The Book of Burtoniana
Letters & Memoirs of Sir Richard Francis Burton
Volume 2: 1865-1879
Edited by Gavan Tredoux
[DRAFT] 8/26/2016 11:24 AM
The Book of Burtoniana:
Volume 1: 1841-1864
Volume 2: 1865-1879
Volume 3: 1880-1924
Volume 4: Register and Bibliography
My dear Shepheard
Better late than never. I send a Mecca for you and a Dahomé for Mrs. S. I have had some difficulty in getting a copy of the former and hope soon to bring [it] out in a revised form with your and other names on it.
Give my kindest wishes. I will do all in my power to pay you another visit before starting.
Richard F. Burton
Dear Lord Houghton
I am so much obliged for the little note of introduction which will be most useful. As you kindly ask me where we are going I will just give you a résumé (we are going in the tourist line for one month & not seeking to be invited to stop in people's houses, though it is always agreeable to have someone to speak to & not to feel quite isolated). Still I am sure you have done so much I should be sorry to trespass on your time for more letters. We begin by Dublin Howth Kingstown Maynouth (for the sake of the priests) Armagh Belfast Giant's Causeway Enniskillen Sligo Galway Tuam Athlone Wicklow, Carlow Kildare Kilkenny (in remembrance of the Cats) Wexford Waterford, Tipperary Limerick Killarney Cork. I should very much like an introduction to the Castlerosses; I knew him when I was a schoolgirl as Valentine Browne but have never recalled myself to his memory since and do not know Lady C.
I knew you were at Broadlands when I told you of my difficulty about having no where to go on the 5th. I should not have mentioned it if you had been at Crewe but you will be glad to hear that Lady Stanley wrote & asked us from 5th to 9th and we are going. I told her we wished very much to accept but that we had no where to go between Tatton & Alderley & that I was afraid we must go to Ireland & she replied that she only said 9th because she thought that was our day for leaving Tatton. I had been at the Stanleys' parties in London & liked them very much & shall be glad to become better acquainted. I will mind that the dressing gown does not appear in public. I have a good mind to present it to [Turning]. One of his men holding a tea bowl at his door wd look well in it. We shall be in London about 9th February at Howlett's Hotel, 36 Manchester St, Manchester Sqr, & I hope I shall see you also as well as Richard.
Richd’s best love. He is leading a quiet civilised life & is more docile than I have ever known him.
1st Jany. A happy New Year & many of them. If you go to Crewe on the 9th I shall get my uncle to send the pair of rabbits I promised Robin. They are very pretty.
On the 3d. the Burtons came here. Capt. Burton is Henry's friend, he calls himself openly a Mussulman—a very amusing and clever man. His last post was consul at Fernando Po & now he is appted to Santos in Brazil. His wife was an Arundell a R. Cat. clever sensible woman, much in love with her husband—He mesmerizes her constantly & then asks her questions about the future—She does not like it at all, as it tires her very much ... .
Alderley Park, Thursday, January 7 . Captain Burton, the African traveller, having arrived last night with his wife I have had the opportunity of meeting two very curious & interesting people. He is a very dark man, with a fierce scowling eye, & a repulsive hard face; but exceedingly clever & amusing in conversation. He believes in no particular religion, though calling himself a Mussulman. His wife is a pleasant lively woman, talks much & fast, seems excitable & is a Roman Catholic into the bargain. This afternoon while several of us were sitting in the library after lunch she began telling us about her mesmeric experiences of which she has had many. Her husband frequently mesmerizes her, & according to her own account (I doubt this) consults her while in the trance about what is going to happen. Before his last journey to Africa, when he was leaving her at home, he asked her how they would meet again. She told him that he would be badly wounded & would telegraph for her at Liverpool on his return, where he did telegraph for her to come. Had she taken any note of this prediction? No, but they both remembered! Were there any other remarkable ones? None equally so; she could not trust to all her power of prediction, as she believed she was sometimes right & sometimes wrong; she hoped they would never act upon what she said, as it was so uncertain. She quite entered into the doubts or disbelief expressed by Lyulph & others; said she would not believe herself unless she had seen it. Of course one cannot know how far she may be deceived but it is impossible on hearing her speak to doubt her honesty. ...
Saturday 8. Mrs. Burton talked at breakfast & immediately after about her religious opinions. Declares she believes all the doctrines of the church of Rome, but thinks everyone may be saved by his own form of religion, whatever it be. Never cares to convert anybody. Her great object is not to disgust Burton with religion; consequently she does not fast or go often to church, or do anything that might annoy him: she confesses once a week, however—Did not admit that indulgences are given for future sins, but only for the past. Thought it always doubtful whether indulgences took effect; one could not tell; a certain female saint who had had many indulgences appeared after he death to say only one of them had answered. Later she told us about her marriage. Burton had asked her twice, but her family would not allow it. At last he gave her the choice between losing him altogether, & marrying her secretly. She did the latter, & was his wife 2 months before her people knew. At the end of that time she told them all & was forgiven, & he became a great favourite with her father and mother.
Mrs. Burton had prophesied on the 5th when mesmerized that her husband would come into some money in February. Promised to write and tell us if it were so.
Blanche was very anxious indeed to be mesmerized & a sort of attempt was made to do it in the morning, but she did not go far enough to be in a trace. Airlie & I were in the room. Mrs. B. was kept in ignorance & at first declared she was certain he was not doing it; but afterwards found out. He pretended (whether truly or not one cannot say) that it would all go to her if she knew, & that last time she had been so hysterical as to make it unpleasant. She does not believe this. After dinner we had the mummers; & then Blanche was actually mesmerized, Maud & Airlie being present. Mrs. Burton was in a state of rage (as was natural) because she was not admitted & would not allow it to be done alone with Maude ... .
Sunday . We heard this morning that there had been an awful row after we had gone to bed between Burton & his wife, because she was so angry at his mesmerizing without her. She said he would now be doing it with women who were not so nice. He was angry at this & affected to think it folly, that he had himself said that if any man mesmerized her he would kill the man & her too, a threat that I dare say he is quite capable of executing.
Monday 9th Jan—
The Burtons left in the morning … .
Dear Lord Houghton
I thank you so much for the enclosure to Lady Castlerosse just received—we had a pleasant ten days in Dublin 7 hard days on Irish cars in wind, snow & rain seeing 2 thirds of Ireland now we are back in Dublin till Wednesday when we go to Lady Drogheda’s & from there to all the Southern half of Ireland & embark from Cork to Bristol. Lord & Lady [Wadham] have been very kind & we like them much. They seem very popular & to do things very nicely. The Irish are very hospitable & we drive out every night. I hope Robin got his rabbits safe. Sir B Burke is claiming as a right for all the eldest sons of Baronets to be knights. The first man O'Donnell is to be knighted in a few days they say. Then anyone else of the first batch of Baronets who claim it will get it.
The poverty of Ireland is all talk. We have seen none of it except in Tuam & that is truly horrible for dirt & poverty & they are the lowest kind of Irish. We have only seen one pretty peasant girl & not yet a model Irishman with a swallow tail coat & broken hat with a pipe in it; I have hunted everywhere for one. Richd's love & believe me
Gresham's Hotel, Dublin
Care of Hertslet
My dear Wilson
I send you a little poem written by a young friend of mine. It is a vy vile thing & as such you may like it. Also enclose what will justify your sending me copies from Hamiltons of all home accounts. I have applied for part of Pepple's fine to be employed upon the house & Livingstone ought to keep this up if it is granted. You never write to me now or give me the news. De Ruvigny in London, not well, goes home to Isle of Man until Pine comes home. I appear before African Committee 27th inst. Saw John Laughland lately, he looked well. [M. Castry] of Lagos vy jolly. Remember me most kindly to all old friends & believe me ev
Richd F. Burton
P.S. If they will kindly draw out the accounts please address them to me care of Hertslet. How are the little nigs?
My dear Hunt
Yours of 30th received. The corrected report has been returned. My wife wants 25 copies I believe. Nothing from Bollaert—if too late send them to my name under care of HBM’s Consul India. Hastings paper charming. That’s the style for me.
I dine at Richmond today & so cannot be present at the meeting but will assuredly try the [Euston] at a late hour. Give my love to my [friends] and strongly advise them to produce or invent somebody who personally knows something about Africa. Couldn’t Dr. Livingstone be prevailed upon to make a counter statement? However I am glad that you have opened the bale and they little know the phase through which the popular mind is now passing who treat it with contempt. We are slowly but surely emerging from ’ministering children’, ’The Xstian Donkey Driver’ etc. etc.
Richd F. Burton
Mio caro Houghton
How ungrateful you must have
thought me to leave you all this time without a line
from me but I was
determined rather that you should think me ever so much so than to write to you
without being able to tell you that I have at least done one of the many things
I have promised without being able to execute so long. I will not here enter
into all the many ennuis that have so completely taken up my life for the last
two or three years but I will tell you as it is the one that has been the
to the fulfilment of all those promises that I have been obliged all this time
to separate myself from my Books & keep them locked up at the Embassy with
fearing some malheur
might happen to them in consequence of the difficulties of my position, which I
have often told you of, & it is only a few days ago that I have at last thought
I could take them back & which I have done though perhaps imprudently.
Also it is only now that I have at last discovered an artist worthy in all ways
of the different works I have long had in contemplation. He is a perfect
a Painter & a Poet into the bargain & all that in the most complete
& classically erotic style. The greatest possible trouvaille for me. He is
excessively complaisant & has been for the last week hard at work chez
copying for you in very nice ornamental style my “Pannier aux ordures” par Armand
et autres. It will not be long doing (about a fortnight) & as soon
as ready I will let you have it through my good little friend here at the
Embassy Jemmy Ellis.
You will be much pleased with it I am sure both as matter & the way it is
executed under my special direction, exactly like the original in form &
all, & if plus tard
you wish the flagellation M.S. done by him the same artist with
appropriate ornament nothing will now be easier & more simple to have done.
You will see therefore that we will have lost nothing by waiting all this time.
I am glad you approve of the Erotic Dictionnaire as I consider it one of the best & most useful publications we have had lately. The author of it is a Monsr. Alfred Delvau, author of Les cytherees de Paris &c. I don’t know him, but could easily become acquainted with him which I shall perhaps do one of these days when all the persecutions that are going on at the moment against Editors, Libraires & all connected with erotic works are at an end. Gay, the Editor of the Dictionnaire, & a lot of others connected with the Malassis late works are all to receive judgement at the criminal court tomorrow.
I enclose you a prospectus of the new & magnificent Edition of Musset's Works. I have subscribed for Turner & several other friends & for myself. Do you wish me to do the same for you? There is a large & complete Prospectus on thick paper in quarto the same as of the Edition but I can't put it in my letter so send you one cut out of the Presse some time ago.
I expect from India on four years leave the 6th of
month. He is going to live here with me in my a back appartment. Perhaps we may come over
to London with him the end of the month. Write to me soon pour me donner de
vos nouvelles et pour me dire que vous ne m'en voulez pas.
Figure 1. Fred Hankey to Monckton Milnes 1865/06/02.
Dear Lord Houghton
I leave London on the 8th & sail from Southampton on 9th Sept. I continue to get cheery notes at intervals from dear Richd. He is amusing himself on the Coast & joins me at Rio on 9th October. I want to ask you if you can without any trouble or unpleasantness to yourself write to the Duc D'Aumale if he would give us a good word with the Comte and Comtesse D'Eu at Rio. I suppose one doesn't ask for a letter of introduction but whatever is right for the Royal Family. We shall be presented in the usual way & Richard must be under their notice in his official capacity but one is always received better if one knows somebody at home who is interested about one & if you could do this it wd be very kind as it is the only good society on the Coast (the entourage of the Emperor) & I should not like Richard to begin with any other. Did you see Capt. Mangles, the man who is the Director of our future line of steamers. I am travelling about saying goodbye & return to town on 23d 27 Upper Montagu St. might find me if you shd be so kind as to write. I fear there is no chance of my seeing you before I leave. I cannot bear saying goodbye—which I have to do daily just now. The weather is very bad. I hope it is coming on now & will clear up before I leave as I shall have 5 weeks of it. Give my best regards to Lady Houghton & believe me yrs most sincerely Isabel Burton.
Rio de Janeiro
Oct. 23. / 65
I send this note by my friend Hunt, Consul Rio. You will find him un de nous and full of information about a country of which people in England do not appear to know much. He has also a letter to the boy Bunny.
We leave for Santos about the end of this month. Admiral Elliot I believe accompanies us. It is a wretched hole but within 40 miles lies S. Paulo a more tolerable place of exile.
I wonder what Baker will have to say about the Nile. The Anthropos must be very savage!
Hodgson will like Ceylon—Lady Bruce I hear has gone with him. I hope sincerely that you and yours are flourishing. My kindest remembrances to the Lady and believe me ever
Richd F. Burton
Figure 2. Richard Burton to Lord Houghton 1865/10/23.
My dear Houghton
Richd F. Burton
Dear Mr. Tootal
You very kindly told me that I might ask you to do any thing for me in Rio. I know you sing & if you should happen to know of any of those gay little Andalusian songs—Bull fight, contrabandista, or gipsey things I should be so grateful if you wd buy me 3 or 4 & send them to me. Mr. Hollecombe will repay you for me any little expenses you may incur. I am spoony on everything Spanish & have got a guitar & castanets. If you come across one called Libertad Libertad [Sacro S…] I should like it.
We have had a charming cruise. We went to Ilha Grande, St. Sebastian, The Large & anchored at Santos. We had great fun coming up to St. Paulo in the present state of the railroad. I wish you had been with us. I intend to make myself content here.
St. Paulo is pretty & is a pleasant climate. My chief difficulty is getting comfortable diggings to settle in & that done I shall be very happy. Remember me kindly to your Mother & sister.
Richd is at Santos or wd send you all sorts of messages as you are a particular favourite of his. Believe me
P.S. I believe there is a special music shop in the Rua Direita.
Dear Mr. Tootal
Pray do not think me ungrateful for the songs my reason for not writing was that I got yr notes & music in that detestable Santos. I moved back to St. Paulo on the 12th & have been here a fortnight tomorrow, 11 days of which I have worked like a black unpacking & arranging 57 trunks. At last I am settled for 4 months only it is so difficult to get a suitable place to live in. I like some of the songs very much & am so much obliged to you for all yr trouble for me. I want very much a Portuguese [madrinha] called O Trobador—& a recitation sung by Miss—I can’t remember the name—a Spanish child daughter of a Spanish lady who is a great deal at [Escandons] and a Spanish Porto Rico song El sereni. I hope you asked Mr. [Hollecombe] to refund the little expenses.
The pleasantest society I have found here are Mr. & Mrs. Hutchins & a [Mr.] Prado & daughters. Richard is gone to the mines at Iguape & I expect him back next week. By the bye everybody has seen Frasers except us. I suppose ours have missed.
I am half asleep having been to a long midnight mass so excuse this stupid note—I could not delay any longer. With best regards to yr family believe me yrs sincerely
70 Rua do Carmo
Captain Burton said it is a pleasing task to comment upon the excellent paper with which we have just been favoured. There is open to our young society a wide field in the discussion and ventilation of those great popular questions which society at large seems to hold as settled, when no one has hitherto been allowed to answer them. Let the honour of the attempt be ours, and the anthropologist should assume as his motto the old line—
Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto.
I venture also to compliment my friend Mr. Reade upon his views of that branch of social science popularly known as missionary enterprise. He has also very properly preferred the abstract to the concrete style of treatment; and whilst he has denounced missions, he has not denounced missionaries. I shall follow in his steps, merely supplementing his West African experiences by a conscientious account, and necessarily a bird's eye view of my observations in Western India, the prairie tribes of America, and tropical Africa generally. By way of preface, a few lines may be devoted to considering the motives which induce the public to subscribe so largely to the support of missions. In the fiery days of the Crusades, men armed themselves and rode forth to cure the soul of the infidel by spoiling his body—a peculiar proceeding, of which, unhappily, modern instances have not been wanting. In our softer times, men are content to pay for substitutes. Many mulct themselves for the best of motives, an earnest desire to carry out the commands of their faith. Many do so because it is the fashion, and because they love to see their names in print. Some look upon the missionary as the forerunner of the merchant. Others appear to think that such liberality " purifies," as the Arabs say, their property. There are men whose principal profits in the African trade are derived from such abominations as selling pestilent rum, and supplying negroes with arms and ammunition wherewith to enslave or slaughter one another. Yet these men will subscribe largely to missions. With respect to the oft-agitated question of difference between the Catholic and the Protestant style of proselytising, I have offered an opinion in a work lately published (A Mission to Dahome, vol. 1, chap. iv). Against the former there is a common charge, namely, that though ardent and self-sacrificing; and though prompt to endure every discomfort, even that of celibacy, where it is least endurable, they are too accommodating to heathenism, and therefore they do not last. This may have been the case in the days when Jesuit and Jansenist contended for the conquest of the convert. But it is not so now. The French mission at Whydah has constantly incurred the persecution of the local Fetishmen, yet from April 1861 to the present date they have never made a convert. The Spanish missionaries at Fernando Po, established in 1858, have failed as notably amongst the Bube; they cannot even persuade the wild women around them to add another inch to their half-foot of attire. And what has become of the noble establishment which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries attacked the superstitions of the Congoese? Their cathedrals and churches are level with the ground, their priests are dead, and here and there a crucifix hanging round a pagan's neck, tells the tale of past times. When marching towards the cataracts of the Congo River in 1863, I asked my guide the meaning of a pot of grease tufted with feathers, and stuck in a tree. "That," he replied, “is Meu Deus.” The words sounded peculiar. On the other hand, Protestant missions are described as being, like the constitution which breeds them, comfortable and feeble, offering salaries to married men, who, in squabbles about outfits, passages, re-passages, and conveyance of children, manage to spend about half a million per annum, which had much better be transferred to Connaught and to Western Ireland. The material upon which all missions practise may briefly be described as Christian, Moslem, and Pagan. The firstnamed is perhaps the most unmanageable; witness Abyssinia, to which I propose reverting. The Moslem, hardly less amenable to Trinitarian doctrine, is, as Mr. Reade has justly remarked, a heterodox Christian, in fact a modern Arian, and the nineteenth century lacks an Athanasius to put him down. The Arab Prophet or rather Apostle never pretended to found a new faith; his mission was to restore to its original purity the religion revealed by God to man, through the succession of Adamical, Noachian, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations. The Pagans may be divided into two great families. The civilised, for instance, the Japanese, Chinese, and Hindus having various settled forms of worship, and mythologies more or less extensive, have rejected Christianity. The uncivilised, as the Africans and the American aborigines, have either accepted the new religion, like the tribes subject to the Amazon missions, or have ignored it, as in Africa. Mr. Reade has perhaps said too much when he sees no reason why the negro should refuse the faith of his masters. It is impossible, save to those who have dwelt long among these people, to understand the influence which Fetishism exercises over their most trivial actions. Nor does the negro, as a rule, believe in a future state. The abolition of polygamy is to him what it would be to us, a forbiddal of marriage. When we would instill our ideas into his mind, we are teaching him Euclid or Aristotle, before he knows what an alphabet means. The language of Holy Writ is a mystery to him. How express in Kiswahili grapes and thistles? In the pathetic passage, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that slayest the prophets," the only intelligible expression is the slaying. During a residence of nearly eight years in Western India, I had an opportunity of seeing the effects of modern missionary preaching. Portuguese Goa was Christianised by the racks and gibbets of Albuquerque; and what the Church had taken to her maternal bosom the Inquisition kept there. At present, "the Mikonari log"—missionary folk—have succeeded with a few of the lower castes, and in the case of the higher castes have converted the Brahman into a Vedantist; have made a Monotheist of a Polytheist. He will eat beef, drink wine, and use paper; but beyond that his ideas are with the Essence of the Vedas. Splendid accounts of missionary successes have at times reached England. I do not accuse their authors of any dishonesty, but I assert that their pictures are unconsciously far too highly coloured. The general public account of missions to the Prairie tribes of North America is as follows :—The Churchman begins with zeal, and continues more or less long till he finds out that he is twisting a rope of sand. At length totally depressed by the deadening barbarism of the herd, he sinks to the condition of a comfortable married man, and he loafs about where forts and military camps promise him protection. Even the Mormons, who have worked such marvels amongst the mechanics of Wales and Northern England, have failed to bring the Yutas into the pale of the Church. And if they do not succeed, who will? And now to proceed to Africa. The head-quarters of missionary enterprise on the West Coast may be placed at Sierra Leone. Almost all the negro denizens of the " Red Grave" are Christians. The traveller expects therefore to find there a purer morality, a higher social state. But he is doomed to be disappointed. The churches, and chapels, and meeting-houses are crowded, the Sabbaths are well kept as days of rest, and so they would be if there were 365 in the year. But there is neither honesty amongst men nor honour to be found in women; the hospitals are full of syphilis and gonorrhoea; and robbery is the rule of life. Amongst the pure pagans such abuses are corrected by fire and steel, not so amongst these negro Christians. And despite their change of creed, the old superstitions are perpetually cropping out; the same man who worships at the little Bethel will adore Shango the Thunder God in the bush. Next in the chain are the Episcopalian missions furnished by Anglo-America to the Liberians. Near Cape Palmas resides a missionary bishop, a divine of exemplary piety, learning, and energy. Again, I agree with Mr. Reade in his eulogium of our transatlantic brethren. The American, totally unlike the Englishman, understands the negro before leaving his own country; he is a practical man, not a theoretical philanthropist; and he avoids both sets of extreme opinions. I have visited Congo and Gaboon, as well as Cape Palmas, and everywhere I have seen noble efforts wasted. The Kruman of Liberia is still one of the most thoroughbred pagan tribes on the West African Coast, his polity is an aristocratic republic, probably the worst form of government ever invented by man; and his life at home is a succession of petty slaughterings. Yet pagan and savage as he is, the Kruman has ever been par excellence the labouring man of northern tropical Africa, and those of Cape Palmas contrast favourably with their brethren of Sierra Leone. On the infamous Gulf of Guinea we find the Cape Coast missions, Wesleyans. They have orders not to interfere in politics, and have extended their operations to Komasi, capital of Ashante. You may imagine their success, when the king sacrifices a man per day, excepting only his birthdays. They have also tried a mulatto administration, and they found that it did not answer in a pecuniary sense. A little to the east lie the Basle missions, who systematically oppose the officers of government upon all points, who advertise their interests in the African Times, and who display an inhospitality somewhat exceptional.
On the Slave Coast we have at Whydah the Wesleyans, who contrast sadly with the Lyons mission. Our unfortunate ministers are mulattoes, whose wretched salaries compel them to support their large families by the sale of arms and ammunition, rum and urinals. Amongst them there have been scandals, into which I will not enter. Their neighbouring station is Badagry, where a single mulatto saunters through life amidst nonchalant barbarians, Popos, and others. The next in the chain is Lagos, celebrated for its quarrels between consuls and missionaries in olden days. It is the port of Abeokuta, where Episcopalians and Methodists, Northern Baptists, Southern Baptists, and now, I believe, Roman Catholics, offer difficulties to the negro in search of the best of religions. This “nearly Christian city,” as some have miscalled it, is a den of abominations; human sacrifice abounds there, and its people, the Egbas, popularly called Akus, have made for themselves the worst of names from Sierra Leone to Brazil.
We now enter the ill-omened Bight of Biafra. It contains five great centres of trade, known as the Oil Rivers, and of these two, the Old Calabar and the Camaroons, have missionary establishments. The former are Scotch Presbyterians, the latter English Baptists, under the wing of Sir Morton Peto. I can only say that these two rivers gave me far more trouble than all the rest of the coast. The Old Calabar displays abominations unknown to other negro tribes. The Camaroons is in a chronic state of murder. The arm of flesh, in the shape of a gun-boat, is invoked by these gentlemen with a regular periodicity when there is an excess of torturing and poisoning. There are frequent feuds between missionaries and merchants, as the former will interfere in local interests, often trade for themselves, and make a living by breeding dissensions. King Pepple of the Bonny River, who was baptised by a metropolitan bishop, in company with a wife, then dubbed Eleanor Queen Pepple, fired with desire to obtain such assistance, ordered his poet laureate to indite a hymn beginning—
"O who shall succour Bonny's king?"
And applied to a lady well known for princely generosity for the sum of £20,000 to build houses and keep a mission. As that potentate's kingdom consists of a single mud-bank, upon which it is death for a white man to pass the night, I can hardly regret that he failed. The traders are delighted; they find the people bad enough without learning to forge acceptances, and to write to missionary papers garbled accounts, which are licked into shape at home.
I can speak only from hearsay of the Niger missions. That excellent traveller the late Dr. Baikie, thought it advisable to place the breadth of the river between them and himself. They are now directed by Bishop Crowther, by far the best specimen of African that I have yet met. He labours, however, under the disadvantages of a certain high priest; he has a family of sons who are as bad as he is good, and he firmly believes in their goodness.
Briefly reviewing the West Coast of Africa, I find the oldest seat of our English Christianity the most depraved of all the settlements, and generally a balance in favour of the pagans, compared with the native Christians. For the latter do not, as when adopting El Islam, drop their abominations of infanticide and human sacrifice, witchslaying, and poison ordeals. Christianity floats on their minds, but Mumbo Jumbo dwells in their inmost recesses. Even in the Confederate States of America I found that slaves bred and born in the country had leavened their new religion with not a little of their old faith.
I need hardly enlarge upon the fate of the Oxford and Cambridge missions on the Zambezi River. Every one in the room knows as much about them as I do. But upon my return from Africa in 1859, a reverend gentleman called upon me, and after expounding his plan asked me to speak upon the subject. I consented, remarking, however, that he might like to hear what the spirit would move me to say. He assented. I informed him that my sentiments upon the subject were, that those who engaged in the enterprise might suicide themselves if they wished, but that it would be murder for them to take their wives and children. My reverend visitor observed that, under the circumstances, he would not trouble me to express my opinions.
With the last African or Mombas mission I am personally acquainted. Years ago this ill-fated establishment had spent a sum of £12,000, and what were the results. In 1857, when calling at the missionary station of Rabbai Mpia, near Mombas, I was informed that a wild-looking negro, whose peculiar looks caused me to get my bowie-knife handy, was “a very dear person to us; he is our first and only convert.” “Yes,” added the husband, with an amount of simplicity which might provoke a smile but for the melancholy thoughts that it breeds, “and he was prepared for Christianity by an attack of insanity, caused by the death of all his relations,—and lasting five years.”
I now come to Abyssinia, where the saddest tale of all remains to be told. Ethiopia, commonly known as Habash or Abyssinia, is a Christian empire, once rich and powerful, whose emperors derive their lineage from Menelek, son of Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and "whose progenitors” (to quote the words of a valuable pamphlet, The British Captives in Abyssinia, by Charles T. Beke, Ph. D., London, Longmans, 1865) “received the Christian faith, and possessed a native version of the Holy Scriptures as early as the fourth century.” Of course this land of primitive Christianity was a suitable field for missionary enterprise, even whilst the savage Gallas, Shangallas, Danakils, and Somal remained unconverted. The result was a mission, established by the Church Missionary Society. “The first missionaries, of whom Dr. Gobat, now Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, was one, arrived in Tigre towards the end of 1829; and the mission continued till 1838, when (as stated by Bishop Gobat) ‘through the influence of certain members of the Church of Rome, opposition was raised against the missionaries by the Abyssinian priests, and they were compelled to quit the country, and return to Egypt.’ ” They took refuge in Shoa, and a Roman Catholic mission was forthwith established by Padre Giuseppe Sapeto, “who had for its head,” I quote Dr. Beke, “Padre de Jacobis, a Neapolitan of noble family, under whose able directions it took deep root in Abyssinia, where it still exists, notwithstanding the disgraces and subsequent death of its amiable and accomplished chief, who, in addition to his zeal for the spread of his faith, was the prince of political intriguers.”
The Chief Krapf, alias Theodore Emperor of Abyssinia, having firmly seated himself on the throne, granted the establishment of a new Protestant mission in April 1856. It was originated by the Protestant missionary Krapf, who had entered the country in 1842, and whose intolerance, bigotry, and interference with political matters had caused him to be expelled from Tigre and Shoa. This mission of lay handicraftsmen was supplied by the British and Foreign Bible Society with books and money to the amount of nearly £1000.
I need not dwell upon the disappointment of that enterprise. It is impossible to read the received version of the affair without perceiving that the arrogance of the Rev. Mr. Stern, who, unsummoned, would force himself into the king's presence, caused the detention and torture of Messrs. Stern and Rosenthal, and I deeply regret to add, of my unfortunate friend Captain Cameron. After the last reports (Feb. 3, 1865) Dr. Beke concludes, “The condition of the captives was said not to have improved ; but, on the contrary, death seemed to offer to them the only prospect of deliverance from their misery.”
After this brief and cursory review of African missions, I would ask leave for a few words of present explanation.
The people of England is determined to missionarise, it will not regard failure; it considers proselytism a sacred duty. And how then to oppose it? And what arrogance is it to oppose a single voice to the united opinions of millions?
I reply, that it is our duty as travellers and citizens to relate the truth, however unpalatable. Moreover, that the voice of millions is apt to change its tone. The subject of slavery in the Confederate States has greatly altered in aspect during the last few years.
A facetious journal charges me with a rabid hatred against anything in a natural or an artificial black coat. This I deny. Many of my best friends wear artificial sables, and my only dislike to the natural article is when it is whitewashed. But I must sympathise with my friend Commander Charles Stuart Forbes, R.N., who in a bold and able pamphlet dared to contend that our slave-preventing squadron on the West Coast of Africa, which, not to take count of invaluable life and health, costs an over-taxed people nearly a million per annum, should be supported by voluntary contributions. And after some experience of the agricultural districts in Essex, to speak of nothing more, I would willingly see a fair proportion of the half a million now expended on missions amongst savages transferred to the Arabs of our cities, and to others who have the misfortune to be born without natural black coats in a civilised land.
Cannibal club—A dining club connected with the Anthropological Society of London, consisting of the founders and. certain of the principal members, among whom were Captain R. F. Burton, Dr. James Hunt, Dr. R. S. Charnock, Mr. Algernon C. Swinburne, Mr. J. Frederick Collingwood, myself, and many others. On the death of Dr. Hunt, August 29, 1869, the founder of the society, the club fell into desuetude. There were many Masons members of this club.
The late hours I have spoken of were due to a little coterie to which I then belonged, whose members thought it the greatest enjoyment in life to prolong the night until an hour or two before sunrise. We commonly met when the day's work was over at Stone's in Panton-street, where journalists, artists, wits, critics, and men in public offices were accustomed to assemble, and where parties were made up to dine together at some neighbouring restaurant. The one most in favour was Rouget's in Castle-street, a survival of some French dining place dating back to the emigration of 1792, where passable French cookery and excellent French wines were to be had at moderate prices. Among its habitual frequenters were several notable personages, and there was one whom I particularly remember—a short, slightly-built youth, remarkable for a shock of ruddy hair, who always dined at a table by himself in solitary state. All that appeared to be known of him was that he had lately left Oxford, though it was rumoured he had written some remarkable Greek epigrams, and this circumstance, coupled with his singular personal appearance, caused him to be regarded with a certain curiosity. The youth in question was Algernon Charles Swinburne, who a few years afterwards leapt into fame with his “Atalanta in Calydon.”
After they had dined, the habitual gamblers of the coterie adjourned to play cards, while others made up parties to the theatre, and later on in the evening generally found it necessary to refresh their exhausted frames at the Albion or the Cafe de l'Europe in company with actors and newspaper men, but oftener in a more mixed assembly at Evans's subterranean supper rooms at the corner of the Covent-garden piazza, where it was no uncommon thing to find Thackeray, Jacob Omnium, Serjeant Ballantine, Albert Smith, Shirley Brooks, Morgan John O'Connell, Peter Cunningham, Lionel Lawson, Captain Burton, and crazy Chisholm Anstey; with “Paddy” Green strolling vacuously round, and chatting with one or the other of his “dear boys,” as he delighted to call all those whom he addressed. When Evans's closed, there were still ample opportunities of misspending time in the mixed society of roistering swells, professional men of lax habits, retired prize-fighters, music-hall singers, imbecile young fellows about town, and provincial greenhorns, at some of those nocturnal establishments which then abounded in the neighbourhood of the Haymarket. …
Among the members of “the Sheridan” who have passed away are the two younger brothers of Charles Dickens,—Alfred,—whose pet name of Boz when a youngster furnished Dickens, as we know, with his world-renowned pseudonym—notable for his marvellous flow of spirits, reaching its height just as morning was breaking, and everyone else was thoroughly used up; while Fred, another slave to late hours, firmly believed that matutinal rum and milk was the specific for all ailments misguided flesh is heir to. Another member was Gus Mayhew, merriest of men and pleasantest of companions, who told the funniest of stories and wrote the drollest of farces; and on succeeding to his modest inheritance, kept open house for his friends in an old Kentish mansion; then retired to an obscure Derbyshire village to retrench, and such are the freaks of fate, subsided in his later years into an almost misanthropic breeder of pug dogs.
Then there was Gus's elder brother Horace who, from his aristocratic mien and premature baldness, coupled with his propensity for pursuing pretty women, Wiltshire Austin christened “the wicked old marquis,” but who was commonly known to his intimate friends by the pet appellation of “Ponny.” He was for many years sub-editor of “Punch,” which published his amusing “Model Men and Women,” but his smartest contribution to the humorous literature of the period was a shilling brochure called “Letters left at a pastrycook's.” The latest of late hours were Ponny Mayhew's bane. For a quarter of a century—save an annual fortnight devoted to recruiting himself at Scarborough or elsewhere—he scorned to seek repose before the milkman started on his rounds, and during the greater portion of the year never thought of rising until the sun had set, when he would emerge from his Bond-street rooms spruce and gay as a lark. Like the author of “the Two Roses,”
revelled 'neath the moon,
And slept beneath the sun.”
To the foregoing should be added Wiltshire Austin, mentioned above, an indifferent writer, but a facile speaker, with a handsome and commanding presence, who sacrificed the successful career at the bar which all his friends prophesied for him to his fondness for ignoble ease and convivial indulgence; Captain Burton, the adventurous traveller and hero of a famous Mecca pilgrimage; Blanchard Jerrold, the popular journalist, and one of the most versatile and diligent of authors, and a favourite with all his friends; with Jerrold's two clever brothers-in-law, Sidney and Edmund Blanchard, sons of the Laman Blanchard I knew at Orrin Smith's in the “thirties.” Edmund was an inveterate railer against most things, but more especially at royalty and all its doings; while Sidney presented both in appearance and manner an amusing reflex of Sothern's famous Lord Dundreary. …
[George Augustus] Sala was feted a good deal on his return to England, and among others by some aristocratic swells, half-a-dozen of the younger of whom he invited to spend an evening in Guildford-street, promising, by way of a bait, to introduce them to the same number of literary and artistic bohemians of the genuine stamp. Horace Mayhew and I chanced to meet G. A. S. the same afternoon, and he asked us to join the party. We arrived at Guildford-street at the appointed time, and found the half-dozen bohemians spruce in new paper collars and boisterously jolly—having been well feasted by their host—puffing away at their cutty pipes while waiting the arrival of the blasé young fellows whom they were expected to entertain. It is needless to publish their names; still, I may mention that among them were one or two who every morning they rose had no idea whether or not they would dine that day, and others who were in the same blissful state of ignorance as to where they would pillow their heads at night time.
One of the fraternity formerly boasted possession of a luxurious three-pair back, the rent of which he had allowed to get fearfully in arrear. He had, however, an indulgent landlady, who darned his socks for him when he happened to own a pair, and seemed willing enough to wait for the mythical “good time coming,” which he was always putting her off with. Yet he exhausted her patience at last; not, however, because the arrears of rent kept mounting up, but because of his indulgence in certain bad habits which, do what she would, the poor woman was unable to break him of. The fact is, like many another bohemian gourmet, he had a weakness for fried fish, which he was particularly fond of supping off in bed. His plan was to purchase a nicely-browned plaice or flounder the last thing at night and carry it home with him wrapped in a piece of paper, and after he was comfortably between the sheets to feast off it leisurely. The bed linen got greased a good deal of course, but this the good-natured landlady did not so much mind. What annoyed her was having to pick an infinity of small fish bones out of her lodger's bed almost every day. This was too much for her long-tried temper, and repeated remonstrances proving unavailing, she determined to cut matters short; so one day when her incorrigible tenant had gone out in search of a dinner, she turned the key of her comfortable three-pair back room upon him for good.
To return, however, to the Guildford-street gathering. The young bloods from the west soon turned up displaying an amplitude of elaborately-worked shirt-front such as Bloomsbury was quite unaccustomed to. Oddly compounded as the assemblage was, Sala's wonderful qualities as a host speedily put every one at his ease, with the result that a general fraternization ensued and an exceptionally jolly evening was spent. When shortly after midnight the broughams and private cabs of the more affluent members of the party drove up, their owners politely offered to drop the other guests anywhere they pleased en route, but as most of the latter had no place of their own, and were in the habit of pitching their tent for the night wherever circumstances willed, they found these offers slightly embarrassing. However, the company eventually dispersed—swells and Bohemians going off in pairs. In some cases the swell carried off the bohemian to yawn away an hour or two at some late west-end club, and in others the bohemian induced the swell to enlarge his views of life within the limited area of an early Covent-garden coffee-house, so that Sala's ingenious admixture of the opulent and impecunious classes was altogether a complete success.
I remember another evening in Guildford-street, the occasion, I think, being the eve of our host's birthday. Among the guests were “Guy Livingstone” Lawrence, squinting consumedly as usual; Captain Burton—the “Ruffian Dick” of his intimate friends—on leave from Fernando Po, singularly quiet for a hero of marvellous adventure, and chiefly remarkable from his bronzed scarred face; Hepworth Dixon, garrulous and dogmatic, as became the critical Jupiter; about half of the numerous brothers Mayhew; Blanchard Jerrold of “Lloyd's Newspaper”; Rudolph Gustavus Glover, Sala's former chamber chum in Clements' Inn—where, like Falstaff and Shallow, we often heard the chimes at midnight—and sagacious, clear-sighted J. C. Parkinson, in whom several of us thought we discerned a future chancellor of the exchequer. To these should be added Edward Tinsley, the publisher of most of G. A. S.'s books. Our host, I remember, returned thanks on his health being proposed during the small hours of the morning, and kept his guests laughing heartily through a long speech, full of humorous autobiographical reminiscences of his early days.
Later on Tinsley's health was drunk, and he replied in characteristic fashion, detailing among other things his first arrival in the great metropolis on the top of a haycart, with the traditional three half-pence in his pocket. …
Before I became a resident of that Fitzroy Bohemia which I have described in this book I used to make frequent excursions into a Bohemia which had its headquarters in the region of Fleet Street. This was, as most persons would naturally assume, a Bohemia of young authors, and journalists, and actors, and of others who sought introduction into such companionship. There was a literary club which used to meet in a Fleet Street hotel. I am sorry to say I have forgotten the name of the club, and I do not know whether it still exists or has passed into nothingness. George Augustus Sala was one of its members, and so were William Black and Tom Hood and Hain Friswell, and many other old friends of mine belonged to it. It was there that I first met Richard Burton, the renowned traveller and explorer, the fearless soldier, the brilliant writer, the dare-devil seeker of adventure, the fascinating companion. I do not know whether the writers of novels and of descriptive passages in newspapers had got into the use of the word magnetic at that time as an adjective illustrating the attractive or commanding powers of some man or woman. If the word was then in use it certainly must have been often applied to the influence of Richard Burton. The first moment one met him the force of the magnetic influence was felt. But the curious fact to which I wish to draw attention is that the Richard Burton of those days was in manner and in bearing a totally different man from the Richard Burton whom I knew at a later period of his existence and of mine. The Richard Burton whom I met at the Fleet Street club and various other places about the same time was a man of domineering presence and almost overbearing manners. Dark, swarthy, loud-voiced, self-asserting, bearing down all argument and all contradiction with a vehement self-reliance which had something almost fierce in it, the Richard Burton of those days might have been taken as the very type of a romantic young lady's ideal pirate, or captain of a robber band. Burton dashed at an argument as he might have dashed against a band of savage enemies on some African plain. Yet his manner somehow never conveyed with it the least idea of boastfulness or exaggeration. No matter what the man's self-assertion, the listener always felt convinced that there was no mere boastfulness about him, and that all he said he had done, he really had done and was ready to do again. The sense of power, of indomitable power, of a spirit that never knew hesitation or fear, was borne out in every glance and every word. It was impossible not to admire him, and yet I found it, at the time, impossible to get rid of a certain feeling of dislike to him. Most of our writers, even of our great writers, when they picture for us a loud-voiced, arrogant, overbearing man, who boasts of his life of adventure and of daring, have painted for us at the same time and in the same form a man who has not done half the dare-devil deeds he boasts of having done, if, indeed, they have not pictured him as a Thraso, or a Bessus, or a Parolles. Thus we have got into our minds that, so far as literature is concerned, a blustering adventurer must be always more or less of an impostor. But nobody with the least insight into human character could have been in the company of Richard Burton for half an hour without seeing that underneath all his swagger and self-assertion and eager desire to control admiration, there was an absolutely fearless spirit and an abiding determination to be accurate and literal in statement.
RICHARD BURTON was one of the celebrities of the early sixties. Indeed, he was surrounded by the glamour of an almost mythical fame as well as by the strong light of that fame which he had fairly kindled for himself. He had “lived a life of sturt and strife,” to quote the words of the famous old Scottish ballad; he had been soldier, traveller, explorer, had passed from danger to danger, from new exploit to newer exploit, and had observed and turned to account everything he saw. But even the wonderful feats he had accomplished were not enough to satisfy his admirers, and he was credited with many adventures which had never belonged to his career, and had never been recorded, described, or acknowledged by him. He told me himself that certain episodes had been thus introduced into his personal history and continued to be narrated as part of its wonders, although he had not only never authorized the stories, but had even denied them publicly over and over again without being able to get rid of them. He had served under Sir Charles Napier in Scinde, had accomplished his famous pilgrimage to Mecca, had taken part in the Crimean campaign, and gone with Speke on the quest for the sources of the Nile before I came to know him. He had acquired a full knowledge of Hindustani, Persian, and Arabic. The leading passion of his life was his love for the East. He studied many other languages, as well as those of Asia, and was a master of many literatures.
I first made Burton's acquaintance during one of his occasional visits to London, where I had then settled down to a life of literature and journalism. I can well remember my first meeting with him. There was a sort of club made up of rising authors and journalists which used to hold its meetings at a small hotel in the Fleet Street region. It was like one of the clubs belonging to the classic days of Addison and Steele in the fact that it did not aspire to have any premises of its own and was content to have the shelter of a room in an ordinary hostelry on the evenings set out for its gatherings.
Among the men whom I remember in association with that club, and whose names still live in public recollection, were George Augustus Sala and William Black; and these two were of the company on the night when I first had the good fortune to meet Richard Burton. I met him several times during that visit of his to London; then an interval of several years took place, during which I saw nothing of him, and then in days which do not belong to the sixties I renewed my acquaintance with him and maintained it until his death. During the first period of our acquaintance, the period to which the portraits from the sixties belong, I knew in him a man very different from the Richard Burton I came to know in his later life. The Richard Burton whom I first met was exactly the type of man one might have expected to meet if one had read all the wonderful stories told, and truly told, of his travels and his adventures. If you had set to work to construct out of your moral consciousness a living picture of the hero of these experiences and exploits, you would probably have created an eidolon of the Richard Burton I came to know at the club in the Fleet Street region. Burton then seemed full of irrepressible energy and the power of domination. He was quick in his movements, rapid in his talk, never wanted for a word or an argument, was impatient of differing opinion, and seemingly could not help making himself the dictator of any assembly in which he found himself a centre figure. His powers of description were marvellous; he could dash off picturesque phrases as easily as another man could utter commonplaces; could tell any number of good stories without ever seeming to repeat himself; could recite a poem or rattle off a song, could flash out jest after jest, sometimes with bewildering meanings; he was always perfectly good-humored, and he was always indomitably dogmatic. If he thought you really worth arguing with on any question which especially concerned him, he would apply himself to the argument with as much earnestness as if some great issue depended on it, and with an air of sublime superiority which seemed to imply that he was keeping up the discussion, not because there could be any doubt as to the right side, but merely out of a kindly resolve to enlighten your ignorance whether you would or not. It was impossible not to be impressed by him, impossible not to admire him even if one had known nothing of his career and his fame—supposing such ignorance possible in a London literary club during the sixties. But it was impossible, also, not to be somewhat abashed by the supremacy of his domineering power, and I know that I should not have ventured to dispute with him even if he had asserted that in certain parts of Arabia three angles of a triangle were equal to five right angles. I was so deeply interested in all that he said and so delighted and dazzled by the flashlights which he shed upon us that I should not have had the inclination, even if I had the courage, to gainsay anything uttered by him, and was only too happy to acquire all the knowledge I could, and listen to all the stories he was willing to tell.
In 1913 Mr. Thomas J. Wise printed privately, in an edition of only twenty copies, from the unique manuscript in my possession, a preposterous and ribald poem by Swinburne called "The Cannibal Catechism." At that time we were unable to discover any particulars as to the purpose of the piece or the circumstances of its composition. From the high spirits and the lyrical skill which it displayed, as well as from the character of the handwriting, we could be sure that it belonged to the early 'sixties. Later I discovered that my MS had originally passed through the hands of Charles Bradlaugh, but still there was no light on its origin.
Through the kindness of my distinguished friend, the veteran Sir Edward Brabrook, I have now been able to trace the history of this curious poem, which illustrates an episode in Swinburne's life which has hitherto wholly evaded biography. If it is somewhat indecorous, we must remember that we are dealing not with the tame old captive whom a younger generation went down to Putney to visit thirty years later, but with a flaming creature, instinct with genius, whose vagaries were the wonder and terror of society. "The Cannibal Catechism" belongs to the flowering period of "Atalanta in Calydon"; it was written in 1865.
In 1863 Dr. James Hunt (1833-1869), an eccentric ethnographer, whose pretensions to scientific authority were rudely contested by Huxley, founded the Anthropological Society, which lasted till his death. It contained a certain number of serious seekers after truth, like Sir Edward Brabrook; it also contained, no doubt, several persons of vivacity whose main object was the humiliation of Mrs. Grundy, a savage tyrant in those days. In April 1865, Algernon Swinburne joined the Society, and was among the latest, if not the very last, of those included in its list of Foundation Fellows. At that time council meetings sat in the afternoon of the days when evening meetings of the Society were to be held for the reading of papers, and this led to the formation of a club for members to dine together in the interval. As I have indicated, the spirit which animated many of the members of the Society was that of revolt against conventionality, and this became, in fact, the bond of union, and almost the condition of membership of the club, in testimony of which it was christened the Cannibal Club. Dr. James Hunt, as President of the Anthropological Society, was naturally chosen to be chairman of the club. The Cannibal Club met at Bartolini's Hotel, near Leicester Square, close to the Society's meeting-room in St. Martin's Place. It dined in front of a mace, which represented the ebony head of a negro gnawing the ivory thigh-bone of a man. To this object Swinburne irreverently gave the name "Ecce Homo"; it was always placed on the dinner-table opposite the president. The Italian cooking at Bartolini's became the text for many jokes of a more or less anthropological nature, often, as I understand and can well believe, more witty than delicate. Before the poet joined the club he dined as the guest of one of its members, and it is believed that the club induced him to join the Society rather than the Society the club, since he was never a serious ethnographer. He was invited to become a member of the club as soon as he had qualified himself by being elected a Fellow of the Anthropological Society. He was, between 1865 and 1869, a regular attendant at the club dinners whenever he was in town. The poem which I possess, called "The Cannibal Catechism," was written with the purpose of being recited or sung on solemn occasions after or during the banquet, but no one remembers that it ever was so performed. Swinburne, however, was the life and soul of these parties, and Sir Edward Brabrook, the sole survivor (I suppose) of these cannibal feasts, recalls that Swinburne "evidently enjoyed himself very much" at them.
His chief cronies at the Cannibal Club were Sir Richard Burton, who is believed to have introduced him, and Thomas Bendyshe, a fantastic character, then one of the Senior Fellows of King's College, Cambridge. In the records of the Anthropological Society the minutes of a discussion on a paper read before the Society on March 17, 1868, have been preserved, the subject of the paper being "Europeans and their Descendants in North America." Mr. Swinburne joined in the debate, and praised both Poe and Walt Whitman, the latter being still high in his favour. He said, among many other things, that "in his opinion American intellectuality was an original, distinct native product, not derivative from any other country," and he instanced Emerson as a writer who could not have been produced except by America.
Soon after this date, and particularly after the tragical death of its President, the Cannibal Club fell into desuetude. In February 1871, Richard Burton made an effort to revive it, and the old members were invited to attend "a Cannibalistic gathering." Swinburne's answer was: "I shall come and bring my friend (Simeon) Solomon.—Yours in the Cannibal faith, A. C. Swinburne." The members dined together, and "enjoyed a delightful evening," but, as frequently happens in such cases, the old spirit could not be galvanised into new life. The Cannibal Club met no more. I believe my readers will think this odd little passage of literary history worth recording, and again I thank Sir Edward Brabrook for helping me to preserve it.
In the late summer of 1865, Swinburne spent a pleasant holiday with Lord Houghton at Fryston, and said farewell for the time being to a friend who occupied a large part in his acquaintance, and has not yet been mentioned. This was Richard Burton, to whom, on his return from his consulate at Fernando Po, Algernon had been presented by Lord Houghton. These two men, externally so dissimilar, had taken an instant fancy to one another. Burton, who was by sixteen years Swinburne's senior, was a personage of virile adventure, the hero of mysterious exploits in Asia and in Africa; he was Al-Haj Abdullah, the enchanted pilgrim who had penetrated to the holy city of Mecca. He represented in action everything of which Swinburne had only dreamed. But, on his side, Burton possessed a passionate love of literature, in which he was doomed by a radical inaptitude of style never to excel, and he recognised, without envy, but with the most generous enthusiasm, those gifts which he vainly desired for himself exhibited to an almost superhuman degree by his sedentary associate.
Accordingly, between these two men there grew up a strong friendship, which lasted for the rest of Burton's life. They met frequently at the house of Dr. George Bird, from which Burton had been married in 1861. The Arundells, Mrs. Burton's parents, were strict Catholics, and while they treated Swinburne affectionately, they were occasionally shocked by his diatribes. One night, at Dr. Bird's house in Welbeck Street, after some extravagant rodomontade of Swinburne's, Mr. Arundell felt obliged to intervene "Young Sir," he said, in a very solemn tone, "if you talk like that, you will die like a dog!" "Oh!" replied Algernon, clasping his hands together, “don't say ‘like a dog’—do say ‘like a cat!’’’ Swinburne's relations with Richard Burton at this time were charming; the two had so much to say to one another, and so many stories to tell, and jokes to exchange, that they used to be good-naturedly allowed to sit by themselves in an inner room, from which the rest of the company would be tantalised to hear proceeding roars and shrieks of laughter, followed by earnest rapid talk of a quieter description.
Association with Burton was, however, not good for Swinburne, intellectually or physically. Burton, a giant of endurance, and possessed at times with a kind of dionysiac frenzy, was no fortunate company for a nervous and yet spirited man like Swinburne. Houghton, observing with anxiety a situation which he had created, rejoiced when Burton received a new consular appointment that took him to South America. Swinburne, in response to warnings, wrote: “As my tempter and favourite audience has gone to Santos, I may hope to be a good boy again. I may have shaken the thyrsus in your face. But after this half I mean to be no end good.”
It is difficult to understand why that prince of explorers, Sir Richard Burton, did not meet with more substantial reward in his lifetime. He was a man of indomitable courage, a marvellous linguist and thoroughly accomplished all round. I knew him well some years ago. He was an admirable talker and a thoroughly entertaining companion. I can recall at the present moment not a few of the thrilling tales of adventure he used to tell and the dramatic power with which he used to relate them. I recollect once, when a very young man, meeting Burton at a Bohemian Club and singing a missionary song which I had learned from an American artist in Florence. It had an excellent tune and quaint words, with which Burton was hugely delighted, and I can remember how he joined in the chorus with the heartiness and enthusiasm of a boy.
At 1st we arrived at Villa Nueva, twenty-one hours behind time. Here I met Captain Burton, Major Rickard and the Hon. Mr. Maxwell: they spent the best part of the night.
Captain Burton, Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Bandam. Mr. Seymour started for the railway camp—Major Rickard staying behind to look after the luggage in the morning. Major Rickard sleeped in my room, and started at four in the morning. I started at 7 a.m. for Rosario, arrived quite safe, went to the Hotel de la Paz.
3rd.—Been to see Mr. Cooper, and got him to employ my peon, for he is a good man. The Englishman I employed I have this day discharged, he being the most uncouth, lazy, impertinent man I ever saw. Spent the afternoon copying this from my note-book. Going to-night to see a fight between bull-dogs and a donkey. Captain Burton tell me it is very good. …
Santos Sept 26 / 66
Many thanks for your kind note and for the trouble which you have taken. The Blue Book has not come but of course it will in due time. Could you manage to get me the loan of the Fortnightly in which Livingstone is cut up by Cooley, I can put it with care and return it after a few days. If possible send it to me by post as I have just finished something about Livingstone & Cooley and want to consult the review before sending it to print.
