My Life and My Travels by Heinrich Brugsch, 1894, Berlin

My First Journey To Egypt, Chapter III

It was toward the end of the year 1851 when a Herr Reuter, a German merchant from Magdeburg, who had just returned from a business trip to Syria and Egypt, looked me up in Berlin in order to bring me the greetings of an English resident of this city who had settled in Alexandria. His name, Mr. Harris, was at that time, already well known to me, although it became truly remembered only later in connection with the highly celebrated Egyptian papyrus rolls, particularly Harris Number 1, in the collections of the British Museum in London. The abundant means of Mr. Harris permitted him, year after year, to take a winter trip on his own Nile ship to Upper Egypt and to acquire antiquities of all sorts, above all, valuable Greek and Egyptian papyrus at, incidentally, exceedingly low prices.

Luck was extraordinarily favorable to him in this. Thus on his visit to a cave full of crocodile mummies, opposite the town of Monfalut in Upper Egypt, he came upon embalmed human corpses, which had found their last resting-place, no one knows for what reason, in the midst of the monsters. On the body of one of them he discovered two voluminous papyrus rolls with writing in Greek letters. One contained the speeches of the Greek orator Hyperides, the other the greatest part of Homer's Iliad. Both finds deserved sensation in the scientific world at that time and the name Harris was on everyone's lips.

On his journeys to the upper land, he used to be accompanied by a young full blooded Negress whom he had adopted. I knew her personally later as a grown young woman and learned to esteem her mind highly. She had enjoyed an excellent education in England, spoke and wrote English with extraordinary refinement, mastered in addition French, Italian and Arabic, and played a clearly prominent role in the society of Alexandria.

Even though her Negro face left everything to be desired in beauty, one forgot the ugliness of her face in conversation with her, for besides her intellect she possessed a pleasing eloquence and a sparkling wit, which immediately won the hearts of her listeners. Only the great fortune which was assured her through the will of her foster father, after his death, attracted many a suitor, but she once remarked to me, smiling, "Tell me, with such a face, what European will marry me out of purest love?" On the "Hill of the Cock" of Alexandria, in the vicinity of the fortifications which with great probability cover the graves of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies, Mr. Harris possessed a handsome house with a charming view over the city lying below, and the wide blue sea in the background. A large part of the distinguished villa was taken up by the antiquarian treasures, which formed a perfect museum of rare and precious antiques;

however, after the death of the father, to be scattered to the four winds by sale. Mr. Harris was not only an amateur in the usual sense of the word, but a prudent and penetrating investigator, who was familiar with the hieroglyphic script, insofar as it was known at that time, and who had published in the English language many a valuable article which contained the fruits of his studies in the Upper Egyptian temples. One of his most important discoveries had to do with the geographical significance of certain hieroglyphs arranged in the form of lists, in which he, with great acuteness, conjectured the names and the sequence of the old Egyptian provinces (nomes) of Upper and Lower Egypt. His thoroughly accurate surmise formed the basis of all my later geographical works on Egypt.

The German merchant, of whom I have previously spoken, asserted that he was a friend of Mr. Harris, at whose request he invited me on a journey to the Nile Valley, in order to enjoy the hospitality of the English collector to the fullest extent. He did not conceal from me the fact that Mr. Harris had a marriageable black daughter of great spirit and intelligence, but I showed him my wedding ring and in that way made it clear to him that I was already" spoken for," and therefore renounced Miss Harris, together with her riches and the Egyptian Museum. Only in the past year, during my last sojourn in Egypt, I learned with deep regret, through a letter from the unfortunate, by now really old black lady, that after the death of the father she had lost her entire fortune, so that she found herself in the most bitter need.

At that time I took the liberty of communicating to my high patron, A. von Humboldt, the enticing invitation of Mr. Harris, and he found it so important for my Egyptian studies that he promised me to inform the King about it, and to give me the prospect of the most needed means for a scientific journey to Egypt. The hope of raising the required sum of money was certainly very weak. Lepsius' journey had cost about one hundred thousand thaler, and since then scarcely ten years had elapsed. The King and the State had fulfilled their utmost obligation toward ancient Egypt, and in addition were bearing the costs for the publication of the Denkmaeler which were to contain the chief results of the first Prussian expedition in the most splendidly executed plates. Besides, there were many other claims upon the King's generosity for support in the scientific field, so that one had to budget the funds carefully. Von Humboldt's efforts, nevertheless, to make the journey possible were almost limitless, and it is touching to read the letter which he wrote to me nearly every day, in order to keep me au courant as to the good prospects or the poor results of his efforts. By alluding to an old Egyptian myth, he sought to convince me that it was a question not merely of the travel money, but also of a struggle of the bad Typhon against the good Osiris. But since he had once taken the affair into his hands, he wanted to carry it through to the end.

Ardent as was my longing for my Promised Land on the banks of the Nile, I would not, for anything in the world, have ventured to become burdensome to the amiable old man through my own petition, for at that time there was a crowd of dii minorum gentium who, by way of the backstairs, abused his goodness in an actually impermissible manner and with brazen boldness, and who applied for support, positions, and even decorations, on the strength of his famous name and his influence on his royal friend. Occupied as he was with the wearing labors for the publication of Kosmos, which progressed in the printing from page to page (Professor Buschmann provided the clear copy of the notoriously hard to read manuscript, which later, soon after the death of Alexander von Humboldt, would be presented by the copyist to the then Emperor Napoleon III accompanied by a letter); robbed, moreover, of the spirit of energetic defense through the bodily weakness brought on by his advancing age, he was obliged to sacrifice many hours of his precious time to importunate petitioners, and to occupy himself with "begging-letters" and the visits of persons who were completely outside of his scientific circle.

My travel hopes seemed to be slowly falling asleep, when a notice circulated in the newspapers gave them a new impulse. Auguste Mariette, a French archaeologist, whose later affectionate friendship for me ended only with his death (1881), had the unexpected luck to find the grave sites of the sacred Apis bulls in the so-called Serapeum near Memphis, and under the deep sand of the desert behind the present village of Abusir and in the vicinity of the Step Pyramid of Sakkarah to hit upon monuments of Antiquity as numerous as they were valuable. Among them, according to the report of the daily papers, were found an incredible wealth of inscribed stelae, or commemorative stones, and not the least of such were those covered with demotic inscriptions. They remained incomprehensible riddles, since at that time no one except me had occupied himself with the deciphering of the Egyptian popular script. What a harvest I might expect, and how my heart pounded at the thought of the salvation of really historical treasures!

What seemed almost impossible became all at once full reality. Alexander von Humboldt, strongly supported by the Privy Cabinet Councillor maire, understood how to rouse the enthusiasm of the noble and generous King by pointing to the Mariette find, and 1500 thaler were granted to me for the duration of a year, for a journey to the land of my most yearning wishes. No one could be happier than I was, and with precipitate haste, I made all preparations for my departure, which was set for the beginning of the month of January, 1853.

In Germany at that time, travelling to Egypt was a rarity; not so in France and England, from where every year excursions brought a multitude of visitors to the land of the Pharaohs in order to learn to know the wonders of antiquity on the spot and, as in school, to give their complete attention to the recollection of long past history. In my fatherland one was not yet accustomed to exposing one's self to the possible dangers of so distant a journey across the sea to Africa without further ceremony and out of mere curiosity or thirst for knowledge; and when it did happen, the prudent man put his house in order for the eventuality of his death, and took all measures to protect himself against the unhealthy influences of the foreign climate. He collected beforehand more exact information on the land and the people in that distant world, for a Baedeker on Egypt did not yet exist, rather the individual was directed to obtain the necessary advice and assistance from the better-known travel works, especially from the Reisebriefe aus Aegypten of Professor Lepsius.

The preparations within and without my four walls were soon accomplished, and even the thickest woolen underwear was not forgotten to protect the body from catching cold. And so I took leave of my loved ones, who overwhelmed me with blessings and tears, in order to begin the journey in the company of my father, first by way of Prague and Vienna to the port city of Trieste. He would not be dissuaded from taking me at least as far as the port, in order to witness my embarkation. It was bitter cold, we were traveling third class, progress on the railway went rather slowly, was interrupted on the Semmering beyond Vienna, and stopped completely near Laibach. We were forced to make use of a post coach in order to cover the last stretch over the melancholy, desolate Karst, almost without vegetation, as far as Trieste. On this road, at the end, we had the unpleasant surprise of being overtaken by a bora wind which, with hurricane-like force, swept across the boundless sea of stone, so that the post-horses were only able to move the heavy wagon forward at the slowest pace. The sight of the blue sea from the height of the post road directly before Trieste richly compensated for the cold we endured, and in good spirits, we moved into a small albergo in the port city with its thoroughly Italian appearance.

As with all my earlier travels, this time also Alexander von Humboldt had found it good, before my departure to provide me with letters of recommendation, which proved of greatest advantage and helped to open house and hearts to me. The letter to the Englishman Harris in Alexandria, from which my high patron promised the greatest results, has had a remarkable destiny. In his last letter, in which at the same time I received a long series of commissions for exact observations of geological and physical nature, he wrote to me: "Here, my dear Br., is the letter to Mr. Harris, in which I have cunningly compressed everything which can be pleasing to him and useful to you." The recommendation was composed in the French language, not in English, as one could have expected, considering the origin of the addressee. "1 speak and read English with the most complete understanding," said von Humboldt to me one day, "but I have never dared to write it. In its apparent simplicity, it offers the greatest stylistic refinements, and thereby difficulties, to which I do not feel myself equaL" The contents of the" cunning" recommendation I learned only two years ago, through a strange chance, and I make it public without hesitation, since for about twenty years it was exposed to the knowledge of everyone. My long-time friend, the African traveller Professor Schweinfurth, several years ago extracted it from the middle of a heap of old papers and documents which were stored in the former Customs Building of Alexandria.

At a fleeting perusal, he recognized the handwriting of his great colleague Alexander von Humboldt on the envelope. He could do no more than hastily to request it for himself, without being able to obtain information as to how the letter had arrived at that place at all. After his return, he gave me the pleasant surprise of turning over to me the forty-year old recommendation as my property. It reads, word for word:

"Dear Sir,

I cannot let a young savant, Mr. Brugsch, for whom I have a lively attachment, depart without profiting from this occasion to offer you, Sir, the hommage of my acknowledgment, which is your due on the part of all those who follow with interest the immense progress of Egyptian archaeology. You have profited nobly with success from the elevated position in which you find yourself, in bringing together so many demotic documents, in discovering the precious fragment of the orator Hyperides and, according to what we are told, a fragment of the Illiad! How happy would be my young friend, as distinguished by the extent and the soundness of his knowledge as by the gentleness of his character, to enjoy the protection which I dare to claim for him on your part!

It is according to the orders of my King that Dr. Brugsch, who on my recommendation has been received with great kindness in Paris, in Leyden, and in Turin, is going to Egypt for one year. The King knows and esteems him personally. In the midst of the political agitations of Germany the King does not cease to keep himself up-to-date on all that is revealed to us of the marvelous ancient culture on the banks of the Nile and the Euphrates, in Thebes as in Nimrud and Khorsabad. Your latest memoir, Sir, which I had the pleasure of placing under the eyes of the King, occupied his attention at one of our soirees at Charlottenburg, which is the winter Sanssouci for the Prussian Court.

I pray you, Sir, please excuse the illegibility of these lines written by an "antediluvian" savant, and accept the expression of my highest and sincerest regard.

Berlin, December 26, 1852.

