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derid Ibis, and some vitrifications that seemed to indicate an Arab glasst work
Feiftm stands on the principal canal leading from the Nile to the lake, and is surrounded with cultivated ground, a great part gardens, producing that profusion of roses for which this place was celebrated, and which were distilled into rose-water. The mode of propagating them was by continued layers; the young twigs thence arising being found to produce the largest and most fragrant flowers. The rose-water was excellent and sent to all quarters ; but the cultivation is now running gradually to decay> Wheat and other grain abound in the vicinity.
This city is not walled, but is populous, though on the decline: it contains several mosques and okals. There are few Copts, the inhabitants being chiefly Mohammedans. The houses are partly stone, partly unburaed bricks. It is governed by a Cashef. The fish from the lake cannot be praised. Provisions tolerably plentiful: water good. pp. 178, 179.'
Our author's next excursion was by Suez to mount Sinai; where lie arrived in three weeks from Cairo. This track is now too well known, to require description. We substitute the whole of his brief retrospect of the topography of Upper E
The towns and cultivation are wholly confined to the banks of the Nile, but especially on the East. Mountains continue to present a regular barrier behind on both sides. Beyond this natural wall, on the West, is a vast sandy desert, traversed at times by the Muggrebin Arabs; here and there, at the distance of about a hundred miles or more from the Nile, are Oases or fertile isles, in the ocean of sand. On the East between the river and the Arabian gulf, are vast ranges of mountains, abounding with marble and porphyry, but generally destitute of water, so that no town or village can be built. Among these- ranges, however, some tribes of Bedouin Arabs, as the Ababdi and Beni Hossein, contrive to find some fertile spots and diminutive springs, so as to furnish residences for about three or four thousand inhabitants. Even the shores of the Red Sea, corresponding with Egypt, contain but a small number of tribes; and the Arabs on the East in general are little formidable. The Muggrebins are more ferocious, and might send forth thirty thousand men capable of bearing arms, could they ever be united, a thing almost impossible, their parties seldom exceeding four or five hundred, and the tribes being divided by intestine enmities. The 1 esser Casis, now El-nvah-el-Ghurbi, forms a kind of capital settlement, if 1 may so speak, of the Muggrebin Arabs, who extend even to Fezzan and Tripoli. 1 hey are dressed in a linen or cotton shirt, over which is wrapped a blanket of fine flannel; all have fire arms, and are gqod marksmen, and their musquets are their constant companions. Their chief employment lies in breeding horses*, camels, and sheep. They arc very hardy and abstemious, a small cake of bread and leathern bottle of water supplying a man with ample provision for a day.
It is fcaid that several ruins are 10 be found at El-wah-el-Ghurbi. Of the Oasu Magna, now El-wah, I shall speak at large in treating of my journey to Dar-Fur; but must observe that the distance between this Oa
* They sell the males, and themselves generally mount mares ia their ■warlike expeditions.
Ms and that styled Parma is erroneously laid down in the most recent maps. I was informed by the Muggrebins at El-ivah, that Charjc, the most northern village of that district, was but two days journey from the nearest part of El-iuah-Ghurbi; that is, about forty miles. Oasis Magna, seems rightly to correspond with the latitude ofDendera, and of course that of the southern extremity, of Oasis Parva should be a little to the South, of that of Assiut, and not far North of Tinodes Mons, in D'Anyiile's map; apparently the chain on the East of both the Oases, or - '*■'>". On the West I observed no mountains, nor on the South. The most northern Oasis known near Egypt is that of Situa, already described.' pp. 141, l42i
Soon after his return from Sinai, Mr. B. set out on that part of his travels which alone can be regarded as a track wholly unbeaten. We are unable to say what was his precise object in this expedition; and must therefore leave our readers to judge, from the following extract, whether he had fixed on. "any.
'From conviction sufficiently clear, arising both from reading and the sentiments of those who are best informed of the subject, that the river whose source Mr. Bruce describes is not the true Nile, I thought it an object of still greater importance, that the source of the more western river should be investigated. But what might have been a matter of choice, was with me only the result of necessity. The idea of reaching the sources of this river, (the Bahr-el-abiad,) laid down in the maps apparently at about two hundred leagues farther than Sennaar, seemed to me so hopeless, that this object alone would hardly have induced me to undertake such a voyage, i should rather have been inclined to attempt Abyssinia, and endeavour to certify, as well as circumstances might permit, how far authentic former narratives had been, and what might offer that was new to European observation. For this purpose the obvious and most easy route was by the Red Sea to Masouah. But all accounts concurred in magnifying the difficulty, and almost impossibility, of an European passing there undiscovered ; and being discovered of his penetrating any farther.
