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Laurence Oliphant.

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EPISODES

IN

A LIFE OF ADVENTURE

OR

MOSS FROM A ROLLING STONE



BY

LAURENCE OLIPHANT

AUTHOR OF
■IA AND J
"HAIFA" ETC.



NEW YORK

HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE
1887



LAURENCE OLIPHANT'S WORKS.



ALTIORA PETO. i2mo, Paper, 20
cents ; 4to, Paper, 20 cents.

CHINA AND JAPAN. Illustrated.
8vo, Cloth, $3.50.

PICCADILLY. i 2 mo, Paper, 23 cents.



EPISODES IN A LIFE OP ADVEN-
TURE. i 2 mo, Cloth. {Just Ready.)

HAIFA; or, Life in Modern Palestine.
Edited, with Introduction, by Charles
A. Dana. Crown 8vo, Cloth, $1.75.



Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.

HSf* Sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States or Canada,

on receipt of the price.



CONTENTS.



CHAP. PAGE

I. THE OVERLAND ROUTE FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO, AND

AN ASCENT OF ADAM'S PEAK IN CEYLON, . I

II. REVOLUTIONARY EPISODES IN ITALY IN THE YEAR

1848, AND AN ADVENTURE IN GREECE, . -19

III. MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN DIPLOMACY, . .32

IV. POLITICS AND INDIAN AFFAIRS IN CANADA, . . 49
V. CRIMEAN AND CIRCASSIAN EXPERIENCES, . . 65

VI. ADVENTURES IN CENTRAL AMERICA, ... 88
VII. CALCUTTA DURING THE MUTINY, AND CHINA DUR-
ING THE WAR 1857-1859, .... I02
VIII. SOME SPORTING REMINISCENCES, . . . . 113

IX. AN EPISODE WITH GARIBALDI, AND AN EXPERIENCE

IN MONTENEGRO, 1 35

X. THE ATTACK ON THE BRITISH LEGATION IN JAPAN

IN l86l, ....... 152

XI. A VISIT TO TSUSIMA: AN INCIDENT OF RUSSIAN

AGGRESSION, 1 74

XII. POLITICS AND ADVENTURE IN ALBANIA AND ITALY

IN 1862, 187



IV CONTENTS.

CHAP. PAGE

XIII. CRACOW DURING THE POLISH INSURRECTION OF

1863, ........ 200

XIV. EXPERIENCES DURING THE POLISH INSURRECTION :

WARSAW, . . . . . . .217

XV. A VISIT TO AN INSURGENT CAMP, . . . 242

XVI. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS IN VOLHYNIA, . . -273

XVII. A VISIT TO THE CONVENTS OF MOLDAVIA, . . 29 1

XVIII. THE WAR IN SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN : THE BATTLE

OF MISSUNDE, 312

XIX. THE MORAL OF IT ALL, 340



EPISODES

IN

A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.



CHAPTER I.

THE OVERLAND ROUTE FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO, AND AN AS-
CENT OF ADAM'S PEAK, IN CEYLON.

The proverb that a rolling stone gathers no " moss " is,
like most proverbs, neater as an epigram than as a truth, in
so far as its application to human existence is concerned.
Even if by "moss" is signified hard cash, commercial and
industrial enterprises have undergone such a change since
the introduction of steam and electricity that the men who
have made most money in these clays are often those who
have been flying about from one quarter of the world to an-
other in its successful pursuit — taking contracts, obtaining
concessions, forming companies, or engaging in speculations,
the profitable nature of which has been revealed to them in
the course of their travels. But there may be said to be
other kinds of moss besides money, of which the human roll-
ing stone gathers more than the stationary one. He meets
with adventures, he acquires experiences, he undergoes ex-
periences, and gains a general knowledge of the world, the
whole crystallizing in after-life into a rich fund of reminis-
cences, which becomes the moss that he has gathered. The
journal of such a one in after-years, if he has been careful
i



2 EPISODES IN A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.

enough to record his experiences, becomes amusing reading
to himself, and may serve to refresh his memory in regard to
incidents which, as matters of history, may not be devoid of
interest to the public generally.

