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POWER OF ABSTINENCE.
mouth, is worthy the attention of zoologists, and was remarked long ago by the observant Sandys, who, though he attributed it to a different cause—that of supplying moisture---says, "for in his frequent belchings he thrust up a bladder, which moistened his throat and mouth."* Their subsisting on their fat is quite in accordance with one of the most generally acknowledged physiological facts in the animal economy; it being a reservoir to be used upon emergencies, as in hibernating animals, the tails of particular kinds of sheep, the hump of the bison, or in the human subject in any protracted illness or long abstinence; and I conceive it to be for the same useful purpose that those plates of fat, so much praised by our gourmands, are placed in the sides of the turtle.
Harbour of the Mahmoudio-A Kanghia- The Canal-Egyptian Plagues-Cotton Plant-Ap
pearance of the Country--Game-Mode of Cleaning the Canal -Atfé-The Nile-BoatmenThe English Ensign-Composition of the Soil-Scenery-Husbandry-Birds—The Fellaheen Their Costumes-- Arab Females-Their Dress-An Egyptian Eye--Old Women-Habitations -Sheykhs-Self-mutilation--Cyclopean Population-Conscription- Boolack--Approuh to the Capital-Cairo-Hotel de Jardin-The Lions-Citadel - View from it-Mosque of the Basha - Joseph's Well-Palace of the Básha-The Hareem-The Arms Factory-Massacre of the Memlooks—Mosque of Sooltan Hassan-Description of its Interior—The Streets– Inhabitants -Shop-keepers-Nightly Stillness—The Moocddin's Chunt.
SATURDAY, 20th.—This morning was spent in preparing for our journey to Cairo. At three o'clock we arrived at the harbour of the Mahmoudie canal, which is without exception one of the most abominable sewers that this dirty country can boast of. The banks of this great vein of communication between the capital and the seaport rise high and precipitously from the water, and are generally crowded with dirty Arabs, half-naked women, and blear-eyed children, squatted on logs of timber, bales of cotton, and heaps of coal from the mines of Syria. These, with troops of camels, a wretched shed for a custom-house, a filthy coffee-shop, a troop of the never-failing donkeys, and a Babel of tongues, such as can only be experienced among the Arabs, are the impediments and annoyances a traveller has to push himself and his baggage through, in order to reach that most uncomfortable of conveyances—a Mahmoudie kanghia, or Egyptian canal-boat. For nearly a mile the line of boats extends, as close as they can possibly be crammed; and it is usual for European (at least English) travellers to have their boats sunk for some days before, choosing rather to encounter the damp and dirt consequent on their immersion in the mud of the canal, than to suffer from the numerous cockroaches and other living torments that invariably infest these conveyances. We were unable, from
A MAHMOUDIE KANGHIA.
want of time, to submit our boat to this process, so we had to endure (I cannot say with patience) our tormentors, which, in the shape of creeping things of all forms and sizes, still appear as the remnant of the plagues that once swarmed throughout all the quarters of this land. Our party now consisted of four, as shortly before we left Alexandria we met, most unexpectedly, Mr. A. Finlay, on his way from Bombay to England, but who consented to return with us to Cairo, and to whose knowledge of Eastern manners and customs we were much indebted in our voyage through the Levant, in which he accompanied us.
Our kanghia was a long, narrow boat, sharp at both ends, with a high projecting stern, a cabin, consisting of a kind of tenthouse raised over the deck, in size about equal to a good dogkennel, and barely capable of containing four of us, who found great difficulty in sitting upright. Our steersman, a venerable grey-bearded Arab, sat perched on the roof of the cabin. These boats have a long mast and a latteen sail, but as the wind was contrary we were unable to set ours; and so we commenced our journey by tracking, which was done by four of our crew; making about two miles an hour.
If the waters of the Tagus resemble pea-soup, those of this canal could be most justly likened to thin porridge, flavoured with the essence of divers carcases of buffaloes, camels, dogs, and asses, in every possible state of decomposition, on which innumerable flocks of gulls and several vultures were making their evening's meal. Our attention was more forcibly drawn to the scene, from the circumstance of our being obliged to use this most filthy fluid for drinking; for, although we had been careful in providing ourselves with the other necessaries for such a voyage, as provisions, bedding, cooking apparatus, &c. we totally forgot, until too late, the most essential—a supply of pure water. Leaving Alexandria, the canal winds along the shores of Mareotis, from which it is only separated by the bank; and independent of its value as a means of communication, the water is of great use as a manure in enriching the land along its banks, for which object it is raised, either in Persian wheels, or by the simple and antique apparatus of the pole and bucket, worked by a single man. The only green things along its banks are a few acacias.
