[ 1884 October, 21 ]Letters
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Ramle 21 October 1884 Tuesday 10 pm ¯

My dear Constantine,
     I am obliged to begin this letter with the same request that yours of 6th begins with. My excuse is the usual pressure of work at this season of the year: during the past ten days I have hardly had time to think of anything else but the Office and its immediate requirements and responsibilities, for friend Kneen has again been away to Cairo on the plea of want of change of air. Je me tire d’affaire pretty well, and now that Moss himself is here and sees me at work, I think I can confidently say that my services will be rewarded and next year find me in an ameliorated pecuniary position. Inshallah! as our Moslem friends would say. Without any self-flattery I can say that I am of some use to R. J. Moss and Co. and it is high time I should earn more than I do, for I have now been seven years at work with an average salary not much exceeding what is generally given to a good butler in English houses. I am really ashamed to think of the little help I have so far afforded my family, and this pervading thought often disheartens me ¯
     I can easily imagine the difficulties you must have encountered through our reduced remittance of this month. Poor Aristides has done his best but unfortunately could not until today remit you the promised £5, which I have posted by this mail to Paul’s address under separate registered cover. As you will note from the heading of this letter I write to you from Ramle, where I am again staying at the solicitous invitation of Mr. Moss ¯ The Beau Séjour is not so full as when I was last here, many of the Officers having already gone forward to Assiout in readiness for the impending expedition. To my great satisfaction we finished yesterday the forwarding of the entire 800 Boats for the British Government and this as you may suppose has relieved me of much vexatious correspondence with military Officials whose arrogance and authoritative mode of procedure is ¯ to say the least ¯ exasperating, and mind you this arrogance is seldom if ever well-placed for it is generally accompanied by the most intense stupidity and ignorance, ¯ ignorance of the country, ignorance of commercial etiquette, ignorance of languages, even (believe me) their own, ignorance of everything! Only the other day one of these top-boot-and-spurs individuals, who is a D.A.C.G. (Deputy Assistant Commissary General), could not understand why £100 in Egypt should not fetch £100 in England when the exchange was ½% above par! ¯ Aristides gives you in detail the news of the day, the absorbing topic of the sudden though hardly unexpected collapse of the grandeur of the Sinadinos. I certainly feel no regret for the people interested, but at the same time I cannot help sympathizing with this latest instance of a fall in human prosperity. So is said that this is the coup de grâce of the Sinadino supremacy in this country and that they will never be able to rally from a blow that must necessarily sweep away their entire fortunes. They have had their day: recquiescant in pace!
     I am writing under difficulties, id est with a bad screeching quill pen and with thick “clothy” ink and on a table that every now and then gives a lurch to either side: for this “Grand Hotel Beau Séjour” is by no means well furnished ¯ I shall send you in my next as many stamps as I can collect, and in the meanwhile requesting you to kiss mother for me and the sorely-tried Alexander and Paul
          I remain, my sage Mentor,
               Your faithful brother
                    Johannisberg
 
C.F. Cavafy Esquire
Constantinople.
 
P.S. I enclose a version of the popular nursery rhyme “Sing a song for sixpence”, ¯ in select phraseology which I think is very happy ¯ It is “Anonymous” ¯ J.C.C.


From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika