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Of all places in the world, Muscat | the Delta, and making the Gulf the has the reputatiou of being the hottest, sole means of approach to the Portufacing as it does the Indian Ocean, and guese dominions in India. protected from every cooling breeze by There is much that is grand and rugged, volcanic, hills without a blade thrilling in the adventures of these of cultivation upon them, which reflect early explorers, reminding one of backand intensify the scorching rays of the wood stories and perils in Central Aftropical sun. Aden is said to have but rica, but those only who can wade a piece of brown paper between it and through volumes of Portuguese letters the infernal fires. Muscat would seem and manuscripts at Lisbon kvow anyto want even this meagre protection, thing about them. After a period of and “gives,” as a Persian poet has great prosperity in the Persian Gulf of expressed it, “ to the panting sinner a little more than a century, the Arabs lively anticipation of his future des drove them out again.
The annexatiny." The approach to the cove of tion of Portugal to Spain was the cause Muscat is highly picturesque, sur- of this, and the drafting off of soldiers rounded as it is by fantastic mountains to the Flemish wars, instead of sending of red and green volcanic strata.. Like them to protect the colonies. Out of Aden, again, there are the extinct the kingdom of Oman they were driven craters of many volcanoes around Mus- in 1620, and confined to the town of cat, and the general appearance recalls Muscat by the victorious Imam Nasir that of our station at the south of the bin Murshid, during whose reign of Red Sea.
twenty-six years the legend is told that On either side of the town stand two no man in Oman died a natural death. old Portuguese forts. At every point Two years later they were also driven of vantage, not only up the Persian from Muscat, and those two forts, JelGulf, but in the Red Sea and the coast lali and Merani, which they had built, of Africa, these Portuguese forts are to were taken from them, the last footbe found, giving one a great idea of hold of the Portuguese on the Omani the vast extent of the maritime power territory. This was effected by a curiof these predecessors of ours in the ous coup d'état, of which the proverbial commercial world. Many of these forts, cherchez la femme constituted the explaespecially that of Bahrein, which we nation. The Portuguese commandant, shall presently visit, testify to great Pereira, wished to marry the daughter size and strength, and show consider- of a rich native merchant, who thereby able architectural features, and the gained such influence over him that in traces of a luxuriant and opulent pop- a period of apparent peace Pereira was ulation. The history of the Portuguese persuaded to clean out the water tanks in the Indian Seas has yet to be writ- and powder magazines of his forts at ten, and this history will reveal a vast one and the same time. On Sunday amount of prowess and enterprise : afternoon, when the Portuguese were how their great general, Albuquerque, making merry, the Arabs suddenly atpenetrated into the Persian Gulf in tacked them, shut them up in their 1508, which had been a Mohammedan forts without water and without ammulake for centuries, and for a prior ac-nition, and soon obliged "them to surcount of which we have to go back to render. the “Periplus” of Nearchus,
who Since those days these two forts have sailed up the Gulf in the days of Alex- been regularly used by rival claimants ander the Great ; how this Gulf was to to the sovereignty of Oman as convenbe made the highroad of commerce ient points of vantage from which to once more from India to Europe, as it pepper one another, to the infinite diswas in the days of the Idumean spice confiture of the inhabitants beneath. sellers; and how Albuquerque had in Oman then became a state of con. his mind the chimerical scheme of al- siderable importance ; the Omapi drove tering the course of the Nile, ruining the Portuguese out of Zanzibar, carried
on successful wars with the Persians, and telegraph establishment. It is a and added to their dominions à consid- point which gets what breeze it can erable portion of the Persian coast, of from two seas just underneath the wbich acquisition Gwalior iu Beloochis- southern fort. The second best house tan is now the only part which recog- is the imam's 'palace, but before we go nizes the authority of the present to see him let us say a word about that imam. The Imam Saeed carried on curious title imam and the present wars successfully with the Wahabi, owner of it. Originally the ruler of those puritanical Arabs who infested Oman was a sort of priest-king, imam the Persian Gulf at the commencément literally meaning priest, for in olden of this century, and in all these wars days the men of Oman were called he was materially assisted by the En- "outsiders ” by their Mohammedan glish in India, who thereby put in the brethren, because they recognized their tbin end of their wedge.
