Sivut kuvina

night of a strong east wind-the Septuagint calls it a south wind, and St. Jerome, rather uncandidly, uses the participle urens, but all the expressions point to a wind from the south or east, or from the hot quarter, in fact to the commencement of the Khamaseen, for which the exact period had arrived-drove back the water in the lagoons connected with the Mediterranean. Those of the Arabian Gulf, and its connected lakes, must on the contrary have been raised by this wind; so that it is evident from which sea danger was to be apprehended. Through the very district of the Ym Suph, over the edge of or between the lagoons from which the water had been driven back by the force of the wind, the one body fled, and the other pursued. In the morning, the sea returned with a change of wind. The expression used by St. Jerome, primo diluculo, which has been followed in the when the morning appeared of the authorised version, is more correctly indicated by the Septuagirit as meaning towards the east,' a. phrase which corresponds to the previously described effect of the west wind in reducing the level of the water. Referring only to the physical phenomena indicated by the passage, the whole account is as clear and consistent, according to this view of the nature of the locality, as it is perplexing and unintelligible if referred to a passage over the ten fathom deep channel of the Arabian Gulf, or even over the site of the Bitter Lakes at the head of that gulf, in the whole of which an easterly wind raises, and a westerly wind depresses, the level of the waters.

The map of Egypt by M. Linant de Bellefonds, to which reference was previously made, inserts imaginary stations on the march of the Israelites with no less precision than it indicates the sites of existing structures. It has the misfortune to define the point of the crossing the isthmus by Moses as between the Bitter Lakes and the present head of the Gulf of Suez; a position for the selection of which no distinct reason can be adduced, and which is liable to the fatal objection that a westerly or southerly wind would raise the waters, instead of depressing them, as described in the Pentateuch. If Josephus drew on other sources than his imagination in describing the mountain which shut in the line of march, he may have very well referred to the plateau of El Guisr, in which the ruin of the Serapeum is found. Every expression used with reference to the Exodus is consistent with the idea of a passage through the reedy marshes between the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf lagoons, which would have protected either flank of the expedition, and thus made the waters, in the language of the country, a wall to the fugitives on either hand. The identification of the Ym Suph with the Gulf of Suez, is not only entirely imaginative, but is a leap in the dark which can only throw undue discredit on a venerable record, the true sense of which had become obscured, by the date of the translation in the timc of Ptolemy II., by the physical changes of the locality:

Egypt at the present hour is thus far what she was 6,300 years ago. She is at once one of the best practical schools which can be found for the engineer, and one of the localities where the skill of the engineer can most richly augment the products of nature. The first great work of which the oldest tradition embalmed in the pages of Herodotus gives note was one almost identical in its nature with one of the last undertaken by a Mussulman prince. The dam which Menes is related to have built across the Nile cannot have been placed in a very different situation from that which was selected by the engineers of Mehemet Ali. The actual distance between the two stations appears to be about 15 miles; and an engineering reason for the change may be found in the higher level now attained by the Nile flood, in consequence of the growth of the delta during a period of 6,300 years

. The Nile formerly flowed close to the western suburbs and gardens of Cairo, from which it is now from half a mile to a mile distant.

The plain of Boolak, seven miles long, and at least a mile and a half wide, is said in the notes to Lane's ·Modern Egyptians' to have been formed within a period of 200 years. Thus, independently of the general encroachment of Egypt on the sea, local displacements and changes, so easy to be effected in an alluvial soil of 100 feet in depth, have advanced at a rapid pace. It is only by the remains of human work, or by the occurrence of solid rocks, which formerly were islands, that any ancient sites can now be positively identified in Lower Egypt. But between the character of the engineering works of the early Thinite dynasties, and those of the Moslem Viceroy, there is that difference which exists between the labour of men and the petulant toil of children. The former built, if not for eternity, yet for a duration to be measured by millenniums. The latter, by a barbaric impatience, so hurried the work undertaken for barring the Nile, in 1847, that the rise of 15 feet which it was intended thus to secure has never been approached. The utmost difference in level for which the engineers have dared to trust to the strength of the dam is under 6 feet; and no doubt is entertained that the head of water would blow up the dam and destroy all the work of the barrage long before it rose to the moderate height originally

anticipated. Thus a work which is admirable in design, and accordant with the most ancient tradition of the former grandeur of the country, has proved little more than a ridiculous failure; and that not so much in consequence of the want of professional skill, as owing to the barbarism of the Government of Egypt.

That enormous wealth might be drawn from the delta by well-executed works of irrigation, there is not a shadow of a doubt. Sugar, cotton, rice and indigo, for which the climate of Egypt is suited, are summer crops, and cannot be raised there without irrigation. The summer discharge of the Nile is as low as 40,000,000 cubic yards of water per diem. There are three and a half millions of acres of cultivable land in Lower Egypt, out of which only about one-fourteenth part is irrigated by the rude chain pumps, worked by oxen, which are known by the name of Sakiehs. Twenty-six cubic yards of water per acre per diem are required for the irrigation of land producing summer crops, and rice requires nearly three times that supply. The former quantity is about equal to a daily rainfall of onefifth of an inch. The irrigation of a million of acres would consume more than half the volume of the Nile at its lowest, and it may be very questionable how far it would be practically safe to abstract so large a quantity of water from the channel during the dry season immediately preceding the inundation.