The road from Kahira to Sennaar was the one I should have preferred; but the desolation and anarchy then prevailing in Nubia, which had prevented rne from passing the former year, would not probably have allowed me better success in this. Besides, the city of Sennaar was then occupied by the slaves of the last Mecque, or king, who had deposed and put to death their master, and still continued to usurp the government, liy taking the route of Dar-Fiir, I was taught to believe that I might hope for the advantages of a regular government; and with proper management might expect every favour from the monarch. The local inconvenience of being i o much farther removed from Abyssinia was indeed obvious; but on the other hand the choice of more than one route was, it seemed likely, thereby offered: which in a place where progress is so uncertain, and contingencies so numerous, would be a matter of no inconsiderable importance.' pp. 195, 196.
Whether the Bahr el-Abiad, or the Bahrel Asrek (or Azerg) have the better claim to the appellation of that river to whose fertilizing waters they both contribute, can only be decided, when the sources of the former become as well known as that of the latter. Our author seems to disbelieve that Mr. Bruce ever visited this spot; as he cites, in his preface, the testimonies of an Armenian merchant whom he saw at Suez, and a Berghoo merchant with whom he afterwards met in Dar-fur; both of whom had known Bruce at Gondar, and concurred in asserting that he had never been at the source of the Abyssinian Nile, although th*ey confirmed other circumstances of his narrative. We acknowledge that we do not think this negative evidence sufficient to remove the numerous improbabilities in which it is involved.
Some decree cf rivalship between our author and his celebrated precursor, could hardly be avoided; and if any person in vain attempts what another has previously accomplished, powerful indeed must be the principle, which can suppress all inclination to detract from the merit of the successful competitor. To the commendation, in magnis voluisse, Mr. Browne has an indisputable claim; and he has done what no other European probably ever did: but his failure of penetrating to Abyssinia, is by no means surprising ; for his disparity to Bruce in the qualifications required for such an enterprise, appears to us quite as great as the difference of their success. The gra'nd foible of the latter was vanity; but his merits as a traveller will be duly appreciated only by comparison, and fully ascertained only by the lapse of ages. His knowledge, his talents, his circumspection, and bis fortitude, fitted him for a task which we expect never again to see performed.
Dar-fur (or the kingdom of Fur) the immediate, (and in the event the only) object of Mr. Browne's principal expedition, lies between 11° and 15° N. L, and 26° and 29° E. L. from Greenwich. Its northern boundary is sufficiently defined by a vast desert, 20° of latitude in extent, which commences at the greater Egyptian Oasis. On the east, it is separated from Sennaar from the inhabited country of Kordofan, which is now, probably, subjugated by Darfur. The western branch of the Nile divides kordofan from Sennaar. The southern boundary of Darfiir is nearly unknown : for of the Mountains of the Moon, (in which Ptolemy supposed both branches of the Nile to rise) we know less than of the mountains in the Moon ; Mr. Browne's delineations of the former being apparently less to be depended on, than Mr. Russell's of the latter. On the west, Darfur is bounded by a Mahometan State called Dar Bergoo, with which it has considerable intercourse.
The northern part of this territory, winch alone our traveller visited, is mostly sandy, interrupted by irregular precipices of granite, and interspersed withspotsof clay anitaegetable mould; the latter of which are assiduously cultivated during the tropical rains. Numerous water-courses are then formed; but being soOn evaporated by the intense Heat of the climate, tliey leave no other supply of water to the inhabitants, but from their wells. The more southern partsare reported to be very fertile; and toward the centre is a considerable quantity of land cultivated with maize, cotton, and hemp: but the northern extre-t mity is mostly covered with thorn bushes of Acacia, which in some places are shaded by lofty trees, especially the plane, the sycamore, and the tamarind.
The inhabitants, who are not supposed to exceed 200,000, are chiefly negroes; but are much intermixed with Arabs, Egyptians, and more southern borderers of the Nile, who reside either constantly, or occasionally, in Darfur, for the pur- , poses of trade. Their principal dealings are in slaves, which are conveyed, at irregular intervals, from a few months to three , years, to Cairo. A thousand slaves are reckoned to form a large caravan, and two thousand camels sometimes accompany them over the desert. Asses, also, are used for riding; horses requiring too much nourishment, and being therefore scarce, though very good. They have the .other animals common in , the Oasis. The hyaena and the jackal are the only wild beasts that frequent the inhabited parts; but lions and leopards infest the less populous districts. Serpents are not numerous. The buffaloe is never tamed. In some parts, elephants abound. Their tusks, with the horns of the rhinoceros, the teeth of the hippopotamus, ostrich feathers, pcrroqucts, guinea fowls, monkies, some, white copper, and vegetable productions, are articles of exportation from Darfur to Egypt, several of which are brought from surrounding countries. The slaves are mostly brought from those situated to the south ; where they are procured either by hostile incursions, or by means that are thus described.
* The smallest trespass on the property of another is punished by enslaving the children or young relations of the trespasser. If even a man's footstep be observed among the corn of another, the circumstapce is attended by calling witnesses, and application to a magistrate, and the certain consequence of proof is the forfeiture of his con, daughter, nephew, or niece, to the person trespassed on. These accidents are continually happening, and produce a great number of" slaves. A commission to purchase any thing in a distant market, not exactly fulfilled, is attended with a like • forfeiture; But above all if a person of note die, the family have no idea of death as a necessary event, but say that it is effected by witchcraft. To discover the perpetrator, the poorer natives, far andn ar, are obliged to undergo expurgation by drinking a liquor which is called in Dar-Fur Kilingi, or something that resembles it; and the person on whom the supposed signs of guilt appear, may either be put to death or sold as a slave.' p. 355.
The population of Dar-fur, though small in the aggregate, appears to be formed of several nations, or tribes, that were formerly independent. Such are the TLeghawans, in the nor
ern extremity of the kingdom; and the people of Dageoit, who are said to have come from the vicinity of Tunis, and to have conquered Dar-fur. They were, in their turn, overcome, by a.tribe to which the present royal family belongs; of uncertain origin, Sut supposed, by our author, to be Moors, expelled from the north of Africa by the Arabs. These distinct races speak different languages, or dialects; of which, (unfortunately!) Mr. B. gives.no information whatever; although, in his appendix, a short vocabulary of terms used at a place far to the westward, is inserted. The Arabic, however, seems to be pretty commonly understood. The language of Barabra, or Nubia, is usually spoken by those traders from the Southern Nile who have settled in Darfur.
The people, having no written documents, know very little of their own history. They were, as most of the neighbouring nations still are, idolaters, till Mahometanism was introduced among them, (seemingly about 150 years ago) under the reign of Solyman, a prince of the Dageou race. A shech named Hamed-Wullad-Faris, said to have come from Barabra, is revered as having been a chief instrument of introducing the new religion; but the power of the sword was probably here, as elsewhere, the principal cause of its success. &okar, of the present race of kings, was succeeded by Abd-el-Casim, and the latter by Mohammed, eldest son of Bokar, surnamed Teraub, from a habit (pretty common among lords of the creation) of rolling in the dust, when a child. He reigned thirty two years, with great reputation; but perished in attempting the reduction of Kordofan, which (according to Bruce) had previously been wrested by Sennaar from Darfur. Teraub's children being young, hisnexf brother seized the government, as regent, under the title of El Chalife; but his reign being tyrannical, a third brother, Abd-el-Rachmari, who had before assumed the character of a faquir, took advantage of prevailing discontents, to obtain the sovereignty for himself. Assembling an army, he encountered the Chalife, who was then returning from Kordofan, defeated, and slew him, A. D. 1787. For a, short time, Abd-el-rachman retained his habits of self denial; but afterwards gave loose to his sensual passions, and became detested for inordinate avarice. He seems, however, to. have been attentive to "public business, and desirous of restraining the extreme licentiousness of his subjects and his army; but the rigour with which he has enforced measures fortius purpose, has only increased his unpopularity. Those members of the royal family whom he did not think it necessary to sacrifice to his own security, quietly fill very inferior situations. The ting himself has no fixed place of residence, but forms a temporary court, sometimes in one, and sometimes in another part of his dominions.