own chief solely as the head of their When Imam Saeed died, the usual own religion. This is why they called dispute took place between his succes- him their imam or priest and king,
The English promptly stepped like Melchisedec, to whom, oddly in to settle this dispute, and with the enough, in the Koran is given the same foresight she so adınirably displays on title. Imam Saeed did not like this such occasions, she advocated a divi- title at all; he preferred to have a sion of Saeed's empire. Zanzibar was name which would put him more on a given to one claimant, Oman to the footing with other sovereigns. So he other, and for the future Onian under called himself the sultan of Oman, Imam Tourkee remained under British which title his successors also assume ; protection.
but, somehow or another, the people Outwardly the resemblance to Aden like the old title of imam best, and is kept up as you approach Muscat. stick to it. The same canoes come alongside, which Sultan Tourkee died three or four naked niggers propel with gaily colored years ago, and with his death came on paddles ; the same long rows of white again the usual succession trouble. He houses line the shore, but, unlike had always educated his second son, Aden, Muscat. has fertile valleys in the Faysul, to succeed him ; his eldest son,
l bills behind. There is the valley Mohamed, being a meré negro by an called Paradise, with its palms and gar- African slave mother, and totally withdens and refreshing shade, the result out education, so that his claims to the of irrigation, and wells worked by throne were of no account; he causes slaves and bullocks in the Indian fash- po difficulty, but lives next door to his ion, namely, by a slopiny path, so that brother, Sultan Faysul, in the enjoy- . when the bullock and nigger descend, ment of a pension of six hundred dolthe bucket comes up, and when the lars a month. bullock and nigger ascend, the bucket The palace is entered by a formigoes down. Not far from Muscat is dable-looking door, decorated with the Green Mountain, celebrated still large spiked bosses of brass. This for its vineyards and its wine, almost opens into a small court in which is the only spot. in Islam where drunken-contained the most imposing sight of ness is known. From here it is sur-the place, namely, the lion in his cage mised that the Portuguese brought the to the left, into which Faysul introparent stock of those fine vines which duces criminals of the deepest dye, to we call Muscatel.
be devoured by this lordly executioner. You land on an uninteresting, dirty Opposite to this cage of death is anbeach, with some old cannon of the other, a low probationary cage, which Portuguese period peeping out of their contained a prisoner stretched out at sandy grave. The coolest and best full length when we were there, for house in the place is occupied by the the cage is too low to admit of a sitBritish resident and the British post ting posture. From this point he could
view the horrors of the lion's cage, red checked cotton, which would have and the object evidently is to put the been a housemaid's duster at home, his evil-doer into the cage so that dur- faded greenish yellow cloak, fastened ing his incarceration he may contem- round his slender frame by a red girdle, plate what may happen to him, if he he looked anything but a king. As we continues on liberation to pursue his were preparing to depart the young evil ways. Another door leads into a monarch grew apparently very uneasy vaulted passage full of guards, through and shouted something to his attendant whom we passed and entered into an impatiently, and when he came in, inner court with a pool in the centre Faysul hurried to him, seized four litand a wide cloister round it supporting tle gilt bottles of attar of roses, thrust a gallery.
two of them into each of our pockets, Imam Faysul is a complete autocrat and the audience was at an end. as far as his jurisdiction extends. At
a place so void of his command a criminal can be exe- architectural features as Muscat, the cuted either in the lion's cage or in a mosques have neither domes nor minlittle square by the sea and his body cut arets, pointing to the rigid Wahabi up and thrown into the waves. The influence which swept over Arabia, for only check upon him is the British these fanatics refuse to have any fearesident. His father, Tourkee, not|ture about their buildings, or ritual, long ago sewed up a woman in a sack which was not actually enjoined by and drowued her, whereupon a polite Mohamed in his Koran. There are a message came from the Residency re- few carved lintels and doorways and questing him not to do such things the bazaars are quaintly pretty, but again. Hence young Faysul dare not beyond this the architectural features be very cruel, for he is not only under are only Portuguese. The old Roman British protection, but also under Brit Catholic cathedral is now used as a coal ish restraint.
