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With the proceeds of this, and some advances made to him by the proprietors of two or three leading journals in consideration of letters to be furnished, he commenced that year a series of travels which, continued up to the present time, has made him the greatest traveller, for his years, that ever lived. Haring passed two years in Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy, be returned home, and published an account of his travels, under the title of Viewe Afoot, which was very favorably received. He settled in New York, and in 1848 became connected with the “Tribune” as a permanent contributor, and, shortly after, published Rhymes of Travel. In 1849, he visited California, and returned by way of Mexico, giving an account of his travels in the " Tribune," of which he had now become an associate editor.
In 1851, he set out upon his Eastern tour, by the way of England, Germany, and Italy, and reached Cairo in November. Thence he went to Central Africa, and, after penetrating to the negro kingdoms of the White Nile, returned to Cairo by April. Thence he went north through Palestine and Asia Minor to Constantinople, and, after visiting some of the islands of the Mediterranean, returned to England through Germany. In October, 1852, he started from England, by the overland route, for Bombay, and, after a tour of more than two thousand miles in the interior of India, reached Calcutta on the 22d of February. Thence he embarked for Hong-Kong; and when Commodore Perry's squadron arrived at Shanghai, he entered the naval service in order to accompany it to the Loo-Choo and the Japan Islands, which he explored; then returned to Canton, and thence took passage for New York, where he arrived in December, 1853, having been absent two years and travelled more than fifty thousand miles. His graphic and entertaining history of this great journey is given in three works,—A Journey to Central Africa; The Lands of the Saracen; and India, China, and Japan. In July, 1856, he started on a fourth journey, during which he visited Sweden, Lap
nd, Norway, Dalm Greece, Crete, and Russia. In Novembe 1857, he published Northern Travel in London and New York simultaneously, and returned home in October, 1858.'
Strike the tent! the sun has risen; not a cloud has ribb'd the dawn,
' In 1854, his Poems of the Orient, and in 1855, his Poems of Home and Travel, were published by Ticknor & Fields.
Dust and sand behind them whirling, snort the foremost of the van,
LIFE ON THE NILE.
“ The life thon seek'st Thou'lt find beside the eternal Nilo."— Moore's Alciphron. The Nile is the Paradise of travel. I thought I had already fathomed all the depths of enjoyment which the traveller's restless life could reach, enjoyment more varied and exciting, but far less serene and enduring, than that of a quiet home; but here I have reached a fountain too pure and powerful to be exhausted. I never before experienced such a thorough deliverance from all the petty annoyances of travel in other lands, such perfect contentment of spirit, such entire abandonment to the best influences of nature. Every day opens with a jubilate, and closes with a thanksgiving. If such a balm and blessing as this life has been to me, thus far, can be felt twice in one's existence, there must be another Nile somewhere in the world.
Other travellers undoubtedly make other experiences and take away other impressions. I can even conceive circumstances which would almost destroy the pleasure of the journey. The same exquisitely-sensitive temperament, which in our case has not been disturbed by a single untoward incident, might easily be kept in a state of constant derangement by an unsympathetic companion, a cheating dragoman, or a fractious crew. There are also many trifling desagrémens, inseparable from life in Egypt, which some would consider a source of annoyance; but, as we find fewer than we were prepared to meet, we are not troubled thereby. * * *
Our manner of life is simple, and might even be called monotonous; but we have never found the greatest variety of landscape
and incident so thoroughly enjoyable. The scenery of the Nile, thus far, scarcely changes from day to day, in its forms and colors, but only in their disposition with regard to each other. The shores are either palm-groves, fields of cane and dourra, young wheat, or patches of bare sand blown out from the desert. The villages are all the same agglomerations of mud walls, the tombs of the Moslem saints are the same white ovens, and every individual camel and buffalo resembles its neighbor in picturesque ugliness. The Arabian and Libyan Mountains, now sweeping so far into the foreground that their yellow cliffs overhang the Nile, now receding into the violet haze of the horizon, exhibit little difference of height, hue, or geological formation. Every new scene is the turn of a kaleidoscope, in which the same objects are grouped in other relations, yet always characterized by the most perfect harmony. These slight yet ever-renewing changes are to us a source of endless delight. Either from the pure atmosphere, the healthy life we lead, or the accordant tone of our spirits, we find ourselves unusually sensitive to all the slightest touches, the most minute rays, of that grace and harmony which bathes every landscape in cloudless sunshine. The various groupings of the palms, the shifting of the blue evening shadows on the rose-hued mountain-walls, the green of the wheat and sugar-cane, the windings of the great river, the alternations of wind and calm, each of these is enough to content us, and to give every day a different charm from that which went before. We meet contrary winds, calms, and sand-banks, without losing our patience; and even our excitement in the swiftness and grace with which our vessel scuds before the north wind, is mingled with a regret that our journey is drawing so much the more swiftly to its close. A portion of the old Egyptian repose seems to be infused into our natures; and lately, when I saw my face in a mirror, I thought I perceived in its features something of the patience and resignation of the sphinx.
My friend, the Howadji,' in whose “Nile-Notes” the Egyptian atmosphere is so perfectly reproduced, says that conscience falls asleep on the Nile.” If by this he means that artificial quality which bigots and sectarians call conscience, I quite agree with him, and do not blame the Nile for its soporific powers. But that simple faculty of the soul, native to all men, which acts best when it acts unconsciously, and leads our passions and desires into right paths without seeming to lead them, is vastly strengthened by this quiet and healthy life. There is a cathedral-like solemnity in the air of Egypt: one feels the presence of the altar, and is a better man without his will. To those rendered misanthropic by disap
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pointed ambition, mistrustful by betrayed confidence, despairing by unassuageable sorrow, let me repeat the motto which heads this chapter.
VISIT TO THE SHILLOOK NEGROES. We sailed nearly all night with a steady north wind, which towards morning became so strong that the men were obliged to take in sail and let us scud under bare poles. We had passed the frontier of Egyptian Soudân soon after sunset, and were then deep in the negro kingdom of the Shillooks. The scenery had changed considerably since the evening. The forests were taller and more dense, and the river more thickly studded with islands, the soil of which was entirely concealed by the luxuriant girdle of shrubs and water-plants in which they lay imbedded.
All the rich animal world of this region was awake and stirring before the sun. The wild fowls left their roosts; the zikzaks flew twittering over the waves, calling up their mates, the sleepy crocodiles; the herons stretched their wings against the wind; the monkeys leaped and chattered in the woods, and at last whole herds of hippopotami, sporting near the shore, came up spouting water from their nostrils, in a manner precisely similar to the grampus. Soon after sunrise, the raïs observed some Shillooks in the distance, who were sinking their canoes in the river, after which they hastily retreated into the woods. We ran along beside the embowering shores, till we reached the place. The canoes were carefully concealed, and some pieces of drift-wood thrown over the spot, as if left there by the river. The raïs climbed to the mast-head and called to the people, assuring them that there was no danger; but, though we peered sharply into the thickets, we could find no signs of any human being. The river here turned to the south, disclosing other and richer groups of islands, stretching beyond one another far into the distance. Directly on our left was the northern point of the island of Aba, our destination. As the island is six or eight miles in length, I determined to make the most of my bargain, and so told the raïs that he must take me to its farther end, and to the villages of the Shillooks, whom I had come to see.
At last, on rounding one of the coves of Aba, we came upon a flock of sheep, feeding along the shore. The raïs finally descried the huts of the village at a distance, near the extremity of the island. We returned to the vessel, and were about putting off in order to proceed thither, when a large body of men, armed with spears, appeared in the forest, coming towards us at a quick pace The raïs, who had already had some intercourse with these people and knew something of their habits, advanced alone to meet them.
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I could see, through the trees, that a consultation was held; and sho:tly, though with some signs of doubt and hesitation, about a dozen of the savages advanced to within a short distance of the vessel, while the others sat down on the ground, still holding the spears in their hands. The raïs now returned to the water's edge, and said that the Shillooks had come with the intention of fighting, but he had informed them that this was a visit from the sultan's son, who came to see them as a friend, and would then return to his father's country. Thereupon they consented to speak with me, and I might venture to go on shore. I landed again, with Achmet, and walked up with the raīs to the spot where the men were seated. The shekh of the island, a tall, handsome man, rose to greet me, by touching the palm of his right hand to mine and then raising it to his forehead. I made a like salutation, after which he sat down. The vizier, as he called himself,) an old man excessively black in complexion, then advanced, and the other warriors in succession, till all had saluted me *** While these things were transpiring, a number of other Shillooks had arrived, so that there were now upwards of fifty. All were armed,—the most of them with iron-pointed spears, some with clubs, and some with long poles having knobs of hard wood on the end. They were all tall, strong, stately people, not more than two or three under six feet in height, while the most of them were three or four inches over that standard. * * *
The Shillooks have not the appearance of men who are naturally malicious. The selfish impudence with which they demand presents is common to all savage tribes. But the Turks, and even the European merchants who take part in the annual trading expeditions up the river, have dealt with them in such a shameful manner that they are now mistrustful of all strangers, and hence it is unsafe to venture among them. I attribute the friendly character of my interview with them as much to good luck as to good management. The raïs afterwards informed me that if the shekh had not been satisfied with the dress I gave him, he would certainly have attempted to plunder the vessel. He stated that the Shillooks are in the habit of going down the river as far as the country of the Hassaniyehs, sinking their boats and concealing themselves in the woods in the daytime, while by night they venture into the villages and rob the people of their dourra, for which they have a great fondness. They cultivate nothing themselves, and their only employment is the chase of the elephant, hippopotamus, and other wild beasts. All the region east of the river abounds with herds of elephants and giraffes; but I was not fortunate enough to get sight of them.
Here is the true land of the lotus; and the Shillooks, if not the lotophagoi of the Greeks, are, with the exception of the Chinese,