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where its remoteness from the metropolis would render all caravans more liable to attack and plunder; its second embarkation on the Nile, necessarily divided into smaller portions suited to the capacity of the boats; its liability to damage on the way; and again its discharge at Cairo, doubling the whole distance of the Red Sea passage, independent of the detentions occasioned by every change from ships to camels, from camels to boats, and from boats to camels again. I think no man can hesitate in deciding for the preference of Suez over Berenice, who weighs well the reasons assigned.
Town of Suez, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21st, — The entry into Suez of the grand caravan, which had commenced early on the morning of yesterday, and promised not to finish in less than two days more, had already filled the town with bustle and variety. The arrival of two vessels from Jedda, and one from Yambo, had also increased the number of strangers, and by this mixture of visitors from Arabia and Egypt, we had every shade of color, in countenance and costume.
My own Arab dress enabling me to mix in the crowd without fear of being detected as a Christian, or of even attracting notice at all, I was agreeably occupied throughout the day in that sort of strolling observation which makes even lounging both delightful and instructive. The number of camels composing this caravan exceeded four thousand, with at least half that number of Bedouin guides. There was also an escort of Turkish cavalry, and a company of infantry, beside a number of traders, agents, etc., accompanying their own property, forming, with the arrivals by sea, an additional population of five or six thousand strangers. The goods brought by this caravan were chiefly grain for Arabia, Egyptian cotton, manufactured for sail-cloth, timber, planks, and oars for boats, of which several were ordered to be built for the Pasha, and a few articles of private speculation for the southern markets, such as gay-colored cloths, articles of dress, and common fire-arms.
In such a motley multitude as were thus brought together from opposite quarters of the globe, infinite as their varieties of dress and features were, there still existed those marked distinctions by which they could be classed. The Bedouin was as easily recognised by the poverty of his dress, and air of independence, as was the Turk by the gaudy colors of his apparel, and the look of contemptuous disdain with which he eyed every one around him. The Yambo mariner, black and half naked, with bushy, uncombed hair, that almost concealed his face; the sable-turbanned Greek; the bearded sanctity of the returning Hadji from the holy city of Mecca; the green-capped descendant of the prophet; the cunning trader of Jedda, and the richer merchants of Yemen, were all to be recognised by distinct peculiarities. There was one feature however, in which they all agreed, and which, to the native of a country where the practice is unnecessary and forbidden, cannot fail to be observed ; that is, their passion for wearing arms, in the use of which, perhaps few people could be found more unskilful, or to the practice of which, as far as actual warfare is implied, there are certainly none more naturally averse. Yet from the Aga, who sacrifices even domestic comforts to the useless splendor of a kanjar or dagger, down to the naked negro, who with a ragged waist-cloth only, and without a sufficiency of either bread or water, will yet pride himself on his heavy sabre, or a crooked knife braced to his arm, not an individual is to be seen, who enjoys that privilege from his faith, without weapons, the weight of which literally incommodes him in his walk.
On our return from the stroll of the day, we passed the evening in a crowded Divan, at the governor's, and remained with him to supper, in which we were joined only by his principal officers ; the rest having retired after sunset prayers, and joined us again to smoke their evening pipes. The governor's attentions to me were more than usually polite ; and his communications, in answer to all the questions I asked him, were given with great freedom and intelligence.
Town of Suez, Tuesday, FebruARY 22. — I had fixed our departure on my desert journey in search of the remains of the ancient canal, for this morning, but, as is usual on most occasions of setting out, whether by land or water, new difficulties arose, and obstacles were now for the first time supposed to exist. The route I had marked out for our journey across the desert, was to follow the track of the ancient canal, by the salt marshes to the northward of Suez, pass by the spot marked in Arrowsmith's chart, as the ruins of Serapeum and Aboukechied, and entering the cultivated plain of Egypt at the ancient Thaubastus, turn by Heröopolis to Balbeis. Every one whom we consulted on the subject, declared this journey to be impracticable, without great personal risk. This part of the desert, it was said, was traversed by the Syrian Bedouins, who are enemies to those of Tor, and our being robbed and stripped was a matter of certainty in the opinion of Phanoose ; but, as he observed, 'Allah! kereem!' -'God is merciful.' The governor very kindly offered me an escort of his own soldiers, but I was too well aware of its expense, to accept it; and as my desire of accomplishing the journey was unconquerable, we prepared to depart alone, hoping to find security in the smallness of our party, and in the appearance of poverty we should assume. Ourguide at length refused to depart without an additional sum of fifty piastres for the journey, a demand which I as strenuously resisted, and as both parties were obstinate, it bade fair to detain us for the day.
Noon came without a change of determination on either side, and I passed the latter part of the day most agreeably in a walk along the southern beach of the town of Suez, from whence the marine scenery is grand and interesting. On the right, the high and rocky summits of Adaga are boldly picturesque, and the plain leading to Tor and Sinai, which is terminated by a broken range of Asiatic mountains on the left, with the unintercepted horizon of the sea in the southern offing, form altogether a subject worthy the pencil of a Claude. The air was beautifully calm, and the serenity of that unbroken silence which every where reigned around, was like a momentary slumber of animated nature. I was perfectly alone; and nothing could have been more favorable than the present moment, either as it regarded the state of things, or of my own disposition to receive it, for an interview with that boary sage from whom Cleombrotus learned the doctrine of a plurality of worlds; but I was not so highly favored, though I remembered here, with all that superior pleasure which local interest can add even to the most beautiful productions, the poetic and ingenious fragment of Moore's, which he calls A Vision of Philosophy,' the subject or hero of which he thus describes.
In Plutarch's Essay on the decline of oracles, Cleombrotus, one of the interlocutors, describes an extraordinary man whom he had met with, after long research, upon the banks of the Red Sea. Once in every year this supernatural personage appeared to mortals, and conversed with them; the rest of his time he passed among the genii and the nymphs. He spoke in a tone not far removed from singing, and whenever he opened his lips, a fragrance filled the place. The odor of his breath, however, and the sports of his dalliance, had but little inducement to quit the circle of those nymphs and genii of the skies, to be wasted upon this deserted spot. The period of the year in which he usually became visible was not perhaps arrived, or the ages in which he condescended to visit mortals were irrecoverably past. What beauties, however, did those lines derive from contrast, when I remembered them on those barren sands!
"'Twas on the Red Sea coast, at eve, we met
And half the goddess beamed in glimpses through it!' From this spot I extended my ramble round the southern beach, where vestiges of ancient buildings are seen in several places distinguishable along the edge of the present town of Suez, among the heaps of pottery and brick, which invariably accompany the wreck of settlements annihilated or destroyed. Over a sheik's tomb here is reared the fragment of a granite pillar, and upon the wharves are still lying portions of white marble columns.
After making the circuit of the walls, I ascended the mound which retains the name of Kolzoum, the very base of which is washed by the sea, as it is not more than one hundred yards from the gate of Suez. Among all this heap, however, not a vestige remains of any kind of building, not even the fragment of a wall, a pillar, or a foundation : nor could I find, after diligent search, any thing like the remains of VOL. XI.
the stone pipes which Mr. Brown saw, for the
purpose, as it
appeared to him, of conveying water to the site of Kolzoum, from Bir Naha, or the well of Naha. Major Rennell very correctly remarks, that this is a well, situated some miles to the east of Suez, and on the opposite side of the inlet of the sea that passes before it.
• One may conclude,' he adds, 'that this work was unnecessary during the existence of a canal from the Nile ;' and he might have said, too, that it must have been carried underneath a broad though shallow arm of the sea, to the opposite coast; a work of labor and expense, which, compared with its object, is not at all probable, since water could always be conveyed with facility and despatch in boats, in the small quantities which all the wells of the neighborhood produce, and which at different seasons of the year are dry. Nothing, in short, remains of the ancient Kolzoum, but one continued heap of rubbish; its destruction is complete ; and by a collection of stones within an entrenchment at the top, it would seem to have been recently used as a post of defence.