Pray don't forget to let me know about the lectures as it will save me the bother of writing them out in French if they are not wanted. I can easily prepare some on the Nile & Niggers.
I have not got Baker’s book yet but I have heard very favourably of it indeed. He and Grant are in luck if they want such things as K.C.B. The Brazilians here are surprised at my audacity in saying that the President was dressed like a French cook, and they will be still more surprised before Brazil & I part company. One booby told me how comfortable were white clothes. I replied that I had worn them before he was born.
We are at present in somewhat an excited state here. No less a personage than the Baron de Manà is in the town and of course he is a great public benefactor. The Railroad I believe is to be opened Oct 1 but without display. Tante Mieux. Don't forget to let me know beforehand when you are likely to come up.
Remember me most kindly to all your family. My wife will write to you soon. This is 6 a.m. and I need hardly say that she is not aware of my occupation. Any news about Hunt returning?
yrs vy try
Richd F. Burton
My dear Sir
Thanks for the loan of the Fortnightly which I have sent back. It is just like Mr. Cooley's impudence and I am giving it hot to to him. Will you allow me to ask you for another little favour? I am here so dependant upon friends afar!
In Appendix to 1 of Southey’s 3 there is printed a long letter and other stuff about Santos. John Whithall, Edward Fenton, etc. You would assist me greatly by getting this copied—I don't care about the handwriting & by letting me know what I owe you for the copier, I am gradually digging up all the old history of this old Province.
Do you see about my Concession of the lead Mountains? It ought to be a good thing as the Southerners are going there in shoals and if an English Company will not work, I have no doubt that an Ang-Mexican will.
Meanwhile my exertions do not stop there. Every trip I make about the Province shows me something good and so far new that no one has taken the trouble to prospect the matter. My last idea is that Jatoban Copal which abounds here will make an excellent addition to our varnishes.
How progresses the great Scully? Any news of Hunt's return? Please tell me something about the Exhibition. We called on Paula Santos when he returned here—now he is off to the bush. Rains have set in but I must begin my travelling again, being somewhat rusty for want of a long outing. Is Conyngham still at Rio. I leave my wife to tell you rest of our small news—we have had a sad death here and all the women are frightened by it.
Remember me most kindly to all your family & believe me ever
Richd F. Burton
Buenos Ayres, Nov. 6, 1866.
Sir Roger Tichborne,
Dear Sir,—I returned to Buenos Ayres on the 3rd inst., and found that you had left on the 1st. Your letter of the 2nd Nov. was delivered to me only yesterday, or it would have been answered earlier. I most happily accept the idea of our meeting at Cordova and travelling together across the plains. My companion, Maxwell, proposes to set out from Buenos Ayres after receipt of the English mails. That may be any time between the 18th and 20th inst. Major Rickard and an Italian traveller think of going, so altogether we shall make up a strongish party, equal to most mountaineers. My wife has often spoken to me about you, and, as you may imagine, I am very curious to see one of whom I have heard so often and so long. As late as 1865 I was asked by your family to make inquiries after you in Brazil, and found nothing but at Rio de Tanlau, and very little there. We have parted twice to meet, and trust not to fail now.—En attendant, I am, yours truly, Richard F. Burton.
Figure 3. Arthur Orton, the Tichborne Claimant.
S. Paulo. 1/6/67.
My dear Sir
I returned from an interesting 26 days trip into the interior & for a wonder had the finest weather whilst it was pouring at S. Paulo.
The coal is still a mystery and wants actual digging into, which we are going to do sharp. Meanwhile I'm exceedingly anxious about the turf & old Ginty's preparation of material for the Secretariat.
There is a volume of which I am in great want & which is not to be had here. It is the Manual de Geologia by M. Boubé, translated into Portuguese by Vandelli, with vocabulary at end and Journey by José Bonifazio de Andrada. They tell me it is to be had at the shop of Alves ([Cac…bo]) in the Rua da Imperatriz, between the Rua de S. Pedro and the Rua Larga de S. Joaquin.
Jan. 7. My wife has returned safely—I much obliged to you for your kindness in assisting her to get through her business. Matters begin to look much better. Give my kindest regards to your Mother & sister. What has become of Whittaker & Madam? Excuse haste—I am off to Santos at once.
Richd F. Burton.
Albert Tootal Esq.
8th Jany 1867
Dear Mr. Tootal
After you left on the 5th I had great trouble about my passport on board up to the moment of the vessel sailing as the small officials were inclined to show power by turning me off & I was determined to leave only by being carried off kicking & screaming. However luckily King’s man arrived just in time with it & they were then as civil as possible & said I stood in no need of a passport which is the case. The passage was very rough. The Corcovado rolls a great deal but I was not sick. Arrived in Santos at 9 Sunday morning. No train—no tidings of Richard; so I attended to my church, being a fiesta & then my business in Santos (of which I had a great deal). At 3 fearing I was going to have a dull time of it I hired a carriage & drove off to the Barra to see Mrs. Andrada. I found a huge family dinner party after which we walked on the sands & danced till late & had all the national dances with no formality—& I enjoyed it very much. Next day Monday I got a telegram to say Richd had arrived. Got a train at 11 ½ (it is not open yet). We had to walk up a lift & a half—the line is in an awful state quite blocked up & we came to some places in trawlers that make one shudder. Mr. Aubertin & I unfortunately had diarrhoea all the way which made it worse. Arrived home at 5. & found Richard looking wonderfully well & in good spirits & had made a good trip. I was obliged to send my luggage up by road at 35 milréis an awful bore—it hasn't arrived yet so I shall be about a week shaking down into my old life. Write to me & tell me all the fun that happens to the Rio snobs as well as any news about my friends that will interest me. I am sure you must be very glad to have got rid of me as I was a great tax upon your time & good nature?—this last article query.
me ever yrs most truly.
71 Rua do Carmo
Holmwood, Henley-on-Thames, January 11, 1867
My dear Burton
I was within an ace of losing your letter altogether, and only recovered it from the Dead Letter Office by accident—or rather by the intervention of that all-wise and beneficent Providence which regulates all sublunary things. You may know perhaps that Messrs. Moxon & Co., to whom it was addressed, tried to swamp my book by withdrawing it from circulation when the storm of warm water began to seethe and rage in the British tea-kettle, trusting that in British eyes their fraudulent breach of contract would be justified by the plea of virtuous abhorrence. Of course I withdrew all my books from their hands, and declined any further dealings with such a den of thieves. Consequently these denizens of the Cities of the Plain, whose fathers somehow escaped with Lot and his respectable family, pretended ignorance of my address (which, as well as my present publishers, they knew well enough the day before), and dismissed a whole heap of letters, papers, and books sent me from America to the Dead Letter Office. But for this you would have heard from me long ago, and received the book and pamphlet I now send you. You would have had them long before if I had had your address.
I am very glad you like my swallow song, as I do your version of the Rondinella as far as given. I am still the centre of such a moral chaos that our excellent friend Houghton maintains a discreet and consistent neutrality, except that he wrote me a letter thoroughly approving and applauding the move taken; but I have not set eyes on his revered form for months. Your impending opulence, and my immediate infamy, will too evidently cut us from the shelter of his bosom. I wish you had been at hand or within reach this year, to see the missives I got from nameless quarters. One anonymous letter from Dublin threatened me, if I did not suppress my book within six weeks from that date, with castration. The writer, when I least expected, would waylay me, slip my head in a bag, and remove the obnoxious organs; he had seen his gamekeeper do it with cats. This is verbatim, though quoted from memory, as I bestowed the document on a friend who collects curiosities. I beg to add that my unoffending person is as yet no worse than it was. This was the greatest spree of all; but I have had letters and notices sent me (American and British) by the score, which were only less comic whether they come from friend or foe.
I hope we shall have you back before ’69, not only for the cellar's sake, sublime as that ’realised ideal’ is certain to be. I have in hand a scheme of mixed verse and prose—a sort of etude a la Balzac plus the poetry—which I flatter myself will be more offensive and objectionable to Britannia than anything I have yet done. You see I have now a character to keep up, and by the grace of Cotytto I will endeavour not to come short of it—at least in my writings. Tell me, if you have time, what you think of Dolores and Anactoria in full print.
I hope you will prevail on Mrs. Burton to forgive the use made in the former poem of the B.V.M., whose son I saw the other day mentioned in a tract by a Rabbinical Atheist as ‘Joshua ben Joseph.’ I wish I could run over to ‘5 o’clock tea,’ but can only send remembrances to you both, and hope you will not have forgotten me when you return to this ‘plaisant pays.’
Toujours à vous,
A. C. Swinburne.
Figure 4. Algernon Swinburne.
My dear Mr. Tootal
I am glad to see you appreciated my "amiable half dozen lines" otherwise you would have been severely punished by a long silence and a withdrawal of the light of my countenance until you showed some signs of feeling what we Catholics call in religious matters "the pain of loss". I have already begun to transact my own commissions in Rio & have actually dared to write for some tea without yr intervention. […] The Wrights now live [in] Santos and have charge of Bank there. The Andradas I miss terribly. All the English engineers nearly are gone. We are very quiet no parties or anything and it is very hot. They talk of the railway opening on the 15th I am rather unbelieving. We have a new tea garden open, a speculation of Marinha's. Richd is working very hard. Every now & then he fidgets me to change my house but hitherto I have staved off the calamity. He starts about the 15th for a journey. Coimbra is going with him & he will be away about 6 weeks (don't mention this as perhaps it is a secret—I mean about Coimbra). I am very much occupied. I have a Portuguese mistress thrice a week & have nearly translated 4 books & am beginning to understand pretty well. My poor cow is lame and I can’t ride. I am trying to buy a little red horse. The owner wants me to accept him as a present but we don’t accept such extensive presents from strangers as we have nothing to give in return so I have offered to buy him. I have only ridden out 3 times since I returned. I am trying all sorts of remedies for the lameness. I think [P…] sold me a bargain. I have got a little dog but being a puppy he is rather tiresome. He watches the turkey cock spreading his tail & bullying the whole yard & then fastens on to his tail & makes him drag him all round the yard. He is afraid of nothing, steals like a magpie & is very amusing. I have got a letter from Mrs. [Lennox]. I am sorry not to be in time to answer it. I shall miss her very much. I have a sincere regard for her & think there is something very fascinating in the way she likes me with all her heart. Still I was rather afraid of her into a place like Rio. She has been so bullied & is so nervous that she wd unwittingly create gossip that otherwise wd not exist in her efforts to prove how wicked the people’s tongues are. I hope however that I shall meet her again where she will have shaken off that unpleasant feeling of being watched & talked of—a matter which I should always put the heel of my boot on, so that it did not annoy my husband. Fox tells me he is expecting your friend Mr. Griffin here soon. What a pity you can’t run up too. The Fox wedding has not come off. Pêre [Germain] goes by today's steamer to Rio. He will be at the Capuchins—up at the Castello I think near Sta Theresa.
Ouida is or was a girl of 17 seduced by an Oxford clergyman & wrote that book under the smart of desertion. I hope your father is not seriously unwell. We hear the cholera is in Rio—is it true Dont drink if it is true.
I was amused to hear of your mesmerizing old Bruce. I hardly believe in magnetism between 2 men or 2 women only old Bruce must be of a very negative nature & childish a sort of—I really don't know why I was going to say—besides which you are both fair & without any tie or attraction between you so I don't understand it. When you begin to try yr hand on our sex get in that line. You must choose a fiery brunette as you will probably possess some attraction in which she is deficient & then it will take—you being fair & of a sluggish nature.
Write whenever you can it is always welcome & with our united best regards Believe me ever yours most truly I. Burton
9th Feb. 67.
My dear Mr. Tootal
I got your scrubby note and it was the dullest thing I ever read & did not repay me for the labour, but I think I shall be able to repay you in kind as there positively is nothing to say. I have been leading always the same life. Up at 5, Mass in house, lunch at Portuguese & music. Ride & class in evenings for instruction of Niggers. My only excitement has been visiting the Convents which is a great privilege, as no one is allowed to go inside above all in Lent. I rode by chance to some country races, where Brazys were betting 10 milreis with as much gusto as if it were millions. I have also had a little fun with an old person who is going to teach me Portuguese. It will form a paragraph in my future book headed "a Brazilian's morning call," but I will read it to you when we meet. Richard and I are coming in May for a fortnight & I shall expect you to make a great deal of us. I don't know if you will recognize me as I am sorry to state that I am becoming corpulent or as Lampson elegantly expresses himself "fleshy", though I fast & ride & fret. Some say it is the vegetable diet of Lent. Richard arrived unexpectedly on the 1st of April with Coimbra who is on a visit to us at present. They had a very jolly six weeks of it & have found diamonds & all sorts of things but Coimbra came back with a story that the chickens had eaten his best diamond & bought up a lot to have them opened when I very wisely remarked that I was afraid it was a two-legged chicken forgetting they hadn't four.
We have been dining several nights with Aubertin to drink White Port & tomorrow he dines with us. He is nearly the only English person in the place. Fox is having a palace built in his absence on & about his chacara. We have a new man named Wightman like Pakenham especially after dinner when his nose gets red. Richard won't have Mass in the house now he has come. My news from home is pretty good this time.
Have you seen Hunt & what news is there in Rio? Mind you write to keep me in a decent temper. I had intended to pay you out with a terribly senseless note like your own, but you see I can't contract my wit & intelligence & you can't expand yours so it is not fair to make odious comparisons.
With our best united regards. Believe me ever sincerely yours
April 3 1867
Santos April 5 / 67. Address care of E. Hertslet Librarian Foreign Office.
My dear Swinburne
I returned 5 days ago and found your note, book & pamphlet. Stayed in bed and read through the two latter. Itylus is a gem. Of course I especially studied the best abused & naturally found them by far the best. In the U. S. I am told by W. Reade you have sold to the extent of 6000. Dr. Bird says that you are doing the same in England. Of course you are going on. You have not brought an action against Moxon I see. That most respectable party behaved like a true modern Englishman without honour or honesty. He desires to be generally popular, even unto Churchwardenship. If he were young & could marry well he might be an M. P. As a Parson he might aspire to Deanery. I don’t think much better of your actual—the Hotten whose name I found liable to a very open pun. When I wrote my squib Stone Talk he wanted me to tell him my name. He did not know that [anonym] is [anonym]. Let me know if your present is to be your future address, mine is always through the Foreign Office.
I fear that unless you pall with abject poverty or paralysis you will see no more of our mutual friend Houghton. I hope to arouse his wrath by a Canto of Camões which I have sent to Macmillan; he will (I implore a malevolent [Providence]) write and abuse it. W. Reade left with him a corrected copy of Meccah for re-publication—it will linger out an obscene old age in the Respectable Household.
Pity that you don’t print off a few copies of your anonymous friend’s communications and send them about to show what lies at the root of English Society. The castrating gentleman from Dublin is truly charming—one can hardly believe in the existence of such a yahoo so far removed from Australia!
I have read over several times Anac. & Dolores. The former seems to have been the more congenial to you, probably old reminiscences. Moreover the subject matter is richer. I prefer Faustine to Dol. because the former is more in my experience. I know half a dozen Faustines. They all three however do you infinite credit and—what does Mister Tennyson say of them?
Keep me au courant of the étude à la Balzac which promises well. Remember Vestigia nullia retrorsum you are bound to wish for older and maturer vice. The Review in the Athenaeum & the maundering of that snot the Illustrated show me how much you have to do. I read also G. R.’s disculpatory stave about you and thought it respectable. The people seem to have been stunned by your pamphlet.
Good creatures of the stall or sty
is calling the spade spade. Why not give them a sketch of Shakspere, contrasting the Shak. Of Nature with the Shak. Of “high art” of Mr. Hep. Dixon & Mr. Hain Frizzy? Perhaps you might also break Houghton’s heart or at least give him a fit of gout.
I fairly warn you that at the least sign not of movement retrograde but of remission in advancing you will be bellowed by the British hound. If you belabor them in all directions, they may 10 yrs hence, wag the head of wonder and exclaim “It’s his way.”
My wife sends very kindest remembrances & regrets that you cannot come over to 5 o’clock tea. But I am working at lead gold & coal, somebody too must soon loan me money, and then we shall meet. I shall then be a just man made [perfect]. I am still a Pariah. All good wishes to you & tout à vous.
Richd F. Burton
15, Whitehall Place,
April 5 1867
Yours of Feb 17 is to hand. Before this reaches you, you will have seen in the papers the accounts of the reported death of Dr. Livingstone. We have received no further news since the letters published in the “Times” of March 26th. According to Dr. Kirk who has very carefully cross-examined the 9 Johanna men who escaped, Livingstone, before he was cut down had solved the problem of the Northern termination of Lake Nyassa. After reading Kirk's carefully written letter in which he counts out this conclusion I must say I thoroughly agree with him. Lake Nyassa ends in a marshy creek, without current, about 10o 30' S. lat.
Now one of my chief objects of writing to you is to tell you what is being done in consequence of this. Mr. Findlay believes it will strengthen the hypothesis of Tanganyika being the head of the Nile & you will after all be the discoverer. I am spurring Findlay to write a short paper on the subject for our Society: he has made some discovery about levels of Albert Nyanza & the water visited by Lacerda. If he makes a readable paper we will have it read at an evening meeting. He has borrowed of me your M.S. translation of Lacerda’s journey to Cazembe, which was deposited in my hands by the brother of Winwood Reade & which I know you would wish to be lent to Mr. Findlay for such a purpose.
Several good judges here disbelieve the accounts of Livingstone's death. I must say it appears to me wiser to rely on the superior knowledge of Kirk. Kirk has no hope that the story is untrue & he has been closetted with the only witnesses.
The weather here has at length cleared up a little after 8 months of almost constant storms. When you wonder at my tameness in submitting to quiet life in England you forget what a heavy anchor I have cast in getting married & to my infinite surprise being endowed with four children in about five years.
Please present my kind regards to Mrs. Burton.
H. W. Bates
The first part of your Report on Brazil has been received and favourably considered by our Council but we cannot print any of it till we get the remainder. Where is it?
Figure 5. Iporanga, from Burton's Sketchbook.
[…] named. If you could get me any others in the genre I want with option of sending them back if not liked I shd be glad but I find someone else has sent to get me those three. […]
Capt. B. sends his kindest regards & believe me
S. Paulo 16 May
Rio de Janeiro
My dear Sir
I am off for a few months trip to the Gold Mines & the Great Interior. My wife accompanies me part of the way.
Herewith is a paper about the Nile. My case is coming. Baker Knighted—I wonder that he ever accepted it. Grant offered Star of Sudan. Speke family quotes Nile—field but no sable? I opened up the way and the whole work of opening up Africa & have never even had a word of thank you ‘bout it. But I should like my fellow countrymen to see through the fact that honesty is not always the best policy & that truth is not always permit[ted].
Please assist me in this little matter of publicity.
I hope that Mrs. Dixon & your children are flourishing. My wife joins in kindest regards to you. Believe me ever.
Richd F. Burton
Hepworth Dixon Esq.
Wednesday October 30th … I was greatly helped by Senhor Campos, the Bahia Steam Navigation Co.’s agent, to whom Captain Nuñez introduced me, who gave me more letters of introduction and entrusted me with official letters to deliver to Captain Burton, the celebrated traveller in India, Arabia and Africa, now British Consul at Santos. He is expected to arrive at Piranha in a day or two from the almost unknown interior, where he has been making some important explorations for the Brazilian Government, with the consent and at the instance of the British Government. …
I arrived at Rio on November 9th, where I remained till Thursday, January 9th, 1868, waiting for the Royal Mail Steamer Arno to sail for Monte Video. I had quite enough to occupy my time during these ten days. I was a good deal with Captain Burton who called to thank me for having taken charge of his official consular despatches—(he is British Consul General at Santos)—entrusted to me by Senhor Campos, our Consul at Penedo, when I hoped to meet him at Paulo Affonso Falls.
Burton is without doubt a very extraordinary character—a splendid traveller, and intrepid explorer—a wonderful linguist and, I think, the most resolute and determined-looking man I have ever met. He is certainly apt to be a little reckless in his conversation, often very greatly overstepping the bounds of propriety, but is always an exceedingly interesting ‘raconteur,’ especially when he can be persuaded to talk about his experiences as an explorer and traveller in Africa and the East.
He told me much about his celebrated pilgrimage to the shrine of the prophet at Mecca that could not be published.
He is now going to write a book about his recent exploration of the Rio San Francisco, and his next move will be up the river Parana to the watershed of that river or its tributaries and through the supposed diamond region to the headwaters of the Xingu (one of the almost unknown tributaries of the Amazon), that he is very anxious to explore.
I was able to give him some general information about canoe travelling on the Amazons, but could not of course tell him much about the Xingu, which I have seen only for a short distance from its mouth.
One night when I was dining with him and Mrs.—or as I ought perhaps to call her Lady Burton—as she is the daughter of an Irish peer, and, I think, a lady in her own right—Burton was telling me about his nigger servant-boys at Santos, how good and honest they were ‘until she’ (pointing to his wife) ‘undertook to make them all Roman Catholics like herself, and then they took to stealing my shirts and cigars!’ He worked himself up into a most unseemly fury, threatening to throw the effigy of the B.V.M. that his wife had in her oratory at Santos out of the window, if she continued to interfere with his ‘damned little niggers.’ She took it all very quietly, merely saying, ‘Now, Richard, behave yourself and don’t make yourself ridiculous. Mr. Stevenson must take you for a perfect brute.’
My dear Sir
I am obliged to break our agreement to meet today - The Steamer leaves for Santos at noon. I shall return with her (prob. on Sat. next) & bring back your Plan of Rio which I have taken the liberty to borrow. Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Tootal & believe me
Richd F Burton.
P.S. Could you find for me on my return a little French book known I believe as the Archives de Rio?
Rio de Janeiro. November 1867
Richard has always told me that you never write to yr friends abroad & hate to hear from them & for this reason I have refrained writing but having for the first time since I came to Brazil a spare day & alone I intend to try if it is true. Richard has now been out of England for 2½ years & I 2 years. This is a glorious country & we are very well & very happy in it & find plenty to do. The interior is quite uncivilised but the sea coast has a kind of demi-semi civilisation which gives us all the bother & none of the pleasure of a very "fluffy" society.
Rio de Janeiro is a very nice place very hot & very dear
to live in but the most beautiful place imaginable, quite like a fairyland. Richard
says that it is superior to any place he knows, even the Golden Horn. Steaming
into the bay at sunrise for the first time is worth coming all the way from England
to see. Here it is possible to form a little coterie of 18 or so nice people
from the Diplomatic Corps & Naval Officers. The general society has every
now & then a month of gaiety but it is chiefly commercial & so full of
little spites jealousies and gossips that one is thankful not to belong to it. We
live about 200 miles down the Coast. The Consulship is Santos. You enter a
lagoon or rather a long narrow winding arm of the sea very muddy & dirty
for about 7-9 miles through a mangrove swamp & there enclosed by mountains
is Santos like a dirty pack of cards
piled thrown here & there.
There is no air bad water and perpetual rain in bucketfulls it wd
seem, which only breaks an umbrella and succeeded by a scorching sun
which causes steam and decomposition to arise from the large vegetation. There
are no servants scarce food & bad rooms & every kind of insect and
reptile. There we only have a consulate & clerk; a railway & telegraph
now extend up inclined planes 87 miles into the interior & we live at Sao
Paulo about 45 miles inland—3000 ft. high a splendid climate & 5
miles on the temperate side of Capricorn. It is a white town on a broad table
land about 15 miles square & surrounded by mountains. There we live in a
kind of farm house with rough wooden furniture hammocks & divans. We have
made a fencing & pistol shooting gallery about 40 feet long where we exercise
ourselves & practise Indian clubs. It opens onto a little verandah overhanging
the plain where we read write study & Richd smokes on his divan.
I have my piano & books—study the language & music of the country—the
language I do not like. It is a harsh coarse sounding one but then the
literature repays the trouble. Richard speaks perfectly I only so-so but can
say everything I want and be understood. The music is peculiar & not
ungraceful the high class are given to reciting to music, the low class is more
Indian. They chant to dancing music snapping fingers & beating the
foot on the ground. This is called Landú & has a peculiar time. Richard
has 4 books on Brazil getting ready & for the first time in his life he has
nothing but pleasant things to say (he likes the Brazilians). One is on Sao
Paulo one on the Coast one on the River San Francisco & Minas Gerais &
the 4th general Brazil. I keep 2 horses & ride a great deal the
horses are poor in general but when they are good they fly over the Campos or
Prairies like the wind. I keep all kinds of poultry goats &
everything except cows & sheep which don't flourish up there. It is the
first time I have ever had a house of my own & I never find time to be dull
or want society though never a day passes that I do not think of all my old
friends in England. There is so much to be done. I am at present collecting
ferns. There are 3 or 4000 in Brazil some 40 ft. high butterflies that are
quite dazzling & most exquisite birds humming birds chiefly. Richard also
is as happy as possible. He leads a domestic life to the letter for 3 or 4
months & then suddenly tells me to pack up the saddle bags. Sometimes I
go, sometimes am left in charge. I am Vice Consul & we have an acting one
too. We go up & down by railway. There is as much & more necessity
for a Consul at S. Paulo than at Santos so we have to attend to both places.
We have had a charming 3 months journey to Minas Gerais (the Province of the Mines). We travelled with mules & horses both riding & baggage & went about 25 miles a day on an average, as the country is so difficult. We saw every part of the province. The scenery is stupendous only very tameless—splendid mountains wooded to the top—valleys with broad rivers sweeping through them with an occasional cataract long tracts of virgin forest & glorious tropical foliage—the people harmless & hospitable the ranchos or sleeping places poor dirty & miserable. I accompanied Richard to the big river & went part of the way in his canoe but having hurt myself & being on crutches I was too dependent & a bore so I was carried back to an Englishman's house who lent me some good animals & I rode back to Rio with 2 slaves and a tropeiro as guide which took up 10 days. Richard has now been paddling down the river four months & I am getting very anxious as I do not hear any news of him. He will emerge on the Coast in the Province of Alagoas and steam down to Rio where I am waiting to meet him. We are very happy under the aegis of our present chief Lord Stanley & I hope for our sakes that he may always remain so as we are enormously proud of him. My Earthly Trinity of great men are the French Emperor Lord Stanley & Richard Burton & it is something to be proud of to be married to one & have another for our chief. It is a pleasure for everyone to serve under him he is so manly & straightforward.
Here everyone is occupied with the war in Paraguay. The Emperor cares for nothing else. They are a most amiable family but the court is not very grand or so formal as in England. They receive intimately the few they like but no general society. We have lost our Minister Mr. & Mrs. Thornton & are all very sorry for they were charming & are now waiting the arrival of Mr. Mathews & family. I met him & Miss Mathews now Mrs. Erle I believe at your house. I liked her very much. I have not seen the other ladies but I hope I shall like them all very much & am prepared to get on very well with them.
It would be a great pity to spoil the beauty of this country by making it common but you cannot fancy what riches it contains. If the whole Empire were let out to a British company for 20 years there would be nothing like it but it wd be ruined for travellers. The minerals gold stones precious woods—everything it possesses is something that if it were in England there wd be a special train to it & here nobody sees it or cares.
If you are so good as to write which I don't expect will you direct to the Foreign Office our agent is Mr. Edward Hertslet. I should like to hear news of dear Lady Houghton to whom give my love & ask her to keep me a kindly corner in her memory & also I do not forget Amicia & Robin & the little one. I suppose Amicia is now a grown up young lady and must be treated with great respect.
I have been tempted to send a lion monkey to Robin—all red with carrot-coloured hair but unless I went with it, it wd die for want of care on the voyage.
How is poor little Swinburne? Remember me kindly to him & now with kindest regards believe me dear Lord Houghton, to be always yrs most sincerely
18th March.—There has been a new life of Richard Burton published, and much discussion of his character in the papers. I will try and recollect my own impression of him. I knew his wife when she was an unmarried girl, having met her several times at the house of her aunt, Monica Lady Gerard, at Mortlake, in the fifties or early sixties. At that time she was a quiet girl enough, of the convent type—at least so I remember her—fair-haired and rather pretty—very different from my recollection of her in later years. When I next met her it was at Rio Janeiro in the autumn of 1867, where I spent some days in her company on my way to the Legation at Buenos Aires. Her husband was Consul then at Santos in Brazil, and he was travelling somewhere in the interior of Brazil, and had left her at Rio during his absence. She had developed into a sociable and very talkative woman, clever, but at the same time foolish, overflowing with stories of which her husband was always the hero. Her devotion to him was very real, and she was indeed entirely under his domination, an hypnotic domination Burton used to boast of. I have heard him say that at the distance of many hundred miles he could will her to do anything he chose as completely as if he were with her in the same room. Burton's sayings, however, of this kind, were not to be altogether depended upon, and he probably exaggerated his power.
A few months later Burton himself turned up, but without his wife, at Buenos Aires, the announcement of his arrival having been made beforehand with some parade in the local newspapers. The great traveller, it was stated, had the project of making a new exploration of Patagonia and the western Pampas and of ascending the highest summits of the Andes, including Aconcagua, then a virgin peak, and paragraphs were from time to time printed as to the preparations being made beforehand for so great an adventure. On his arrival, however, it was soon abundantly clear that there was nothing very serious in the plan. Burton, in spite of his naturally iron constitution, was no longer in a physical condition for serious work, and though he talked about it for a while to all who would listen, the expedition was gradually let drop by him and ended by becoming a matter of joke among his friends. I remember what I think was my first meeting with him, at Mrs. Russell's house in the autumn of 1868, where we had both been asked to dinner and with us the notorious Sir Roger Tichborne, in whose company Burton had arrived and with whom he chiefly consorted during his two months' stay at Buenos Aires. They were a strange, disreputable couple. Burton was at that time at the lowest point I fancy of his whole career, and in point of respectability at his very worst. His consular life at Santos, without any interesting work to his hand or proper vent for his energies, had thrown him into a habit of drink he afterwards cured himself of and he seldom went to bed sober. His dress and appearance were those suggesting a released convict, rather than anything of more repute. He wore, habitually, a rusty black coat with a crumpled black silk stock, his throat destitute of collar, a costume which his muscular frame and immense chest made singularly and incongruously hideous, above it a countenance the most sinister I have ever seen, dark, cruel, treacherous, with eyes like a wild beast's. He reminded me by turns of a black leopard, caged, but unforgiving, and again with his close cut poll and iron frame of that wonderful creation of Balzac's, the ex-gallerien Vautrin, hiding his grim identity under an Abbe's cassock. Of the two companions Tichborne was distinctly the less criminal in appearance. I came to know them both well, especially Burton, his connection with the Consular service bringing him to us at the Legation, and I have sat up many nights with him talking of all things in Heaven and Earth, or rather listening while he talked till he grew dangerous in his cups, and revolver in hand would stagger home to bed.
On the first occasion, however, of our dinner at Mrs. Russell's, my curiosity was excited more towards Tichborne than towards him. He had already laid claim to the Tichborne baronetcy and was commonly called by his title, and his business at Buenos Aires was to collect evidence, proving his identity for the lawsuit he was about to bring for the family estates. Burton at that time, it is worth recording, more than half believed in him as being what he pretended, his wife's connection with the Catholic world probably disposing him to take an interest in the result. I too had something of a similar interest. I had been at school, not indeed with the real Roger Tichborne, but with his younger brother, Alfred, who had been a boy of about my own standing and whom I knew well. When, therefore, I was told I was to meet ‘The Claimant’ at the dinner I brushed up my recollection of Alfred so that I might be prepared to see or not to see a likeness between them. Alfred at the age of sixteen had been a rather nice looking boy with a round, good-humoured face, across which, a very notable feature, his thick eyebrows met. Without being stupid he was a quite unintellectual boy, and had passed by seniority into the highest class of the school without, I think I may safely say, having learned a dozen words of Latin or Greek. It was about all he could do to write in ungrammatical sentences an English letter, and his time was spent in entire idleness and smoking so incurable that he had been allowed at last to indulge it as an alternative to his expulsion. I was consequently not prepared for special intelligence in his pretended brother, but I looked out for the eyebrows and there, without question, they were across Sir Roger's face. I treated him, therefore, as Burton did, in the light of a young man of decent birth gone woefully to seed. His huge frame and coarse manner seemed to conceal reminiscences of aristocratic breeding as authentic perhaps, it was not saying much, as Alfred's.
With these two men I therefore spent much of my time during the next few weeks but naturally more with Burton. (I unfortunately kept no notes nor journals then.) My talks with Burton were of a most intimate kind, religion, philosophy, travel, politics. I had hardly as yet visited the East, but Eastern travel had interested me from the day I had read Palgrave's ‘Journeys in Arabia,’ and Burton was fond of reciting his Arabian adventures. In his talk he affected an extreme brutality, and if one could have believed the whole of what he said, he had indulged in every vice and committed every crime. I soon found, however, that most of these recitals were indulged in pour épater le bourgeois and that his inhumanity was more pretended than real. Even the ferocity of his countenance gave place at times to more agreeable expressions, and I can just understand the infatuated fancy of his wife that in spite of his ugliness he was the most beautiful man alive. He had, however, a power of assuming the abominable which cannot be exaggerated. I remember once his insisting that I should allow him to try his mesmeric power on me, and his expression as he gazed into my eyes was nothing less than atrocious. If I had submitted to his gaze for any length of time—and he held me by my thumbs—I have no doubt he would have succeeded in dominating me. But my will also is strong, and when I had met his eyes of a wild beast for a couple of minutes I broke away and would have no more. On matters of religion and philosophy he was fond, too, of discoursing. There I could argue with him and hold my own, for he was not really profound; and always at the bottom of his materialistic professions I found a groundwork of belief in the supernatural which refused to face thought's ultimate conclusions. I came at last to look upon him as less dangerous than he seemed, and even to be in certain aspects of his mind, a ‘sheep in wolf's clothing.’ The clothing, however, was a very complete disguise, and as I have said he was not a man to play with, sitting alone with him far into the night, especially in such an atmosphere of violence, as Buenos Aires then could boast, when men were shot almost nightly in the streets. Burton was a grim being to be with at the end of his second bottle with a gaucho's navaja handy to his hand.
His visit to the Pampas ended tamely enough in his crossing it with ‘The Claimant,’ the two inside the ordinary diligence, to Mendoza and thence on mules to the Pacific. As to Aconcagua (he always insisted the mountain should be pronounced with an accent on the last syllable) we heard no more of it, after the appearance of a final paragraph in the Buenos Aires ‘Standard’ making fun of it and him. ‘The great traveller Burton, it is said, has just completed his final preparations for his exploration of the Pampas and Andes. Among his latest acquisitions with this object are, we understand, a small field-piece to be mounted on the roof of the diligence in which he proposes to travel and a few torpedoes for use in crossing rivers.’ The Buenos Aires ‘Standard’ of those days was the creation of a cheerful and irresponsible Irishman named Mulhall, to whose office I used now and then to go for a quarter of an hour's gossip about local matters, when he would ask me to lend a hand with his ‘copy’ and turn a ‘paragraph.’ I am not sure that the paragraph just quoted was not one of mine. Mulhall afterwards rose to eminence in the world as a statistician, to the surprise, I imagine, of everyone who in 1868 knew him at Buenos Aires.
Such is my personal recollection of Burton when he must have been forty-eight years old as I was twenty-eight. He seemed to me then already a broken man, physically, nor did he impress me very strongly on his intellectual side. For that reason, perhaps, I have never been able to rate him as highly as have done most of his contemporaries, the friends who knew him. I am aware that I saw him at his worst, but from a literary point of view, too, he seems to me second-rate. His prose style is certainly of a poor order, and his verse as bad. As an oriental linguist he was no doubt great, and in his youth he had great powers of simulating Eastern character in various disguises. His face was one that lent itself to this, for it had in it little of the European, and there must certainly have been a cross in his blood, gipsy or other. At the same time in his talks with me, and also in his books, he showed little true sympathy with the Arabs he had come to know so well. He would at any time, I am sure, have willingly betrayed them to further English, or his own professional interests. His published accounts of Arabia and the Arabs are neither sympathetic nor true. His ‘Pilgrimage to Mecca’ is largely made up with literary padding, and as a narrative reads to me insincere. It certainly exaggerates the difficulty of the undertaking which in those days was comparatively easy to anyone who would profess Islam, even without possessing any great knowledge of Eastern tongues. At Damascus, when I was there in 1878, he had left a poor reputation, having managed to get into hot water with every native class—Turk, Arab, Syrian, Christian and Moslem alike—though this I believe was greatly his wife's fault. She was indeed a very foolish woman, and did him at least as much harm in his career as good. Her published Life of him, however, which has the ring of a true wife's devotion, redeems her in my eyes, and it is a fine trait in his character that he should have borne with her absurdities for the sake of her love so long.
While I was there once, Wilfrid Blunt, a relation of mine, in the Legation at Buenos Ayres, turned up with his sister, a Norwegian Carriole, and a black imp whom he had purchased at St. Vincent, and who answered to the name of Pompey. It was delightful to see a refined, pretty Englishwoman in the wilds, and she roughed it splendidly, and rode easily sideways on a man's saddle. …
I met in Buenos Ayres, and travelled back up-country with them, two very well-known and different individuals—one Sir Richard Burton, the other the Tichborne Claimant—and saw much of both.
I had the pleasure of several days with Burton, who was on his way across to Chile. I never met a man who so deeply impressed me. His manly charm of manner and great personal—I can only call it fascination, for it was a kind of magnetic power over everyone which he carried with him—were extraordinary. Of great physical strength, his fine figure was remarkable, with his enormous moustache and extraordinary eyes. If you looked into them, you never seemed to get to the back of them. I never wondered at his domination over men and women, savage or civilized, or at his strong mesmeric powers.
I had a great deal of most interesting talk with him, and have always felt that he first induced me to strike out an independent line of thought on every subject for myself. One evening at the railway-station at Frayle Muerto, where the temporary feeding-place was kept by a very go-ahead Frenchman, he said: “Voila, Monsieur le Capitaine, du jambon, du saucisson, du pain, une bouteille de caña: je vous laisse avec Monsieur Seymour pour la nuit.” And I certainly learnt more of curious information in that night than in many, many others in my life put together. He said: “If you have any individual force of intellect, any power of thought and reflection, why submit yourself to the opinions and dictums of anyone? Think things out for yourself, come to your own conclusions, be a law to yourself. Satisfy yourself as to the correctness of your views, and if you have really satisfied yourself, then, as far as you are concerned, what you think is right is right.” The Claimant was fat then—not quite as big as at the trial. Burton used to draw him out most amusingly. He was much puzzled because Lady Burton was an Arundel, closely related to the Tichbornes, and the Lady Tichborne he claimed as mother was a Seymour, so he had to be careful not to give himself away.
I can hear old Dick Burton's genial voice now: “Yes, Sir Roger, and what happened then?” He told me about the wreck of the Bella, and how some six of them escaped in a boat, were picked up, and got to Australia. I said: “Why don't you produce some of the survivors?” And he: “Oh, I shall produce them all right when the time comes!” And so he did—the well-known Jean Louis, who had two years in choky for perjury! Sir Roger was by way of going across the Continent to Chile, but he thought better of it, and returned to Buenos Ayres and England. He later on told a cock-and-bull story of how lucky it was he turned back, as the diligencia he would have gone by was stopped, and the people robbed and murdered, and he darkly insinuated that the whole thing was a Catholic Tichborne plot to get him out of the way!
My acquaintance with him continued in London, when I amused myself by going to see him, and my Tichborne friends had me subpoenaed to testify as to what he told me in South America on the great trial. Another witness amused us by relating how he went to call on him, and found “Lady” Tichborne with a black eye. He was sympathetic about her “accident,” but the stout Sir Roger said: “No accident! She gave me some of her sauce, so I blacked her eye for her!” I went a little way across with Burton, and then tried a little expedition on my account.
Figure 6. From Burton's Sketchbook.
Santos. S. Paulo.
My dear Sir
No news whatever here, except the fall of the Milrei to 18d. Will you be kind enough to send Coimbra's letter to him and to post the others for me. Settle account as usual please.
My hard work has now begun in real earnest. S. Paulo is charming after Rio. Can’t you manage to run up for a few days
Richd F. Burton.
Private S. Paulo Feb 10 / 68
My dear Sir
Many thanks for yours of Jan. 29th. Envelopes have come all right. I have got deep into 1st vol. & expect to finish it this month. The delightful climate however is misbehaving itself this year, we have just had 48 hours rain and it is raining still. Can’t you drop down here in May for a few days, it will then be the best part of the year and the change will set you up. The old room is as usual quite at your service. Write only on one side of the paper, a big sprawling hand if possible with plenty of room between the lines—above all things no turning of paper. Mrs. B will have to correct the proofs at home. She is delighted the deuce knows why to hear that Constable is buckling to. What says Mr. R Austin to the [new] arrangement? How come Dr. Stuart has belonged to both Trinity and Cambridge. I have read the Chronicles & liked them very much. But what an idea to set up a newspaper in Brazil when the Milreis is =14d. You are doubtless very dull at Rio. here it is a chronic state of death.
There are 2 men at Rio M. Luis De Santos [Ermenegildo] and Mr. [Werneck] Merchant Rua do Rosario who have maps and plenty of information about Matto Grosso. Do you know them? And are they to be got at? I have finished my translation of the Uruguay & am copying it out for print. My daily work begins at 6am & ends at 10 pm. There is an immensity of reading to be done before one can write about the Brazil. I am not quite certain about putting Hans Stade into the hands of the Hakluyt—it will be like burying the book alive and perhaps my friend Trubner who is good at pushing will like it. What do you think of the matter? At any rate we have time to think it over. Has Austin heard anything about his brother? When you see the Great Scully will you kindly find out what he is doing with my old Canto. If he prints it I shall want 3 or 4 copies of the paper to cut out and send to England. Last mail brought me no newspapers at all—perhaps people still think am in the bush. I have not directed Whittaker’s letter not hearing if he is still at Rio or on the loose.
My wife sends kind compliments and we both hope that you and all your people have not been drowned
Richd F. Burton
My dear Sir
Will you kindly tell me what is the exact title of Pereira da Silva’s work “Bibliographia Brasileira” or “Dictionario Bibliographino”. I have finished the Uruguay at last. Thank goodness & shall send it home sharp. Mrs. Bradfield has been at S. Paulo for some time the weather has been so desperate that travelling is almost impossible. Mr. Beeton however went up country and returned yesterday. We have a marriage coming on Mr. Miller & Sra. Perxito, a niece of Baron de Penedo!
Do you think you will be able to run down and see us. In early April the weather will be magnificent. Don't speak much about it but I am off into the unknown when I get my June mail. The journey will occupy at least 8 months. Do you know where to find me a copy of Gibbons Expedition down the Madeira river (I have got Herndons)?  It will be of the greatest service to me. Also I want a box of cigars of the quality you were kind enough to give me. It is intended for my mathematical master Pere Germain. Feels odd going to school so near 50 but n'importe. Whittaker wrote to me and spoke of a letter which I never recd. A great bore this kind of thing—also my newspapers are systematically prigged somewhere. Remember me vy kindly to “Old John”. My wife joins me in kind regards to all yr people. When does the Const. marry?
Richd F. Burton
Santos Sao Paulo, Brazil April 18th 1868
My dear Lord Houghton,
On the 9th of April I received your kind letter of Feb 13th San Remo nearly two months after it was written—a very quick passage. I was delighted with it & Richard also. I quite agree with you about most letters from a distance. They simply become a bore when people will not write naturally. People think when writing to a friend like you they must write clever letters. I don't want to send a bad "coal to Newcastle" I want only to keep up that kind & valued friendship which you & Lady Houghton always showed Richard & myself & that we may not be forgotten though it is rather like writing to somebody in the moon from this distance. I am more than grieved to hear how ill Lady Houghton has been. I sympathise with her very much about the old family place which was so beautiful, but as you say Lord [Clive] with all his money can easily copy it over again & she ought to make up her mind to him to see it carried out for Robin's sake.
Poor Swinburne! I am sorry for him as far as the drinking propensities go. He is simply possessed by an "unclean imp" and I think the olla podrida are very hard upon him. Everybody has some defect and they augment his by making such a fuss about it. I think his not being popular with the mob is a great feather in his cap. The British Public never can appreciate truly anything very high or refined in any line. If they could would Disraeli now be Premier or would they not clamour for Lord Stanley & shake off the old chrysalis & go with the wants of the age? I must fight about my political idol. When I was a small girl I was fond of politics & perhaps because I had to hear so much about him, being half Lancastrian myself, I have watched his career for many years & I cannot see that he has ever wavered. He has always had a mind of his own & gone on so solidly & as firm as a rock & who else has? He is my beau ideal of all that is chivalrous & noble in a statesman. Has not England always grumbled at the mean shabby attitudes she has been placed in when she ought to have shown fight & didn't & now because the reins are in the hands of a young man whose blood is not yet stagnant & who has the pluck to deliver us from being detested & mocked at abroad, the British Public at home of course will grumble at having to pay. They prefer their dirty money to honour!
We remembered Mr. & Miss Mathew very well at Fryston. We met the bride at Rio. The bridegroom travelled with R. & me for two months or more. I liked her so much. We then waited for Mr. Mathew in Rio. He was exceedingly jolly & pleasant & treats his consuls in a friendly spirit which is very pleasant & he is agreeable to work under. I assure you after Mr. Thornton he shone as a fascinating homme du monde. I liked Mr. Thornton too, but in official matters with his Consuls he was like a fractious child. He had been 13 years in South America & had never seen anything. How he is to get on in Washington I don't know. I often think how disappointed Lord Stanley must have felt when he saw the article selected where a big swell should have gone. Mr. Mathew sadly wants his KCB. I have not seen his wife & youngest daughter but I hear they are lovely & nice too & long to see them. We laughed heartily at the idea of Richard spiriting away Speke's brother, I just read that he is found again. Now that could only have been done for notoriety—very mad indeed. Had he gone to Timbuctoo well & good—but to throw one's hat into birdcage Walk & lose oneself in the inhuman wilds of Margate or Broadstairs deserves 3 months imprisonment with hard labour. Had he even come to the “Land of the Southern Cross”. Don't believe anything you ever hear about the Southern Cross. It is the meanest constellation I ever saw & as badly made as a boy’s first kite.
A friend of ours is going shortly to Engd on leave a Captain Robert Grant Watson of the British Legation in Rio. He has written to ask me to give him a note of introduction to you which I have taken the liberty of doing. I suppose he felt shy of asking his chief Mr. Mathew. He has travelled a great deal & seen much, & knows a good deal, & has written a book on Persia which language he speaks & is going to publish something else. Shortly after I last wrote to you Richard emerged from the wilds clad in scanty rags. We then came home & have been leading a pastoral life ever since & writing the book. Our war with Paraguay is the only serious Public affair here & that you see in the paper as affecting our provisions & paper money. Next July R is going off for an exploration among the bad Indians where I shall be de trop & as it will occupy 8 months I am going part of the way with him then ride down the coast & embark for England remain 6 months see all my friends civilise myself a little, buy some clothes & be back again before his return.
He is now lying ill of fever & ague & can't turn round in the bed & I who have a bad cold & cough & neuralgia am nursing him. He blasphemes horribly every two minutes & then wants to know if he is not behaving like a cherub.
Give our kindest regards to Lady Houghton, & love to the children. Richard sends all sorts of affect. messages to you & believe me dear Lord Houghton
Santos São Paulo Brazil
N. B. I am annoyed with myself for what I have said about Mr. Thornton because we were friends but he dislikes the Consular Service particularly & opposed Richard as much as he could in little official ways therefore though what I have stated above is true it is also certain that Lord Stanley has shown his usual prudence & foresight in selecting him for Washington though he is an unknown man for with the natives of the country he is the meekest most unexacting & conciliating of creatures & it would be impossible to have a war with a country where he was minister. Not so with these serving under him. He has been kicked about all his life from the cradle & so now he has risen to the top of the tree he vents it on his Consuls. Not that this is much harming except to those who suffer from it.
I am sorry to say Richard is much worse. We have no doctors out here, & I am quite alone, & have come to the end of all my domestic practice. I have tried calomel blisters hot baths & all I know & am very frightened and unhappy. He can't speak nor turn & can hardly breath & I am now watching & hoping for some favourable turn.
My dear Lord Houghton
Will you allow me to introduce to you a great friend of ours Capt. R. G. Watson of the British Legation at Rio de Janeiro. I know you will like him he has travelled & seen & knows so much. He has written a History of Persia which is very much liked & still continues publishing. I shall leave you to find out the rest of his numerous merits. I hope to see you very soon. I shall reach England in August or September & shall immediately call on Lady Houghton whom I hope to find quite restored by her travels to good health.
Believe me dear Lord Houghton to be
Santos São Paulo.
Estrangeiros August 1.
My dear Sir
I have looked at your translation & find it so good that I should strongly advise you to finish it. Do you think that you could do so before the end of next December? If so I would much rather leave it with you. All my part will be confined to a few notes which however should be written on the spot (Santos) & after December next I shall not see it again. We both hope very strongly to see you down on the 5th so as to have a parting chat. If you cannot, then let me have a line. My wife joins in kind regards & hopes that Petropolis will set you up sharp.
ev yrs try
Richd F. Burton.
14 Montagu Place
Montagu Sq. W.
Dear Lord Houghton
I landed from Brazil a few days ago. Richd has gone to Paraguay. I do not know where you are but will send this to 16 Upper Brook St. Will you address me as above (it is my mother's house but will be sent to me). I am in lodgings. How is Lady Houghton now? Richd has quite recovered his nasty attack. I want you to send me Richard's Mecca which I think Winford Reade gave you. He wants me to have it brought out as a […] book. I think the subject is worn out but must obey orders. I am editing his book on Brazil or rather going to & 5 other small things—so shall be tied to London for a time.
14 Sept. 1868.
Dear Lord Houghton
I received Mecca all right many thanks & have put it into Longman’s hands. I hope to hear better news of Lady Houghton soon.
I must have offended Swinburne. He called twice and I did not happen to be in & I can't get him to call again & I have so much to say to him. I have a talent for stopping the battle when I know a person well enough.
You see Dick is going to be the Nile man after all. I shall go in for KCB. Won't you back me up? I had a long letter from him today from Humaitá. He was going to cross the Andes with Wm Maxwell one of the Yorkshire ones. Humaitá is a mere entrench camp. He himself as strong as a horse & shay to use his own language. He sends best love to you & says he will be here about May or June.
My kindest regards to dear Lady Houghton & believe me yours always sincerely
9th Oct. 68
14 Montague Place
Montagu Sq. W
Dear Lord Houghton
I'm so sorry I can't come. I think you know well enough that if there is one house I care to go to more than another it is yours & you well know how fond I am of Lady Marion Alford & it is ages since I have seen or heard of her but I am obliged to resist going. I am so occupied with publishers and watching the F. O. gates for Richd that I dare not go out of town. However I gave myself a few days at Wardour from where I only returned last night—& found your letter & message. Had you told me I would have refused Wardour till later & been able to come to you now but dare not leave the accumulation of work I find—it would throw Richard back. I hope it's not the last opportunity you mean to give me. Give my love to Lady Marion & with kindest regards to yourself & Lady Houghton who I hope is better. Believe me yours sincerely Isabel Burton.
P. S. I am more sorry because I have got such a load of things to tell you & I want to put you on a new line of music that will just suit you with great effect.
14 Montagu Place
Oct 28th 68.
Dear Lord Houghton,
I am going down to Tinsley to ask his leave to accept yr kind invitation at any rate for a few days taking plenty of proofs with me—I will write tomorrow. The F. O. will be addressing constituents at Kings Lynn so that will be no hindrance, besides I have bothered him pretty well & if Richd does not get well served it won’t be the fault of his hard working wife. It will be a shame if he goes out & gives me nothing. Every relation I have, & they are Legion, the entire old Roman Catholic clan, are red hot Conservatives so that when your side comes in, I can expect no quarter & can't ask it.
I had a letter from the "prophet" a few days ago, he has seen all the chiefs of Paraguay & been well treated. The Brazilians are going to organize a provisional Gov't at Assuncion. The English were a better lot than near Rio, less trade and more sport. He volunteered to get the English prisoners away from Lopez but that you know is Diplomat work let him be ever so inefficient. The man in this case—Mr. Gould—wanted the job & it was his right but no one expects him to succeed as Lopez hates him & before treated him contemptuously. R. looks on impatiently from his small official position there (the smallest on the coast) & laughs to see them bungling over the mildest work. That's routine, the fence over which England always comes a cropper! He tells me Lopez's fame is nearly played out, of course you know it has been conducted from the first by an Irish girl named Lynch the unmarried wife of Lopez. She gets powder from Engd & drills the women now herself. The men are all killed. You will have heard I daresay of the dreadful shock which we have all had, as Brough I suppose is near you. Lady Lawson who was Mimosa Gerard came here on Monday to have an operation performed. On the 4th it was done well & successful but lasted an hour. She showed immense pluck & was going on quite well to the delight of all the family for she was a gt. favourite. On the 5th she sank & died in 10 minutes. They are all going down to Brough on the 12th & I think that will be the proper day for me to come to you because it wd seem unfeeling not to stay with them as long as they are here. I am already in deep mourning for my eldest brother & I shall not be therefore able to dress very extensively but I daresay Lady Houghton won’t care about that. I will bring the music I talked of. I want you to learn to recite yr own poetry to a flowing accompaniment as the Brazilians do of which I will give you specimens & also of Aboriginal music which is original & suggestive—I think pretty—far better than the Modinha which is the middle classes’ music there (as our shopkeeper's daughters may sing English ballads) & is the only music of Brazil known. The recitation is the Highest style of music known. The Landúm (aboriginal) the canaille but the truest music. However you will be the judge. The dances wont quite do for English drawing rooms though all the good people out there dance them as we do a country dance or cotillion. C'est tout soir peu can-can.
