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An Interview With A Great Turk
by [?]

WHEN I was in Egypt the great subject of political speculation was the invasion of Syria; not that the object of the formation of the camp at Alexandria was generally known; on the contrary, it was a secret,-but a secret shared by many ears. Forty thousand well-disciplined troops were assembled at Cairo; and it was whispered at Court that Abdallah Pasha of Acre might look to himself, a young and valiant chief, by-the-bye, whom I well know, but indulging in dissipation, extraordinary even in the Levant. I was exceedingly anxious of becoming in some manner attached to this expedition; and as I was not without influence in the proper quarters, there appeared little probability of my wish not being gratified. With these views I remained in Egypt longer than I had intended, but it would seem that the invaders were not quite as ardent as their intended volunteer, for affairs at Alexandria progressed but indifferently. Orders and counter-orders, marches and counter-marches, boats pressed on the Nile for the passage of troops from the capital, which were all liberated the next day, many divans and much smoking; but still the troops remained within pistol-shot of the citadel, and months glided away apparently without any material advancement.

I had often observed that although there was in most subjects an excellent understanding between the two Pashas, Mehemet Ali and Ibrahim, a degree of petty jealousy existed between them on the point of their mutual communications with foreigners; so that if I happened one morning to attend the divan of the Grand Pasha, as the Franks styled the father, I was sure, on some excuse or other, of being summoned the next day to the levee of the son; I was therefore not surprised when, one day, on my return from paying my respects to the divan at the citadel of Cairo, I found a Nubian eunuch in attendance at my quarters, telling me that Ibrahim Pasha was anxious to see me.

I accordingly repaired without loss of time to the sumptuous palace of that chieftain: and being ushered into his presence, I found the future conqueror of Syria attended only by his dragoman, his secretary; and an aide-de-camp.

A pipe was immediately brought me, but Ibrahim himself did not smoke. After the usual compliments, ‘Effendi,’ said Ibrahim, ‘do you think the English horses would live in Egypt?’

I was too practised an observer of the Turkish character to suppose that English horses were really the occasion of my summons. The Turks are very diplomatic, and are a long time coming to the point. I answered, however, that, with English grooms, I was of opinion that English horses would flourish in any climate. A curt, dry, uninteresting conversation about English horses was succeeded by some queries, which I had answered fifty times before, about English pistols: and then came a sly joke or two about English women. At length the point of the interview began to poke its horns out of this shell of tittle-tattle.

‘If you want to go with the army,’ said his Highness, ”tis I who am the person to speak to. They know nothing about those things up there’ (meaning the citadel).

I answered his Highness that I had attended the divan merely as a matter of ceremony, and that I had not interchanged a word with the Grand Pasha on the subject of the expedition.

‘I suppose you talked with Boghaz?’ said Ibrahim.

Boghaz was the favourite of Mehemet Ali.

‘Neither with Boghaz nor any one else. Your Highness having once graciously promised me that I should attend you, I should have thought it both impertinent and unnecessary to apply to any other person whatever.’

‘Tahib!’ exclaimed his Highness, which meant that he was satisfied. ‘After all, I do not know whether the army will march at all. You have been in Syria?’

I answered, in the affirmative, a question which had often been addressed to me.