I was a very young stone, indeed, when I began rolling —
a mere pebble, in fact ; but some of the moss which I col-
lected then has stuck to me with greater tenacity than much
that has gathered itself upon my weather-worn surface in
later years. The impressions of early travel are generally
so deeply stamped at the time that the memory of them does
not easily fade. Thus I have made the overland journey to
the East, backward and forward, eight times, but the recol-
lection of the first one continues the most vivid; and it is
the same with my passages across the Atlantic — but perhaps
that is because it lasted seventeen days, was made in the
depth of winter, and under circumstances calculated to cause
themselves to be remembered. My first voyage to the East
was by the overland route in the winter of the years 1841
and 1842 ; it was made in company with my tutor, and so
imperfect were the arrangements in those days that it took
us two full months to reach Ceylon. At Boulogne, where
we arrived in a steamer direct from London Bridge, my com-
panion and I seated ourselves in the banquette of an old-
fashioned diligence — for very few miles of railway had been
built in France in those days ; and from our elevated perch,
which we preferred to retain throughout, we had abundant
opportunity for a survey of " La belle France," as we rum-
bled across it from one end to the other, accomplishing the
journey from Boulogne to Marseilles in eight days and five
nights of incessant diligence travel ; our only adventure be-
ing that we stuck for some hours of the night in the snow
near Chalons, and had to be dug out. At that time there
were no passenger-steamers from Marseilles to Malta, and
the mails were conveyed in a man-of-war, which was also
compelled to submit to the humiliation of having to take
passengers. The only incident of which I have any recol-



THE OVERLAND ROUTE FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO. 3

lection during the voyage was that of pitching headforemost
from the quarter-deck on to the main-deck, in the course of
a race in sacks, and the flash of thought which suggested in-
stant death as I went over. From this accident I remained
insensible for twenty-four hours, but was otherwise none the
worse. At Malta we changed steamers for Alexandria, where
the East burst for the first time upon my surprised senses.
The foreign population was probably not a quarter of what
it is now; carriages had not been introduced; the streets
were narrow, ill-paved, and crowded with camels, donkeys,
veiled women, and the traffic characteristic of an Eastern
city, but all was life and bustle : the place was just beginning
to quiver under the impulse of the movement which the in-
vention of steam was imparting to the world, and one of the
earliest evidences of which was the direct route to India,
which Lieutenant Waghorn had just opened through Egypt.
One of the pleasantest experiences of the journey was the
voyage along the Mahamoudieh Canal in canal-boats towed
by horses, as far as Atfeh. This was a perfect picnic while
it lasted ; the culinary arrangements being extemporized to
meet the difficulties of the situation, principally by the pas-
sengers themselves, for the organization was still so defective
that they had largely to trust to their own resources and ex-
ertions to secure their comfort. The morning of " Cook "
had not yet dawned, and we were still in a sort of twilight
of ignorance and dragomans. We had been looking forward
to a sail up the Nile in dahabceyahs to Cairo, but the first
steamer had just been put on the river ; notwithstanding
which, owing to various delays, which I for one did not regret
in a country where all was so new and interesting, it took us
three days to get from Alexandria to Cairo. Here, as there
was no civilized hotel — for Shepheard's had not yet sprung
into existence — we had to go to a native khan, where a num-
ber of bare ; unfurnished cells opened upon a corridor, en-
closing four sides of a square, which was filled at all hours
of the day and night with a mob of grunting, munching cam-



4 EPISODES IN A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.

els, and their screaming, quarrelling drivers ; and here we
found Mr. Waghorn himself, indefatigable in his exertions for
our comfort, and in a constant struggle with the authorities,
which, considering that only a few months before we had
bombarded the Egyptians out of Acre, and had handed Pal-
estine over to the Turks, was by no means to be wondered
at. Looked at by the light of subsequent events, we should
probably have done better had we left things as they were ;
but in that case subsequent events would have been so dif-
ferent that we might have had occasion to regret them still
more. No doubt there were reasons why it seemed best at
the time to separate the interests of Palestine from those of
Egypt ; but the fate of each country must ever be powerfully
influenced in the future, as it has been in the past, by the
destiny of the other ; and their relative position towards each
other, topographically and commercially, must always cause
the influence which is paramount in Egypt to be powerfully
operative in Palestine. And this will become the case, in a still
more marked degree, when the two countries are united, as
they must be before long, by a railway from Cairo to Damas-
cus. There is no line probably in the world, except perhaps
between the populous cities of China, more certain to pay
than one which should connect Egypt and Syria, and which
would convey the greater part of that produce which is now
carried in native boats by sea, or transported wearily across
the intervening desert on the backs of camels. The Eastern
question will have, however, to be reopened and closed again
before we can hope to see it constructed. Meantime we were
almost as unpopular in Egypt in 1841 as we are now; but
then, at all events, we had a clear and definite policy, and
knew distinctly what we were aiming at. What we lost in
one direction we gained in another, instead of losing all
round, as we do in these days, and which we shall continue
to do in the degree in which the British mob is invited by
subservient statesmen to dictate to them the policy to be pur-
sued in foreign affairs. However, these are merely the views



