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remarkable individual was a Swiss by birth, being born at Lausanne in 1785, though his family belonged to Basle, in which city and canton it held an eminent position. His father, who enjoyed the territorial title of Burckhardt of Kirschgarten, from the name of his mansion in Basle, became a victim of the revolutionary party in Switzerland, when the French overran that country in 1796, and upset the existing government. He was tried for his life on a pretended charge of military treachery, and escaped condemnation at the hands of his prejudiced judges only by adducing undoubted testimony of his innocence; but receiving timely warning that, notwithstanding his acquittal, he was still marked for proscription by the ruling powers, he deemed it prudent to expatriate himself, and joined a corps of his countrymen in the British pay, then serving on the Rhine with the Austrians, in which he gained the rank of colonel. He was obliged, however, to leave his wife and family behind him at Basle; and it was thus his son, the subject of this memoir, being a daily witness of the oppressive domination exercised by the French, imbibed the deepest animosity against that nation, and, like another Hannibal, vowed undying enmity towards it. Young as he was, he panted to take arms under the banner of some nation at war with France; but, unfortunately for this aspiration, the continent was soon hushed in peace by the crowning ascendancy of Bonaparte. His father, accordingly, placed him, in the year 1800, at the university of Leipzic, whence, after a stay of
nearly four years, he was removed to that of Göttingen. At both these seats of learning he was distinguished equally for his ardent and successful pursuit of knowledge, and for his cheerful equanimity of temper, whereby he gained the applause and favour of the various professors under whom he studied, especially of the most eminent among them, the celebrated Blumenbach. In 1805 he returned to his father's house at Basle, and as no career was open to him on the continent which might afford him an opportunity of evincing his hostility against France, since Europe still trembled at the recollection of Marengo, he determined to try his fortune in England, whither he had been early taught to turn his eyes for deliverance from French tyranny. Armed, therefore, with sundry letters of introduction, and particularly with one from Blumenbach to Sir Joseph Banks, which eventually ruled the destiny of his life, he set out for the only country which yet maintained a struggle against the modern Charlemagne, and arrived in London in the month of July 1806.
At this time the "Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa" was in full operation, and Sir Joseph Banks was one of the most active members of the committee. It becoming known to Burckhardt, through this source, that the association was anxious to send out another traveller into the north of Africa to follow up previous discoveries, he at once yielded to a prepossession he had long secretly cherished, which was in perfect harmony with the leading characteristics of his mind, wherein a thirst of knowledge and spirit of enterprise were mingled with an indomitable courage, and he eagerly offered his services. It was not, however, until May 1808 that his proposal was formally entertained by the association; when it being accepted, Burckhardt forthwith commenced his preparations for the expedition, which consisted in a diligent study of the Arabic language, and of the sciences most likely to be serviceable in his intended field of action. He also allowed his beard to grow, assumed the Oriental garb, and undertook long journeys on foot, going bareheaded in the heat of the sun, sleeping on the ground, and living upon vegetables and water. On the 25th of January 1809 he received his final instructions from the association, and shortly afterwards took shipping for Malta, which island he reached in the beginning of April.
From previous experience, it was judged indispensable that, before embarking on his perilous adventure, the young traveller should completely perfect himself in the knowledge of Arabic and of Moslem habits. Hence he was directed to proceed, in the first instance, to Syria, where he was to remain two years, and subsequently repair to Cairo in Egypt; whence he was to follow the track of Hornemann to Mourzouk, prosecuting his journey into the interior as far as practicable from that starting point. He accordingly tarried but a short time at Malta, hastening with
all speed to the coast of Syria, with the view of taking up his abode at Aleppo. In executing this purpose, however, he encountered numerous obstacles from the deceit of the Levantine captains he sailed with, and also incurred serious risks of discovery notwithstanding his disguise, which, to suit the present emergency, was that of a Mohammedan Bengal merchant, returning to India through Syria and Bagdad; and it was not until the end of September 1809 that he reached the place of his destination, Aleppo, where he was most kindly received by the British consul, Mr Barker. Here he made no secret of his European origin, but still retained the name he had assumed of Ibrahim Ibn Abdallah, as well as the Turkish costume. He thus lived in retirement and unnoticed, prosecuting his studies of Arabic, the Koran, and Mussulman law-in all of which it behoved him to be profoundly versed. His stay in Syria was prolonged for nearly two years and a half, during which time he made sundry excursions among the Bedouins in the surrounding deserts, and visited Palmyra, Damascus, the Libanus, and Anti-Libanus, and the then unexplored district of the Haouran. Having thus acquired the requisite familiarity with the Arabs and their language and manners, he finally departed from Aleppo in February 1812, and proceeded to Cairo, passing through Tiberias and Nazareth in Judea, to the east and south of the Dead Sea, as far as Wady Mousa, where he discovered the remains of the ancient city of Petra, the capital of Arabia Petræa, distinguished for its extraordinary architectural excavations in the rocks, and as the site of Aaron's tomb; from which place he diverged in a westerly course across the stony valley of Araba, and the horrid desert of El Tyh, to the capital of Egypt, which he reached in the month of September, after a tedious but interesting and profitable journey of seven months.*
Before attempting to execute the great object of his mission, Burckhardt judged it advisable, with the full approbation of the association, that he should take time to study the Egyptian and African character, since to too great precipitancy, and the want of due preparation, might be ascribed the failure of previous travellers. Consequently, after a short sojourn in Cairo, he proceeded to Esné in Upper Egypt, from which he made an excursion up the Nile beyond the second cataract to Tinareh, being unable to penetrate farther on account of the hostile refugee Mamelukes, then in possession of the country of Dongola. As the authority of Mohammed Ali, pasha of Egypt, was at that time recognised in this part of Nubia, Burckhardt did not encounter any serious dangers or difficulties on his way, beyond those inseparable from travelling in barbarous and unsettled regions, being fortified with a passport or firman from Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Mohammed; and he returned in safety to
The incidents of this journey are related with Burckhardt's usual minuteness, and have been published under the title of "Travels in Syria."
