James Bruce (1811-1863), de achtste graaf van Elgin, was een Britse diplomaat. Zijn dagboeken zijn gepubliceerd als Letters and journals of James, eighth earl of Elgin.
May 11th.—I am glad to have had two days in Egypt. It gave one an idea at least of that country; in some degree a painful one. I suppose that France and England, by their mutual jealousies, will be the means of perpetuating the abominations of the system under which that magnificent country is ruled. They say that the Pacha's revenue is about 4,000,000 £, and his expenses about 2,000,000 £; so that he has about 2,000,000 £ of pocket-money. Yet I suppose that the Fellahs, owing to their own industry, and the incomparable fertility of the country, are not badly off as compared with the peasantry elsewhere. We passed, at one of our stopping-places between Cairo and Suez, part of a Turkish regiment on their way to Jeddah. These men were dressed in a somewhat European costume, some of them with the Queen's medal on their breasts. There was a hareem, in a sort of omnibus, with them, containing the establishment of one of the officers. One of the ladies dropped her veil for a moment, and I saw rather a pretty face; almost the only Mahommedan female face I have seen since I have reached this continent. They are much more rigorous, it appears, with the ladies in Egypt than at Constantinople. There they wear a veil which is quite transparent and go about shopping: but in Egypt they seem to go very little out, and their veil completely hides everything but the eyes. In the palace which I visited near Cairo (and which the Pacha offered, if we had chosen to take it), I looked through some of the grated windows allowed in the hareems, and I suppose that it must require a good deal of practice to see comfortably out of them. It appears that the persons who ascend to the top of the minarets to call to prayer at the appointed hours are blind men, and that the blind are selected for this office, lest they should be able to look down into the hareems. That is certainly carrying caution very far.