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Coptic Quarter, near Old Cairo, is an ancient church, in which the Coptic Christians now worship, dating, it is said, from the sixth century, and which has served as the model of all the older Egyptian-Byzantine churches. It is interesting to visit a Coptic church; there are plenty in Alexandria, Cairo, and other Eastern cities. The worshippers pay great
, homage to their sacred pictures of Virgin and saints, and commence their devotions by bowing before them; they then take each a pair of crutches, for no seats are allowed, and standing in the proper place in the church, will remain for two or three hours, or as long as the service may last. The service consists of prayers, readings from the Gospel, and the burning of incense, when the priest passes among the people, and places his hand on the head of each while swaying the censer. Frequent celebrations of the Holy Eucharist take place in Coptic churches. The celebrant priest wears a richly-embroidered white gown, reaching to his feet, bearing the Coptic cross (*) on the breast and sleeves. “After washing his hands, he directs a boy to bring bim several small round loaves with the Coptic cross impressed upon them. He chooses the best of them, places it on a plate, and pronounces over it the blessing of the Triune God. He then carries it into the hêkel or sanctuary, places it on the altar, covers it with white cloths, and makes the circuit of the altar several times, reciting prayers, and accompanied by the choristers carrying lighted candles. He next brings the plate with the bread out of the sanctuary, and holds it up before the people, whereupon the whole congregation kneels. Returning to the hêkel, he breaks the bread into small pieces, puts it into a chalice, pours wine upon it, and eats it with a spoon, distributing a few pieces to the assistant clergy and the choristers. Lest any fragment of the consecrated elements should be profaned, he finally washes all the utensils and his own hands, and drinks the water in which he has washed them."
Coptic churches are usually divided into three parts—a forecourt or vestibule, a section for the men, and a section for the women. In the vestibule are appliances for washing the feet, and other ablutions, practices which the Copts observe with great strictness.
The fellaheen-that is, the tillers, peasant proprietors, or agriculturall abourers—form the bulk of the population of Egypt, and their condition is, unhappily, one of the worst forms of slavery. Nearly the whole wealth of the country is derived from its agriculture, and to the fellaheen alone is committed the important task of tilling the soil. The fellah reaps and ploughs and toils, but can never with certainty regard his crops as his own, and even the hard-earned piastre is too frequently wrested from him. There are no laws to protect him; he is the victim of the most cruel, merciless taxation; his sons may be taken from him in the conscription, or drafted away with gangs of others to forced labour ; his home is but a burrow in the mud; his clothing consists of one coarse garment, and his
! food is composed almost entirely of beans or lentils. Within the past few years attempts have been made to ameliorate the condition of the fellaheen by the introduction of new laws, but in the unsettled state of the country these attempts have been practically useless.
The fellaheen number four and a half millions out of a total of five and a half millions. They are the descendants of the ancient Egyptians, with a slight admixture of Arab blood, and for the most part they own a little land. It is a common saying that the land in Egypt is gold, not mud. It requires no manure and little labour for ordinary crops, and the yield is enormous; two crops of corn, or even three, may be grown in a year. This
is one of the important peculiarities of Egypt, that it yields both a winter and a summer harvest. The overflow of the river and the warmth of the winter sun suffice for the former, and artificial irrigation for the latter. Its variety of produce contributes largely to the wealth and well-being of the country now as it did in the Egypt of the Pharaohs; but unfortunately the fellah, who should reap the benefit of his toil and some of the wealth derived from Nature's lavish bounty, is so cruelly taxed that, although he may toil year in and year out, though he may bale up the water from the river with his shadoof all the livelong day, with the sun scorching his naked limbs, all that will be left to him of the produce of his little plot of land will be barely enough to keep himself and his little ones in millet-bread and onions, the whole of the profits being pounced upon by the Government to enrich the collector, the governor, the pasha, the Khedive—anybody but the hard-working Egyptian-to build useless palaces, French theatres, gardens, and haremsanything rather than the improvement of the condition of the fellaheen. No wonder, therefore, that from this and other causes the fellah “ looks upon the Government as his natural enemy, and with good cause regards taxation as a border-farmer must have regarded blackmail. To him the Khedive is the lineal successor of the Bedouin freebooter who robbed his forefathers.” No wonder that after years of toil he gets soured so that he will often suffer the most cruel blows in dogged silence rather than pay the taxes demanded. Heavy as the taxes are, they are made infinitely heavier by the mode of their collection, for the sheikh, the district officer, the provincial head of administration, all get comfortable sums which, under pretence of collecting the Government dues, they wring out of the fellah ; and as the taxes are mostly levied in kind, there is great room for petty extortion and fraud in collecting them, and local officials under bad Egyptian government have been brought up from infancy to look upon extortion as a legitimate part of their business.