In the very learned and masterly discussion of Major Rennell, on the Isthmus of Suez and its canals, when endeavoring to establish the distance between Serapeum and Pelusium, he says: "The position of the former is unknown, but by circumstances, it ought to be near the head of the Gulf of Suez, and to Arsinoë of course; but this latter must have been more to the north than Suez, as the sea has retreated, and is constantly retreating to the south, and has even left Kolzoum, which was a port in the time of the Caliphs, three quarters of a mile inland; therefore Arsinoë may have been full a mile to the northward of Suez.' (p. 454.) Having this memorandum among my extracts for observation, I was the more anxious to satisfy myself whether this mass of ruins, although still called by the inhabitants here, Kolzoum, was really the site of that settlement or not. My elevated situation enabled me to distinguish from its summit the smallest object for several miles to the northward, across the sandy plain, if any such objects existed. The wells of Suez and Adjerood were in sight to the north-west, and the sandy beach along which the arm of the sea, extending beyond Suez, flows, continued its course to the north, inclining easterly; but in all this range of view, neither mound, rubbish, or fragment of any kind, was to be seen, to indicate the situation of former buildings : and all whom I consulted, agreed that the spot on which I stood was the only one near Suez, containing ancient remains, distinguishable from the sands. Yet this mound has the sea flowing up to its very base, and stretching beyond it to the northward, inclining easterly for three or four miles at least. To what settlement the granite and marble columns, lying scattered at Suez, could have belonged, whether to Arsinoë or Kolzoum, I am at a loss to determine. The known indolence of the Turks, and their indifference to the transportation of such fragments, more particularly as they lie broken and unused for any purpose, induce one to conclude, that they occupy the original place of their destruction, or their fall; and coupling this with Mr. Brown's opinion that Suez itself is a comparatively modern town, and probably built within the last three hundred years, of which it bears every appearance, as well as having been unknown to travellers of a more ancient date, I am disposed
to think that Suez itself, including the mound without its northern gate, occupies the very site of Kolzoum, and that Arsinoë might then have been more to the northward, as Rennell describes it; the remains, from being more ancient, having disappeared, by the united agencies of an undermining sea, and the overwhelming sands by which it was surrounded, toward the land.
Returning from my evening walk, I supped at the governor's, and remained there late in a crowded divan, a rich merchant from Jedda having paid his personal respects to Hassan Aga. After evening prayers, performed with all possible solemnity, these bearded elders amused themselves in playing tricks upon an old Hadji, or Pilgrim, whom the governor retained among his dependants as a buffoon; among a number of other devices, the loading his pipe with gunpowder beneath the tobacco, so as to explode while smoking, and placing fire in the small outer cup in which they serve coffee, so as to burn his fingers, and make him forego his hold, were applauded by loud bursts of laughter, which, from the contrast of their general gravity, came from them with a very borrowed grace indeed.
Taking leave of this Turkish Aga, to whose kindness I had been much indebted, I retired to rest, and the differences with my guide, Phanoose, being amicably adjusted, the next sunrise was fixed for our departure on the Desert Journey of Investigation, already adverted to. The results of this will be given in the ensuing number.
I've seen the blushing dawn on India's mountains,
When, bathed in gold, the sun kissed the blue sea,
And then, O God! alone I thought on Thee,
By Ganga's fountains, thought alone on Thee!
Reflecting halos of celestial light,
Through the protracted reign of arctic night;
Beneath the tropic's arid, scorching heat,
On the Bahamas, have I panting stood;
Which spread, in endless vines, beneath the flood;
The plume-crown'd Incas of a southern world;
Who realms have lost, and desolation hurled ;
Thinking alone, my God! alone on Thee !