We spent a night of unusual discomfort, for though we were all fatigued, and had made desperate determinations to sleep, and
had actually fallen asleep several times, our slumbers were of short duration ; for packed as we were—the squeaking of a rat under one of our heads—the flight of a cockroach into our faces -the bite of a bug—the incessant attacks of the fleas—or the loathsome crawlings of more intolerable and disgusting verminforced one or other of us from the short oblivion of our annoyances, and thus roased all in time to sympathise with, or laugh at the miseries of the sufferer, who, in vainly endeavouring to free himself from his tormentors in our narrow abode, necessarily awoke the whole party. When we arose in the morning, we found that our Arabs had fared better, for having moored the boat to a post in the bank, they were quietly enjoying their slumber, so that we were only twenty-five miles from where we had set out the day before.
It was excessively cold at this early hour, (seven o'clock,) the thermometer standing below 45°. After breakfast we landed, and as the boat made but little way, we were able to keep up with it, and employed our time in shooting along the banks. The Basha has established telegraphic communications to the capital from Alexandria along this canal, and to Rosetta by the banks of the Nile from Atfé. The land here was exceedingly fertile ; the corn and flax were well up, and of a richer green
than I had ever seen before; with large plantations of cotton, which, however, is here but a small shrub, not bigger than a currant bush ; and the floculent material, now bursting from its capsules, make those inclosures look as if a flock of sheep had run through the bushes, and left the greater part of their fleeces on the thorns. The introduction of this plant into Egypt has been attended with the most signal success; and though twenty-five years have not elapsed since the first sprig of it took root, it is now one of the principal sources of revenue, and the most extensive article of export. In 1820, a scheme of manufacturing it in the country was commenced, and the Básha went to an enormous expenditure of men and money, in erecting cotton mills, and procuring spinners, engineers, and machinery from Europe. At first these men worked with great energy, and the Básha was fain to believe the interested stories of his French and Italian overseers, that he could thus, in a short time, become the rival of Glasgow and Manchester. Crowds of natives were driven into the factories; but the machinery, of a rude and imperfect description,
APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY..
and made by ignorant hands, soon got out of order; and I understand that a system of peculation was carried on by the foreign instructors to an enormous extent, and the outlay was immense. Afterwards, the war in which Egypt was engaged for some years became so great a drain upon the population, that the different cotton mills have, in a great measure, been abandoned. Mohammad Alee is now, however, pursuing a wiser and a better policy, in curtailing the number of the spinning and weaving mills, and only manufacturing in the country a sufficiency for its own consumption, and the remainder of the raw material is sold into Europe. Machines for compressing the bales are multiplied at Alexandria, and the export to England bids fair to exceed the East and West Indies, or America. We left six English traders in the harbour of Alexandria receiving cotton. Al. though of a dark colour, and not of the very finest description, it is now much valued in our markets.
The country is one immense flat, but only cultivated along the banks of the canal, or around the villages, which are placed upon little hillocks, rising like islands out of this interminable plain, and which, with their square mud houses, domed dove-cots, and groves of tall palms, with the white minaret of the hamletmosque peeping from out their wide-spreading branches, have a very picturesque and pleasing effect. In other places occur large tracts of uncultivated swamp, or sandy slobs, which are occupied by countless numbers of geese, and water-fowl of all descriptions, so close as absolutely to cover the ground ; they are, however, very wary, and as there is no possible cover, the sportsmen can seldom get near enough for a shot. I should imagine the apparatus of Colonel Hawker would commit great devastation among the feathered tribe here. The avoset is particularly plenty ; also bee-eaters, (merops apiaster and m. taria,) and in the corn fields, the paddy-bird is so tame, that it can be knocked down with a stick; its stately walk, its light and elegant snow-white plumage, fawn-coloured erectile crest, and yellow legs and bill, make this bird one of the most beautiful in Egypt ; and like the robin with us, its domestic habits, and appearing to put itself under the protection of man, is the reason why it is erroneously supposed by travellers to be held sacred by the modern Egyptians. The field lark is a larger bird than ours, with a black erectile tuft on the head. Pigeons, in vast flocks,