Your very humble and very devoted servant,

Baron von Humboldt"

A last blessing from Father, and the Steamer pushed out to sea. Far be it from me to bore the reader with the description of my voyage from Trieste to Alexandria on a tiny little ship of the Austrian Lloyd. Only one thing may not remain unmentioned, that during an unusual storm on the Adriatic Sea-I was seasick as only one can be-I almost lost courage when in the midst of the heaving waves one of the two oscillating cylinders of the steam engine broke, so that the sails had to be raised in order to lighten the work of the second cylinder. Nevertheless, we fortunately reached the island of Corfu and changed the ship for a still smaller paddle-steamer, to arrive happily in Alexandria four days later. On this first voyage, which I have repeated in the later years of my life at least fifty times-in one single year, 1874, even three times-I learned to value highly not so much the solid construction and elegance, as rather the seaman's know ledge, calm, prudence and sobriety of the officers and the entire crew of the Austrian Lloyd, and I remained faithful to the Company, with two exceptions which were offered through the most compelling circumstances. Once I took advantage of an opportunity to travel on a French Messagerie steamer from Marseille to Alexandria by way of Messina, the other time on a ship of the English P. & O. Company, without having felt particularly comfortable on either, even though the French cheerfulness contrasted with the English stiffness, at least toward non-English travelers, in the pleasantest way. The Lloyd has one fault, it is true, which is seriously felt until the present day by the passengers without a knowledge of the Italian language; I mean the deficient knowledge of German, or the complete ignorance of it, by the entire ship's staff.


My first sojourn in Egypt, in the years 1853 and 1854, my experiences and the impressions of land and people which I received on my first excursion in the Nile Valley from Alexandria as far as the island of Philae, and above all, my studies of monuments I have tried to describe with unvarnished honesty in my Reiseberichte aus Aegypten (Leipzig, 1855, F. A. Brockhaus). Although a writer of my make-up usually does not especially love the children of his pen, for only too often he discovers later the defects which cling to them, nevertheless the inclination has never left me, to read the printed pages of my travel work again and again. Now at an advanced age, I feel even a satisfaction in comparing the judgments of my youth with the ripened experiences of the autumn of my life, and to measure the scientific advances which have been made since then in the field of Egyptology. In spite of numerous corrections which would need to be made in a new edition of my travel report, according to the present state of research, the warmth of youthful enthusiasm in the descriptions I provided is comforting and refreshing for my soul grown old.

The Prussian Consul General in Alexandria, a Herr Bauernhorst, received me with open arms. He belonged to the older number of vagabond travelers in Africa, had traversed the long and difficult route to Khartum with von Heuglin and our celebrated Vogel-Brehm, and had seen and experienced much which, at that time at least, had remained closed to all other men. The tales of the handsome man of Herculean stature, son of a Berlin postman and a brother of the Hanoverian Court-actress Frau von Bamdorf, well known also in Petersburg and Berlin, used to abound in strong expressions which corresponded to his forceful, often unruly character. It was difficult to deal with him, as one used to say, for his vehement manner generally frightened one away, so that he had only a few sincere friends.

Nevertheless, he took me to his heart, and before my eyes, let the curtain rise from act to act of his adventurous life.

His favorite sport was horseback riding, and he could not understand that I, after a few attempts, and falling off, obstinately refused to gallop along beside him on his white English thoroughbred through Alexandria's streets or in the region of Ramieh. Yet it gave him pleasure to introduce me, even "unmounted," to the society of Alexandria, and he felt a particular satisfaction in being able to show, as his friend and guest, a protege of the world-famous Alexander von Humboldt, who had recommended him most warmly. I had at that time put up in a hotel in Alexandria run by the Württemberger Zech, but my Prussian Consular-Deputy would not rest until he saw me, with bag and baggage, enter his own home as guest. Things were rather bachelor-like and wild African there. Thus it was part of the afternoon entertainment of my Consular protector to shoot with a revolver at a target fixed on the wall of the room. One day a bullet struck through the thin wall and hit a picture hung on the other side of the adjoining room; the shatter of glass fell to the ground with a loud crash. You should have seen the dumbfounded face of the marksman, when he had to convince himself that he had shot right through the breast, even though only in effigy, a personage of high position in our Fatherland!

In other respects his principle was: live and let live, and according to Luther's motto, that wine, women and song delight the heart of man all his life long, he paid homage to all three, but especially to wine, for which an honest Mecklenburger called "Father Langfeld" offered frequent opportunity and rich material. The latter kept a public wine shop on the comer of the present Mohammed-Ali Square, then named "Place-des-Consuls," and it must be said for him that his beverages were unadulterated and excellent, and could indeed entice valiant people to a long drink even under the hot Egyptian sun.

Since I never in my life had felt particular enjoyment in the partaking of intoxicating drinks, I was from this standpoint regarded by my host with a contemptuous air. I excused myself, as well as I could, with reference to my weak strength, yet, on the other hand, did not conceal from him my full admiration for his own extraordinary capacity. And so we got along well with one another.

Father Langfeld, a fat, very powerful figure who looked more like a comfortable landowner than an Alexandrian tavern-keeper, was a countryman of Fritz Reuter not only by birth and descent, but was also a kindred spirit through his inborn wit and humor. He actually spoke little, and reeled out the words "messingsch" in a strange mixture of Low and High German, in short sentences which left nothing to be desired in natural repartee. Also in his transactions and decisions the Mecklenburger was revealed, as Fritz Reuter has described him with incomparable fidelity in his writings. As evidence of this, I quote the following story of Langfeld which I experienced and which I cannot recall without the greatest amusement.

Langfeld promised to visit me in Berlin, when I should happily have returned to Europe. A few years had passed since then when he actually appeared in my apartment, his small travelling pouch slung over his shoulder on a green band. We talked of past times over a glass of sparkling wine, which he examined with a connoisseur's eye for its color and its brightness, tasted with sipping lips, and immediately pronounced in a more than adequate manner as "bad sort, Berlin poison." Thereupon ensured the following conversation.

"Where are you staying, Herr Langfeld?"

"Here downstairs."

"In my house? That is indeed a strange occurrence."

"No, down below, in the droshky."

"So you have just come from the station and are looking for a hotel?"

"On the contrary, I've been staying in the droshky since yesterday."

"Let who can understand that. And your luggage?"

"I carry that with me!" and he clapped his plump right hand on his pouch, "there is comb, brush, and soap in here and a whole bundle of gold."

"But explain yourself more precisely; I understand less and less."

"Not much to explain. I live in the droshky day and night, that is, sleep at night a few hours in coach-house. Horse blanket keeps me warm. It is summer, of course. By day the coachman drives me wherever he wants to, man who knows his business, he serves me as guide through Berlin. Eat and drink well, see everything, hear everything, know everything. When droshky stops, I get out, obtain information, coachman waits and then goes on. If I need linen or something else, I buy what I wish. Coachman gets everything that I discard. Am satisfied. No excess baggage, no hotel, no tips, no packing, no seeking and asking, have everything. Will remain here three days more. Now put on your coat, Herr Doctor, come downstairs to my hotel, drive wherever coachman wants to. Very comfortable."

I hardly believe that another mortal would ever have had the idea of making use of a droshky as a perambulating hotel during his stay in a European city. But Father Langfeld had already carried out this idea in practice, with success, in Trieste, Vienna, and Prague, and was not to be convinced that one might be able to travel through the world in any other way. His next goal was Paris, to a survey of which he had allotted a whole week's stay in one or another hotel-droshky. As I heard later from his lips, he inspected from a hired droshky, with the greatest profit, not only the great Babel on the Seine, but also London. In his domestic life, by the way, he had by no means been spoiled. According to the deplorable custom of many Europeans at that time settled in Egypt, he had formed with a widowed or divorced Coptic Christian a marriage "for a time," which was, without difficulty, recognized by the Patriarchate. The worst consequences of such a union appeared only when children had issued from the unlawful partnership. Later in an official capacity, I once had to handle a sad case in which a very skillful and generally popular German photographer died suddenly, without the wife, a Copt, and the surviving children having even the slightest claim to the estate of the husband and father, according to the terms of the law.

My most ardently desired and finally realized visit with Mr. Harris, an Englishman already well along in years, brought me a great disappointment. In him I became acquainted with a simple, straightforward man with an almost shy disposition, while his colored daughter, elegantly dressed in the English fashion, carried on such a spirited, lively conversation, that I was downright charmed by her. The requested permission to work in the already world-famous collection of Egyptian and Greek-Roman antiquities was readily given me, as a matter of course, but that was all that could be defined as special courtesy. I, for my part, had expected an invitation to a joint journey with father and daughter on their great Nile ship to Upper Egypt, but there was not even the remotest talk of it, and I departed somewhat annoyed, on my first visit to the two Harrises.

I stayed almost a full month in Alexander's city, which at that time was really just in the process of construction, as far as the laying out of new streets with stately, European style houses, often true palaces, was concerned. During the excavations for laying the foundations, the most remarkable remains of the old city came to light on all sides, and not least surprising to me was the fact that the former subterranean aqueducts, with high arches fully lined with masonry, showed themselves to be well preserved. A whole network of canals, laid out according to quite modern standards, ran through the subterranean quarter, and I was actually struck with the greatest astonishment when, in a boat guided by Arabs, and by the light of torches, I passed through long, high-vaulted corridors above which was the largest part of new buildings of the modern city. The buried cisterns, which one encounters in all the squares and all the alleys of present-day Alexandria, entered these old aqueducts which have disappeared today with the construction of the last houses, so that perhaps only few inhabitants of the older generation have any knowledge of them.

Upon my information my friend Auguste Mariette undertook at a later time to make a topographical survey at least of the cisterns according to their location, after Emperor Napoleon III, who at that time, was occupied with his celebrated work on Julius Caesar, had expressed to him the wish to reconstruct the plan and layout of the streets of the old city with as much care as possible.

I devoted much time and effort to the study of these remarkable canals, on whose side walls were found hewn many a work with representations and inscriptions of monuments from pre-Alexandrian times; I took notice of all remains of Antiquity which had otherwise come to light or were sunk in the swamps of the immediate vicinity; I repeatedly visited the villa colony of Ramleh and the remains found there of the older place, Nikopolis; I rummaged through the now almost completely vanished catacombs from pagan and Christian times-in a word, I reveled, as a beginning antiquarian, in delights which only he who has ever been inspired by the love for Antiquity can understand. On my daily excursions I enjoyed a knowledgeable guide, thoroughly familiar with the place, in the person of Dr. of Medicine Pfund, a native of Hamburg, who had established himself in Alexandria some years before my arrival and lived on the very slight income from his city and ship practice. To his avocation, researching the flora of Alexandria, he sacrificed almost all his time, so that his herbarium acquired an astonishing size.

Unfortunately his learned propensity never brought him prosperity, so that he had to struggle unceasingly with care and anxiety. He later moved with wife and child to Cairo, but there also he did not succeed in finding better advancement. Later I procured for him a position as teacher at the government school I founded, which for a time kept his head above water. As a sixty-year-old man he later felt he still had the strength and courage to accompany an Egyptian expedition to Dongola and Kordofan as physician and botanist, but he died as a result of a violent fever, an unfortunate sacrifice to his last efforts to protect wife and child from bitter care. Important as a botanist, yet nowhere did he find deserved recognition, for he worked slowly and deliberately, and his younger colleagues went ahead of him; mediocre as a physician, he lost his clientele through his passion for botany, which robbed him of the necessary time for visiting the sick; weak as a man, and of almost childlike temperament, he despaired of himself and thereby came to a miserable end.

Therefore I am doubly pleased when I occasionally find his name mentioned with honor in the most recent botanical works on the flora of Egypt.