I do not know any news as my present life is all work & no play. I look forward to amusing myself bye and bye towards Christmas. With kindest regards to Lady Houghton I am
yrs very sincerely.
Sunday—14 Montagu Place, Montagu Sq.
Foreign Office, December 3, 1868.
I have to state to you that the Queen has been graciously pleased to appoint you to be Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus in the place of Mr. Rogers, who has been appointed Her Majesty’s Consul at Cairo, and I herewith inclose a certified copy of Her Majesty’s Commission to that effect.
Your experience of the details of the Consular service renders it unnecessary for me to furnish you with instructions with regard to your duties at your new post. I need only remind you that Her Majesty’s Government attach great importance to the punctual transmission to this office of the various returns required by the General Consular Instructions, and of any further information which you may be able to obtain relating to commerce and navigation, or any other branch of statistics.
The salary attached to this appointment is at the rate of 700£ a year, and an allowance of 300£ a year will be made to you for office expenses.
You are restricted from engaging in commercial pursuits, and all fees by law leviable by Her Majesty’s Consuls are to be collected on account of Her Majesty’s Government in conformity with the directions given in Paragraph 9 of the General Instructions.
Your salary and allowance will be issued to your assigns at the office of Her Majesty’s Paymaster-General in London, in equal quarterly payments, and they are to cover, so far as this office is concerned, not only the expenses of your maintenance, but also the ordinary expenses of your Consulate.
Such of the fees as are collected under the Orders in Council relative to Consular Jurisdiction in the Levant (Judicial Fees) must be dealt with in accordance with the orders which you will find in the Consulate.
A sum of 160£ is assigned to you for outfit.
When my colleague, Captain Burton, was at my house in Rosario, en route to Paraguay, during the year 1868, and spoke of his recent return from the West Coast of South America, he observed that “the beauty and grandeur of the Straits of Magellan were worth being shipwrecked to enjoy, if no other means of seeing them could be had recourse to.” The character which all the neighbourhood bears for cold, comfortless, rugged nature, made me rather doubtful of sympathy in such an idea. But nous verrons.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE STANDARD.
Sir,—With reference to your notice of the above mentioned book in The Standard of to-day, it occurs to me that I am able to throw some light upon the true opinions of Richard Burton from an independent and impartial point of view.
In the year 1868, when I commanded the gunboat Linnet, then in the River Paraguay, he brought me a letter of introduction from Mr. Gerald Gould, chargé d'affaires at Buenos Aires. I invited him to become my guest, and he stayed with me for some weeks—I think about six or seven—during which time he wrote most of his book “The Battlefields of Paraguay.” During that period we were constant companions; we made expeditions together, and he shared my cabin: he was a great talker, and I had sometimes to remind him that if he could do without sleep I could not. He spoke to me with the utmost freedom about his past life. and was very far from reticent about his family affairs
I believe he had as much regard for me as he was capable of feeling for any man. I am about the only one of whom he spoke well in the above-mentioned book. I had, therefore, an exceptional opportunity of knowing his real opinions on most matters. At that time he appeared to have no religious convictions whatever, nor many inconvenient scruples of any sort. At the same time, he showed no active animosity against any sort of religion except one, the religion of his wife. For that he freely expressed contempt. I remember his telling me that she had a little shrine in her room, and that, on some occasion when they had a difference of opinion, he threatened that if she did not keep quiet he would "pitch her joss-house out of the window." As both have passed away, I may mention this now, as it clearly shows what his sentiments were at that time.
He was a believer in the Tichborne Claimant, whom he subsequently asked me to meet in Buenos Ayres, and I remember his saying that he believed that there was a Roman Catholic plot against him. I think Burton afterwards was a witness in his favour.
It is inconceivable to me that a man of such strong will and iron resolution could ever, while in the full possession of his faculties, have conformed, even outwardly, to a religion which, in his prime of intellectual vigour, he so entirely despised
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
C. PERCY BUSHE, Captain R.N.
Walmer, December 7.
One word to say that I go up to Town tomorrow and stay till about the 23d (14 St James Square finds). Thanks for your excellent advice about Camoens. I love him & your forbiddance invests the affair with much of the interest of a grave loss. Why should not people read the Lusiads when the other morning you received a new trans. of Tasso? Please don't explain. It's rank impossible to translate Orientalism out of the East—I reserve it for the days when we settle in Syria. We must speak about the Arabian Nights.
P.S. First Canto nearly finished. Your note will lift me through it.
My dear Lord Houghton
I'm so glad you like my preface. I think all the Catholic party will side with me but I am smarting under the lash of the Pall Mall & Athenaeum. I have never stood before the public yet & am too thin-skinned & feel quite ill abt. it all. All the nice people approve of it like you & Lord Stanley & others. Richd writes in ecstasies about Wm Maxwell & says he is such a nice fellow so I'm afraid you won’t get yr wish.
Robin shall have the butterflies. I don't think I shall be in town again till 27th or so. Will you direct if you write, between this and Monday, to Garswood, Newton-le-Willows & believe me,
Jany. 20. 69.
R. knew I was going to put that in.
The Tichborne Baronetcy.—By the arrival of the Pacific mail we learn that the West Coast Mail has been informed that the commissioners on the Tichborne case intend returning to England on the 17th inst. We have also been informed that Sir Roger Tichborne, Bart., or at all events the person claiming to be such, disembarked at Montevideo, en route for Chile, via the Cordillera, but as he has not yet arrived, his counsel is apprehensive for his safety, more especially as the border provinces are in a very unsettled state. A friend assures me that Sir Roger left Rosario in company with Major Rikards, the Honourable Constable Maxwell, and Captain Burton in quest of a mine of fabulous wealth in the Indian territory, and he supposes that Sir Roger has either been sacrificed by the Indians, or that he has succeeded in establishing his right to the mine, and prefers that to the trouble and annoyance attending the vindication of his claim to the Tichborne property.
Constantinople, May 3, 1869.
It is my duty to inform your Lordship that the prospect of the arrival of Captain Burton, as Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus, is viewed with apprehension by many persons connected with that place.
Damascus is probably the most fanatical town in the Empire, and the presence there, in the character of British Consul, of a person who had penetrated to the Prophet’s shrine, is regarded as certain to cause exhibitions against him that may be productive of very undesirable consequences.
By the Mussulman population Captain Burton is regarded either as having insulted their religion by taking part as an unbeliever in their most sacred rites, or else as having, at that time, been a Mahomedan and having become a renegade.
Under either supposition he would be regarded with aversion by most, and with hatred by very many of the population, and it is my duty to draw your Lordship’s attention to a consideration which was probably lost sight of when Captain Burton was selected for the post.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT.
Foreign Office, June 19, 1869.
With reference to your Separate despatch of the 14th instant, I am directed by the Earl of Clarendon, in communicating to you his Lordship's sanction of the arrangements therein proposed for your proceeding to your post, to take this opportunity of repeating to you what his Lordship has already verbally stated to you, that very serious objections to your appointment at Damascus have reached him from official quarters, and that, although Lord Clarendon has allowed that appointment to go forward on receiving from you assurances that the objections raised were unfounded, his Lordship has warned you that that if the feeling stated to exist against you on the part of the authorities and people at that place should prevent the proper performance by you of your official duties, it would be his Lordship’s duty immediately to recall you.
(Signed) JAMES MURRAY.
Manchester Street, Manchester Square,
London, June 21, 1869.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Separate despatch of the 19th instant, and to express my gratitude for the sanction with which his Lordship has favoured me.
I now renew in writing the verbal statement in which I assured his Lordship that neither the authorities nor the people of Damascus will show for me any but the most friendly feeling ; that they will, in fact, receive me as did the Egyptians and the people of Zanzibar for years after my journey to Mecca. But, as designing persons may have attempted to complicate the situation, I once more undertake to act with unusual prudence, and, under all circumstances, to hold myself only answerable for all the consequences.
(Signed). RICHARD F. BURTON.
Constantinople, July 5, 1869.
RASHID PASHA, the Governor-General of Syria, in the course of his visit to me this morning, asked, with some anxiety, whether Captain Burton was expected to proceed to the Consulate of Damascus.
I said that I believed he might shortly he expected there, but that he had been warned by your Lordship to be extremely careful to avoid doing anything calculated to give offence, or to create susceptibility on the part, of the people of Damascus.
Your Lordship, I observed, could not properly cancel an appointment made by your predecessor, but had laid strict injunctions upon Captain Burton, which he would not be likely to neglect; and in return for these I trusted that the authorities would exert themselves to prevent his being subjected to any annoyance.
His Excellency answered that a British Consul who would be regarded as a renegade Mussulman must necessarily find himself in a very difficult position.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT.
Square London. July 9 / 69
My dear Tootal
Yours duly recd. [Dacre] has not sent the Ms. or the vol. so we have written to the R. Mail. Bother the fellow, I go on Thursday next July 15 & wanted to arrange matters before departure for Damascus. I have spoken to the Secretary of Hakluyt about it and he quite likes the idea. This contretemps will delay the matter some 6 months. I have done the London season for the very last time & shall never return except in Autumn or winter. It has been a life of bed at 8 a.m. no breakfast lunch at 2 p.m. dine at 8.30 p.m. and then soiree. Not so tiring when one's broken to it, but deadly monotonous. By this mail I send Quaritch's catalogue through you to Dr. Sonja—is that his name?—the gentleman bookseller to whom you introduced me. I want to get up an English book trade in Brazil, the demand must be considerable and a connexion might be a good thing for an English house to establish. As soon as I get my little Library from Hunt I intend to publish "The Lowlands of the Brazil". My book on Paraguay still hangs fire, Lt. Col. George Thompson has his ready & I want to give him a few months. This is only fair. No news but what you will see in the papers. The Anthros & Ethnos all quarrelling & fighting, I wash hands of both. All the Societies deadly dull. England has spent £500,000,000 on R.R.s. bringing 2 per cent & [no end] per annum. £60,000,000 and the place is wretched, the worst horses & equipages in the civilized world. They live like paupers, I was quite astonished to see the state of things. Of course book trade depressed like all others. Miss Braddon read. My wife joins in kindest remembrances to your sister & brother in-law. I have written to Le Tout-pêre by this mail. Write me a line &c. temps en temps care of F.O. & I will do ditto.
Richd F. Burton
Turin Sept. 1 1869
My dear Houghton If Anathema Maranatha can hurt from afar you must be badly hit. Swinburne & I have been busily devoting your venerable head to the infernal Gods. There are a dozen good hotels in Vichy—why did you send us to the only Cabaret?
To the Hotel de France, a mere gargotte where we were cheated robbed and had to pay at least as much as in the best of the list. The only consolation was that we have studied for the last time French Grundy and bourgeois society. Next time you send a bachelor let him deposit himself at the Ambassadeurs & change lodgings every few days or whenever he wants to dine at the table d'hote when something pretty dines. Also how did you select Durand-Fardel, a pretentious ass, a perfect humbug. Swinburne say through him & turned him off at once. My wife did not & was frightened accordingly. He is a mere quack & catch-guinea. The man is Durand de Lunel whom Swinburne chose.
The waters did me some good but I was delighted to leave the hideous hole with its jaundices gout and diabetes. Out of Paris the French are perfect savages. The Casino of Vichy would disgrace Constantinople. Separation of the sexes complete. All the beauty is at Dieppe Etretats, Normandy etc. I met Brazilians & Chileans, also Mary Woodhouse & some cousins the Synges. Swinburne greatly improved, weak to a certain extent & left us at Lyon. Tonight I am off to Brindisi. We saw Mrs. & Miss Mathew at Aix les Bains, the damsel charming. But a hole conceived of a R.R. is Aix. I stayed there two hours & fled. Now in Italy, the place where I have first been able to stretch my legs. Adieu, my wife goes tomorrow morning ev yrs truly
R. F. Burton
Turin Sept 1 1869
My dear Tootal
I forgot before leaving England to acknowledge the receipt of your translation and Hans Stade. Mr. [Purser Daniels] had stored it away in some spare drawer and had clean forgotten it. I had my wife write to his employers and he soon recovered it. Markham (Hakluyts) approves and arrived at Damascus.
I shall have no end of [leisure]. The worst is that my [whole] library is wanted before I can do justice to the subject. I left my books with Hunt and he has promised to send on as quickly as possible, so that about the end of the year you may expect to see the volume advertised.
I have been running about, to Paris, to Vichy for a course of waters which have greatly increased my appetite for tobacco and strong waters, and to the Auvergne Country, up the Ruy de […] &c, places which I had not seen. Then to Savoy & Piedmont & since Mt. Cenis R.R. It is the beginning of Mountain railways which in a few years will become universal and the Santos & S. Paulo is afoot to it. You run up & down inclines which positively make you shiver and the jerks & wrenches show the trouble that the third rail has to keep you from falling over the precipices. Like a mule or a wild goat it delights to skirt the greatest heights—infer I am delighted with it. Today at Turin. Tomorrow Bologna & [Imola] Ancona Loreto & Brindisi. Egypt is vy hot at present so I am in no hurry. Write to me care of F. O. My wife sends kindest regards to you & yours especially Mr. and Mrs. Duffield—she will write when she has time. [Religious breed].
Richd F. Burton
P. S. And how is Misther Scully?
It was nine years before then, when they were together in the south of France, that Swinburne was seized by a severe illness; and, as he assured me, it was Burton who, with more than a woman's care and devotion, restored him to health. The pledge—it was not the covenant sealed between the two greatest, the two most passionate, lovers in the world, Iseult and Tristan, on the deck of that ship which was the ship of Life, the ship of Death, in the mere drinking of wine out of a flagon, which, being of the nature of a most sweet poison, consumed their limbs and gave intoxication to their souls and to their bodies—but a pledge in the wine Swinburne and Burton drank in the hot sunshine :
life's helm rocks to windward and lee,
And time is as wind, and waves are we,
And song is as foam that the sea-waves fret,
Though the thought at its heart should be deep as the sea.
It was in July, 1869, that Swinburne joined the Burtons and Mrs. Sartoris at Vichy. As I have never forgotten Swinburne's wonderful stories about Burton—besides those on Rossetti and Mazzini—I find in a letter of his to his mother words he might really have altered.
If you had seen him, when the heat and the climb and the bothers of travelling were too much for me in the very hot weather—helping, waiting on me—going out to get me books to read in bed—and always kind, thoughtful, ready, and so bright and fresh that nothing but a lizard (I suppose that is the most insensible thing going) could have resisted his influence—I feel sure you would like him (you remember you said you didn't) and then love him, as I do. I never expect to see his like again—but him I do hope to see again, and when the time comes to see him at Damascus as H. B. M. Consul.
They traveled in carriages, went to Clermont Ferrand, where Pascal was born; then to Le Puy-en-Velay.
At the close of his visit to France in the summer of 1869 Swinburne devoted a month of the time otherwise spent at Etretat to an excursion of which no account has hitherto, I think, been published. It was in some ways so momentous, from the associations connected with it, that it ought to be recorded. Richard Burton, with whom Swinburne had now for some years been intimate, was appointed British consul in Damascus. As he had just returned from Santos in rather poor health, he was advised to take a course of the Vichy waters before he proceeded to Syria. He proposed that Swinburne should join him, which the poet, although greatly enjoying the sea-bathing at Etretat, instantly agreed to do. They met at Boulogne and reached Vichy on July 24. Five days later the poet wrote "Vichy suits me splendidly," and indeed he was now entering upon one of the most completely happy months of his life. He delighted in the breezy company of Burton, and at Vichy they found two other friends, Frederick Leighton and Adelaide Kemble (Mrs. Sartoris), whose “Week in a French Country-house” had recently revealed the existence of a new and exquisite humorist. This quartette of brilliant compatriots met daily, and entertained one another to the top of their bent. Many years afterwards, when the other three were dead, Swinburne celebrated this enchanting month at Vichy in a poem, called "Reminiscence," which he afterwards included in the "Channel Passage" volume under the title of "An Evening at Vichy." In it he describes
He analyses of what the charm and what the radiance consisted, and he gives the first praise to
loyal grace, the courtesy bright as day,
The strong sweet radiant spirit of life and light
That shone and smiled and lightened on all men's sight,
The kindly life whose tune was the tune of May,
in Leighton's conversation, Mrs. Sartoris was accustomed to sing for the three friends, with her incredible grace of vocalisation, and Swinburne describes how
woman's voice, divine as a bird's by dawn
Kindled and stirred to sunward, arose and held
Our souls that heard, from earth as from sleep withdrawn,
And filled with light as stars, and as stars compelled
To move by might of music.
Finally, Burton's turn comes,
and wanderer, crowned
With fame that shone from eastern on western day,
More strong, more kind, than praise or than grief might say.
It is surprising that this very important biographical poem has hitherto attracted so little attention from those who have written on the friendships of Swinburne. It was written in 1890.
While he was thus enjoying himself at Vichy, full of quiet happiness, he was lifted into the seventh heaven—“lit as a mountain lawn by morning,” in his own words—through receiving a letter from Victor Hugo inviting him to stay with him at Hauteville House in Guernsey. Swinburne had sent the Master an article of his on the newly published novel “L'Homme Qui Rit.” Victor Hugo wrote back “such a letter! thanking me ex imo corde, as he says (as if he to whom we all owe such thanks could have anything to thank any one for!), and ending up with ‘Quand done me sera-t-il donne de vous voir?’” Swinburne immediately and gratefully replied, “In a month's time, in September”; and on the same occasion he planned to spend “not more than a week” in Paris, on his way from Vichy to Guernsey. He made arrangements to meet in Paris Paul de Saint Victor, Theophile Gautier, “and perhaps Gustave Flaubert.” “Tu conviendras que cela veut bien la peine de s'arreter?” he writes at the close of July. But of all this glittering anticipation, nothing, I think, was realised. There was never a meeting with Gautier and Flaubert, and none with Hugo till it was too late for happiness. Why did the bright scheme fall through? I do not know; but when Sir Richard Burton went eastward to Damascus, it seems certain that Swinburne came dully back to Etretat, and he was in London in October.
I asked Augusta much about Mrs. (Adelaide) Sartoris, whom she had known well. She said: ‘Edward Sartoris did not go with Adelaide when she went to Vichy. Leighton, who was always as a slave to her, went with her, took her lodgings, and did everything for her. Then he said, “You will be very dull, knowing no one here; I know some young men here, and I will introduce them to you. They are Burton and Swinburne, but you know one is a believer in Buddhism, the other in nothing; so you must not mind what they say.” Then Leighton left.’
‘The next evening Adelaide was having her coffee in the gardens, when the two young men came up and sat down by her. At first they made themselves very agreeable. Then at length they began to air their opinions, and to say things evidently intended to shock. Adelaide laid down her cup, looked at Burton, and said very slowly, “You believe, I think, in Juggernaut, therefore, with regard to Juggernaut, I shall be very careful not to hurt your feelings. And you, Mr. Swinburne (turning to him), believe, I think, in nothing, but if anything is mentioned in which you do believe, I shall be very careful not to hurt your feelings either, by abusing it: now I expect that you will show the same courtesy to me.”’
‘The young men laughed, and for some days all went well. Then the impression passed, and one day they began to talk as before. Adelaide again laid down her cup, and began again in the same slow tones—“You believe, Mr. Burton, I think, in Juggernaut” . . . Then they burst out laughing, and they always behaved themselves in future.’ …
AN EVENING AT VICHY
Written on the News of the Death of Lord Leighton
A light has passed that
never shall pass away,
A sun has set whose rays are unquelled of night.
The loyal grace, the courtesy bright as day,
The strong sweet radiant spirit of life and light
That shone and smiled and lightened on all men's sight,
The kindly life whose tune was the tune of May,
For us now dark, for love and for fame is bright.
Nay, not for us that live
as the fen-fires live,
As stars that shoot and shudder with life and die,
Can death make dark that lustre of life, or give
The grievous gift of trust in oblivion's lie.
Days dear and far death touches, and draws them nigh,
And bids the grief that broods on their graves forgive
The day that seems to mock them as clouds that fly.
If life be life more
faithful than shines on sleep
When dreams take wing and lighten and fade like flame,
Then haply death may be not a death so deep
That all things past are past for it wholly—fame,
Love, loving-kindness, seasons that went and came,
And left their light on life as a seal to keep
Winged memory fast and heedful of time's dead claim.
Death gives back life and
light to the sunless years
Whose suns long sunken set not for ever. Time,
Blind, fierce, and deaf as tempest, relents, and hears
And sees how bright the days and how sweet their chime
Rang, shone, and passed in music that matched the clime
Wherein we met rejoicing—a joy that cheers
Sorrow, to see the night as the dawn sublime.
The days that were
outlighten the days that are,
And eyes now darkened shine as the stars we see
And hear not sing, impassionate star to star,
As once we heard the music that haply he
Hears, high in heaven if ever a voice may be
The same in heaven, the same as on earth, afar
From pain and earth as heaven from the heaving sea.
A woman's voice, divine
as a bird's by dawn
Kindled and stirred to sunward, arose and held
Our souls that heard, from earth as from sleep withdrawn,
And filled with light as stars, and as stars compelled
To move by might of music, elate while quelled,
Subdued by rapture, lit as a mountain lawn
By morning whence all heaven in the sunrise welled.
And her the shadow of
death as a robe clasped round
Then: and as morning's music she passed away.
And he then with us, warrior and wanderer, crowned
With fame that shone from eastern on western day,
More strong, more kind, than praise or than grief might say,
Has passed now forth of shadow by sunlight bound,
Of night shot through with light that is frail as May.
May dies, and light grows
darkness, and life grows death:
Hope fades and shrinks and falls as a changing leaf:
Remembrance, touched and kindled by love's live breath,
Shines, and subdues the shadow of time called grief,
The shade whose length of life is as life's date brief,
With joy that broods on the sunlight past, and saith
That thought and love hold sorrow and change in fief.
Sweet, glad, bright
spirit, kind as the sun seems kind
When earth and sea rejoice in his gentler spell,
Thy face that was we see not; bereft and blind,
We see but yet, rejoicing to see, and dwell
Awhile in days that heard not the death-day's knell,
A light so bright that scarcely may sorrow find
One old sweet word that hails thee and mourns—Farewell.
At Santos he thoroughly explored his own province, the gold mines and diamond diggings of Minas Geraes, and canoed down the river Sao Francisco 1500 miles, an adventure described in ‘The Highlands of Brazil.’ He visited the Argentine Republic, and the rivers Plata, Parana and Paraguay; then crossed the Pampas and the Andes to Chili and Peru, and visited the Pacific coast, returning by the Straits of Magellan, Buenos Ayres, and Rio de Janeiro to London. All this in about four years!
Then followed his happiest days in later life, the short time spent at Damascus. The appointment (Lord Derby's) thoroughly suited him. Climate, occupation, mode of living, were all just what he loved best. For once he was in his right place, and his big brain had full and ample scope for work. There was not time enough for such prodigies of travel as those performed from other consulates, but he explored all the unknown parts of Syria, and what with the multifarious duties of his post, and his indefatigable pen, not a day was idle.
SYRIA. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) BEYROUT
The groans of the Britons! I here run up to Damascus in order to find out something about the new Turkish postal arrangements, and this is the result. In Lord Palmerston’s day the public would in vain have heard of “the vast advance in civilization made by the Ottoman Empire, whose progress within a few years has equalled, nay, excelled that of any European nation.” But Lord P. is dead, and the philo-Turk must ejaculate “Ichabod.”
Until October last the English and other foreign mails were sent up every morning by the “Ottoman Company of the Beyrout and Damascus Road,” the Bagdad people contributing 500 piastres per month. Presently some dummer-younger of a “Mudir Posta” thought that he could earn, perhaps kudos, and certainly coin, by taking the affair into his own meddling hands. He agreed to pay the French company 600 napoleons per annum for the monopoly, and on October 6, 1869, the vali-pasha (who should have known better) sent around a circular to the Consular body, declaring that the Turkish post-office was in first-rate working order, and requesting that all letters might be given to it “afin de ne pas porter atteinte aux intéréts du trésor imperial.” “You are another!” is the only reply. On October 23 the director of the road, with equal good taste, gave warning “que les lettres devront etre refusées par l'agence.” Who asked him that he should refuse? A reference was made to Constantinople, but the deputy-judge of the Supreme Consular Court sapiently ruled that the Ottoman Government had a right to prohibit private companies from carrying on the business of letter carriers. Summum jus summa injuria—the postal monopoly has thus been enforced to the immense inconvenience of traders and travellers, and the Mudir Posta has lost instead of gaining by his little game.
For instance, you are at Damascus, and you want to write to England. First, you must call half a dozen times at the post-office, a wretched hovel, before you find even a clerk; secondly, you must then and there (by order) buy the stamp and affix it; thirdly, you must pay—and prepay—from Damascus to Beyrout a trifle more than from Beyrout to Paris; fourthly, you must have a friend at Beyrout to take out and repost your letter, or it will remain in the local office for ever and a day; fifthly, there is no postal delivery; sixthly, any one who pleases can carry off and read your letter. I very much suspect that such has been the fate of one of my communications to you. In the case of official documents this is a disadvantage.
Now, seriously speaking, is it decent under such circumstances to assert, “Les difficultés qui out fait que le service postal n'ait pas été regulier jusqu’ici, n'existent plus. Au contraire, toutes les facilités propres à accélerer et à regulariser ce service ont été prises?” Is it? The half dozen exiles (from Erin and elsewhere) that form the Anglo-Damascus colony, of course, complain bitterly. As for travellers, who have been in the habit at having their letters addressed to “Care of HM's Consul,” your columns will do them a service by warning them that the precaution is well-nigh useless. Some letters go to the chancellerie, others find their way to Dimitri’s hotel, whilst others lie about the post-office—a place compared with which that of which Glasgow 20 years ago grumbled, was a palace. You must advise travellers to have all their letters addressed to some agent at Beyrout, and to deprive themselves of the luxury of “epistolatory correspondence” whilst at Damascus—at least, till times change.
The deputy-judge is no doubt legally right. But admitting this, we should urge on the Ottoman Government the propriety of securing to all persons the greatest possible convenience in the transmission of letters and telegrams at the most reasonable cost. Whilst individuals can forward their correspondence by private conveyance with more economy and convenience than by Government post, they will certainly do so, nor can they legally be prevented; and it is enough to have our telegrams all sent for perusal to head-quarters without our letters sharing the same fate.
Civilised countries, Mr. Editor, like Chili and Peru, allow even newspapers and magazines to go free. The Ottoman empire has just now ventured to put upon them the heaviest tax. Indeed it is easier to receive new books from England in the backwoods of Australia than at Damascus—and not only books, but other stores. The custom house accommodation at Beyrout is too insignificant for safely placing cargo: goods are piled indiscriminately, heavy packages upon light; all are liable to be injured. The steamship-owners have no control in the matter, and often a valuable article is clean hidden from sight. I know a person who complains that a “colis” has been in the Beyrout custom-house since January and yet cannot get it out. Lasciate ogni speranza &c. &c. And this hole actually imported in January last 13,066,314p., and exported 5,459,263p.
We have had a fair travelling year,—plenty of strangers, a large dropping of Napoleons, and vast benefits to Dragomans. The parties organised by Mr. Excursionist Cook and Dr. Pirotti have come and gone. I should be sorry to treat this institution with the ridicule heaped upon it by my brothers of the pen, and I only desire to see the monopoly invaded, and “caravans” at all descriptions duly organised. In this way the public may hope to see and suffer least from that ever-increasing pest, the dragoman.
There have been several unexpected deaths at Damascus. On February 6th the Sheikh Abd Allah el-Hulai, a worthy divine, who should have been hanged from the minaret of the great mosque for the fatwa which he delivered before the massacre of 1860. On March 17, there was a great funeral for the Sheik Riza-el-Ghazzi, who deserved to dangle side by side with the Hulai. On May 3rd died the Countess Taleki (née Bickersteth); she was buried at her express desire by the side of poor Henry Buckle, whose works she greatly admired. On May 8 we lost the respectable M. Joseph Elias, long Austrian Vice-Consul at Damascus. Two hours before he was in perfect health; he had passed a pleasant evening with his friends, and at 10 AM he was in the Jews’ burial ground. Damascus, like many other places built high above sea level, is remarkable for many sudden deaths. The climate may safely be called dangerous; of the little English community, rarely averaging more than half a dozen, some eleven have died in five years. The stifled filth of the streets, the shameful neglect of the authorities, and the willful perversion of the large sums which are contributed towards city improvements, add greatly to the perils of hot-damp or cold-damp air. The water is vile, all hard with limestone. A realistic book upon the subject of Syria is still a great want. Authors and travellers appear to have viewed everything through a preternatural medium, to have written as if under the influence of hashish, or at least of champagne. They seem to have had Holy Land on the brain, as dangerous a disease as many in Hanwell. Even the passing stranger in these lands seems subject to alienation of intellect. I lately saw an old American body, a Mrs. Hyde, who calls herself a Scotch countess, who aged profanely above 70, has adopted a rascal Greek dragoman, together with his frouzy old mother and an unwashed sister to match. The four dine together, because the people objected to the youth's snorting and handling bones at the table d'hôte, and all sleep in a single closet. It is curious to see the evening scene in the sitting-room. At one corner of the sofa sits Mrs. H. with her waist tenderly encircled by her “son,” whose mother disguised in adipose tissue snoozes and yawns at the other end, and whose sister squats smoking or stretching her arms on the floor. What a group for an artist in the Doyle line!
The last letter of your “own correspondent in Syria” produced great effect here. There was not much in that unpretending scrawl, but it promised that the “things of Syria” should no longer be hidden under a bushel. What we want is publicity. We require the dark corners at administration to be lighted up, the depths of official pollution to be dragged. Your contemporary, the Hadikat-el-Akhbar (Journal de Syrie et Liban) is a good youth, by no means parlous, paid by the State and duly grateful for favours to come. I will try to make him translate me and I shall fail. And I promise you within a few months to raise up a whole body of correspondence—if you don’t funk, we shall not.
Dam. May 16 / 70.
My dear Tootal
Many thanks for your good long note of Feb. 18. I was at Palmyra when it came, and we have now thoroughly opened the road to travellers. You also have been on the path. Why did not you go to [Cordoba] & [Asuncion]? Glad that Thompson has got something, but his puffing the Argentines was a farce. I have told the truth about them and dedicated the book to Sarmiento who will probably only half like it. Has it yet found its way to Rio? I want the stupid editor Tinsley to get up a S. American clientèle, but like other Britishers he is too slow. They will probably not translate my "Highlands of the B.", but if that is done I should like to correct the copy & to cut out about half, in fact all that suits only Britishers. I have your translation of Hans S. in hand and expect to finish notes & preface in a few days more. It will go to England with my wife in August next & I hope be published at once by the Hakluyts. (Shan’t forget to send your copies).
I had heard of poor Sampson from the Maiden “Kier” who is now in Dublin with her papa. She rails violently against her brother Jack who is on the S. Paulo R.R. That institute I hear came to grief once more. You are right to cultivate Santos. S. Paulo will do great things in a few years. (Are you doing anything for Anthropological? I'm still V. President.) Mr. Buckley Mathew has not written to me for an age. I saw Madame in Switzerland and found her jolly as ever. Cobbold I think once travelled with me to the Crimea, if so he can tell some neat stories. What Eden is it? The breed is so very repandu now. Gobineau is clever but not to be relied upon—the Persians have literally no traditions of the old wars with Greece, if he gives them any they are out of his own head and they will be another [Gobinade]. Of course his wife has not joined him? How are Montgomery & [Roqueta]? Hunt I fear will hardly return to Rio, the Consular Committee will probably find him some diplomatic place. I have written twice to him about Tupper's being made Ottoman Consul General. Please tell the Tout-pêre this when you see him—I should be sorry to think he regards my memory treacherous. Do you ever see the Belle-mere, or the Jacaro or other charmers of the sort? When does Mr. Lydcotte intend to stop changing his name—I propose Lightcoat, it is easiest remembered. One would hardly think that so old a hand as Gottschalk would have succumbed to an incuba, however there is never any understanding these matters. I can hardly pity Misther Scully, he will get all back in a few years & he is better poor than rich. Dundas had better turn up soon, if not, the Consulate will probably be abolished. Why does not your house write to F.O. and say I that having heard the Consulate is to be done away with, that it offers to do the work gratis? If you don't, Wright will, and he is not a good lot. Mind don't quote a word about me in the matter. I very much wish to see Dundas keep his place, but I think there is very little chance of it. Do you ever see Alencar? If so give him our kindest regards & remembrances. Or the Baroness de Penedo—don't forget her very charming daughter. Old Burmeister is an old codfish and his opinions are as himself. In a few days I am going to begin the Lowlands of the Brazil, a kind of make weight for the Highlands, it will be in the same style, but fewer notes & other changes. Expect it will make a row, as it will treat of civilized places not of the S. Francisco.
I have done a good bit of old Phoenicia & am gradually doing Syria & Palestine. No intention of publishing about it for 2-3 years. The absence of 10 years has made me rusty in Eastern matters, and I am only just getting back into the swing. Have a presentiment that somehow my stay at Dam. won't be long and am quite prepared for a move. If here till next Autumn I shall dress as a Bedouin, get camels & guide & ride right off to Nejd—a part not yet visited by any European. But that must be when Conservatives come in. I see they will soon, the Libs are sure to be beaten on the Irish Question & the Conservs. will get all the credit of the matter. Did you make acquaintance at Buenos Aires with the Mulhalls & Crawfurd? If not you missed the great cards in the pack. Of course don't believe any stories about me—people are always welcome to their little game, which amuses them & never gives me a 2d thought. I think you will like the Paraguay book, as it rips itself up more than the other. I have just finished one about Zanzibar, in fact at Dam. I write from morning till night & bring up arrears of work, after which I will cut the damned [hole]. Give my best love to Misther Scully, the Missus & Miss Grace & tell him from me.
despair my father sed
While yet the ‘air was on ‘is ‘ead
He will be richer than ever and less obstinate. What has become of my old partner Coimbra?—absolved I suppose. Parson all right? And Parsoness? Doctor? and Doctoress? Remember me very kindly indeed to all your family and with our united kind regards, believe me
Figure 8. From Burton's Sketchbook.
Damascus, August 28, 1870.
I have the honour to report to your Excellency that troubles were expected in Damascus yesterday (Saturday, August 27) when the Redif was being mustered. Crosses had been drawn on the ground and in the water-closets of the mosques, as happened in 1860. Christians had been threatened in the streets and bazaars, many families left the city, and in some instances the newly-arrived troops showed a hostile animus. The Ottoman authorities, however, have been alive to a sense of their danger, and as long as they do their duty there will never be a massacre at Damascus. The Redif, including those from Aleppo and elsewhere, and now numbering 1,600 men, was sent out of the city, not through the Christian quarter, where there would have been a disturbance, but via the Dahdah and the Zaynabyeh to the villages of Kusayr, Sawwan, and Kabun, distant about one hour’s ride. Here a camp has been pitched for them, and they will be drilled for a month.
The Moslem population has been excited against the Christians, unjustly attributing to the latter the mustering of the Redif, which has never yet been called out at Damascus. I have the honour to bring to your Excellency’s notice the admirable conduct of his Excellency Holo Pasha, formerly acting Mutasarrif of this city, and now transferred to St. John d’Acre. He has patrolled the streets in person during every night, and has been ceaseless in his endeavours to arrest the evil intentioned. It is with regret that I see such a man transferred to Acre, instead of being placed at some important post at Hamah, Tripoli, or other disturbed district, where his presence would be a benefit to Syria. His views have been thwarted by Said Effendi Ustwdani, President of the Majlis Tamyiz el-Hukuk, a fanatical and bigoted man, who refuses to receive Christian testimony, and who, relying upon the interest of his Excellency Rushdi Pasha, gratifies his prejudice against aliens to his faith by stirring up the bad feelings of the Moslems.
Amongst the minor officials I would bring to your Excellency’s notice the names of Ismail Agha and Serur Agha. The former is Acting Commandant of Police at Damascus during the absence at Jerusalem of his Chief, Mustafa Bey. Had the latter been in this city, my belief is that the lives of the Christian population would have been in imminent danger. The second has lately been made Yuzbashi of Police, and is well known in the dangerous and excitable Maydan quarter; he has set an excellent example, and deserves reward. He will receive none if Mustafa Bey return.
His Excellency the Wali Rashid Pasha is still at Jerusalem. His Excellency the Mushir Mohammed Rifat Pasha left Damascus at a day’s notice on Thursday, the 25th instant. We regret the departure of this officer, whose courtesy and readiness to oblige were exceptional at Damascus. Until yesterday, when his Excellency Ibrahim Pasha received his orders to take charge, there was no Mutasarrif, or Governor of the city. We have, therefore, been living almost without authority, and the Christians mainly owe their safety to the excellent conduct of the three officers above mentioned.
Since my letter of the 11th of July, 1870, one Protestant school has been closed, and three others were threatened with closing by the local Mudirs, who acted, they said, under orders from Damascus. I at once procured a counter-order from his Excellency Holo Pasha, then acting Governor of the city, and no complaints upon the subject have since reached me. The closing of the schools is generally attributed to the animus excited by the ill-judged proceedings of Mr. Mentor Mott.
(Signed) RICHARD F. BURTON.
October, 4th 1870
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt. of your Excellency’s despatch (No 3) of September 1st, 1870 With respect to the enclosed copy of His Excellency Rashid Pasha’s letter to Mr. Mentor Mott, dated July 6th, 1870, I have the honour to observe that the Governor-General was, at that time far distant from Damascus, and that he could not be as well acquainted as I was with the effect produced by Mr. Mentor Mott’s proceedings. I have done my duty in reporting, the danger of this gentleman’s visits to this capital especially in times of excitement, and after this I can no longer hold myself responsible for what may occur in case his visits, are repeated. I have also received; through H. M’s. Consulate-General, Beyrout, the copy of a letter addressed (August 17th, 1870) by Mrs. Augusta M. Mott to your Excellency.
This letter contains the following words:—“Captain Burton has thought fit to publish a most injudicious and insulting article in the ‘Levant Herald’ (July 13th), which our Consul-General advises should, be submitted to you.” Mr. Eldridge has distinctly denied that he advised anything of the sort. I published nothing of the kind. Mrs. Augusta M. Mott alludes to an anonymous news letter, dated from Beyrout, and by her attributed to me. It is well known here that what I publish in the ‘Levant Herald’ is signed with my own name, and that that paper has other correspondents at Beyrout and at Damascus besides myself.
I do not deny that Mr. Mentor Mott’s exertions have been with a benevolent object. But I beg to call your Excellency’s attention to the fact that since the decease of Mrs. Bowen Thompson, who established the British Syrian Schools, and in whose hands these establishments did great good to the country, the: management at head-quarters has changed—not for the better.
It is hardly my office to warn the Home Committee of the change; but I consider it right to bring my statements to the notice of your Excellency.
I am, &c.,
RICHARD F. BURTON
Sir Henry Elliot.
Figure 9. Salahiyyah, outside Damascus, sketched by Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake.
SYRIA. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT) BEYROUT
… I promised you, in my last, some details of an affair which took place at Tebadani, in the Anti-Lebanon, the summer retreat of the English Consul at Damascus, from whose mouth I gleaned these facts. It contains, as usual, two rival families, local Capulets and Montagues. The Beit-el-Tell, poor, honest, and quiet, has long been a favourite with English officials. The Bait-el-Beg, rich upstarts, oppress the poor, kill their mules, break orchards and vineyards, bribe liberally, and are the bétes noires of the neighbourhood, that bears the yoke through fear. As the Consul’s wife was riding through the village, one of the Begs sat down on the road in her way, whilst the other people stood up and saluted her, and, smoking his cigarette and spitting, said to the crowd, “What tools are you Fellaheen to salute this woman! See how I will treat her when she passes!” He was ordered to rise and replied, “No, I will not! What does this woman want? Will you all go away, or shall I kill her and you! I want to raise the devil to-day. Let her salute me.” The answer was a sound horsewhipping, which he deserved. His friends gathered round him, shouting, “Pull her off her horse, follow her with; guns and sticks, if any English come here we will kill them !” The only attendants the lady had were terrified natives. At this juncture her own servant, a lad, rode up, and, thinking his mistress was attacked, fired his carbine without orders, but happily the bullet found its billet in a wall. A report was at once sent to the Consulate at Damascus, and the vali lost not a moment in sending 30 Zaptieh under the Bimbashi Ismail Bey and M. Hanna Shalhoab, an officer of the Divan, with orders to a punish to the fullest extent a gratuitous outrage upon en English lady. There two officials did their duty thoroughly, made a procés verbal of the affair, and carried 11 offenders to the common jail at Damascus. The Beit al-Beg has had the benefit of a month in limbo, and probably they will keep the peace for many along year. …
Figure 10. “Our Own Correspondent” Levant Herald Nov 28 1870.
PUNISHING AN INSULT TO A CONSUL’S WIFE
An affair, which has created quite a sensation, lately took place at Tebadani, in the Anti Lebanon, the summer retreat of the English consul at Damascus; Tebadani, it seems, contains two rival families, local Capulets and Montagues. The Beit-el-Tell, poor, honest and quiet, have long been favourites with English officials. The Beit-el-Beg are described as rich upstarts, who oppress the poor, kill their mules, break orchards and vineyards, bribe liberally, and are the bétes noires of the neighbourhood. As the consul's wife was riding through the village one of the Begs sat down on the road in her way, while the other people stood up and saluted her, and, smoking his cigarette and spitting, said to the crowd, “What fools are you Fellaheen, to salute this woman! See how I will treat her when she passes.” He was ordered to rise, and replied, “No; I will not, what does this woman want? Will you all go away, or shall I kill her and you? I want to raise the devil to-day. Let her salute me.” For this answer some one present gave this Beg a severe horsewhipping, upon which his friends gathered round him shouting, “Pull her off her horse, follow her with guns and sticks, if any English come here, we will kill them!” The only attendants the lady had were terrified natives. At this juncture her own servant, a lad, rode up and, thinking his-mistress was attacked, fired his: carbine without orders, but happily the bullet found its billet in a wall. A report was at once sent to the consul at Damascus, and the vali lost not a moment in sending thirty zaptieh under the Bimbashi Ishmael Bey and M. Hanna Shalhoab, an officer of the Divan, with orders to punish to the fullest extent any outrage upon an English lady. These officials did their duty thoroughly, made a procés verbal of the affair, and carried eleven offenders to the common jail at Damascus. The Beit el Beg has had a month in prison, and probably he and his friends will now keep the peace. We sadly require some such functionary of the vali in London. There are many streets in this metropolis through which the consul's wife could not ride on Sundays without receiving far worse insults from our own Beit el Begs than she met with at Tebadani in the Anti-Lebanon. The Bimbashi Ismael Bey and M. Hanna Shalhoab might with advantage to the public take for a time the duties of the magistrates at the police court in the Clerkenwell district. On the other hand the magistrates might amuse themselves by delivering “suitable admonitions” to roughs at Damascus.
Figure 11. Report in a London Newspaper on the Tebedani Fracas.
[Annotation to the above in Isabel’s hand]
This version is not the truth. It was in one of those excitements between Moslem and Christian and the man tried to pull me off my horse. He has ever since been one of my most devoted friends.
Constantinople, January 15, 1871.
The Confidential Memorandum of which I have the honour herewith to inclose a copy, is the extract of a letter from the Governor-General of Syria to Aali Pasha, complaining of Captain Burton, Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus.
What is stated of the good reception given to Captain Burton by the authorities on his arrival at Damascus, notwithstanding the repugnance with which they viewed his appointment, is perfectly correct; but, although it was boasted of by him at the time, it was entirely owing to my having told the Governor-General, who feared some exhibition of fanaticism, that I held him responsible for Captain Burton being received with all the respect due to a British Consul.
I must do his Excellency the justice to say, that he faithfully kept the promise which he then made me.
It is difficult to be accurately informed as to what is doing by our own Agents at such a distant place as Damascus, and I am slow to accept the criticism passed by hostile, and perhaps interested, parties, or by Turkish officials, who may have had differences with them; but your Lordship is aware that I have for some time back been apprehensive that Captain Burton’s proceedings were of a nature to give ground for anxiety, although it would have been impossible for me to bring forward any one act sufficient to justify a recommendation of his removal from his Consulate.
The complaint of the Governor-General, embodied in the Memorandum now inclosed, is likewise founded upon Captain Burton’s character and general proceedings.
I had heard vaguely and unofficially of the occurrence mentioned in the Memorandum, when Mrs. Burton was said, with her own hand, to have horse-whipped a person whom she considered as having failed in showing the respect she thought due to her, and when a shot was fired by one of her attendants; but an unwillingness to have the name of a lady brought forward in such an affair had prevented me from inquiring into it.
Although the emoluments of the Consulate at Damascus were raised upon the appointment of Captain Burton, I have always questioned the necessity of keeping it up upon the present scale; and I am only waiting for the report of Mr. Kennedy before submitting the question of its reduction to your Lordship.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE LEVANT HERALD,
stopping far a few days at Beyrout, and some friends have here brought to my
notice a late letter in the Levant Herald from your “Own Correspondent,”
detailing a story about me. What is said about me is hardly worth noticing.
It is true that an ill-conditioned person of the class that loves to bully and
frighten poor women in lone places, had the bad luck to choose me for this
pastime, who am used to wander about freely and take care of myself. But there
is another point on which upon my own responsibility, Capt. Burton being at
Damascus, I want an explanation. Your “Own Correspondent” says he heard these
facts from the Consul's mouth. Capt. Burton has been freely accused of being
himself this “Correspondent,” to the annoyance of his chiefs, and his own
social discomfort: but now this speech would infer that he is at least in
communication with your correspondent. I am sorry to say that it amuses Capt.
Burton to be accused of things he has not done and not to defend himself, but
it irritates me. He is certainly the last man in the world to have detailed a
story about his wife or any other lady for publication. I am too well versed
in the rules of the press to ask for the author's name, but I must beg that he,
as a gentleman, will account satisfactorily for the manner in which he managed
to hear this story “from the Consul's own mouth,” and thus not leave my husband
under the stigma of the supposed authorship of your “Own Correspondent's”
letters, or of any communication with him,—I have the honour to be, Sir, yours
Beyrout, Jan. 16th. ISABEL BURTON.
It may perhaps meet Mrs. Burton's complaint if we state at once that not only is Capt. Burton not our Syrian correspondent, but that the letters in question reach us from more than one hand. What may be the social or other relations of the authors with either the Beyrout or Damascus Consulates we have never inquired, and care not to know,—our only concern being that they possess competent information and communicate the result in good faith. Since, however, the impression seems to exist that the letters are tainted with a Consular origin, it is due to both Capt. Burton and Mr. Eldridge to say—that to neither gentleman does the “stigma” of their authorship in any way attach,—ED, L.H.
Figure 12. Isabel Burton to the Editor of the Levant Herald.
My dear Lord Houghton
I have not written to you because you did not write to me but I owe Mr. Mathew a letter for more than a year. I don’t know where he is so I send it to you begging of you to read it for your own information & to forward it on to him. I have chanced a line to him through our Embassy to tell him it is coming. Here one is 10000 miles away from Europe though no distance & the new Postal regulations for our service & the War makes one fearful that our letters may never reach our friends. R.’s best love.
31 Jan 1871. Damascus.
Copy of a letter from the Rev. Wm. Wright to Mrs. Mott.
March 1st, 1871.
When in Damascus you called upon us one night, and, with other information on the same topic, you told us—
1. That Mr. Kennedy told you his instructions were to compel Captain Burton to apologize to you, or else to resign his office.
2. That you said a visit to the British Syrian School from Captain, Burton would be accepted as a full apology.
3. That that visit was made by Captain Burton, and you considered the apology complete.
That there might be room for misunderstanding among those present, I interrupted the conversation with this question: “Am I to understand that Mr. Kennedy told you that his instructions from the Foreign Office were to get an apology for you from Captain Burton, or else to get his resignation?” And you replied with deliberation—
4. “Yes, yes;” and charged us not to speak of it
When I expressed doubts as to the treatment of an English official in the way you described, and said I heard that Mr. Kennedy’s mission had reference to the fees in three of the Consulates at the sea-ports, and that I understood so from Captain Burton himself, you replied—
5. “I do not believe it. We know. He was sent out expressly with reference to the British Syrian schools.”
Of minor matters which you emphasized.
That on Mrs. Burton attempting to deny the authorship of the “Levant Herald” letters on the part of Captain Burton, in the presence of Mr. Kennedy, you said—
(a). “Do not tell a falsehood, Mrs. Burton. Captain Burton told me himself he wrote the letters;—and you added, ‘And I put in the spice.’ Whereupon Mrs. Burton made a scene kissed you, and the ‘Levant Herald’ letters were no more referred to.”
I understand that these statements in substance, with certain modifications and limitations (such as that Mr. Kennedy read you a statement from a letter, in which he was instructed to ascertain if Captain Burton were the author of the “Levant Herald” letters, and if so, to demand from him an apology or his resignation), were repeated several times, and to different parties, during your stay in Damascus.
Some of us have heard with astonishment that you have denied having made the statements. Will you enable me to say whether or not, and I shall place these questions and your answers before the seven or eight of our colony who heard the words.
(Signed) WILLIAM WRIGHT.
British Syrian School,
Figure 13. From Burton's Sketchbook.
Dear Mr. Leighton
I have just returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or yours of April 14 1871 would not have remained so long unanswered. And now to business. I am quite as willing to have a house pulled down for you now as when at Vichy. But the difficulty is to find a house with tiles.
The bric a brac sellers have quite learned their value and demand extravagant sums for poor articles. Of course you want good old specimens and these are waxing very rare.
My friends Drake and Palmer were lucky enough when at Jerusalem to nobble a score or so from the so called Mosque of Omar. Large stores are there found, but unhappily under charge of the Wakif and I fancy that long payments would be required. However I shall send your letter to my colleague Moore who will do what he can for you. The fact is, it is a work of patience. My wife and I will keep a sharp look out for you and buy up as many as we can find which seem to answer your description. If native inscriptions white or blue for instance are to be had I shall secure them, but not if imperfect. Some clearing away of rubbish is expected at Damascus, the Englishman who superintends is a friend of mine and I shall not neglect to get from him as much as possible.
We had Holman Hunt at Jerusalem, he was looking a little worn like a veritable denizen of the Holy City. I hope that you have quite recovered health. Swinburne the papers say has been sick, his 'Songs before Sunrise' shows even more genius than Poems and Ballads.
What has become of Mrs. Sartoris? I saw her son's appointment in the papers. Poor Vichy must be quite ruined—veritably it was a Cockney hole. Syria is a poor Chili, the Libanus is a mole hill compared with the Andes—do you remember?
I am planning a realistic book which has no Holy Land on the brain and the Public will curse her like our army in Flanders. Pilgrims see everything thro' a peculiar medium and tourists shake hands (like madmen) then they sight the plain of Esdraelon or Sharon as the case may be. N.B. Both plains are somewhat like the poorer parts of our midland Counties. My wife joins in kind remembrances.
Ever yours sincerely
Richd F. Burton
Figure 14. View from the roof of Burton’s house in Damascus, by Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake.
Constantinople, April 22, 1871.
I have had the honour to receive your Lordship’s despatch No. 26 of the 10th instant, asking for my opinion in reference to a complaint of the Porte of the proceedings of Captain Burton at Damascus, and to their request for his recall.
Your Lordship is aware that for some time past I have not been satisfied with the manner in which Her Majesty’s Consulate at Damascus has been conducted, Captain Burton not having succeeded in giving greater satisfaction to the British subjects—whether Christian missionaries or protected Jews—than to the Ottoman authorities and I cannot withhold the opinion that he is not well suited to the post which he occupies.
The complaint made by the Porte of his habit of spreading alarming news of impending massacres agrees with information which reached me through other independent channels, but neither that, nor the alleged frequency of his absence from his post, would of themselves suffice to warrant the recall of a British Consul. I consider, however, that his presence tends to unsettle the public mind at Damascus, and to keep alive a sentiment of insecurity, which may at any time become a source of danger, and that it would be very desirable that he should be removed whenever an opportunity for it might offer.
As your Lordship has already decided to reduce the scale of the Consulate at Damascus, it might for the present he sufficient, in reply to the representation of the Porte, to inform them that a change will shortly be made.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT.
(Telegraphic.) May 4, 1871 (m.s. 1287).
Mr. Burton, the British Consul at Damascus, who is generally in the habit of wandering about the country, was lately at Nazareth living in his tent, which was pitched near the Greek Church. On St. George’s Day a quarrel arose between his servants and a number of Greek lads who were standing near the church. Mr. Burton took an active part in the quarrel by firing on the Greeks, who had now come out of church, which made matters worse. Although several of the Consul’s people received slight wounds he himself was merely struck by a stone in the arm.