depôt; and of the two forts one is disSultan Faysul is a very young man, mantled and the other turned into a not much over twenty. He was greatly state prison. The fine old cannon with interested to see us, for we were the its inscriptions and dates of 1606 and first Euglish travellers who had visited the name of Philip III. of Spain are him since his accession. We caught mostly rusty ; one, however, is equal to him peeping at us over the balcony as saluting the British man-of-war stawe passed through the courtyard below, tioned in the harbor when the necesand he was at the top of a ladder, up sary occasions arise. which we had to clamber to the gallery, We strolled through the market outready to welcome us. He seized our side the town, built of bamboos, where hands and shook them warmly, and everything is very picturesque but then led us with much effusion to his malodorous. The mask veils of the Khawah, a long room just over the women called buttra, not 'unlike the sea, which is his reception and throne masks worn with a domino, pleased
Here we found' tall, cane-bot- us immensely, so that we sought to tomed chairs around the walls, and at possess a specimen. They brought us. one end a red chair which is the several, which, however, did not quite throue, just beneath two grotesque pic- satisfy us, and afterwards we learned tures of our queen and the prince con- that an enterprising German firm had sort such as one would buy for a penny made a lot of these buttra for sale at a fair. They are looked upon as ob- amongst the Muscat women, but the jects of great value here, and act as shape being not exactly orthodox, the fitting symbols of our protectorate. women will not buy them, so the
The imam fed us with sweets and owners of these unsalable articles are coffee, asked us innumerable questions, anxious to sell them cheap to any unand seemed full of boyish fun. Cer- suspecting traveller who may be passetainly with his turban and blue and ling through. Here in the bamboo.
bazaar is a daily sale of meat aud couu. | when you get home. Here the Mon. try produce, and here we lingered un- day's market is filled with quaint.couv. til uearly driven wild by the flies and try folk, bringing in baskets of fruit the stenches, so that we were glad and wearing the upper garment of red enough to escape and pursue our walk cotton and the large white girdle and to the Paradise valley and see the turban. favorable side of Muscat. There the When we left Muscat the old cannon sleepy noise of the wells, the shade of mustered up sufficient energy to make the acacias and palms, and the bright the cliffs re-echo with its din, and the green of the lucerne fields, refreshed red flag of Oman waved above Faysul's us, and we felt it hard to realize that palace in our honor. we were in arid Arabia.
The northern entrance to the Persian The town of El Muttra is only half Gulf is commanded by a fine bay, proan hour's paddle in a canoe from Mus- tected from storms by many islets, at cat; a rather unstable canoe, which the head of which is the town of Bunmakes you think unpleasantly of der Abbas, formerly called Gomeroon sharks, hollowed out of a sugar trunk, in the old Portuguese days, until Shah double prowed and with matting at the Abbas, the great Persian monarch, bottom. You pass the Fahl or Stallion with the assistance of the English, conRock in the harbor, a name constantly quered it in 1622, drove the Portuguese given by Arabs to anything large and out, and called it by his own name. In uncanny-looking, and turning sharp all ages this spot has been considered round a rocky corner, you see before one of the highest importance. Here you El Muttra, the commercial centre a Greek colony called Armosia, of the kingdom of Oman, whilst Mus- still recognizable under the name of cat is the autocratic capital and the seat Ormuz; Nearchus, the general of of government. It takes much longer Alexander the Great, in his voyage up to go by road from Muscat, for a ridge the Gulf, stopped here and testified to of hills has to be crossed, hence the its valụe. In Sultan Saeed's days canoe owners drive a rattling trade, and nearly all the coast was under Omani the watery way is alive with them. rule, and is more than half peopled by From El Muttra starts the only road | Arabs, but since then the Persians have into the interior for the caravans. It recovered it, and it is now ostensibly is governed by a wali elected by the under a Persian governor, though, as a imam, and here may be seen in hope- matter of fact, the most influential inless confusion in the bazaars Banyans habitants are the agent of the English from India, Omani, Bedouins, Persians, steamers and the British post-master; and Jews. Each of these nationalities for inasmuch as this town is on the have their separate wards for living in, line of the Anglo-Indian Telegraph, walled off to keep them from perpetual and the whole coast line is under the brawls, and they only meet one another immediate protection of Great Britain, in the bazaars, where the eye of the they are the only people whose lives bazaar master is upon them, ready to and property are secure. inflict condign punishment on disturb- At Bunder Abbas a young Portuers of the peace, in which case the guese from Goa rules supreme over the innocent more frequently suffer than British interests and the post-office. the guilty. Here you may buy the He treated us with great attention kanjar, the sickle-shaped scimitar of and spoke sadly of the departed glory Oman, the special cloak of the country, of his race.