My journey from Alexandria to Cairo, in the company of the Austrian Baron von Friedau, later famous in science, and two other distinguished compatriots of his, including a Baron von Konigswart, was by a Nile boat, since at that time there were neither railroads nor post steamers in Egypt. We were almost a week on the way, including one digression by land, from the village of Terraneh through the desert to the sodium lakes and the sodium monasteries in the west. On this trip, which showed me, for the first time, the luxuriant green of the Egyptian fields on both sides of the river in the winter season, there occurred a thoroughly amusing incident which could have been quite sad. Baron von Konigswart was an incarnate hunter before the Lord, who had taken it into his head on our trip, to shoot a red flamingo from the ship. The first thing in the morning he was already lying in wait on board with his gun, his weak eyes armed with spectacles and a quadruple pince-nez. One day, his loud voice penetrated the salon at the break of dawn: "Come quickly, if you want to see the flamingo!" We turned over on the other side, in order to sleep peacefully again, when the shot blasted, but at the same time, a wailing cry carne resounding across to us from the left bank. I plunged half-dressed out of the cabin and witnessed the following scene. An Egyptian fellah, according to the custom of the country as good as naked, was already at the break of day busy on the bank of the Nile with the help of a "noreg," an extremely simple contrivance for scooping river water to irrigate his fields. Illuminated by the rising sun, his red-brown body, which moved now up, now downward with the working of the leather bucket, shone in the purple glow of the Queen of the Day. Then the unbelievable happened. The Baron, in the firm opinion that he saw a splendid red flamingo before him, shot his gun at the bird, and the volley went into the back of the poor human being. With a shriek, the injured one plunged into the Nile, his arms divided the waters, and with loud lamentation, he clung fast to the edge of our Nile boat-in order to call the careless hunter to account? Oh no, but to call out imploringly and repeatedly for baksheesh. He was pulled onto the deck, his numerous shot wounds were looked at, and a bright five franc piece was given him as compensation. Smiling with satisfaction, he regarded the piece of money, thanked us according to the Egyptian way with a "God increase your luck!" and assured us with a sincere manner, even though trembling and shaking in his whole body, that he would be glad to serve as target once more, if his reward would be doubled.

Baron von Konigswart would certainly not have gotten off so easily, if he had the hunting mishap in his own homeland.


Our arrival in Cairo went smoothly. We landed in the port town of Bulak, went with our baggage on donkey-back to the city, through the middle of an enormous bulrush thicket which shot up above a man's height, and on which at present rises the most aristocratic European quarter of the city, Ismailia, and put up in the Hotel d'Orient, which at that time served as the abode of the few foreigners present in Cairo. Today it has declined into an inn of the second rank, although its favorable location, on an open square in front of the Ezbekieh Garden, ought to exert a special power of attraction.

Among the guests present, who intended to spend the last months of winter under the Egyptian spring sun, there were many whom I met again in my later life. I became acquainted here for the first time with a handsome young Prussian cuirassier officer from Berlin, Count Perponcher, who had sought the mild climate of Egypt because of a stubborn hoarseness. He is the same one who later, as Court Marshal in the service of Emperor Wilhelm I, carne into the foreground as a very popular person. The young Austrian Princess von Windisch-Gratz honored me with her friendship, to which in the first place, my antiquarian knowledge of the country had offered her the greatest inducement. Among the remaining residents of the hotel, of whom the majority consisted of English and French, there was no lack of jolly persons who shared the common round table and knew how to enliven the company in the highest degree, often without intending this. I number among them a stiffly earnest American who had travelled the distant journey from New York to Cairo with windlass and ropes, in order to remove one of the pyramids of Gizeh from its place and transport it to his native land. Furthermore there was a young Protestant candidate of Theology, who later in Berlin built up his parish through his pious sermons, but at that time had the idea of making the long journey through the desert to the Sinai, sitting on a camel behind a Bedouin, and supplied with a small bag of ship's biscuit and no other nourishment; after a three-day march, he was brought back, sick and miserable, to our hotel. Unforgettable to me above all the rest remains a foolish Austrian physician, Dr. Jemtschik, who was assigned to accompany to Cairo an officer severely wounded in the war against Piedmont, and who spent the livelong day at hunting in the environs of Cairo. The poor invalid, whose lung had been pierced by a bullet, lay helpless meanwhile on his sickbed. One evening his bed-covering of light gauze material, so-called "mustiquière," was set on fire resulting from a draft of air on the candle standing on the night-table. He saw that he was alone, but raised himself up with his last strength in order to plunge out of bed and pull out from under his resting-place a small chest with ammunition. His medical attendant had found this very place the most suitable for protecting the dangerous contents of the chest from the usual thievery of the Arab and Nubian servants of the hotel. A few days afterward, as a result of the excitement and overexertion, the patient expired after a violent hemorrhage. Dr. Jemtschik preferred not to go back to his homeland. He accepted a position in the service of the Egyptian government, was sent as physician to the Sudan in order to introduce cow-pox vaccination in Khartoum, arrived safe and sound among the Sudanese after a journey of several months, to be convinced finally that he had forgotten to bring with him the most essential thing-the lymph.

The arrival of an Austrian countryman from Vienna, a Dr. Natterer, threw our hero into a true ecstasy of delight. The not very young traveller, then about thirty-two years old, showed an awkwardness and a shyness that would have been explicable in a young girl of fifteen years. Very soon he unburdened his heart to us both. Son of a prosperous householder of middle-class origin in Vienna, he, Dr. Natterer, devoted to research in the natural sciences, had cherished a ten-year love affair with a respectable seamstress, unfortunately hopeless, since his father had declared himself firmly against the matrimonial union of the two lovers. The gracious fiancee, having finally become tired of waiting, had simply written him a farewell letter and immediately married. A few days after her marriage, the father had departed this life, and the rich estate of the deceased was left to him as the only son. Almost in despair, he, who had never left the city of Vienna, had set out on the long journey to Africa, in order to buy himself a wife at the slave market in Cairo-one who for all time must remain his duly paid for and duly acquired property. Dr. Jemtschik shouted with delight and called out with his stentorian voice, while his right hand fell on the table: "That was a very clever idea of yours! We'll set out together tomorrow for the slave market in the Chan - Chalil, Brugsch must come too, and we'll help you choose and buy a wife."

On the next morning, we set out on three donkeys-carriages or even droshkies at that time in Cairo existed only in a few examples of antediluvian construction-through the long Muski street to the Bazaars, in order to make our way to the Chan - Chalil known to all travellers, which, after the suppression of slavery in all Turkey, has been transformed into a rug bazaar. The vast building, constructed of stone and brickwork, enclosed a court in which rose galleries in four stories, where small towers led to vaulted chambers behind.

Their gloomy rooms received light from outside through one small window with iron grating, and today serve as storehouse of the precious carpets, but at that time they formed the living quarters for about 2000 poor heathen slaves from the Sudan, though not excluding Christian Abyssinians also.

I felt almost frightened when the slave dealer, a fat Arab of brutal aspect, made us climb the stone steps to the first upper gallery, after Dr. Jemtschik had imparted his request in broken Arabic. We soon entered one of those dark rooms, which looked more like a prison under the lead roofs of Venice than an abode for human beings. The half-light of day fell from the court through the open door into the interior of the gloomy room, in which colored women and girls crouched on the ground and watched with dull gaze the work of a companion, who was busy baking a doughy, flat-shaped mass on a hot tin plate. The fuel was smoldering, extremely evil-smelling camel dung, the well-know "gilleh" of the Arabs, already mentioned in the Book of Job. It was the bread of the unfortunate, which was offered them as the only nourishment. In place of human clothing, they were provided with a kind of grain sack of the roughest material, which in its lower part was cut out in a sort of circle, large enough to allow the head of a human body to stick through. The sad fragment of misery offered to our eyes the picture of a row of sacks, above each of which appeared a human head.

I felt deeply shaken and agitated, and would have liked best to leave the sinister place right away. False shame on the one hand, curiosity on the other, kept me from carrying out my intention, and so I became an unwilling witness of a sale which, in my opinion, was not only forbidden according to European law, but even punishable. Dr. Natterer's choice fell upon a pretty Abyssinian girl of about fourteen years, for whom he paid in cash a mere 100 Maria Theresa Thaler. I pointed out to him that after completing this transaction, he had assumed a very heavy responsibility, since he must make a declaration before his Consul that he was taking the place of parents for the child, and must first of all provide for Christian board and lodging and suitable education. All this he had not thought of beforehand, and I do not know what steps he took later to follow my good advice. To me the society of Mephistopheles and Faust had become repugnant, and I left the hotel, to take up my new living quarters directly under the wings of the Prussian eagle, in other words, as guest of our then Consul General, Baron von Pentz. Immediately after my first presentation to this man, the invitation was issued to me to consider his house as my own, and to come to him. I accepted the amiable offer and received one of the most cheerful rooms in his residence, which was situated directly behind the Hotel d'Orient and separated from it only by a narrow street. From the farthest windows the eye fell on the Ezbekieh quarter, which at that time had not yet assumed the form of a boring city garden in the French style, but just because of its wildness and in its abundance of trees and thicket of plants formed one of the most attractive places in Cairo. Arabs and Greeks had set up a great number of gaily-painted wooden coffee houses here; one sat under the thick-leaved shady trees of astonishing size, at small wooden tables, drank his mocha, blowing blue clouds of the excellent Latakia tobacco out of long Turkish pipes into the air heavy with the scent of balsam, and believed one's self transplanted, as in a dream from the "Thousand and One Nights." Through the interior of the thicket ran small paths full of blooming roses and myrtle, in which the ladies of the harem, heavily veiled, moved about in all freedom, without fearing to be molested by a "Frangi," or European. Everything was so natural and genuinely Oriental, like all the planting itself, which in artless beauty left nothing to be desired. It became my favorite retreat, as often and as long as I stayed in Cairo at that time and later, in order to carryon the most instructive conversations with my friends, mostly African travellers like Herr von Heuglin, a Württemberger, and the Bavarian Baron von Neimans, and to listen with the most eager attention to their plans or tales of travel.

Our Consul General, Baron von Pentz, was a native of Mecklenburg, had served as artillery officer in the army, later retired in order to devote himself to a diplomatic career, and had been sent by the government to Egypt as Consul General. Approaching fifty and unmarried, he was in his entire nature the very opposite of what one expected of the representative of a foreign European government in the East at that time. That is, he had an honest openness and, in the expression of his opinions, a bluntness which was interpreted as rudeness by the intriguing, ingratiating, excessively polite and crafty Orientals, and this made him an anything but popular personality. His incorruptible character exercised notwithstanding a great impression on them, and in private, they must have said to one another that "the old Pentz," as he used to be called in Cairo, was a downright real man, in whose presence one had to adopt another tone.

Whoever knew him more closely, and our common domestic life offered me abundant opportunity for this, had to pay him the fullest recognition just on account of his often brusque behavior, for in the Egyptian Nile Valley Prussia, or Brussia, was a land hardly known by name, and sarcastic allusions were occasionally indulged in, to which the old Baron immediately responded with the full expenditure of his power of expression.

The ruling Viceroy at the time, Abbas I, entitled "The Cruel" by the Arabs, with full justification, was an outspoken friend of the English, as later his successor, Sajid Pasha, distinguished himself through his inclination toward France. The politics of Egypt was at that time already wavering back and forth between these two Great Powers, whichever in a given case was regarded as the most natural and most powerful protector. The other Powers were taken into little or no account, and Brussia played a very subordinate role according to the Egyptian viewpoint, which only changed, at one stroke, when fifteen years later the news of the victory of the Prussians at Königgratz reached Cairo by telegraph.

I still remember today with true pleasure how Muski Street, on which the Prussian Consulate stood at that time, was filled in an instant with a dense crowd of Arabs, after the event became known. The people stood pressed together, head to head, and turned their eyes fixedly toward the coat-of-arms above the entrance portal of the Consulate, which showed at that time, standing beside the shield and rendered in bright colors, the two familiar wild men with clubs in their hands. The Prussian "kawasse" on duty, two chosen natives, had to do their utmost to answer the numerous questions directed to them. "Those are the sons of the Kingdom of Brussia? Indeed they are strong, vigorous sons of Adam, but they are naked. Don't the fathers of the country freeze in their cold homeland? And are there not yet any tailors among them? How strange, instead of the tarboosh or hat, they wear leaves of trees on their heads, and around their hips a short apron of cabbage, or whatever else the green leaves may mean. Just look, brother, at their strange weapons" (they meant by this the clubs in the picture). "Those are the dangerous weapons with which they, without loading, shot one bullet after another at their enemy. Maschallah! What God has made happen, all according to His will!" Thus and similarly ran the conversation which the curious spectators carried on with one another, in order to show their astonishment that nothing had hitherto been known about the brave sons of the Kingdom of Brussia. And to this was joined the wish that they should be invited to come to Egypt, naturally in all friendship, in order to show their peculiar, but so dangerous weapons, and to let themselves be admired by all Misr, the land of the Egyptians.


