgrims must assume the religious garb,4 and Infidels travelling to Taif are taken off the Meccan road into one leading Northward to Arafat. The settlement is a collection of huts and hovels, built with sticks and reeds, supporting brushwood and burned and blackened palm leaves. It is maintained for supplying pilgrims with coffee and water. Travellers speak with horror of its heat during the day; Ali Bey, who visited it twice, compares it to a furnace. Here the country slopes gradually towards the sea, the hills draw off, and every object denotes departure from the Meccan plateau. At Al-Haddah we dismounted for an hour’s halt. A coffee-house supplied us with mats, water-pipes, and other necessaries; we then produced a basket of provisions, the parting gift of the kind Kabirah, and, this late supper concluded, we lay down to doze.
After half an hour’s halt had expired, and the donkeys were saddled, I shook up with difficulty the boy Mohammed, and induced him to mount. He was, to use his own expression, “dead from sleep”; and we had scarcely advanced an hour, when, arriving at another little coffee-house, he threw himself upon the ground, and declared it impossible to proceed. This act caused some confusion. The donkey-boy was a pert little Badawi, offensively republican in manner. He had several times addressed me impudently, ordering me not to flog his animal, or to hammer its sides with my heels. On these occasions he received a contemptuous snub, which had the effect of silencing him. But now, thinking we were in his power, he swore that he would lead away the beasts, and leave us behind to be robbed and murdered. A pinch of the windpipe, and a spin over the ground, altered his plans at the outset of execution. He gnawed his hand with impotent rage, and went away, threatening us with the Governor of Jeddah next morning. Then an Egyptian of the party took up the thread of remonstrance; and, aided by the old linguist, who said, in English “by G—! you must budge, you’ll catch it here!” he assumed a brisk and energetic style, exclaiming, “Yallah! rise and mount; thou art only losing our time; thou dost not intend to sleep in the Desert!” I replied, “O my Uncle, do not exceed in talk!”— Fuzul (excess) in Arabic is equivalent to telling a man in English not to be impertinent — rolled over on the other side heavily, as doth Encelades, and pretended to snore, whilst the cowed Egyptian urged the others to make us move. The question was thus settled by the boy Mohammed who had been aroused by the dispute: “Do you know,” he whispered, in awful accents, “what that person is?” and he pointed to me. “Why, no,” replied the others. “Well,” said the youth, “the other day the Utaybah showed us death in the Zaribah Pass, and what do you think he did?” “Wallah! what do we know!” exclaimed the Egyptian, “What did he do?” “He called for — his dinner,” replied the youth, with a slow and sarcastic emphasis. That trait was enough. The others mounted, and left us quietly to sleep.
I have been diffuse in relating this little adventure, which is characteristic, showing what bravado can do in Arabia. It also suggests a lesson, which every traveller in these regions should take well to heart. The people are always ready to terrify him with frightful stories, which are the merest phantoms of cowardice. The reason why the Egyptian displayed so much philanthropy was that, had one of the party been lost, the survivors might have fallen into trouble. But in this place, we were, I believe — despite the declarations of our companions that it was infested with Turpins and Fra Diavolos — as safe as in Meccah. Every night, during the pilgrimage season, a troop of about fifty horsemen patrol the roads; we were all armed to the teeth, and our party looked too formidable to be “cruelly beaten by a single footpad.” Our nap concluded, we remounted, and resumed the weary way down a sandy valley, in which the poor donkeys sank fetlock-deep. At dawn we found our companions halted, and praying at the Kahwat Turki, another little coffee-house. Here an exchange of what is popularly called “chaff” took place. “Well,” cried the Egyptian, “what have ye gained by halting? We have been quiet here, praying and smoking for the last hour!” “Go, eat thy buried beans,5” we replied. “What does an Egyptian boor know of manliness!” The surly donkey-boy was worked up into a paroxysm of passion by such small jokes as telling him to convey our salams to the Governor of Jeddah, and by calling the asses after the name of his tribe. He replied by “foul, unmannered, scurril taunts,” which only drew forth fresh derision, and the coffee-house keeper laughed consumedly, having probably seldom entertained such “funny gentlemen.”