One of the most insane taxes is that which is levied upon palm-trees. “Of all the gifts of Nature to Egypt, the palm-tree is one of the most characteristic and of the most useful; its trunk supplies the people with beams; its sap is made into a spirit; its fruit is in some districts a most useful article of food, and everywhere a humble luxury ; baskets are made of the flag of its leaf, and from the stem of the leaf beds, chairs, and boxes; its fibres supply material for ropes and cordage, nets and mats; it has, too, its history in Egypt, for its shaft and crown first suggested to the dwellers on the banks of the Nile, in some remote age, the pillar and its capital.” And yet this tree, so soon as it can bear a bunch of fruit, is subject to a barbarous, impolitic, and death-dealing tax. Is it any wonder that palm-trees are growing scarce, that the oppressed villager does not care to go to the trouble and expense of rearing them ?
Although it is often stated that the poorest is exempt from compulsory labour as soon as he is able to read and write, it is a fact that forced labour is a rule all through Egypt now as it was thirty centuries ago. By this means all the great works have been performed. At the sugar factories in Upper Egypt, at the canal works, at the railways, at the new roads and the new palaces, the labourers have been driven to their tasks, and paid or not paid, as their masters pleased. At the sugar factories forced labour is the rule under a thin disguise. The labourer is paid in treacle valued at the highest Cairo prices, but if he likes he can sell it back to the authorities at the factory; he must do so, however, at the lowest local price, and as the treacle is useless to him, and this is the only way open to him to dispose of it, he is thus robbed of a third or a fifth of bis ridiculously small wages.
A few years ago the writer was walking along the beautiful road leading from Cairo to the palace and gardens of Shoobra, when, above the hubbub of the traffic in that gay promenade, a confused sound was heard, resembling the distant hum of many voices. Mounting an embankment running parallel with the road, a marvellous scene presented itself. When the Nile overflows it leaves a thick deposit of mud in the canals, and this in process of time blocks up the channels. These have to be cleared, and the sight which then burst upon the view was the bed of a canal, in which from six to eight thousand people were busily at work. They were principally young people—boys and girls, youths and maidens — although amongst them were many of riper years; over every hundred persons
-organg — there was an overseer, in a white or blue robe and a highly-coloured turban, contrasting strangely with the more than half naked groups around him. Each overseer held in his hand a whip or rod, which he used freely when any one flagged, or appeared about to flag, in the work. The labour consisted in carrying the mud in small baskets from the bottom of the canal up a steep incline, and throwing it up on a bank in compact heaps. No tool or mechanical appliance of any kind was furnished to aid the workers; the mud had to be gathered in the hand and carried in a basket on the head. When emptied a handful of sand was thrown into the basket to prevent the next load of mud from adhering to it. Some of the workers chanted a sad and mournful ditty as they laboured through the hot hours of the day. It was a miserable and touching
. sight to see young girls and old men and women staggering under their earth-burdens, their feet, and sometimes their bare shoulders, bleeding. It was painful to know that in return for these labours a certain sum would be paid to each overseer, but there was only the faintest hope that the labourers would get anything more than the bag of beans served out to them as rations. Near to the canal a group of invalid workmen lay exhausted in the sun, and it was pitiful to think how many lives would be sacrificed over that work. Truly the lives of the fellaheen are “bitter with hard bondage in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field.”
In concluding our account of Cairo, it should be said that all the modern parts of the city are lit with gas introduced in 1870; the roads in the European and principal quarters are macadamised, paved, and kept well watered; trees are planted in many of the streets, forming boulevards. Water is pumped from the Nile by a French company, and distributed plentifully throughout the city. All that Cairo now wants, all that Egypt wants, is good government, and then it will be capable of becoming again what it was in the past—a land of plenty and one of the greatest of kingdoms.*
The majority of the engravings in this chapter have been borrowed from Dr. Ebers’s magnificent work on Egypt: Historical, Descriptive, and Picturesque."
HISTORY OF THE CITY.
entering the harbour of Toronto is the great Union Railway Station, with its handsome architecture and high towers, rising from the Esplanade. The Grand Trunk Railway, which connects the remote shores of Lake Huron with Montreal, Quebec, and the seaboard, passes through this station. The other lines terminating at Toronto are the Great Western, for Niagara, Hamilton, and Detroit; the Northern, for Lake Simcoe and the ports on the great Georgian Bay of Lake Huron ; the Credit Valley lines, through the rich countries to the westward; the Toronto, Grey, and Bruce, running to the distant harbours on Georgian Bay and Lake Huron; the Nipissing line, now constructed for many miles to the north-east, and heading for the remote and unpeopled solitudes about Lake Nipissing, in the diocese of Algoma. To the westward of the meridian of Toronto extends a rich and populous country, devoted to the culture of grain, and worthy the name of Canada Felix. To the north-eastward, extending over four degrees of longitude, as far as Ottawa, is a line of wilder counties, covered with valuable forests and strewn with myriads of crystalline lakes, among which are many settlements of hardy Canadian and Scottish backwoodsmen. This is a lake-country indeed, covering many thousands of square miles, and destined, in spite of its severe climate, to be the seat of a large and prosperous agricultural population. Lord Dufferin very happily expressed the main need of Canada in his celebrated Toronto speech :-" The only thing still wanted is to man the ship with a more numerous crew. From the extraordinary number of babies which I have seen at every window and at every cottage door, native energy and talent appear to be rapidly supplying this defect; still, it is a branch of industry in which the home manufacturer has no occasion to dread foreign competition, and Canadians can well afford to share their fair inheritance with the straitened sons of toil at home.” Canada, with the adjacent British dominions of which she is heir, covers an area greatly exceeding that of the United States, and including the latitudes between those of North Cape, in Norway, and Tuscany. It is commonly supposed in Great Britain that this is a land hidden far in the frigid north, with a perpetual inclemency brooding over its dark forests. It is interesting to notice that all the inhabited part of Canada, the home of five million hard-working, happy, and prosperous people, is south of the parallel of 50° N.; and that the whole of Great Britain (save about three miles of the Lizard Point, in Cornwall) is north of that parallel.
