May 2, 2012

Egyptian Alexandria in Night

Sleepless in Alexandria, 1857
William C. Prime
... I did not sleep on shore the first night in Egypt. . . . Dogs abound in the city of the son of Philip. They have no special owners, and are a sort of public property, always respected. But such infernal dog-fights as occurred once an hour under our windows no one elsewhere has known or heard of. I counted fifteen dogs in one melee the first evening, each fighting, like an Irishman in a fair, on his own account.

Alexandria in Night
Besides this, the watchmen of the city are a nuisance. There are a large number of them, and some twenty are stationed in and around the grand square. Every quarter of an hour, the chief of a division enters the square and shouts his call, which is a prolonged cry, to the utmost extent of his breath. As he commences, each watchman springs into the square; and by the time he has exhausted his breath they take up the same shout in a body, and reply. He repeats it, and they again reply; and all is then still for fifteen minutes. But as if this was not enough, there was a tall gaunt fellow, who had once been a dragoman, but was a poor and drunken dog now, and, in fact, crazy from bad habits, who slept somewhere in the square every night, and who invariably echoed the watchman with a yell that rang down the square, in unmistakable English, “All right”; and once I heard him add, in the same tremendous tone, “Damn the rascals!”

And just before dawn, when the law of Mohammed prescribed it, at that moment that a man could distinguish between a white thread and a black, there was a sound that now came to my ears with a sweetness that I can not find words to express. In a moment of the utmost stillness, when all the earth, and air, and sky was calm and peaceful, a voice fell through the solemn night, clear, rich, prolonged, but in a tone of rare melody that thrilled through my ears, and I needed no one to tell me that it was the muezzin’s call to prayer. “There is no God but God!” said the voice, in the words of the Book of the Law given on the mountain of fire, and our hearts answered the call to pray.

Almost as soon as they arrived, travelers set out to see the country, where so much was ancient or unfamiliar. Two traveling Arab scholars gave loving descriptions of Alexandria in their daywhen that wonder of the ancient world, the Pharos lighthouse, still stood.

Related Web Search :
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  • Weather in Alexandria Egypt
  • Hotels in Alexandria Egypt
  • Alexandria Egypt History
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