The Greeks did not retaliate by using arms of any kind, and consequently the occurrence did not assume a more serious turn.
The Consul demands that a great number of the Greeks, whom he has taken up and bound with cords, should be sent up to Damascus. These people, on the other hand, declare that they are not to blame, and that it was in consequence of the Consul’s having fired upon them that the quarrel became serious.
The matter is now being inquired into. I am not able to say more on the subject for the present, but shall not fail to communicate to your Highness later the final result of the investigation.
Figure 15. The Burton Summer House at Bludan, by Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake.
Pera, May 20, 1871.
Aali Pasha desired me to transmit, for your Excellency’s information and consideration, the inclosed copy of a telegram he had just received from the Governor-General of Syria, giving a summary account of an occurrence which took place at Nazareth.
Mr. Burton, says Raschid Pasha, according to his wandering habits, went to Nazareth and encamped near the Greek Church. On St. George’s Day, the Greek boys having assembled in the front of the church, an affray ensued between them and some of Mr. Burton’s servants, in which that gentleman took an active part, and begun to fire at them. On hearing the report of fire-arms, the crowd which was at church came out, and the scuffle took rather serious proportions.
Some of the Consul’s people have been slightly wounded, and Mr. Burton was struck in the arm by a stone. It is very lucky, observes the Pasha, that the Greeks abstained from using any arms, otherwise the matter would have been aggravated. Mr. Burton has caused some of the Greeks mixed up in the quarrel to be apprehended and tied up, for the purpose of sending them to Damascus.
The occurrence, states the telegram, is mainly to be ascribed to the Consul, whose imprudence in firing on the people gave the disturbance a serious character. The Pasha concludes his telegram by saying that he had instituted an inquiry, and that he would not fail to acquaint the Porte with the result of the investigation.
(Signed) E. Pisani.
Damascus, May 20, 1871
I have the honour to report that, under short private leave granted by your Lordship, I left my post on March 27, 1871, and returned to it on April 28, 1871.
By the desire of Mr. Consul-General Eldridge, I passed through the towns of Tiberias and Safet, where the large community of Jews under British protection received me with much cordiality. They are about to address a Petition to your Lordship, praying that they may be transferred from under the Consulate-General of Beyrout to the Consulate of Damascus; and I promised them that I would report to your Lordship how much this change, enabling them to apply directly to the headquarters of the Governor-General of Syria, would benefit their material interests.
(Signed) Richard F. Burton.
Damascus, May 20, 1871.
I have the honour to submit to your Excellency the following circumstances. On Thursday, the 6th of April, 1871, the Protestant Cemetery at Damascus was once more broken into and violated. Scarcely a year has passed without this outrage being renewed; and on the present occasion justice is completely withheld. The tomb of the Countess Harley Teleki was destroyed, and a number of grave-stones removed from the place. After some investigations on the part of this Consulate, thirteen of the stones were recovered. Three of them were deposited in a mosque by Talib-el-Kayyal, a Moslem ruffian of the Shaghur. He was absolved by the Majlis Tamiyiz el Suda, upon the plea that he found the stones being carried about by children. The latter denied the whole of the story. The other ten stones were found in the possession of Jirges Hajjar, a Greek Catholic. He asserted that he had bought them at under price from a Moslem, Abd-el-Razzak el Musriyyeh. The latter was arrested, and he accused Mustafa Laham, who succeeded in evading justice.
Abd-el-Razzak was tried in the presence of a Consular Dragoman, and was condemned to thirty days’ imprisonment, in the absence of the Dragoman, but was presently released. In fact, it is hopeless to expect justice from a Tribunal constituted as it is at present, when a few Napoleons to the President, and to the Head Clerk, can procure any verdict desired.
The state of the Police Force at Damascus is causing considerable alarm. The active and energetic officer, Ismail Agha, died about the end of March. His subaltern Serur Agha, has been virtually banished to the Hauran. The commanding officer, Meer Alai Mustafa Beg, whose bigotry and hatred of Christians make him the terror of all criminals, save Moslems, is supported by Abdullah Agha, a negro, who takes an active part in procuring the conversion of even women and children.
(Signed) Richard F. Burton
May 21. 1871
My dear Ld Houghton,
I know you hear of all my movements through a certain mutual friend the authoress—so I will not inflict old news upon you. We have just been having a cheering pilgrimage. I have had two months tenting & riding to all the Holy Places in Syria & Palestine & R. was with me part of the time. On my return I heard a report that the Consular Committee were thinking of doing away with Damascus which makes me anxious & alarmed. Personally, we have settled down as if for many years love our interests our work & thus our lives. We have made friends everywhere & are doing all the good we can in our separate ways. Richd you will be glad to hear is loved & looked up to everywhere except by 2 or 3 individuals whose disapproval is however a proof of integrity. The good he has done to this country is untold—he never reports the good he does. It is not like the same place. Wherever he goes benefits to the people go with him. The Jews of Tiberius & Safed & others say that “the light of God is upon him”. 3 unjust Jews of Damascus the British protected money lenders did last year write complaints to F. O. about him because he wd not allow them to squeeze the peasantry—it was taken up by Sir Moses Montefiore & Sir F. Goldsmid. Even these now want to return to him. Putting aside conjugal & interested motives it will be a gt. blow & a shame upon Damascus & injure Syria very greatly whilst other posts of less importance are left untouched. Consider this is the heart of Syria the residences of the Governor General the Commander in chief the Parliament the Judges—the Horseguards—the seat of all business & for business purposes as near the Lebanon as Beyrout. It is the protection for Commerce post & travelers from Nabulus to the south as far as Baghdad on the East. The only check for the Bedouin tribes, the center for the Druses of the Hauran our friends & allies who wd otherwise become turbulent. More important than Aleppo Beyrout or Jerusalem. It is hardly worthwhile for the sake of 2 or 300 hundred a gt. economy to deliver so large a jurisdiction to win & make the name of Engd a bye word in it. If any change were made this ought to [be] the Head Quarters & Beyrout the Consulate & so thought Richd Wood the only Consul who has been a gt. success here besides Richd. Personally it will be a gt. wrench to him to leave Damascus unless poor Richd (who has worked so hard for 29 years to give all his time health & talents to duty & worked hard for the honour of his country & to please his chiefs) shd get promotion & advancement by it. We have though found many kind friends & you are one who will be heartily sorry to see us getting the worst of the reduction system. I more suspect our Consulate being touched this year as the 3 Jews who complained will proclaim here “we told you that being Jews we could turn any Consul out right or wrong & we have done it & they are going to send out a man to do our bidding”. Syria looks upon R. as a kind of saviour for not squeezing the peasantry out of fear for the Jews & the feeling will be thus. Other consuls crushed us to save themselves from their own Govt who love the Jewish money–lenders. This man has sacrificed himself for us & his Govt has crushed him to please the Jews. Dizzy having been a Jew they think our Govt is Jewish & you know how a Jew is despised in the East. If one could only stave it off till next March I shd not break my heart as now R having worked so hard & well, done so much good & got here a good name it feels like an uncalled-for disgrace. He is now 50 & had 29 years toil. This is his first good appointment & it is hard to have it snatched away in 2 years & to be suddenly cut down from 1000 a yr & perhaps turned adrift. Who could strain against such a time. Do give us your friendly influence in the balance if an opportunity occurs of putting in a word for us.
Richd joins me in best regards to you & Lady Houghton & all yr. children. I hope we shall meet again soon. I think of coming home on leave in March. You might take a trip back with me I think for you did not come on to Damascus last time.
me most sincerely yours
Constantinople, May 22, 1871.
I have the honour to forward to your Lordship the copy of a Report from Mr. Pisani, communicating to me, by Aali Pasha’s desire, a telegram from the Governor-General of Syria, informing him of an affray which had taken place at Nazareth on St. George’s Day, between some Greeks and the servants of Captain Burton, who are represented to have fired upon the people.
I have telegraphed to Mr. Consul Moore for any particulars he may be able to procure of the occurrence.
(Signed) Henry Elliot.
Foreign Office, May 25, 1871.
With reference to your Excellency’s despatch No. 41 of the 22nd ultimo, I have to acquaint your Excellency that I will endeavour to make an arrangement for transferring Captain Burton from his present post at Damascus to some other Consulate, and your Excellency is at liberty to inform the Porte of my intention in this matter.
Jerusalem, May 25, 1871.
In reply to your Excellency’s telegram, I have the honour to report the following particulars of the recent affray at Nazareth between some Greeks of that town and Captain Burton’s attendants, and which are derived from the Greek Bishop of Tabor, who passed through Nazareth on the next day on his way to Jerusalem, and from two English travellers, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gill, who were there at the time.
According to the Bishop’s account, the conflict began by one of the servants driving away an Abyssinian mendicant from Captain Burton’s encampment early in the morning of St. George’s Day. The beggar persisting in remaining, force was used. Just then the Greeks issued from their church, close to which the camp had been pitched. They abused the servant for his treatment of the Abyssinian, saying, "You not only refuse to give him anything, but strike him as well.” This led to words and ultimately to blows, the other servants and more Greeks coming up. Stones appear to have been the missiles used. Captain Burton and his party, consisting of Mrs. Burton and Mr. Drake, came out to the assistance of their attendants, and Captain Burton was badly hurt by two stones which hit him on the arm and lower part of the leg.
Hearing of the affray, the above-mentioned Englishmen, with others who were likewise present, hastened, armed, to the assistance of Captain Burton. They, however, arrived when the contest had nearly subsided. Two or three shots had been fired, fortunately without hitting any one, but by whom these gentlemen could not say. They saw one of the servants carried into the camp in a state of insensibility, having received about thirty wounds from stones, his head streaming with blood. Messrs. Johnson and Gill did not know the particulars of the origin of the affray, nor what part the Governor of Nazareth took in the matter.
I have since heard that Captain Burton left Nazareth, taking with him twelve of the assailants in irons for trial at Damascus.
(Signed) N. T. MOORE.
Therapia, June 5, 1871.
I have the honour to inclose the copy of a despatch from Mr. Noel Moore, Her Majesty’s Consul at Jerusalem, in answer to a telegram by which I had directed him to give me any particulars in his power respecting the late affray at Nazareth between Captain Burton’s people and the Greeks.
Although I have despatches and letters from Captain Burton himself up to the 20th ultimo, they do not contain even an allusion to the occurrence in question, and I have, consequently, telegraphed to him to report upon it immediately by telegraph and by post.
In the meantime, the Porte has received from the Governor-General of Syria the telegram, of which a translation is transmitted herewith, stating that the Greeks contend that the affray was entirely provoked by Captain Burton, against whom the Bishop of Nazareth was preferring a formal complaint, but who is, on the other hand, insisting on the punishment of the Greeks,
Under these circumstances the Governor-General suggests that either Her Majesty’s Consul-General at Beyrout, or a member of Her Majesty’s Embassy here, should be instructed to proceed to Damascus forthwith to institute an inquiry into the occurrences in concert with him.
I told Aali Pasha this morning that I could not advise Her Majesty’s Government to consent to the course proposed by Rachid Pasha, which would almost amount to the trial of one of Her Majesty’s Consuls before a tribunal of which the Governor of his district was a member.
The difficulty of the case lay in the fact of the Consul having made a complaint against a number of Greeks for a proceeding, which he was formally accused by the Greek Bishop of having himself brought about; but it appeared to me that the most advisable mode of proceeding would be for the authorities of Damascus to go regularly into Captain Burton’s accusations against his assailants, who would have the opportunity of telling their own story and if they produced evidence of a nature to inculpate Captain Burton, the Porte could then make a representation on the subject to Her Majesty’s Government, who would certainly not refuse to take such steps in reference to it as the case might seem to call for.
Aali Pasha concurred in this view of the case ; and the course I suggested will, I believe, be followed.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT.
[Enclosure: Telegram from Rashid Pasha to Aali Pasha, 1871/05/19]
May 19 (M.S.), 1287.
The Greeks maintain that it was the British Consul of Damascus who provoked and brought about the quarrel lately reported to your Highness by telegraph. They, therefore, now claim redress for his having fired upon the congregation, which had come out of the church at Nazareth, as well as for his having entered the church on horseback during prayers, when he took to smashing the lamps (with his riding-whip), and attempting to break open one of the inner doors.
The Greek Bishop of Nazareth is to come to Damascus, in order to urge the trial of the case; and whilst matters stand thus, Captain Burton proposes to demand that a large number of Greeks (who are some of the very plaintiffs in this affair) should be made to undergo both correctional and pecuniary punishment—a demand, however, which will have to be rejected before the case is tried, and the two parties concerned duly confronted.
Under these circumstances, and considering, moreover, the delicate nature and importance of the affair, which cannot properly come under the cognizance of the local Medgliss, I beg to submit to your Highness that it would be necessary either that the British Embassy should send immediately one of its members to Damascus, or that the British Consul-General of Beyrout should be sent instead, duly authorized to co-operate with me in bringing about the trial and investigation of this matter.
Constantinople, June 6, 1871.
I yesterday received your despatches of the 20th ultimo, and your private letter of the same date.
I had been expecting from you an account of the affray which had been reported to me as having taken place at Nazareth on St. George’s Day, in which some of your party were said to have used their fire-arms, and yourself to have been injured by stones.
As the accounts received by the Porte represent the occurrence as having been provoked by your party, the Bishop of Nazareth having made a formal complaint of your own proceedings, it was very desirable that I should be in possession of your version of it; and I must request you to explain, without further delay, how it was that such a circumstance as an affray in which one of Her Majesty’s Consuls was personally engaged, should not have been at once reported to me.
You will inform me whether there is any ground for the assertion of your followers having used their fire-arms; and likewise in what manner and by whom the persons accused of the assault were brought, to, Damascus.
It is asserted that on a previous occasion, in the month of October or November last, a person in your employment made use of his gun or pistol without justifiable cause; and as this may probably be appealed to as an evidence of the conduct and bearing of your people, you will report to me upon that circumstance likewise.
(Signed) Henry Elliot.
Damascus, June 7, 1871.
I have the honour to acknowledge your Excellency’s telegram of June 5th, which arrived only to-day (June 7). I had heard privately of it from one of the officials of the Serai some hours before it reached me.
As regards the affair at Nazareth, the best explanation which I can send is contained in the Inclosures Nos. 2, 3, and 4. The first is the despatch addressed by me to his Excellency the Governor-General of Syria. The second is the account of the assault forwarded to me by my fellow-traveller, Mr. C. F. Drake, who here represents the Palestine Exploration Fund. The third is the evidence given before the Medgliss by an English clergyman (Rev. Mr. Taylor), and by three other gentlemen who were in Nazareth at the time..
I may also report that the Greek Bishop of Nazareth has confessed that he was compelled by his co-religionists to act as he did; that he was ordered not to return to his see without settling the affair in their favour, and that he is ready to declare that those who committed the outrage were guilty, and want the affair to be settled amicably. I have the honour to translate the telegram sent by the Rev. Serafin, Bishop (Greek Orthodox) of Damascus to Monsignor Yarothass, Patriarch of Antioch, now at Tripoli.
"We have received from Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul at Damascus all details concerning the Nazareth affair; we are satisfied with his account, and we will send details by post.”
Finally, as regards the claim of 300 napoleons to be distributed amongst my wounded servants and muleteers, I have, at the instance of the Reverend the Greek Bishop of Damascus, reduced it to 50 napoleons, which will be claimed after three months, and only in case of bad conduct being repeated.
(Signed) Richard F. Burton.
[Inclosure 3] Declaration of Mr. Drake.
On May 5, 1871, Captain Burton and I were encamped at Nazareth (which is within his jurisdiction), near the Greek Church of the Annunciation.
Early in the morning I happened to be at a short distance from the tents, and hearing an angry voice, I went to see whose it was. I found an Abyssinian boy using violent language to Habib, who was telling him to leave the neighbourhood of the tents. The Abyssinian continuing his abusive language, and picking up a stone to throw at Habib Mohammed, the cavass went down and began to beat him.
Four or five Greek Christians now set upon Habib and Mohamed, and then the other two servants, Autun and Saba, ran down to help.
A melee ensued, which assumed no serious aspect till the Greek Christians ran round to the south side of the church, where they were out of sight of the tents, and where they were reinforced by the congregation from the church.
The servants (four in number), and two makaris, followed them, and very shortly Captain Burton and I heard such a noise that we judged it advisable to go to see what was taking place, as from the tents nothing could be seen. We accordingly ran down with only riding-whips in our hands, but, on sharply turning the comer, found ourselves face to face with some 70 to 100 Greek Christians, who were throwing stones with all their force at Consul’s servants, and (immediately that Captain Burton and I appeared) at us.
The first stone thrown at me was a very large one, from the hands of Simaán el Asfar, at a distance of only four to five metres, which narrowly missed my head. At this moment Habile fired a shot from a revolver into the air. This checked the ruffians for an instant, and we were able to retreat to the south-east comer of the church. Here Captain Burton took the revolver, and fired a shot, as before, into the air. This daunted the mob, and we were able to retire slowly to the tents, though followed by showers of stones. Then, as the mob seemed menacing, we prepared our arms, and requested some English and American travellers, who were encamped close by, to do the same. Seeing these preparations the mob melted away, many returning to the church, where there had been a service (it being the Feast of St. George). At the commencement of the disturbance two of the servants, namely, Hibib and Saba, were so much injured that they were unable to move for several days, and the former has continued to spit blood.
Mohamed, the cavass, was severely injured in the ribs, head, and Gium Autun, the Seis, and two of the Mukaris, were also injured.
When Simian el Asfar had the impertinence to accompany a deputation of Greek Christians to the tents for the purpose of begging Captain Burton to put justice aside, and forego punishing the culprits, I immediately recognized him as the man who had thrown the stone at me, and who was always in the front of the mob, and busiest in throwing stones.
When Yusuf Moammur was brought to the tents I distinctly recognized him as one foremost and busiest of the mob.
This mob was by no means made up of only lads and young men, as some of the Greeks wished to make out, but many old men were there, and those the richest and most influential members of the Greek community; men whose duty should have been to restrain their juniors, and not, as they did, to excite them to acts of extreme violence.
May 22, 1871,
(Signed) CHAS. F. TYRWHITT DRAKE,
Representative of the Palestine Exploration Fund in Syria.
(Telegraphic.) Beyrout, June 8, 1871.
Your telegram of 5th June received only 7th June. My servants unprovokedly attacked by Greek orthodox at Nazareth on account of a slight quarrel with an insolent negro. Three of mine severely hurt. Have applied to local authorities for redress. Great opposition, at first, from Greek clergy, who now own themselves mistaken, and wish for an amicable settlement. Details by post.
Damascus, June 9, 1871.
I think it my duty to bring to your Excellency’s notice the state of affairs actually existing in Northern Syria.
As I have already reported (in my despatch of the 20th ultimo) the administration of the police and the protection of the city and its environs are left wholly in the hands of the Mir Aali Mustafa Bey, a man of noted incapacity and unusual fanaticism. His second in command is one Abdullah Apha, a negro, who, under the direction of his chief, encourages the conversion of Christians to Mahomedanism, and the feelings of the former, Greeks as well as Latins, are very strong upon this point. At the same time Bedouin raids are becoming the order of the day, and one has just been announced to me as having penetrated to within a few miles of Damascus.
During the last few months various reports about complications between the Sublime Porte and Egypt, have caused the people of Syria to believe that the Khedive awaits only an opportunity to declare himself independent; and it is the general idea that Syria will take part with Egypt. The conduct of the Wali (Governor-General) of Syria, his Excellency Rashid Pasha, who belongs to the family of Mohamed Ali, has contributed not a little to increase popular excitement. He has now held office for six years (since 1866), during which time he has amassed an immense fortune, and has allowed his partizans to follow his example. He has systematically dismissed all those who will not be the mere instruments of his will, for instance, Abd-el-Hadi Pasha, late of Beyrout and of Hamah. He has filled up all the most important posts with his own creatures, for instance, the Governor of Nazareth (Kusshir Agha) was his pipe-bearer. In order to make himself master of the situation he placed the Post Office in the hands of the Turkish authorities, and the privacy of letters has ever since been openly violated. A copy of every telegram is provided at once to head-quarters. It is the prevalent idea that the policy of Rashid Pasha is suspected by the Porte and that Ali Bey Bala was sent to Jerusalem in an independent position to counteract the dangerous influence of the Governor-General. But the latter contrives to make interests at Constantinople by means of many mends, notably of Said Effendi, whose son married his daughter, and the result is that he retains his appointment.
To Europeans and European subjects his Excellency Rashid Pasha has shown himself irreconcilably hostile. He declares openly that he has removed the Italian Consul, M. Pilastri; the Prussian Consul, M. Gonine; and the Spanish Vice-Consul, M. Riba-denegra; because they would not become his tools. He is now intriguing with all his strength against this Consulate, and he adopts the plan of affecting to believe all the false reports which he himself has originated. The Druses of the Hauran having paid me many visits, and wishing to return them, I left Damascus on the 24th ultimo, after writing to the Sheikhs that I desired to meet them all. We met, and I found them in great excitement, expecting to be attacked by His Excellency the Wali. I calmed them by assuring them, incidentally, that they had nothing to fear, and openly exhorted them to act like peaceful and loyal subjects of the Porte. His Excellency affects to believe that my visit had for object some political intrigue. It is reported that he is preparing to attack the Druses in their fastnesses, the Seja, and in the Jebel el Druse Hauran, and he would willingly charge me with having rendered his expedition necessary.
I may briefly show the animus of his Excellency Rashid Pasha against all European protégés by quoting an order lately issued in this vilayet:—“None but rayahs are henceforward allowed to buy the ushr or dime of the villages, and all villagers who enter into such transactions with foreigners are to be accountable for disobeying this order.” A French protégé has thus been compelled to renounce his foreign nationality. I need not point out the retrograde and anti-progressive nature of such a step, especially in these days when Turkey affects to encourage immigration. No English subject or protégé can expect justice in Damascus. The Protestant cemetery has again been violated. The violators were detected, and have been allowed to escape unpunished: Two English subjects, the Affghans Mohammed and Ahmed, were condemned without the presence of a Consular dragoman, and though I have had a lengthy correspondence upon the subject, I cannot obtain a revision of the sentence thus pronounced contrary to the capitulations.
Upon the subject of the large debt owed to M. Telimna Fuchs, and the village taken from M. Hanna Mirk, I shall be compelled again to address your Excellency.
The Baghdad postman was robbed by the Renvallah Bedawins during the last winter, and Colonel Herbert, Her Majesty’s Consul-General for Baghdad, has applied for compensation to the extent of 66 1/2 ghazis. This sum I have for months been attempting to recover, but in vain. An English caravan, led by Mr. Gaze, was plundered when passing through Kunaytinah of goods estimated at 31£. I have applied for the amount, but no answer has been returned. For many months I have been writing to. his Excellency about the claim of a British-protected subject, Khawajeh Yakub Smonha, who demands 7,000 piastres, the value of his merchandize plundered about a year ago from a Baghdad caravan by the Bedouins in this neighbourhood. I cannot even obtain a reply. A Maltese surgeon, Dr. Dupont, having been compelled to send in his resignation, has applied, through this Consulate, for his arrears of pay. I sent a Consular dragoman to request liquidation, and the inclosed Report will show how he was received.
In conclusion, I would warn your Excellency that this part of Syria is in a state of abnormal excitement. The Latins and Greeks are upon the worst of terms, and the Mahommedans are equally hostile to both; whilst the policy of the Governor-General is evidently to encourage all manner of bad feeling, and to thwart those who would allay it. My best exertions have been devoted to the task of keeping peace and order, nor shall they cease as long as my services are required. This is the only Consulate at Damascus which at present maintains a shadow of independence; and I venture to hope that, your Excellency will understand the reason, should vexatious reports be circulated about it.
(Signed) RICHARD F. BURTON.
Damascus, June 11, 1871.
In reply to your Excellency’s official letter of the 31st ultimo, I have the honour to explain the cause of the delay in reporting the attack upon my servants at Nazareth.
I was detained at Nazareth between May 5 and May 10, in order to watch the proceedings of the local authorities. The Turkish post was certainly open to me, but my despatch would assuredly have been read, and most probably would never have reached its destination. Even at Damascus I am compelled to be most circumspect when addressing despatches to Constantinople or Beyrout. After an official visit to the Jews of Tiberia and Safet (whose protection papers have not been renewed for many years, some, indeed, since 1849), on returning to Damascus (May 19), I addressed an official report to his Excellency the Governor-General, who undertook to forward it to his Government, together with-the version of the affair supplied to him by the Reverend the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Nazareth. My report to your Excellency was again delayed by waiting for the evidence. of the Rev. Mr. Taylor and of his three fellow-travellers.
The delay has thus arisen from my wish to lay the ease before your Excellency complete in all its details. I can, if desired, supply confirmatory evidence of all my assertions, and can prove, by the medical certificate of the physician attached to the Protestant Mission of Nazareth, the severe injuries received by two of my attendants; a third, Mohammed Cawwas, an Affghan, a British subject, and an old soldier, lies, I regret to say, in a most precarious state. He had concealed from me the severity of his injuries out of a sense of shame, but my companion, Mr. Drake, had heard of and had recorded them. Dr. Nicora, the sanitary officer placed here by the French Government, informed me four days ago that he had no hope of saving the wounded man.
(Signed) Richard F. Burton.
Foreign Office, June 14, 1871.
I am directed by Earl Granville to call upon you to furnish, by the earliest opportunity, a full explanation of the circumstances adverted to in the telegram from the Governor-General of Syria to Aali Pasha, of which a copy is herewith inclosed, communicated to his Lordship by the Ottoman Ambassador at this Court.
I am at the same time to acquaint you that serious complaints in regard to your general proceedings have been made by the Porte to Her Majesty’s Government; and I am to add that his Lordship wishes that, from the time of receipt of this despatch until further instructions reach you, you should not quit the seat of your Consulate, the City of Damascus.
(Signed) Odo Russell.
Beyrout. June 16, 1871.
I have the honour to transmit herewith a copy of a despatch, and its inclosures, which I have received from his Excellency the Wali of Syria, complaining of the proceedings of Captain Burton in his recent visit to the Hauran and Jebel Druse.
As Rashid Pasha expresses a hope that, like himself, I shall disapprove of this journey, I can only refer the matter to your Excellency, as, beyond a private letter, dated the 23rd ultimo (received by me on the 25th), in which Captain Burton announces his intention of starting for the Jebel Druse on the following day, I had no knowledge of his intentions or the objects of the journey, which may, perhaps, have been undertaken in pursuance of instructions.
Without entering into the arguments of Rashid Pasha, I cannot refrain from expressing an opinion that it was injudicious on the part of Captain Burton to have gone to the Jebel Druse without having at least informed the local authorities of his intention; as a similar journey, undertaken, as it were, secretly, would bear the interpretation, in the eyes of the populations, that Her Majesty’s Government had some line of policy in view that differed from that of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan.
(Signed) G. Jackson Eldridge.
Foreign Office, June 23, 1871.
With reference to my despatch No. 1 of the 14th instant, I am directed by Earl Granville to observe to you that although despatches have been received from you dated since your return to Damascus, no allusion is contained in them to the transactions at Nazareth; and I am further to call upon you for an immediate explanation why you have not reported this matter.
(Signed) Odo Russell.
Therapia, June 26, 1871.
In connection with the complaints made by the Porte of the proceedings of Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus, irrespective of the affray at Nazareth, I have the honour to inclose the translation of a letter which he was represented to me as having written to the Arab Chiefs, inviting them to meet him at a village in the Hauran.
I telegraphed to Captain Burton to ascertain whether the letter was authentic; and I inclose herewith a copy of his telegraphic reply.
In the meantime I had received from him a despatch, of which a copy is also inclosed, in which Captain Burton, after alluding to the unsatisfactory state of northern Syria, mentions having invited the Chiefs to meet him, and reports the salutary effects of his interview with them.
Your Lordship’s intention, already notified to the Porte, of finding an opportunity of transferring Captain Burton to another post, makes it unnecessary to examine at any length the particulars of the complaints which have been made to me against him; but their general tenor was his determination to meddle with the internal administration of the district, the Governor of which wrote to the Porte, that if Her Majesty’s Consul were to assume the virtual position of Governor, it would be impossible for himself l to continue to direct the Government of the province. A letter, of which I have forwarded a copy to your Lordship elsewhere, touching the affair at Nazareth, while eloquently advocating Captain Burton’s proceedings, unconsciously but conclusively confirms the complaint of the Governor.
After stating that the Vali hates the Consuls of the Great Powers, the letter goes on to say, that his Excellency “still more hates Captain Burton, for he is virtually Governor here, and there is not much use for a Governor; and he dare not do anything wrong for fear of him, for he can neither bully nor bribe him.”
If, as I can hardly doubt, the above gives a correct description of the position assumed by Captain Burton, it certainly seems to show him to have misunderstood the duties and line of conduct to be followed by Her Majesty’s Consular Agents, who, by co-operation or by friendly remonstrances with the provincial authorities, as the case may seem to require, may contribute powerfully to the well-doing of a district; but who, by raising themselves up as rival or antagonistic powers, cannot fail to produce a state of things which may lead to disastrous results.
That many abuses exist in the administration of the province may be fairly assumed; but Captain Burton, in his desire to remedy them, has not, as it appears to me, been sufficiently careful in avoiding just cause for umbrage on the part of those who are responsible for its tranquillity.
In looking back for the last four years I cannot but recollect that, previous to his assuming the direction of the Consulate of Damascus, neither the local authorities nor Her Majesty’s Consul-General at Beyrout had felt the slightest anxiety about the state of the district, but that there has been a gradually increasing uneasiness ever since.
The knowledge that the British Consul is in direct opposition with the local authorities is liable to be taken by the restless populations of those countries as an encouragement to resist them,
(Signed) Henry Elliot.
P.S.—Since writing the above, the inclosed copy of a letter from the Governor-General to the Grand Vizier on the subject of Captain Burton’s visit to the Hauran has been communicated to me. Neither it, nor his Excellency’s letter to Captain Burton, sent to your Lordship by Mr. Eldridge, agrees with the intimation in Captain Burton’s telegram, that the Vali made no objection to it. H. E.
Figure 16. Hammond recommends recall and dismissal of Burton.
Therapia, July 5, 1871.
I have the honour to forward to your Lordship copy of a despatch from Captain Burton in reply to mine calling upon him to explain how it was that he had not at once reported to me the occurrence at Nazareth. As Captain Burton, after his return to Damascus, had sent me despatches on indifferent subjects, there could have been no difficulty in forwarding a report upon the Nazareth affray, nor was there occasion for any special precaution in regard to it.
I have communicated to Serva Effendi what Captain Burton says of the serious nature of the injury suffered by one of his attendants, and I said that, as there was every appearance of the Greeks having been guilty of a gross outrage, I hoped the actors in it would he properly-dealt with.
His Excellency has assured me that, as soon as the guilt of the persons implicated is substantiated, they shall receive the merited punishment, there being on the part of the Government no sort of disposition to shield them.
(Signed) Henry Elliot.
Figure 17. F. O. Memo on Burton’s Recall and Replacement.
Foreign Office, July 22, 1871,
You were informed by a despatch written to you on the 19th of June, 1869, by direction of the late Earl of Clarendon, that very serious objections had been made, to your, appointment as Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus, and that, though his Lordship was willing to allow you to proceed to that post on receiving your assurance that the objections were unfounded, you were warned that it would be necessary that you should be recalled if the feeling stated to exist against you on the part of the authorities and people of Damascus should prevent the proper discharge of your official duties.
I regret to have now to inform you that the complaints which I have received from the Turkish Government in regard to your recent conduct and proceedings render it impossible that I should allow you to continue to perform any Consular functions in Syria; and I have accordingly to desire that you will, on receipt of this despatch, hand over the archives of Her Majesty’s Consul at Damascus to the person whom Mr. Consul-General Eldridge will appoint to carry on the duties of the Consulate until further orders.
You will, therefore, make your preparations for returning to this country with as little delay as possible.
Beyrout, August 19, 1871.
A letter from Mr. Consul Eldridge, dated August 11th, informing me that a copy of the charges made against Mr. Hanna Azar, one of the Dragomans of Her Majesty’s Consulate, Damascus, has been forwarded to your Excellency, I have the honour to supply the following particulars.
Rashid Pasha, Governor-General of Syria, and one of the most corrupt men in the Turkish Empire, devoted some ten pages to an attack upon a Consulate Dragoman. The paper so teems with untruths that to show them all up would require an answer of almost equal prolixity; I will, however, briefly dispose of a few of the most serious. It is a wicked falsehood that Mr. Consul Rogers ever withdrew his confidence from Mr. Azar, who, after some five years’ service, obtained from that officer the most satisfactory testimonials. It is equally false that Mr. Wood looked upon Mr. Azar as a “stone of scandal” had he done so he would not have given him before his departure the best of characters. Mr. Kennedy, in the first place, did not visit Damascus as an inspector; secondly he met Mr. Azar only once or twice, and if that officer heard of anything “deplorable,” it was from the lips of the Governor-General himself.
Rashid Pasha asserts untruly that he has more than once taken the opportunity of complaining to me against Mr. Azar; he used against him all manner of private and irregular intercession, but until quite of late he never made an open and honest complaint in a public and official form.
Knowing the Governor-General’s petty spite against Mr. Azar, I suggested to the latter that on such occasions as visits, for instance, he had better absent himself. The “ false reports” spread by Mr. Azar were not heard by nor reported to me, and if they related to the “perils of Christians” and “spectres of fresh misfortunes,” it will not, I fear, be long before his reports will be justified. There was no “quarrel upon the occasion of my going to the church of Zildani.” I was never there once; during the riot in question, when my wife was insulted, I was, as the Governor-General well knows, at Damascus. My wife, after the prisoners had been, as she thought, sufficiently punished, interceded for them. The head, of the family, Salih Bey (a family name, not a title), when examined by her touching any charges which he might have against Mr. Azar, swore upon the Koran that he had none, and made a similar deposition before the Chief Tribunal, called Tamyiz el hukuk el bilayit. “Incontestable proof” of Mr. Azar’s “moral perversity.” Mr. Azar visited the Tribunals only by my order; so far from being on bad terms with the members, he is a personal favourite with those who care to keep up friendly relations with him. He has, on more than one occasion, defended the dignity of his office, and he did right. In the days of Mr. Richard Wood and Colonel Rose (Lord Strathnairn) when the English Government had some influence in Syria, the Governor-General and the Mushir (Field-Marshal Commanding) used to rise from their seats when a Consular Dragoman entered the room, and ordered for him pipes and coffee. Those days are now gone. It is only lately M. Jihan Abd el Nuri, Consular Dragoman to the Vice-Consulate of Greece, was turned out of the room without reason. No Tribunal would dare to act as they without the express order of the Governor-General, but that is a part of his system. I am personally satisfied that Rashid Pasha has, through his assassins, the Ghiyas Bedawin, threatened the life of Mr. Azar, and I am equally certain that the “ imaginary plunder,” attributed by his Excellency’s instruments to “ wild pigs,” is a solid and concrete fact. The whole affair was at once placed by me before your Excellency. I did not, however, add that these Ghiyas plunderers, who are allowed every week to ride and harry the Damascus Plain, have for some time past given hostages to the local Government, and that, consequently, as all at Damascus know, their raids are directed by the Serai.
The Governor-General has, perhaps, not exceeded the limits of his powers in forbidding the Tribunals to admit Mr. Azar. He has dismissed three Consuls, and he must find it an easy task to deal with a Consular Dragoman. But I hope, for the honour of the English name, that before Her Majesty’s Consulate at Damascus sanctions this perverse and illegal measure it will give Mr. Azar a fair and open trial, instead of seeing the “expediency of suspending him from his functions of Dragoman.” Mr. Azar courts the just investigations of the charges brought against him, and I have no doubt that, if the proceedings are fairly conducted, he will be found guiltless.
Rashid Pasha, after taking a step which ought to satisfy his revenge, still pushes the case against Mr. Azar. The fact is, he is resolved to ruin a Consular Dragoman who has dared to do his duty.
As has been reported to your Excellency, Mr. Azar, before I took charge of Her Majesty’s Consulate at Damascus, convicted the Governor-General, in presence of Mr. Acting Consul Charles Wood, of a wilful falsehood for interested purposes. Rashid Pasha, true to the Turkish instinct, has never forgiven him, and never will. He will be satisfied with nothing short of ruining his enemy. The nature of the “longanimity” of which he speaks is well known to every one in Syria. It remains only for me to deny explicitly that Mr. Azar has ever “irritated and excited” me against the Governor-General of Syria. The open refusal of redress to British protégés, and the opposition to all legitimate Consular interference systematically displayed: during the last twenty months, are sufficient to “irritate and excite” any honest man.
Mr. Azar is a man of good family, and of sufficient means. His profession was that of a banker, when, in an evil hour, he thought to improve his position by becoming Dragoman to Her Majesty’s Consulate at Damascus. Since 1865 he has given all his time to his duties without receiving a farthing of pay; and he has shown a zeal and intelligence combined with a far rarer qualify, an independent bearing, which has secured for him the hatred of the Governor-General. He is the only Dragoman in Her Majesty’s Consulate, Damascus, who has a thorough knowledge of law and custom and of the proceedings of the native Tribunals. During the last twenty months I have found his services invaluable. It remains only to be seen, now that I have been "replaced,” whether a public servant of six years’ standing will obtain a fair and impartial trial or will be left to the fate prepared for him by a Governor-General like Rashid Pasha, who abuses his high position and the confidence of his Government with the object of crushing all opposition. And should this corrupt and unworthy man succeed in carrying out his projects, the only persons who will consent to act as Dragomans of Her Majesty’s Consulate, or any other Consulate at Damascus, will be simply the tools of the Governor-General, allowed freely to take bribes, and to indulge in every kind of malpractice as the price of betraying their employers.
(Signed) RICHARD F. BURTON.
Figure 18. The Bludan Residence of the Burtons, sketched by Charles Tyrwhitt Drake.
Therapia, September 9, 1871.
Captain Burton forwarded to your Lordship a copy of his despatch No 26 of the 17th of July, and Mr. Consul-General Eldridge his of the 11th of August, respecting the complaints of the Governor-General of Syria against Mr. Hanna Azar, one of the Consular Dragomans at Damascus.
I have now the honour to inclose a copy of the reply of Mr. Eldridge to the inquiries I had addressed to him in reference to Mr. Azar, and of a further communication from Captain Burton upon the same subject.
The excessive violence of the latter, who speaks of Mr. Azar’s life being threatened by the Governor-General’s assassins, and of the raids of the plundering Arabs being directed by his Excellency, renders it difficult to deal satisfactorily with the case. I represented, however, to Server Effendi that, Captain Burton being now removed from Damascus, it would be desirable for the Governor-General to drop the complaint he has made against Mr. Azar, and his Excellency has already written to Rashid Pasha in this sense. In the despatch now transmitted to your Lordship Captain Burton writes that Mr. Azar "has on more than one occasion defended the dignity of his office, and he did right. In the days of Mr. Richard Wood and Colonel Rose, when the English Government had some influence in Syria, the Governor-General and the Mushir used to rise from their seats when a Consular Dragoman entered the room, and ordered for him pipes and coffee. Those days are now gone.”
If I particularly call your Lordship’s attention to these words, it is because I believe them to convey the true explanation of the attitude which the Porte complains of Captain Burton having assumed.
He did not understand that the days when Governors-General trembled before Consular Dragomans had passed, never, it is to be hoped, to return.
The struggle for direct influence or domination among the different foreign Representatives, which was carried on throughout the Empire previous to the Crimean War, has since that time been dropped by a tacit understanding, and no Governor-General would submit to the subserviency to a Consul which was common twenty years ago. Captain Burton fell into the error of endeavouring to recover for himself and for his Dragoman a position neither aimed at by his colleagues nor compatible with the altered state of affairs, and he naturally encountered the strenuous opposition of the Governor-General.
I have already informed your Lordship that the other Consuls at Damascus are far from taking the same view as Captain Burton with regard to Rashid Pasha; and the despatch, of which the copy is inclosed, records the estimation in which he was held by Acting Consul Wood, who declares that “it is but due to his Excellency to state that his high administrative talents, his successes in his expeditions, and the high sense of duty with which he endeavours to inspire his subordinates, have won for him the admiration of all; whilst his quiet and unassuming manner, his conciliatory disposition, and a sympathetic interest which he seems to evince for all who come in contact with him, have appealed powerfully to the affection of the people, who unanimously acknowledge him to be the best Governor they have had.”
This despatch was written by Mr. Wood, who had the charge of Her Majesty’s Consulate at Damascus, very shortly before Captain Burton’s arrival, and offers a curious contrast to the descriptions given by the latter in his recent communications, which, whether there may be foundation for them or not, exhibit a personal and passionate hostility which would alone suffice to cause them to be received with caution.
(Signed) HENRY ELLIOT
[Inclosure: Acting Consul Wood to Sir H. Elliot.]
Damascus, June 16, 1869.
There is an idea prevailing throughout the vilayet that Rashid Pasha, on his arrival at Constantinople, will be called upon to fill a higher and more important post, notwithstanding that his Excellency has given assurances of his speedy return.
The inhabitants of Damascus, acting upon this idea, and unwilling that his Excellency should leave the country without some public acknowledgment of their sincere regard and respect for him, have given a banquet in his honour.
It is the first time that this city has given a public testimony of its esteem to its Chief Magistrate, and the first time also that this mode of expressing it has been adopted. With the exception of the exclusion of wine, expressly forbidden by Mahomedan law, it was surprising to see how European fashion, in all its details, entirely superseded the mode of arrangement that would have been adopted here for such an occasion, thus adding a further proof that the influence of European civilization has made itself felt in a city which boasts of its Conservative spirit.
The Representatives of the foreign Powers, the heads of all the religious communities, as well as the principal officials and inhabitants of Damascus, were invited, amounting, in all, to 170 guests.
Two tables were set in a garden, which was illuminated with 2,000 lights. Rashid Pasha presided over the first table, and the Mushir over the second.
Towards the end of the feast several speeches were made, chiefly in praise of the Governor-General; and it is due to him to state that his administrative talents, his successes in his expeditions, his high sense of duty with which he endeavours to inspire his subordinates, have won for him the admiration of all; whilst his quiet and unassuming manner, his conciliatory disposition, and a sympathetic interest he seems to evidence for all who come in contact with him, have appealed powerfully to the affection of the people, who unanimously acknowledge him to be the best Governor they have had.
Owing to a recent bereavement in my family I was unable to assist at this banquet.
I have, &c.
(Signed) CHARLES WOOD.
Figure 19. Syrian Tracings from Burton's Sketchbook.
It was on a lovely morning in the early spring of 1871 that I stood on a spur of the Antilebanon, the famous “Dome of Victory,” and looked down upon the plains of Damascus. I must have been close to the very spot where Mahomet—then a poor camel-driver—gazing upon the too-enchanting scene, resolutely turned his back upon it, saying: “There is but one paradise, and that is in heaven—there may be no second upon earth.” In these days, when men are agnostics in legend as well as in religion, it is the fashion to assert that he never uttered such words. Why? Is it not more likely that he, the man gifted with the seer's burning imagination, the prophet that was to hold the hearts, and order the faith, of countless millions for centuries upon centuries, should have spoken thus, than that some mean biographer should have coined so lofty and spiritual a thought? Why attempt the impossible? Why try to prove a negative in order to destroy a lovely legend?
Out of a fairylike lacework of apricot trees in full blossom the towers and minarets and cupolas of that “rose-red city, half as old as time” [Dean Burgoo's "Newdigate Ode."] pointed to heaven. Abana and Pharpar were threading their silvery way among the blushing orchards, as they did when Abraham pitched the tents of his tribe of wandering Arabs under the shade of the forest trees fringing the river banks. Small wonder that Naaman the Syrian, when he thought of his own sweet gardens lapped by these crystal streams, should have shuddered at the thought of plunging into the mud of Jordan! Grim and grey, the walls told of centuries—of tens of centuries—of sacred history and medieval legends, stories of patriarchs, of saints Christian and saints Mussulman, of steel-clad Crusaders and turbaned Saracen Emirs Above all, closing my eyes, I seemed to realize the vision of Saul, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,” when the great light “shined round about him,” and he fell to the earth, stricken blind. Who can look upon Damascus for the first time and remain unmoved?
We had reached this earthly paradise of Mahomet's, as was fitting, through Purgatory. The ride from Jerusalem northward had been disastrous.
It was raining when we struck our tents outside the Joppa Gate of the Holy City. Day after day the rain came down pitilessly, hopelessly. When the rain ceased, snow took its place; we were half frozen and drenched to the skin, the water made jugs of our boots and the saddles were like sponges. Our tents were soaked through and our camping-grounds had been quagmires. It was everywhere the same: Gerizim, the mountain of blessings, was no kinder than Ebal, the mountain of curses. At Nazareth, where we lodged in the monastery, the kind Franciscan monks gave us a pan of charcoal in the hopes that its very inadequate heat might help to dry our clothes. Worse and worse: the fumes made us very ill, and one of our party fell down asphyxiated, and for a while looked like death; we carried him out into the air, and to our joy a little colour began to come into his cheeks.
Our poor servants! The dragoman and his crew, who tended the horses and looked after the baggage, were the picture of misery; the very horses hung down their heads, dejected and dispirited; and so we went on until we were about half a day's journey from Damascus, when we met a damp and sympathetic native, who gave us directions as to a route by which we should save some distance, and the baggage would join us a little later. Alas! We took his advice and the proverbial short cut. We lost our way, the light began to fail, and we wandered on and on in darkness, our jaded horses stumbling at every other step over what seemed to be a barren, stony desert. There was nothing for it but to dismount and lead them. We had no food, and the dragoman was in despair. At last, when it was near midnight, we heard the baying of dogs in the distance. There was a ray of hope—where there were dogs there would be men of some sort. Worn out with fatigue and hunger, we struggled on till we came upon the black tents of a Bedouin camp. We had heard ugly stories of the tribes to the east of Jordan, but they must have been set about by the Father of Lies. Nothing could have been kinder than these nomad Arabs. Even the dogs, which sniffed about our legs a little suspiciously at first, ended by being quite friendly. The Sheik gave us shelter in one of his tents, and told off three or four of his young men to tend our horses, while he fetched us milk and a sort of damper. Utterly worn out, we lay down in our sopping clothes on a comfortable litter of dry straw, and in a moment were fast asleep. How soon I know not, I was awakened by something warm and soft and wet snuggling against my cheek—it was the nose of a calf, two days old, which with its mother shared our quarters, or rather, I should say, we shared theirs, for we, not they, were the intruders.
When daylight came we were the objects of much curiosity: from the Sheik's own tent there were great whisperings and peepings of his womankind. Doubtless our dragoman, after the manner of his guild, had spent all the wealth of Eastern hyperbole in reciting our magnitudes, with which his audience must have felt that our sorry plight was hardly in harmony. With much gratitude we took leave of the good Sheik, and set out again through the pitiless rain into the wilderness. Like primitive wanderers we travelled on, trusting to luck; for many miles we rode through the desolation, without meeting a soul from whom we could gain information.
It was getting dark when once more we heard the barking of dogs, and so guided, we reached the filthiest village that it ever was my misfortune to see—Jabat el Hashab, we were told, was its name. It consisted of some forty or fifty mud huts, standing in a sea of indescribable dirt and offal; and in the middle of the village there was a huge heap of putrid carrion, carcasses of sheep, horses and cattle festering in the mud. A half-naked, ragged, sick-looking creature, who appeared to be a sort of headman among the fever-stricken inhabitants, came out of one of the huts and after some parleying with our dragoman assigned to us a lodging for the night. We should have had, perhaps, better quarters in the caves of the troglodytes. The hut into which we were shown was a sort of apology for a stable or byre. At one end were stalled our four horses; at the other end, on a mud platform about a foot high, we were to lie carpetless, blanketless. Horses fed on karoub-beans are not sweet bedfellows; they, combined with the carrion heap, which was just outside our door, not to speak of the neighing and tramping and the occasional barking of pariah dogs, made the night hideous. The smell was appalling—that, with the serried battalions of creatures by which we were attacked on all sides, murdered sleep.
The hours dragged on slowly indeed, but when at last daylight broke we felt that our troubles were over. The sun, which we had not seen for many days, rose gloriously, and we were cheered by the news that four or five hours' ride would bring us to Damascus, where we should find our baggage and cleanliness. And so, forgetting all our very real discomfort and misery, we set out in high spirits. The darkest hour which heralds the dawn was past! But when we met our men, we found that one poor fellow had died of cold and exhaustion. It had been really a terrible journey. How often in after days did I and my two travelling companions, now alas! both gone, laugh over the miseries of that foul night!
“Unpack the boxes swiftly, O dragoman! Let there be no delay! Carry fresh clothes to the Turkish bath; let us too, like Naaman the Syrian, wash and be clean.” With joy we cast off the horrible sponges which we had worn night and day for forty-eight hours. Dirty? Yes, and very densely colonized by undesirable aliens. We threw them off with glee, and gave strict orders that they should be burned—those orders were probably never obeyed; more likely were the wretched rags sold to the local representatives of the triple-hatted traders of Whitechapel. At any rate we saw them no more.
But I am treading upon dangerous ground. “Eothen” has been written these seventy years, and there is no room for any other story of travel in Syria and the Holy Land.
The British Consul at Damascus was at that time my old friend Richard Burton, the famous traveller and linguist, one of the most notable men of my time. We had become known to one another a dozen years before, when I was a clerk in the African, or as it was then called, the Slave Trade, Department of the Foreign Office. In 1861 a fight, anthropological, zoological, and biological, was raging round Du Chaillu's recently published book on equatorial Africa, and especially upon the question whether the gorilla was a reality or only a fabulous animal, like the “men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders.”
All the great lords of science, such as Sir Roderick Murchison and Sir Richard Owen—who backed Du Chaillu—were in the lists, and Burton, always eager for a fray, whether with pen or sword, was on fire to go and ascertain the truth. He was, however, a captain in the Indian army, and so long as he remained a soldier the thing was impossible; so he contrived to be appointed consul at Fernando Po, severing his connection with the authorities of the India Office, who never forgave him. Thus it was that he had to come to the Slave Trade Department of the Foreign Office to be coached up in the recent business of his consulate, and I was able to be of some little use to him in supplying him with documents and information. We became fast friends, I having the greatest admiration for him. Indeed, he was a man possessed of a great power of awakening enthusiasm. He did all that he could to persuade me to go with him to Fernando Po. There was a small office vacant there, which I could easily have obtained, but happily my father put his foot down, and I remained in Downing Street. So far as gorillas were concerned, Burton might as well have stayed behind also, for he found none. Du Chaillu, however, was able to make good all that he had said, and his story was confirmed by a French expedition in the following year.
Burton, if not a great man, was at any rate a remarkable one his personality was striking; as he strode through the streets with his crisp, staccato walk no one could help noticing him. He was not very tall, probably not more than five feet ten inches, but his frame was that of a Titan. His broad shoulders and highly-developed chest indicated strength beyond the common. Until quite his last years he always looked like an athlete in the pink of training. He was the only man that I ever knew who could fire the old-fashioned elephant-gun from the shoulder without a rest; his powers of endurance were simply marvellous, and he could drink brandy with a heroism that would have satisfied Dr. Johnson. He had a fine, picturesque head, dark hair, burning black eyes and features which would have been handsome but for the lower jaw, which was too strong for beauty, and indeed almost tigerish, with a ferocious expression belying his really kind nature. An accomplished traveller, ignorant of fear, and in linguistic achievement almost rivalling Cardinal Mezzofanti, who could preach in upwards of fifty languages and dialects.
There was an article published in Blackwood's Magazine many years ago, in which the writer proved to his satisfaction that any man who could speak three languages must of necessity be a fool. Burton gave the lie to that. Cardinal Mezzofanti, on the other hand, does not seem to have been famous for intelligence in any province save that of the polyglot. Indeed, he was said to be conspicuously stupid, and on one occasion he gave evidence of his rare knowledge and equally rare ignorance in the same breath. On making acquaintance at Venice with the Lord Meath of his day, and being told that he was an Irish nobleman, he proceeded to address him in the Erse tongue, in the full conviction that he was speaking to him in the language current in his family.
As an official Burton was a failure. He was impatient of any control, had no idea of discipline, and as for unconventionalities, he simply scattered them to the winds. Says Thomas a Kempis: “Nemo secure praeest qui non libenter subest. Nemo secure praecipit nisi qui bene obedire didicit.” Burton would never have made a good commander at that rate, but he had probably never read the “De Imitatione Christi.”
As consul at Damascus he was continually in hot water, and his wife was not the woman to make diplomatic relations easier. Her manner with the Mohammedans among whom she lived, and whom it was her business to conciliate so far as in her lay, was detestable. On one occasion I was with her and one or two others in a very sacred mosque; a pious Moslem was prostrate before the tomb of a holy saint. She did not actually strike him with her riding-whip, but she made as though she were going to do so, and insisted on the poor man making room for her to go up to the tomb. What the man muttered I knew not, but I doubt his orisons having taken the shape of blessings. I left the mosque in disgust. If actuated by no higher motive, she should have reflected upon the harm which such conduct needs must work upon her husband, to whom, to do her justice, she was entirely and most touchingly devoted. It is only fair to Burton's memory to show how heavily he was handicapped. He was not responsible for all the trouble that led to his removal a few months later from the romance of the Damascus that he loved, to the deadly dullness of the Trieste which he hated.