The old Baron von Pentz, as has been said, had in his time a difficult position in defending and protecting the honor and renown of Prussia according to his forceful manner, especially in opposition to the cruel Abbas, who believed he had to recognize in the person of the Baron the embodiment of all things Prussian. He had a thorough hatred for the Baron, and loved to let fall sharp phrases, which did not remain unanswered from the other side. I remember in this respect one incident, as if it happened only yesterday, in which I myself had to play an incredibly miserable role, since it had to do with my own presentation to Abbas I.

I mention beforehand that the then Viceroy hardly ever used to stay longer than a few days in the same palace, but year in, year out, wandered aimlessly from one place to another, to lay down his bearded head to nightly rest. He had a kind of travel fever, which was attributed solely to fear of death by an assassin's hand. In fact, this was the case in the Nile castle near Benha; two of his Mameluke bodyguards fell upon him there and strangled him with the aid of a noose around his neck. Since no one had an idea at which place he would stop, perhaps even in the next hour, his journey was really a kind of daily flight, as to the direction of which nobody was able to give exact information. For the General Consulates, which had business to transact with the Viceroy, it constantly remained a difficult task to make sure of his momentary quarters, and it required all the tact of the native consular interpreters to receive any sort of reliable statement. Often cunning had to be used against cunning, as in fact the old Baron applied it with full success on one occasion that was offered. Abbas had withdrawn for an indefinite time to his small castle of Meks, on the wild seashore in the vicinity of Alexandria. Suddenly a heavy wagon drove up to the portal, whose occupant was the Prussian representative. "We regret to have to inform Your Excellency that His Highness has already left the castle," lisped an official present at the viceregal court. "No matter," replied Herr von Pentz, "I have arranged to stay at least a full week at this pleasant place. I've had my bed packed, also taken care of sufficient provisions" - at that he pointed to chests and boxes in and on the wagon - and I intend to kill time by reading books." The thus unmistakenly beleaguered Abbas I saw himself finally obliged to make the best of a bad bargain, and the Baron got the desired reception.

I was hardly fourteen days in Cairo and living in the house of the Consul General, when he entered my room in triumph one morning with the words: "I have luckily caught him, he is residing today in the Abbasieh. You come with me, for I intend to present you." In a hired carriage of the Rococo period, we drove out the gate toward the desert in the direction of Heliopolis, where the Viceroy had erected for himself a tasteless, many windowed castle painted bright blue, which was surrounded by a massive high wall. It was called, after his name, Abbasieh, later turned into barracks, and still stands today as a dilapidated ruin in whose neighborhood, following the so-called Battle of Tell el-Kebir and after a march covered with astonishing speed, the Indian riders of the English army had drawn up, to be greeted by the humbly bowing Sheiks of Cairo as saviors from the clutches of Arabi Pasha.

We were received by the Viceroy, whose voluminous body occupied the left comer of a long divan on the window side. He wore the then customary Arabian costume, and his black-bearded round face looked anything but friendly at our entrance. In stooped posture, hands laid one over the other as a sign of submissive obedience, a young Armenian named Nubar Effendi stood, in his capacity as court dragoman, at a proper distance from the Omnipotent and Feared One. This was the same Nubar who later, as Prime Minister, was to occupy such a prominent place in the most recent history of the Egyptian Viceroys and who, not without pleasure, was to hear himself compared to our Prince Bismarck. Abbas I ~as not familiar with any European language and liked to conduct the conversation in Turkish, while Nubar had the task of translating the Turkish discourse into French, or the reverse, French into Turkish.

How difficult it is, to fulfill such a task conscientiously, I myself can confirm on the basis of my own experiences as dragoman in the service of Emperor and Empire, when the honor fell to me, during my sojourn in Persia, to serve as interpreter to our Ambassador in his conversations with the Shah of the Iranian kingdoms. Along with calm and prudence, it requires the quickest comprehension and the skilled accurate expression, in order to translate each communication at once from one language to the other with all acuteness, to avoid every misunderstanding, to add nothing personal, and besides to adapt the formulas of courtesy in address and turn of phrase without overstepping Oriental taste. I can assert that a half-hour conference had each time strained my powers to the utmost, so that after returning to my apartment, I had to throw myself on my bed in order to recover to some degree from the labor undergone. Even the most fluent, skillful and practiced interpreters are not in a state to prove the measure of their strength for over half an hour. They do so finally at their own risk, for the burden of all responsibility for speech and counter speech rests on their shoulders.

But to come back to my story, I must mention that, as a result of an incident, Nubar Effendi found himself in one of the most difficult situations. Hardly had I been presented to the Viceroy, when there entered the Audience-chamber, unannounced, the English Consul General Murray, known in history as the instigator of the Persian-English War, to be welcomed by the Viceroy in an extraordinarily amiable manner and invited to take part in the conversation. Mr. Murray, moreover, had the advantage of a knowledge of Turkish, so that we others remained in complete ignorance of the content of the dialogue carried on.

I saw how the cheeks of the Baron reddened, a serious sign of bad omen with him. He demanded with a firm voice that Mr. Murray be removed, since he had come first, had been officially announced and received. At the Viceroy's answer refusing this, there ensured a scarcely believable war of words, in which, from the side of Viceroy, Prussia and its Baron came out rather badly. The highly incensed Baron played the last trump with the deliberate shout: "Now you know what Prussia and a Baron mean. But I want to tell you what you are: the descendant of a Macedonian tobacco dealer!"

Pale and trembling, Nubar stood there, Murray smiled in a peculiar way, Abbas hurled the pipe from him so that a sea of sparks streamed over the precious carpet on the floor, sprang from his seat as though stung by a tarantula, and disappeared hastily from the hall through an open door. That was a strange audience, such as I should never again like to experience, but quite in the style of that time, in which the fine Turkish courtesy had not yet acquired its winning forms of today in diplomatic intercourse.

"I have told it to him properly once and for all," snorted my honored host, when the last step of the staircase was behind him, "but it was necessary to give him this lesson in the presence of the English colleague." As far as I remember, Nubar Effendi was sent on a mission to Berlin a few months later, and soon after that Baron von Pentz was recalled from his post. He took his leave and settled in Brandis, an estate in the vicinity of Leipzig. He was adopted as a son by the owner of the property, an eighty-year-old aunt, and died soon after, having lost a family lawsuit which, I believe, had dragged on over one hundred years and had cost him his entire fortune. He was an honorable character, through and through, an original, if you will, but in the best sense of the word, with whom I never quarreled, first because it was not fitting for me, the young man received as a guest, but chiefly because I knew that the highest virtues of man, honesty and integrity, were his inborn qualities.

He was not particularly conceited about his nobility, but yet one day he regretted quite openly, in my! presence, that unfortunately after our death we would not see one another again, since even in heaven, the distinction between noble and burgher would persist, because a more beautiful abode is reserved for the former than for the latter, according to God's inscrutable will. I laughed heartily and asked for the proof of his assertion. He thereupon explained to me that in the Bible is already found an indication of the great distinction between noble and burgher blood. It is written, namely, (Genesis 6:1, 2) that after the increase of men upon the earth, "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose." That is indeed the oldest example of a true misalliance between the nobility and the burghers, and nobody in the world is in the position to dispute its interpretation, because only in this sense does it obtain correct understanding. I may scoff as I will, he is convinced that the very blood of the nobility, if unmixed, is quite essentially distinguished from that of the burghers through greater purity. It is the blueness, of which there is so often talk. "But for all that," he added, "we'll always remain the best of friends. For me, too, the daughters of men, when they are young, pretty and clever, are a pleasing vision, and for the sight of a bright and gay young girl I'll turn over to you one hundred images of Rameses, each one 4000 years old." Thoroughly pleased with himself, he rubbed his hands together as if he had won a great scientific victory over me. God bless him, my dear departed patron who, through his energetic support of my first studies in Egypt, erected a monument of enduring thankfulness in my heart.


The Austrian colleague of the Baron von Pentz, Consul General von Huber, whose friendship I enjoyed until the end of his life, thought differently from the former about Egyptian Antiquity, although on the other hand, he, too, was a great admirer of feminine charm and beauty, and therefore missed no opportunity to invite recommended travellers in ladies' company to a picnic in the desert near Sakkarah. Nevertheless, he remained a bachelor to his last day, since all his affection and all his time, insofar as it was not claimed by his office, he sacrificed to the science of numismatics. He possessed one of the most beautiful and precious collections, which he later put up for public auction in London, after he had found opportunity everywhere, during his long stay in Odessa and in Turkey, to acquire the rarest pieces. His later connections with friendly consuls provided him almost weekly with new consignments, which he used to examine with genuine delight, and define according to their origin. He was a very learned gentleman in his specialty, and many valuable essays in the numismatic journal of Vienna issued from his pen. With much understanding, following his fondness for everything ancient, he had in the same way formed a collection of Egyptian antiquities which numbered thousands of objects, and had even conducted excavations, which brought to light several beautiful finds. To be sure, antiquities at that time were not very high in price; for example, a splendid carved beetles tone, a so-called scarabaeus, of old Egyptian origin cost hardly half a mark, whereas today forty to sixty times that sum is paid for such a piece. The most select monuments from his findings and his collections, Herr von Huber dedicated with patriotic intention to the Imperial Ambraser Museum in Vienna; the remaining part of his cabinet of antiquities he sold, upon his departure from Egypt, to the Viceroy Sajid Pasha for several thousand English pounds. It formed the real basis of the highly celebrated Museum of Bulak, whose treasures were transferred some years ago to the palace of Gizeh, across from Old Cairo.

Herr von Huber, likewise going on fifty, whose name will remain preserved in my memory with truest recollection, offered little that was attractive in his outward appearance. Small in stature, stooped forward as a result of his strenuous work in a bent position before his writing table, he revealed in his facial features, with the strongly protruding eyes, not even the slightest trace of beauty or charm. Only his dark, carefully dyed beard -also his long hair falling in strands bore an artificial black - modified a little the impression of downright ugliness and peculiar stupidity, although it could not escape the physiognomist, that ingenuity and ridicule for the world shone from these features. My honorable friend, Herr A. von Kremer, who lived in Cairo at that time as first dragoman of the Austrian Consulate General and later ended his career as Austrian Minister of Commerce, could not tell me enough about the severity and sarcasm of the old man who, himself an excellent worker, knew how to torment his officials to the quick. Herr von Kremer was a very learned Arabist, who acquired a deserved name through his published treatises and books on Egypt and Arabian matters, but it became truly difficult for him to satisfy the demands of his chief, and the dove escaped as often as it could and as far as it was able to fly from the talons of the hawk, in order to be safe from pursuit in solitary seclusion or among friends.

From the beginning, I had become the declared favorite of the old man. My Egyptian know ledge was a benefit to his collections. I read to him the old Egyptian inscriptions that were engraved on the monuments, we discussed ancient themes for hours, made excursions to the ruined sites in the surroundings of the city, and his house and table were open to me at any time. In a word, I had become plainly indispensable to him, so that he never presented me to his visitors with words other than "my young, but best friend and colleague in antiquariis." With my own best friend and actual colleague in antiquariis, the Frenchman A. Mariette, who at that time was conducting his last excavations in the Serapeum, Herr von Huber stood on the worst imaginable terms, while Mariette mentioned his name only with a contemptuous air. The two could not stand the smell of each other, as one used to say. How often have I not had to listen to the assurance of my Austrian colleague with: "The Frenchman in Sakkarah is a thief. My agent, the Spanish Jew Fernandez, is the real discoverer of the Serapeum. See these sphinxes, which he brought into my house already four years ago, but he is so stupid as to tell him about it over there.

