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Sea is higher than Egypt, the cutting of the Isthmus between them would necessarily lay that country under water. The Ptolemies disproved this error, and by means of wears, or locks, rendered the canal navigable to the Sea, without obstruction or inconvenience. Near to Arsinoë stand the cities Heroum and Cleopatris, the latter of which is on that recess of the Arabian Gulf which penetrates into Egypt. Here are harbors, and dwellings, and several canals, with lakes adjacent to them. The canal leading to the Red Sea begins at Phaccusa, to which the village Philon is contiguous.'
Diodorus, lib. 1, c. 3, says : ‘From Pelusium to the Arabian Gulf, a canal was opened. Necho, son of Psammitichus, first began the work ; after him Darius, the Persian, carried it on, but left it unfinished, being told that if he cut through the isthmus, Egypt would be laid under water; for that the Red Sea lay higher than Egypt. The last attempt was made by Ptolemy the Second, who succeeded, by means of a new canal with sluices, which were opened and shut as convenience required. The canal opened by Ptolemy was called after his name, and fell into the Red Sea at Arsinoë.'
Pliny, lib. 6, chap. 20, says : 'Sesostris, King of Egypt, was the first that planned the scheme of uniting the Red Sea with the Nile, by a navigable canal of sixty-two miles, which is the space that intervenes between them. In this he was followed by Darius, King of Persia, and also by Ptolemy, of Egypt, the second of that name, who made a canal of one hundred feet wide, by thirty in depth, continuing it thirty-seven and a half miles to the Bitter Fountains. At this point the work was then interrupted, for it was found that the Red Sea lay higher than the land of Egypt by three cubits, and a general inundation was feared. But some will have it, that the true cause was, that if the sea was let into the Nile, the water of it, of which alone the inbabitants drink, would be spoiled.'
All that could be said toward the reconciliation of those differing testimonies, as to the projectors and finishers of this work, has been already so satisfactorily done by Rennell, that there remains nothing to add on that point; but with respect to its having really been completed at all, which has been doubted by some, on the testimony of Pliny, (although Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus are agreed as to its having been finished, and differ only in respectively ascribing its completion to Darius and to Ptolemy,) ocular testimony is perhaps the most satisfactory, and this I felt much gratification in possessing
I cannot help remarking, that while the description of Herodotus, as to the point of the canal opening from the Nile, its course from west to east, and its discharging into the Red Sea, where a mountain opens to the south, (meaning no doubt Mount Adaga,) is clear and satisfactory, while Strabo also defines it as terminating at the Arabian Gulf, and Diodorus speaks of its falling into the Red Sea, at Arsinoë, one cannot conclude from Pliny, whether the work which he describes was commenced to be opened from the Nile, or from the Red Sea, Taking his distance from the source of the undertaking to the Bitter Lakes, at thirty-seven and a half miles, one would rather infer that he meant the latter, a supposition which is strengthened by the cause he assigns for its discontinuance; namely, a discovery that the level VOL. XI.
of the gulf was higher than that of the river, and a fear of letting the waters of the Sea into those of the Nile, an evil which could be well provided against, if it were at the river that the canal originated, but which could only threaten an inundation when the stream was made to flow toward the river from the Sea.
The breadth and depth of the bed through which we had travelled this morning, corresponded exactly with the dimensions given by Pliny, as one hundred feet by thirty, allowing for the depositions which must have taken place in those parts the least filled up by time ; because, as I before observed, it every where preserved that breadth, with admiral regularity, and was in many places more than twenty feet in depth at the present moment.
May it not have been, then, that the canal of Darius having fallen into ruin, or continuing to be navigable no farther than from the Nile to the Bitter Lakes, Ptolemy attempted to reopen the communication by cutting anew or clearing out the remaining portion between Arsinoë and that place ? Such was the suggestion which presented itself to my mind upon the spot, as reconciling apparently discordant testimonies; because, at the same time that this would admit the fact of its completion by Darius, which Herodotus so often and so positively asserts, it would also correspond with the account of Strabo, that the Ptolemies rendered this ruined rather than unfinished canal of Darius, again navigable to the Sea, with the testimony of Strabo, that the canal opened by Ptolemy was called after his name, and fell into the Red Sea at Arsinoë, and with the description given by Pliny of the second Ptolemy making a canal of one hundred feet wide, by thirty in depth, continuing it thirty-seven and a half miles, to the Bitter Fountains. How quickly such ruin could take place, from neglect, may be inferred from the fact, quoted in a note of Rennell's, who says : ‘It would seem that the canal of Ptolemy did not remain open to the time of Cleopatra, since her ships were dragged across the Isthmus. Plutarch says the distance was thirty-six miles. Possibly that portion of the canal between the Bitter Lake and Arsinoë, may be the part intended, which same space I have supposed to be meant by Pliny's distance of thirty-seven and a half miles, as before adverted to.
In the Life of Mark Anthony, mention is made of this excursion of Cleopatra, from Alexandria to Arsinoë, or as some called it, Cleopatris. She undertook the voyage by the canal, but on arriving at ihe Shallow Lakes, called the Bitter Lakes, and sometimes the Bitter Fountains, through part of which the canal ran, it was found that, from neglect, the sands had been permitted to accumulate, and the splendid barges and galleys, constituting the fleet of the queen and her retinue, grounded; but the rowers and steersmen being ordered to lighten them, for the purpose of floating them farther on, they applied their strength no longer to the oars, but actually drew them across the sands, till the canal became sufficiently deep to receive and float them onward on its bosom to the city of their destination. The description of those magnificent barges in which this luxurious Queen of the East was wont to perform her voyages, harmonizes with the gorgeous splendor by which her court and person were always surrounded.
"The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne,
To resume the journal of our route. After having travelled all the morning in the bed of the ancient canal, but without being able to discover a vestige of any thing like masonry, or indication of the sluices by which its waters were said to have been regulated, we had lost at noon, all traces of its course, though we continued our direction still northerly, inclining two or three points to the west, until we gained the site of the Bitter Lakes, as they were called by the ancients, and named the Salt Marshes, in more modern maps. We traversed in every direction, the desert, for a diameter of ten miles, having fleet trotting dromedaries beneath us, without finding the least portion of water, although it had evidently been the receptacle of an extensive lake, and has its bed at this moment below the level of the sea at Suez. The soil here differs all around it. On leaving the last traces of the canal, we had entered upon a loose shifting sand; here we found a firm clay mixed with gravel, and though perfectly dry, its surface was incrusted over with a strong salt.
On leaving the site of these now evaporated lakes, we entered upon a loose and shifting sand again, like that which Pliny describes when speaking of the roads from Pelusium across the sands of the desert, in which he says, unless there be reeds stuck in the ground, to point out the line of direction, the way could not be found, because the wind blows up the sand and covers the footsteps.
The morning was delightful, on our setting out; and promised us a fine day; but the light air from the south had increased to a gale. The sun became obscure; and getting every hour into a looser sand, it flew around us in such whirlwinds, with the sudden gusts that blew, that it was impossible to proceed. We halted, therefore, for an hour, and sheltered ourselves under the lee of our camels, who were themselves so terrified as to need fastening by the knees, and uttered, in their moanings, but a melancholy symphony.
I know not whether it was the novelty of the situation that gave it additional horror, or whether the habit of magnifying evils to which we are unaccustomed had increased its effect; but certain it is, that fifty gales of wind at sea appeared to me more easy to be encountered than one among those sands. It is impossible to imagine desolation more complete. We could see neither earth, nor sun, nor sky. The plain at ten paces distant was absolutely imperceptible : our animals, as well as ourselves, were so covered with the sand as to render
breathing difficult. They hid their faces in the ground, and we could only uncover our own for a moment, to behold this chaos of mid-day darkness, and wait impatiently for its abatement. Alexander's journey to the Temple of Jupiter Ammon, and the destruction of the Persian armies of Cambyses in the Lybian Desert, rose to my recollection, with new impressions made by the horror of the scene before me; while Addison's admirable lines, which I also remembered with peculiar force on this occasion, seemed to possess as much truth as beauty.
“So where our wide Numidian wastes extend,
And smothered in the dusty whirlwind dies.' The few hours we remained in this situation were passed in unbroken silence. Every one was occupied in his own reflections, as if the reign of terror forbade communication.
