16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 33


ITO THE EDITOR OF TRH " SPEOTLTOR.1 SIR,-It is a pity to spoil a good story, and the story of the Mameluke'slamous leap, which is recounted to every visitor to the citadel of Cairo, is a good one. But it is a fiction founded on the fact that only a single Mameluke of • the seven hundred and odd who were mustered in Cairo on that fatal morning survived the massacre; but he survived because he was on the sick-list at the time, and was consequently unable to attend the parade in the citadel, and the Pasha, baring nothing to fear from a single man, spared his life. A story never loses in the telling in the mouth of an Egyptian, and he is quite capable of inventing one to account for any incident or appella- tion that he does not happen to understand. There were formerly two gates to the citadel of Cairo, called respectively the Gate of the Janissaries and the Gate of the Azabs, from the titles of two Turkish military corps to whom their charge was confided. But the existence and the very name of these corps have long been forgotten by the Egyptians, and they accounted for the name Bab el Azab by inventing a story of a saint called Sidi Azab, around whose name a whole legend of marvels and miracles has grown up, while the little chamber in the gateway formerly occupied as the guardhouse is pointed out as the saint's hermitage. By the by, Mr. Knight-Adkin in his stirring and spirited ballad (Spectator, November 9th) has represented the massacre as occurring when the Mame- lukes were entering the citadel. It was when they were leaving it that it really occurred. The whole of them had entered into the lane which was their death-trap before the gates at each end were closed before and behind them. The spot pointed out as the scene of the Mameluke's leap is on the terre-plein of the citadel.—I am, Sir, &c.,