Then the secret was revealed, and the thing was completely out!" Thus Mariette had become his enemy in antiquariis and I was placed in the unpleasant position of being the best friend of two declared enemies, without any hope of being able, through my mediation, to bring about a reconciliation between the two.

All the more peaceful was the mood in the house of my dear friend Dr. Bilharz, a young physician born in the Principality of Hchenzollern, whose amiable personality, warm heart, and abundant knowledge charm me still today at the mere remembrance of him. He had entered the service of the Egyptian government as doctor one year before my arrival in Egypt, with the intention of devoting himself, besides his profession, to purely scientific studies for which Europe did not offer him the desired material. Comparative anatomy and zoological studies formed the chief subjects of his learned, extremely careful investigations, which earned an honorable name for him in the science. He was the first who had dared, although in secret, to dissect the corpse of a Mohammedan and to establish the presence of a hitherto unknown intestinal worm. His works on the electricityproducing organs of the electric eel in the Nile, whose shocks I once felt on my own body while bathing in the sacred stream, soon enjoyed a renown which went far beyond the boundaries of the German Fatherland. His anthropological collections of human skulls of Arabian and Coptic origin gave the scholars in his homeland the material for important research, and finally his works on the most ancient animal world, based on the representations on old Egyptian monuments, offered me an inexhaustible abundance of material for the definition of animal names occurring in old Egyptian scripts, in my Hieroglyphic-Demotic Dictionary published twenty years later. In the company of the gentle and amiable compatriot, in whom I learned to value a teacher of the first rank, the hours of our meetings flowed by like minutes. I saw him again later in Berlin, but soon thereafter mourned his early death on foreign soil. Entreated by a reigning German Duke and his wife to accompany them as personal physician on a pleasure tour to the hunting-preserve of the East African coast in the vicinity of Abyssinia, he lost his young life, so useful and precious for other purposes, from an attack of fever, after he had successfully saved the Duchess from a serious illness. "Ave'pia anima" I call after him still today in most grateful veneration.

I would have to enumerate a whole list of well-known names in order to do justice to my first circle of acquaintances in Cairo, if I did not fear to weary the patience of the reader with an empty recital. These were only fleeting moments, in which the figures passed before me, without having exerted a definite influence on my own life. Therefore I content myself, provisionally, to call attention to only three above all the rest: Dr. Pruner Bey, a German physician, and the two Frenchmen Dr. Clot Bey and Linant Bey.

The first named occupied, before my arrival in Egypt, the position very influential in the Orient, that of court physician to the ruling Viceroy, and in his free hours he developed a very zealous activity in the field of investigation of the human races. He was an anthropologist who had written several books then acknowledged as good, but which today are left behind. His personal instructions were of little use to me, and I found myself on false trails, as soon as I followed the distinguished Bey's scientific suggestions, which my own studies in the country completely disproved.

The Frenchman Clot Bey, after whom an entire boulevard will be named in the new Cairo, is said, according to rumor, to have been a former barber, who trained to be a doctor and rendered the most useful services to the old Mehemmed Ali and his successor Ibrahim on the throne of Pharaoh. At all events, he possessed the courage, in the hard times of the visitation of the plague in Egypt, to go to the sick, without caring much about the consequences of infection. He also possessed a small museum with choice antiquities, which later passed into the possession of his native city of Marseille and whkh today is still visited with pleasure by learned Egyptologists in France. Clot Bey, of small, unassuming figure, possessed an extremely lively personality, and his tales from the time of the old Mem and of the Egyptian campaigns in Syria, Arabia, and in the Sudan I always listened to with particular pleasure. He even wrote a book on Egypt in the French language, which meant well, to be sure, but was rather weak in execution. The fact, for example, in the zoological part of the book, which he praised to me as a life-work achieved in print, that he represented the bat as a peculiar kind of bird, is not the worst among all the sins committed in it. A Turk, it is true, would have found nothing offensive in it, but his book was written not for Turks, but for Europeans.

Much more significant for me from the beginning was the acquaintance of a man who could be characterized as a blessed benefit to Egypt; I mean the Frenchman Linant, with the addition: de Bellefonds, as he liked to be called, after his birthplace. He died at eighty only a few years ago in Cairo, after having been raised to the rank of a Pasha. When I first came to know him, he was a vigorously forty-year-old of military bearing, with a great, powerful frame and sympathetic, always friendly features in his round face with its ravenblack, well-trimmed moustache. He had already entered the Egyptian service under Mehemmed Ali as ingenieur des pants et c1wussees, to submit proposals to the government, in neatly executed cartographic plans, for the laying out of canals, damming of the Nile, systems of locks, among other things. He had likewise made his own contribution for the construction of the maritime canal of Suez, although he did not receive the recognition which his ingenious proposals, from the practical standpoint, would have deserved in the highest degree. He felt a special satisfaction in geographical studies which were connected with water distribution in ancient Egypt and compared the old with the new. His treatise on the former Moeris Lake in the Fayum has even achieved a classic fame, and not less his fundamental investigations on the oldest linking of the Nile with the Red Sea, which he traced back, with full justification, to the time of Rameses II, therefore to the end of the 14th century B.C With clear perception, he had assembled the proofs which extended the older inlet of the Red Sea toward the present Crocodile Lake as far as the middle of the Isthmus of Suez, and in accurate estimation of the topographical conditions, he had established the same place for the march of the Jews through the sea of reeds. Unfortunately, it was not granted him to see the cutting through of the Isthmus carried out according to his plans, after his diplomat compatriot, M. von Lesseps, under the administration of the next Viceroy, succeeded in getting the concession for it. To my deceased friend and patron Linant, moreover, is due the fame of having first rediscovered the gold mines of Wadi Olaki mines which drew profit from Pharaonic times to that of the Caliphate in the region of the Bischarin nomads, near the southern border of Egypt towards the Red Sea, and of having made a cartographic survey of those unknown regions. On his travels in these wild regions the swift-running dromedary had become the most convenient mount for him, so that one caught sight of the good man riding only this beast even in the streets of Cairo, when business or visits obliged him to leave the house. According to his own story, he had once travelled the distance from Alexandria to Suez via Cairo, on the edge of the Libyan Desert and through the middle of the wadi of the Mecca pilgrims, in the astonishingly fast time of 24 hours, without longer stops, on the same dromedary, a performance which may hardly ever have been surpassed.

At that time, it was generally the custom among the Europeans settled in the main cities of the land, chiefly in Alexandria and Cairo, to form Old Egyptian collections which, with the years, gained an increasing value and not infrequently contained, besides much trash, the most precious objects of Antiquity. As sellers of the antiques there regularly appeared Bedouins, who wandered about the country in order to buy up, at cheap prices, finds accidentally made by the peasants working on their farms, or themselves to carry out secret excavations, usually at places lying hidden, and at night. My friend, the Bedouin Farag Ismail, still living today and at present a very rich man, was most successful at this, for almost nothing eluded his nose for tracking things down. In Alexandria there was the collection of Dimitri, a prosperous Greek, which had the rarest pieces to show. In Cairo the well known English missionary Dr. Lieders had founded a private museum which was worth seeing. In addition there were the apothecary Jannowitsch, a German confectioner whose name escapes me, the English dragoman Massara, a native Copt by origin, my old friend the Italian refugee and painter L. Vassalli, who occupied the position of conservator in the Viceregal Museum in Bulak established later, and the Spanish Jew Fernandez, all of whom were in possession of a rich number of antiquities which they offered for sale to amateurs, mostly travellers. Also the Italian Lanzone, at present one of the conservators of the Egyptian Museum in Turin, possessed true treasures in his cabinet of antiquities selected with great care. But not one of the fortunate owners found himself in the position to read the hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic texts with which the monuments were covered. Only when a so-called "king's ring" (the cartouche, as Champollion called it) enclosed a number of signs, did one know halfway, and seek to decipher the name of the Pharaoh from published works.

When it was learned that for me, the young Egyptologist, the knowledge of the three kinds of script was a specialty, and that 1 had devoted body and soul to Egyptian studies, 1 soon became a person much in demand in Cairo, and everywhere 1 found open doors and open hearts at my entrance. I, in turn, enjoyed the pleasure of swimming in a true sea of antiquities, even though 1 was greatly exploited, to give explanations concerning the secret legacies from days long since past. Occasionally my time and my knowledge were thoroughly misused, and Mariette, my later friend, was truly right to reproach me for it, since I was thereby only contributing, without knowing it or wanting to, to force the prices up high and to ruin the antiquities market. In spite of everything, it was a wonderful time for me, to sit for hours in the midst of the old trash, to examine each individual thing and to open the closed mouth of the dead inscriptions. Later, I admit, this pleasure had changed into its opposite, and today I have come so far that the visit to an Egyptian museum frankly appears to me as a difficult task. My curiosity in the past fifty years has had plentiful opportunity to become satisfied in the most sufficient measure, all the more so, as I, through my own works, have exhausted the material offered for my claims, and gladly leave it to younger and more capable forces to build further on my investigations, in other works, to confirm the same, or to correct and enlarge them. Everything has its just season, and human knowledge and understanding are not exempt from this law.


In the month of February, the pleasure was to be mine to become acquainted, face to face, with Auguste Mariette in his hermitage of the Serapeum, in the desert between the Arab villages of Abusir and Sakkarah, and with this to knot the band of lifelong friendship.

The warm reception which I enjoyed from his side was such as to captivate me by his personality, which with many others had the very opposite effect. He was of great height, with a strong body, his face, framed by a blond beard, was burnt red-brown like that of an Egyptian fellah; in his features lay a certain melancholy which, on the other hand, could be displaced instantly by a striking cheerfulness. At the same time, he was vigorously active and preferred riding on his Arabian white horse to going on foot. Wit, and preferably the French pun, was his inborn inheritance. Moreover, he possessed a deep worldly wisdom in all his plans which miscarried in only one point-which in this wicked world is an essential one-in all money matters which carne his way. He did not understand how to manage money prudently, because he had become completely indifferent to it, after having to struggle, at the outset in life, with all the misery of existence of a poor man. He could be as liberal as a king and in the next moment not know with what means he was to pay for the smallest expense. He possessed all the ambition of the man who is aware that the eyes of the whole world are directed upon him as the result of a magnificent discovery favored by lucky chance, but at the same time he was tormented by the feeling of his own inadequacy, not to be able to master the countless multitude of monuments, which he had brought to light, with full knowledge of their significance, and to have to leave it to others to exploit his gains. His knowledge in the field of hieroglyphic decipherment was on the whole weak, and he felt constrained in his conscience through the uncertainty of the translations he had supplied. He confessed to me openly and honestly, in our dialogues no less than in his written communications, that he possessed absolutely no gift for the philological side of our science, and this he deeply deplored. He was, so he explained to me, much more an artistic nature, which feels its only satisfaction in form, wherein Egyptian antiquity does not quite provide the most suitable material. At best, he understood how to organize, to arrange a museum and to exhibit harmoniously and to catalogue the pieces belonging together; beyond that he lacked, not the good will, to be sure, but indeed the requisite strength for scientific exploration. He deplored having entered upon a false path of life, for his realm and his ideal was the world of the beautiful, and he really felt called upon to earn an esteemed name as a writer, perhaps even as a poet.

Now he had to corne to terms with destiny, and as the extolled discoverer of the Serapeum, to do everything to uphold his so suddenly captured fame and to adapt his future work to it.

