Rose before sunrise: I sleep well here. Early breakfast alone, ― & at 8 set off with G. 2 donkey boys & 3 asses ― out of the Bab en Nasr. ― Morning cool & cloudy, & the Kaliph tombs were most beautiful. We went on to the desert, ― the dear old dry domestic desert, & over its sand & its rocks to Gebel el Hashap1 ― a rising portion of the plain ― hardly a hill ― covered with the petrified wood forest, very curious to behold. ― G. & I chose some bits & came away at 10 returning to the Caliph’s tombs, & crossing to the Hassanayeh gate ― where the dogs now revel,  & so to the Abbasseyeh ― the long white & yellow palace of the last Pacha of Egypt.2 ― Beyond this the road became ― (crossing the Σιδερόδρομων3 ―) an avenue of Tarfa trees4 ― wide & pretty ― & onward, leading to a plain of the usual Garden fertile order ― down away to the Nile. We got tired of Donkeys & walked a bit ―: sakiahs,5 &c.: lettuces ― & to G.’s delight Olives ― but as he justly remarked ― they had stems, all smooth & unlike ours. It was nearly 1 when we reached the low mounds of Ἠλιόπολις6 ― & went into a garden in the middle of which grew the sole obelisk. 2 bits of hieroglyph stone are all besides, & there we lunched ― I drawing afterwards on the mounds ―: next to Miriam’s tree ― which is absurd. & then all along back again ― [entering] by the Bab el Futtõur7 ― & through endless new streets to Williams’s at 4. ― After that I tried to see the Copt church, but it was shut up. ― & to buy a pith hat, but there were none. So at 5 I came in. ― The 3 days here have been very interesting, tho’ plaguing dear.

Dinner ― the Marquis of ―――. Col. Hall ― & the uncomfortable Mr. Jesse. There is something immensely jolly in the latter ― & yet common good senseIOUS withal. No. 1 was rather absurd & French. ― No. 2 disagreeable. As far as possible, I am sure it is better to avoid any familiarity with travillers here about; the omnibus=like contact is so close.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. Gebel el-Khashab, to the east of Cairo. []
  2. At the time the last pasha of Egypt had been Abbas I (1813-1854). Wikipedia. []
  3. Railway. []
  4. Tamarix gallica mannifera, which exudes a sweet, sticky, honey-like substance (mann or mann es-sama in Arabic) sometime identified with the biblical manna. []
  5. Water-wheels. []
  6. Heliopolis or Iliopolis. “About five miles to the north-east of Cairo stands the little village of Maṭarîyeh, built upon part of the site of Heliopolis, where may be seen the sycamore tree, usually called the “Virgin’s Tree,” [or, as here, “Miriam’s tree”] under which tradition says that the Virgin Mary sat and rested during her flight to Egypt; it was planted some time towards the end of the XVIIth century, and was given to the Empress Eugénie by Isma‘îl on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal. Beyond the “Virgin’s Tree” is the fine Aswân granite obelisk which marks the site of the ancient town of Heliopolis.” Budge, E.A. Wallis. The Nile. Notes for Travellers. London: Thomas Cook, 1902 (8th edition), 281-2. []
  7. Gate of Conquest (Bab El-Futtuh). []