Shortly after leaving the Kahwat Turki we found the last spur of the highlands that sink into the Jeddah Plain. This view would for some time be my last of
“Infamous hills, and sandy, perilous wilds;”
and I contemplated it with the pleasure of one escaping from it. Before us lay the usual iron flat of these regions, whitish with salt, and tawny with stones and gravel; but relieved and beautified by the distant white walls, whose canopy was the lovely blue sea. Not a tree, not a patch of verdure was in sight; nothing distracted our attention from the sheet of turquoises in the distance. Merrily the little donkeys hobbled on, in spite of their fatigue. Soon we distinguished the features of the town, the minarets, the fortifications — so celebrated since their honeycombed guns beat off in 1817 the thousands of Abdullah bin Sa’ud, the Wahhabi,6 and a small dome outside the walls.
The sun began to glow fiercely, and we were not sorry when, at about eight A.M., after passing through the mass of hovels and coffee-houses, cemeteries and sand-hills, which forms the eastern approach to Jeddah, we entered the fortified Bab Makkah. Allowing eleven hours for our actual march — we halted about three — those wonderful donkeys had accomplished between forty-four and forty-six miles,7 generally in deep sand, in one night. And they passed the archway of Jeddah cantering almost as nimbly as when they left Meccah.
Shaykh Nur had been ordered to take rooms for me in a vast pile of madrepore — unfossilized coral, a recent formation — once the palace of Mohammed bin Aun, and now converted into a Wakalah. Instead of so doing, Indian-like, he had made a gipsy encampment in the square opening upon the harbour. After administering the requisite correction, I found a room that would suit me. In less than an hour it was swept, sprinkled with water, spread with mats, and made as comfortable as its capability admitted. At Jeddah I felt once more at home. The sight of the sea acted as a tonic. The Maharattas were not far wrong when they kept their English captives out of reach of the ocean, declaring that we were an amphibious race, to whom the wave is a home.
After a day’s repose at the Caravanserai, the camel-man and donkey-boy clamouring for money, and I not having more than tenpence of borrowed coin, it was necessary to cash at the British Vice-Consulate a draft given to me by the Royal Geographical Society. With some trouble I saw Mr. Cole, who, suffering from fever, was declared to be “not at home.” His dragoman did by no means admire my looks; in fact, the general voice of the household was against me. After some fruitless messages, I sent up a scrawl to Mr. Cole, who decided upon admitting the importunate Afghan. An exclamation of astonishment and a hospitable welcome followed my self-introduction as an officer of the Indian army. Amongst other things, the Vice-Consul informed me that, in divers discussions with the Turks about the possibility of an Englishman finding his way en cachette to Meccah, he had asserted that his compatriots could do everything, even pilgrim to the Holy City. The Moslems politely assented to the first, but denied the second part of the proposition. Mr. Cole promised himself a laugh at the Turks’ beards; but since my departure, he wrote to me that the subject made the owners look so serious, that he did not like recurring to it.
Truly gratifying to the pride of an Englishman was our high official position assumed and maintained at Jeddah. Mr. Cole had never, like his colleague at Cairo, lowered himself in the estimation of the proud race with which he has to deal, by private or mercantile transactions with the authorities. He has steadily withstood the wrath of the Meccan Sharif, and taught him to respect the British name. The Abbe Hamilton ascribed the attentions of the Prince to “the infinite respect which the Arabs entertain for Mr. Cole’s straightforward way of doing business — it was a delicate flattery addressed to him.” And the writer was right; honesty of purpose is never thrown away amongst these people. The general contrast between our Consular proceedings at Cairo and Jeddah is another proof of the advisability of selecting Indian officials to fill offices of trust at Oriental courts. They have lived amongst Easterns, and they know one Asiatic language, with many Asiatic customs; and, chief merit of all, they have learned to assume a tone of command, without which, whatever may be thought of it in England, it is impossible to take the lead in the East. The “home-bred” diplomate is not only unconscious of the thousand traps everywhere laid for him, he even plays into the hands of his crafty antagonists by a ceremonious politeness, which they interpret — taking ample care that the interpretation should spread — to be the effect of fear or of fraud.