With his confession he had hit the nail on the head, for his spirit was tender and susceptible to the most delicate feelings. His imagination roamed about inventively in the boundless realm of poetic creations and his thoughts were clothed in a form-perfected language which blew the breath of life even into rigid Egyptian Antiquity. His descriptions of antiquities according to this tendency revealed the man whose ingenious pen is limited only by the barrenness and emptiness of the material and who tries in vain to break through the sharply drawn limitations. Where he was free to fulfill a poetic task, then he reveled in the enjoyment of the favorable moment and, like our George Ebers, he told stories with the pleasure of the poet by the grace of God. Only very few know that the celebrated opera Aida owes the subject matter and the invention of its action to Mariette alone. He wrote the librettro in the French language, and Verdi obtained the viceregal commission to set it to music for an honorarium of 150,000 francs. Also the drawings for the Egyptian and Ethiopian costumes of the characters who appear in the opera originate from Mariette's hand-even to the ornamental objects and weapons. He was the real soul of the whole opera which, from its first performance in Cairo, enjoyed such an extraordinary success, without anyone having thought of his name.

Mariette's fortunes in many respects resembled my own. We had both served from the bottom, inspired with an early enthusiasm for ancient Egypt, had encountered famous authorities who bore us more or less ill will for that reason and set up obstacles of every sort; we had married early and shared the happiness of a family of many children, for whom we had to carry on the struggle for existence. Even in another direction our mutual fortunes are similar. Just as I venerated like saints my magnanimous patrons, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Alexander von Humboldt, so for Mariette had a noble protector arisen in the person of the then Prince Louis Napoleon, who could not forget that, during his captivity in Hamm, the young Mariette had furnished the design for his artillery works.

I heard of this remarkable episode from Mariette's own lips. As President of the first French Republic and later as Emperor, Napoleon affirmed his real interest in him at every opportunity. There served him as intermediary, moreover, the foster sister of the Emperor, Madame Cornu, known for her distinguished French translation of Goethe's Faust, a lady of great intellect, but republican in sentiment, who could never forgive Napoleon, that, contrary to his oath once taken, he dared to place the imperial crown on his head. I shall have later an opportunity to come back to this noteworthy woman, since she demonstrated her complete friendship for me, and intervened later in my own life with great success.

Mariette's invitation to share his dwelling in the Serapeum I accepted most gratefully, and I soon became not only his good, but even his best companion. The dwelling which I have in mind is still standing on the same spot today, in the middle of the desert, although in a beautified and enlarged condition. At that time it consisted of a crude building erected with the help of thick, sun-dried earthen bricks which had belonged to more than twothousand-year-old walls in the Serapeum itself. Three so-called rooms were located at the front, the kitchen and other spaces were found in the annex to it in the rear building, all naturally set on level ground on the sandy soil of the desert. On a long pole on the flat roof there waved the French tricolor. In front of the building was an enclosed terrace, before which, in a small walled yard, stayed a young Egyptian wild boar in the company of a gazelle. Probably up to thirty monkeys of the long-tailed species formed the co-habitants of the house. They tumbled about freely in the desert, or occupied the roof, to perform their tricks gratis before our eyes. Egyptians of purest lineage from the nearby village of Sakkarah were employed as guards and servants during the day, to be relieved by genuine sons of the desert at night. All of them were devoted to my friend Mariette at the risk of their lives. The village girls walked daily, with pitchers on their heads, from the village along the nearly one-hour sandy way up to the desert, in order to deliver to the small colony cut off from the great world the necessary, but dubious drinking water from the flooded lakes or the canals in the neighborhood. That it was not really safe to drink, I willingly admit, for in spite of filtration with the aid of a "sir-pitcher," it was teeming with visible forms of life, but the summer heat was great, thirst still greater, and a glass of abominable-tasting absinthe was taken as an antidote after almost every drink.

Almost eight full months, all together, my stay in the Serapeum lasted, that is, in one of the smallest rooms, whose furniture consisted of a small table, a small chair, a small bed of rough wooden boards joined together. In the chamber I never felt comfortable. Snakes on the ground, tarantulas and scorpions on the old masonry walls, and spiderwebs hanging like banners from the ceiling, with fat-bodied inhabitants in the center, shared my dwelling-place. As night came on, bats slipped into my cell through the light- and air-holes over the door, to rob me of the last small remainder of repose with their ghostly fluttering. Before going to sleep, I used to tuck the ends of the mosquito net under the mattress and then commend myself to the protection of God and all the saints, in the midst of the desert in which jackals, wolves, and hyenas surrounding the house raised their nightly howling.

In addition to this, there was still the daily battle with the monkey vagabonds. When I was writing - and this had to be done with the door open, for lack of a window - a devilish rascal suddenly sprang onto the table and upset the inkwell; when we sat at dinner, another specimen crouched on each shoulder of the eater, in order to contend for every morsel from the fork on its way to the mouth. If one threatened or once struck hard, one had the whole horde on his neck and had to defend himself against the daring assaults of the biting monkeys.

How comfortable I had been in my clean, neat room in the hospitable house of the Baron von Pentz, and what an exchange I had made for it! And yet I would not have given up my life in the wilderness for anything in the world, not even for a palace, because the inscribed stones which were being brought to light by the excavators; in indescribable abundance, under the sand of the desert and out of the subterranean tombs of the sacred Apis bulls, sweetened my existence by their hieroglyphic and demotic yields. I copied and copied the countless texts from morning until evening, in order to satisfy my eagerness for knowledge and to be able to send in my reports to Berlin. It was a harvest such as never again in my life fell to my lot, a precious spring at which I sat, in order to quench my insatiable thirst for knowledge in long draughts.

For Mariette my labors were of rather special value, for they allowed him to see his own investigations confirmed or corrected, and to broaden substantially his studies concerning the Apis worship of the ancient Egyptians, particularly on the basis of the demotic accounts. I gained through the communications of my friend almost more than I was able to give. Had he not already resided in this desert for thirty long months, far from family and homeland, in order to win from the Serapeum its thousand-year-old treasures, hidden under the sand and mostly well preserved, to pack them up carefully, and to send them in hundreds of crates monthly to the Paris Louvre? A complete carpentry shop was set up for this purpose in a spacious cave which had formerly served as a mass-tomb for the mummies of sacred cats and ibises, and the French master with his men never grew weary, from early morning until late evening, constructing more and more new crates with saw, hammer, and chisel.

The Egyptian government had finally become aware that such magnificent antiquarian shipments were being transported on the Nile, and it found itself informed for the first time that this was a matter of the abduction of the most precious treasures of Antiquity only after almost all the newspapers in Europe had faithfully reported the news about it, following the arrival of each shipment.

Abbas I, as a result of this, was in a highly ungracious mood, and hastily issued a firman on the strength of which nobody has the right to conduct excavations without his sanction, or to export discovered monuments out of the country.

Mariette was warned at the right time. He ran up the tricolor on his house and without delay proclaimed the desert by the Serapeum as French territory. The land built upon was Egypt, and there he would take care not to dig; the desert was no one's property.

The Viceroy was beside himself with rage, and a troop of horsemen consisting of a wild band of Macedonian Arnauts, who in those times performed police service in Egypt, was sent to the desert in order to take military control of the Serapeum. Mariette, with his people who from the beginning were ill disposed toward the Turks, placed the Serapeum in a state of siege and threatened to shoot down from his horse anyone who would dare to set foot on French terrain. The horde was intimidated and retreated with its object unattained. Then the Egyptian government took a peaceful way out; for one fine morning there appeared an old, toothless Turkish Bimbaschi, Monsieur ie major, as Mariette used to title him, in order to make the official announcement to the unruly Frenchman that he had come, not to disturb the excavations in the French desert, but to superintend the removal of the monuments on Egyptian territory and to receive these most gratefully as property of the government. Here was needed good advice, for a whole new cargo lay stored hidden in a cave, ready to make its way to Alexandria. All that happened the day of my move to the Serapeum.

Mariette did not let himself be intimidated. He received the old gentleman in the most hospitable and generous manner, whereby he did not fail to make frequent offerings of Raki brandy, and there ensued between the two approximately the following conversation, naturally in the Arabic language.

"Major, you are a fine man, on whom I bestow the highest confidence, and I am glad to have made your acquaintance."

"God grant you every grace and prolong your age! You have made my beard white."

"I must therefore inform you, in confidence, that yesterday I made a great gold discovery"

"Where is it, where is it? Hand it over immediately!"

"Allow me to finish my report-and I am keeping this gold discovery concealed in a deep welL"

"Where is the well? I must see the gold."

"I am at your service. Go down yourself, in order to be convinced of it"

"By God, I will do that, I must do it"

"But consider, at your age! You must, sitting on a rope, allow yourself to be let down by two of my workmen to a depth of thirty ells."

"That is to be done, and at once."

"As you please. Men, to work!"

The Herr Major was actually let down into a hollow shaft, in the bottom of which there was an empty grave chamber which once had served as last resting-place for a distinguished ancient Egyptian. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Mariette had the rope pulled up, and the Herr Major remained twenty-four full hours in involuntary captivity.

He entreated, shouted insults, cursed, threatened - nothing helped him at all. The necessary provisions were furnished him in a basket, above all, strong drinks also; a pair of warm blankets flew down into the well, and the poor Bimbaschi had plenty of time to reflect on what a trick Mariette had played on him.

His long waiting-period completely sufficed in order to load a waiting camel caravan with the entire consignment for Paris. It made its way to the Nile, where a ship under the French flag received the precious wares.

Mariette compensated the victim of the trick with a rich gift of cash in French gold, came to an understanding with him, and he belonged, from then on, among our honored house-friends. When a new shipment was prepared, the good Major and Turk disappeared always at the right time, in order not to see anything.

Thus were the most precious monuments saved for France and science, and only a small part, consisting of about thirty inscribed stones, on account of their weight went to the citadel of Cairo, to be preserved here in a special room as curiosities of the first rank. The Turkish Nazir (Director) of the collection had the inscriptions of all the monuments nicely ground off, in order to give the stones a prettier appearance. Thus it happened in the year 1854!


Visitors from the city appeared almost daily, and only when the hot, burning sun of the summer stood over our heads did it become lonely in the whole neighborhood of the Serapeum. The majority of the arrivals were travellers who were eager to see M. Mariette and his Apis tombs uncovered in the subterranean crypts of the desert. For acquaintances or especially recommended persons the vast corridors, on both sides of which were more than sixty open tomb-chambers with giant granite sarcophagi for the sacred cattle, shone in the glow of hundreds of candles, and the sight never failed to exert an indescribab}e impression upon the visitors. In silent wonder they walked through the extensive arched passages, to come back into the blinding light of the sun at the exit, and thank the discoverer in the most complimentary words for the pleasure provided.

It need not be wondered at, that it was above all his French countrymen who made the pilgrimage to the Serapeum (the way from Old Cairo, at that time to be made only on donkey-back, required four full hours) and enjoyed the kindest hospitality in the Mariette house, for the sons of France were proud of their brother, and the French press had done everything to glorify his discoveries in picture and word. For that reason Mariette showed every imaginable courtesy to the best-known journalists and famous writers of his nationin the first rank I count Edmond About-and I regularly made the observation that he could not overcome his jealous feeling by introducing me other than with the words" Mon ami Monsieur Br. de Berlin." I was wise enough to put my Egyptian knowledge under the bushel, and leave to him the deserved honor of the day, for I knew that, fundamentally, he loved me with all his heart. When one said to me" AlI, Monsieur est Prussien," he answered in reply, "Certainment! mais Prussien de man coeur," as he likewise used to indicate in his many letters directed to me.

