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Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay (Large Print Edition)
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USD 1. By steam conveyance they were eventually landed at Alexandria; whence a party of females, with a little baby some seven months old, without a gentleman to escort them, and with no male attendants but a Janissary, a native servant, and native boatmen, proceeded in safety to Cairo by water, and then across the desert to Suez : such is the order which reigns under the usurping MEHEMET Au. Here they were detained through some thing being "wrong" about the crack steamer ; and when they started they had a most uncomfortable passage to Bombay—so un- comfortable, that, as matters were then managed, a t welvemonth since, Miss ROBERTS seems inclined to prefer the longer voyage by the Cape, unless Bombay be the place of destination, and time of no consequence, since the journey from Bombay to Calcutta, or even to Madras, is almost as difficult as the voyage from England.
Of the accommodation on board the Government steamers, whether Imperial or " Coompance," she speaks in severe though measured censure, throughout. Sometimes the officers are what is called "above their business," and take a pride in slighting their passengers : when they happen to be men of sense, they seem to have no control over any thing save the working of the ship or the supply of provisions ; the accommodation of the passengers and their attendance being left to chance, or the pleasure' of a pack of half-caste servants.
In the British Government steamers, the sum of the whole seems to be an insolent neglect of their passengers- " they only remember they have a salary to receive, and only forget they have a duty to perform.
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For example-. There were no Venetian blinds to the door ; consequently, the only means of obtaining a free circulation of air was to have it open. A locker with a hinged shelf, which opened like a shutter, and thus afTorded space for one mattress to be placed upon it, ran along one side of the cabin, under the port-hole ; but the floor was the only visible means of accommodation for the second person cram- med by Government-regulation into this den.
There was not a place in which a wash-hand basin could be put, so awkwardly were the doors arranged; to one of which there was no fastening whatsoever Altogether, the case seemed hopeless; and as cock-roaches were walking about the vessel by dozens, the prospect of sleeping on the ground was any thing but agreeable, especially with the feeling that we were paying at the rate of four pounds a day for our accom- modation. The authorities appear to think that people ought to be too thankful to pay an enormous price for the worst species of accommodation.
Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay by Miss Emma Roberts | Waterstones
The commandants have not been accustomed to attend to the minutia which can alone secure the comfort of those who sail with them ; while the officers, generally speaking, endeavour to show their contempt of the service in which they are sent, against their inclination, by neglect and even rudeness towards the passengers.
We have mentioned the baby that made the journey ; and, so true is the hacknied quotation "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin," that this little creature seemed a passport in the strangest circumstances — amongst an Egyptian rabble or the Bedouins of the desert. But this is the moral—she was "a beauti- ful little creature, who never cried excepting when she was hungry, and would eat any thing, and go to anybody. Our boat was moored in front of a narrow strip of ground between the river and a large dilapidated mansion, having, however, glass windows in it, which bore the ostentatious title of Hind du Malnoudie.
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This circumscribed space was crowded with camels and their drivers,. I observed that all the people surveyed the baby as she was carried through them, in her native servant's arms, with peculiar benignity.
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She was certainly a beautiful specimen of an English infant ; and in her pretty white frock, lace cap, and drawn pink silk bonnet, would have attracted attention anywhere ; such an apparition the people now assembled at Atfee had probably never seen before, and they were evidently delighted to look at her. She was equally pleased, crowing and spreading out her little arms to all who approached her. We were, as usual, rather late the following morning.
Our dear little play- thing, the baby, bore the journey wonderfully; but it seemed very requisite that she should have good and unbroken sleep at night ; and we found so little inconvenience in travelling in the daytime, that we could make no objection to an arrangement which contributed so much to her health and comfort. It was delightful to see this lovely little creature actually appearing to enjoy the scene as much as ourselves; sometimes seated in the lap of her nurse, who travelled in a chair, at others at the bottom of one of our chairs; then in the arms of her male attendant, who rode a donkey, or in those of the donkey-men, trudging on foot : she went to everybody, crowing and laughing all the time; and I mention her often, not only ihr the delight she afforded us, but also to show how very easily infants at her tender age—she was not more than seven months old—could be transported across the desert.
Of the English in Egypt, Miss ROBERTS tells some anecdotes illustrative of that brutal and blackguard disregard of other people's habits and feelings, which seems to characterize the vulgar amongst our countrymen as soon as they are relieved from the restraints of law or public opinion.
Of the Egyptians themselves she has formed a favourable judgment, from the examples which fell under her observation.
This is the sketch of her Janissary and servant. He said that he had been in the service of several English gentle- men, and had once an opportunity of going to England with a captain in the navy ; but that his mother was alive at that time, and when he mentioned his wishes to her she cried, and therefore he could not go. The captain had told him that he would always repent not having taken his offer; but though he wished to see England, he was glad he had not grieved his mother.