Thursday, 15 July 2010

Baron de Kusel (Bey) meets Sir Richard Burton in Egypt

Samuel Selig Kusel - later Baron de Kusel (Bey) - met Captain Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890), the famed English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, twice in Egypt. The first time was in 1877 when Burton came to Egypt to try to induce the Khedive Ismail Pasha to interest himself in a scheme in connection with the Gold Mines of Midian*," writes Kusel, " which unfortunately, after a certain amount of money had been expended, ended in smoke."

Kusel met Burton (pictured right and below) the second time in April 1878 when he returned from the Midian expedition.

"Lady Burton had arrived from Trieste to meet him him. I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance in Cairo.

"Sir Richard struck me as a wonderful man, with enormous personality, he reminded me of Gordon Pasha** in his frank outspokeness; his knowledge was amaing, and strangely enough he was very superstitious, which is a common failing among people who have lived and been intimately connected with the nations of the East.

"We conversed in Arabic, and I regret extremely that I did not see more of him. He had, I remember a favourite saying, viz. 'Shawir Hunna - wa Khalif Hunna,' which means -

"'Ask their advice, ye men of wit,
"'And always do the opposite.'"

Taken from 'An Englishman's Recollections of Egypt 1863 to 1887' by Baron de Kusel (Bey) and published in London, 1915 by The Bodley Head.

* Burton later published 'The Gold-Mines of Midian and The Ruined Midianite Cities. A Fortnight's Tour in Northwestern Arabia' (1878)
The Gold-Mines Of Midian And The Ruined Midianite Cities: A Fortnight's Tour In Northwestern Arabia
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West
The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton
** This is a reference to Major-General Charles George Gordon (1833–1885), known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha and Gordon of Khartoum.

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