On all sides of the harbour appear the evidences of high culture, commercial activity, and ancient foundations; yet, less than a century has passed since the idle waters lapped against a lonely beach, whereon no signs of human life were visible. The name Toronto is of Indian origin, and appears frequently in the French-Canadian despatches of the seventeenth century, as applied to a locality of great importance north of Lake Ontario, where the trail to Lake Huron began. About the year 1749, the English trading-post at Oswego, on the southern shore of Ontario, enjoyed a thriving commerce with the natives; and the French Governor of Canada, M. de la Galissonière, resenting the prosperity of this remote bit of perfidious Albion, established a garrisoned post and trading-station at Toronto, on the opposite shore of the lake. For several years these two rival commercial ports, the Rome and Carthage of that midland sea, defied each other over the unsalted waves; and then the Marquis de Montcalm, with 3,000 Frenchmen and allied Indians, besieged and captured Oswego, with its garrison of 1,800 men, 134 cannon, and the supporting fleet. The handful of French
Kingston, or crossing to the American ports of New York State, where the descendants of the Puritans and of the Dutchmen dwell in peaceful and money-making union.
The long peninsula, or isthmus, which forms the harbour was in ancient times a favourite resort of the Mississaga Indians, especially for the sick and exhausted. One of the first-founded institutions of York was a long, straight, and level race-course on the isthmus, and here occurred the Upper Canada Derbys, the veritable isthmian games of the pioneers. The peninsula is about two leagues long, being but a mere sand-bank, overgrown with wild grass, and tufted here and there with small trees.
Gibraltar Point, on the west, nearly a mile wide, is partly occupied by fortifications for the defence of the entrance of the port, and by a lighthouse to guide marirers into the harbour.
On the eastern side of the city is the river Don, a slow and meandering stream, with rugged and picturesque banks and a marshy delta. On the other side is the Humber river, coming down out of the northern forests at a break-neck pace, affording eligible opportunities alike for the scenery-hunter and the miller. St. James's Cemetery and the Toronto Necropolis are on the banks of the Don; and the same locality also possesses a site already hallowed by history, which comes so slowly to crown these New-World colonies. Governor Simcoe, the founder of Toronto, built a log château, named Castle Frank, on a high bluff over the river Don, close to his nascent capital, and connected with it by a road, which the soldiers of the garrison constructed. The mansion was named in honour of its youthful heir, Francis Simcoe, whose mangled corpse, some years later, was left among the pile of British dead which closed up the breach at Badajoz. The governor received from the Iroquois Indians the name of Deyonynhokrawen, “One whose door is always open; and on his monument in the ancient Cathedral of Exeter it is recorded that “he served his king and his country with a zeal exceeded only by his piety towards God.” Castle Frank has long since disappeared, but its peaceful sylvan surroundings are a favourite rambling-ground for the young men and maidens of eastern Toronto.
The water-front of the city is formed by a broad strip of open ground, a simplified Thames Embankment, with some of the traits peculiar to the levées of the Mississippi river towns; and the huge and shapeless elevators suggest Chicago, which, by a courteous periphrasis, might be called the American Toronto.
It was a dream of the pioneers that a broad promenade should always be kept open before the town, looking out upon the lake; and in 1818 the erection of the Mall was decreed by royal patent.
But this sentimental scheme of the founders has given way to the Esplanade, which is, from a practical and nineteenth-century point of view, the chief glory of Toronto. It is an embankment faced with masonry, nearly a league in length, giving a new frontage to the town, and greatly improving its sanitary security. This magnificent marginal way is occupied by several parallel lines of railway—the grand routes between Upper and Lower Canada—with a long series of warehouses, factories, and other commercial buildings on one side, and the deep waters of the harbour on the other.
The most conspicuous object in the approach to a European city is usually a castle, a cathedral, or a palace ; but the genius of the New World seeks the embodiment of power in other forms, and allows its banners, mitres, and crowns to be obscured by the smoke of continent-crossing railway-trains. So it happens that the most conspicuous object seen on