The day after we arrived in Damascus Burton came to breakfast. He was excellent company, as of old, full of information and good stories of adventures and stirring scenes in which truth was so richly embroidered as almost to become fiction. One had to know one's Burton, for the thing which he loved above all others was to astonish, and for the sake of that he would not hesitate to violate the virtue of the pure maiden who dwells in a well. Take him with a grain of salt, which was quite what he expected, and he was the best of boon companions.
We were dining together once at the mess of the 2nd Life Guards, the guests of their then colonel, poor Fred Marshall. The conversation turned upon feats of swordsmanship, and I happened to tell of the wonderful skill of the chief executioner at Yedo, whom the dandy young Samurai used to bribe to test their heavy swords upon the bodies of dead criminals; it was said that he could put three corpses one on the top of the other on a trestle and cut through the three in the small of the back at one blow; this I have heard solemnly averred. “Ah!” said Burton, “it has always been a matter of regret to me that I never quite succeeded in cutting a man in two. I very nearly did once. I was alone in the desert and saw that I was being pursued by three men; my horse was tired and they were gaining upon me. As the leading man came up with me I drew my sword and dealt him a furious blow on the shoulder, cutting him slantwise right down to the waist; unfortunately I did not cut through the last bit of skin, so the horse galloped off with half the man's body hanging over the saddle.”
“And what became of the other two Arabs?” somebody asked.
“Oh! they made off!” And then Burton winked at me. As for the young subalterns, it would be hard to say whether their eyes or their mouths were the more open. Burton had dared and done more almost than any man living; that, however, was not enough for him. He was compelled to invent more. But his little inventions were almost childlike in their transparent simplicity.
After breakfast Burton took me to see Lady Ellenborough. So many stories had been told about her and her strange life as the wife of an Arab chief, that I expected to see a grand and commanding figure living in a sort of tawdry barbarism, something like the Lady Hester Stanhope of “Eothen,” and Lamartine; an imposing personage, mystic, wonderful, half queen, half Sybil—Semiramis and Meg Merrilies rolled into one, ruling by the force of the eye a horde of ignoble, ragged dependants, trembling but voracious. No two people could be more unlike. I found Lady Ellenborough—Mrs. Digby, as she now called herself—living in a European house, furnished, so far, at any rate, as the rooms in which we were received were concerned, like those of an English lady; in the desert, with the tribe, she would be altogether Arab. Her tables were covered with the miniatures, knick-knacks and ornaments indigenous to Mayfair—quite out of tune with Damascus.
The owner was like her belongings; a little old-fashioned, a relic of the palmy days of Almack's; dressed in quite inconspicuous Paris fashion, and very nice to look upon, for though past seventy years of age, she had the remains of great good looks and the most beautiful and gracious old-world manners. She had been a fair beauty, but in deference to the Arabs' superstitious fear of the evil eye, her hair and eyebrows were dyed black. She was very much interested in hearing about England, and asked many questions about friends whom she had known in old days. She seemed to think that the world had stood still since she left it, for she spoke of people who, if not dead, were quite old folk, as if they were still in the heyday of blooming youth. She asked after the old Lord Clanwilliam—grandfather of the present Earl. How was he? “Wonderful,” I said, “cutting us all out skating at Highclere two or three months ago.” Lady Ellenborough looked puzzled. “But why should he not?” she asked. “Well!” I answered, “you must remember that he is past seventy years of age.” “Dear me! is it possible? That handsome young man!” Her old friends remained in her mind just as she had known them—Lady Palmerston, Lady Jersey, Lady Londonderry—still reigning beauties, queens of Almack's. It was strange to hear a delicately-nurtured English lady talking of her life in the desert with “her” tribe. She told us how, the summer before, a hostile tribe had raided them and stolen some of their mares, and how, this next summer, they must ride out to avenge the outrage and get back the lost treasures. There would be fierce fighting, she said, and she must be there to nurse the chief should anything happen to him. “In fact,” she. added, “we have one foot in the stirrup, for we must start for the desert to-morrow morning.”
We had a long talk, for she was a keen questioner, and then she insisted on taking us to an adjoining paddock to see the horses. There we were joined by her husband, Sheik Medjwal, the brother of the head of the clan Mizrab, a branch of the Anazel tribe. The Sheik was not an imposing personage—indeed, anything but one's ideal of a great lord of the desert; as a matter of fact, he was quite an ordinary, common-looking little man. Nevertheless she seemed very fond and proud of him, and evidently in this wild, nomad life between the desert and Damascus she had found a happy haven of rest after the adventures of her stormy youth. When at last she let us go she made me promise to go back to Damascus and visit her again. When, after many years, I did go back, poor Lady Ellenborough was no more. As we came away, I asked Burton whether she was safe with these people. He assured me that she was quite secure, if only for the reason that she had a few hundreds a year of her own—perhaps £1,500—and that was, of course, a fortune for the tribe, and a brevet of safety for her.
There was living at Damascus at that time one man whom, above all others, I was eager to see, and that man was the great Emir Abd el Kader. Burton, who knew him well, was able to introduce me to him. Probably to the present generation his name is hardly known; but in my boyhood the Arab chieftain, who from 1832 to 1847 resisted army after army of the French, was as famous as Saladin himself. Fearless as the steel of his own scimitar, the soul of honour, with all the glamour and mystery of the East wedded to the chivalry of the West. What a portrait would Sir Walter Scott have painted of him!
In the early years of the nineteenth century Algiers was a nest of pirates, the terror of the Mediterranean. When the French remonstrated in defence of their coral fishers, who were in continual danger of being robbed, murdered, or sold as slaves, the Dey haughtily refused to receive their message, and even went so far as to strike their Consul. He had to pay the penalty. But when at last the victorious French were masters of Algiers, their work was but half accomplished. The Dey was beaten—the pirate-ships were taken or destroyed—yet in the interior, in the immeasurable desert, the wild Arab tribes were gathering to defend their liberties and independence which they saw threatened by the presence of the Giaour on their coast. For centuries they had been under the yoke first of the Romans, then of the Turks. The Ottoman power was now broken, and they would be no slaves to the hated infidel. The moment for gaining freedom had come.
There was one man in Mascara, Sidi Muhijeddin, who by his ancient lineage, his valour and his piety was indicated as the supreme commander. To him the united tribes addressed themselves, praying him to raise his standard as their leader. He, being then in his seventieth year, pleaded old age, which would unfit him for the struggle. But he added that his third son, a youth of twenty-five, would be the most fitting man for the supreme command. This was Abd el Kader, who, young as he was, had already earned a reputation for learning, sound judgment and piety, and to his hands the tribes entrusted their cause. They could not have chosen better, though the ultimate issue was hardly doubtful.
Abd el Kader was born in 1807 and was educated by his father whose position at the head of a priestly family of princely rank was of the highest. In very early life the young man had been forced to take refuge in Egypt from the jealousy of the Bey of Algiers, and this led to his undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca which gave him the prestige of the holy title of Hadji. He was but a youngster when, on his return to his father's house, he was called upon to face the gigantic task of organizing the wild children of the desert. It must have needed no small measure of tact and firmness to compose the jealousies of the rival chiefs over whom he had to play the king; but he had a strong grip, and he succeeded so well that for fifteen years he led his undisciplined hordes against army after army, General after General, that the French Government sent out in the vain attempt to sweep them off the face of the earth. At first Abd el Kader had but some four hundred horsemen under his command, but by degrees his patriotism, his chivalrous valour, and the religious fervour of the Hadji, brought recruits in hundreds to his standard and he was soon at the head of a mighty army.
Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost; his first great reverse was in 1837, when he was defeated by Marshal Bugeaud (whose fame, so long as there is a bugler left in France, will be trumpeted in “La Casquette du Pere Bugeaud”) at the river Taafra; but nobody knew better than Bugeaud himself that this was no decisive defeat and so he concluded a treaty with the Arab chief which Vallee, the Governor-General of Algiers, promptly took occasion to violate in a specially insulting manner. Once more Abd el Kader drew his sword and the result was continuous warfare and harassing of the French which lasted for another ten years, until at last in 1847 Abd el Kader, whose power had been much weakened and who was in Morocco, where the Sultan turned against him, surrendered to General Lamoriciere, and there was comparative peace in the land, though Pelissier and St. Arnaud were never allowed to be idle.
Abd el Kader was sent to France as a prisoner of war. I never saw him there; but I can well remember a picturesque group of his captains, dressed in their long white burnouses, with the camel's hair fastening to their flowing white head-dresses, riding in haughty unconcern and thinking the unfathomable thoughts of Orientals, in the Place de la Concorde.
Abd el Kader was sent to France, where he lived, of course, as a prisoner, but treated with the greatest consideration, until in 1852 Louis Napoleon very generously gave him his liberty with an allowance of £4,000 a year. He took up his residence first at Broussa and then at Damascus, where during the Christian massacres of 1860 he played a noble part, doing all that was in his power to protect the wretched Maronites. Many a night he slept on the threshold of his house door with his drawn scimitar by his side, that he, holy Hadji as he was, might be ready to give succour and refuge to any hunted infidel who might pass that way.
For his services in those troublous times the French Emperor sent him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour; right well had he earned it.
One more trait of the generous old hero's character. When France at the end of 1870 was bleeding at every pore, the Arabs thought that their opportunity had come for a rising in Algiers. It was said that Abd el Kader's son and his people were brewing trouble. This roused the old man's wrath; he sent a fierce message to his son, in which he said that in his youth he had resisted the French with all his might for many years. For nearly a quarter of a century now he had been at peace with them, and they had treated him as a friend. He would disown any son of his who might take a mean advantage of their trouble and break the honourable peace which he had concluded.
Spurred by memories of childhood and early youth, I was keen—mad-keen—to see that wonderful warrior, a sort of Oriental Garibaldi whose life had been one long romance. We were admitted at rather a shabby entrance door with nothing to distinguish it from those of the neighbouring houses—a dark passage led us into one of those delightful courtyards which are the chief fascination of an Eastern gentleman's dwelling. A marble verandah, with oleanders in huge tubs placed here and there—in the open space the music of a plashing fountain.
In this sunlit court the great Emir received us. He was then a man of sixty-four years. He was dressed in a white robe in the old Arab fashion, with the cord of camel's hair tied round his head-dress. His beard was shaved and dyed to resemble that of a young man, his eyebrows were blackened, and his cheeks were slightly rouged. Before him stood one of those X-shaped book-rests inlaid with mother of pearl with which Liberty has made us all familiar, and on it rested a scroll in the study of which he was deeply engrossed. It was a book on MAGIC! Wonderful still are the ways of the East.
The Emir was not a tall man, not more than five feet seven inches or five feet eight inches, as I should judge, in height. In his youth he must have been singularly handsome, and indeed that was his reputation. Now in his old age, and in spite of the little sacrifices to vanity of which I have spoken, he had that rare look of distinction and race which is perhaps never seen so conspicuously as in the highest type of Oriental beauty. His was the figure and expression of a king of men; such must have been the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the judges, the kings of Bible story. His reception of us was the very poetry of good manners.
Burton had much conversation with him, for they were good friends. As for me, after exchanging a few commonplace civilities, Burton interpreting, I was content to watch and think, and throw my mind back many years and across the seas to the desert, drawing pictures of the great gathering of its children rallying round the standard of the glorious youth who was to lead them in their vain but noble struggle for faith, independence, and country. Presently our host, who, as a solitary, was eager for news, began to question me about European affairs, and more especially about France, which at that moment was in a state of chaos more terrible than at any other period of the great war. He spoke of his former foes with that generous sympathy and admiration which we might have expected from his chivalrous nature. He even talked of gratitude.
In the middle of our conversation he clapped his hands and an attendant appeared, bearing, not as I should have expected, shibouques and coffee—but a cup of fragrant tea; such tea as is drunk in Russia and in China—never in England.
When we took our leave he thanked us for our visit, which he courteously said had given him great pleasure; and indeed I think it may have done; for his questions showed a considerable grip of politics and of the convulsion by which the world was being stirred. When he spoke of the war, his eye blazed with the fire of battle, and I could not but feel how dearly even then he would have loved to lead a charge of his white-cloaked warriors against the Prussian Uhlans. He and his sword belonged to the past, his mind was shaped in a mould which the nineteenth century has shivered to atoms and thrown away.
I had heard much of Abd el Kader, as I have related elsewhere, from the Duc d'Aumale, that gayest of soldiers and raconteurs, who was never weary of speaking of him with admiration. I could now fully appreciate the sympathy of the European conqueror for his fallen Eastern foe; the Duc d'Aumale, who to his finger-tips felt the poetry of the bivouac fire and the rousing crackle of the trumpet, saw in the great Emir the highest expression of that patriotic spirit of which he himself gave so royal an example.
Damascus, “the eye of the East,” as Julian the apostate called it, could never have looked more beautiful than it did on that day when Burton led me through the old city and took me to see one or two of its famous interiors. The great trees draped and garlanded with climbing roses, the perfumed groves of oranges and citrons and flowering shrubs, the sparkle of the sweet waters dancing in the rays of a delicious sunshine, banished the dreary memories of sleet and snow and biting winds. It was indeed a garden city. We went to call upon a friend of Burton's, one Abdullah Bey, who lived in an ancient house which in its palmy days must have represented all the luxury of the Oriental magnate, a set scene for a story like that of the three ladies of Bagdad. Haroun Al Raschid, with his Vizier Giafar, and Mesrour the chief of the Eunuchs, must have knocked at just such a door on that most famous of their nightly rounds.
I half expected to find the one-eyed calenders seated in the court-yard with our host, recounting their strange adventures amid the orange and citron trees heavily scented and the oleanders not yet in bloom. The pavement was of marble, the finest Persian tiles set in mosaic decorated the walls, rugs, any one of which would be a treasure to a museum, were strewn under the arcade of pure white marble, and of course there was the gentle tinkling rhythm of a fountain. It was all lovely, luxurious; the almost too voluptuous atmosphere of Eastern magnificence—but alas! all decaying for the lack of a little care and a few piastres' worth of cement! It seems to be against the nature of the Turk to repair or even to maintain. Kismet explains all—where the Turk is there is decay. The fatalist says, “It is decreed,” and is content.
Those were delightful days that I spent with Burton in Damascus; there never was such another cicerone. We used to wander through the city penetrating into all sorts of nooks and hidden places unexplored by tourists; sometimes he would take me to visit some Turkish or Arab friend of his, giving me a glimpse of that Oriental life to which only such men as himself, versed in all the mysteries of faith and manners, have access. In these he, the man who had accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca, was of course past master, and the light that he could throw upon matters which are riddles to most men, even to old residents among Moslem peoples, was a revelation.
It was when talking upon such subjects that he was at his best. It was upon his knowledge of ritual and ceremonial that he chiefly relied for the success of his venturesome pilgrimage. There are so many nations professing Mohammedanism that an imperfection in language or accent might be of small account. But the slightest error in ritual would have led to immediate detection and death. One such occasion did occur. He was detected, but it was not he that was killed. I asked him whether the story was true; his answer was: “Well! they do say the man died.” But then Burton would delight in making people believe that he had committed a murder. If the tale was true it was a case of his life or that of the spy. So he was perhaps justified.
One morning he came to me with a roll of MSS. under his arm. “There,” he said, “you shall have the first sight of this.” It was the first two or three chapters of his translation of the “Arabian Nights.” He assured me that he had shown the translation to nobody. Privately printed, it brought him in ten thousand pounds.
During several years after he was appointed to Trieste I saw him but seldom, and only from time to time when he came home on leave. But in 1890 I spent part of the winter in Algiers, and found myself in the same hotel with him in Mustapha Superieur. He was then sadly broken in health, having had some sort of stroke which made it difficult for him to walk; but he used to hold a kind of Court every evening in the hall of the hotel, surrounded by a number of visitors upon whom he could lavish some of his most amazing tales.
There were times when he and I would be alone together, and then he talked a great deal about his future prospects and consulted me as to sending in his resignation and taking his pension. He harped upon this over and over again.
At last one day he brought me a sealed packet, put it into my hands and said: “There! you were the first man to whom nineteen years ago I showed the ‘Arabian Nights;’ now you must look at this; no one else has seen it; keep it under lock and key till you give it back to me.” I took it upstairs. It was the much talked of “Scented Garden” which Lady Burton afterwards at his death destroyed. I gave it back to him the next day. “What do you think of it?” he asked. “Well, my dear Burton, if you really mean to print that, I should advise you to wait till you have resigned and secured your pension.” Burton was delighted with the answer. “Yes,” he said, with conscious pride, “I think I have shocked Mrs. Grundy this time.”
It was the old story! Always the uncontrollable desire to startle and to shock! There is, or used to be, a club in Paris called “Les fipatants.” What a fitting president of such a club Burton would have made! To épater was meat and drink to him.
After that winter in Algiers I never saw Burton again. He died a few months afterwards and was buried at Mortlake; where with my friend, Mr. Edmund Gosse, I visited his tomb last year. He lies buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery, and his monument is in the shape of an Arab tent which was raised to his memory by his friends. His wife is buried beside him.
It is difficult to give an estimate of Burton's character; it was a network of contradictions; even physically, with the torso of a Hercules and the hands of a young girl, he was a contradiction. Much that he wrote should never have been written; there is no need to specify; at the same time I believe, having good warranty for the belief, that his life was morally without stain; he was a model husband, and his wife adored him; he would proclaim himself an Agnostic, and he died in the odour of sanctity under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church, the confession to which his wife belonged; he wished to be considered a savage, and he was one of the most tender-hearted of men. He was kindness itself, and to his friends loving, faithful and generous in good service; but how angry he would have been if one of those friends had dared to accuse him of amiability! They would have been pulling down the whole structure which he had been at such pains to build up—they would have been frustrating his lifelong endeavours to prove himself beyond the pale. Only with those who did not know him did he succeed in keeping up the imposture.
In spite of his marvellous talents and knowledge he did not achieve a literary success; nobody could say that Burton was not a scholar in many tongues; yet strange to say, his books lacked the quality of scholarship and his English was poor. His talk, on the other hand, infinitely superior to his writing, was learned, various and good to listen to. He was an amazing companion. Of all his many books, only the translation of the “Arabian Nights” achieved fame and brought in money. For that there were adequate if not altogether blameless reasons. As a human document the book will live.
Mi querido Amigo—Eccomi qua. Having done my duty a trifle too well, the govrmt has thought proper to recall me. I mention this to you as you are one of my oldest & best friends, but pray don't think that I have any grievance or that you are going to be bored about it.
When shall I see you? I have dropped as it were from the clouds & find all London abroad.
With profound salaams to my Lady, I am ev.
R. F. Burton
Mon cher ami
I have received two notes from you, 20 & 24. Please direct to Athenaeum not 14 St. James. I walked on Sunday with old Hodgson—as jolly as ever, we called at North […]. Where can Swinburne be? Even Mrs. Thompson does not know.
My story is too long to tell you in a note. When my wife arrives (5th or 6th approx.) I shall do it all up in form of print, so that you can run your eye over it at once. Many thanks for all your kindness. On the 28th inst. I must run down for a few days to see my sister, returning here on the 2d. I hope that all your family flourishes. Have you any news of Fred. Hankey?
Troja find indeed. Ev yrs sincy.
P.S. I shall continue to address you Fryston.
Swinburne has just walked in looks well.
Dear Lady Houghton
We are again here with Ld & Lady Brounslow who are very kind to us. Lady Marian is not here yet. There is a large party eating tonight but I don’t know who. I recvd your kind letter & I am very much distressed abt Ld Houghton’s illness. Do write us a line to tell us if there is no relief in the painful symptoms he has to endure. How kind & feeling of him to have thought of Richd in his sufferings.
We much need and appreciate sympathy. I have not put my trust in Princes tell him. When he is better I want to show him R’s case—he had my letter of it with him at Bretton. The Porte asked for Richard’s recall but in this way. Rashid Pasha the then Wali of Syria wrote to his master Aali Pasha that Richd was so unpopular with the Moslems that he could not answer for his life. Aali Pasha wrote this to Ld Granville who recalled him. It was his last act. He died & it was then discovered that Rashid Pasha was an infamous man & he was dismissed with […] never to be re-employed & not even allowed to remain till the new Wali arrived. The Moslems by fifty letters which Ld Granville has seen & by public prayer in the Mosque praying for Richd & cursing the Wali & the British Govt. who recalled their shepherd & their master (R) proved what a lie had been forged to get rid of Richd. Aali Pasha’s death happened too late by a month to save Richd & our Foreign Office is not Gentleman enough to say “you were recalled under a mistake & may return” but Richd is offered Para 750 a year & yellow fever. Perhaps tomorrow he may be offered the Fiji Islands. May Allah burn their houses &c &c. Ld Granville has written that now they don’t recall Richd because he was unpopular but because they want to economize the Consulate of Damascus. What ought to be done is this. Some friend shd write to the present Grand Vizier & say that having done so gross an injury to an English officer who was loyally doing his duty, to his own & the Sultan’s Govt which R did & that the Wali who applied for that recall being found unworthy of his post, it wd be quite in accordance with all their honourable & upright changes to retract that recall & to inform Ld Granville that the Porte had been misinformed respecting Capt. Burton. It wd be a noble act & one that the present Grand Vizier could well afford but Sir H. Elliot is a weak man & it must be through some friend who will have the pluck to see R. righted. This wd be a very popular act in […] for Turkey too. He then ought to be sent back as Consul General to Syria & […] to show that he is under no disgrace.
The present Consul General is a very bad man his Russian wife is the paid spy of Gen […] at Constantinople. His 3 Dragomen are 1st a thief kicked out of the Imperial Ottoman Bank for stealing 2dly a gentleman who is light fingered in the Post Office, & thirdly a member of the most disreputable family of intriguers in the Levant. To these gentlemen Mr. Eldridge entrusts the management of British interests in Syria whilst he eats, drinks, draws his pay, plays with his barometers, neglects his work, & employs his leisure hours in ruining hardworking honest men like Richd. Through Hammond he has just got 150 £ more, & his thief Dragoman appointed & salaried by F. O. Damascus is now in his power where he has placed a creature of his now a most contemptible little Levantine. I can go on for hours but fear to tire you.
God help us I don’t exactly know what will become of us but I hope Providence will interfere in our behalf some way or other. We are quite dependent on the interest of our friends & I must say everyone is so kind. All society & the public too are on our side & Syria is crying shame. It will do Syria so much harm. They thought the British Govt so just & now they are saying it is better to be a Turk for they have never seen Richd committing a fault & know he is crushed for not allowing injustices. The people of Syria have behaved so well. Their respect & sympathy & indignation was just one voice from the whole nation.
dear Lady Houghton
Nov 14 1871
My first sight of Captain Burton revealed not only the man in his complex character, but supplied the key to the perplexing vicissitudes of his extraordinary career.
In his arrival in Damascus, Burton called at my house. My study adjoined the drawing room, into which he was shown by a native servant. I heard him command the Arab to fetch me, in harsh, peremptory tones, which were meant to be obeyed. The servant, not thinking that I was in the study, went to seek me elsewhere, advanced, in noiseless Damascus slippers, to the drawing room door, and I came upon a scene never to be forgotten. At one side of the room stood my curly headed, rosy cheeked little boy of five; on the other side stood Burton. The two were staring at each other. Neither was aware of my presence. Burton had twisted his face into the most fiend-like aspect. His eyes rolled, exposing the whites in an alarming manner. The features were drawn to one side, so as to make the gashes on his jaw and brow appear more ghastly. The two cheeks were blown out, and Burton, raising a pocket-handkerchief to his left cheek, struck his right with the fist of his right hand, thus producing an explosion, and making the pocket-handkerchief fly to the left as if he had shot it through his two cheeks.
The explosion was followed by a suppressed howl, something between the bark of a hyena and a jackal. All the time Burton glared on the little fellow with the fiery eyes of a basilisk, and the child stood riveted to the floor as if spell-bound and fascinated, like a creature about to be devoured. Suddenly a very wonderful thing happened. The little boy, with a wild shout of delight, sprang into the monster's arms, and the black beard was instantly mingled with the fair curls, and Burton was planting kisses all over the flaxen pate. The whole pantomime was gone through as quick as lightning, and Burton, disentangling himself, caught sight of my Arab returning without me and, instead of waiting for an explanation, hurled at him a volley of exasperating epithets, culled from the rich stores of spicy and stinging words which garnish Arabic literature. Burton had revealed himself to me fully before he saw me. The child's clear, keen instinct did not mislead it. The big, rough monster had a big child's heart behind the hideous grimaces. The child's unerring instinct was drawn by affinity to the child's heart in the man.
Burton was sound at heart. The more I saw him alone the better I liked him. At Damascus he was truly “a brave, strong man in a blatant land.” When you got down through the crusts, you found a fearless and honest friend.
But Burton was given to pantomime. He was always saying things to frighten old women of both sexes, and to make servant-maids stare. He took great delight in shaking goody people, and in effecting his purpose he gave free rein to his imagination. People who knew Burton partially, from meeting him at public dinners or in clubs, have generally a number of gruesome stories to retail about his cruelty and immorality. They often say truly that Burton told the horrible stories against himself. I have no doubt he did, just he represented himself in the guise of a monster to my little boy. At the same time I am certain that Burton was incapable of either monstrous cruelty or gross immorality. I go farther, and state it as my firm conviction that Burton was constitutionally and habitually both humane and moral. I knew Burton well, in sickness, in trouble, in disappointment, in his home, in the saddle under fire, and the presence of almost ever condition of savage life, and I have noticed that acts of cruelty and immorality always drove him into a white heat of passion. A young English lady had been treated rudely at Damascus by a Persian, and when Burton failed in securing official redress, was in dread for months that he would with his own hand kill the ruffian if he met him. The scoundrel, however, met his fate at other hands. Shielding the weak from cruelty and protecting the poor from oppression, constituted Captain Burtons chief work at Damascus. Noticing the difference between Burton's real character and that for which he got credit in many quarters, I often asked him how certain specific stories had originated. It was interesting to see how the legends had grown. Some of them had been told of old Castilian Hidalgos and “British sea dogs” before Burton's grandfather was born. Others were founded on facts, but they had received so many artistic touches at camp fires and in mess-rooms that incidents innocent in themselves had grown to monstrous dimensions. From observation and much inquiry I have long come to the conclusion that the wild stories in circulation about Burton are bogeys, partly borrowed and partly invented—mere adaptations and travellers' yarns to shock and stun and create a little boisterous fun.
The impatience with which Burton treated my servant revealed a characteristic that had much to do with his career. “Genius is patience” said Sir Isaac Newton. If this definition be correct, Burton must have lacked genius. “The Prime Minister's secret is patience,” said Pitt. If Pitt be right, Burton had no chance of ever finding his way to the Premiership, for he never learned the secret. I think Burton was not without genius. He was certainly a very clever man, but he could not put up with stupidity in others. I am afraid he sometimes delighted to stick pins in Government officials who mistook the region of the world in which he was located, or who failed to apprehend the facts communicated in his last despatch. I am afraid he never got sufficiently into diplomatic training as to overlook the weaknesses of his immediate superiors, and hence the higher rounds of the diplomatic ladder were not to be trodden by his feet. He was shuttle-cocked about from one pestiferous region to another till at last the Foreign Office, in a lucid moment, sent the Oriental enthusiast to Damascus.
At Damascus Burton began a new chapter, but he was not permitted to start with a clean page. Two incidents in his previous record foreshadowed him, and hampered him in his efforts to make the best of his new consulate. He had offended the religious susceptibilities of both Mohammedans and Christians, and he found himself confronted with bitter, unreasoning prejudice.
It is a question how far Burton's Oriental disguise concealed the Englishman in his pilgrimage to Mecca. I never conversed with a Muhammedan who had accompanied Burton on that Journey, but I have seen Arabs who saw Palgrave on his way to Nejed, and his attempts to pose as a native were a constant source of amusement to all with whom he came in contact. Burton's Oriental cast of face helped him when putting on the outward appearance of a Bedawi, but at no period of his life could he have passed for an Arab one second after he began to speak. On the pilgrimage to Mecca, Burton would be known as a devout British Mohammedan just as easily as we recognise an Arab convert on a missionary platform, notwithstanding the efforts of the schoolmaster and the tailor to transform him into an Englishman. And as a perverted Englishman, Burton would be as welcome in the Hajj as a converted Arab would be in Exeter Hall.
Thus far the matter was plain and simple and en regle; but when Burton published his narrative it appeared to Muhammedan ears as a tale of deception, and even a Mohammedan does not like to see the rites of his religions travestied. Besides, in addition to Burton's canonical version of his pilgrimage, there was an apocryphal tale of the murder of a true believer who had found Burton out. This was one of those mess-room tales that had grown from some small beginning to great dimensions, and while it helped the book by making it appear that Burton's disguise was effective, except to one lynx-eyed man, it marked him out as a man-slayer whose life, by Oriental law, was forfeited. To the pious Damascene Burton at first appeared as a Christian who had made the great crowning act of Muhammedan devotion under false pretenses, and had shed Muhammedan blood in the execution of his deception. The new Consul at first appeared to Damascenes as a traitor and a murderer, but it was understood that he was able to give assurances satisfactory to Islam. How the reconciliation took place I know not, but it is certain that Burton became a favourite with orthodox Muslims at Damascus.
Burton's quarrel with missionaries was also an open sore. I do not know the full merits of the original strife, but I believe it was a somewhat mixed affair. Certain benevolent gentlemen have always had a tendency to do proxy beneficence as cheaply as possible. In picking up missionaries they have sometimes been guided more by the price than the quality. Burton, it seems, came upon some of these job-lots, and fond them jobbing, as was to be expected, and, with his usual impatience, “went for them.” Then a great uproar ensued, in which the original cause was lost sight of, and Burton received the stamp of an anti-missionary Consul. The consular dog had got a bad name, and that was enough for some.
When it became known that Burton was destined for Damascus there was a kind of panic among the missionaries of Syria, and active steps were taken to prevent the appointment being carried out. The Damascus missionaries held aloof from the organised opposition. The moral character of some of Burton's immediate Christian predecessors had not been of a sort to reflect much credit on Christian missionaries, or even on British subjects; and from the missionary point of view it seemed that a moral Consul who grade no religious professions might, on the whole, prove as satisfactory as an immoral one who read the service to English travellers on Sundays. Besides, it was known to be the constant aim of the Damascus missionaries to steer clear of all diplomatic interference, and to keep the consular finger out of their pie. They gave Burton a cordial welcome as their Consul, but they also gave him clearly to understand that any action of his, friendly or unfriendly, bearing on their work, would be regarded by them as an impertinent and unfriendly act.
Burton appreciated their kindness, and frankly accepted their conditions, and missionaries and Consul maintained the most cordial relations, and it was understood that the whole missionary body at Damascus deeply regretted Burton's recall. One fact regarding this agreement may be noticed. The restless and energetic Burton maintained the compact in the spirit, but broke it in the letter. He visited all the mission schools in the most gracious manner, examined the children thoroughly, and afterwards made some valuable suggestions to the missionaries as to the perfecting of their educational organisations. He ever after spoke of the teachers and the schools with great cordiality and unstinted praise.
The other missionaries of Syria, with solitary exceptions, maintained their attitude of hostility to Burton, and never lost an opportunity of speaking against him, and some of them not only embellished old stories to his discredit, but invented new ones, furor ministrat sans, to prove his deep-seated hostility to the missionary cause. Many influential travellers pass yearly through Syria, deeply interested in the splendid educational and religious efforts that are being made to elevate that land. Everywhere they heard of the anti-Christian Consul, and the constant drip made a deep impression. Almost the only honest and praiseworthy efforts being made to lift the Holy Land out of the slough of Oriental degradation stood to the credit of the missionaries, and it was intolerable that their efforts should be thwarted by a British Consul.
Burton might, by patience and well-doing, have worn down and outlived the hostility of these missionaries, but he had the misfortune to come into sharp conflict with the Jews, and he had thus on his flank an active, persistent, and powerful enemy. It would be interesting to narrate how a number of Russian and other Jews at Damascus became British subjects, but the by-paths and crooked ways would be too long and intricate for our space. Burton found himself the official head and protector of a colony of British Jews. Some of these were men of great wealth and affluence, and it was well known that the official virtue of helping them was seldom left to be its own reward.
Burton, though always posing as an Oriental, thought fit to hew Oriental prejudice against the grain. He might have seen his beautiful wife flashing in brilliants, roped in pearls, and riding the best blood Arab of the desert; but he threw away all these tokens of appreciation in obedience to an occidental prepossession in favour of common honesty.
Burton found that his Jews were living by usury. Some of them were known to charge as little as 30 per cent., but rates ran up to 60, or more. “His mouth is full of water and he cannot bark” is a common Arab proverb, but Burton had nothing in his mouth, and he barked ferociously. His official duty was to urge the recognition of British claims, and insist on their being paid. That was the form that “law and order” took at Damascus. What did it matter if the people were starving! At the word of the Consul a band of Bashi-Bazouks would swoop down on the defaulting villagers, eat their food, lie in their beds, insult their wives and daughters, until the usurer was satisfied. Should the villagers be unable to pay they were not only evicted, but driven like cattle to prison, there to rot till they had paid the uttermost farthing. Burton did not like the business. He grew fierce, declared in the strongest language at his command that he would not be “Bumbailiff” in such transactions. I am inclined to think that in this case, as in most others, Burton's impatience led him into doing the right thing in the wrong way. He was indignant, his blood was up, and on being asked gently what was the use of a Consul at Damascus if he did not enforce British claims, he lost the composure befitting the diplomatic service.
The storm broke. The Alliance Israelite took up the case of “poor Israel.” Noble, and humane, and generous Jews in England ranged themselves on the side of “their persecuted brethren.” Some of them would have been more fierce than Burton had they known the truth. Correspondence followed and the archives of the Foreign Office now contain Burton's splendid vindication, which may some day see the light. The battle was drawn, and a truce followed, but a simple incident misunderstood soon gave occasion for Burton's recall. His immediate superiors found out the truth, but too late for his return to his dearly-loved Damascus.
Recollections of Burton in Damascus.
The publication of Lady Burton's reminiscences of her husband brought the personality of the translator of the "Arabian Nights" into so much prominence that during a stay in Damascus I resolved to inquire in what manner he lived in the memory of the Damascenes, with a view, if possible, of throwing a little fresh light upon so strange a character. Those who knew him have grey hair now, but their memories are still fresh concerning him, and they are glad to speak about his words and acts. Few things have changed in Damascus since the time when Burton lived there, more than twenty years ago. There is the same labyrinth of narrow alleys, the same yellow mud houses, the same hustling and shouting in the close and narrow bazaars, the same hustling and shouting in the close and narrow bazaars, the same rude native industries, which have existed since the time of Haroun-al-Rashid and long before, the same constant sunlight, and the same eternal view of Hermon from the housetops.
Burton, unlike other consuls, chose a house at Salahiyeh, on the outskirts of the city. Like so many Bedouins, who refuse to dwell within the walls, he could not live in the enervating atmosphere of the overcrowded capital. He loved exercise, without which he could not work, and every day during the winter months he performed the distance between his suburban dwelling and Damascus on foot, carrying as a walking-stick a thick staff through which ran an iron rod—a staff which is still the wonder and admiration of the natives. No man has ever known so well as Burton how to improve the Oriental mind, for he was able to assume any character at will, and to perform feats of daring, of intellect, or of physical strength which kept them, during his two years residence, in perpetual wonder. The had never heard before or since of a Frangi Consul who had been to Mecca and was a hadji, who could sup sumptuously one day, and on the next start before daybreak for a long journey with no other food than bread and figs, who could wield a stick which an ordinary man could scarcely lift, and be as outspoken in his speech as if he ruled the land. But Burton was an accomplished actor, and one of his favourite amusements was to watch the effects of his acting upon others, and especially upon Orientals. He is said by many people to have performed the journey between Damascus and his summer residence at Bloudan in two hours and a half, but I am at a loss to understand such a performance. This distance is about thirty miles, and the road is the stoniest I have ever seen. With a good horse, and no pauses to admire the romantic scenery, it is possible to reach Bloudan in five hours. Burton’s horse must therefore be suspected of flying propensities.
Gangrene in the Toes
An effendi with whom he had much intercourse said to me: “One day I met Captain Burton on the Salahiyeh road mounted on a donkey. After a little conversation he told me that he was suffering from gangrene in his toes, and he showed me one of his feet encased in a cloth slipper. I said to him, ‘But why do you travel in such a state?’ ‘Is it not the Wali’s reception day?’ he answered; ‘and must I not pay him my visit like the rest?’ ‘But your toes, sir!’ I exclaimed. He only laughed and said, ‘I do not ride with them.’ I head afterwards that when the Wali saw him he was astonished that a man in such a condition should be anywhere but in his house. Then the Captain pulled off his stocking and showed his foot, but the Wali’s astonishment was complete when he told him that he was going on to Jerusalem that day!”
“On another occasion I remember,” continued the effendi, “Captain Burton went to pay a visit to the Shayk-al-Milawiyeh, and when he entered the anteroom he found a man seated, who did not rise in his honour. ‘What does this mean?’ he said to the Shayk, who was coming out to meet him. ‘Am I not the English Consul? Why then does not this man rise? It is an insult to the Queen I represent, and I must have redress.’ The Shayk, seeing the turn matters were taking, explained to the visitor that the captain was a Consul to whom respect was due, whereupon he rose and made a salutation. But Captain Burton declared he was not satisfied, and drew from his pocket his Meccan certificate, which declared that Adb-Allah (the name under which he made the pilgrimage) had been to the holy city and performed the prayers. He handed this to the man and bade him read it. ‘But,’ said the man, ‘I see by this that you are Adb-Allah-al-Hadj, and yet you say you are the English Consul.’ Then the captain roared in his deep, hoarse voice, ‘I am both.’
“One thing about him, however, I could never understand was his habit of dyeing his hair with henna, which gave it a reddish colour displeasing to the eye; but Captain Burton was so strange that one ceased to try to understand his ways. He was very fond of bear-hunting, and his great desire was to kill his bears with a spear, which he considered much better sport than shooting. He was absolutely without fear, and I have known him to go out alone, at all hours, on the least safe of roads, armed only with his big stick. He generally went to bed late and rose early, and I remember once when he had been busy all the night with his official dispatches, he quietly set out on foot at dawn for Beyrout.
“He was so strong a man,” said another Damascene to me, “that where he placed his heel a well might spring! His will, sir, was stronger than the will of Napoleon, and if he had wished to rule a tribe, or be the elder of a village, the people would have gladly chosen him.”
An old blind man, who was seated in the doorway of a mosque at Salahiyeh hill in a wooden door covered with many-shaped pieces of tin arranged regardless of any order. On one of them the following inscription, upside down, may still be read:—“Captain Burton, HMS Consul, Damascus, Papyania, Laconia, via Liverpool.” It is difficult to know, however, whether this stray box cover was nailed there in remembrance of Burton, or from purely utilitarian motives. The present inhabitants of the house are unable to give any information on the subject.
But the man who knew Richard Burton best was his favourite kawass, Hadj-Ali-Aga. Hearing that he was still alive, I sent a messenger to him to request him to come to my house that evening after his duties were ended at the Armenian Patriarchate, where he is now serving. He arrived an hour after sunset, and I saw before me a tall man with a long, somewhat parched face, and a black beard. He was dressed in the uniform of a kawass. I caused him to be provided with coffee and a nargileh, and then began to speak with him of Burton.
“You were very young in Captain Burton’s time,” I said, judging by the blackness of his beard.
“Effendi,” he replied, “I was nearly forty-five, I think: but age does not tell on me, and I am as strong now as thirty years ago. I am the father of thirty children, half of whom are dead, and my wife has just borne twins to me.” Seeing my surprise, he added, “In sha Allah (if it please God) you will be like me.” I noticed then that his voice was older than his looks, and concluded that the blackness of his beard was not the hue of nature.
“Captain Burton,” he said, “was the boldest man I ever knew. I have lived with him, travelled with him, and slept in his tent. During his stay in Damascus I served him constantly, and once by his order I pulled his ankle straight. I have never seen his equal. One day I was travelling with him and we were overtaken by a band of three hundred horsemen who were wandering about in search of booty.”
Veins Like Cucumbers
“’What shall we do?’ I asked the captain”.
“’Attack them all at once,’ he replied.”
“’But they are three hundred and we are only two.’ Then as they were advancing to attack, he said: ‘You are right, Ali; we would not have much chance. Go up to them at once and tell them that I am the English Consul, and that if they do not come and kiss the hem of my coat a dreadful retribution will follow.’”
“The men were impressed by his words and dignity, for the veins of his neck were as large as cucumbers, and they did as he desired.” It was a great enjoyment for me to listen to this man’s talk in the expressive language of the people, and to watch the many gestures with which he accompanied his words. Each time he paused I encouraged him by word and look.
“I was with him,” he continued, “at Nazareth, where his tent was stoned by fanatics. He ordered the kawasses to retaliate, which we did with vigour, receiving several wounds. Hanna Aga, a dragoman at the consulate, and a man against whom the Government had a grudge, took a leading part in the discussion which followed, and when Captain Burton returned to Damascus he allowed the kawasses, headed by him, to appeal for indemnity. But the Wali, Rashid Basha, hated Hanna Aga, and he wrote a letter to the Captain in which he said that he would give one thousand Turkish pounds to the kawasses if he (the Captain), would cease sending Hanna Aga to importune him. It happened that this dragoman was then absent in his village, and so the Captain sent me there to bring him back. When I had done so, he immediately took him to the wall, saying: ‘This is my man and I refuse to dismiss him from his post’”.
This little story, if accurate, was significant of the way in which Burton loved to oppose the Turkish power. The Turk, indeed, seems to have afforded him a perpetual target at which to level sarcasms, if not insults. He treated him in a way which was only possible in those days when a Consul was almost as great in personage as a Wali. But my good Ali had been so much in earnest in his narrative that he had not noticed that his nargileh had gone out. I therefore clapped my hands an ordered my servant to bring fresh embers. Then he continued:—
Why Didn’t You Kill That Dog?
“Captain Burton wished for an office in the Seraya, and he succeeded in finding a room in an almost ruined house, which he began to repair. While the workmen were engaged upon the work, however, it was announced that the Crown Prince of Prussia was about to visit the city, and Mustafa Bey was deputed to prepare his reception. He ordered the streets to be closed for several days previously, so that they might be swept (a rare occurrence in Damascus) and decorated. As Captain Burton’s house was on the line of the procession, Mustafa Bey sent to inform him that his men must leave their work until the Prince’s visit was over. But, effendi, do you think Captain heeded Mustafa Bey? If so, you do not know him. He ordered the men to continue and sent to tell the Bey that he undertook to finish the work in time. But Mustafa Bey was as obstinate as Captain Burton, and he sent many messengers in vain to order the Captain to stop. At length he came himself, and had a violent dispute with the consul. He said, ‘You are breaking the law,’ and pushed him roughly. When I saw this, I came up and struck Mustafa Bey with my whip. He called the soldiers, and ordered them to seize me, but by this time I had picked up one of the workmen’s axes, and I was able to defy them for they had no order to fire at me, and they knew that I would kill several of them if the attempted to take me. Seeing this, Mustafa Bey then left, vowing that he would bring the matter before the Government. I stayed indoors all day, as I did not know if they would try to take me prisoner if I went out; but at nightfall I went to the hotel to see the Consul, who was then staying there. When I entered the room his face was very stern, and his eyes were full of fire. He said to me in a harsh tone of voice: ‘What did you do to-day?’ I did not answer, but was preparing to defend myself with my dagger lest he should wish to kill me. Suddenly, he took my breath away by rising in his chair and saying, ‘Why did you not kill that dog?’”.
This story was interesting, because Ali declared that it was on account of this affair, joined to the previous slights towards the authorities, that Burton and the Wali, Rashid Basha, were both recalled. Lady Burton’s account of the motives for her husband’s recall is certainly far from clear, and there are other motives advanced by many Damascenes, which it is not necessary to mention. But Ali now began to speak of his own career in the consulate during his service of thirty years, and scarcely seemed to understand that his own adventures were hardly interesting to me.
“Why did you leaved, O Ali?” I asked him.
“O effendi,” he replied, “I shall never cease to regret it, and if it please God I may one day return. It was several years ago after the departure of Captain Burton that, one day, while I was engaged in mid-day prayer, the other kawasses mocked me and imitated my gestures. My temper is strong when I am roused, so I rose, seized one of the mockers, threw him on the ground and placed my foot upon his chest. The kawasses made a loud complaint against me, and for the sake of peace I left. I sent a petition to the Queen six years ago that I might have a pension, but the Government would not grant it, seeing that I was now a kawass at the Armenian Patriarchate and therefore not in want. Of effendi, will you intercede for me?”
And when Hadj-Ali-Aga had departed, I sat and thought of Richard Burton, and wondered what it was that had so great a charm for me in his strange character. It is not altogether his Meccan exploits, for it is not difficult to go to Mecca: a moderate acquaintance with Arabic and willingness to acknowledge and proclaim Muhammad as God’s prophet are sufficient. To translate the “Arabian Nights” also is more a feat of patience than of great scholarship. It was, therefore, his manly uprightness of character, his quaint humour so Oriental in its nature, and the universality of his fertile brain, that charmed me, and that still excites the admiration of the unprejudiced.
My dear Rathborne, it is a long time since I have seen or heard from you. If you can get a peep at last Tablet do, and you will find Tyrwhitt Drake's account of the Revival movement in Syria. He says it may amount to 20,000-25,000. Do you advise me to draw Ld Granville's attention to it. Mind, the affair is serious. If anything like a massacre takes place, Russia certainly & France probably will interfere and occupy Syria in force. Prussia and Austria will object & then there is a row. You see they have made Damascus a Vice Consulate. I am now pushing to get the Consul General up to Damascus. How is your health? I have sent to Syria for a pipe for you. Not yet met that damned old pirate?
Strong, brave man though he was, the shock of his sudden recall told upon him cruelly. I never saw him, even during his last years when his health had all but given way, so “down.” He came straight home to us at Norwood in wretched spirits, and as he could not sleep, sat up until the small hours of the morning with my father smoking. Tragedy was dashed with comedy; one night a terrible uproar arose. The dining-room windows had been left open, the candles alight, and the pug asleep under the table, forgotten. A policeman, seeing the windows unclosed, knocked incessantly at the street door, the pug awoke and barked himself hoarse, and every one clattered out of his or her bedroom to ascertain the cause of the disturbance. My uncle had quite forgotten that in quiet English households servants retire to rest before 3 A.M.
We saw too in another way how shaken his nerves were by the loss of his appointment. He had always been very fond of tea, which he insisted on having of first-rate quality, not twice drunk, as he described cheap compounds. An ordinary breakfast-cup did not suffice, he preferred the slop-basin. But shortly after his arrival he gave up tea and took cocoa. The habit, however, was resumed later, slop-basin and all.
Sensitive though he was, he possessed that enviable common-sense, so very uncommon, by the way, which enables us to speedily reconcile ourselves to the inevitable. His cherished appointment was lost, irretrievably lost, so he turned his thoughts elsewhere.
Garswood Newton le
Jan. 1 1872
My dear Houghton. We ran up north on December 27 and on Thursday next go to Knowsley for a short visit, shortened by Lady May Cecil's marriage in London. After a long visit I go to Edinbro’ and stay a month with my sister whom I have not seen for years. We shall much regret missing dear old Fryston and far more the cause of our missing it. One naturally thinks of friends today. How is your health now? Has the change done you good? Don't trouble yourself with writing but perhaps someone about you will let us have a line. B Mathew expected north to see his daughter Mrs. Earle (of L'pool). He wants me to do a "good action" to write down the Nicaraguan war in the Times. But just at present I can't afford good actions and to tell the truth my humour does not lie that way pour le moment. I think you will sympathise with me. Isabel joins me in best love to you and yours.
R. F. Burton
Newton le Willows.
Dear Ld Houghton—
How you flit. I thought I shd find you in Notts. when we go to Newstead. I think Ld Derby thinks nothing should be done at present but to get something to do to bridge over the moment & play a waiting game. I think we can get an employment that would suit us but oh please not Bolivia which would be a life of banishment on a shelf far from kith or kin or any other kindly thing. You would not set a gardener to navigate a ship, nor a tiller of the soil to make a watch; so why not set Richard to what you say he understands too well.
Sir H. Elliot is coming home on sick leave. If you wd try to put Buckley Mathew at Constantinople which he ambitions he wd make Mohammed retract Aali’s mistake & Richard could be once more re-employed in the East. I don't say Syria but I say the East—Morocco or Teheran.
Jan 10. 72.
Garswood Newton le
Sat Jan 13
My dear Bates
Yours of Jan 8 duly received, but I can't correct proofs satisfactorily without duplicate slips and especially without the M.S. How is it still retained by the Council referee? It surely must have gone to the printer?
R. F. Burton
H. W. Bates Esq.
Garswood Newton le
My dear Mr. Bates
I am very glad that you have a good man to lead the expedition. Please suggest to him that he may do good work by returning north (especially) or south of the beaten path. Of course, his first object is to find Livingstone.
I would not go for three reasons 1st rather infra dig to discover a miss. 2d had FO asked me I should of course have gone but I won't let them get rid of me quietly. 3. I look to W. Africa, the Congo & the Gaboons for my next venture. East Africa is waxing trite and stale.
My best wishes to Lt Dawson. He had better consult all books on the subject.
R. F. Burton
Edinbro' Jan. 24
My darling, stinking train delayed, got here about 10, comfortably housed to bed sharp. Resend all my refs about Shap. Can hardly see the hands in front of me. Georgie makes many enquiries about you. I have promised her that you will find out a decent solicitor at once & write to her. Bagshaw has written to say that he has had two seizures, what they are the devil knows. Of course you will call there & be very dutiful. The people are charmed with Lady [Airlie] & with [K…]. I begin my campaign today, hair cutter, museum, Library, Philosoph. Institute. Object of lecture to bring girls forward.
Of course you found the mother far better than you expected. Give her my best love and don't sit with her too much. Kisses to the sisters, and love to Wenfric & Wudy.
Ev yr 
1. Don't forget to send me my crest paper this is wanted at once.
2. They want me to lecture here. Get from Anthro. Soc. my biggest sketch, the prettiest mummy hand, all the flint implements & photos of Zenobia. Send by parcels delivery company.
3. You will see by enclosed what to do with Tinsley.
4. Ditto with Mr. Friswell.
5. Ditto Club etc. Don't bother Rudy or overwork yourself. It will be all in good time.
6. You of course will call on B. Mathew and sound him well.
7. What do you think of transferring our wills & papers from Styan to Mobert (with Gerard’s [leave])?
8. Dr. Bird can perhaps give you the name of some decent man to supercede Styan.
9. Before Lord Derby or Houghton (both should be told that you are in town) bring up my name in the house, they should see Levant Herald upon effect of turning Dam. into Vice Consulate. Also my report to F. O. (copy was sent to Ld Derby).
10. Enclosed are pay certificates (will come next day, no paper).
34 Queen Street
My dear Bates no MS as yet. I have written to my wife to send copy of Zanzibar to R.G.S. in charge for Kirk at Zanzibar and another for Wakefield at Mombasa & only hope they may arrive in time. Please tell Mr. Lamprey that I am quite ready for the Illustrated news. My mother-in law is very ill, so I may be obliged to return at once to London. If not I shall stay here till end of February. I have written a load to Lt Dawson.
Hoping that you & yours are flourishing. I am ev
R. F. Burton
34 Queen Street
Edinburgh (Romantic town
v. but full)
Jan 26 1872
is Athenaeum Club
My dear Kirk
Business first. I send you a copy of my last book "Zanzibar" and hope that you will like it. You can do me a great service by jotting down a few notes upon the subject and especially by showing me the mistakes so as to render a Second Edition immaculate.
I have written several times to you but no answer came so that the missives must have miscarried. Now that this expedition starts, there will be less danger of letters going wrong. You will know by this time what a row there has been about it and how strongly the R.G.S. has "spoken up". Rawlinson is a thoroughly good man and the humbug element is now pretty well “eliminated”.
Since we parted last I have wandered far and wide over South America—Brazil, Paraguay, the Pampas, Chile & Peru. I was then transferred to the Consulate of Damascus and after some 22 months it was reduced to a Vice Consulate. This of course brought me home and I am now awaiting my next move.
What is your brother’s direction? Being in Scotland I might be able to find him out.
Believe me ever my dear Kirk
Richard F. Burton
21st Feb. 1872.
Dear Captain Burton
I have just got your first volume of “Zanzibar,” and coming upon pg. 9 was surprised to find myself referred to–I don’t care about the title which you give me—as one among several who thwarted your views respecting Berberah and who “more or less directly” brought about the catastrophe which befell you there. Where you obtained this information I cannot say, but I can declare upon my honour as a man that never, under any circumstances, did I take any part whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in your Berberah Expedition. Bear in mind that I was at Aden only when you started–or I am not quite certain of that—and that during the whole time you were absent I was on leave in Syria & met you at Alexandria, with the wound in your face, on my return to Aden.
