« ForrigeFortsett »
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES OF KHARTOOM.
greenish colour. Six miles up stream it narrows between steep banks to one hundred and fifty yards. The town being on the brink of the river, and every year its houses getting cut away by the falling in of the bank, there is no room for walking along—no quay, as it were, for the exports and imports. You are obliged for half a mile to brush past the walls of houses, the wells, goods, and animals—a most uncomfortable state of things. During our stay at Khartoom the sun was very powerful, and we had but one shower in a fortnight. Bathing in the Blue Nile was much resorted to by men and women, who appeared to enjoy it thoroughly; but I only attempted it once, because the river was so low that I had to walk thirty yards before getting into water deep enough to enable me to swim. Fish were generally to be had in the town. They are caught in various ways; some by nets nearly fifty yards long, with large meshes and short floats of wood. Irrigation from the Blue Nile is effected by cutting narrow channels in the bank; or the Persian wheel, with its hanging earthen jars, overhangs the river, and so raises the water to the height of the fields and gardens. Fruits and vegetables thrive at Khartoom. The former include a small variety of grape, oranges, limes, custard apples, pomegranate, plantain, dates, and figs; the vegetables are beans and pease, onions most luxuriant, lupin, nole kole, bamea, lettuce, &c. The tobacco grown was different to what we had met with in the interior; here it was the low bushy description called Nicotiana rustica L., that of the interior being N. tabacum L., which grows with a longer leaf. Senna is one of the herbs cultivated, also safflower, already mentioned. The harvest of bearded wheat
THE HOUSES AND VICINITY OF KHARTOOM.
is cut in March, and the grain is large and rich in colour. No pleasant walks had been made in the neighbourhood; the few groves of date-palms, affording the only shade that existed, are generally walled round; and if you proceed into the country, with one exception there is nothing but a desert of sand. This exception is a “cottage in the wood," belonging to M. Bartolemy. It had been surrounded by a belt of the fast-growing yellow-blossomed Parkinsonia aculeata L., and, when within the grounds, the flowers and vegetation looked so green and fresh, that one might imagine he had been transported to a quiet retreat at home. The other European residents lived in the town. Their houses, generally of one storey, are large flat-roofed structures of mud and brick, surrounded by walls, having a single gateway guarded by a doorkeeper. They reminded me of the serais, or stations made for travellers upon the grand trunk-road of India. In their courtyards tame birds or antelope walked; wild animals lay chained ; camels, donkeys, cattle, goats, or horses stood about; lumber and store rooms filled the space; and a corner perhaps was devoted to a shady retreat under the vine. Each consulate—and there were French, Austrian, American, and British—at Khartoom had its elliptical signboard over the main entrance. The principal room of the house is the hall; there business is transacted, and visitors are received in the morning, which is entirely devoted to calling, smoking, and drinking coffee. It has been mentioned that we chose to reside under the British flag, although at that time the consul was absent at Gondokoro. The attentions we received from the various gentlemen residents were such as are per
TRAVELS OF THE BARONESS CAPELLEN.
haps only met with in a foreign country-so friendly, free, and unrestrained. Unfortunately neither of us could communicate with them, except through Bombay or Frij; but they had become great adepts at interpreting, and we succeeded pretty well. However, a lady, the Baroness Capellen, sister to Madame Tinne, could speak English fluently, and we enjoyed her society frequently. She had been a great traveller, had reached Gondokoro, and had seen the miseries of sickness amongst the slaves of the ivorytraders. Smallpox had broken out amongst a party when opposite Jubl Denka, and the shocking remedy of throwing the slaves overboard when attacked by this disease was resorted to by these native traders. On making our first call upon the Baroness, we were astonished to see Frij and Uledi follow us into the room, both the worse for drink, and each carrying a rifle and spear. We all laughed at their ignorance of European customs; and having asked them to place their arms outside the door, we were amused at their advancing, rather unsteadily, to the lady, kneeling and kissing her hand—this being the most polite mode of salutation known amongst the inhabitants of Zanzibar. We brought her the three young girls of Uganda, to let her hear their language, and see their mode of sitting and of returning thanks. They were highly delighted, received great kindness, conducted themselves very gently, and gave great satisfaction, making friends with a servant girl whom the Baroness had rescued from slavery. While calling upon another occasion, a steamer arrived from the Bahr-el-Ghazal, having made the passage in fourteen days, and bringing news of Madame Tinne and her accomplished
OUR RECEPTION BY M. DE BONO.
daughter. The Baron Von Ablaing was on board, and was to return with stores and baggage-donkeys, to enable the party to prosecute their journey as far as Fernando Po. Since then we have learned how fatal has been the result of this expedition. Poor Madame Tinne has died, and their labours at exploration have thus been suddenly arrested.
We were hospitably entertained at a large reception by M. de Bono, whose ivory-hunters at Faloro were the first to welcome and render us aid on the Egyptian side. There were present four ladies and upwards of twenty gentlemen, French, Italian, Austrian, German, and natives. After dinner our health was proposed, and a toast by M. Thibaut, French consul, “The alliance of France and England,” was cordially pledged and applauded. Our twenty Seedees were introduced, and, to amuse the party, went through a number of antics they had learned in Uganda.
Ali Bey, Effendi—or, to give the address written by himself, Ally Fud(h)lee bek, Wakeel, Hokumdariut, el Soudan bil Khartoom (minister, Government House, country of the blacks, Khartoom)—was most constant in his attentions to us. He was the first to receive us and the last to part with us—showing us over the Government House, the schools, manufactures, and magazines, giving us horses to ride, parading the troops for our amusement, and doing numerous other acts of kindness. He had a white Gulf Arab, the most docile, at the same time fiery, creature I had ever beheld. When caparisoned in blue velvet trappings, richly embroidered in gold, and a Busserah bridle of silver chains and hanging tassels, the animal looked the most perfect and picturesque of steeds. The bit was
ALI BEY'S CHARGER—A REGIMENTAL PARADE.
a circular ring placed round the lower jaw. If the ribbon-like rein was slightly pressed, the animal, from the utmost speed, was in an instant sent on his haunches, and continuous working of the bit put him into fits of high spirit. I thought from this instance of horse-management that we have still a good deal to learn in England; for there was no pace or figure that this animal would not go through, even if a child were upon his back. We were brought by Ali Bey to see his private house and family. The ladies, however, did not appear. Ajim carpets and luxurious couches filled his suite of upper rooms; all had been brought from Cairo by boat and across the desert. In his Turkish politeness, he said whatever we fancied was ours ! He paraded five hundred troops in line one morning for our amusement. They were black sturdy young men, out of mixed races from the Soudan, and were armed with flint-muskets. The uniform was a white suit, jacket and loose trousers, cross-belts covered with calico. In putting them through the platoon exercise, the officer in front stood giving the commands, which were repeated by another officer in the ranks. They went through the exercise with perfect uniformity, quite as well as any sepoy regiment. Their passing in review and forming squares required considerable practice; but these were mere lads, recruits, Ali Bey remarked; and the old trained soldiers, from ten to fifteen thousand in number, were at present on a tour with the governor of the Soudan, Musa Pascha. Every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning they parade for exercise, and march through the town, headed by an excellent bugle or drum and fife band.