THE OVERLAND ROUTE FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO. 5

of a rolling stone, with which it is impossible that stones
which form a part of the pavement of London streets, and can
see no farther than the houses on either side, can sympathize ;
but of this they may feel sure, that if they were picked out of
their political gutters, and sent rolling about the world for a
few years, they would get rid of a good deal of the dirt of
party, and gather a little of the moss of patriotism.

Forty-six years have worked a far greater change in Cairo
than they have in Alexandria. In fact, they have trans-
formed the city to an extent which makes it no longer recog-
nizable. From the most Oriental of Oriental cities, which it
was when I saw it first, it has become the most European —
the broad boulevards and miles of roads and streets, the hun-
dreds of carriages plying for hire, the magnificent hotels and
handsome villas with their surrounding gardens, have super-
seded all that was quaint, Eastern, and picturesque. The
Ezebekeyeh, where in old days one sat in the still evenings,
and smoked chibouks and ?iarg/ule/is, and drank coffee and
sherbet, and listened to the twang of native instruments, in
company with groups of venerable Moslems, is now a park
where nurse-maids and babies and petits creves go and lis-
ten to a military band. And one has to make an expe-
dition expressly into the native quarter to know that it ex-
ists. We were detained a couple of days in Cairo, while Mr.
Waghorn was arranging for our transport across the desert
to Suez, and we were never tired of exploring its narrow
streets on donkeys, and spending money on articles which
could never be of any manner of use to us, in its crowded
and well-stocked bazaars.

We crossed the desert in several four-horse vans — horses
having been recently substituted for the camels which were
at first attached to these vehicles — and found waiting for us
at Suez the steamer India. The journey from the Mediter-
ranean to the Red Sea, including two days' stay at Alexan-
dria, had occupied eight days. The last time I crossed from
one sea to the other it was by an express train without any



6 EPISODES IN A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.

delay at Cairo, and the time occupied was nine hours. Be-
fore the establishment of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam
Company, the mails were conveyed from Suez to Bombay by
one of the East India Company's men-of-war. The first
merchant -ship which carried passengers and mails direct
from Suez to Calcutta was the India, and this was her first
voyage. She was commanded by a Captain Staveley, and
was considered a large ship in those days, though she was
not over fifteen hundred tons. The survey of the Red Sea
was also, I imagine, imperfect. At any rate, on the second
night after leaving Suez we were all nearly thrown out of our
berths by the ship running full speed upon a coral-reef, on
which the scene of panic usual on such occasions occurred.
All the passengers, male and female, were on deck in the
lightest of attire in a moment, and were somewhat reassured
by the fact that the sea was as calm as a mill-pond, and the
ship as motionless as a statue — so much so, indeed, that
one weak-minded cadet, who had been the butt of the younger
members of the party all the way, thought the opportunity a
good one in which to write his will, which he proceeded with
great earnestness and good faith to do in the saloon, assisted
by several of his friends, whose good faith was not so ob-
vious. When he had finished it, we took charge of it, and
promised that in case any of us were saved from the wreck,
which he thought imminent, the survivors would see that it
was executed. I have often wondered since whether this
youth ever rose to command the regiment he went out to
join. We stuck on this reef several hours, and then with the
help of the little tide there is in the Red Sea, and the boats,
we floated off, with, as it afterwards turned out, a severely
damaged bottom. However, we steamed slowly on for two
or three days more, and then ran out of coal. As there was
not a breath of wind when this discovery was made, the pros-
pect of lying for an indefinite time, " like a painted ship upon
a painted ocean," was not encouraging. However, the ocean
was fortunately a very narrow one, and with the aid of a puff