Jeddah8 has been often described by modern pens. Burckhardt (in A.D. 1814) devoted a hundred pages of his two volumes to the unhappy capital of the Tihamat al-Hijaz, the lowlands of the mountain region. Later still, MM. Mari and Chedufau wrote upon the subject; and two other French travellers, MM. Galinier and Ferret, published tables of the commerce in its present state, quoting as authority the celebrated Arabicist M. Fresnel.9 These have been translated by the author of “Life in Abyssinia.” Abd al-Karim, writing in 1742, informs us that the French had a factory at Jeddah; and in 1760, when Bruce revisited the port, he found the East India Company in possession of a post whence they dispersed their merchandise over the adjoining regions. But though the English were at an early epoch of their appearance in the East received here with especial favour, I failed to procure a single ancient document.
Jeddah, when I visited it, was in a state of commotion, owing to the perpetual passage of pilgrims, and provisions were for the same reason scarce and dear. The two large Wakalahs, of which the place boasts, were crowded with travellers, and many were reduced to encamping upon the squares. Another subject of confusion was the state of the soldiery. The Nizam, or Regulars, had not been paid for seven months, and the Arnauts could scarcely sum up what was owing to them. Easterns are wonderfully amenable to discipline; a European army, under the circumstances, would probably have helped itself. But the Pasha knew that there is a limit to a man’s endurance, and he was anxiously casting about for some contrivance that would replenish the empty pouches of his troops. The worried dignitary must have sighed for those beaux jours when privily firing the town and allowing the soldiers to plunder, was the Oriental style of settling arrears of pay.10
Jeddah displays all the license of a seaport and garrison town. Fair Corinthians establish themselves even within earshot of the Karakun, or guard-post; a symptom of excessive laxity in the authorities, for it is the duty of the watch to visit all such irregularities with a bastinado preparatory to confinement. My guardians and attendants at the Wakalah used to fetch Araki in a clear glass bottle, without even the decency of a cloth, and the messenger twice returned from these errands decidedly drunk. More extraordinary still, the people seemed to take no notice of the scandal.
The little “Dwarka” had been sent by the Bombay Steam Navigation Company to convey pilgrims from Al-Hijaz to India. I was still hesitating about my next voyage, not wishing to coast the Red Sea in this season without a companion, when one morning Omar Effendi appeared at the door, weary, and dragging after him an ass more weary than himself. We supplied him with a pipe and a cup of hot tea, and, as he was fearful of pursuit, we showed him a dark hole full of grass under which he might sleep concealed.
The student’s fears were realised; his father appeared early the next morning, and having ascertained from the porter that the fugitive was in the house, politely called upon me. Whilst he plied all manner of questions, his black slave furtively stared at everything in and about the room. But we had found time to cover the runaway with grass, and the old gentleman departed, after a fruitless search. There was, however, a grim smile about his mouth which boded no good.
That evening, returning home from the Hammam, I found the house in an uproar. The boy Mohammed, who had been miserably mauled, was furious with rage; and Shaykh Nur was equally unmanageable, by reason of his fear. In my absence the father had returned with a posse comitatus of friends and relatives. They questioned the youth, who delivered himself of many circumstantial and emphatic mis-statements. Then they proceeded to open the boxes; upon which the boy Mohammed cast himself sprawling, with a vow to die rather than to endure such a disgrace. This procured for him some scattered slaps, which presently became a storm of blows, when a prying little boy discovered Omar Effendi’s leg in the hiding-place. The student was led away unresisting, but mildly swearing that he would allow no opportunity of escape to pass. I examined the boy Mohammed, and was pleased to find that he was not seriously hurt. To pacify his mind, I offered to sally out with him, and to rescue Omar Effendi by main force. This, which would only have brought us all into a brunt with quarterstaves, and similar servile weapons, was declined, as had been foreseen. But the youth recovered complacency, and a few well-merited encomiums upon his “pluck” restored him to high spirits.
