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FOR JANUARY, 1824.
Art. I. 1. Notes, during a Visit to Egypt, Nubia, the Oasis, Mount
Sinai, and Jerusalem. By Sir Frederick Henniker, Bart. 8vo. pp.
340. (Plates.) Price 128. London. 1823. 2. Travels in Egypt and Nubia, Syria and Asia Minor, during the
Years 1817 and 1818. By the Hon. Charles Leonard Irby, and James Mangles, Commanders in the Royal Navy. Printed for
private Distribution. Svo. London. 1823. YOUNG ENGLAND is running to look at old Egypt, the
sleeping beauty of two thousand years ago, upon whom Time, the great enchanter, turned the key, when we, a nation of yesterday, were a mere embryo,-our ancestry scattered over the wilds and woods of Germany, or sweeping the Northern seas. All her caverns, and temples, and pyramids have been shut and sealed during great part of this long interval ; and now, behold the charm is dissolved, and the whole of their furniture-gods, mummies, and amulets, are found as they were left, the very colours of the paintings as fresh as ever! Why, what is Pompeii to this spectacle? That is only an exhumated city ; but here is a whole country brought to light, after having been invisible to Europeans for nearly a score of centuries. Poor Burckhardt has the merit of having led the way into Nubia ; but Mr. Bankes, who travelled in 1815, is believed to have been the first Englishman that ever succeeded in gaining the Second Cataract. In 1816, M. Drovetti, the ci-devant French consul in Egypt, together with his two agents, Rifaud and Cailliaud, accomplished the same enterprise. They were speedily followed by Mr. and Mrs. Belzoni, Captains Irby and Mangles, the Earl of Belmore and Dr. Richardson, and, in 1820, by Messrs. Waddington and Hanbury, who outventured them all. Mr. Legh, who preceded Mr. Bankes, ascended the Nile no further than Ibrim; Mr. Hamilton, Colonel Leake, and Mr. Hayes, no further than Deboud. Norden, who travelled eighty years ago, could only reach Derry; and PoVol. XXI. N. S.
cocke, who passed Norden on the Nile, went no higher than Phila. That island was also Denon's ne plus ultra. But now, Egypt and Nubia, as well as Syria, are over-run with Englishmen, and we wait for fresh literary arrivals from the Cataracts or the Oases, as almost as much matters of course as a mail from Hamburgh. When Captains Irby and Mangles returned to Cairo, they found Mr. Jolliffe recently arrived from making • the tour of Palestine,' and Colonel Stratton, Captain Bennet, and Mr. Fuller had just set off for Assuan. Sir Frederick Henniker took the trip to Ebsambal in 1820; and his volume forms at present nearly the latest account of travels performed by Englishmen in those parts. He writes in a singularly dashing, rattling, baronet-like style, very light and lively, but sometimes tinctured with too much flippancy; and the extreme brevity of the narrative is almost as tiresome as the prolixity of more phlegmatic travellers : it is like conversing with a man who talks in an under-tone, and ekes out half his sentences with shrugs, and winks, and inuendoes. The worst fault, however, is, that Sir Frederick’s wit is sometimes spiced with profane
The volume for which we are indebted to Captains Irby and Mangles, does not come fairly within our province as Reviewers, it being printed only for private distribution ; but we are glad to have an opportunity of laying before our readers the substance of its interesting contents. We shall feel under no temptation to criticise the authorship of a work, which conveys, in the most unaffected manner, so much solid and novel information. The names of these enterprising fellow-travellers will be familiar to the readers of Belzoni and Dr. Richardson. The former, indeed, was very deeply indebted to their active assistance, in following up the discoveries which have obtained him so much credit. They set out from Europe in Aug. 1816, simply with the intention of making a tour on the Continent. Not being literary men, they were not furnished with the means of turning to the best account, their travels in the East, when curiosity at first, and an increasing admiration of antiquities as they advanced, led them on so far beyond their original intention. But their newly acquired taste seems to have stimulated their diligence in obtaining information as they went: and their excellent tact, aided by the hints and instructions of some more experienced scholars and antiquaries whom they fell in with, has enabled them to supply, if not a very learned, yet, a competent and highly interesting account of the countries they visited, and, in particular, to make some acceptable additions to our knowledge of the topography of the Holy Land. The volume consists of six Letters. Letter I. is occupied with
Egypt and Nubia. II. Journey from Cairo to Antioch through the coast of Palestine. III. Syria. IV. The Holy Land. V. The Dead Sea and surrounding country. V]. Asia Minor.
The first Letter is a very entertaining narrative of the Voyage to the Second Cataract, which our Authors undertook in company with Messrs Beechey and Belzoni : their principal object was, to open the great Temple of Ebsambal, the model of which has since been exhibited in this country. This part of the volume possesses the least share of originality, owing to the details having been already given to the public by Mr. Belzoni* ;
and Dr. Richardson's admirable “ Travels in Egypt,” &c. have not left much room for novelty in describing the same route. The narrative begins, where the French army stopped, at Phile. The party ascended the Nile to Elpha, the last habitable place to which the Nubian boats ascend, intending to prosecute their course beyond the Second Cataract on asses and camels : but they were deceived and thwarted by the natives. The landscape at this point is well described : an interesting lithographic sketch illustrates the text, which we regret that we cannot give.
