(7). Dragomans. Bakshish.
Travellers about to make a tour of any length may avoid all the
petty annoyances incident to direct dealings with the natives by
placing themselves under the care of a Dragoman (Arab. Tur-
gem&ri). The name is also appropriated to themselves by the ordinary
commissionaires in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Sa'id, etc., whose services
will be found sufficient for these towns (comp. pp. 6, 31). A drago¬
man proper is usually employed for the longer tours only, such as
the voyage up the Nile, the journey to Mt. Sinai, the excursion to
the Fayum, and a visit to the less frequented towns in the Delta.
The word dragoman is derived from the Chaldsean targem, 'to explain',
or from targUm, 'explanation'. The Arabic targam also signifies 'to inter¬
pret'. The dragoman was therefore originally merely a guide who ex¬
plained or interpreted. Since the 7th cent. B.C., when Psammetikh I.
threw open the country to foreign trade, against which it had previously
been jealously closed, this class, which is mentioned by Herodotus as a
distinct caste, has existed in Egypt. That author informs us that
Psammetikh caused a number of Egyptian children to be educated by Greeks
in order that they might learn the Greek language; and it was these
children who afterwards became the founders of the dragoman caste.
The great historian himself employed a dragoman, from whom he fre¬
quently derived erroneous information. A dragoman, who was employed
by the governor ^lius Gallus to accompany him up the Nile, is accused
by Strabo of absurdity, conceit, and ignorance. The ignorant Arabian,
Nubian, or Maltese dragomans of the present day do not attempt to ex¬
plain or translate the ancient inscriptions.
The dragomans, who speak English, French, and Italian,
undertake for a fixed sum per day to defray the whole cost of
locomotion, hotel accommodation, fees, and all other expenses, so
that the traveller is enabled to obtain, as it were, a bird's eye view
of the country without being concerned with the cares of daily life.
On the other hand the traveller is frequently imposed upon by
the dragoman himself. The charge made by the dragoman varies
very greatly according to circumstances, such as the number and the
requirements of the travellers, the length of the journey, and the
amount of the demand for the services of such a guide. Dragomans
of the better class usually consider it beneath their dignity to escort
their employers through the streets of the towns, and are apt to con¬
sign them to the guidance of the local cicerones. They are inclined
also to assume a patronising manner towards their employers, while
they generally treat their own countrymen with an air of vast sup¬
eriority. The sooner this impertinence is checked, the more satis¬
factory will be the traveller's subsequent relations with his guide.
On the successful termination of the journey travellers are too apt
from motives of good nature to write a more favourable testimonial for
their dragoman than he really deserves; but this is truly an act of in¬
justice to his subsequent employers, and tends to confirm him in his faults.
The testimonial therefore should not omit to mention any serious cause
Bakshish. The word bakshish, which resounds so perpetually in
the traveller's ears during his sojourn in the East, and haunts him
long afterwards, simply means 'a gift'; and, as everything is to be