The reader must not fancy such escapade to be a serious thing in Arabia. The father did not punish his son; he merely bargained with him to return home for a few days before starting to Egypt. This the young man did, and shortly afterwards I met him unexpectedly in the streets of Cairo.
Deprived of my companion, I resolved to waste no time in the Red Sea, but to return to Egypt with the utmost expedition. The boy Mohammed having laid in a large store of grain, purchased with my money, having secured all my disposable articles, and having hinted that, after my return to India, a present of twenty dollars would find him at Meccah, asked leave, and departed with a coolness for which I could not account. Some days afterwards Shaykh Nur explained the cause. I had taken the youth with me on board the steamer, where a bad suspicion crossed his mind. “Now, I understand,” said the boy Mohammed to his fellow-servant, “your master is a Sahib from India; he hath laughed at our beards.”
He parted as coolly from Shaykh Nur. These worthy youths had been drinking together, when Mohammed, having learned at Stambul the fashionable practice of Bad-masti, or “liquor-vice,” dug his “fives” into Nur’s eye. Nur erroneously considering such exercise likely to induce blindness, complained to me; but my sympathy was all with the other side. I asked the Hindi why he had not returned the compliment, and the Meccan once more overwhelmed the Miyan with taunt and jibe.
It is not easy to pass the time at Jeddah. In the square opposite to us was an unhappy idiot, who afforded us a melancholy spectacle. He delighted to wander about in a primitive state of toilette, as all such wretches do; but the people of Jeddah, far too civilised to retain Moslem respect for madness, forced him, despite shrieks and struggles, into a shirt, and when he tore it off they beat him. At other times the open space before us was diversified by the arrival and the departure of pilgrims, but it was a mere rechauffe of the feast, and had lost all power to please. Whilst the boy Mohammed remained, he used to pass the time in wrangling with some Indians, who were living next door to us, men, women, and children, in a promiscuous way. After his departure I used to spend my days at the Vice-Consulate; the proceeding was not perhaps of the safest, but the temptation of meeting a fellow-countryman, and of chatting “shop” about the service was too great to be resisted. I met there the principal merchants of Jeddah; Khwajah Sower, a Greek; M. Anton, a Christian from Baghdad, and others.11And I was introduced to Khalid Bey, brother of Abdullah bin Sa’ud, the Wahhabi. This noble Arab once held the official position of Mukayyid al-Jawabat, or Secretary, at Cairo, where he was brought up by Mohammed Ali. He is brave, frank, and unprejudiced, fond of Europeans, and a lover of pleasure. Should it be his fate to become chief of the tribe, a journey to Riyaz, and a visit to Central Arabia, will offer no difficulties to our travellers.
I now proceed to the last of my visitations. Outside the town of Jeddah lies no less a personage than Sittna Hawwa, the Mother of mankind. The boy Mohammed and I, mounting asses one evening, issued through the Meccan gate, and turned towards the North-East over a sandy plain. After half an hour’s ride, amongst dirty huts and tattered coffee-hovels, we reached the enceinte, and found the door closed. Presently a man came running with might from the town; he was followed by two others; and it struck me at the time they applied the key with peculiar empressement, and made inordinately low conges as we entered the enclosure of whitewashed walls.
“The Mother” is supposed to lie, like a Moslemah, fronting the Ka’abah, with her feet northwards, her head southwards, and her right cheek propped by her right hand. Whitewashed, and conspicuous to the voyager and traveller from afar, is a diminutive dome with an opening to the West; it is furnished as such places usually are in Al-Hijaz. Under it and in the centre is a square stone, planted upright and fancifully carved, to represent the omphalic region of the human frame. This, as well as the dome, is called Al-Surrah, or the navel. The cicerone directed me to kiss this manner of hieroglyph, which I did, thinking the while, that, under the circumstances, the salutation was quite uncalled-for. Having prayed here, and at the head, where a few young trees grow, we walked along the side of the two parallel dwarf walls which define the outlines of the body: they are about six paces apart, and between them, upon Eve’s neck, are two tombs, occupied, I was told, by Osman Pasha and his son, who repaired the Mother’s sepulchre. I could not help remarking to the boy Mohammed, that if our first parent measured a hundred and twenty paces from head to waist, and eighty from waist to heel, she must have presented much the appearance of a duck. To this the youth replied, flippantly, that he thanked his stars the Mother was underground, otherwise that men would lose their senses with fright.