He assisted us in our the special coffee-pot of copper, with researches by sending two kavasses long, bird-like beak and eccentric cir- with us; otherwise we should surely cles of ornamentations, the special iron have been roughly handled by the lock, a formidable weapon with a excited groups of Arabs, Persians, spring two feet long, and one or two and Hindoos who pursued us. He little curiosities which will be pleasing complained bitterly of his isolation, a
circumstance proved by the fact that he only ones about here, for the Persians has to send his washing one hundred have a cat-like aversion to water. and thirty miles by steamer to be done, From the Arabs, unconsciously, we and can only obtain things fit to eat by have learnt a good deal ourselves, and the same medium ; so that if by chance added more than one word to both our the steainer is late, he has to survive as chemical and maritime vocabulary. best he can, dirty and unfed.
For example, "davit” is, in Arabic, a At the back of the moderu town on crooked bit of wood, and through varithe road which leads inland, and which ous sources, like the word “ alcohol," is the great commercial outlet for the it has found its way into our tongue. trade of Kerman and Yezd, are some The ruins of the old town of Ormuz interesting Portuguese ruins, a sixteen- are some little distance from Bunder sided building with Gothic arches, a Abbas to the east, at the mouth of a pyramid on a five-angled base thirty river now called Minab, and from the feet high, and many tombs of the quay an interesting view is obtained of European residents at Gomeroon. the important islets whicli shelter the Most of these buildings are lined with harbor: The island of Ormuz is there, coral and madrepores set in cement, called after the wealthy town on the the effect of which decorations is mainland, in accordance with a practice exceedingly curious, and made one common enough in these parts. When wonder if this could be the style of the inhabitants filed from the town to architecture Pliny alludes to when he the island in fear of attack, they carspeaks of walls and towers in the Per- ried with them the treasures and name sian Gulf, built of fossil salt. I was on of their old home. Ormuz is the most the lookout for these all round the barren of all islets ; water has to be Gulf, and can only imagine that these brought from the neighboring island of unknown madrepores must have struck Khism, which has several villages the early travellers as mere salt forma- upon it. There is a Portuguese fort tion, sparkling 'as they do in the sun- thereon, and from it is to be procured shine. There is, it is true, much rock plenty of rock salt and iron ore ; but salt on Ormuz, but I should imagine no there is little now to mark the site of people, however primitive, would be the quondam “wealth of Ormuz and of foolish enough to build a town of it. Inde." Laral is another islet of this
The modern town of Bunder Abbas group, which, when the Bay of Bunder is just a long, white streak of mud Abbas develops under British rule, houses and bamboo huts along a flat may become important as an excellent shore, the mountains being some thirty point for protecting the entrances to miles away. behind it. In summer it is the Gulf and our prospective line of intolerably hot, a heat but little miti- trade. gated by the wind towers, conspicuous The scenery along the coast northobjects in all the best houses, and the wards is weird and barren; a long line shade of a few palms, so that all the of flat coast with here and there a vilinhabitants migrate inland to get what lage, distinguishable by its half-dozen cool breeze they can from the moun- palm-trees, and miles behind are the tains. Bunder Abbas is a perfect hot- red mountains of Persia, the possible bed of gulf fever, guinea worm, of that frontier between England and Russia class of boil which flourishes at Aleppo when the shah's dominions
are diunder the name of " button," and other vided. The villages here can bave delightful maladies for which this part altered but little fron those miserable of the world has obtained a world- things which in his “Periplus wide reputation. Along the shore are chus assigns to the fish and tortoisedrawn up the long-prowed, picturesque eating barbarians. As for tortoises, I Gulf boats, with pretty carving on both know not if they eat them now. I dare their prows and their companions. say they do, and find them just as good The Arabs are first-rate sailors, the 'as turtles, but I can answer for it that