[ 1882 August, 12 ]Letters
[Alexandria] 12 August 1882

My dear Constantine,
     I wrote yesterday to mother and aunt Eõâïõëßá, and as I have half an hour to spare, I will while it away in the pleasant labour of writing to my dear brother and Mentor.
     Yesterday evening a welcome telegram was published to the effect that H.I.M. the Sultan had declared Araby and his followers rebels ¯ and it is now presumed that this will greatly facilitate matters, be it only to suppress the enthusiasm of the soldiers and allay their fanaticism. England however appears to be in earnest and the several actions of Seymour and Allison look very much like an annexation. The Admiral is helping himself freely to anything he stands in need of, and is daily turning out merchants from the shoonahs at Minet el Bassal to accommodate his marines and stores. Bien entendu he indemnifies the said merchants and pays them handsomely too.
     Tell Aristides that the Bourse at Minet el Bassal is now the head-office of the Admiralty and indeed it is a funny sight to see colonels and soldiers going about where “whilom peaceful Commerce reigned” (You know the line: ’tis Cowper’s) ¯
     I had the exalted honour of seeing yesterday the Duke of Connaught.
     You must know that R. J. Moss and Co. are the Alexandria agents for the Pacific International Insurance Company ¯ one of the steamers of this Company the Orient was taken up lately by the Government at a very remunerative freight.
     She arrived here yesterday with 2,000 souls on board, one soul of which was encased in the worthy body of his Grace the Duke.
     I and Watson went to meet the Orient on her arrival and had the supreme satisfaction of getting a peep at His Highness calmly eating his breakfast: “ham and eggs”.
     I cannot say I was struck with his personal appearance. He looks a shabby individual notwithstanding the “blue blood” and divine “ichor” ¯
     Alexandria alas! is much changed, and the decayed buildings on each side of the streets look deprecatingly down on the passengers.
     The streets however are becoming orderly and passable, but the blinding clouds of lime dust are very disagreeable.
     Another very serious annoyance is the numerous horde of flies that seem to have infested the place after the bombardment. It is no exaggeration to say that one has to pick them off the flesh every minute.
     As I am writing now I can feel two, pasturing on the verdant produce of my nose!
     Tell mother I keep my health and that I am very anxious indeed to hear from you ¯
     I trust you are all well and that you my dear Costi are slowly acclimatizing yourself to the loss of your papers ¯ It is no use crying over spilt milk, and you must try and make up for lost time.
     I have now got to the end of my tether, though not exactly to the end of my paper. Remember me to all, to Aleko tender the love of his friend James, and believe me, dear Costi,
          Your loving brother

From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika