May 2, 2012

Muhammad Ali’s Alexandria 1813

A Tourist’s History, 1779
Eliza Fay

24 July, 1779. Having mounted our asses, the use of horses being forbidden to any but Musselmans, we sallied forth preceded by a Janissary, with his drawn sword, about three miles over a sandy desert, to see Pompey’s Pillar, esteemed to be the finest column in the World. This pillar which is exceedingly lofty, but I have no means of ascertaining its exact height, is composed of three blocks of Granite: (the pedestal shaft and capital, each containing one). When we consider the immense weight of the granite, the raising such masses, appear beyond the power of man. Although quite unadorned, the proportions are so exquisite, that it must strike every beholder with a kind of awe, which softens into melancholy, when one reflects that the renowned Hero whose name it bears, was treacherously murdered on this very Coast, by the boatmen who were conveying him to Alexandria; while his wretched wife stood on the vessel he had just left, watching his departure, as we may naturally suppose, with inexpressible anxiety. What must have been her agonies at this dreadful event!

Egyptian Muslims
We saw also the outside of St Athanasius’s Church, who was Bishop of this Diocese, but it being now a Mosque were forbidden to enter, unless on condition of turning Mahometans, or losing our lives, neither of which alternative exactly suited my ideas, so I deemed it prudent to repress my curiosity.

Muhammad Ali’s Alexandria, 1813 
Dr. Charles Meryon

Muhammad Ali’s Alexandria
Alexandria is a large maritime port, and the vast number of vessels in the harbour gave sure evidence of its commerce. At the time to which this narrative refers, the sale of corn by the Egyptian government to the English brought in an immense profit to the pasha of Egypt, who monopolized that branch of commerce entirely; as he had done, by degrees, every branch that was lucrative. Thus the rice mills, formerly held by industrious individuals, whose separate interest excited a competition in the trade, were ... all taken into the hand of the pasha. . . .

To house the grain that is brought to Alexandria, the pasha, in 1815, constructed on the strand of the western harbour a vast magazine, the dimensions of which made it an object of curiosity. It is a single room, one hundred and twenty paces long by fifteen broad, and the roof is supported by one hundred and twenty shafts. . . .

As the pasha holds Alexandria to be the key of his dominions, he has fortified its ramparts, which his courtiers may tell him are impregnable. In 1813, he demolished the old Saracen walls, which took in the circuit of what is called the old city. . . .

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