Ibn Jubayr (twelfth century) mentions only an old dome, “built upon the place where Eve stopped on the way to Meccah.” Yet Al-Idrisi (A.D. 1154) declares Eve’s grave to be at Jeddah. Abd al-Karim (1742) compares it to a parterre, with a little dome in the centre, and the extremities ending in barriers of palisades; the circumference was a hundred and ninety of his steps. In Rooke’s Travels we are told that the tomb is twenty feet long. Ali Bey, who twice visited Jeddah, makes no allusion to it; we may therefore conclude that it had been destroyed by the Wahhabis. Burckhardt, who, I need scarcely say, has been carefully copied by our popular authors, was informed that it was a “rude structure of stone, about four feet in length, two or three feet in height, and as many in breadth”; thus resembling the tomb of Noah, seen in the valley of Al-Buka’a in Syria. Bruce writes: “Two days’ journey from this place (? Meccah or Jeddah) Eve’s grave, of green sods, about fifty yards in length, is shown to this day”; but the great traveller probably never issued from the town-gates. And Sir W. Harris, who could not have visited the Holy Place, repeats, in 1840, that Eve’s grave of green sod is still shown on the barren shore of the Red Sea.” The present structure is clearly modern; anciently, I was told at Jeddah, the sepulchre consisted of a stone at the head, a second at the feet, and the navel-dome.
The idol of Jeddah, in the days of Arab litholatry, was called Sakhrah Tawilah, the Long Stone. May not this stone of Eve be the Moslemized revival of the old idolatry? It is to be observed that the Arabs, if the tombs be admitted as evidence, are inconsistent in their dimensions of the patriarchal stature. The sepulchre of Adam at the Masjid al-Khayf is, like that of Eve, gigantic. That of Noah at Al-Buka’a is a bit of Aqueduct thirty-eight paces long by one and a half wide. Job’s tomb near Hulah (seven parasangs from Kerbela) is small. I have not seen the grave of Moses (south-east of the Red Sea), which is becoming known by the bitumen cups there sold to pilgrims. But Aaron’s sepulchre in the Sinaitic peninsula is of moderate dimensions.
On leaving the graveyard I offered the guardian a dollar, which he received with a remonstrance that a man of my dignity should give so paltry a fee. Nor was he at all contented with the assurance that nothing more could be expected from an Afghan Darwaysh, however pious. Next day the boy Mohammed explained the Man’s empressement and disappointment — I had been mistaken for the Pasha of Al-Madinah.
For a time my peregrinations ended. Worn out with fatigue, and the fatal fiery heat, I embarked (Sept. 26) on board the “Dwarka”; experienced the greatest kindness from the commander and chief officer (Messrs. Wolley and Taylor); and, wondering the while how the Turkish pilgrims who crowded the vessel did not take the trouble to throw me overboard, in due time I arrived at Suez.
And here, reader, we part. Bear with me while I conclude, in the words of a brother traveller, long gone, but not forgotten — Fa-hian — this Personal Narrative of my Journey to Al-Hijaz: “I have been exposed to perils, and I have escaped from them; I have traversed the sea, and have not succumbed under the severest fatigues; and my heart is moved with emotions of gratitude, that I have been permitted to effect the objects I had in view.”12
1 This second plan was defeated by bad health, which detained me in Egypt till a return to India became imperative.
2 The usual hire is thirty piastres, but in the pilgrimage season a dollar is often paid. The hire of an ass varies from one to three riyals.
3 Besides the remains of those in ruins, there are on this road eight coffee-houses and stations for travellers, private buildings, belonging to men who supply water and other necessaries.
