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nected by the same language, the same writing, and the same religion.*
Thus we find, that in proportion as we ascend into the early ages of human history the closer becomes the connexion between Egypt and Ethiopia. The Hebrew writers seldom mention the one without the other; and the inhabitants of both are usually described as a commercial people. When Isaiah celebrates the victories of Cyrus, their submission is spoken of as his most magnificent reward. When Jeremiah extols the great victory of Nebuchad nezzar over Pharaoh-Necho at Carchemish, the Ethiopians are allied to the Egyptians; and when Ezekiel threatens the downfall of Egypt, he unites it with the most distant Ethiopia. Whence this general and early spread of a name which glimmers in the oral history of so many nations, and which is renowned as well by Jewish poets as by Grecian bards? Whence this fame of the Ethiopians, while the deserts which surrounded their land seemed to form an eternal barrier between them and the inhabitants of the north? These questions cannot be satisfactorily answered, except by allowing the early civilization which history and tradition unite in ascribing to the sacerdotal states that sprang from Meroë.
We are not ignorant that, in maintaining the obligations of Egypt to the more ancient Ethiopia for her learning, civilization, and knowledge of the arts, we have to encounter the opposition of several learned writers, whose opinions on this subject have been determined by an inspection of the Nubian valley. It is obvious, no doubt, that the narrow limits of the latter country, hemmed in between a double range of barren mountains, which occasionally protrude their rocks to the very margin of the river, could not have supplied the means of luxurious refinement to a great nation. But it is equally certain, on the other hand, that beyond the confines of Nubia there are extensive and most fertile regions, which, aided by the periodical overflow of the Nile and the influence of a tropical sun, were capable of supporting in the utmost comfort a very large population. Besides, Ethiopia, from her natural position,
surrounded by deserts which no stranger could penetrate, and by mountains
Lettres de Turin
almost inaccessible, enjoyed a degree of security highly favourable to her progress in the liberal arts; while the adventurous inhabitants of the contiguous wildernesses, who carried on her trade, connected her with Arabia and India on the one hand, and with the shores of the Mediterranean on the other. It was not perhaps till the days of Solomon that the Red Sea was uesd as the channel of trade for Syria and Palestine, when the mariners of Arabia had acquired sufficient confidence to navigate all the gulf, and to visit the shores of the ocean beyond the straits. Prior to that period the rich produce of the East was conveyed by the crratic hordes of the desert, who, preferring the short passage at Azab or Masuah, pushed forward with their loads to the upper regions of the Nile.
The possession of wealth lays the best foundation for learning and the arts; and the perusal of ancient history will convince every reader, that in the early stages of society these are devoted to the decoration and advancement of religion. The stately temple is seen to rise long before any attention is paid to the comforts of private life ; and the precious metals, as well as the richest spices and perfumes, are lavished on the instruments of worship, while as yet the blessings of civilization are very sparingly enjoyed by the mass of the people. On this subject, instead of entering into details unsuited to the nature of our undertaking, we refer to the Essay by Heeren on the Trade of the African Nations.
Geographical Outlines of Nubia and Abyssinia. Plan to be followed in this Chapter-Nubian Valley-Sterility-Former
Cultivation-Dondour-Derr-Ibrim-Wady Halfa-Second Cataract -Beauty of Country in Dongola-Benefits of the Nile-Temple of Soleb-Elegance of the Building-Kingdom of Merawe-Gebel el Berkal-El Bellal-Hypothesis in regard to Meroë-Opinions of Ptolemy, Herodotus, Strabo-Sheygyans--Ishmael Pasha-Third Cataract-Berber-Shendy el Garb-Shendy-Junction of the White and Blue Rivers-Sennaar-Climate-Inhabitants-ManufacturesExpeditions by the Troops under the Pasha-Bravery of the Natives -Description of the Cty of Sennaar--Advance of Egyptian Army into Fazoglo-El Queribyn-Kilgou-Singueh--Conflicts with the Natives at Tåhy and Gassi-Reception at Fazoglo-Return to SennaarAquaro-River Toumat-Quamamyl - Ishmael disappointed as to Gold and Slaves ---Poncet's Account of Sennaar-Abyssinia-Its Extent -Political Geography-Kingdoms and Provinces --Amhara-TigréShoa, and the Eastern Coast.