· The spot from whence we surveyed the (second) cataract was a projecting cliff, about two hundred feet high, with a perpendicular precipice down to the river side: from this place, which is on the western bank, you look down on the cataract to great advantage. It presents a fine coup d'œil. The river here runs E.N. E. and W.S.W. In America, this would be called a rapid, there being no fall visible; only an immense cluster of innumerable black rocks, with the Nile running in all directions with great rapidity, and much noise between them : they fill up the whole breadth of the river, which may be about two miles wide ; and they extend as far as the eye can reach, altogether making a space of about tea miles of rapids, three below the rock on which we stood, and seven above. The scenery is here remarkably wild, there being no human habitation visible excepting a fisherman's hut on one of the islands, and the village of Elpha on the opposite side of the river in the distance. Some of the rocks have beds of yellow sand on them, and most of the islands have small trees and shrubs growing in the crevices. The verdure of these, contrasted with the sand and black rocks, produces a fine effect. In front and on both sides, the view is bounded by the desert ; to the southward are the tops of two high mountains rearing their heads above the hills, and apparently seventy or eighty miles distant. The western bank of the river is richly covered with trees and shrubs; and it is curious to observe, immediately beyond the green margin, the barren desert without the least vestige of verdure.'
* See Eclectic Review, N. S. Vol. XV. p. 497.
Ebsambal was the highest point to which Sir F. Henniker ascended. At his arrival, the sand had again covered up the dour-way of the Temple, and the natives represented that it would be a labour of thirty men and twelve days, to effect an entrance.
• To prove that they are not to be believed,' he says, • I forced in a pole; round this I wound a sheet, and having spread another upon the surface of the sand to prevent it from flowing down upon us, we succeeded, after seven hours' exertion, in constructing a kind of wind-sail or chimney. By means of this I entered.'
Having amused himself for four hours with inspecting the interior, he began to think of making his escape, which was not so easy as entering. He had to work against the stream, for, wherever he forced his knee, the sand from above, being undermined, poured down as subtle as quicksilver. At length, his dragoman came forward, and with great exertion managed to drag him through. Sir Frederick now resolved to turn his boat northward, well contented to finish his journey in this part, with having seen the noblest monument of antiquity • that is to be found on the banks of the Nile.'
• There is no • temple of either Thebes, Dendera, or Phile, that can be put ' in competition with it.'
Captains Irby and Mangles, in returning, visited the Temples of Derry, Amada, Sabour, Offidena, Dekki, Garbe Girshe, Garbe Dendour, Kalapsche, and Daboud; all which, besides the two small temples of Teffa, and extensive ruins at Hindaw, lie on the banks between Ebsambal and Philæ. Sir Frederick enumerates, in the reversed order in which he visited them, and with the arbitrary variation of orthography which is so perplexing, yet perhaps unavoidable, the temples at Debood, Kardassy, Kalesshy, Dondour, Gwersh-Hassan, Dakky, Korty, Maharrag, Sabouah, and Dehr. Several of these appear to have been used as Christian churches. The interior of the sanctuary of the temple at Armada,
is daubed over with plaster, and modern Greek paintings of the twelve apostles, saints, &c. Underneath this plaster, however, the ancient Egyptian figures and hieroglyphics, &c., in bas relief, appear: they have been executed in a very superior style, and the colouring has been rich beyond description. Some modern sun-burnt-brick ruins attached to the Temple, may have been additions by the Greeks.' Irby and Mangles. p. 94.
The Greek Christians are supposed also to have made a chapel of the small unfinished temple at Offidena. On the walls of a fragment of some detached building here, are
three figures in intaglio, evidently not Egyptian,' and either of ancient Greek or Roman workmanship.
Philce is the easternmost of a groupe of islets and granite rocks composing the first cataract, which, according to Sir Frederick Henniker, is not more formidable than London • bridge.' • The surface of the stream, which has hitherto been * rippled to the extent of fifty yards, now becomes smooth. • I ask, where are the cataracts ? and am informed that we • have passed them. Both of these Writers, on taking leave of Nubia, offer some general remarks, of which we shall transcribe the most important and characteristic.
Immediately beyond the First Cataract, the Mockatem and Lybian chains of mountains close upon the Nile, so as to leave only a narrow strip of cultivated land on either side. The ancients, to preserve the soil from being washed away by the rapid course of the river, constructed immense piers of huge masses of stone, reaching into the river, from the foot of the mountain, or the limit of the Nile's rising, to the point of the lowest ebb.
• These piers are invariably built at right angles with the stream, and are generally about fifteen feet wide. As they are very numerous, and as the labour and expense of their construction must have been prodigious, some idea may thence be formed of the importance attached to them. From the number of temples, and from the fine plains of loamy soil, now generally covered with a surface of sand a foot thick, which makes them look like the rest of the desert, there is every reason to suppose that this country was once both populous and Hourishing. At the time of the height of Egyptian power, it was considered as an integral part of the state : this is evident from the figures and devices in the temples having every resemblance to those of Egypt. Of the land of Nubia which might be cultivated, I do not suppose one fourth is made use of: this indifference to agricultural pursuits proceeds from the despotic system of the Government. The consequence is, that the date.palm, the fruit of which ripens without any human aid, and which pays no duty, is here more encouraged than any other production : and dates may safely be called the staple of the country. The doura (the holcus arundinaceus of Linnæus) is the only grain to be met with : it makes very good bread, but they grow barely sufficient for their own subsistence : indeed, it is so prized, that they frequently preferred it to money, in payment for the articles we purchased. The miri, or land-tax, is paid at the rate of ten dollars per sackey, (water-wheel): consequently, every sackey which the Nubians build, becomes an additional inducement to the Turks to come into their country, and it is only the scantiness of the produce which keeps the Pasha from quartering his troops on them. This the crafiy natives are well aware of, and they take care to put no temptation in his way.
The duty is paid not in cash, but in doura.