THE OVERLAND ROUTE FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO. 7

of wind which ultimately sprang up, we managed to work our
way into Mocha. As I was not in the slightest hurry to
reach my journey's end, I was delighted at this co7itrete?nps,
as it gave me a chance of seeing a very rarely visited place.
We lay off Mocha for three days, taking in wood. Its as-
pect from the sea is not particularly inviting. It is merely a
row of white, flat-roofed houses, with a minaret or two rising
above them, glistening in the broiling sun, with a palm-grove
at either end, and a desert beyond. Some of us went on
shore to explore the town and pay a visit to the governor or
shereef. We then found that the white houses looked far
grander at a distance than on nearer acquaintance ; and that
there was a bazaar behind them, in which a large proportion
of desert Arabs mingled with the Moslem townspeople, bring-
ing in strings of camels with dates, coffee, and other produce
for sale. I was told that, though the country immediately
surrounding Mocha was barren and unprepossessing, there
was a fertile, well-watered hill-region behind, where the cele-
brated coffee called after the town is produced, but which,
even to this day, has been only very partially explored. At
present the obstacles to exploration are even greater than
when I was at Mocha. At that time it was virtually, if not
technically, the capital of Yemen, a rich and fertile province
about four hundred miles long by one hundred and fifty
wide ; and though the Sultan of Turkey cast covetous eyes
upon it, and even attempted to lay some claim to sovereignty
over it, it was practically an independent country, the su-
preme authority being the imaum, whose palace was at Sana,
a town equidistant from Aden and from Mocha, being about
one hundred and sixty miles from each, and the centre of a
trade which found its way to the sea-coast at Mocha. Now
all this is changed. There is no longer an imaum at Sana :
after a protracted war, which has lasted over several years,
and which never raged more fiercely than it did last year,
though we heard very little about it, Yemen has been an-
nexed to the Turkish empire and constituted into a vilayet,



'^ I E.

With a Tuii snt at Sana, where, however, his

do • id beyc . . _ • of his

lomal 'jnder his orders. I have

9 fa . returned from
ice in / , and they all tell rne that the country is in

a »I; oil ; that the Arabs are intensely hostile

authority of the Porte; that they are very brave, and
' ion into ,. . ibjects seems an almost

less task, I have also met. in Jerusalem a very interest-
ing '/t of \< vs f who only red there as refugees a little
mora than two vi - o from Yemen, where they say they
d long before the final dispersion, for they claim to
be <!' / ended from the tribe of Dan : they are learned in the
Scriptures, and more devout and unsophisticated than those

who have been in contact with Western civilization. They

say they were compelled to leave Yemen in consequence of
the wai between the Turks and Arabs, where they found
themselves between the uppei and the nethei millstone.

So fai as I was able to gather, there is, however, a strong

tnlc' of nomads, all pure Jews, who have sided with the
Arabs in the late war, and who have retired into fastnesses,
where the Turks havi hid a difficulty in following them, for

parts "I Hi' Country are very mountainous. I have also
heard from more than on' • <: of the existence of a

valuable gold mine somewhere in Yemen, and conversed
with those who have :,< >< n I Ik: ore that has been extracted
from it.
The < reation of Yemen into a Turkish vilayet brought the

frontiei of the empire almost to the gates of Aden ; and the

native Arab tribes, who, on the occasion of my first visit,
made ii unsafe to venture a hundred yards from the fortifica-
tion, were "lad to seek OUI protection rather than fall under
Turkish rule. The result has been a certain tension between
ih'' Turkish authorities and British officials, arising out of
tin 1 , newly bom propinquity ; and the fear lest our influence
should spread into the interior, has induced the Ottoman



THE OVERLAND .TOY-SIX YEABJ: 9

y to pr< hmen

. I was at Mocha, it i

-in per
he Ima
although it wai ed, had already be

- ruttendeo, s i r

lies under all 1 ese

h : and from : g - populatic n thousand

hat id down to a r ade

of ¥ finding its

mik from it by sea.

- great
pen received os with moc

;r the circumstances, was f to be

~:.\z; /-.' - : - ii -•;. I'.'.'.i' '■ .::. •.'.-': '.- : .\.::. : : z i: .::,'s ::. . i-

ket, which gave him to enlisl e in the

wood c He imr . y loaded it, and took a shot

: oppos! vas not

whom it v. . ^ded. alarm and as t as

\..~hJ.. :■ :..;■'. z~ r ,'.:i : : v, \:. - . : t~; v.t:-i 1-i ::v-i *.'. ;,-;>.'>! 1

and highly amused the ; vho I don't think would

e been ifected even i:' . ^sequences had been

The indifference of the human life wi rk-

ably illustrated while •

night our ship was surrounded by boi b wood,

their crews keep: a most discordant din of screar

An while 1 in the proc dischargir

cargoes into us. The abundance of this article was a

s existence in the interior; but as it hac
come on camel's backs, it must have been an expens:
moc!:/. One of these boats, with a couple of men in it.
capsized, the boat turned over, and the men scrambled on to
the keeL There must have been a stror. : j can as they
speedily drifted out to sea, without any efforts being made



IO EPISODES IN A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.

by their comrades to rescue them, though the accident took
place at midday, in full view of everybody. I suppose our
captain thought that it was the business of the natives to
look after each other. We watched them with our glasses
until they disappeared on the horizon ; but as the sea is very
narrow at this part, it is to be hoped they drifted ashore on
the opposite side.