Perhaps you owe me a grudge for not having consented to preside over the Committee at Aden to examine you in Arabic. Let me explain that most candidly. Outram asked me to preside and I positively declined. Why? you will ask. Well, I had heard you were very vindictive, and as I knew nothing whatever of your attainments in Arabic at that time I did not wish–supposing that I did not pass you–to incur your animosity, especially as I was not a “passed” man myself, and was therefore under no obligation to put myself into an awkward position. (But you will say that I sat on Playfair’s Committee. True; but in his case the examination papers were forwarded to the Madras College, & the Examiners were not called upon to make any remarks upon them.) However, I may now tell you what perhaps you never heard before. Playfair sent your papers to me, and after looking over them, I sent them back to him with a note eulogizing your attainments and, if I remember rightly, remarking upon the absurdity of the Bombay Committee being made the judges of your proficiency, inasmuch as I did not believe that any of them possessed a tithe of the knowledge of Arabic which you did.
I should be much obliged, being deeply interested in the subject, if you will kindly refer me to any authority for the term “Bayázi” which you apply to the Maskat or Oman sectaries. All the native works which I have consulted call them the followers of (see the quotations in the appendix to my Oman). Palgrave calls them [Ahadeeyah] or [Biadieyah] and confounds them, as I have pointed out (opp. 391) with the , quite another sect. You will find a lengthy account of them in . There is an English edit. of the original edited by . I had not that edit. with me sent me his notes from the Turkish translations from Cairo.
George Percy Badger
 Leamington Road Villas
Westbourne Park, W.
29th Febr. 1872
Dear Captain Burton
I was glad to receive yr reply. I make one additional remark about the Somali Expedition because you have referred to Outram. All I can say is that I never heard Outram express one word disapproving either of the Expedition or of yourself in connection with it.
As to the Examination, I hardly think you judge me fairly. I never "retired" from the presidency of the Committee, because from the first, I distinctly declined to take any part in it. It is true that Outram asked me twice to sit, and that Playfair—who probably had his own reasons for not wishing to undertake the responsibility, which reason, in this case at least, I believe was creditable to him, namely a feeling of his incompetence—repeatedly asked me to act and he may therefore have led you to suppose that I was vacillating, which was certainly not the case. My reasons for declining I have given you already, and you are of course at liberty to judge of them as you please. All I can say is that they did not comprise the least modicum of unkindness towards you. I am no more responsible for the then Aden people telling me that if I did not pass you, you would never forgive me, than you are for the epithet of "White Devil", which you say was conferred upon me. I did not want to be placed in antagonism with you, for I was then on friendly terms with you, and especially with your friends Dansey & Steinhauser, to whom I ever remained attached, and I therefore wished to avoid a possible cause of enmity with you. Moreover it was not necessary that I should sit on your committee. That you allowed yourself, for in a characteristic note to Playfair you stated that it would have been a "luxury” to have me as president, but fortunately it was not a "necessity", inasmuch as that he, Playfair, being a "passed" man was competent to act. I knew that to be the case, and I saw no reason why he should not do so—in fact, it was his duty.
Further, I was subsequently told that the Bombay authorities would not pass you because the Examination was informal, or contrary to rule—that you ought to have passed at Bombay; ergo, the result would have been the same, as regards yourself, even if I had presided; for if these authorities would not accept the certificate, or whatever it may be called, of a "passed" man—passed by the Madras College—they would certainly have disallowed a similar testimony from an unpassed man, as I was. I can maintain my own opinion as pertinaciously as any one, but I do not like to be misjudged, especially if the misjudgment reflects upon my good will. Hence the pains which I take to disabuse you of the idea of unkindliness on my part towards you in this matter.
George Percy Badger
After a few months in London he joined us in Edinburgh en route for Iceland. We soon ascertained, much to our satisfaction, that the Damascus trouble had skinned over, he had quite recovered his health and seemed thoroughly able to enjoy himself. He liked the town, he liked the bracing air, and he liked the people. The 93rd Highlanders stationed at the castle, entertained with true Scotch hospitality; and he met at our house Lord and Lady Perth, General Sir John and Lady Elizabeth Douglas, the Macphersons of Cluny, and other well-known families then in Edinburgh. Lord Airlie was High Commissioner that year, and we all went together to the receptions at Holyrood. Orders and uniforms are donned on these occasions, and a very gay, picturesque scene the old palace presented, the men brightened up for once with a dash of colour; but Richard Burton, in those days, had no decoration whatever. It may be remembered the K.C.M.G. was given him within only four years of his death.
We enjoyed this Edinburgh visit of his just as much as he did, but it seemed all too short. My father and a few friends saw him off early in June from the quay at Granton. He had always been very anxious to go to Iceland, and this was the first pleasurable excitement in the travelling line since the Damascus worry. Most men would have thought of little else, and I think nothing could show better what a great loving heart he had than that the saying good-bye for what promised to be but a short absence, was positively painful to him. Indeed, as a rule, he did his very best to avoid good-byes; and when unavoidable, I have often seen tears in his eyes and felt his hands turn stone cold.
The trip to Iceland proved pleasant and prosperous; then came the Trieste appointment, which he held to the day of his death. Though unsuitable in many respects, it must be allowed the duties were light, the pay was good, and the leave unlimited. To a more responsible post he would have been chained, as it were, but from Trieste he could travel to his heart's content. Of course he often wearied of the commonplace town, and its disagreeable climate; and had he not been able to pass many months wandering amidst pleasanter scenes, would have suffered even more than he did. A wonderful amount of travel and literary work was crowded into the twenty years he held this consulate.
[…] Confiteor. Sed non culpa “mea”—how is one to guess that an official letter signed officially is not written by the signer? I am glad indeed that Lord de G. was not the author, the Council being Anglo-Indian snobs of a high order have acted with an appropriateness which satisfies my mind—if it does not please it. Indian officials eat abominations through youth with the fixed and settled purpose—like fags at school—of similarly dieting their juniors and the Oriental practice of answering one's Enemy at the gate is a domestic institution and a public difference never fails to become a private grudge. I have the satisfaction upon being on the worst possible terms with Hogg (that hog as old Charley of Sindh always called him) Vivian Sir Irksome etc. and they rarely waste an opportunity to make me as they say westward smell par-tik-lar swell. Never mind, allegro sempore! There is a pretty little row brewing between them and Col. Rathborne, the Council of India [brick] last ten years, there'll be another exodus of Directors.
I enclose a sketch from the boy Arbuthnot & will show you his letter when we meet. It is rather dull, curious to see the deadly effect of Indian air even upon that merriest of boys. He actually talks of Early History!
I am sweating on towards the meta. 216 solid pages already besides appendix. Hope to see you well shortly after last Monday fortnight i.e. 15th. Can't you torquere mero the Gorilla & elicit his tacenda as well as his dicenda, how he has humbugged John Bull with a big ape and frightened half a dozen N.Y. clippers with the black baboon. Every American is at heart a Filibuster—a nigger driver unless the Benevolence-cum—Humanity dodge pays better. I long for the Pimlico clearing again. Adieu. [Ergo … con addio]
Keep the enclosed for me please
Dear Lord Houghton
I don't know where you are but forward you the enclosed. It is at present a profound secret. It is for diffusing useful knowledge, making good literature easy for the people, & giving the author a chance. There is no money responsibility, that is guaranteed over & over again by the City members. Lord Desart has said "I shall be most happy to accept a trusteeship & I shall be proud of an honorary post in so useful an undertaking". They want moral support, big names so will you accept a trusteeship? Richard is commissioned to ask you. The office is entirely honorary, it carries no pecuniary liability & is to be shared with three others of whose standing & reputation you shall judge. Besides these three—Richard is to be Travelling Director & Major Knollys Military Director (son of the Knollys with the Prince).
If you don’t accept I am to ask you not to say anything about it but only return the prospectus. Hoping to soon to see you & with our united love.
me dear Ld Houghton
Yrs most sincerely
36 Manchester St.
April 12. 1872
Dear Lord Houghton
Richard wants you to come & dine at the Pall Mall Hotel’s restaurant on Tuesday 16th at 7 o'clock when a quantity of good men are going to meet to discuss the question privately which I yesterday forwarded to you. Will you?
April 13, 1872
Dear Lord Houghton
I should have been very pleased to come to luncheon but Richard never told me. I daresay as we had been correcting proof sheets all the morning he thought it wd be refreshing to leave me for a few hours. When you come back to town I hope you will let me come sometimes. I shall be very lonely & very miserable I expect.
May 17th 72
My dear Lord Houghton
I have got an attack of neuralgia or something on the nerves & am going to ask you to let me off dining this evening as I fully intended till this morning. I do not feel able. May I come to lunch with you tomorrow or Tuesday that I may see you again. Letter from Richard yesterday accepting Trieste which I am about to forward.
Figure 21. Icelandic Scenes from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 22. Icelandic Caricature from Burton's Sketchbook.
My dear Bates
When & where can I see you? What is become of my MS—missing proofs & anti Libanus? Excuse my breaking so rudely upon your holiday.
R. F. Burton
H. W. Bates Esq.
20 Manchester Street
Spr 23 / 72
My dear Houghton
I returned to town Sat. Sept. 14 and expect to leave about middle of next month for Trieste. Iceland has done me a power of good. I can fairly contradict almost every word that has been written about it. The people are descended from Norwegians and Irish slaves. Geyser is a dreadful humbug and Hekla is worse. I did some exploration in the S. Eastern parts and feel myself justified in writing about the subject. F. Po is worth a dozen Icelands.
You know I suppose that the boy Bunny (Arbuthnot) is now at Brighton (Union Club will find him). I hope to see him up here in a few days.
Yesterday interviewed Stanley. I like him and think him the right sort. The R.G.S. has as usual put its foot into the wrong hole, but what can you expect of a body which owns as one of its heads Mr. Galton? The creature is Grundy, knows Grundy & owes all his strength to Grundy. He hates with a harsh & frustrated (almost Xtian) hatred all who take the position that ought to have been, but has not been, taken by himself—Galton. For years he inflicted his corvine voice upon evening meetings simply for the same petty vanity.
Trieste is a fall after Dam. But affairs in Syria are getting into a grand mess. I took Trieste in order not to sacrifice the results of 30 years public service. Otherwise I can get $30,000 by 100 lectures in the U. States and that would enable me to explore the Congo and Mwátájá mvo. My wife, who has just lost a favourite brother H. Arundell R.N. on the west coast would be against my going but would yield in time.
I send this at a venture and hope most sincerely that you and yours are well & flourishing.
The first time I met Burton was in November, 1872, at dinner at Clements Markham's, just before I started on my journey across Africa, and I well remember how kind and patient he was in answering my many inquiries, many of which must have seemed trivial and uninteresting to him.
On a red-hot morning in July 1870 I rode from Damascus to Bludan, and said to my wife "I have fallen in with two such nice fellows, and they are coming here—Drake and Palmer, who have been doing Sinai and the Tih."
They made their appearance in our garden on the J 9th, sunburnt, "hard as nails," briefly in the finest travelling condition. They were a first-rate working pair, Drake taking the surveying and mapping, and to Palmer fell the linguistic labours of the expedition, whilst a thorough good fellowship existed between them. As we were short of bedrooms they pitched their tents below Mr. Consul-General Wood's house, our summer quarters, and passed a few quiet days with us. Both were somewhat fatigued with their unusually hard work, but still they were anxious to visit, in our company, the summits of the Libanus. We made hurried preparations for twenty-three days of gipsying; and, with our two friends, my wife and I started after as short a delay as possible, at the head of a small caravan of horses, servants, tents, and light baggage.
We spent a week amongst the ruins of Ba'albak, trying to save some of the grandest features from destruction. We then rode up the fertile and malarious Coelesyrian plain as far as El Ká'a, a village about thirty miles distant from Homs, which could be distinctly seen in the clear pellucid air, and thus we galloped across the valley towards Ayn Urghush, camping in a Maronite stronghold at Ayn Ata. All greatly enjoyed the scramble up the Cedar Col, where we found banks and wreaths of snow in July, and the slide down to the old Trees. There we encamped for some days, and hence we visited the summits of the Libanus with the view of determining the disputed altitudes. Professor Palmer has since published a short sketch of our trip in the "Journal of the Palestine Exploration Fund." A cheerful and pleasant time it was to all, fitly to be described by the adjective "jolly," at which Philister and Philistine turn up the nose " polite."
From the Cedars we were obliged to part, and I cannot say which of the four felt parting the most. There is eternal fitness in the saying of Hafiz the Shirazi:—
That eve so gay, so bright, so glad; this morn so dim and sad and grey—Ah! that Life's Registrar should write that day a day, thy day a day!
Drake then returned to England for a while, and we kept up an unintermitted correspondence, which ended in his returning to us in Syria during the following year (1871). He arrived rather suddenly on ,the cold damp evening of March 25, suffering somewhat from his old enemy, asthma; and it was unanimously determined by three friends in council that, instead of turning into the comfortless solitude of a bachelor establishment, he should take up his quarters permanently with us. His kindly and domestic disposition made this prospect agreeable to him, and we were glad to find it so, as he was evidently far from strong, and when he became one of us we should be better able to look after him. His attacks, frequent at first, soon lost their violence, and his health under the climate and the life that suited him became manifestly a gainer.
He was my inseparable companion during the rest of our stay in Palestine, and never did I travel with any man whose disposition was so well adapted to make a first-rate explorer. We all three visited almost every known part of Syria, either for the first time or over again, taking observations, making sketches and skeleton maps, and writing diaries and accounts of our journeys. We divided the work, each taking what was best suited. My wife had charge of the camp generally, and especially the horses and the sick or wounded, and visited the harems to note things hidden from mankind. Drake copied inscriptions, mapped the country, measured the remains of antiquity, collected geological specimens, fauna and flora, and made admirable sketches in pencil and water-colours—we keep many of these as some of our most precious relics. The time was passed most enjoyably. Our companion was one of the few who can make a pleasant third in a ménage—a plain, honest, straightforward disposition that was a true friend to both in an honest way, and that is high praise.
A day or two after he arrived from England I rode back from Hums and Hamah with a native copy of the "Hamath stones." My journey had been for upwards of a fortnight over the Northern desert and the Ansari Mountains, where the snow and frost had bitten my fingers and toes. After a short rest we resolved on spending the holy week at Jerusalem. My wife went under his charge via Beyrout by sea to Jaffa and Jerusalem, where, after riding down across country, I met them with our own horses. "Inner Life of Syria" has given a good Catholic's account of the visit to Jerusalem and the holy places; more is to come. Drake's familiarity with the Holy City made him an invaluable companion; but he suffered from the abominable climate, and I well remember his telling me that it had never agreed with him. Had I been present at the very beginning of his last illness, I should have put him into a litter, and have carried him nolens volens to the coast. When he had recovered we pursued our way, including Ayn Karin, and Hebron, Bethlehem, Mar Saba, the Dead Sea, the so-called tomb of Moses, the Jordan ford, Jericho, and Ayn-el-Sultan, where he, poor fellow, afterwards encamped in 1874, and caught the fever that terminated his short but useful and promising career. We then turned northwards or homewards via Bethel and Nablus, the consular boundary between Damascus and Jerusalem, halting to visit Mount Ebal and Gerizim, and Shechem and the Samaritans. From Scythopolis and Endor we finally made Nazareth, where we were both stoned by the so called and miscalled Greeks; on this occasion Drake displayed the cool bravery and determination of his character, and he was a great help to me in saving my wife and servants from the fury of an excited mob, urged on by their priests and bishop.
After staying at Nazareth to see the rioters punished, we thence proceeded to Cana (?) in Galilee, and at the Lake of Tiberias we camped, and visited by boat the seven famous sites as far as is possible to ascertain them; we also circumnavigated the little sea, and took observations of temperature which yield curious results. Next came Safed, famed for its mediaeval Jewish school of ferocious theology, the plain of Huleh and waters of Merom, with the Birket-el-Ram (Lake Phiala), where we took soundings on our camp-table, buoyed up with water, or rather air-skins. Finally, after visiting our Druse neighbours, we galloped across our own desert plain home.
Our next joint excursion was to the Hauran, whither three hundred Bedawin were sent to waylay us. We explored the Tulul-el-Safa, a somewhat risky feat, which the Europeans of Damascus had often wished to do, but were deterred by the overwhelming chance of being stripped by the robber tribes; the latter were part of the state machinery under those who have turned a garden of roses into a desert and den of thieves.
Drake then made a little trip on his own account, or rather on that of the Palestine Exploration Fund, to get better squeezes of, and collect more information concerning, the now world-famous "Hamath stones." The Rev. William Wright first suggested, magna cum risu, that they were Hittite—a theory now confirmed by Birch, Sayce, and the late George Smith. I had been obliged to satisfy myself with a native copy, having unfortunately been without squeeze-paper.
We then all went once more into summer quarters at Bludan, where we again spent a pleasant and quiet time, until August 16; on which day I was politely invited to return home with the utmost possible despatch. Drake, ever staunch and true, saw me to my saddle, and undertook to help my wife to settle the mass of business and hard work which the sudden giving up of an establishment could not but entail. As the reason given by Rashid Pasha was my being so unpopular with the Moslems that they wanted my life, I made my wife remain at Damascus to prove its untruth; this measure certainly could not have been taken had not both of us been sure of our native friends. She slept with open door and windows in the Salahiyyeh; this is the quarter which once had so lawless a reputation that at night none would venture into it, and even by day the timid avoided it.
Drake's kind heart was greatly grieved by the loss of our happy home, and he advised me to await at Damascus the result of my explanatory report to headquarters. But I knew better; the greater the right in such cases the greater the wrong. He accompanied me to the diligence, and then returned to Bludan; there he served all my interests like a true man, and assisted my wife in all her troubles, until he placed her on board the steamer for England at Beyrút.
Our house furniture, horses, and pets were all left with Drake in the forlorn hope that personal explanations might secure a modicum of justice; but that day was never to dawn. Unfortunate Damascus presently became the scene of murders and disorders of all kinds, and she has gradually declined till all the little English colony has broken up. My excellent successor, Mr. Kirby Green, had anything but a happy sojourn there, and he was not sorry to exchange it even for Scutari in Albania, another fine specimen of a consular den.
Time passed, and as I was transferred to Trieste, Drake halted a month with us en route to England, and we visited Pola, Aquileja, the caves of Adelsberg, the Karst (Carso), and San Cauzian, the famous haras or breeding-stables at Lippiza; and the environs of Trieste. The climate, which residents find so cruel, agreed with him perfectly, and the holiday had a most favourable effect upon his spirits. I should note that we always kept up a lively correspondence; we have bundles of his letters, which, however, are of too private and personal a nature for publication.
We went to Venice and saw him off to England; he promised us to return in seven weeks, but fate willed that we should not meet again. The cholera broke out at Trieste (1873); he dreaded a long quarantine in July, and he was tempted by his friend Sir John Drummond Hay of Tangier with the prospect of another journey into inner Morocco, an almost virgin country in which his first trip had caused him to take a great and permanent interest. The project was frustrated by the emperor's death, and he went back to his work in Syria.
During the spring of 1874 he caught as before mentioned the Jericho fever whilst he was camped in the rainy swamps that bound the lower Jordan. When a little better he was removed to Jerusalem where he relapsed, and where his horror of the climate was justified, as if it had been a presentiment, by the fatal result of his illness.
The letter announcing his death reached me only two days after hearing he was not very well; to this we had attached but little importance, knowing that he had been weakened by overwork, and suspecting that he wanted rest. The sad news, I need hardly say, was a severe blow.
Dear Lord Houghton
I will come with pleasure but don't let me if you have a party. In that case I wd rather come quietly to breakfast or luncheon. I should not mind the Boy Arbuthnot or any of Dick's old friends because they have no prejudices like yourself, but the usual lot wd think I have forgotten my mother which I never shall to my dying day whether I go out or not. I have loads of things to say to you.
I only came from my people (Wardour) last night where I have been for 10 days.
Memorandum by William Owen of the F. O. on Captain Burton’s Proceedings at Damascus
Captain Burton was appointed by Lord Stanley H.M. Consul at Damascus on the 3rd December, 1868, and acknowledged the receipt of his appointment on the 30th March, 1869, being then at Buenos Ayres on leave of absence from his Post at Santos.
He reported his arrival in England on the 1st June following and announced his readiness to proceed to his new Post. In the meanwhile, however, Mr. (now Sir Henry) Elliot, in a Despatch dated the 3rd May, reported that the prospect of Capt. Burton’s arrival as H.M. Consul at Damascus was viewed with apprehension by many persons in the place. The fact of his having made the Pilgrimage to Mecca would cause him to be regarded either as one who, being an unbeliever, had insulted the Mahometan Religion, or, who having been a Moslem, had become a Renegade. Under these circumstances, Sir H. Elliot observed, Capt. Burton’s presence in an Official Capacity at Damascus, probably the most fanatical Town in the East, would be likely to produce very undesirable consequences.
Lord Clarendon thereupon personally warned Capt. Burton and subsequently repeated to him in a Despatch dated the 19th June 1869, that although His Lordship allowed the appointment to go forward on Capt. Burton’s assurance that the objections thereto ‘were founded on interested misrepresentations,’ yet H.M. Govt. would not make themselves responsible for any harm that might befall him personally at Damascus, and that if the feeling against him of the Authorities and People of the place prevented the proper discharge of his Duty, he would be at once recalled. Capt. Burton, in reply, expressed his conviction that neither the Authorities nor the people of Damascus would show for him anything but the most friendly feeling, but that as designing persons might have attempted to complicate the situation, he would undertake to act with unusual prudence, and would hold himself alone responsible for all the consequences.
Copies of the foregoing Correspondence were communicated to Sir H. Elliot, who, on the 5th July, reported a Conversation which H.E. had had with Rashid Pacha, Governor General of Syria, who expressed some anxiety respecting Capt. Burton’s Appointment. Sir H. Elliot informed him, that while Lord Clarendon had not felt himself justified in cancelling his Predecessor’s (Lord Stanley’s) Appointment, yet His Lordship had warned Capt. Burton of the necessity for caution. In reply to a hope expressed by Sir H. Elliot that the Authorities would exert themselves to prevent Capt. Burton from being subjected to any annoyance, Rashid Pacha replied that a British Consul who would be regarded as a renegade Mussulman, must necessarily find himself in a very difficult position. Sir H. Elliot’s Language on this occasion was approved in a Despatch dated the 20th July, 1869.
Capt. Burton arrived at his Post on the 6th Oct. following, and on the 27th October reported that pending the receipt of the Berat of the Porte, he had received visits from the Leading Authorities Moslem and Christian, including the Chief Mufti, the Greek and Syrian Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs &c. who had expressed feelings of a most cordial and friendly nature towards him.
Sir H. Elliot, on the 2nd December last, communicated privately extracts of two Letters, dated respectively the 10th and 18th November, from Consul General Eldridge, wherein that Officer stated that Rashid Pacha had refused to receive Consul Burton, and was preparing a Complaint against his proceedings to send to Aali Pacha. Mr. Eldridge moreover stated that during Consul Burton’s absence from Damascus, on a journey to Beyrout, a disturbance had occurred in a Café in the Village of Bludan owing to Mrs. Burton having horsewhipped a Moslem for not rising when she was passing. The man was also fired at by one of Mrs. Burton’s servants but not wounded. Capt. Burton had caused the Moslem to be imprisoned for having insulted his wife, who however wrote privately to the Wali to let the Man go. Mr. Eldridge added that he had learnt the foregoing circumstances from the Wali, and that Capt. Burton had never mentioned the occurrence to him. Mr. Eldridge’s Letter of the 18th November further mentions that Capt. Burton, while at Beyrout, had been in the habit of going about in the dress of an Arab Sheikh, and had been boasting that in the event of a War between Russia and Turkey, he could raise 50,000 men in Syria. Mr. Eldridge remarks further on that ‘Burton is trying his utmost to attract public attention to Syria and to himself at any cost.’
On the 15th January last Sir H. Elliot forwarded a Copy of a Note Verbale from the Porte, founded on a Complaint from Rashid Pacha, setting forth that the Authorities at Damascus found themselves unable to carry on friendly (sic) with Capt. Burton in the same manner as with the Consuls of other Nationalities owing to his extraordinary proceedings, especially his long and frequent absences from his Post on hunting and other excursions, accompanied by Mrs. Burton; frequently pitching his tent in the wildest and most unsafe parts of the neighbouring districts, and above all, from his habit of publickly denouncing the proceedings of the Mahometan Community with regard to the Christians, Consul Burton being all the time commonly looked upon as a Mahometan himself. Sir H. Elliot accompanied the above representation by a statement that while it was true, as Capt. Burton asserted at the time of his appointment, that he had received visits of a friendly nature from the local Authorities, yet this took place only at the instance of Rashid Pacha, and in consequence of the warning addressed to the latter by H.M. Ambassador to the effect that he would be held responsible for any hostile demonstration against Consul Burton.
The attention of Musurus Pacha was called to the above mentioned facts by Aali Pacha in a note dated the 11th January last, and communicated by His Excellency to this Office. A further Note from Aali Pacha dated the 23rd February enclosed a Telegram from the Governor General of Syria stating that Consul Burton was in the habit of spreading Reports to the effect that, at the demand of England, Turkey was about to declare War against Russia, and that in that case a general Massacre of the Christians by the Moslems in Syria might be expected. Under these circumstances the Porte strongly urged Consul Burton’s Recall.
Sir H. Elliot, reporting on the above Representations on the 22nd April, stated that Consul Burton’s proceedings at Damascus did not prove more satisfactory to the British Subjects there, whether Missionaries or protected Jews, than to the Moslems. His Excellency proposed, in prospect of a reduction of the Consulate, to inform the Porte that a change would shortly be made; and Sir H. Elliot was authorized to make that announcement on the 25th May.
A Despatch from Sir H. Elliot of the 22nd May and a Note from Aali Pacha to Musurus Pacha of the 24th May, contained Accounts of an Affray which had taken place at Nazareth where it was stated, a quarrel occurred on a fete day between some Greek Christians and Consul Burton’s Servants in the course of which, it is alleged, the Consul fired on his opponents and caused certain of them to be brought Prisoners to Damascus. Consul Burton was called upon on the 14th June for an explanation of his Proceedings in the above matter and was instructed in the mean-time not to quit Damascus; and on the 23rd June was instructed to report why his despatches of a date subsequent to his return to Damascus contained no allusion to the Affray at Nazareth, Sir H. Elliot having stated on the 5th June that he had received no reply to a telegram sent by him to Consul Burton calling for a report on the subject. Sir H. Elliot however enclosed a copy of a report from H.M. Consul at Jerusalem wherein it was stated that the affray began through one of Consul Burton’s servants driving a way and striking an Abyssinian mendicant just at the time that the Greeks were coming out of Church. The Greeks moreover, according to a telegram from the Governor General, asserted that Captain Burton had rode into the Church and broken some lamps. The Turkish Authorities desired an Investigation on the spot by a Member of H.M. Embassy, but Sir H. Elliot suggested that Capt. Burton’s suit should go on against his opponents before the Authorities at Damascus, and that each Party could then tell their own Story.
In the mean time, and pending an explanation from Capt. Burton respecting the Nazareth Affray, a Despatch from Consul General Eldridge dated the 16th June and a Telegram from Aali Pacha to Musurus Pacha brought to light a fresh disagreement between Captain Burton and the Governor General of Syria, owing to the former having made a sudden and unexpected visit to the Druse Community of the Hauran, who from their peculiar and isolated position, would, it was to be feared, misinterpret such a proceeding on the part of the British Consul as an expression of British Policy as opposed to that of the Porte. In reporting this matter to H.M. Ambassador, Consul General Eldridge states that the only intimation he had received from Consul Burton of his proposed visit to the Hauran was a private letter written the day before his departure, and that he was ignorant whether Consul Burton had undertaken the Journey in pursuance of Instructions or no.
A Despatch from Sir H. Elliot dated the 16th June stated that he had called upon Capt. Burton on the 6th June for a Report respecting the Nazareth Affray, and H.E. enclosed Copy of a Telegram from Capt. Burton of the 8th June asserting that the matter arose out of an unprovoked attack upon himself and his Party by Orthodox Greeks, and that the Affair was in course of amicable settlement. Sir H. Elliot at the same time communicated a repeated request on the part of the Porte for Consul Burton’s early removal.
Consul Burton, on the 7th June furnished Sir H. Elliot with a Report on the foregoing Affair accompanied by statements drawn up by a Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake who was one of Capt. Burton’s Party at Nazareth and also by a Mr. Taylor and others. These declarations went to show that the attack upon Capt. Burton’s Party was entirely unprovoked and that the only shots fired by their party were fired in the air in self defence, in order to frighten the assailants. They also contradicted an assertion on the part of the Greek Bishop to the effect that Capt. Burton had violently entered the Church; stating on the other hand, that he had only entered the Court yard of the Church for the purpose of arresting one of his assailants.
Sir H. Elliot further reported on the 26th June that he had received a Telegram and a Despatch from Capt. Burton relative to his visit to the Druses, alleging that neither the Governor General nor Consul General Eldridge objected to his doing so. (Note.—Consul General Eldridge, as already stated, reports that he only heard of the proposed visit by a private Letter from Consul Burton, the day before he started.) Sir H. Elliot also enclosed Copy of a Letter alleged to have been written by Capt. Burton to the Druse Chief inviting them to meet him, and a Copy of a Despatch from Rashid Pacha bitterly complaining of Consul Burton’s proceedings in the matter.
Capt. Burton, he states, had been spreading Reports that the Khedive of Egypt was preparing to break loose from the Authority of the Porte, and that he, Rashid Pacha was conniving at the schemes of the Khedive. Capt. Burton, on the other hand in a Report to Sir H. Elliot of the 9th June, dealt freely in accusations of corruption and maladministration against Rashid Pacha who, he alleged, had invariably shown himself hostile to Europeans. Capt. Burton repudiates the idea that his visit to the Druses had any Political object, asserting that he had calmed their fears of an Attack from the Wali, and had urged them to act as peaceable subjects of the Porte.
Sir H. Elliot remarks on this correspondence that Capt. Burton seems ‘to have misunderstood the duties and line of conduct to be followed by H.M. Consuls, who by cooperation or by friendly remonstrances with the Provincial Authorities, may contribute powerfully to the well doing of a district, but who, by raising themselves up as rival or antagonistic Powers, cannot fail to produce a state of things which may lead to disastrous results; and that, previously to Capt. Burton’s Appointment neither the local Authorities, nor H.M. Consul General at Beyrout had felt the slightest anxiety about the state of the District, but that there has been a gradually increasing uneasiness ever since.’
On the 5th July last Sir H. Elliot forwarded Copy of a Despatch from Consul Burton in which that Officer alleged as a reason for not having supplied His Excellency with a Report on the Nazareth Affair which happened early in May, until the 9th June, that he was anxious to lay the matter before H.M. Ambassador in a complete shape, and that the Turkish Post could not have been trusted to deliver Despatches unopened addressed to H.M. Embassy by Capt. Burton while at Nazareth, and that since his return to Damascus he had awaited the result of a correspondence on the matter with the local Authorities and other Parties concerned.
Sir H. Elliot remarks on this, that, ‘as Capt. Burton after his Return to Damascus had sent me (Sir H. Elliot) Despatches on indifferent subjects, there could have been no difficulty in forwarding a Report upon the Nazareth Affray nor was there occasion for any special precaution in regard to it.’ Sir H. Elliot concludes with recording the assurance given him by the Turkish Government that the Offender in the Nazareth Affray should if found guilty, receive adequate punishment.
A Despatch to Consul Burton dated the 22nd July reminds him that he was only allowed to proceed to his Post at Damascus in 1869 upon his assurance that the objections raised to his appointment were unfounded; but that in consequence of the complaints made against him it was necessary to recall him. He was therefore instructed to hand over the charge of H.M. Consulate to the person who might be appointed with that object by H.M. Consul General at Beyrout, and to make arrangements for returning at once to this Country.
This step was communicated to H.M. Ambassador and to Consul General Eldridge, who on the 12th July sent to this Office a Copy of a despatch addressed by him to Sir H. Elliot in answer to a request from His Excellency for Information as to any explanations which might have been furnished by Capt. Burton to Consul General Eldridge respecting his journey to the Hauran. Mr. Eldridge repeats that he had received no intimation of Capt. Burton’s proposed journey beyond a private letter received after the journey had actually commenced.
A Despatch from Sir H. Elliot of the 24th July refers to a representation made to him by Consul Burton on the subject of the claims of certain Protected British Subjects (Jews) at Damascus. His Excellency expresses an opinion that the settlement of most of these claims, which are of an ordinary legal character, has been chiefly obstructed by the want of a cordial understanding between H.M. Consul and the local Authorities.
Between the 25th Ult. and the 9th Instant Despatches have been received from Consul Burton dated the 5th, 17th, 21st and 24th July, containing lengthy representations to Earl Granville and to Sir H. Elliot respecting the state of Affairs at Damascus.
The first of these Dispatches (July 5th) encloses Copies of Despatches to H.M. Ambassador containing Lists of Grievances of British Protected Subjects, Converts &c.
The second (July 12th) contains a Copy of a Despatch to Sir H. Elliot respecting the testimony offered by a Mr. Zeller in praise of Consul Burton’s exertions on behalf of the Protestant Community at Damascus.
The third (July 17) also contains Reports to Sir H. Elliot on the relative positions in Syria of the Mahometans, Greeks, Latins, Jews &c., and asserting that owing to the maladministration of Rashid Pacha, the Moslem Population were showing a disposition to embrace Christianity with a view of bettering their position. He also refers to certain complaints made by the Jewish Community at Tiberias respecting the annexation of a Synagogue by the Orthodox Greeks, and reports that the life of a Dragoman had been threatened by Bedouins. Further Despatches of the 21st and 24th July contain observations on the state of Syria and the necessity for his presence at Damascus for the protection of Converts &c.
In another Despatch dated the 21st July, Capt. Burton explains with reference to the instruction of the 14th June that he should not leave Damascus, that he was in the habit of resorting to a suburban residence during the hot weather. (The Despatch of the 14th June has of course been superseded by that of the 22nd July recalling him from his Post.)
In a Despatch of the 11th July Capt. Burton defends his frequent excursions within his Consular District on the ground that they were necessary for the purpose of observing the maladministration of the Province. He denies at length the statements of the Turkish and Greek Authorities that his Assailants at Nazareth were for the most part Children, that he fired a loaded Pistol at the People or that he caused several persons to be sent with their hands tied to Damascus, although he admits that some of the Assailants were despatched thither in Irons. Captain Burton concludes with general complaints against the Administration of Rashid Pacha. We are awaiting a Report from Sir H. Elliot on the above explanations of Consul Burton.
An assertion in a Despatch from the Consul of the 21st July—that his Journey to the Druse Country had been proposed by Consul General Eldridge and himself at least a year and a half ago, is at variance with the doubtful tone in which Mr. Eldridge, as already reported, speaks of the expedition in question.
Capt. Burton submits, in conclusion, that unless he is allowed to remain at Damascus at least till the Nazareth Affair is settled, he will not only sustain the greatest possible injury but the English Name in Syria will suffer through the ‘unworthy Intrigues’ of Rashid Pacha.
Capt. Burton was not aware, in writing this, that instructions had in the mean time been despatched to him, peremptorily recalling him from his Post, and he has been subsequently informed (August 12) that there was nothing in the despatches referred to which could alter the decision already come to in his case.
F. O. August 18th, 1871.
This is an excellent Memo on the Burton case by Mr. Owen.
It was clearly impossible to leave Capt. Burton any longer at Damascus,—it was essential to remove him at once,—but I do not think he can be dismissed from the Consular Service as recommended by Mr. Hammond.
A man of Capt. Burton’s ability should not be lost to the Public and should be re-employed in some post unconnected with the Mahomedan faith.
(initialed) O. R.
F. O. 78/2259
18th Aug. 1871.
I have waded through the tedious pages of the 2nd volume of this work with great difficulty, and the only result is increased disgust and contempt at the pitiful lying author who can thus revile the memory of his companion poor Speke. When Colonel Hamerton bid farewell to Speke on board the Artemis his last words to him were “Speke I would not travel with that man for any consideration. I feel for you with such a companion.” Mr. Frost the Medical Officer of the Consulate was present at the scene, and related it to me.
The first 280 pages of this volume are entirely taken up with describing a short trip to Fuga from the Coast, it is a spun out repetition of what he published several years ago; then follow nearly 100 pages of repetition from his own work, interlarded with barefaced contemptible false-hoods, and at length comes “Chapter 12. Captain Speke” the raison d’être of the entire book, to give this foul false libeler the opportunity of spitting his venom at the memory of poor Speke.
When Speke and Burton returned to Zanzibar I wrote officially to Government that the men who had accompanied them into the interior were so devoted to Speke that they expressed themselves ready to go with him to the end of the world, that by his kindness and consideration he had obtained extraordinary influence over both Asiatics and Africans, and that I could most confidently state that if another Expedition should at any time be sent to follow up their discoveries, no one could be found, so thoroughly fitted to command it as Speke.
After their return to England, Burton & Speke both volunteered to lead another Expedition, their claims were discussed by the Council of The R. G. Society, the choice fell upon Speke, and a lapse of 10 years have only increased the venom then engendered in the breast of this untrustworthy concocter of books.
C P Rigby (signed)
Trieste February 14/73
My dear Houghton, I don't often trouble you with Mss., so I daresay you will be patient this time.
Palgrave has left Trebizond. It is a pity but there is no stay in him. Drake is doing good business in Syria. An Austrian Egyptologist has just confirmed Dunbar Heath's reading of Thothmes IIId on Hamath stones. Vámbéry wrote in good spirits, I reminded him of the Agár at Fryston. Alas […] the Russian affair. The key of our position is Afghanistan & we are allowing it to rust in the wards. Why does not the F. O. make me Resident at Cabul and find out all about what Russia is doing there? Especially on the Northern Frontier and in Badakhshan. I can ride, outwalk any man here, speak Pukhtu (Afghan) Persian Hindustani & so forth. However strong men know how to wait—my day will come.
Meanwhile we are doing vy well at Trieste. Sur une troisiéme in the best hotel, I am very fond of that kind of life, it saves the bore (not to speak of the expense) of housekeeping, it allows one no end of time, it is in fact freedom. Servants here are a horror, men either dolts or knaves, women whores or drunkards, often both. I keep up muscle by fencing; work at Romaic and Slavonic and attend lectures on chemistry. The weather forbids travelling at present, but I know every stone about Trieste. There are some very interesting places quite ignored by travellers and books, a Roman aqueduct, the fountains of Timavus by far the most curious that I have yet seen, a fine but small collection of the British fossil, an army of 10,000 Greeks who make money and keep it and the host of Judah which makes money & spends it.
[Rene] MacDonald has been at Gib. astounding the natives by the energy and the transparent clearness of his English vocabulary. Isabel joins in love to you and all yours. She is looking forward to Vienna & to the Holy Week at Rome, the Papa Gallo and so forth.
20th Feb’y 1873
My dear Wylde
Why don’t you send me as Commissioner or Resident or something of the kind to Afghanistan? Within six months you shall know everything about Badakhshan north of the Oxus—its most valuable part—about Wakhan and about Kafiristan (now mere names) and about the actual state of Russia in that part of the world.
You are aware that I am well up in Persian Hindustani & Punjabi, the languages spoken all round Afghanistan, but perhaps you do not know that as early as 1846 I learned Pushtoo and by the bye had to get my books from St Petersburg.
I am working at Sclavonic, Jaghatic, Turkish will take me only a couple of months and Arabic brings one in no end of kudos as far as Samarkand. I could survey the frontier and send home specimens of every -ology known. Trieste is very nice for a comfort loving old gent but what am I doing in this galley.
Do put in a word for me and send me rejoicing Eastward Ho! Everybody will say the right (or round) man in the right place (or round hole) and you will gladden somebody’s soul by stationing him at the classical Tergeste.
My wife asks to be kindly remembered to you and is quite ready to follow where her devoted husband leads.
R. F. Burton
Hotel de la Ville Trieste March 3/73.
My dear Tootal
I have been ashamed to write to you before being able to announce that your Hans Stade is in hand. I work at it now every day & hope soon to finish it. But the work grows. Originally I intended only to add a few notes. Then it appeared necessary to prefix a long anthrop. paper about the so-called “Indians" about whom all kinds of errors & misconceptions prevail. Lastly I find it advisable to describe the coast between Santos & Ubatuba so as to have a mise en scene.
My trip to Iceland was very enjoyable and quite set me up again. I found no difficulty in ascending places which at Rio would have given me des vertiges. Stayed 6 weeks in England - Went out by sea. Landed at Gib. and rushed up to Ronda in S. Spain. Very good fun, and was pelted with stones by boys to the tune of "He! Garibaldi". Landed here Dec. 6. and began hard work. My wife tells me she has written to you and she has probably told you all about Trieste.
Do you still take interest in Anthropology? Which island is it in the Bay of Rio which contains the Tambaqui? Grande or do Governador? Have you ever found the 2 vols. on Parana which give so good a description of the Tambaquis & [nateiros]?
We hear from Hunt occasionally. What about the Tout-pêre? Where is Aubertin and when does he return to London? Williams we expect to see here, he has become quite an Ahasuerus barring the Jew element. Is there anyone in Rio we know besides your family? How does the climate agree with you? Don't forget anthropological part of Perman., Bahia & Rio de Jan. museums. The Society will be delighted to have them. Do you take long walks? Does Mr. Buckley Mathew picnic on Sundays? Who are the Secs. & attachés? Is Misther Wm Scully wealthy once more? Where is Dundas? Has he survived Santos or does he follow suit & live at S. Paulo? Is Balbi alive? You see I hunger for news from the New World. Kindest memories to your father & mother and to all your family.
R. F. Burton.
Dear Lord Houghton,
We are going to get leave to go to Rome for Holy Week & leave on 29th of this month. I have a large acquaintance of Cardinals & Bishops who will help me to kiss the foot of Sua Santità—you may fancy what a state of excitement I am in never having been to our Holy City before. Nevertheless we know nobody else & if you could without inconvenience give us or procure us a letter to our Ambassador Sir Augustus Paget it wd be very kind of you but if it is troublesome don't think of it. Lord Derby wd have given me some, but in the present crisis I don’t want to disturb him about a trifle.
Is there any hope of our seeing you at Vienna. We hope to get the first fortnight there. We have been about three months at Trieste or a little more & there are many things in its favour & some against it but we are very happy & have lots of nice things to do & pleasant occupations. I could stop a year with pleasure, but Richard naturally feels rather wasted—nevertheless is very happy & occupied. I am learning German, Italian and still Arabic. Still writing Syria book—keeping up singing & we go to the fencing school for an hour's fence & drill every day for our health because we can't afford horses. In addition to this Richard is learning Russian & modern Greek & writing his Iceland book & going through a fresh course of Chemistry & Botany.
Give my best love to Lady Houghton & your children & believe me dear Ld Houghton
Hotel de Ville Trieste
March 18th '73
I hope the Pope will say something to make an impression on Richd.
My dear Albert
I have received your kind letter and will answer it soon, meantime Dick has sent you a letter to Rio and I enclose you a card with its contents in chief. I am hurried because living up country where Dick is taking mud baths, and am in town for a few hours.
Love to Mrs. Tootal.
Figure 23. A Fellow Passenger, July 11, 1873. From Burton's Sketchbook.
My dear Tootal
I wrote to you some 3 months ago. Did you get a letter? I am afraid that many of my notes have gone wrong, as a dishonest clerk turned up at the agents (O’Briens). If you write & say that you did not get it I will repeat contents. Glad to say that Hans Stade will start for England in a day or two. I have shown him very little attention during last two years & regret it. Now I like the looks of him very much. I only hope Hakluyts Soc. will do its duty well. Better luck to the next book we publish together. I will keep you alive as to what H. S. is doing.
How is Scully getting on? Do you speak with P’haddy? When does Aubertin return? I’m sorry to hear that he has fallen into the depths of freethought. Is Richard Austin still there? And Lidcotte? Does Hunt go home for good soon? And old Lara is he still the Corsair or [Corseur de Femolles]. How is old Mulatinha? Have you been up Babilonia? Does Mad. [Millia] still keep Hotel at Santos? Does Wright the banker still live? Do you ever see my old partner Coimbra? Is Rio society much changed? I shall be coming out again some day when my holidays veer round. I must do the Amazons and Bolivia.
We must get a copy of Hans Stade handsomely bound for the Emperor.
Give my kindest regards to your Mother and all your family. I shall always have a pleasant remembrance of Rio and its English friends & the H. des Estrang. (altho’ the beef is vile). Do you still drink Garibaldis? Don't forget all my salaams to Mrs. Whittaker that was—poor old John I do not forget him.
Richd F. Burton
Trieste Oct. 10 / 73
My dear Wylde
This is a bother but I can’t help it. I’m writing about the Congo and want loan of the report which I sent to F. O. in 1863 and borrowed in 1864 to read before the British Ass. Do be good natured and tell some one to put it under official cover to me (along with the map or maps). I will send it back in a few days.
R. F. Burton
William H. Wylde Esq.
Trieste, Novr 5 73
I will begin by answering your question. Not a word has been said to me by the Foreign Office or any other office. They are quite right to ignore me. Years ago I offered to settle this Ashanti nonsense which is now becoming tragical, by allowing (King Kwaku Deo—the last one—his rights) them their rights—a settlement on the shore to "make a beach" as natives say. But the Fantes a race of middlemen and the white merchants were too strong for me. Had I been sent to the Coast, Commerell would not have gone up the Chama River without hostages; Lt. Young would not have been trapped by a common bait of canoes; the whole Western Coast would not have been in arms against us & Wolseley would not have issued nonsense which will make every negro say "he be all same one damn fool! he be a small boy! he no sabby! what for Queen send um?" If Wolseley (as they say he is) be determined to march à Berlin, he has taken a queer step, beginning with making himself despised. How many years have I not been writing and warning my dumb brained fellow countrymen not to finesse with Asiatic and African! You are quite right on one point. No Protectorate. Either a bona fide Colony or “beastly devils”. The F. O. has been completely silent. Like orthodoxy Red Tape never forgives nor forgets. Its wound is great because it is so small.
This affair which a mission and £1000 would have settled at any time between 1862-1870 will now cost the country millions. In 1872 I offered the West Coast merchants to settle the business. Commerell, Young & Wolseley by simple ignorance and neglect will double the millions! I ask myself if the Colonial Office ever really wanted to make peace with Ashanti? Which is thoroughly in the right whilst we are utterly in the wrong. By taking Elmina we virtually closed their only port and left them at the mercy of our local protégés the Fantes who admirably combine all the worst qualities of white & black. And if Wolseley depends upon these curs he will come to grief.
If you want any other question answered, you will of course ask me. I felt that your friendship would dictate a letter and I awaited it with a patience which becomes at 50.
You'll understand how hard I have worked when 8 volumes have been finished since Dec 6 ‘72. Hans Stade now publishing. By this time next year 15 vols. will be ready, of course not to be printed at once. Perhaps if Brit Pub had known this it might have insisted upon my being sent to Africa. I've also found a grand nest of pre-historic buildings, weapons etc. called "Castillieri" doubtless Roman but occupying quasi-cyclopean foundations: the excavations have produced the usual stone axes and arrow heads. I shall come out strong upon this in spring—especially as there is nothing more exciting for me to do.
Fred Hankey must nearly have been burnt out. I often hear from Boy Bunny What has become of tall Colonel (Hodgson)? Of Stuart alias Potter? Buckley Mathew writes at times, apparently he will be satisfied with Paris or Constantinople. No news of Swinburne, but a faint report that he is becoming respectable, the road to ruin! I shall enjoy your book. And you will enjoy one of mine when it is printed—Basti! I hope that there is nothing serious the matter with Baker. She's a brick. One of the best of the lot, Ed. Higginbotham, died. A Yankee and I have agreed next autumn to do Yucatan—after 2 years they (i.e. F. O.) can't refuse me 6 months leave. I shall then try lecturing in the States.
It is a real pleasure to hear that Fryston is so flourishing, and to look forward to seeing you however distant be the time. My wife has orders to report all about the home department. With best love.
R. F. B.
P.S. Don’t mistake my meaning. If I can be of any use even as Scape Goat I am ready to start within half an hour for the Gold Coast, or Hades (with chance of return). Isabel would accompany me to Teneriffe & perhaps beyond. Meanwhile Arrivano i Castellieri! They are really most interesting & Fergusson (Rude Stone) has never heard of them except through me.
November 5th 1873
My dear Lord Houghton,
We have often been thinking of you & hoping we were not forgotten. We have taken a little flat on the outskirts of Trieste furnished it & settled down on the 4th piano (which nobody here but ourselves can understand) to get good pure air & light, a beautiful sea & mountain view, & perfect tranquility. Here we pass our days as happily as two birds in a nest, & I hope Richard won’t be fanned into a public spirited state of mind & want to go to Africa, because I think they have got into such a desperate mess that it is irredeemable, & now they will be looking round for a scape-goat. Who would serve their purpose so well as my Ishmael? He offered himself to go & look after the boundaries of Afghanistan & was rejected. We were thrust out of Syria. He asked for Persia & was rejected. He is still yearning for Morocco, but now to be sent to Africa if it were to come to pass, when the mischief is done, wd I think end in ignominy instead of glory. Don't you think so too?
Our news at present is scarcely worth relating. We came here last December & went to the Hotel. At first we rather disliked the place but then found it suited very well for a time. There is a good climate, creature comforts, an amiable commercial society, plenty of occupation & time to do it in—but thoughts of wild, Eastern & Political life sometimes make one sad to be here. Trieste is, however a pretty place, & very gay in the winter months, but not society that amuses us. We went away in spring to Rome by [Assisi], passed a day at the Holy House in Loreto. In Rome I got R fever & the Pope was ill in bed so I could not see him which was a great grief—we returned by Florence, Bologna & Venice & at each place I was laid up. We then went to Vienna & had a gay 3 weeks & then to Pola Fiume Aquila & all the environs of Trieste. The weather has been warm and all the natives have been dreadfully put out by the intense heat & left Trieste. We remained, & being used to hotter places did not feel it—but the cholera was bad, not more than 16 cases a day, but always fatal & doctors very ignorant. It is only just leaving us. Richard is writing up all his back work in order to begin a new life free—when the happy day comes for our grand Eastern plan. I am writing a little book on Syria for my own sex only but I expect it will end by being a large book it flows so under my hand. We learn German & in the winter we fence, & in the summer swim. There are capital swimming (sea) baths & masters. This is to prevent getting too soft or too rusty to start again when a good time comes. I am glad to hear good news of Lady Baker. She is a brave, good little wife, & I admire & envy her African exploits. We were sadly afraid at one time, they wd never exit from their dangerous position. We saw Ouida at Florence. What a wonderful woman she is. I am glad to hear good accounts of Lady Houghton's health. Pray give her my affectionate love also to Amicia & Florry. I do wish you had been able to come this way to see the Exhibition & stay with us en route. Some day when we have got a home at Morocco you must all come in Robin's holidays & pass them with us. I am delighted at the thought of having your book. If you will direct it to Capt. Burton HBM's Consul Trieste to the care of Messrs. O'Brien & Co. Foreign Office Agents 43 Parliament St. London I should get it quite safely in about a week. In about 6 months or less I hope to send you mine which however will be a very inadequate return. May I send you a photograph which has just been taken here & which everybody tells me is a very good one. I have not been able yet to persuade Richard to be done but I hope he will soon & you shall have one. He is answering your letter & this is to be enclosed. And with love from us both I remain most sincerely yours
B. Consulate Trieste Austria
Dear Lord Houghton
I hear nothing of Richard. I enclose you a letter I have written to Mr. Earle. Read it & tell me if you approve & send me back his address. I really am sorry. The bearer will wait.
Trieste Dec 16 '73
Carissimo Yours of December 10th came today & I reply at once.
I certainly wrote about Gold Coast to the F. O. but is it so long ago that I can't remember anything about it (so mind how you quote). Also I proposed, if they make me Governor to send home £1 million of Gold per annum, but F. O. will say as little about me as possible. Look at "Wanderings in West Africa" vol. 2 p.p. 58-61 especially the latter and see that I foresaw this row. Before setting out for Scotland (Spring 1872) I went to Mr. Swangy (African merchant) and others proposing to go to Ashanti & settle the affair if they would recommend a mission to the F. O.; of course they refused because they knew my panacea for wars which put coins in their pockets. I only proposed that the Ashanti should be allowed a port outside our "protectorate" near the Volta. Had I been sent now I should have saved men & money. Rails, wooden houses, iron hospital etc. And don't think that the affair is a light one. The papers all undervalue the climate—every man will have fever and many will die of it. I could have prevented this as I did with my cruizer crew on the Coast (sorry for the poor fellows, but not my fault) but cui bono? (Hutchinson of Callao, a doctor who was two years on the coast has not been consulted).
I've hit upon a grand mine of prehistoric buildings & should so much like you to be at next meet of Anthrop. Soc. of London to hear my account of Istrian Castillieri. Another man would expect praise or pudding for the work—I neither, & what's more, I don't want them.
You complain of the indolence of years. Helas! mon cher you can't have everything & you must know something of the ills the suffering rich endure. Drop Ouida. The affair is nasty. It is too long to write but some day you shall hear.
My wife orders me to tell you that you can't make her jealous of Lady Baker. We join in kindest remembrances and “wishes of the season” to you & all yours. If you want details about anything I can give them at once. Bunny well, Fred. Hankey not rich but flourishing.
The traveller, Captain, afterwards Sir Richard, Burton, and his handsome wife were at our hotel, and we often dined together. She was very bright and pleasant; but her husband was generally silent, except when on the subject of his travels. The ugly cut down his face gave him a sinister expression. We often went together to hear Edward Strauss' delightful band in the Volksgarten.
Some notable persons also drifted in and out, to meet whom was a privilege. Prominent among these was the noted explorer and orientalist, Burton (Sir Richard Francis), whose pilgrimage to Mecca sixteen years before had brought him fame. Others of his journeys had perhaps been more dangerous, riding across deserts without food or water, and often in deadly peril at the hands of hostile tribesmen, although an adept at impersonating Mohammedans. Showing the scar, he described vividly to me how, in a skirmish with the Somalis, he had had a javelin thrust through his jaw and had finished a personal encounter with it still hanging there. At the time we met him he was British Consul at Trieste; he related to me in an amusing way the requirement that consuls should be present in the consulates at some time in every quarter of a calendar year and that he, wishing to travel in Africa, and having a reliable vice-consul, would leave his post on the second or third day of a quarter and return just before the expiration of the next quarter. Then his report would contain the perfectly truthful statement that, with the exception of a few weeks passed in travel, he had been present in the consulate during both quarters. His manner was blunt to brusqueness but not unpleasant to any one whom he had no reason to dislike.
Such lots of notable people came to see us during these two months to say “bon voyage” and “au revoir!” Among them two stand out in my memory, strongly, distinctly. One, Captain Burton, the African traveller, tall, dark, bronzed, masterful, and much addicted to long conversations with the ladies of the ballet and the pages. I, an untravelled one, with the bump of veneration largely developed, regarded him with the greatest awe, admiration and respect. Still, I could not get away from the fact that he was artistically made up; the cheeks rouged a little and the eyes Indian-inked a lot, just as if he were going on the stage.
Trieste March 2. 1874
My dear Tootal
Yours of November reached me in January—the post between Austria & Brazil is decidedly not brilliant. Thanks for the information about Bahia & remember me to Candido [Meredes] when you see him. What was the name of the literary bookseller in the Alt Stade whom we used to call upon? If Dr. Netto's be a hoax it is not clever. (The Phoenician wreck is quite possible & I have always been looking out for something. But conceding the possibility it is a mere question of fact. [Hester's] inscriptions were like mine—mere hieroglyphics like those on the Congo River) However thanks for the slip of Newspaper.
What is meaning of that funny row about Hunt in the Brazil & R.P. Mail (Feb.20)? Dundas has followed our example, living at S. Paulo. I heard of Le Tout-pêre et fils versus Misther Scully. You are quite right to spare yourself and save your youth by living at [Tejuca]. Rio air must tell upon a man. Do you still walk o’ Sundays? I have kept up the habit regularly. Hans Stade is still being corrected (alas! these slow Britishers) but I like your part of it very much indeed. The Hakluyts shall send you out 25 copies and you had better present one to the Emperor in neat binding. Part 1. is nearly finished! All rough draught of Camoens done, awaits only the polish. No hurry. I want to see [Jerumenha's] Lusiads out before publishing as a new life of Camoens is evidently wanted. Who was Miss [Albertazzi]? (i.e. her Pa?)
Coimbra I presume is heiress-hunting as usual. He'll marry some fat thing with a full pouch and a temper. I should like some chat about Gordon & his mines. (The German mineralogist I hear has left Brazil.) Don’t go trying hydropathy at [Novo Friburgo], it may do you more harm than good. I have studied the system & believe in it where the climate is favourable for instance in Silesia. Not in France & England & certainly not in hotter climates where reaction sets in slowly.
I have not published anything of late but have been very hard at work, writing violent leaders in various papers against the Radicals. The change of Government quite sets me free. I'm in no hurry to leave Trieste as the little peninsula (Istria) abounds in interest. You will have seen the last meeting of the Anthro., where my paper on the Castillieri came on. They are said to be perhaps the oldest remains in Europe. I shall start for Dalmatia in the spring & do Montenegro thoroughly. Then ready for anything or anywhere. But the "Eastern Question" may crop up at any moment and then will be my time of triumph. The wretched Radicals did not consult me at all about their miserable Ashanti War and they have lost at least 3 times more men than necessary. They shall be soundly abused for their misconduct. They are completely broken up & will take a long time to reorganize, Conservatives reaping the benefit of good discipline. Had they been bolder they would have won more seats. The fact is they didn't believe in their own good luck. Damn the man who doubts himself.
Have you seen Paddy Hutchinson's book? He seems to have a personal grudge against that pious, prayerful & God fearing people the Incas and treads upon their jackets whenever he can. He has stuffed his volume with figures & statistics which ought to have been banished to the Appendix.
Old Beke has found a “bogus" Sinai, I suppose the discovery was made in London and the actual exploration is only a detail. Nothing more melancholy than to see a humdrum man battling for originality. I hope & trust that you do not give up literature but allow yourself some hours even if only one a day of serious study. Men’s minds run riot in the tropics & want the curb. You should have a speciality & it should be Brazil. A Brazilian scholar is sadly wanted by the R.G.S., the Anthros. & all the Socs. You should work steadily at Varnhagen so as to correct his many mistakes and study something of Tupi.
My wife joins in kindest regards & hopes that we may meet soon. I shall certainly take a holiday some day & run out to Rio. Remember well to all friends (Aubertin, Tout-pêre, the Misther, etc.), your family especially. Hunt has not written for ages, he was answered but he has not rejoined. Mrs. Burton wants to know if you got her photo. sent about July-August last? You don't mention it. Write as soon as you can.
Novamente as they say here.
R. F. Burton
P.S. Did you see Braasilia? And the Jacaré?
P.S. March 5.
Please send me by book post addressed to Consulate Trieste, Dr. Couto de Magalhães "On the Indians of Brazil" read before the Institute Historico of Rio noticed in the Mail of Feb. 21. I have made an immense collection of notices about Tupi Religion & shall write on the subject. Is he right in deriving the Sun from Guara instead of Coara? And whence does he get his Ruda or Peruda, god of love (rut?). However that may be the paper is interesting.
I forgot to tell you that I have finished a vol. on the Lowlands of the Brazil. It will be published when my wife goes to London say June next. Old Williams of Bahia was here en route to India (of all places!) and I showed him the Castellieri.
16 Cheyne Walk
Dear Capt. Burton,
Thanks for your note. I can only cry Peccavi! as regards Pier del Vigne who certainly shd have been introduced if on account only of his historical interest. By far the greater part of the Translations were chosen & made before I was 20, & the only object I had was to choose what I thought most capable of being made good English poetry. I remember that I afterwards bethought me (between the 1st & 2nd editions) of the mistake in omitting Piero; but the 2nd edition was put through the press while I was in the country, & the point flew out of my head. He shall be added if a 3rd edition shd find me alive. I must say however that I still think him among the more prosaic members of a rather monotonous band.
Your translation of L. della Vernaccia’s Sonnet is very close and has an antique quality. The original has always struck me, but for some rather superficial archaicisms, as seeming rather to suggest Renaissance words than the period assigned to it, though I suppose it is really early. Hence the somewhat Miltonic tone of my version. As to the question of fidelity (as in Preface) I there meant to refer entirely to fidelity of main meaning. Though adhering to the character of each metric, I did not follow the individualities of separate sonnets, since some freedom of action was necessary to my aim at harmonious English; & I think that the student of the analytic or philo-logical side of the matter must find it worth his while to tackle the Italian originals. With kind regards
&c &c &c
My dear Lord Houghton,
I received your nice letter of March 25th written in answer to mine of condolence on a sad occasion. I have now before me your affect. enquiry of July 17th which until this morning I was unable to answer. This is what happened. On 14 May just 91 days ago Richard was struck down by a sudden pain which a few hours determined to be a tumour in the groin of a very severe nature. I sent at once for the best physicians & the best surgeon in Trieste who warned me that it wd be a long and painful affair. So I telegraphed to London for a water bed, generous Port remedies soups & and sought strong XX porter, putting big iron rollers on the bed so as to move him easily & thus prepared I took up my station by his pillow which I never left for 78 days & nights.
He was in such pain, as weak as a child & unable to turn in bed without assistance—besides he seemed to have a complication of things all at once—fever gout rheumatism deafness sore throat &c. He had 2 bad operations performed—the last one under chloroform. It took 2 bottles of chloroform and 40 minutes to put him under. The physician held one pulse and I the other and the surgeon chloroformed and cut—a hole about a finger deep & 3 inches wide but happily he was unconscious (I thought I should have died). After that my chief business was giving the strongest nourishment every hour dressing the wound & rolling up the beds & transferring him from one to the other whenever he was tired. In the midst of our worst our dear friend & travelling companion Drake died in Jerusalem of typhoid & this news caused the wound to open afresh. He loved Drake like a brother & few know what a tender heart R has. On the 1st of August (having perceived for some days that he was getting a nervous feel that he could not leave his room, nor breathe nor swallow) I obtained leave with some difficulty from the doctors to transfer him in a carriage full length & at foot's pace to a rural inn an hour from & 1200 ft. above Trieste where the view of the sea & mountains is glorious & the town is at our feet. Here the splendid air & perfect tranquility & the idea that he is free are doing him so much good that now after 12 days we are now rising at 5 o'clock, breakfasting & dining in the garden, taking little walks of 10 minutes & driving for 2 hours in a country caretta. On the 16 I can move him to Battaghlia near Padua for baths & it is thought on the 20th that he will be strong enough for me to leave him. I am quite broken down by fatigue & anxiety and have gastric pain which affects my head & sight & I am ordered to Recoaro near Vicenza for waters (fortunately the two places are only 6 hours apart so I can easily get back to him if he needs me). My nerves are quite gone pro tem. I was afraid to jump into the sea out of my depth the other day, and last year I learned to swim about the bay and can do anything in the water. However I have a great consolation, the doctors say that my love & care have kept the life in him & that without me they wd not have succeeded. I do not consider him cured yet but far on the road of convalescence & I expect another month or 6 weeks will make him a stronger man than before. Lord Derby was kind & telegraphed leave.
I don't like Swinburne for neglecting you. He, & Richard & I, & many others I know, would have remained very much in the background, if you had not taken us by the hand & pulled us into notice, and I abominate ingratitude. At any rate, please God you never find that with us.
me yours most sincerely
Direct to Trieste to forward
if you are kind enough to write
Augt. 12. 1874 (Grouse)
Trieste. Oct. 29. '74.
My dear Tootal
My wife and I saw your marriage in the papers and renew our congratulations. Mind you don’t let the young 'uns become Brazileiros e Brazileiras. You were told about my illness which lasted till August 1st. I then made an effort, got out of the sick room and rushed off to Venice, Padua and the baths of Battaglia and Recoaro, the latter a most interesting place just south of the Austrian Tyrol. Returned to Trieste Sept. 21 and am living in the hills at Opcina about an hour's drive out of town. My wife goes to England late in November, all her plans have been thrown out some 4 months by my illness. However, my Iceland Book is gone to the printers which is a great satisfaction.
The proofs of Hans Stade were corrected five months ago. I sent them to Clements Markham (now Sir, R.G.S.) who promised to add a few lines about the various editions and translations. Of course he is delaying and will probably delay a year if not duly looked up in December next.
Dr. Couto Magalhães came all right and I read him with great pleasure. Some day I shall translate or rather abridge him. (Why don't you prepare a paper from him? Send to Anthropo. Institute not Society. Anthro. Institute have no funds & have begun the usual jobbing). His theories about the Tupi faith are all in the clouds. He cannot expect to put down such men as Gabriel Soares and Yves d'Evreux. Can you pick up for me in the bookstalls a copy of a historical romance called "O Caboclo"? It is a very common-looking volume, but I should like to read it again.
Camoens nearly finished but will not come out for some time. I have finished a translation of the Uruguay. "Lowlands of the Brazil" ready for press. You have read only abridgement of my paper on the Castellieri & you must read the whole affair.
You are quite right about business—in these days a very serious study. But hundreds of business men (e.g. John Lubbock) find time for study, and change of occupation [to] an active mind like yours is the best of rest. Why should you not go in regularly for anthropology, get all the books from Wilson downwards and read them carefully making notes in the margin? A couple of hours a day (regular) soon makes a giant hole in a subject. Your translation of Hans Stade will be noticed vy favourably and your name will have made its first appearance in public. The anthropology of the Brazil requires a completely modern treatment and you have not a soul as rival. Then a trip to the [B…] country south of Bahia will give you a fine theme to work your studies upon. I have written to Hunt in London as we heard that he is going on leave. Don’t I recollect Buckly, the most disagreeable dog alive. Still I am glad he has fallen on his legs again. People go to hear Ristori just because they don’t understand the language of Dante and wish to look as if they did. Paranhos is a brick, I always liked him & thought well of him—we met for the last time in Paraguay. What is […] Tant-pêre’s […] must be flourishing on the Argentine Revolution. What a rascal that [Mitre] is! Alas for Brazilia & the Jacaré! Aubertin has written.
Let me hear from you and I will not be so slow in answering. We join in kindest remembrances to your mother, your sister and all the family. Where is the late Mrs. Whittaker? […] Every precaution for you to […] this. […]
Our stay in Cairo was uneventful, and we were glad to return to England at the end of October. As there was very little room on the despatch vessel that took the Commander-in-Chief to Trieste, Wardrop, Childers and I reached that port on an Austrian Lloyd steamer Creagh had already returned to his battery in India. I was suffering from a slight attack of dysentery, and did not enjoy the journey home or the voyage up the Adriatic, which in other circumstances would have been very pleasant. We had to wait at Trieste a day or two for our Chief, and called on our consul there, no less a person than the well-known Sir Richard Burton, not yet knighted, if my memory serves me. Burton was one of the most remarkable men of his generation, and his genius for dealing with easterns of all sorts should have been put to far greater use for the empire than it was. He was, of course, quite wasted at a place like Trieste, where a consul of good business habits and some commercial training, with a knowledge of the language would have sufficed. We found him and his almost equally remarkable wife, an Arundell of Wardour, installed in a small flat, not far from the harbour, and were most hospitably received by them. Burton had the Arab cast of face and head, and one could imagine how well he would have looked the part dressed in eastern garments. A year or two later I saw him at Gibraltar, when he and his wife stayed for a few days at “The Convent,” the Governor's official residence. The post of British Minister in Morocco was about to fall vacant, and I think he came to see how the land lay, but with our genius for failing to put the round man in the round hole, our Government gave the post, which would so admirably have suited Burton, to someone else, and not very long afterwards the great traveller died, a disappointed man.
When Wolseley and Swaine arrived at Trieste we took train for Paris, and I remember the Chief's annoyance at being made the object of Lady Burton's attentions at the railway station. She insisted on presenting him with a gigantic bouquet, which I am afraid he threw out of the window as soon as the train left the station.
14 Montagu Place,
Dear Mr. Friswell
I came over a little while ago & have searched everywhere to find you and at last I know that you edit the Pictorial World & live in the country & also thank God that by this latter move your health is much better. How are you all & is there any hope of seeing you before I go back to Trieste. Give me your news. Capt. Burton is in Trieste & has sent me over to bring out my book & a few of his. I sought out the Brinsley Sheridans called twice & wrote too. Are they dead? So many of my old friends are since I left, & I am getting continual shocks. They have never answered so I feared some misfortune had happened.
Write like a good old friend & tell me something about yourself.
Give my love to your wife & believe me
4 Feb. 1875
Feb. 7 1875.
My dear Mr. Friswell
I was pleased beyond measure to get your nice long note & most interested with all the news you gave me—some, indeed most of which (particularly about your health) I warmly sympathised in. I have so much to talk about that there is no use in my writing a letter & I should like to come down in the manner you suggest from Charing X at 12 & spend a long afternoon with you returning in the evening (not because I want my maid, I always enjoy going without when grand toilette for dinner is not exacted of me) but because my hands are so full of work that I don’t know when just now I can get a half holiday but I think not this coming week but the next. Will you let me do this! I was sent over for 6 weeks. Arrived on 12th December to publish my own book & 6 of Richards to try & get him a new good Eastern place & a K.C.B. I am still here & my work is just half done just seriously beginning & I can’t return till Easter. I work some times 13 hours a day & often feel quite ill & want a rest which half a day's chat with you & your wife quietly wd give me. I will tell you what my present labour is, & I daresay you wd give me a lift in the Pictorial, like a good old friend as you have ever been; besides you may probably recognize your own baby of 14 years ago, grown into a man (I mean the paper I enclose you, where you helped me to form a biography of my dear old man's life & services) & improved in length of service & career. This though we thought but little of it when we composed it, is going to be the means of bringing him the reward he so heartily covets. Lord Derby & Disraeli have got a copy & all the F. O. & 147 influential friends. The present Govt are Dick’s friends, & he is one of their ardent supporters. We do not want any pressure put because we have not been refused & Lord D. & Disraeli know Dick, like him & think highly of his career. So we do not want to lose our cause by any want of tact or an indiscretion only we feel that there are so many persons with weighty claims that it requires just a proof that it wd be a popular movement & no party question. I know you will agree that no claimant can show such an honest list of services without a shadow of reward. This is our good time at the beginning of Parliament & I feel that perhaps I might induce you to give us a word that might turn the tide in his favour. If you say yes tell me when I may look out for it lest I shd just miss it on that day. Could you give me an introduction to the Graphic or Illustrated, the Standard or Vanity Fair. I wd try my luck with them. We want everybody's good word. May I write to you & tell you the first chance I see of a half holiday for me. I have refused 100 country house invitations & have paid no visits—even letters & commissions must stand aside because I can’t afford society till my work is done but I will come to you first & I think that will be next week if I may. With love to your wife & mind what you are about this raw beastly weather
yours ever sincerely
14 Montagu Place
Richard is pining at being passed over & wants to be made a KCB. I enclose you a little ‘resume’ of his unrewarded services which I had printed for private friends to save my bad writing. You will I know agree that no candidate can show such an honest list of services without a shadow of reward & hence it shd be a large one.
Mr. Disraeli & Lord Derby both know like & think highly of Dick & have each a copy of enclosed but they are so beset by candidates I want everybody’s fond word & no opposition if they are pleased to give it. I think it wd be a very popular act & after all is no party question—I know I need not ask you if any opportunity occurs to say a good word, for though on the other side you must have lots of private friends in the ministry. Will you tell me by return of post if Lady Anna Stirling Maxwell is dead or has recovered her accident.
11 Feb. 75
14 Montagu Place
35 Manchester Street
My dear Friend
You are quite right. This plain hero is grander than all the lillies & decorations that adorn commoner men, but after 32 years, a hero cannot, however philosophical he may be outside, bear to sit forgotten by his distant fireside, & to read in the papers of little men, culling the credit & good opinion of other men, for the deeds that were done by him, for words that have been spoken or written by him long ago, & to sink into the grave. To stand on a pedestal before the world unadorned is one matter, but to live for England's approbation, credit, honour, & praise, & to see that England does not remember one is alive, is another thing. What comforted him under his toils, dangers, fevers, starvation, thirsts & burning suns, but the hopes of England's praise. You think him foolish from your pedestal, so do I from mine, but I understand him. My pedestal is this (the thoughts of being Lady Burton has never once crossed my thoughts but the world will say so) that I care very little for this world now, & a great deal for the other, & if my poor darling could only think as I do he wd not care two pence for this honour, but he has not got that comfort, & so long as we both live I will cry for justice on the house tops till he gets it.
Thanks dear friend for saying that “we are beloved". Those are the sort of things that warm my heart with a flush of happiness, & I suppose it is because our foreign lives are not passed amongst English gentlemen, that makes him value this empty title. I went on the principle, in drawing up my little statement, of only mentioning his actual services without praise & saying what he wanted for it, without blaming any person, that he had not got it; a sort of debtor & creditor account, which I thought wd take best with Officials. You have genius, but what do they care about that except Dizzy, who really I believe wishes to give it him. I have had a very kind letter from that quarter through Montagu Corry, and dine with Lady Derby on 3d. I have sent 171 of my little papers, to secure that number of friends in both houses, on both sides, to strengthen their hands, each accompanied by a private note from myself, & except one near all are relations, friends, or acquaintances. This, & hoping to get a good Eastern place, & correcting my own proofs, & seeing 6 books of Richard's through the press, are my only reasons for not doing that which I was longing to do, run down to Fryston when you asked me. When do you come up for good? Will it be too late, a short while hence. I am living in hopes of getting Dick home for a month in end of March, but have not yet asked. My book will be out mid March.
Trieste ( +Bora =
March 2 '75
Caro Houghton, as the Yank said before the big fight with the B'ar "God a'mighty, it’s not often I bother you, but as” now I have really something worth telling you. Boy Bunny has been behaving like a trump and has given up his mind (as I, his Pa, have ever advised) to the study pure and simply of Hindù erotic literature.
See p. 46 of Koka Pandit translated, I regret to see, into our cleanly English tongue by two ruffians who sign themselves F.F.A. & B.F.R. You will find an allusion to the "Holy Sage Vátsyáyana Muni". He is the father of Ars Amoris in Sanskrit, lived about AD. 100 and wrote a book in 9 chapts that treats de omni re scribiti et feminina. He also quotes from no less than 9 other authors whose works have wholly perished. One of his chapters treats of courtesans, another of managing one's own wife and a 3d of managing other men's wives. It is the standard book. Bunny has ordered the book from Benares, where the "Holy Sage" lived and will begin to translate at once. If it is thoroughly moral I hope to add some notes. And why, when old age creeps on, should one not devote oneself to popularising the precepts of the wise?
I see your name often quoted in the papers &
intelligently gather that you are doing well. We may meet in April or May next
for thin soup, lean meats and vinegarish wine have emptied my veins. You might
if you have become Conservative suggest to Mr. Diz. that Trieste
is not half large enough to hold me, but that I should be contented with
Central Asia or even with Northern Africa.
Adieu Au revoir. Tout à
Trieste. April 10. 75.
My dear Tootal
Yours of March 8 received and not answered in an indecent hurry because you are a newly married man. I sent it on together with her half, naturally the better half, to my wife who has been in England since last December, and I venture to hope she has had the civility to answer you. But if she has not you must remember that she has been working with 250 woman-power, and that when the heavy load is started that she will not forget a Brazilian friend.
By this time you have doubtless got Hans Stade—my wife made enquiries and found that your copies were sent.
What do you think of joining me in a translation of Gabriel Soares (you will find him in the bibliogr. part)? That is, you do translation and I do notes? This time I promise (barring accidents) not to keep you waiting, and Hakluyts will publish. Think of it. An hour or even 30’ day would finish it in 18 months or 2 years. a little literary work will prevent your mind rusting and when you come to England you will gather the fruits. I should write to your wife if I knew the lady and should secure her powerful aid. You have done Hans admirably well and the Reviews have given you no end of kudos. Tell me when you write what you think of the look of the [book].
I go to England end of April. My direction Athenaeum Club Pall Mall or 14 Montague Place M. Square. Shall see Hunt and possibly Mister Buckley Mathew. Old friends are getting scarce at Rio. How is Misther Scully? how be Tant-pêre?. My kindest regards to your mother & to all your people, my salaams to the bay & best wishes to one & all.
R. F. Burton
Howletts or Athenaeum
May 24 ‘75
My dear Tootal
I have just reached England after a charming dawdle of a journey, 17 days from Trieste, through upper Italy, Switzerland, the Rhine etc. I expected to be disappointed with the latter after the great rivers of Africa, N. America and the Brazil especially as I had not seen it for some 20 years. Quite the reverse, I found it more picturesque and beautiful than ever.
I am now answering your note of Rio 6 April. What was the number of the Spectator which gave me cheek in re Hans Stade? I should like to offer a little pepper in return. Don’t trouble yourself anymore about O Calabar—my friend Williams of Bahia has got it for me. And what do you think about translating Gabriel Soares? I can always publish it with notes and this time it shall not be kept waiting for five years. Are you also taking any steps to get copies and lists of the stone weapons at Pernam Bahia & Rio? I hope to see you keeping up some literary work—you will find the benefit of it in 1876 when you come to England. What will be your mother’s direction?
I often see Hunt, as we hold a smoking party called Haji Abdullah's Divan every Sunday even. from 10 pm to nominally 12 and really to 1.30 am. He is looking very well. Do you know John Coghlan of B. Ayres? Today I take him to the anniversary meeting of the R.G.S. Crawfurd & Rickard of the Rep. Argent. are also here.
My wife joins me in kind regards, her book will not be out until end of May and you will be curious to see it. My anticipatory compliments to Mrs. Tootal.
R. F. Burton
14 St James
I write one line to say that I had brought down the map & forgot to make it over to you. So it has been sent this evening.
Dovercourt was so slow after Fryston.
My kindest regards to Mrs. Milnes and all friends. I will not say addio, but simply
Richd F Burton
Helas! impossible. There are people dining here. I'll try tomorrow. I thought you would come to club.
R. F. B.
Wed. June 9 ‘75
My dear Admiral
R. F. Burton
Admiral Sir George Back
My dear Houghton
We had a charming dinner with Charley Forbes at Star & Garter yester. even. and had nothing to regret but your absence. Charley F. told me that in conversation he had broached the marvellous idea of my being "marooned" at Trieste! Too bad! I know every stick and stone within a radius of 100 miles. I have written a book about Circumpadane Etruria (Bologna), I have written a book about Dalmatia, God knows I have written and rewritten about the whole country.
And now I'm sick of it. I want to be up and doing. Central Asia or Central Africa or something of the kind. I have applied for Tiflis. One of the clerks say "Between us two they are going to appoint a military man who knows something of the language". I replied I am a military man who knows something of the language. Que diable! My broadsword Exercise (quite new & my own invention) has been submitted to the Duke with his approval. I have offered my cavalry pistol gratis to the War Office. I have—never mind. Do lend me the hand of help and send an elderly gentleman to Trieste.
June 29. … Last night we met Captain and Mrs. Richard Burton, the travellers, at dinner at the Sheridans'. She was an Arundel of Wardour and would marry this most cut-throat-looking individual. I wonder if she is happy? Anyhow, she told us many wonderful stories, ending with an account of poor Janie Teleki, who died in her arms at Damascus, having been received into the Church of Rome on her death-bed.
Bedden, South of Gondokoro 23 miles
July 17, 1875
My Dear Captain Burton,
Though I have not had the honour of meeting you, I hope you will not object to give me certain information which I imagine you are most capable of doing. I will first relate to you my proposed movements. At this moment I am just starting from this station for the South. You are aware that hitherto the Nile from about eighteen miles south of Gondokoro to the junction of it with the Unyame Hor (Apuddo, Hiameye, Dufte, or Mahadé, as different people call it) has been considered impassable and a torrential stream. Being very much bothered with the difficulties of the land route for this distance, I thought I would establish ports along the river, hoping to find it in steps with portions which might be navigable, instead of what it was supposed to be–viz. a continuous rapid. Happily I came on the river at the commencement of its rise at the end of March, and found it navigable as far as Kerri, which is forty-six miles south of Gondokoro, and about forty miles north of the point where the Nile is navigable to the lake. As far south as one can see from Kerri the river looks good, for the highlands do not approach one another. I have already a station at Mahadé, and one at Kerri, and there remains for me to make another midway between Kerri and Mahadé, to complete my communication with the lake. I go very slowly, and make my stations as I proceed. I cannot reconnoitre between Kerri and Mahadé, but am obliged, when I once move, to move for a permanent object. If I reconnoitred, it would cost me as much time as if I was going to establish myself permanently, and also would alarm the natives, who hitherto have been quiet enough. I do not think that there are any so-called cataracts between Kerri and the lake. There may be bad rapids, but as the bed of the river is so narrow there will be enough water for my boats, and if the banks are not precipices I count on being able to haul my boats through. We have hauled them through a gap sixty-five yards wide at Kerri, where the Nile has a tremendous current. Now Kerri is below the junction of the Nile and the Asua; while Mahadé, where all agree the other rapids are, is above the junction; so that I may hope at Mahadé to have a less violent current to contend with, and to have the Asua waters in some degree cushioning up that current. I have little doubt of being able to take my steamer (the one constructed by Baker’s engineers at Gondokoro) up to Kerri, for I have already there boats of as great a draught or water. From Mahadé it is some one hundred and thirty miles to Magungo. About seventy miles south of Mahadé a split takes place in the river: one branch flows from the east, another from the west. I imagine that to the north of the lake a large accumulation of aquatic vegetation has taken place, and eventually has formed this isle. Through the vegetation the Victoria Nile has cut a passage to the east, and the lake waters have done this to the west. Baker passed through a narrow passage from the lake to the Victoria Nile channel. From Magungo the Victoria Nile is said to be a torrent to within eighteen miles of Karuma Falls. Perhaps it is also in steps. Karuma Falls may be passable or not. And then we have Isamba and Ripon Falls. If they are downright cataracts, nothing remains but to make stations at them, and to have an upper and a lower flotilla. If they are rapids, there must be depth of water in such a river in the rainy season to allow of the passage of boats, if you have the power to stem the current.
I now come to the Victoria Nyanza; and about this I want to ask you some questions–viz. What is the north frontier of Zanzibar? And have we any British interests which would be interfered with by a debouch of the Egyptians on the sea? Another query is, If the coast north of Equator does not belong to Zanzibar, in whose hands is it? Are the Arabs there refugees from the Wahhabees of Arabia?–for if so, they would be deadly hostile to Egypt. To what limit inland are the people acquainted with partial civilization, or in trade with the coast, and accordingly supplied with firearms? Could I count on virgin native tribes from Lake Baringo or Ngo to Mount Kenia–tribes not in close communication with the coast Arabs?
My idea is, that till the core of Africa is pierced from the coast but little progress will take place among the hordes of natives in the interior. Personally I would wish a route to sea, for the present route is more or less hampered by other governors of provinces. By the sea route I should be free. The idea is entirely my own; and I would ask you not to mention it, as (though you are a consul and I have also been one) you must know that nothing would delight the Zanzibar Consul better then to have the thwarting of such a scheme, inasmuch as it would bring him into notice and give him opportunity to write to F. O. I do not myself wish to go farther east than Lake Baringo or Ngo. But whether Egypt is allowed a port or not on the coast, at any rate I may be allowed to pass my caravans through to Zanzibar and to get supplies thence.
When I contrast the comparative comfort of my work with the miseries you and other travellers have gone through, I have reason to be thankful. Dr. Krapf talks of the River Dana–debouching into sea under the name of river–as navigable from Mount Kenia. If so–and rivers are considered highways and free to all flags–I would far sooner have my frontier at Mount Kenia than descend to the lower lands.
Believe me, with many excuses for troubling you,
It is no ma faute. On Wed. I went to Zoo to Athenaeum and to T. Bath. The stars fought against J. P. S. Mean while the offering on the altar was impossible. Two books & one month. I enclose a something from Bunny. Adieu et au revoir
R. F. Burton
P.S. The message sent in the evening of the 24th about your going on the 25th (at 10 am.) was delivered on the 25th at 1 pm.
Monday will be a failure. We must set out at 9 P.M. not 11 and return before 12. Bellamy has promised to arrange the affair as soon as possible—probably next Monday week.
Can you dine with me at 14 St James Square (7 P.M.) on that day—Monday 17th?? I will ask Cameron & Bellamy to meet you and if we don’t go to the Chinese lodgings we may drop in upon our old saintly friend from […] Chapel.
R. F. B.
I know that you collect [Madities]—what do you think of the enclosed?
Richd F. Burton
10th November 1875
My dear Captn Burton
In our short conversation yesterday, I remember that you seemed interested in learning what I knew of Major DeRuvignes’ having shot a gorilla while in the Gaboon.
In case my telling you that I had paid the bets, dependent upon his success to the major, may have led you to infer that I must have had some proof of his having accomplished the feat. I hasten to inform you that I had no evidence whatever beyond the Major’s word.
One of our friends in Calabar on paying me his dollars, suggested that I should take some means of verifying the major’s statement, for it never entered my mind for a moment that the Major—or indeed anyone in his position—could make a misrepresentation about such a matter.
The Gorilla’s skeleton that I had, was sent to me long after by Mr. Knight of Gaboon, and neither when he sent it, not afterwards when I thanked him for it in Fernando Po, was the slightest allusion made to Major DeRuvignes. If I had known in any way, that it was the skeleton of the animal DeRuvignes shot, I would have been only too happy to show it to our Calabar friends, as conclusive evidence of the baselessness of the doubts that one of them at least had manifested.
I cannot remember ever having received the skin of a Gorilla, while I was in Fernando Po; indeed I am certain that the only Gorilla skins I saw there, were those you yourself brought from Gaboon to the Consulate.
Before closing this I am tempted to ask a favour of you. The only likeness of you, that we have, is a very much faded photograph, taken by our friend Noeli in Fernando Po. If you could have the goodness to let us have one of recent date, I need not assure you that it would be carefully treasured, and very highly valued indeed.
With kind regards, and all good wishes, in which my wife cordially joins me, I beg to remain,
Yours ever most sincerely
Athenaeum Nov 14 75
My dear Frank Wilson
I felt quite glad to see your handwriting once more—it quite reminded me of old times. Thanks for the information about the Gorilla. As regards the photo. I am going tomorrow to Locke and Whitfield 78 (178?) Regent Street and I will tell him to send you one—if he does not within a reasonable time send him a line.
Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Wilson—so sorry that I did not know you were in town before the other day on the very verge of my departure. I have written to R. B. N. Walker proposing to assist him as much as possible in the matter of the Gabon provided he will promise to put you in a proper position there. Some day or other the West Coast will certainly see me and I only hope that we shall meet there again. A line to this club will always find me no matter what part of the world I may be in.
Je vous serre la main & remain
R. F. Burton
15th November 1875.
My Dear Captn Burton
A thousand thanks for your kind note yesterday which reminds me very touchingly of old times too!
It is very good of you amid your many other cares to think of the photo. It will be affectionately treasured till I have the happiness of meeting you again.
I do not know how to thank you for the warm interest you still take in me! I shall communicate with ou friend Bruce Walker as soon as possible.
Our best wishes go with you in your new travels!
Captn R. F.
&c. &c. &c.
THE LAKES OF CENTRAL
Athenaeum Club, Dec. 2, 1875.
As I am upon the point of leaving England and may not have an opportunity of addressing you for some time, perhaps you will allow me room for a few remarks upon Col. Grant's valuable paper, read at the last meeting of the Royal Geographical Society (Nov. 29).
1. The lakes of Central Africa were known to geographers, not "as far back as the year 833," but before the days of Ptolemy and Marinus of Tyre. The Nile was made to rise first from two lakes, then from three, then from one, and, lastly, from fanciful variations of these numbers. Many suspected, but I was the first to prove, that "the centre of Africa is studded with lakes"—is a lake region to the fullest extent of the term.
2. The Arabs did not "inform" Capt. Speke, who was unable to converse with them. They told about a great water to the north, but, as the expedition had already been grossly misinformed on the matter of a "Ziwa" (lake) which turned out to be a pool, I had my suspicions. Wanting privacy, however, and time to write out my notes, I despatched my late companion northwards—the result was the discovery of the Ukerewe portion of the Victoria Nyanza.
3. Col. Grant had better have been silent upon Sir R. Murchison's "Speke, we must send you back again!" Capt. Speke had voluntarily bound himself by a verbal promise, renewed in writing from Cairo, not to appear before the Royal Geographical Society until my arrival in England.
4. The reason why Sésé, Sesse, Sasse, Sessi, or Sesseh Island did not appear in either of Capt. Speke's two maps (1, Journal of the Discovery &c., and 2, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xxxiii., of 1863, the latter authorized by his family) can only have been that my late companion suspected he was exploring another water.
3. Dr. Livingstone's Journals show that Mr. Stanley was suffering from sickness at the time of the "pleasant picnic" north of the Tanganyika lake; thus, perhaps, we may explain why more care was not given to the exploration of this ancient point.
6. We are told that Capt. Speke gave the circumference of that monstrous bird-like shape, the Victoria Nyanza, as 645 miles, or 910 including the Baringo Lake, the head and beak of the dodo. Col. Grant's compass makes Stanley's lake measure 890 miles round, but he forgot to tell the meeting that in so doing he included the whole northern shore line, which the latest explorer has apparently placed some thirty miles too far north. Mr. E. G. Ravenstein, F.R.G.S., who has carefully measured the two areas, reduces to 20,000 square geographical miles what Capt. Speke made nearly double that space. Yet Col. Grant says, "The area of Victoria Nyanza, as made known to us by Mr. Stanley, proves that Speke far underrated its extent." Evidently geographers, like doctors, disagree.
7. Col. Grant tells us, "Capt. Burton did not seem to have any reason for his argument" against the unity of Capt. Speke's lake. My reason was simply the impossibility of a single water having four distinct outlets, and an inverted delta of inconceivable form. The "geographical world" did at first accept it, and caused me to wonder not a little at its credulity. At length, thanks to Mr. Stanley, the delta has undergone the fate of that marvellous horseshoe, "The Mountains of the Moon," which, built upon paper (see the fac-simile maps in my 'Zanzibar'), has disfigured for a decade the surface of Central Africa.
8. Dr. Livingstone was, I think, right in stating that "Speke had turned his back upon the real sources of the Nile." The old hero-martyr held, apparently to the day of his death, that the ultimate sources of the Nile are to be found in the highlands which shed the Lofu River to the north and the Chambeze south-westwards. Within a few months, or even weeks, we may hear that the energetic Col. Gordon or Mr. Stanley has abolished the Rusizi Lake, and substantiated the native reports, repeated so pleasantly to the meeting by Sir Samuel W. Baker, namely, that there is a canoe passage between the Tanganyika and the Luta (Mwutan) Ngize. If that be true, we shall return to the days of Ptolemy, and we shall find that the Nile gathers in two lakes, and we shall recognize in the Lofu the Caput Nili.
9. Col. Grant declares that I "said there must be several lakes, lagoons, anything, in fact, except the lake." This is hardly fair when I was, in fact, the "theoretical discoverer" (excuse the expression) of his Victoria Nyanza. What I really said was that a lake with four distinct outlets deserves to be split into four; and so far, I believe, the "geographical world" ought to be, as it at last was, with me. The lake laid down by me from Arab report may be found in Capt. Speke's map, inserted in his volume, 'What Led to the Discovery of the Sources of the Nile.' But I would not have this hearsay feature inserted either in my two volumes (the 'Lake Regions'), nor in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, nor in the little book called the 'Nile Basin.' So far from being "unjust," I wished only to be accurate; to show what had been seen, not what had been heard.
10. The Speke and Grant expedition alone must bear the blame for the errors of Messrs. A. Keith Johnston, E. Stanford, and E. Weller. These scientific mappers could hardly believe in the superficiality of observation and the geographical ignorance which gave four outlets to one lake. Consequently they divided the area into four, and they were fully justified in so doing. Mappers, like other men, cannot explain how two European travellers could traverse three streams, and yet mistake the direction of two of them.
11. Having seen the hippopotamus in the small "creeks" or rivulets of the East African coast, I fail to appreciate this sentence: "The river Ugoweh, at the north-east corner of the lake, must be a considerable stream also, for hippopotami were seen in it."
In conclusion, I need not repeat to readers of the Athenaeum my reasons for believing that the area occupied by Capt. Speke's two maps will be found to contain a lake region besides a lake. Mr. Stanley himself suggests that independent waters may be found to the north-east of the Victoria Nyanza, and I venture to express a hope that the Italian expedition, now setting out under the energetic Antinori, will add fresh lustre to the name of my distinguished friend, Cristoforo Negri, by finding and by mapping the lake region.
Richard F. BURTON.
After breakfast I went to pay my respects to our excellent consul, Captain Burton, and then hearing that the Austrian ironclad “Lissa” was outside the harbour, I took a boat and went to have a look at her. …
Trieste is anything but an interesting place; though a couple of days may be spent pleasantly enough visiting the neighbourhood, especially if one has the advantage of the acquaintance and company of our consul, Captain R. Burton; the Burton of Harar, of Mecca, and of Medina; the facile princeps of modern travellers and pleasant companions.
Why is Captain Burton kept at Trieste? It is not a difficult post, nor one requiring a man with exceptional qualifications; and it does seem a misapplication if not a waste of force to keep a man like Burton at Trieste, when he could be of so much greater use elsewhere. The thorough and intimate knowledge that he possesses of Oriental character, his perfect mastery of Arabic, together with the knowledge he has of Persian and scores of other languages, not to mention the experience he has acquired of Oriental affairs, customs and idiosyncrasies, all go to point him out emphatically as the right man in the wrong place at Trieste. I spent some very pleasant hours in his company during my short stay in that city, and shall never forget the kindness I experienced both from him and la bella Contessa, his most charming and accomplished lady.
Thus far, my observations have been of a strictly selfish nature. I know Captain Burton's capabilities, I feel that he is utterly thrown away where he is, and I want a quid pro quo for my money—consequently I want to see him in some post where his talents and exceptional qualifications may be of some profit to me. The reader will perceive that I am strictly selfish and utilitarian, and that in writing as above I have not been led away by sentimentality in any shape. Had I been in the opposite vein, I could have said, I met at Trieste Captain R. F. Burton, who undoubtedly is the greatest of living travellers, and also second to none in that great phalanx of explorers, who from time to time have devoted their lives to carrying civilization to the most remote corners of the earth. He opened up Eastern Africa, and most probably discovered in Lake Tanganyika the mysterious sources of the Nile. He directly opened up the path and led the way which was subsequently trodden by Speke, Grant, Stanley, Cameron, and others; indirectly he pointed out the way to Baker, Schweinfurth and Gordon. To Richard Burton then is due the discovery of this New Africa, this great Lake Region, so fertile and so rich in the centre of a continent which fifty years ago was believed to be one vast uninhabitable desert. What has been his reward ? He has been made consul at Trieste. Here is an inducement to our ardent British youth! I hear there is some talk of making him a K.C.B.; for myself, I wouldn't give a roll of ginger-bread for the distinction; however, let him have it by all means, but let us see him also removed to some more useful sphere of action where his exceptional talents and his great knowledge of Oriental languages may be of service to us. Let him be sent to Africa again—to Morocco for instance—at the first vacancy.
Figure 24. A caricature from Burton's Sketchbook.
Consulate Trieste June 20. ‘76.
My dear Grattan Geary
Many thanks for the Overlands which have come safely. Did you receive the two letters which I addressed to you from Aden? Kemp will send you a bottle of my Tonic Bitters and you will do me a kindness by noticing it. The taste is not over savoury, but the effect upon the liver is grand, enabling it to digest any amount of liquor.
I am told that Maclean does not return—health broken down. If so, good for T. of I. What news of L. Blanchard? Do you know Gibby Elliot? If so I wish you would set him upon the diamond track. My papers about it, professing an extensive prospecting are going into Foreign Office but of course nothing will be done.
This is an exciting moment. The move of the English fleet to the Bosphorus may very probably bring the Russians South of the Danube, in which case Turkey in Europe bursts up. We should be ashamed to support a power whose only politic is sheer rank murder. However, I can’t complain of the death of my arch enemy Rashid Pasha. At last the rascal has got his deserts. It would be a bold brain that ventured to predict what will happen to Egypt before the end of July. All the elements of discord are at work and they are so very discordant that possibly things may remain in status quo. We spent a fortnight there and greatly enjoyed it. Trieste also is delightful after the horrors of the Red Sea—the air is positively cold and the Alps are still covered with snow.
Don’t forget us if you come this way. My wife joins in kindest regards and best wishes—her 2d Edit. is doing well and there may be a third. My “Ultima Thule” is also to reappear in shorter shape. They have it at R. Asiatic Soc. Bo.
R. F. Burton.
The mention of Captain (afterwards Colonel) J. A. Grant recalls many pleasant days when the distinguished traveller was my father's guest. He never spoke of Colonel Grant's achievements without alluding to the modesty and absence of all boastfulness which were so noticeable in one whose love of sport and adventure had often placed him in positions of great peril. The next letter describes a visit to the Zoo with Colonel Grant many years after his return from Africa.
John Blackwood to his Wife.
14 Ablington St., May 25, 1876.
Jack [his son] and I then went to Grant. “Old Jem,” as Speke used to call him, and his wife were most hearty. He gave us tickets for the Zoological Gardens, and when we went we most fortunately fell in with him, the best guide in the world in such a place. The affectionate way he looks at a wild beast is very comical, and the placid smile with which he pointed out the weak point behind the forearm at which to fire into a rhinoceros made me shout with laughter. He was doubtless the only man in the Gardens who had dined on rhinoceros.
The sight of the denizens of the African forest brought animation and life to his eye, and it was on occasions of this kind he would perhaps be induced to relate scenes in which he and a rhinoceros or a buffalo had been the chief actors, with a quiet ignoring of all the dangers of the chase that might have led one to suppose he was relating nothing more formidable than an encounter with a rabbit! The gentleness of his voice and manner, generally accompanied with the most amiable eulogiums on the merits of the ferocious beasts, made his narrative all the more fascinating to his hearers. This delightful admixture of simplicity of manner with highest personal courage and perseverance was alike a distinguishing trait in him and his confrere Speke, and gave an added charm to the interest attaching to them and their memorable discovery.
Kerri. 4 May. 1876.
My dear Captain Burton.
I have to thank you for your kind note, which I delayed answering, in consequence of having little to say. I am glad to say that Gessi, one of my people, has come back from Lake Albert, which he went round, with two life boats, in 9 days, finding it much of the size 140 miles by 50 miles & position that Speke supposed it would be in his map in Sources of the Nile. A remarkable feature in the Nile, after it leaves the lake, is that it splits into two branches, one of which comes down to this, & Gondokoro, the other flows N.W. and I expect, joins the Nile in E.L. Paris 28o N.L. 7o. We know a strong stream enters the Nile, at that point, & that, for some distance, it is navigable: if so we are on an isle at this place.
The 38 ton steamer is nearly ready, & I hope to go up in her to Magungo.
No river which is not dry in dry season enters Lake Albert. The south end is very very shoal, and there is a forest of Ambatch wood which only grows in 1 ½’ to 2’ of water. I am very glad personally (though it is a selfish gladness) that the lake has no navigable influent, for it saves me a great deal of trouble. There may, certainly be a chain of lakes & marshes, leading from Tanganyika to Lake Albert, for Gessi distinctly says, the ridge of mountains of West Coast do not join those of the East Coast of Lake, then there is a gap.
These lakes & rivers are very trying to a man, you never can get to the end of the tangle, however I trust this Nile is finished, with exception of the N.W. branch above spoken of, & the Saubat source. It would be fearful for me, though good for civilization, if this N.W. branch joined the Welle River of Schweinfurth, which joins Kubanda of Barth, & which its direction, & level would allow it to do so.
C. G. Gordon
P.S. Do you know Baker’s Engineer man William is or was at Trieste.
Consulate Trieste June 21 ’76.
My dear Wylde
We were both much disappointed in not seeing you at Suez, where yours of May 20 came safely to hand. So I send this to England through your father. We passed ten days at Cairo and Alexandria where the Guano was my first and principal care. Mr. Charles Grace of Alexandria will join us in pushing the concession along, and if we don’t admit him one of us must stay at Cairo till the Khedive’s government grants it—which will not be at all convenient. The first thing that Grace wants is of course a sample of the stuff. You talk of a man at Suez who supplied you with some. Could you not write to him and ask him to forward say 20 lbs. to care of Charles Grace Esq. Alexandria? This would be the speediest way, otherwise we must wait till you return. Grace then works Cairo and I undertake to put up the Company in England whilst you look after the shipping.
I read on your envelope “I hope to send you your sample news by next letter.” It will be very useful to me, as I am about to publish a 4th Edit. of my Pilgrimage with additions and revisions.
When at home you will be able to show up Egypt and Abyssinia in their true colours. Send me a line to say that you have received this. My wife joins me in kindest regards and best wishes. When are you likely to return to Jiddah? Salams to your father.
R. F. Burton
Trieste July 2 76
My dear Bates
We returned here on June 18th and are not sorry of a rest. My work in India has been to go over old ground. I also inspected the diamond fields which are enormous and return with the convictions: 1. that the mines have only been scratched. 2. that the old-woman-ruler of India has not even the energy to scratch an inch more.
Will you kindly post the enclosed and let Mssrs O'Brien receive my Proceedings for '75. I have only Jan 16, Mar 11 & 24, April 30, May 27 & August 10; for 1876, none.
I marvel to see the political ignorance of the English Press. They are hugging the idea of peace when we already hear the first guns in the Danube. Russia has localised the war although that spasmodic move of ours with the fleet very nearly spoiled everything. But if Serbia loses, then there will be a row. However I don't anticipate any loss. Bosnia & Herzegovina will soon be freed and my rascally friends the Turks who have found new Janissaries in the Sanjaks will come to extreme grief.
C. Negri going to England for the British Assoc. Heard from Walker going to Paris. Lucas not doing much, the U.S. officers are monopolising Africa. I have heard of a new Gold Mine in Arabia and know where plenty of guano is to be had.
So that cunning [du’per] Frere didn't get a peerage! United kind regards—not to Frere.
R. F. Burton
Trieste, July 13, 1876
My dear Leighton,—One word to say that the tiles are packed, and will be sent by the first London steamer—opportunities are rare here. Some are perfect, many are broken; but they will make a bit of mosaic after a little trimming, and illustrate the difference between Syriac and Sindi. They are taken from the tomb (Moslem) of Sakhar on the Indus. I can give you analysis of glaze if you want it; but I fancy you don’t care for analyses. The yellow colour is by far the rarest and least durable apparently. The blues are the favourites and the best.
Here we are living in a typhoon of lies. I am losing patience, and shall probably bolt to Belgrade in search of truth. Austria is behaving in her usual currish manner, allowing her policy to be managed by a minority of light headed Paddy-whack Magyars and pudding-headed, beer-brained Austro Germans. How all Europe funks the Slavs, and how well the latter are beginning to know it.
Very grand of la grande Bretagne to propose occupying Egypt without any army to speak of. Sorry that you don’t understand the force of the expression, the “world generally,” but will try some time or other to make it clear. United best regards and wishes. Why don’t you take a holiday to Turkey?—Ever yours,
R. F. Burton.
P.S.—I hear that W. Wright has subsided into an Irish conventicle, and that Green doesn’t like prospect of returning to Dan!
211 Leamington Road
Westbourne Park, W.
My dear Burton,
Your note came to hand last evening. Anent the copal: My suggestion is that you should draw up a scheme for the object which you have in view, setting forth, as clearly as possible, what is wished, and what arrangements it would be desirable to make with the Sultan. I will undertake to forward it and to append thereto my views, which I will gladly lay before you. If I mistake not, H.H. enjoys some special privileges, within certain limits of the coast, as regards duty—I mean that he is not hampered with the 5% ad valorem duty within those limits. Then, again, I am not sure whether he claims—or, if he claims, whether he exercises or can exercise full authority over the diggings. However, these points would be brought out in his reply. What I wish to say, summarising, is, that I will back any effort which promises advantage to both parties, namely, H.H. and the Company.
I am fully alive to the defects in the vowel-points of my lexicon, & have decided to add to them; but to "move" all the words would increase the expense enormously.
Ev yrs faithfully
George Percy Badger
1876 July 23d
My dear Burton
Many thanks for your letter, anything I may have said about your “Lake Regions” cannot half express how much I was indebted to it whilst in Africa.
I must also thank you most heartily for the kind way you fought my battles whilst I was away. My plans at present are very vague and indeterminate as I am devoting my energies to writing. I hope to get the book out in November in time for the Xmas publishing season when I will send you a copy.
I have been trying to get a charter for a company but Government is adverse to granting one. Several capitalists have been nibbling and I am still in communication with some. Money will be forthcoming I fancy soon as there is a glut of unemployed capital in the country but people are timid. The idea is to attack Africa from East West and South.
A Mr. Bradshaw of Manchester wrote me a letter about a Livingstone Company with Native agents &c &c. for which he had payed etc. and quite disgusted with cant. The letter I wrote you before I sent to Zanzibar to the care of Kirk as I heard you were going there.
The King of the Belgians is going to have a grand African conference at Brussels in September. I wish you could be there as Grant is going to be one of the representatives of the R.G.S. and he is nearly as big a fool as Galton which is saying a good deal. Neither of the two of them are more than barely civil to me when I meet them.
I made out a section of my route and Galton wanted to zig-zag it all about ascending to the different courses. The section shows the basin like form of the continent wonderfully well the lowest part being the valley of the Lualaba. The highest point I passed was within a hundred miles of Benguella.
I hope I will be believed when I say that I value your and Kirk's appreciation of my journey more than that of any other men in the world as you both know, you especially what it is to have to get along with a crowd of unwilling devils when one is ill and lame and all the rest of it.
Please give kind regards to your wife as although I have not the pleasure of knowing her, [her] brother, who died out on the West Coast, was a great pal of mine in the "Terrible" in 65. I hope and trust you are soon going to get something better than Trieste. I suppose there is no truth in the rumour about your going to Afghanistan.
