Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

EGYPT AND THE SOUDAN 
93 
Of the many travellers whom I have known I 
should place Mansfield Parkyns (1823-1894) as 
perhaps the most gifted with natural advantages for 
that career. He easily held his own under difficulties, 
won hearts by his sympathy, and could touch any 
amount of pitch without being himself defiled. He 
was consequently an admirable guide in that then 
sink of iniquity, Khartum. The saying was that 
when a man was such a reprobate that he could not 
live in Europe, he went to Constantinople ; if too 
bad to be tolerated in Constantinople, he went to 
Cairo, and thenceforward under similar compulsion 
to Khartum. Half a dozen or so of these trebly 
refined villains resided there as slave-dealers ; they 
were pallid, haggard, fever-stricken, profane, and 
obscene. Mansfield Parkyns complacently tolerated 
and mastered them all. The abominations of their 
habitual conversation exceeded in a far-away degree 
any other I have ever listened to, but it was clever. 
When one of them was out of the room, the others 
freely related his adventures to us, in which some 
anecdote like this was frequent. “ So he said, ‘ Let 
us be friends ; come drink a cup of coffee and smoke 
a pipe,’ then he put poison into the coffee.” There 
is a gourd whose dried seeds are said to be poisonous 
and not very unlike coffee in taste, which is particularly 
convenient in such cases. With all their villainy there 
was something of interest in their talk, but I had 
soon quite enough of it. Still, the experience was 
acceptable, for one wants to know the very worst of 
everything as well as the very best. 
Some few years later, when trade had thriven 
and Khartum had become less barbarous, it was
        

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