From Mocha, with our wood fuel and our rickety bottom,
we steamed slowly round to Aden, where the ship was laid
up for repairs, and I was kindly received as a guest by Cap-
tain Staines, then commissioner at that place. Forty- six
years has worked a great change at Aden, as at all the other
places on the route. ' It had then been only two years in
our possession, and was held like a post in an enemy's coun-
try. Every morning and evening long strings of camels were
to be seen passing into the camp from the interior with sup-
plies, and returning again to the desert, every Arab who ac-
companied them being compelled to have a pass, and none
of them being permitted to sleep within the gates for fear of
treachery.

We have now reduced all these unruly tribes to subjection,
and within a certain radius of Aden the petty sultans by
whom they are governed have been placed under our pro-
tection — notably the Sultan of Lahaj, whose village is a
day's ride distant into the interior, and who can now be vis-
ited with perfect security. We have annexed a small district
adjoining the peninsula, and upon it, three miles from the
fortifications, have established a town called Sheik Osman,
which has a population of twelve thousand, composed of So-
maulis, Hindoos, Abyssinians, and Arabs. Each of these
nationalities has its own quarter, and perfect peace and or-
der are maintained without the intervention of any European
— there being no white man in the place. Aden itself has
now a population of at least fifty thousand, and is a grow-
ing commercial emporium, while large sums are about to
be spent upon its fortifications. When I first visited it. the



AN ASCENT OF ADAM'S PEAK. II

resident population, outside the garrison, were to be counted
by hundreds; and both at the "Camp" and the "Point,"
into which the settlement was divided, the residences were
of the most flimsy description. To me, however, their quaint
and unsubstantial character possessed all the charm of nov-
elty ; and the conditions of existence generally were so
strange and unlike anything to which I had been accustomed,
that I enjoyed my week's stay immensely, and was quite
sorry when the repairs of the ship were completed, and we
were called upon to bid adieu to its hospitable society.

The remainder of the voyage was only remarkable for our
slow rate of speed, and we reached Ceylon without further
incident, sixty days after leaving England.

I read a very interesting article in BlackivoocVs Magazine
not long since on sacred footprints, in which the writer sug-
gested that many of them were originally coronation-stones,
and in which he offered some ingenious suggestions as to the
religious character which attaches to them among the various
races in the different countries where they are found. They
seem, indeed, to possess a peculiar fascination to the devo-
tional mind among Oriental races ; and we not unfrequently
find the same footprint invested with a traditional sanctity
by the adherents of religions which have no relation to each
other beyond one or two of those broad ideas which are more
or less common to all worship. This is notably the case
with the print on Adam's Peak, the Sripada of the Buddhists,
the penitential mountain of our first parent of the Moham-
medans. It was from here that Gautama is supposed to
have stepped across the Bay of Bengal into Siam — a gigan-
tic stride, but not so wonderful a performance as that attrib-
uted to Adam, as described by a devout Mussulman to a
friend of mine, when discussing the means by which he trans-
ported himself to Ceylon, after his expulsion with his wife,
according to Moslem traditions, from the Garden of Eden.
It seems that poor Eve, after being separated from Adam



12 EPISODES IN A LIFE OF ADVENTURE.

for two hundred years, and reunited with him on Mount Ar-
arat, died before he left Arabia ; for her tomb, which is re-
garded with great veneration by Moslems, is pointed out to
the pious pilgrims on their way to Mecca, at Jeddah. Ac-
cording to this tradition, it was at the former place that Adam
knelt down to ask forgiveness upon that stone, which has
been invested with the utmost sanctity from a period long
anterior to Mohammed — the sacred Caaba of Mecca ; and
there he had his penance imposed upon him. Then, travel-
ling to the coast, Eve died, and was buried about a mile
from Jeddah, in a tomb two hundred feet long ; for she was



Online LibraryLaurence OliphantEpisodes in a life of adventure; or, Moss from a rolling stone → online text (page 1 of 31)