The fury of the desert gale spent itself, like the storms of ocean, in sudden lulls and squalls; but it was not until the third or fourth interval, that our fears were sufficiently conquered to address each other; nor shall I soon lose the recollection of the impressive manner in which that was done. 'Allah kereem !' •God is merciful!' exclaimed the poor Bedouin, although habit had familiarized him with these resistless blasts. *Allah kereem !' repeated the Egyptians, with terrified solemnity; and both my servant and myself, as if by instinct, joined in the general exclamation. The bold imagery of the eastern poets, describing the Deity as avenging in his anger, and terrible in his wrath, riding upon the wings of the whirlwind, and breathing his fury in the storm, must have been inspired by scenes like these.
It was now past sun-set, and neither of us had yet broken our fast for the day. Even the consoling pipe could not be lighted in the hurricane, and it was in vain to think of remaining in our present station, while the hope of finding some bush for shelter remained. We remounted our camels, therefore, and departed. The young moon afforded us only a faint light, and all traces of the common road were completely obliterated. The stars were not even visible through so disturbed an atmosphere, and my compass was our only guide. The Arabs knew a spot, near Sheick Amedid, where tanks and trees were to be found; and confiding in my direction for the course thither, we resumed our journey.
After a silent ride of five tedious hours, this garden of repose ap. peared in sight; and, bleak and barren as it was, in truth. fatigue and apprehension gave it the charms of Eden. Here we alighted, fed our weary animals, and like sailors escaped from shipwreck, rejoiced in that delightful consciousness of security, which is known only in the safety that succeeds danger.
Desert of El Ouadi. - FEBRUARY 24. — The poor Arabs suffering in the night from cold, and the wind being still too high to keep a fire, without some one watching, for which all were too fatigued, we divided our straw mats in fragments between them for a covering, and weariness had so prepared me for repose, that my sleep was as sweet and uninterrupted as the most tenacious child of sickness could desire.
We arose with the sun, congratulated each other over our coffee on a better day, and went together to view the ruins near this spot, which correspond in their situation with those marked in Arrowsmith's
map, as the Serapeum and Sheick Amedid. Foundations of two large buildings appear above the sand, which has accumulated round them; but so imperfect are the remains, that neither plan nor dimensions could be taken with accuracy. They form two mounds, at a less distance than a mile from each other, and the stones, now rude and shapeless, differ from all others that I had ever seen in ancient or modern buildings. They are of a dull red color, and extremely porous, resembling the fretted frce-stone at Alexandria, except in color only, an effect I was at first disposed to attribute to the same cause, namely, the operation of a salt and humid air ; but on examining them more closely, I found this could not be, as their extraordinary hardness alone would resist the action of the atmosphere. Their porosity seems rather the effect of a former state of fusion, as it was not unlike some portions of lava, which I have seen from Mount Ætna and Vesuvius; and although those masses were without any definite shape, their smoothed surface resisted the impression of all other stones thrown on them. There are no mountains of such a substance in Egypt, that I am at all aware of; nor among all the fragments of antiquity that I have seen, do I remember any thing to which it bears a resemblance. It has certainly undergone some violent change by fire, or was originally an artificial composition.
In the Literary Panorama for March, 1813, in an extract from Mr. Kinnier's Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire, mention is made of some curious masses, which I cannot but imagine to have resembled the ones in question. That gentleman, in describing the Pyramid of Nimrod, or Tower of Babel, as one of the remains of the ancient Babylon, says: “On the top and sides of the mound I observed several fragments of different colors, resembling in appearance pieces of misshapen rock. Captain Frederick examined these curious fragments with much attention, and was at first inclined to think they were consolidated pieces of fallen masonry; but this idea was soon laid aside, as they were found so hard as to resist iron, in the manner of any other very hard stone, and the junction of the bricks was not to be discerned. It is difficult to form a conjecture concerning these extraordinary fragments, (some of which are six and eight feet in diameter,) as there is no stone of such a quality to be procured any where in the neighboring country, and we could see nor hear of no building of which they could form a part.' Upon this the reviewer remarks: • It never occurred to our travellers that these could be artificial; yet we know that Mr. Wedgewood, the celebrated manufacturer of pottery, insists that the enormous masses of stone at Stonehenge are artificial, and that modern art is able to compose the like. We should be glad to know,' he continues, 'whether these Babylonian rocks bear any resemblance to the rocks at Stonehenge ;