On a hot summer day of the month of May, which in Egypt means anything but the month of bliss, for the fiery hot khamsin winds usually blow throughout its duration, there arrived in the Serapeum a small donkey caravan composed of four Frenchmen and their guide. The most distinguished among them introduced himself as M. de Lesseps, who was later highly extolled as the creator of the Suez Canal, and today is condemned to play such a deplorable role in the Panama tragedy. He was at that time a vigorous man in the forties, of small, but solid figure, with a full round face and short black moustache above the lips, from whose eyes and features radiated the most complete good nature. Without knowing him more closely, one could read from these features that their bearer was not capable of deceiving anyone knowingly, but all the more capable of being deceived and taken advantage of. Although later, in an affair fateful for me, he wrote the harsh expression: "Le demier Fran;ais vaut mille fois mieux que ie premier Allemand." I am far from being angry with him on that account, since he had addressed the so critical words to an Oriental prince ten years after Sedan, in the excessive fervor of his French national pride. He did not possess the qualities of a man of high intellect, but on the other hand, a certain readiness at repartee and the fine French wit which seasoned social conversation with its salt. Courteous and polite in his approach, he charmed moreover by his amiable manner and revealed also therein the prerogative which is customarily proper especially to diplomats through birth, training, and position.

A raging khamsin storm set in shortly after the arrival of the four gentlemen, so that to stay in the house became plainly unbearable. Huge masses of sand covered in a second everything living and dead, and the sun's disk showed a completely red-brown color. Heat and dust mounted from minute to minute, but Mariette did not appear to recognize the slightest difficulty; on the contrary, he praised the chance to have gained the finest opportunity to take the prepared midday meal in the cool chambers of the subterranean tombs of the Apis bulls. Between the red-hot sand hills we walked together to the tombs in the subterranean crypts. To our incredible astonishment we were invited to climb down on a wooden ladder into one of the largest of the colossal coffins of sacred bulls in order to take our places on six chairs at a covered table set with food. No one found the space cramped, and we passed the most pleasant hours in the stone chest. When I have occasionally related that I took a midday meal, in the company of five guests, in a coffin, one smiled at this, or shook one's head unbelievingly. And yet it actually happened.

In other respects the midday meal described was to turn out very badly for me. I had committed the indiscretion, after rising from the table about sunset, of going by foot to the village of Sakkarah, at a distance of one short hour. Mariette owned a house in the middle of the village, built, like all the others, of bricks of black Nile mud. There we used to sleep during the hot summer nights, and thither I turned my steps, in order to finish a task that was absorbing me. Suddenly the khamsin broke loose with new violence and threw whole piles of sand into my eyes. I finally lost my way in the desert and reached the place only late in the evening, after a two-hour march. Deadly exhausted, I threw myself onto the bed, which I was not able to leave for fully three weeks. I had caught chicken pox, and only the medical treatment of Dr. Bilharz, who came in haste from Cairo, succeeded in restoring me.

During my illness I had the surprise of the visit of a German compatriot, the Count Schlieffen von Schlieffenberg, who had already for several years been visiting Egypt and Nubia, in order to become free from the consumption hereditary in his family. He was the last and youngest of several brothers who had died of the terrible disease on European soil.

On medical advice and accompanied by his aged, dignified mother, he set out on the journey to Egypt even before the beginning of the winter season, and the two were not afraid to extend their route as far as the province of Dongola, north of Khartoum, and to stay for months, as though vanished, in these inhospitable warm regions seldom visited by Europeans. The admirable mother had kept alive the young Count, an overgrown youth of twenty-one years, and thereby furnished a new proof that no sacrifice seems too great for a mother's heart, when the existence of a beloved child is concerned. I later had the honor to be presented to her in Cairo, and to learn to esteem in the fullest measure her devout spirit and the shrewdness of her understanding. It may not go unmentioned on this occasion that the young Count had the luck to discover in Dongola an historically important stone inscription originating from the period of the Ethiopian empire, which is of enormous size aDd at present forms one of the most important treasures of the Berlin Museum. Its transport down the Nile through the bad cataracts of Nubia was fortunately successful.


My life among the Egyptian Arabs and Copts taught me for the first time to become acquainted more closely with the peculiarities and the customs and habits of a race which, in spite of the introduction of foreign elements, in spite of the intermixture with these, and in spite of the diversities in the religious domain during the course of thousands of years, nevertheless has faithfully preserved the hereditary characteristics of the ancient Egyptian race to the fullest extent. Egypt does not let the foreign element in its inhabitants come to the fore; it becomes suppressed or generally disintegrates in the physical and moral sense.

European families remaining unmixed may survive hardly three or four generations, for their youngest and last one sickens away like a northern plant on southern soil. The offspring which has issued, on the other hand, from European mixed marriages with natives, takes on, according to the two tendencies indicated, all the characteristics of the genuine Egyptian and loses therewith the peculiarities of the European. The children of such marriages speak, think, and act Arab-Egyptian and show, more~, not the slightest inclination for a European pattern. I can testify to this experience from ~ own study of many mixed marriages which have become known to me. The Egyptian shows extremely noteworthy differences in his disposition according to youth and age. As a child until about his fourteenth year he is wild, high-spirited, of the liveliest cheerfulness, full of wit and intelligence, and capable of attaining the highest degree of cultivation through proper instruction. With advancing years the opposite qualities enter in, a result, as I believe, of his strict religious education under the guidance of fanatical and, according to our concept, uncultivated clergy. It required a wise admonition of the pious late Khedive Mohammed Tewfik to the present generation of the teachers of Islam, in order for the first time to remind them that strictness of faith in no way excludes striving after worldly knowledge; that, on the contr~ry, God has granted understanding to man not merely to believe the divine doctrines, but to examine heavenly and earthly things from a scientific standpoint, and also to admire the omnipotence of Allah in the glory of His creation, and learn to venerate its invisible Author. It must freely be admitted that the critical judgment of the Egyptian does not go beyond the mediocre, and the love for truth in scientific research, as in life, reveals serious contradictions. On the whole, the Egyptians are and remain great children, with whom one gets along well, as long as one makes no higher demands on them, as they are made on the Europeans through education in school and home.

On the special recommendation of a native of high standing I enjoyed my first instruction in the Arabic language from a so-called sheik, who had the reputation of particular holiness among the people, after he had devoured sixteen glass lamps without having done harm to his body. To be sure, this extraordinary performance furnished the reason that the superiors of a dervish order, to which he belonged, expelled him from their band on account of repeated waste of lamps. Sheik Ahmed, as he was called, was a man of sixty, blind in one eye, only half-seeing with the other, talkative as a thrush, ridiculous in his whole appearance and, his conduct, but at the same time a model of conjugal life, for in the course of time he had married seventy women, without having been presented with the desired progeny. When I saw him, the wise man of Cairo, enter my house as teacher, the old rascal was on the point of entering into a seventy-first marriage with a young, fifteen-year-old virgin.

I could never look at him without being seized with the desire to laugh, for he had the most comical method of initiating me into the finer Arabic conversation and style of writing. When he carne to my house, he remained first of all standing in the open door and addressed a long greeting to me with a ceremonial voice. When at my invitation he stepped closer, he got rid of his yellow slippers and sat down gravely with crossed legs beside me on the divan. After the servant had handed him coffee and pipe, there ensued the refined conversation conducted in Arabic, of which a single sample may suffice here.

"Oh sir," he began one day by saying, "Are you in the possession of money?" "No," I answered him.

"Say yes!" he replied.

"Why yes?"

"It is only for the sake of grammatical conversation, therefore say yes!" "Very well, then, I possess money." "How much of it do you possess?" "I have indeed no money." "Say: I possess so and so much, for example, a thaler." "For all I care, I possess a thaler."

"Where have you put it?" "Indeed I possess no money at alL" "Very well. Have you any small change on you?"


"Show it to me and count it ouL" "Yes, but for what reason?" "Only for the sake of Arabic conversation." I drew two five-piaster pieces out of mypurse.

"Lay them in my hand." "Again, for what reason?" "Only for the sake of Arabic style." I laid the pieces of money in his right hand with the words: "Here they are." "Good!" As it pleases God, let us continue our conversation another time." With that, the quaint holy man put the money into his breast pocket, rose, and I never saw my ten piasters again. Sheik Ahmed was behaving, according to the manner of his countrymen, like a great child, in whom a calculated craftiness is not wanting.

In order to make me an Arabic writer, he one day dictated a letter to me. He brought the sheet written by me close to his half-seeing eye, read it, and found not even one mistake in my script. And yet I was perfectly conscious of having wr:itten a few words wrong, since I had only heard them. I leaned across him in order to direct his attention to them in the text, when I discovered, to my astonishment, that he was holding the sheet in his hand upside down under his eye. "I believe, a Sheik, you cannot read?" I remarked to him.

"a my son," he exclaimed, "You are right, for I know neither how to read nor to write. But God is merciful, and the All Merciful One will help me further." I naturally relieved him at once of the position as teacher, and he disappeared with deep bows, never to cross my threshold again.

In the two years, 1853 and 1854, of my stay in Egypt, of which the greater half fell in the domain of Upper Egyptian monuments, I lived in constant intercourse with the sons of the land, learned to know their few virtues and numerous weaknesses almost daily, and accustomed myself to the chief requirement for relations with them, namely never, even in the worst situations, to give up my calm and to show a violently excited temper through my expressions and my conduct, as the majority of the Europeans are in the habit of doing. Losing one's temper gives them a kind of pleasure, and old and young hurry over, yelling and rejoicing, to ridicule the "Father of the Hat" in his anger. In such cases we Europeans seem to them like a special kind of clown.

Those who were in my service proved themselves dependable people, even though here and there, in their marketing, they took advantage of me by a half or a whole piaster. I was completely conscious of this and preferred to shut my eyes to it, since even in Europe similar practices among the servant class are said to be no rarity.


Still today I think with grateful feelings of my two guides in Thebes: the old graybeard Timsach (his name means in Arabic no less ~ "crocodile") on the eastern side of the vast site of ruins, and the venerable old man of eighty years, Auad, on the western.

Timsach, at that time about sixty-five years old, had been in his manhood the guide of Champollion the Younger, when the latter was staying in Thebes, and for that reason he was in the position to tell me a great deal about the great master, whom he had accompanied on all his journeys. The French government had conferred French citizenship upon him as a reward for his faithfully performed services, so that he was exempt from all taxes and duties and, along with all the members of his own family, was in no way permitted to be harassed by the Theban authorities. The population of Karnak, to which he belonged, venerated him like a famous Sheik, and in addressing him gave him the title of "Our Father." Although myoId Timsach wore the fellah costume of his countrymen and a respectable turban decorated his head, he was nevertheless proud of his Frenchness and took pains, as far as it concerned him, to bestow his full approval upon French customs and views.

His colleague Auad, over there on the other side of Thebes, which embraced chiefly the Temples of the Dead and the region of the tombs from Antiquity, was just as estimable a man as the eastern "crocodile." As the latter perceived his own fame in Champollion, so did the former in Lepsius, whom he had served during Lepsius' longer stay in Thebes. He felt, therefore,a double satisfaction, to recognize in me a compatriot of the great scholar, and I, on my part, was in the fortunate position to show my heartiest gratitude to the venerable old man for all his efforts. He on this side, like Timsach, over yonder, possessed an admirable knowledge of the monuments, even to the numbers of the individual tombs and catacombs, so that under his guidance I never found myself in error.

During my stay of several months in Thebes I had set up my living quarters on the east side of the old city in the small temple of the local goddess Ape, and when I awoke in the early morning, I always felt great pleasure in seeing the great and small gods of the ancient Egyptian Olympus pass before my eyes on the silent walls opposite my bed. Ape stood at the top of all, even though in a figure of little charm for an exalted goddess. She showed herself in the image of a hideous black hippopotamus with gaping jaws, and only the crown and scepter and other attributes on her bod y made one forget that she belonged not merely to a mythological zoo. Never have I felt the joy of work quite as much as in this Theban dwelling of mine, which left nothing to be desired in durability, was exposed to no danger of fire, and had besides the pleasant advantage that I was a tenant freed from rent and tax on it. A room not occupied by me possessed a remarkable peculiarity which had given it the designation "the Chamber of the Clock of the Dead" among the Arabs. When the outer wall of stone became illuminated by the rays of the morning sun, there could be heard a low, resonant tone that was approximately like the long-drawn-out metallic sound of a striking clock. The famous columns of Memnon, according to the consistent testimonies of Antiquity, offered occasion for the same observation. The physical causes of the ringing tone of a cracked mass of stone warmed by the sun have long since been cleared up. It cannot be surprising that the Arabs composed a whole cycle of legends out of these and similar phenomena in the midst of the magnificent monument-world of Thebes. Their tales and fables stand on a par with our "Ahnfrau" or white woman in the famous corridors of old castles and citadels. Anyway, their stories had a particular value for me, since they were not without connection with actual traditions supported by the inscriptions of the temples-traditions which were transmitted from generation to generation through thousands of years.