Yours very truly
V. Lovett Cameron
Trieste July 27 ‘76
My dear Bates
Thanks for yours of July 17th. I had just sent off a line to Athenaeum about the deductions to be drawn from Sig. Romolo Gessi’s A. Nyanza and am glad to see that you agree. Gordon has been good enough to write to me and he also is far from sure that no water enters the Lake from the South. Africa you see must always be treated as an exception—in geography and other matters.
The papers say that the Alexandrian obelisk is coming to England. They represent it as buried in the sand. Nothing of the kind. It is the common cess for all the gamins of the neighbourhood and it stinks almighty. One does not like to see one’s country’s property bewrayed with Sir-reverence.
Don’t believe a word you read about the war. Europe is divided with two camps Slav and anti-Slav. The old ’un has apparently just discovered what the Slavs can do. When Serbia is beaten then the difficulties begin. We seem determined to “rile up” Russia into a fight.
My wife reciprocates. She is going to bring out something about India. Will you ask my dear old George to fill in the enclosed paper. Your account of the heat causes me to smile grimly. And I "horribly sick of constant travelling"!!! Good Allah! When old I intend to take a permanent passage in some steamer & go round & round the world till I die. Meanwhile yours
Some of the Scotch very earnest about establishing stations from Kilwa to the N. End of Nyassa and then on to Tanganyika but 10 of them are talking of raising £100,000 for the purpose.
Please remember me to Mrs. Burton.
Yours very truly
V. Lovett Cameron
People divided into two camps about Turkey & Russia. Gladstone has done himself much harm with thinking people by his wild denunciations of the Ministry. I can’t see much to choose between the two parties at present.
Trieste Sept. 1 ‘76
My dear Grattan Geary
Both your notes duly received. Please get your “pick me up” from Kemp, and see that he sends it to the list of names forwarded to him (all Editors and Secs. of Clubs). We both laughed heartily over Arbuthnot’s little business—I should much like to know the truth of it—seal of secrecy of course. I never yet heard of a “Journalist’s Conscience” rewarding him—don’t be offended, I consider myself one of the cloth. But of course A. should have thanked you for your conscientious(?) support.
Don’t think the Turks are the “better men”. Both are equally bad for the offensive & good for defence. It is now the Serbs turn to win. I would willingly write you an occasional letter, but we must lay down terms (not money—N.B.)
Imprimis is it to be under my own name? If so I can tell you little having fear of the F. O. before my eyes! Entendez vous?
Secundo, can it be an alias, in which case I can tell you much. But what kind of alias? Perpend! And send me a line per return. Do you ever read Daily News, especially letters of “Conscience?” I'm “Conscience” but don’t publish the fact. Dizzy has bolted from the doomed ship and we are going to turn out Lord Derby. We have already done Elliott of Const.
My wife is quite well & joins me in kind regards & best wishes.
R. F. B.
Trieste Sept 7 ‘76
My dear Grattan Geary
Thanks for yours of August 11 and the information it supplies. I think “Dwarka” (S.S.) was either wrecked in the Tapti or elsewhere—Beyts & Co. could tell you. Don’t be hasty about Serbs “not being up to the work”. They are now that Russian officers lead them, and whether they win or lose they have made a glorious stand for 2 months and more against the whole weight of Turkey, at least during the last month. I have been making prehistoric researches and have been amply rewarded. Dare not go to Belgrade or F. O. would pay me out for letters in the Daily News (August 15 & 24). Still I strongly sympathise with Serbia and hope firmly to see Turkey fall to pieces next Spring. My partition plan (which, if I remember right) you chaffed, has been boldly adopted by the “Post” (newspaper) of Berlin—so you see the Prussians do not complain of it. The Liberals in England are against Turkey to a man, and the Govt. will never dare to propose another Crimean War. I find myself herding with a strange lot, Shaftesbury, Bright & A. Herbert, but men who prefer patria to party must expect strange company. So the “Drunkard’s Dream” has been disappointed. What becomes of Statesman? Don’t go in too hard for Angora goats. They ruin everything. Syria has been made desert by them, and Iceland as well as Istria has been forced to kill them out. If you could only confine them to the jungles, but you can’t.
My wife is quite well and joins with me in best wishes. Write a line when you have time.
R. F. BURTON.
Oct 12 1876
My dear Kirk
Many thanks for your packet of August 19 and the trouble you have taken about the names of the African tribes. Please bear in mind the following and in case any information turns up drop me a line.
Myasenda (you are right about Mya=Wagai)
What do you mean by making the Zinzigari the tribe to which the Mairs of Sind belong? They were simply part of the Talpur tribe.
Have you affected your trip to Comoro and Natal? I mentioned it to a learned friend Professor G. G. Bianconi of the University of Bologna […], and he begged me to secure your assistance in a matter which he has very much at heart. He is studying the […], the gigantic bird "Ruck" mentioned by Marco Polo and for his memoir he wants the tradition about it which may still be lingering on at Zanzibar, Island or Coast, and even further south. He is doubtful whether it was a large terrestrial bird like an Ostrich, or a gigantic flyer like the Condor.
M. Polo made the "Ruck" visit Zanzibar from the south of Sigala and the Cape. Grandidier discovered immeasurable fragments of egg shells at Madagascar. The bird is mentioned by many travellers of the XVI century. Bolivar says it was seen by many Portuguese and was larger than the Condor. Fr. João dos Santos Ethiopia Oriental (p 46) 1609 declares that the chicks were found in the Rio da Luabo. Yule quotes the Japanese Cyclopaedia which states that the "Phling" is found at Tsing-Shu (Zanzibar?). The French Orientalist, Devic, quotes an Arab author of the Xth century who asserts that the Anka or Sprit lives in the Gold Country (Sigala or Mozambique) and devours the elephant.
Professor Bianconi is a great friend of mine and you would immensely oblige me by jotting down any conversations which you may have had with Arabs or Sawahilis.
Cameron's book will be out before this reaches you. The Brussels affair will end in a failure. In Africa there is no medium between private enterprise and a great charter company like that of the late Hon'bl East Indian, but the latter style is out of date. Of course you have seen Stanley, who still shoots Negros as if they were Monkeys—that young man will be getting into a row and serve him right. I have somehow or other serious doubts how far his assertions are to be believed.
My wife joins me in regards to both of you and in hopes that all the family is doing well. I don't write about the war but if it interests you only say the word and you shall have all manner of news.
R. F. Burton
Trieste Oct 29
My dear Galton
I have read with pleasure your notes on "visualisation". But why don't you connect it with a familiar "local memory". You need not be ashamed of a physiological term after Broca so successfully localised certain details of the [mind] in the brain.
A [native] example of [definitive] local memory is in St James (Ch. 1, v 23-4). He "forgets his features" when seen in a plan. A man with more power demands every detail and can easily sketch his own from recollection.
In my case whenever I have a mental sum to do I close my eyes and see the figures. They are Arabic (1, 2, 3) never Roman (I, II, III) and in dark upon dull yellow ground. As a boy I could play chess blindfolded, and saw the board as clearly as if it were before my eyes.
All this I simply connect with local memory which when strong is capable of being strengthened. On the other hand I can remember dates only by referring them to some familiar event. A pure date is an impossibility to me.
I send you these jottings because the more details you have the more you can work out your subject.
R. F. Burton
Trieste Nov. 2.
My dear Grattan Geary
Yours of Oct. 9 came all right. Thanks for notice of the Bitter. There is no liver in a ton of them—au contraire. Love to Doolittle. [G…t] came here awfully sick and cut up, but the air of Trieste set him up at once (he was with us at theatre last night) and the day after tomorrow he sets off for Prague. Arbuthnot I suppose by this time is back with you.
By this mail you get my first letter. Publish it in 2 parts or dock it or do anything you like except add to it. Next one will be about Italy. I understand that you promise me absolutely that the secret shall not be told to a soul. Lord D. is not the only one I want to be in the dark. Is the post per Austrian Lloyds quite safe?
W. W's. letter is a capital one and tells the whole truth. I shall presently give you something more exciting, but first the Italians, Austrians, Russians, and Turks must be disposed of. Don't believe in the Armistice (if it takes place). It means only war next Spring. Note the Turkish dodge of pushing in 22 battalions whilst the terms of peace were being debated. You can't believe one word of the English papers. All are writing party, none truth. Please send the enclosed round. In Da Cunha's case I see the Odium Theologicum coming out pretty strong. My wife will answer you for herself. Meanwhile
ev yrs sincerely
R. F. Burton.
P.S. Please date my letters as if they came from Malta. I hear that Maclean returns to Bombay. Keep my secret from him especially. Please send me two copies when you print anything of mine. “Calipso” brought no Overland Times. Did you send me one by her? I want to know so as to complain of the non-delivery.
Somerleaze, November 10, 1876.
These are all the MS letters of yours that I can find; you will remember that some of them are printed in Daily News. I am very glad of those hints about the Italian movements. I made some little use of them; but I want to see all that you say on the matter in print somewhere.
I have two puzzles ahead, which I don't think the diplomatists have yet got to.
First, when New Rome is clear from the Turk, and not taken by the Russian, is it to be Greek or Bulgarian? I have started this point in Saturday Review. Secondly, the Hadriatic coast and its background have been, ever since the Slaves came in, a body without mouths, and a set of mouths without a body. From Augustus to Justinian 'twas a flourishing land, mother of emperors, and Salona was one of the great cities of the earth. The thing is to unite the body and the mouths: but how?
Thirdly, Montenegro must have a port, and the distinction between it and Herzegovina is simply the difference between freedom and bondage. But might not an enlarged Montenegro cease to be Montenegro? The tribe civilizing itself, and the prince, the true [Shepherd of the people] would be lost, if you made the territory much larger.
Your last short letter came after this was begun. Thanks for the hint about the Moslems keeping quiet. You will most likely have seen my letter in the Times of last Wednesday, where I use a kindred argument.
Could you not bring some of the important points of the case privately before Lord Salisbury, now he is to be plenipotentiary? He is not like the two men of Belial, and your knowledge of the East would get you a hearing from him. I am sure you might do good in this way.
October 12, 1876
My dear Captain Burton,
Thank you for your letter July 13, which I received proceeding from the Lake Albert to this place. I came down from Magungo here in eight days, and could have done it in six days. This is a great comfort to me, and I am proud of my road and of the herds of cattle the natives pasture along either side of it without fear. I have been up the Victoria Nile from Mrooli to near Urmdogani, and seen Long’s lake–viz. Lake Masanga. It is a vast lake, but of still shallow water. The river seems to lose itself entirely in it. A narrow passage, scarcely nine feet wide, joins the north end of the Victoria Nile near Mrooli; and judging from the Murchison Falls–which are rapids, not falls–I should say Victoria Lake and Victoria Nile contribute very little to the true Nile. The branch Piaggia saw is very doubtful. I could not find it, and the boatmen seem very hazy as to its existence. As for Gessi’s branch north of Albert Lake, I could not find that either. And, entre nous, I believe in neither of the two branches. The R.G.S. will have my maps of the whole Nile from Berber to Urmdogani on a large scale, and they will show the nature of the river. I go home on leave (D.V.) in January for six months, and then come out again to finish off. You would learn my address from Cox & Co., Craig’s Court. I would be glad to meet you; for I believe you are not one of those men who bother people, and who pump you in order that they, by writing, might keep themselves before the world. If it was not such a deadly climate, you would find much to interest you in these parts; but it is very deadly. An Arab at Mtesa’s knows you very well. He gave the Doctor a letter for you. His name is either Ahmed bin Hishim or Ahmed bin Habíb. I have had, entre nous, a deal of trouble, not yet over, with Mtesa, who, as they will find out, is a regular native. I cannot write this, but will tell you. Stanley knows it, I expect, by this time. The Mission will stay there (Mtesa’s) about three months: that will settle them, I think.
Believe me, with kinds regards,
Trieste Nov 24 ‘76
My dear Grattan Geary
Please put in deceptive date and see that the signature is the same as my last one. Again cut out what you please, but if you do cut out, return me the MS, as I have kept no copy. My next if you want it, will be upon the stand-point of Austria. Then Russia-cum-Turkey and lastly the Jews. Are you prepared for strong truths about the latter? In your issue of Nov. 23 (p. 314) you talk of the “Satisfactory relations of the latter to religious toleration and secular science”. If you really believe this I can astonish you with facts. By the bye in the same page you speak of Aristarchi Bey as if he were a Turk instead of Greek to the core. In p. 15 you make the Viennese Neue Freie Presse “a good exponent” etc. It is managed by a rascally Frenchman in the pay of Turkey and working into the hands of the Jews. And who gave you the information about Kirkham (p. 18)? I heard from the best authority that he refused to fight against Egypt, was degraded by the Negush Johannes and died of drink at large in Abyssinia. I knew the man and am curious to know what his end really was.
Lord Salisbury and his family will be here on the 27th. The Conference will do nothing. Turks at last quite ready to fight and will be a tough nut, unless the Pashas are properly bribed. Russia will also invade via Asia Minor and at last we see the need of a Euphrates Valley R. R.
Please pass on the accompanying letter and let me have a line from you. Where is Arbuthnot? Mind that Maclean does not guess my secret. “Sind or the Unhappy Valley” will be out soon. My wife joins in kindest regards.
R. F. Burton
Trieste Nov. 30. (St. Andrews when the
Scotch liquor up)
My dear Grattan Geary
When Cameron's book comes out I will review it for you—in my own name. Lord Salisbury did not embark at Trieste, nor did I go to see him at the neighbouring station Nabresina (Tuesday Nov. 28) where he breakfasted en route to Italy. The reason is probably that I am a “suspect” especially after the letter of March 7 in Daily Tel., reprinted by Maclean, & commented on by you. Yet it is going to prove true. Men fear Lord Salisbury's “fiery temper”. I don't. He will be mild enough at Stambul. He has wisely avoided the Embassy, one mass of corruption, known to all except the Head and his Aides. The Turks will probably drift into war. The idea all over the Continent, as I told you in my last, is that we shall not fight Turkey, but in case of the worst occupy Constantinople & Suez. The French are waxing more furious with us every week. You should see their papers! Italy is playing the dark game, secretly allied with Russia, wanting Austria to fight the latter and bent upon “mine Provinces”. Austria quite prepared to occupy Bosnia & the Herzeg. if Russia intervenes in Bulgaria. Tory papers stark mad, and injuring their own cause as hard as they can. I believe in the rumours of a Cabinet split. Dizzy would fight. Derby won’t. They have been playing at cross purposes since June last and the game must end in one being checkmated. Mark the Sage of Chelsea's last (Old Carlyle always teaches abc). All the great minds of England are one upon the question of supporting the “Empire of Sodom”. In a fortnight or so I’ll give you a lecture on Austria. Our best wishes
R. F. B.
Dec 3. 76.
My dear Lord Houghton,
We are not summer friends only, & we have felt deeply at your misfortune about Fryston, which we read in the papers. We know how you will have felt the spoiling of your old ancestral home, yet thank God you saved so many noble treasures. Our hearts always clung to Fryston as the scene of many a happy day, & with memories of our earliest friend, & we always thought of our various returnings to Engd in connection with one house where we were sure of a warm welcome, but however that is not irreparable as a death, although rebuilding is never like the ancient thing one loved. You have quite forsaken us as I told you you would after my book; however you promised to love me privately you know, even if you cut me publicly. However you ought not, for my book had a success which I never anticipated in my wildest dreams, & you ought to be very proud of me. I shall produce another in spring, but no dream unfortunately this time. Do you see how my dream is coming about? The Queen Empress talks of the Pope going to Jerusalem, & many other things. Do you see how the Queen would open Parliament with the Koh-i-nor on her forehead, & what a mess the end of the session has left us in with Russia? I did all I could to prevent her but she would not do it!
Well, we left Engd on Dec 4, & went to Arabia, India & Egypt, & after a delightful trip of 6 months returned here, & settled down. I am very happy here, & wish Richard liked it as much as I do. He, dear boy, reads & writes, studies, & makes homeopathic trips. He is writing such a lovely poem on a future life. I get up before daylight & work all day. I have the best Italian & German professors, & am reading the classics with them, also an Italian singing master, & and we go to the fencing school for an hour, where we have a first-rate broadswordsman & fencing master, a retired soldier, & we have a “set-to” for an hour. This prevents me getting too fat & sofa bound, & keeps me in good condition. As long as the warm weather lasted, I had a swimming master & can now swim like a fish.
Sundays are devoted to Church, visits, letters, newspapers, Charities & working for my 2 societies. One is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They elected me as a great compliment, but I work them so hard, & worry them so, these poor lazy Southerners, that I am afraid they will turn me out. The other is for the poor, which I began in a very small way when I first came, but we are now 10,000 people & they have elected me President, & I hold Councils, & distribute them in bands about the different quarters of Trieste, to pick up the old, & crippled, & sick, orphans, stray girls &c. &c., & we make a feed, & distribute bread, meat, rice, wine, medicines, & warm flannel & blankets where most needful, doing the works of mercy of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, & the Doctors say it is the most useful thing that has ever been done here. Then we exclude national, religious, & political distinctions, very necessary here as we have 4 or 5 of each sort all hating one another.
Now I have given you a correct report of Dick & myself, & beg of you to reward us with a sight of the old familiar hand. With our united love to you, & all yours ever affectly
PS: Is it true [Port] has [converted] [Swinburne]
Trieste 8. 12. ’76.
(Please forward enclosed)
My dear Grattan Geary
Yours of Nov. 13 accompanied the very jolly account of the Ceylon trip. I envied you when reading it. Sorry to hear that the famine is a big thing—in a few years at this rate of no-progress India will financially speaking not be worth its keep. In your last Overland (Nov. 13. p. 16) the “prickly pear”, used as forage, appears to be considered a novelty. Read the end of my 2d Vol. Highlands of the Brazil and you will find that all kinds of cactus are commonly eaten by horses and that the latter learn to strip off the thorns for themselves.
What did you say about the “secrecy to be observed in respect to letters from Vienna?” If I write from Vienna they will twig me in a moment. Pantillaria has great advantages. You see Frere is Botany Bay’d to the Cape—lucky for Bombay. Sorry now that my squib did not appear.
The Conference will have met long before you get this. What can he mean by preparing a Corps d’Armeé for Egypt? Who threatens us there? It is a palpable Dizzy-body dodge for doing something shiny that’s not wanted. We are fools to try & keep the peace between Russ & Turk. Let ‘em fight it out till both have a belly full. A patched up peace will only bring on war a few years hence and meanwhile give a new lease of life to that wretched Eastern question.
R. F. B.
P.S. Write the text “utilisation of Indian stores”: it is a great move. If we don’t make India a manufacturing country we lose half its value.
Trieste 15. 12. 76.
My dear Grattan Geary
Tell me if you want to continue these lucubrations, send me duplicate copies if you print and return MS if you don't. Cameron not yet out, I am looking forward to his book as it will be the first that ever thought of doing me justice. By the bye Bentleys are printing my “Sind Revisited” and I am anxious to give it a good chance in India. As a rule people like to read local books but do not like to take the trouble of ordering them or of waiting a couple of months till the order is executed. What should you advise me to do for Bombay and Calcutta? Madras may be omitted as utterly benighted. Shall I tell Bentleys to forward copies for sale to Thacker? Or would the Times of India take charge of them? And about what number would you allow for Bombay?
There is nothing to tell you but what I have told. Has Arbuthnot returned? Or when is he expected? Where is Maclean? What has become of Blanchard? I wish the Cape joy of Frere who will build the usual Frere Town, Frere Hall and Frere Roads. By this time you have I presume finished your Delhi trip and have done its literature. Please post the enclosed—as usual I am afraid of sending so many loose notes. My wife unites in all manner of good wishes in season & out of season, Merry Xmas, Happy N. Y. etc. etc. Let us have a line from you when there is nothing better to do. Ever yours sincerely
R. F. B.
On board ‘Sumatra’
December 17, 1876
My Dear Captain Burton,
I received your kind note as I was leaving for Brindisi. I am sorry I cannot manage the Trieste route. I am not sure what will be my fate. Personally, the whole of the future exploration, or rather opening, of the Victoria Lake to Egypt has not a promising future to me, and I do not a bit like the idea of returning. I have been humbugged into saying I would do so, and I suppose I must keep my word. I, however, have an instinctive feeling that something may turn up ere I go back, and so feel pretty comfortable about it. I gave Gessi a letter to you. He is a zealous and energetic, sharp fellow. I shall not, however, take him back with me, even if I go. I do not like having a man with a family hanging on one.
7, Cecil Street, Strand
January 12, 1877
My Dear Captain Burton,
Thank you for your kind note. Gessi wrote to me from Trieste, dating his letter only 'Trieste,’ and I replied to that address, so I suppose the post-office know him. Yes; I am back, but I have escaped persecution. Wilson I have heard nothing of. I have not the least intention of publishing anything. My life and work there was a very humdrum one; and, unlike you, I have no store of knowledge to draw on. (I may tell you your book was thought by us all out in Africa as by far the best ever written.) I am not going back to H.H. It is a great pang to me, I assure you; but it is hopeless, hopeless work. Why do you not take up the work? You may not be so sensitive as I am.
Good-bye, and believe me,
To Captain (afterwards Sir) Richard F. Burton, Ferguson wrote on the subject of Scandinavian Runes, treated of by Burton in his book on Iceland. These had many points of resemblance to Ogham writing. Instead of selecting, as the Ogham writers did, the sharp edge of a stone, the runic scribes made a stem-line, from which, on either side, the marks and notches which constituted their occult alphabet branched off. Captain Burton subsequently visited the Land of Midian, and thought that he had there discovered true Oghams, of which he gave a description in Ferguson's house. The markings, though curious, could not be considered Oghamic.
The following letter, addressed to Captain Burton, then in Trieste, was written in February 1877:—
You have contributed a very interesting addition to our scanty knowledge of Runes and Oghams. I was quite unaware that your work on Iceland contained information so exceptionally rare and valuable. Having read the book, I have also to thank you for clearer views both of the land and of the people of Iceland than I previously possessed. What most strikes me is the deterioration in both respects as compared with the fairly fertile country and heroic men of the Sagas.
I cannot credit the theory of British extermination, and would imagine that concurrent streams of Norman and Celtic blood mingle largely in the noble product—the Englishmen of our own day. . . . You will ask why do I travel into these side-paths instead of coming straight to the fact of runes at Emesa? Well, I will tell you. If time had allowed, I would have desired to look up the history of the kingdom of Jerusalem to see how far Norman influences may have extended themselves in North Syria. . . . Neither Rune nor Ogham, so far as I could discover, exists in Normandy or Brittany. Oghams there are of neo-post-Roman date in South England and Wales; and I travelled lately into Cumberland in search of one which formerly existed there in one of the quarries worked for the purposes of the wall, and most probably legionary and Roman, but it had disappeared: so that while I must leave the third and fourth century Runes of Mr. Stephens and their Greek origin in questionable suspense, I would expect a Latin origin for the Ogham forms, and hope, in some of them, to find memorials of the pre-Patrician Scotic Christians. It is, however, too soon to generalise. I remember having been much struck with Donaldson's idea of Etruscan influences extending into Scandinavia; and on a clay sepulchral urn found with objects of decidedly Etruscan origin in the Tyrol I have seen the Palm-rune either genuine or imitated. There are many repetitions of character, but not enough of difference to ground any certainty of their being used alphabetically. You may be sure, in anything I may have to write on the subject, I shall not omit to refer to your Syrian examples, and would beg you in the meantime to inquire how far eastward you can trace their use.
(This mail takes you letter No. VI)
My dear Grattan Geary
I have not heard from or of you for ages. Have you printed any of the five letters sent to you? If so you have sent me only one (Nov. 29. '76).
Perhaps, however, they are too strong for you or they do not suit the line of the T. of I. In that case please let me have the MSS back.
My wife has just lost her brother Rodolph Arundell of the Admiralty, and we have been in great distress. She is going to make a “retreat” at Gorizia for a fortnight, and I am off to Agram and elsewhere (mum!) March I shall pass in Egypt. The big row won't come on before April unless the Turks attack which is hardly probable. Still the Old Party is the ascendant and the Shaytan know what they will be at. In Constantinople all the English are ready packed for a bolt. From Damascus nearly all the Christians have fled.
My new “Sind Revisited” is very nearly corrected. Cameron has not yet sent me his book which I wanted to review for you. Stillman promises me his, giving experiences of Bosnia & Montenegro—I know him and judge him to be an honest man.
R. F. Burton.
My dear Grattan Geary
I was glad once more to see your fist, and to hear that you enjoyed yourself at Delhi. You are right about the Viceroy—he is a thoroughly civilised man, too much so for the Junglees of Brit. India. I have read the Miracle Play, but where is the rush thro' Rajpootana? Of Pantillarias I have received only two—Nov. 4 (No. 1) and Dec. 26 (No. 3). Consequently No. 2 of Nov. 24 wanted the “Standpoint of Italy”. Please send me duplicates or return MSS.
I have much to tell you, too much for a note. You are all wrong about the Grand Turks. (But you don't care to be right. Wrong pays.) They have got rid of that wretched Midhat who is drunk every night with Raki, whose money transactions are disgraceful and who wanted to make himself Maire du Palais. But (despite the paid press) they are not ready for war; their forts are in holes and they can hardly bring 200,000 regulars into the field. We (England) are between the horns of a Dilemma (not a statesman amongst us). Either we fail to keep Turkey alive and incur the penalty of failure, or we succeed and keep the whole of Europe in a state of turmoil for a year or two (what ought to be done is Russia to Bulgaria, Austria to Bosnia, & English fleet to Const. Lord. Sal. talks rot about danger to Xtians if we send fleet.) But Russia, despite the Jews and the Tories is in splendid fighting condition—see Colonel Vincent’s lecture and all the men who know anything of the subject: she is playing the waiting game and allows Turkey, as Bismarck did Paris, to simmer in her own juice. The extent of Ld. Sal's failure is this: Ignatieff who knows the Turks by heart stopped the pressure & allowed his colleague to yield an inch—we know the result.
My wife extends her kindest regards. Write when you can to discuss Trieste. I go to Egypt for a month & return in April. Kindly send enclosed to Mr. du Cunha. Remember me to friends–I shall probably see you next winter & believe me
R. F. Burton.
I have Cameron & will review him for you on the voyage to Egypt.
March 8 ‘77. Alexandria Egypt (direct Trieste)
My dear Grattan Geary
Whilst on board I have polished off for you Cameron's Africa, but I have not time to copy it out clear. So please look over it yourself or the printer's devil will make a nice affair of it.
I shall be in Egypt only till the end of March, so if you want me to do anything for you, you will have to telegram. Do you know Ali Akbar, old Sir Chas. Napier's Munshi, of whom I spoke to you? I wish you could get at him & tell him that I am waiting for the biography which he promised me. Probably the fear of Sir Barter before his eyes kept him silent but now he may speak out.
R. F. Burton
P.S. Please note that Cameron makes my Expedition discover the sources of the Nile and the Congo. Perhaps you might offer a few remarks upon the subject—at present I have the honour to be the only “neglected Englishman” amongst all the African Explorers. Mind you send me triplicates of the Review etc., and if they are in slips they will serve my purposes best. I want to send them abroad.
My dear Friend,
I got your letter dated 15 December but in the midst of trouble or I shd have answered it. I had 2 dear old uncles who lived with my father, his unmarried brothers, & who were like fathers to us & one brother left out of 4, all fine young fellows in the army & Navy and each carried off by accident not by any family complaint. Well on the 6th Dec, one uncle died, then my brother caught black small pox in a cab, & died 23rd Jany, & on 21st of Feby my other uncle died. I was so grieved I shut myself up all December January February & March. I went into a convent for a fortnight and had a spiritual retreat under Father Bankiel a Dalmatian Jesuit in Italian & I made a pilgrimage to Monte Santo for I find that in grief there is no cure, Religion is the only soother. Whilst at [Gorizia] I took the opportunity of paying my respects to Henri 5 who has known me for 18 years, & my mother before me. He received me most graciously, as also did the Queen, & he asked me to dinner. I told him about my affliction & also that I had brought no evening toilette, & with that kindness and condescension which is so Royal, he said that it shd be en famille & I shd come in my morning dress, which of course I did, & he put me on his right, & talked to me all the evening, & was exceedingly gay, & in excellent health. The Queen was also there, & the entourage. He asked me about “my Dream”, & laughed. I was exceedingly pleased, & more so as you know to us Catholics he is only 2d to the Pope. On leaving he gave me his & the Queen's photograph, & they wrote their names. In March Richard had a month's leave to Egypt, where the Khedive has taken an immense fancy to him, & Richard happening to mention something rare, but too heavy to carry away, he had seen wandering as an Arab 23 yrs ago, he (the K) dispatched him in a war vessel with officers, books, & secretaries, to look for it. I expect him back today or by next boat on Friday, but feel anxious for news.
Meantime I came up to a Slav village after Lent for rest & solitude, with my maid. It is perched on a mountain, & overlooks Trieste & the sea. We had summer when I came up, but winter has returned, & I am blocked up with snow. Whilst it was yet warm, I gave a picnic to 60 of “mes intimes” & it was very pretty, & I enjoyed giving it. First we had a rural dinner at 4. The Colonel lent me the Hungarian Military Band, which played out of sight at dinner, & afterwards they set to & danced as merrily as children till midnight, with intervals of refreshments. They took their departure by the road, in a series of omnibuses, & the band played the National Hymn & there was a great display of fireworks & Bengal lights! They were all good natured enough to say it was the prettiest fete ever given here, & very hungry enough to forget the absence of champagne & pate de foie gras. There were all the Austrian authorities & chief people of our small town, some of whom I expect you know; HRH Prince Wm of Wurtemburghe’s Commander in Chief, Prince & Princess Wrede, the Admiral of our station & his wife (Baron Pretis) and the Governor (Baron Pino) & his wife &c &c. I always have to profit of Dick's little journeys as I do the large ones & he hates receiving ladies & I like it & understand it.
Since July I have been leading the same life; helping Richard, household & social duties, studying for my 5 professors; & lots of public work for the town among the poor & for the Church, & for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for which the town has presented me with a Life Membership & a Gold Medal, which in one sense I regret as I do not wish to have any reward here below. I am quite changed—I have no ambition, I want only for Richard to become a good Catholic, I want no honour & reward of any kind, only that we should both serve hand in hand, & do all the good we can till we die and go to God in heaven. We are no longer young. Then—what do we want of a few empty baubles for our remaining years? Better without them & have our reward up above.
You have your trials too God knows & both Richard and I deeply felt this affair about Fryston, for & with you. I think I shall be home about September for my sister's marriage (the youngest & only unmarried one), & you will, I am sure, let me come down & spend a few days with you if you are at Fryston. I am glad Richard has nothing to do with the Eastern question, it is too great a responsibility & he is of the old Stratford de Redcliffe school & disciple, but you may be sure that whatever he has to do, I would try to do him credit, & never allow my Catholic principles to interfere with his official work. You know that in Damascus I was more popular with the Druses, Moslems, Afghans & Kurds, than I was with the Christians whom I disliked & secretly despised—but the fact of a race being petty or degenerate, does not destroy my faith in the great religious facts, & the history of our redemption, because my theology is too sound to be affected by clouds in the sky, & Richard will never be a thoroughly happy man till he believes in a future! Yates has written to me & I am beginning an account of Fryston, & yourself &c. &c., but I wish you wd give me a short skeleton, & leave me to fill it in—date of Fryston building, architecture, a few of the celebrated names that have assembled there since your time & your father's. Give me something more than my own visits there, & write what I know, & you tell me. I can make it very interesting, but Yates seems hurried, so send it without delay. I have asked him how long—but if I make it too long he can make 2 or 3 of it.
Best love to your dear girls, & not forgetting Robin, who is now probably going into Parliament or something, & believe me yours always affectly
Trieste May 12/77
My dear Grattan Geary
The papers have probably told you about my doings during the last six weeks—It is a big thing and will read like a bit of the Arabian Nights. The slips of “Passionate Pleading” reached me safely. You see my foretaste has been right in two main points. 1. War has broken out and 2. The main attack has been from the Caucasus. I am ready to give you a long Pantillaria about the Jews which will cut up into two, but you must tell me that you want it, or rather that you are not afraid of it.
I am glad for many reasons that you and Maclean are on good terms: it is so easy to differ in opinion without bad blood. The worst of the old state of things was and is that if an outsider printed himself in one paper it was sure to raise the other’s bile. Blanchard is a poor devil who should be allowed to go to hell his own way—decidedly not a pleasant outlook for Walton.
The Turks will get a most confounded licking although Europe may interfere to prevent their crumpling up. What you can see in those Tartars the Devil only knows. I want my Kingdom of Byzantium–the only true defence against Russia. The latter I regard much as you do, but I would make her spread herself Eastwards as far as possible instead of stopping her as you would, and when she meets China I should be safe.
What did you think of the
Cameron review?—too technical I'm afraid to suit dull Bombay. Best regards
from both and injunctions to write.
R. F. BURTON.
Don't forget to let me have copies of all the Pantillarias. Just left ship and found “Acroy Aquila”. Glad you like it.
Trieste May 25
My dear Grattan Geary
Lloyds takes three copies of Sind to your address 1. for yourself. 2. for A. W. Hughes F. S. S. of Karachi and 3. for Da Cunha, Fort Bombay. Please distribute them—I should not have given you the trouble, but a large parcel is much less easily lost than a little ‘un. Don't forget Rajputana. Damn the famine. It's small potatoes compared with what you are going to have, if, at least, our Govt. drift into war. The 1st step Russia takes is to march a force of a few men with a large cadre of officers, and collect all the scoundrels and bad-mashes of Persia, Afghanistan, Beluchistan & in fact Central Asia generally. This will create a terrible stir in India, and blood and gold may be expected to flow freely. Our only hope is in avoiding war.
Who shall review Sind? Please let me have say 1/2 doz. copies of the Review. I would have done it myself for you, but every moment is being given to my vol. on The Gold Mines of Midian.
I enclose a long notice of them (evidently inspired, from the Trieste Zeitung)—you will easily get it translated. Also a Trip to Indus-land in case you have a hole in your paper.
My wife is quite well and salutes you. She will probably go to Adelsberg for the summer. I shall pass August at Carlsbad washing my liver clean for a winter campaign amongst the nuggets. Keep Ali Akbar well in view et portez vous bien.
R. F. Burton.
P. S. Your damned Turks are murdering everybody in Bosnia.
June 21, 1877
My Dear Captain Burton,
You now, I see, have £600 a year, a good climate, quiet life, good food, etc., and are engaged in literary enquiries, etc., etc. I have no doubt that you are very comfortable, but I cannot think entirely satisfied with your present small sphere. I have therefore written to the Khedive to ask him to give you Darfur as Governor-General, with £1,600 a year, and a couple of secretaries at £300 a year each. Darfur is l'enfer. The country is a vast sand plain, with but little water; the heat is very great; there is little shooting. The people consist of huge Bedawin tribes, and of a settled population in the larger villages. Their previous history under the Sultans would show them as fanatical. I have not found them in the least so; in fact I think them even less so than the Arabs of Cairo. If you got two years’ leave from H.M.’s Government, you would lose nothing. You know the position of Darfur; its frontier through Wadi is only fifteen days from Lake Tchad. On the other side of Lake Tchad you come on another sultanate, that of Bowmon, and you then near the Gulf of Guinea. Darfur is healthy. You will (D.V.) soon have the telegraph to your capital, El Tascher. If the Khedive asks you, accept the post, and you will do a mint of good, and benefit these poor people. You will also see working out curious problems; you will see these huge tribes of Bedawins, to whom the Bedawin tribes of Arabia are as naught; you will trace their history, etc.; and you will open relations with Wadai, Baginni, etc. I know that you have much important work at the Consulate, with the ship captains, etc., and of course it would not be easy to replace you; but it is not every day you use your knowledge of Asiatics or of Arabia. Now is the time for you to make your indelible mark in the world and in these countries. You will be remembered in the literary world, but I would sooner be remembered in Egypt as having made Darfur. I hope, if His Highness write to you, you will ask for two years’ leave and take the post as Governor-General. You are Commandant of Civil and Military and Finance, and have but very little to do with me beyond demanding what you may want.
June 27, 1877
My Dear Burton,
Thanks for your letter May 9, received today. I have answered…. Would you be bothered with him? I feel certain you would not. What is the use of such men in these countries; they are, as Speke was to you, infinitely more bother than use. Then why do you put him on me? I have had enough trouble with them already.
You will have my letter about Darfur. I must say your task will not be pleasant; but you talk Arabic, which I do not; and you will have much to interest you, for most of the old Darfur families are of Mohammed’s family.
I dare say you wonder how I can get on without an interpreter and not knowing Arabic. I do not believe in man’s free-will, and therefore believe all things are from God and preordained. Such being the case, the judgements and decisions I give are fixed to be thus or thus, whether I have exactly hit off all the circumstances or not. This is my raft, and on it I manage to float along, thanks to God, more or less successfully. I do not pretend my belief could commend itself to any wisdom or science, or in fact anything, but as I have said elsewhere, a bag of rice jolting along these roads could, if it had the gift of speech, and if it were God’s will, do as well as I do. You may not agree with me. Keep your own belief. I get my elixir from mine–viz. that with these views I am comfortable, whether I am a failure or not, and can disregard the world’s summary of what I do, or of what I do not do.
My dear Gordon,
You and I are too much alike. I could not serve under you, nor you under me. I do not look upon the Soudan as a lasting thing. I have nothing to depend upon but my salary; and I have a wife, and you have not.
My dear Burton
Recd yours of the 2nd. Thanks for your kind advice. The great difficulty is how I am to follow it, for somehow or other my hours are always full.
[Sabunjy] was here last evg. and I told him to send you a copy of his [three issues] of “Nahlah”. He is certainly a very energetic and working fellow. I help him to the best of my ability; but he seems to make an entrance every way. You will see his full address in his magazine. Yes, as you say, he did [al-illakrijy] very negligently. I had all the other books with me and looked into them and copied the extracts myself. I also copied what he had taken from [al-illakrijy] because he had written it very badly.
Mr. Turner came here some days ago and showed me the papers which you have sent to him. I gave him the best directions I could and promised to notify to him if I lighted on any thing further anent Mádyan.
“[Dîn-i-Muhammed]” may be allowable in Persian, but certainly not in Arabic. It is quite allowable to call the traditions &c. “Muhammedan”, but the religion is not of Muhammed, so say the [Fukahâ], but of God.
The [transcendentalism] of the [Sûfiyyah] is not spirituality in the sense in which I applied the term. But, I shall not discuss such points with you. I find that one who wishes to steer a middle course always gets kicks from the two extreme parties.
Mr. Bowes called on me last evening. He has evidently done nothing about the Zanzibar scheme. His apology seems to me a good one. He says that he had no data to place before others to induce them to invest their money. I think I told you that yr first move was to lay something like a definite plan before the Sayyid. Two other parties have since then come to me, and I have given them the same advice. One, in connection I fancy with the [Chemistry] Socy, talked about making roads, harbours, &c. &c. and wanted to know what concessions the Sayyid would make them. Another party wanted to buy the island of Moufia, off the Rufijy. I sent on both to the Sayyid & his reply was the same:—set forth categorically what you want me to do, what yr. objects are, and what benefits are likely to accrue to both parties from the desired arrangement. Altho’ the first of these parties stated in a speech at the Society of Arts that as much as £100,000 was [furthering] for the enterprise, no further steps, that I know of, have been taken. In the mean time a third party has stepped in, quite independent of me, for [I only] heard of them thro’ the Sayyid in a letter recd. the mail before last. These appear to have [met] in a definite scheme, and the Sayyid requests me, should it be proceeded with, to go out on his behalf. I have heard nothing more since then, and whether the scheme will die a natural death or be prosecuted I know not. I have no desire whatever to go out to Zanzibar, but if there is a good chance of something satisfactory being effected I shall find it difficult to resist the Sayyid’s pressing request that I should join him.
My wife [emotes] with me in best regards to Mrs. Burton & yourself. Most sincerely,
George Percy Badger.
Trieste July 13/77
My dear Grattan Geary
Yours of June 4 came all right. I have been awfully busy in finishing “The Gold Mines of Midian”, and in working the Ogham Character as you will see from Athenaeum. Hence Pantillaria silent. Glad to hear that Ooty has done you good—my remembrance of it is that it was a very rotten hole full of middle-class, respectably-pious and water-swilling Mules—a race which disagrees with me. I don’t despair of a Byzantium without the Turk, and observe, already they are talking of identically the same project for Bulgaria. The newspapers are doing their best in India to excite the Mussulmans. Elsewhere it is a failure. The Egyptians openly say they hope England will take the Country. A set seems to be made against Dizzy and the least blunder will send him trotting. I fancy that pudding-headed Ward Hunt is off the stocks. What an ass he has made of his Department! Torpedoes are now smashing up ironclads and the next build will be honeycombed band boxes that steam 20 knots an hour. Old Whitehead of Fiume gone to England; he has just invented a torpedo shot from a gun—such an article! Don’t be a sailor.
I am glad that you like Temple. Remember me to Maclean when you see him. I suppose it is an armed peace. What news of Nassau Lees? I see Codrington & Bühler have left Bombay and keep up a kind of correspondence with Da Cunha.
My wife joins in kindest regards and best wishes: if you are thinking of a home trip come & see us at Trieste.
R. F. Burton
18. July. 1877
My Dear Burton
I have got round to Dara vià Toasha, and hope in four or five days to get to Tascher, the soi disant Sultan Haroun is said to have left Tanné, the people are very good they have been driven into this revolt, most of the tribes have given in their submission. The Fors or, original natives of the land are the only people partially in revolt. Dar For is the land of Fors, as Dar Fertit is the land of the Fertits. You would find much to interest you here, for the Ulemas are well-read people, & know the old history. I found a lot of chain armour here, just like the armour of Saladeen’s people time of the Crusades with old helmets thus some embossed with gold. They were taken from the Sultan Ibrahim’s body guard when he was killed. The sheep are wonderful; some with a regular mane. The people would delight in the interest you would take in them. When the Egyptians took the country here, they seized an ancient mosque for a P. Mag. I have given it back & endowed it, there was a great ceremony, & the people are delighted. It is curious how these Arab tribes came up here: it appears those of Burnum and Bagirmi came from Tripoli, the others came up the Nile. The Dar Fertit lies between these semi-Mussulman lands & the Negro lands proper, on the border are the Niam-Niam, who circumcise. I suppose they took it from these Arab tribes. I only hope you will come up, you will DV find no great trouble here, by that time, & none of the misery I have had. Believe me
P.S. When I have done with Tascher I go to the Railway at Wadi Halfa, then to Berber, then to Senhit, or Bogos, then to Massawah, & Berbera. I date that I shall be at Wadi Halfa in August, & at Massawah in October, but l’homme purpose Dieu dispose.
My dear Lord Houghton
I despatched yesterday my MSS with a few words scrawled to you, & today wrote to Yates saying "my diary is v. stained with travel. I sent the MSS via Lord Houghton asking him to refer to his diary, to put in a few words & names for some I can no longer read.” It is not as long as it looks. There is an enormous margin for corrections & my hand is sprawling. It won’t be more than the regulation 3 columns. I shd have said I put that about the Fryston election party, less to bring myself forward, than to illustrate a most amusing day.
Richard returned yesterday, in excellent health, & spirits after 10 weeks absence. I will now explain why I said he was a [Dr. Joseph] to Egypt. 25 years ago, wandering as a Moslem Mecca wards, he came upon a whole land as rich as a "placer" but being young & romantic he only thought of his “spurs”, & glory, & so putting a mark, passed on & kept his secret all these years, & now that Egypt is Bankrupt the people & animals starving, the troops unpaid, & the Khedive a pauper, he thought it was time to go to their succour. The Khedive sent him with men of war, troops, engineers, & secretaries & plenty of money, & he led them to a part of the Coast, where they disembarked, & went inland & then he showed them the land which he found to be l’California; 600 miles long, by 300 broad of solid gold & silver. The Khedive was delighted, & on his return sent a special train, & received him with honour & enthusiasm at the Palace. So stick to your Egyptians if you have any, & don't talk about it to the Turks, for in the course of another year this will very much change the state of things, & I shall be glad to hear that English troops are occupying Egypt.
Dick's & my very best love, believe me ever,
My dear Luke
It seems so long since we heard from any of you. How is Elfie? Is she again on her dignity? I grieved to see poor Mary’s bereavement. It is long since Lallah wrote. Please God I hope we shall all meet again next May. Richard wrote you a letter which you have never answered. You must please be a better boy & answer quickly, as Richard goes on 19 October. I am to follow in January. Meantime you & I are to transact all the business together, & if you don’t answer “by express train & telegraph” you know what a fiend I shall become.
Give them all our best & dearest love & believe me my dear Luke yours affectly
P.S. My husband says there is nothing new to say only that in Feby he means to raise the funds in the manner proposed. If he is in Egypt he will communicate with you direct. If in Arabia through me and you must tell me what words to use in telegraphing. Also tell me this, we see quite well what immense advantage will accrue to you but we don’t see exactly what will accrue to us and I want to know.
17 Sept 1877
British Consulate Trieste
En route to Berber
October 19, 1877
My Dear Captain Burton,
£1,600, or indeed £16,000, would never compensate a man for a year spent actively in Darfur. But I considered you, from your independence, one of Nature’s nobility, who did not serve it for money. Excuse the mistake–if such it is.
I am now going to Dongola and Assouan, and thence to Massowah to see Johannis, and then to Berberah vis-à-vis Aden, near your old friends the Somalis. (Now there is a government which might suit you, and which you might develop, paying off old scores by the way for having thwarted you; it is too far off for me to hope to do anything). I then return to Kartoum, and then go to Darfur and return to Kartoum, and then go to the Lakes. Why do people die in these countries? Do not you, who are a philosopher, think it is due to the moral prostration more than to the climate? I think so, and have done so for a long time. My assistant, Prout, has been lingering on the grave’s brink for a long, and I doubt if he will go up again. I have no fear of dying in any climate. 'Men now seek honours, not honour.’ You put that in one of your books. Do you remember it? How true it is! I have often pirated it, and not acknowledged the author, though I believe you stole it. I see Wilson is now Sir Andrew. Is it on account of his father’s decease? How is he? He wanted to come out, but he could not bear the fatigue. All these experiments of the King of the Belgians will come to grief, in spite of the money they have; the different nationalities doom them. Kaba Rega, now that we have two steamers on Lake Albert (which, by the way, is, according to Mason, one hundred and twenty miles longer than Gessi made it), asks for peace, which I am delighted at; he never was to blame, and you will see that, if you read how Baker treated him and his ambassadors. Baker certainly gave me a nice job in raising him against the Government so unnecessarily, even on his own showing (vidé his book Ismaïlia). Judge justly. Little by little we creep on to our goal–viz. the two lakes; and nothing can stop us, I think. Mtesa is very good friends, and agrees much more with us than with your missionaries. You know the hopelessness of such a task, till you find a St. Paul or a St. John. Their representatives nowadays want so much a year and a contract. It is all nonsense; no one will stay four years out there. I would like to hear you hold forth on the idol 'Livingstone,’ etc., and on the slave-trade. Setting aside the end to be gained, I think that Slave Convention is a very just one in many ways towards the people; but we are not an over-just nation towards the weak. I suppose you know that old creature Grant, who for seventeen or eighteen years has traded on his wonderful walk. I am grateful to say he does not trouble me now. I would also like to discuss with you the wonderful journey of Cameron, but we are too far apart; though when you are at Akata or For, I shall be at Berenice or Suakin. It was very kind of you offering me Faulkner. Do you remember his uncle in R.N.? Stanley will give them some bother; they cannot bear him, and in my belief rather wished he had not come through safe. He will give them a dose for their hard speeches. He is to blame for writing what he did (as Baker was). These things may be done, but not advertised. I shall now conclude with kind regards,
My dear Luke
Richard left 19th of
No October &
reports well of the expedition for which he sails on 15th November the
day aft Thursday next. He will not be back likely till 15 March. I go out
when sent for perhaps February. You will of course be the first to know & before
the Khedive knows. Richard thinks that let us say Egyptians are at 33 or
34—the discovery will raise them to 40 even 50. Now if it is really what he
expects it must be done on a large scale. We don’t care about making a few
paltry hundred & as you might not be willing to risk say 150,000 £ or
200,000 £ in the matter do you know any just capitalist to take into confidence
who would—only you must understand that all Richard undertakes to do is to let
you know before any other person even the K knows of it. Richard does not mean
to risk a single shilling. Your business is to keep the secret of the funds,
to watch for & catch the moment we will give you notice of, & the
instant there is a rise to make use of it, & to give him a share of what
you and [Fitz] make by his means—that is what he thinks. There would be
lots ready to do it, but whilst making ourselves, we wd like to put
the profit into the hands of relatives & friends, instead of strangers.
I’d rather you wd compose the code of signals, but we must talk
about what there is in the country not corn &c. Shall we say amber, coral,
fancy works, ivory, skins.
Write soon & say what your ideas are . Yours with best love to all most sincerely
Trieste 12 Nov.
Figure 25. Letter from General Charles Gordon to Richard Burton 1877/12/26.
26 Decr 1877.
My dear Burton
I arrived here yesterday, and today Morice gave me your letter. I am glad you are with the Khedive, he is most kind, and there is few men for whom I would do for, as I would for him, for he has not been at all well treated. I am here for some time, for affairs are much complicated, and I want to finish off once for all with the two great questions here, when these are finished then I hope never to come to these parts alone. My idea is, as long as H.H. wishes, me to stay, I will stay, even if it is, for my whole life. I have never had the least idea of leaving, it may however be on the cards that H.H. may wish his son Hassan, to come here, then it will not break my heart to go. With kind regards
C. G. Gordon
It was my good fortune last winter, at Cairo, to encounter and enjoy much intimate communion with two of the most celebrated of the Anglo-African explorers, still in the full vigour of mature manhood, and with ardour unquenched by the sufferings and perils, through which one of them at least has not passed unscathed. Captain Richard Burton and Gordon Pacha were both at Shepheard's Hotel during the winter; although unfortunately they did not meet there, Burton arriving only a few days too late to meet his younger colleague in adventure and fame. It would have been both instructive and amusing to have listened to a colloquy between these two men, who with the sole tie of love of adventure, are in all other respects as different as any two men possibly can be. Burton is a very old friend of mine; with Gordon Pacha my acquaintance is of recent date. …
Hence, when the familiar face of Richard Burton, sadder and sterner, and bearing its souvenir of past perils in the shape of a deep cicatrice on the cheek, again greeted me at the old place, and his strong hand grasped mine again, it was like a resurrection of the olden time; and we took up the thread of our long-interrupted intercourse, where we had dropped it more than twenty years before. In that interval what countries had this, our greatest modern traveller, not seen and described, from Iceland to Sind, from Central Africa to Salt Lake? and with what strange and diversified memories must not that busy brain be filled, never given to the world even in the library of volumes, in which he has recorded his experiences in longer and more varied wanderings than those of Ulysses, over lands undreamed of by that ancient mariner?
I found Burton more changed in his outward than in his inner man. Perhaps he was more addicted to the utterance of very startling paradoxes in his random talk, than formerly: and even more fond of shocking people's stereotyped prejudices than he used to be; but his manner was less abrupt, and his tolerance of opinions opposite his own much greater than in his earlier days, when he was apt to be somewhat dictatorial. The old charm of his conversation was still there, increased by the stores of varied information carefully gathered up and retained by a most retentive memory. I have encountered many clever talkers, in different languages, but I really have never met Burton's superior anywhere, in this respect. Physically he still retains the vigour and strength which he formerly enjoyed. His arm is like a bar of iron; and he keeps his biceps and other muscles in constant training, by habitually carrying in his hand an iron cane, which most men would find fatiguing in an hour. He does this to keep in training for carrying a heavy gun on his explorations. For a long time he was mysterious with his intimates, as to the real object of his visit to Egypt: not knowing how the Khedive might receive or assist in his search for the long-forgotten gold mines of the land of Midian. Three days after I left Cairo for Europe, he started for the land of Midian, furnished by the Khedive with the means of conveyance and necessary escort; and has again startled the world by new revelations of new discoveries, more fully to be explored and utilized, it is to be hoped, during the ensuing winter.
Where Burton went, and what he saw, has been briefly described in a letter from Alexandria to a London daily journal, the substance of which briefly is, that he went on a friendly errand for the Khedive to survey the “land of Midian,” having informed the monarch of his belief that valuable gold mines were to be found there. On the eastern coast of the Gulf of Akaba, on the Red Sea, lies the ancient and almost forgotten land of Midian, famed of old for its mineral wealth. Thither went Captain Burton, a Government frigate and sufficient military escort having been furnished him; an able French mining engineer in the Egyptian service, M. Marie, accompanying the expedition. The party left Suez on the 21st March last, and on the 2nd April arrived at Moilah, a port of the Gulf of Akaba, where an Egyptian garrison is stationed. The account goes on to state:—
“Thence they took boat to Eynounah Bay, at the entrance of the Wady, or Valley of Eynounah, a little to the north of Moilah, on the eastern side of the gulf. These wadys are curious. They are barren rocky places, with no possibility of much culture, and yet they all bear signs of abundant population in times gone by. Large towns, built not of mud, as Arab towns so often are, but of solid masonry such as the Romans always used, roads cut in the rock, aqueducts five miles long, remains of massive fortresses, artificial lakes—all these signs of wealth and numbers are reported by Captain Burton.