The volume of the river must also place a limit to such an effort to restore the fertility of the district above the cataracts, as may otherwise be considered to be within the reach of engineering science. It is probable that the effect of earthquakes in destroying the natural barriers of the cataracts, has tended to the desolation of Nubia. Measurements on the face of the rock at Semneh, above the second cataract, prove the rupture of a great barrier across the river lower down at some period later than the twentieth century B.C. Sir Gardner Wilkinson is of opinion that this barrier existed at Silsilis. From this point to the delta the Nile continually diminishes in volume by evaporation. The supply needed for irrigation above this spot might have been far more readily spared 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, when the delta had attained only about a third part of its actual area before Memphis, than would now be the case. But in regarding the possible advantages to be drawn from the barrage of the stream, attention should not be exclusively confined to the delta. The effect of welldesigned works in the vicinity of the cataracts is a subject well worth the attention of the Government of Egypt.

Whatever view be taken of the best method of utilising the annual bounty of the Nile, the fact of the great amount of deposit which it annually brings down is one that can no longer be matter of doubt. It is possible that the foregoing estimate may require some correction. It is, however, based on positive data ; and the accordance between the cubic quantities estimated by Mr. Fowler, and the successive boundaries of the delta indicated by Herodotus, by Strabo, and by Admiral Spratt, is so close as to show that there cannot be any very serious error in either statement. That the seaward extension of the delta has of late years been but small, in consequence of the protrusion of the coast being diminished by the eastward movement of the deposit caused by the prevailing currents, after the shelter of Aboukir Point was lost, is probable enough. The form of the cordons joining the lagoons is conclusive as to the character of this littoral movement. The surveys of Captain Nares and Captain Wharton tell us of its effect on the neighbourhood of Port Said.

It is high time that it should be generally known that the results of the observations of these able hydrographers have been reduced to definite form, and that the question of the encroachment of the shore at Port Said has been removed from the category of subjects on which it is possible for educated men to hold widely divergent opinions.

We have no space to refer to the observations of Admiral Spratt on the growth of the delta of the Danube; a matter of no small European interest. We must be content if we have been able to call the attention of the engineer, the hydrographer, and the geographer to the activity and importance of the changes which river action is at this moment effecting; and to the need of collecting full and adequate observations on the various elements requisite for the solution of the general problem. The areas of water-shed basins, the amount of rainfall, the inclination of the zone of erosion, the measurement of the volume of the river at its mouth, the quantity of solid matters held in solution or suspension in its waters throughout the year, the growth of deltas and cordons as ascertained by actual survey-such are the points which it is needful to study, and we hope that every fresh occasion may be seized to add exact information to our knowledge of them.

ART. V. -The Paston Letters. A New Edition. Edited by

JAMES GAIRDNER, of the Public Record Office. 3 vols. London : 1872-75. A BOUT four years ago we briefly noticed the first volume of

this new edition of the Paston Letters,' for which the public is indebted to the enterprise of Mr. Arber and the critical skill of Mr. Gairdner. At that time, the history of the originals of this most interesting correspondence was, to uso Mr. Gairdner's words, mysterious.' Of five bulky volumes, those of only one, the fifth, were known to exist, while the letters from which the four first had been printed by Sir John Fenn in 1788 and 1789 were entirely lost. The original letters of volumes one and two had been presented by Fenn to George III., to whom the work had been dedicated as the avowed patron of antiquarian knowledge ;' and, as an acknowledgment of the value of the gift, the editor was summoned to court and received the honour of knighthood. It was on May 23, 1787, that Fenn was knighted, and on the same day the original letters, bound in three volumes, were presented to the king. This, one would have thought, would have been the surest way to preserve them, short of depositing them in the British Museum. They might have been looked for in the library of the king, now among the National Collections in Bloomsbury, or in one of the royal palaces. Strange to say, those volumes have never been found. They have hardly been heard of since that May 23, 1787, now nearly ninety years ago; though there is a tradition that they were last seen in the hands of old Queen Charlotte, who, it is supposed, must have · lent them to one of her ladies in attendance. If so, we may carry on the supposition, and suppose that the lady-inwaiting lent them to a lord-in-waiting, who in turn lent them to some one else. If they have escaped the inevitable butterman, they may yet turn up in some private collection, and it has been suggested that it would be a bright feather in the cap of the Historical Manuscripts Commission if they could ferret out and bring to light documents so valuable for English History. But this was not the whole of the mystery' connected with the originals of the Paston Letters. For a long time those of the three remaining volumes which had not been presented to the king were equally undiscoverable. It seemed 80 strange that the actual documents contained in five volumes should have vanished from the face of the earth, that unbelieving critics arose, who declared that there never were any

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