It is our intention to consider as one country the extensive space which is bounded by the Nile on the west, and the Red Sea on the east; and which, when measured from south to north, has for its limits the tenth and twenty-fourth degrees of latitude. In this compass we necessarily include Nubia, Dongola, Sennaar, and Abyssinia, the states of the Shangalla, as well as the wild districts inhabited by the ancient Troglodytes and Fish-eaters. There is, it must be acknowledged, a considerable diversity in the lineage of the people, their history, speech, and religious usages ; but at The same time they possess so many things in common, that it appears much more convenient to place them under one point of view than to interrupt the narrative by a detail of minute distinctions. We shall therefore, in delineating the geographical distributions of this large portion of Eastern Africa, ascend the Nile in the footsteps of the best-informed travellers, until we reach the boundaries of recent discovery in the southern provinces of the kingdom of Sennaar ; and, after turning to the bank of the Blue River, make our progress eastward through Abyssinia to the shores of the ocean and the Arabian Gulf.
No sooner does the traveller pass the cataract of Es Souan than he finds himself in Nubia, a country of which it is now impossible to fix the precise extent. Indeed, we cannot otherwise define it than by saying, that it occupies the valley of the Nile from Philæ to Dongola, and is bounded on either side by formidable deserts, which can only be crossed by large bodies of men assisted by that useful animal the camel. The first section, which terminates at Ibrîm, has been so long subject to Egypt that it is usually known as Turkish Nubia ; but we are told that the natives of the upper country, who roam in comparative independence as far as the second cataract, restrict the proud name to their own land, which, till lately, spurned the dominion of every foreign sword.
For a considerable distance above Syené, the mountains press so closely on the banks of the river, that there is very little ground on either side for the purposes of agriculture ; and the small portion that is suitable for raising a crop is continually threatened by the approach of the sand which the winds of the desert carry towards the stream. From the structure of the valley, through which the Nile here forces a passage, it is obvious that there could not at any time have been an extensive population. The labour of man would have exerted its powers in vain against the sterility of nature, which amid rocks and shingle, occupies, by an everlasting tenure, a wide domain in the Lower Nubia. But beyond the parallel of Wady Halfa, as we have already remarked, there is ample space for the great nations which are said to have flourished in Ethiopia. At the southern termination of the second cataract immense plains stretch out from the margin of the river, manifesting even in their present neglected state the most unequivocal symptoms of a prolific soil.
Nor can there be any doubt that, in former ages, the annual inundation carried its riches much beyond the limits of modern cultivation. The rocky barriers, which now scarcely oppose an obstacle to navigation, must at one period have checked the current so materially as to throw back the water on all the level land on both sides of the contiguous valley. The voice of tradition in this case is not to be altogether despised. On the contrary, we must believe that there was some ground for the descriptions of the ancient historians, who represent the falls of the Nile as accompanied with a great rush and a deafening noise ; indicating that the rocky shelves, which have been broken and washed down by the weight of the yearly flood, extended from bank to bank at a considerable elevation. Even in the northern district of Nubia, where the dominion of the desert is now indisputably established, the sources of fertility would he much greater than in our days; and indeed, without assuming the means of supporting an affluent people, we shall find no small difficulty in accounting for the costly temples and other edifices, the remains of which may be traced from Elephantine to Sennaar.
The first five miles after leaving Philæ, the course of the navigator is south-by-east, then it turns towards the west, and finally resumes the former direction. The first object that attracts his attention is Debode, a village situated on the left bank of the river, where are the ruins of a small temple. Here the Nile flows in a regular deep stream, for the most part washing the base of the eastern and western mountains ; but wherever the inundation has covered the rocks with soil, or has even thrown up mounds of sand and mud, such spots are cultivated and planted with date-trees. A succession of hamlets meet the eye on both sides as the traveller proceeds into the Nubian valley ; but few of them are of so much consequence as to deserve our notice. Dondour is remarkable for a small temple, still in considerable preservation, of which a distinct idea may be formed by examining the drawing inserted in Mr. Legh's amusing narrative. The greater part of the enclosure is quite perfect and the propylon also is very little injured ; but the inside, it would appear, has never been completed. There are two columns, which must have formed the entrance into the building, and which are ornamented with serpents. The inner shrine, or sekos, consists as usual of three apartments; the first measures eighteen feet in length and twenty in breadth ; the columns are three feet in diameter, and the height, ascending to the top of the cornice is nearly seventeen feet. The winged globes on the architraves of the temple and propylon are supported in the wonted manner by two serpents. The hieroglyphies are relieved and