My dwelling on the opposite side of Thebes was the former tomb of a distinguished Egyptian which was chiseled at some height in the rocks of A~d-el-Kurnah and decorated with pictures and inscriptions, and provided for me the advantage of a cool and relatively clean place of abode. When I stepped out of my tomb in the morning, the wonderful light and the panorama spread out at my feet so charmed me that it could not be imagined more splendid, more magnificent. The ruin-site of the one-time "Queen of Cities" spread in vast extent at my feet, cut through by the waters and sand islands of the Nile River, which separated its domain into two great halves. The massive remains of the Empire Temple of Kamak and the columned halls of the great sanctuary of Luxor, pierced by the blue brightness of the sky, transported me into a true world of enchantment.

The impressions that I felt at such moments in my innermost soul allowed me to forget the need in which I found myself in the last months of my wanderings. The travel money was used up to the last heller, and I was compelled to keep myself alive like the poorest Thebans. Lentils, beans, onions, dry bread and only rarely a meager chicken do not form a diet capable of-strengthening a European over a long period. In addition, there was an inconsolable loneliness at a great distance from the family, the lack of all news "from the outside," the deprivation of all spiritually refreshing pleasures, such as Europe offers the cultivated man in inexhaustible abundance, and, not last, the lack of certainty and fast forwarding of all communications by letter. And so I was thankful to fate when, at the height of my desperate state, I attained possession of a letter whose address let me recognize immediately the trembling handwriting of my protector, Alexander von Humboldt. I rejoiced when I read with all due devotion the following lines on the two closely written pages:

"My dearest Brugsch! I have to reproach myself severely, that I have not given you more often and earlier signs of life, of the sincerest friendship, and of thanks for such exceedingly important and heartfelt letters. But the thought that you, even for only a moment, could doubt my sincere attachment, my ever increasing respect for your fine talent and your unprecedented and yet so disciplined activity, cannot enter my mind.

Almost every letter of yours, also those addressed to me, has been put before the King and has been listened to by him with the benevolence which he has so unalterably bestowed upon you. Whether these lines come safely into your hands, my dear doctor, seems to me very uncertain. Their chief purpose is to give you the glad news that the wish you expressed to me in your letter written on board the bark 'Serapis' has been fully gratified. You announced that from November on you would be without funds, and in February would come back. It has been easy for me to obtain again for you from the King, for a whole year, fifteen hundred thaler.

This is not to say that you must remain for another full year; it will merely open up for you the possibility of the disposition of 1500 additional thaler, namely 125 thaler each month, until your arrival in Berlin. Perhaps you'll still go to the Sinai, where there are such old inscriptions, perhaps you'll make the return journey by way of Malta and London, where you can count fully on Bunsen's friendliness. In London there is much, very much to read, and a stay in London could perhaps be included in the Egyptian journey, if the 1500 thaler brought you back to Berlin via London. You will have to visit London anyway, in order to complete your works, and from Berlin, after the Egyptian journey, it might not be so easy to obtain money again for a London trip. It would be better that Egypt and London were one, and that, with the new 1500 thaler now granted until August, you carne to Berlin by way of Malta and London. I would like to think of peace, but in this respect the future is not to be counted on with certainty. I have agreed with Geheimrat Cabinet Minister Illaire, who is very fond of you, that a credit of 1500 thaler will be opened for you at the Legation by the Chamberlain and Consul General in Cairo, Baron von Pentz. Due to the absence of the King and Illaire in Warsaw and the presence now of the Russian Emperor in Potsdam (because of the agitated time), the matter is not yet settled in every formality, but the friendliest sanction of the King is quite certain. I intend to write to Baron von Pentz myself on this account, even before Geheimrat Cabinet Minister Illaire does.

For every detail of the journey which I alluded to before, act quite freely, according to your own wish. Lepsius continues to speak very kindly of you. I have accompanied your letter to Bunsen with a very warm one. I greatly approve that you do not hurry too much with the work promised to Böckh in the Academy. On a journey, where all reference material is lacking, it is never possible to produce something finished, or even to ask for it, but before you corne back, a work for the Academy is by all means necessary, since your fine reports to the King, which served different purposes of information, I have always returned directly to your admirable father. Your very learned and distinguished friend, G. Weiss, author of a very remarkable book, I had already welcomed with great honor, when I received your letter.

My health has, on the whole, remained the same, that is, not directly hindering work, only lately I have had more of the usual ailments: constipation as well as catarrh and cough.

Arago's death has grieved me deeply, much as it was to be wished for. Poor Passalacqua's matter of debts, brought about through foolish and mistaken speculation in paintings still occupies me. I hope there can be help for him, although the Ministers refuse all advance payments. Herr von Olfers, contrary to expectation, has shown himself very kind. The Seifert family sends you hearty greetings.

Accept, dearest Brugsch, the renewed assurance of my inviolable attachment.

Dr. Pfundt's meteorological observations (but on the Réaumur scale - this addition cannot be repeated often enough!) are very praiseworthy, but the single months can be lost. He should send them together every six months addressed for the greatest security, to Professor Dove (on behalf of the Geographic Society). Will you yourself, however, try very seriously to find out: 1) What is the greatest heat of the summer with reference to the scale, and 2) what is the highest air temperature in the shade, far from proximity of rocks, in the open air, not in tents, not in air filled with dust, at a height of six to seven feet above the ground in the shade? You know, of course, that physicists do not believe that it is 36 to 37 degrees Réaumur. Observations in the sun do not help at all.

Potsdam, October 9,1853.

Yours, A.v. Humboldt."

The words of the preceding letter, which the then eighty-four-year-old man had written with trembling hand, rang in my ears like music of the spheres. With one stroke 1 had been delivered from all distress and care, and found again the almost completely lost courage to devote myself with fresh vigor to my researches on the domain of the Theban city of the dead. But I did not let it keep me from making my way to the Nile, having myself taken across the river, and celebrating a true holiday in the "French Castle" in Luxor. 1 arrived at just the right time to save from destruction a highly valuable astronomical monument of the Empire Period. A brown-skinned servant of the castle was just on the point of raising the hatchet to reduce to pieces for firewood an old coffin brightly painted with constellations, when I entered and prevented the disaster. The "French Castle" consisted in all of several rooms built of old Nile bricks, which rested at an airy height upon the stone supporting beams and columns of the rearmost chambers of the Temple of Amon in Luxor. A flight of steps, likewise made of Nile bricks, led to the half-European, half Arabic furnished living quarters, whose owner, a Frenchman named Maunier, with his wife, a no longer young Italian woman, passed a lonely existence, solely to obtain a small fortune in a suitable way. He produced photographs which he sold to travelling Europeans, mostly English and French, or he bought and sold antiquities-even inscribed stones of the temple walls were not safe from him. Besides, he lent money at high interest, in which he did the best business with Arabian merchants who sent their caravans through the desert as far as Dongola and Kordofan. M. Maunier was therefore a figure well known to all Thebans, for his years-long stay, his active business, and not least, his medical help had brought him into contact with everyone and no Nile traveller landed in Thebes, almost at the foot of his lofty, strange temple-dwelling without paying a visit to him and his beautiful, although somewhat melancholy wife. To be sure, this was only in the short winter months, for in the hot season then, as still today, one avoided the sojourn in the inferno of Egypt. I passed many a happy hour in the French castle, because of the pleasure it gave me to be able to communicate with two European souls and from time to time receive news "from over there," that is, "Frangistan." At that time, to be sure, the newspapers needed at least a month, to reach the castle from Paris and London. The castle, in the end, had a sad fate, from which only a lucky chance saved the inhabitants, who were absent at the time. During the nighttime the floor, that is, the trunks of the palm-trees laid diagonally across the temple walls, collapsed, and a large part of the house with its furniture plunged into the depth of the sanctuary lying beneath. M. Maunier left Luxor soon after that, in order to go back to Cairo and enter the service of an Egyptian prince as estate manager. As far as I heard later, he emigrated to France a rich man.

My rock dwelling on the west side of Thebes had the pleasure of many a European visitor in the winter; indeed I once had to share it with a travelling countryman who later won a name for himself as researcher in the field of geography and ethnography. This was the Baron von Maltzahn, whom I delivered from the clutches of his Maltese dragoman right after his arrival in Thebes. The dragoman, who had been engaged to guide my compatriot on a Nile boat through Upper Egypt, mistreated the poor Baron in the most unheard-of way, plundered him, and so far forgot himself as to attack him even with blows. As I said, I stepped in as a saving angel, freed the unfortunate one from his dangerous situation and lodged him for six weeks in my modest rock tomb.

Another meeting has likewise remained in my memory, since it provided me, quite unexpectedly with the personal acquaintance of the Catholic Pater Ignatius Knoblecher, a native Austrian who, through his missionary work on the White Nile, 10 degrees north lat., later attained a certain renown and ended his active life as Bishop in Rome. Abuna Soliman, "our father Solomon," as the Arabs called him, at that time a man of thirty, knew the upper Nile regions like his own homeland. At the time of our first meeting he was accompanied by twelve craftsmen of Austrian origin who were to devote themselves to practical missionary work, in order to introduce the Negroes to European handicrafts and to awaken their minds to the blessings of our culture. As I learned several years later from the lips of the Pater, not one of them carne home alive. They succumbed after a year to the climate and to fever, perhaps as a result of their sober way of life and their abstinence from all alcoholic beverages. Accompanying the expedition there was a young Bari Negro, the first ever to be seen in Egypt, who attracted general attention, particularly by a peculiar feather crown on his head. The Pater was only partially able to corne to an understanding with him in his dialect, in which the s-sound is said to be unknown. At least, the Bari never pronounced the word Soliman other than Toliman. Pater Ignatius told me of the tragic end of the Austrian Consul Dr. Reitz (one of the members of the M Liller expedition to the interior of the Sudan) from whom he had a short time before received news by letter from Khartoum. On a hunting-trip outside this city the Consul, against the warnings of the natives, killed a hyena with his bullet. Shortly thereafter he fell into a delirium and died miserably, probably from poison which had been administered to him on the part of the warners. The animal is regarded there as sacred, and no one dares to do it any harm.

Knoblecher knew this belief, and told me of a Turkish official who assured him that he, too, had once shot at a hyena, hitting it on the shoulder, and suddenly, after the powder-smoke had evaporated, in place of the animal, he had seen a maiden before him, with the red blood flowing from a wound in her shoulder. As one can see from that, the Sudan does not lack poems and hunters' tall tales.

I did not experience adventures, least of all dangerous ones, on my entire first journey in Egypt, and everywhere enjoyed the best reception among the natives, high and low. "La douceur de mon caractere," as Alexander von Humboldt in his amiable kindness declared of me, opened hearts and doors to me everywhere, and if on some occasions my left hand did not know what my right was doing, yet I felt with a certain satisfaction the honor of the name which since then was conferred on me by the Egyptians: Abulrnaaruf, that is, "The Father of Kindness".

Overwhelmed by the benedictions of my servants and friends, I returned happily to my native land, in order to attempt the struggle for existence with the weapons of the mind. Egypt had furnished me with the steel for it, and it was up to me to sharpen it for defense; for I had to prepare myself thoroughly for the defensive; that was obvious to me.

My Life and My Travels, by Heinrich Brugsch (English version, 1992), edited by George Laughead Jr. and Sarah Panarity. Used with permission of Dr. Heinrich George Brugsch, M.D., Waban, MA.