Assouan, on the northern frontier of Nubia, after an interval of thirty-five days. Settling again at Esné, he was compelled to remain there nearly a whole twelvemonth, waiting to accompany a caravan which took the route through Eastern Nubia to Sennaar, as he had resolved to proceed in that direction before venturing on his great western journey. His main object was to gain an acquaintance with the Negro Arabs on the confines of Abyssinia and the shore of the Red Sea, and to pass into Arabia itself, returning to Cairo in time to catch the caravan from Egypt to Fezzan, by means of which alone he could advance into the southwest of Africa. On this journey he started on the 2d of March 1814, joining the caravan at Daraou, the place of departure, in the disguise of a poor Mohammedan trader, which he had maintained ever since his first arrival at Esné. He was but ill-provided with money, owing to the long delay that had occurred, and on that account sold his camel, retaining only an ass to ride upon, and stipulating for the conveyance of his luggage and merchandise. The whole stock of money he carried with him was only fifty dollars in a purse, and two sequins sewed in a leathern amulet round his arm for better security. Having no servant or slave, and but a scanty supply of goods, being dressed, moreover, in the meanest garb, such as is worn by the Egyptian peasant, he at first provoked the contempt of the merchants his fellow-travellers, and eventually their hatred and suspicions; first, because they viewed him as a Turk, and secondly, as a spying interloper in their trade. He confessed, indeed, that he was an Aleppine, but sought to calm their suspicions by alleging he was in search of a cousin who, some years previously, had set out on a mercantile expedition to Darfour and Sennaar with a great part of his property, and had not since been heard of. This pretence was well suited to their apprehensions; but they continued, nevertheless, to treat him during the whole journey with the greatest contumely, and often with the rudest violence, addressing him as a vile beggar unfit to associate with their servants, beating him with sticks, and pilfering his provisions and goods. He had need, in truth, of all the forbearance and equanimity of temper with which nature had gifted him, for their design was to provoke retaliation on his part, in order to have a pretext to fall upon and despatch him. When their persecution at length grew insupportable, he was driven to throw himself on the protection of the Arab guides of the caravan, who, having themselves had a dispute with the Egyptians, were the more inclined to shield him from their vindictiveness; yet they required to be bribed by the forlorn traveller to yield him this natural service, which, by their contract, he had a right to command.
The deserts of the East are generally of similar character, being wastes of sand and rock; but in many particulars they vary. Some, as those of Syria and Tyh, for instance, are almost destitute of trees and sweet water; whilst others have a succession
of verdant spots where both are found, which render them more easy to be traversed, for shade and water are the principal luxuries in those hot and arid regions. The only means of carrying water is in skins, made of the hides of sheep, goats, or oxen, hung over the backs of camels, which are filled at the different wells as they occur on the journey. These, however, are liable to burst, and the water soon becomes partially putrid, from the constant shaking and the action of the burning sun, so as to be almost undrinkable; whereby, if the distances between the wells are considerable, great inconvenience, and often danger of perishing from thirst, is incurred. The Nubian Desert from Daraou to Shigre, about sixteen days' march, is one with more agreeable features than most of its kind, although not free from the ordinary hazard of attacks by the roving tribes who inhabit it. It abounds in valleys, which contain trees and wells, yielding a copious supply of water; and over its whole extent is a broad beaten path, from which there is little risk of deviating. Yet even with these advantages the journey across it is irksome and laborious, especially to a solitary and unfriended traveller like Burckhardt. The want of a servant or associate was grievously felt by him; for he could get no assistance from his fellow-travellers, who delighted, on the contrary, in witnessing and aggravating his distress and perplexities. He himself represents his situation in very striking colours, at the same time that he gives a graphic picture of the peculiarities of desert travelling. "Whenever it was known beforehand," he says, "that the chiefs intended to stop in a certain valley, the young men of the caravan pushed eagerly forwards, in order to select at the halting-place the largest tree, or some spot under an impending rock, where they secured shelter for themselves and their mess. Every day some dispute arose as to who arrived the first under some particular tree as for myself, I was often driven from the coolest and most comfortable berth into the burning sun, and generally passed the mid-day hours in great distress; for besides the exposure to heat, I had to cook my dinner, a service which I could never prevail upon any of my companions, even the poorest servants, to perform for me, though I offered to let them share in my homely fare. In the evening the same labour occurred again, when fatigued by the day's journey, during which I always walked for four or five hours in order to spare my ass, and when I was in the utmost need of repose. Hunger, however, always prevailed over fatigue, and I was obliged to fetch and cut wood to light a fire, to cook, to feed the ass, and finally to make coffee, a cup of which, presented to my Daraou companions, who were extremely eager to obtain it, was the only means I possessed of keeping them in tolerable good humour."
From Shigre southwards to Berber, where the route rejoins the Nile, the character of the Desert is completely altered. Although a five days' journey between the two places, there is but