No one can conceive what has become of all the ships that usually touch here about this time. I was promised my choice of Green's and Smith's, and now only the heavy old CAMPERDOWN is expected with rice from Moulmein. A lady now here, who has been Heaven only knows WHERE NOT, praises Alexandria above all other places, after Suez. Her lungs are bad, and she swears by Suez, which she says is the dreariest and healthiest (for lungs) place in the world. You can't think how soon one learns to 'annihilate space', if not time, in one's thoughts, by daily reading advertisements for every port in India, America, Australia, &c., &c., and conversing with people who have just come from the 'ends of the earth'. Meanwhile, I fear I shall have to fly from next winter again, and certainly will go with J- to Egypt, which seems to me like next door.
I have run on, and not thanked you for your letter and M. Mignet's beautiful ELOGE of Mr. Hallam, which pleased me greatly. I wish Englishmen could learn to speak with the same good taste and MESURE.
Mr. Wodehouse, who has been very civil to me, kindly tried to get me a passage home in a French frigate lying here, but in vain. I am now sorry I let the Jack tars here persuade me not to go in the little barque; but they talked so much of the heat and damp of such tiny cabins in an iron vessel, that I gave her up, though I liked the idea of a good tossing in such a tiny cockboat. I will leave a letter for the May mail, unless I sail within a week of to-morrow, or go by the JASON, which would be home far sooner than the mail. I only hope you and A- won't be uneasy; the worst that can happen is delay, and the long voyage will be all gain to health, which would not be the case in a steamer.
All I hear of R- makes me wild to see her again. The little darkies are the only pleasing children here, and a fat black toddling thing is 'allerliebst'. I know a boy of four, literally jet black, whom I long to steal as he follows his mother up to the mountain to wash. Little Malays are lovely, but TOO well-behaved and quiet. I tried to get a real 'TOTTIE', or 'Hotentotje', but the people were too drunk to remember where they had left their child. C'EST ASSEZ DIRE, that I should have had no scruple in buying it for a bottle of 'smoke' (the spirit made from grape husks). They are clever and affectionate when they have a chance, poor things, - and so strange to look at.
By the bye, a Bonn man, Dr. Bleek, called here with 'Grusse' from our old friends, Professor Mendelssohn and his wife. He is devoting himself to Hottentot and aboriginal literature! - and has actually mastered the Caffre CLICK, which I vainly practised under Kleenboy's tuition. He wanted to teach me to say 'Tkorkha', which means 'you lie', or 'you have missed' (in shooting or throwing a stone, &c.) - a curious combination of meanings. He taught me to throw stones or a stick at him, which he always avoided, however close they fell, and cried 'Tkorkha!' The Caffres ask for a present, 'Tkzeelah Tabak', 'a gift for tobacco'.
The Farnese Hercules is a living TRUTH. I saw him in the street two days ago, and he was a Caffre coolie. The proportions of the head and throat were more wonderful in flesh, or muscle rather, than in marble. I know a Caffre girl of thirteen, who is a noble model of strength and beauty; such an arm - larger than any white woman's - with such a dimple in her elbow, and a wrist and hand which no glove is small enough to fit - and a noble countenance too. She is 'apprenticed', a name for temporary slavery, and is highly spoken of as a servant, as the Caffres always are. They are a majestic race, but with just the stupid conceit of a certain sort of Englishmen; the women and girls seem charming.
Easter Sunday. - The weather continues beautifully clear and bright, like the finest European spring. It seems so strange for the floral season to be the winter. But as the wind blows the air is quite cold to-day; nevertheless, I feel much better the last two days. The brewing of the rain made the air very oppressive and heavy for three weeks, but now it is as light as possible.
I must say good-bye, as the mail closes to-morrow morning. Easter in autumn is preposterous, only the autumn looks like spring. The consumptive young girl whom I packed off to the Cape, and her sister, are about to be married - of course. Annie has had a touch of Algoa Bay fever, a mild kind of ague, but no sign of chest disease, or even delicacy. My 'hurrying her off', which some people thought so cruel, has saved her. Whoever comes SOON ENOUGH recovers, but for people far gone it is too bracing.