4 In Ibn Jubayr’s time the Ihram was assumed at Al-Furayn, now a decayed station, about two hours’ journey from Al-Haddah, towards Jeddah.
5 The favourite Egyptian “kitchen”; held to be contemptible food by the Arabs.
6 In 1817 Abdullah bin Sa’ud attacked Jeddah with 50,000 men, determining to overthrow its “Kafir-works”; namely, its walls and towers. The assault is described as ludicrous. All the inhabitants aided to garrison: they waited till the wild men flocked about the place, crying, “Come, and let us look at the labours of the infidel,” they then let fly, and raked them with matchlock balls and old nails acting grape. The Wahhabi host at last departed, unable to take a place which a single battery of our smallest siege-guns would breach in an hour. And since that day the Meccans have never ceased to boast of their Gibraltar, and to taunt the Madinites with their wall-less port, Yambu’.
7 Al-Idrisi places Meccah forty (Arab) miles from Jeddah. Burckhardt gives fifty-five miles, and Ali Bey has not computed the total distance.
8 Abulfeda writes the word “Juddah,” and Mr. Lane, as well as MM. Mari and Chedufau, adopt this form, which signifies a “plain wanting water.” The water of Jeddah is still very scarce and bad; all who can afford it drink the produce of hill springs brought in skins by the Badawin. Ibn Jubayr mentions that outside the town were 360 old wells(?), dug, it is supposed by the Persians. “Jeddah,” or “Jiddah,” is the vulgar pronounciation; and not a few of the learned call it “Jaddah” (the grandmother), in allusion to the legend of Eve’s tomb.
9 In Chapters iii. and vi. of this work I have ventured some remarks upon the advisability of our being represented in Al-Hijaz by a Consul, and at Meccah by a native agent, till the day shall come when the tide of events forces us to occupy the mother-city of Al-Islam. My apology for reverting to these points must be the nature of an Englishman, who would everywhere see his nation “second to none,” even at Jeddah. Yet, when we consider that from twenty-five to thirty vessels here arrive annually from India, and that the value of the trade is about twenty-five lacs of rupees, the matter may be thought worth attending to. The following extracts from a letter written to me by Mr. Cole shall conclude this part of my task:—
“You must know, that in 1838 a commercial treaty was concluded between Great Britain and the Porte, specifying (amongst many other clauses here omitted) —
“1. That all merchandise imported from English ports to Al-Hijaz should pay 4 per cent. duty.
“2. That all merchandise imported by British subjects from countries not under the dominion of the Porte should likewise pay but 5 per cent.
“3. That all goods exported from countries under the dominion of the Porte should pay 12 per cent., after a deduction of 16 per cent. from the market-value of the articles.
“4. That all monopolies be abolished.”
“Now, when I arrived at Jeddah, the state of affairs was this. A monopoly had been established upon salt, and this weighed only upon our Anglo-Indian subjects, they being the sole purchasers. Five per cent. was levied upon full value of goods, no deduction of the 20 per cent. being allowed; the same was the case with exports; and most vexatious of all, various charges had been established by the local authorities, under the names of boat-hire, weighing, brokerage, &c., &c. The duties had thus been raised from 4 to at least 8 per cent. . . . This being represented at Constantinople, brought a peremptory Firman, ordering the governor to act up to the treaty letter by letter. . . . I have had the satisfaction to rectify the abuses of sixteen years’ standing during my first few months of office, but I expect all manner of difficulties in claiming reimbursement for the over-exactions.”
10 M. Rochet (soi-disant d’Hericourt) amusingly describes this manœuvre of the governor of Al-Hodaydah.
11 Many of them were afterwards victims to the “Jeddah massacre” on June 30, 1858. I must refer the reader to my “Lake Regions of Central Africa” (Appendix, vol. ii.) for an account of this event, for the proposals which I made to ward it off, and for the miserable folly of the “Bombay Government,” who rewarded me by an official reprimand.
12 The curious reader will find details concerning Patriarchal and Prophetical Tombs in “Unexplored Syria,” i. 33 — 35.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51