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CHAPTER XVII.

Soil of Egypt— The Delta—Breadth of the Valley of the Nile

Mahomed Ali's Principal Ministers-Egyptian Architecture-Recollections and Anecdotes.

The productive soil of Egypt, for the most part, is constituted by the deposited mud of the Nile: and the Delta is an entirely alluvial formation. The French savans ascertained the depth of the mud by sinking wells in various places, and the result of their investigations may be found in Denon. The base of the Delta is one hundred and fifty miles, or thereabouts, in extent, and the sides of the Isosceles are about one hundred miles. It has been called by various names, for it by no means resembles minutely the Greek letter. Scylax denominates it Tinexus ; the natives, Rab, or Rib; at the present day softened into Erif, from its resemblance to half of a pear ; and Bahari, or the maritime country. The word Rahab of the scriptures evidently points to this district. The cultivable land in Egypt may be reckoned at sixteen thousand square miles; that is, by allowing for the lateral valleys springing from the Delta, and giving ten miles in width to the Said, or Upper Egypt. M. Giraud again, and others, have only allowed nine miles of breadth for the elongated valley between Syene and Cairo, and, for the quantity of soil available for the purposes of husbandry, about eleven thousand square miles. Nearly the one half of the country is irrigated, either by the periodical overflows of the river, or by artificial means. The fertility of this one-half has continued the same for three thousand years—one, and even two crops, being the annual return, without any abatement. . The uninundated portion of the country is scanty, nay, almost sterile of crops.

The Kiaya Bey is the prime minister of the country, and the principal judge. The Agha of the Janissaries has the command of the forces. The Oualy is at the head of the police; the Bachyagha has the internal regulation of the city. The robbers appear to be almost a corporated band ; they have a chief, who is well known to the police, and, in case of robbery, he is put under arrest until the actual delinquent be discovered. Each considerable city is divided into quarters, like the arrondissements of Paris, and chooses a chief, who watches over the peace of a particular district.

The Porte, in former times, sent a minister of justice to Grand Cairo, who there discharged his office for a year ---departing thence to Jedda for a similar period, and returning, after its expiration, to Constantinople. Strange as it may appear, this semblance of inferiority to the Porte is still preserved by Mahomed Ali, so much has it been his object to conciliate, in every way, the Divan of the Sultan, whilst, in his heart, he fancies himself as great as any potentate of Europe. The above high officer is the interpreter only of the law; under him are inferior cadis, who are mullahs, and the sheiks. One of the principal employments of the judges seems to be passing sentences of divorce : the contending parties, husband and wife, invariably plead their cause in person, making charges in homely naked language, and producing and examining their own witnesses, &c.

The Khaznadar is the treasurer ; the Divan Effendi, comptroller of the merchandize for foreign consumption ; the Selicdar is the leader of the household troops, and the Anactar-Aghassi, keeper of the Garde Meuble.'

The standing army of Mahomed reckoned at twenty-eight thousand men, composing effective corps of infantry and cavalry. They are dispersed all over his dominions, both proper and tributary: the secret easiest of discovery, by an absolute prince, being the necessity of a standing army. The troops of the Viceroy are distri

may be

MAHOMED'S ARMY.-RELIGIOUS SECTS.

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buted throughout Arabia, Nubia and Sennaar, the Said, Lower Egypt, Kardofan, Cairo, Alexandria, Rosetta, Bourlos, Aboukir, and Damietta. The principal encampments are on the Damietta and Rosetta branches of the Nile. Mahomed has a fine field of artillery. His troops are drilled after the European custom, and his principal military adviser is Colonel Sève, a renegade Frenchman of Napoleon's army, who has taken the name of Suliman Bey. All religions are tolerated; those of Europe under the sanction of their respective consuls. There are several establishments of Catholic Copts, and a good sprinkling of Propagandist missionaries. In the country, a great many Syrian Greeks are found, some of whom are considerable merchants. Besides this class, there is a numerous order of Schismatic Greeks. They have chapels in Cairo, and some other towns, and are governed by a patriarch of their own order : they speak the Arab dialect, but are easily distinguished by their difference of features. There are between three and four thousand Jews in Egypt. They have regular quarters at Cairo, and synagogues. In their persons, they are filthy, covered over with sores and scabs, and have running eyes, all which is the effect of the dirt in which they are born and bred. Their attachment to their place of birth is extravagant; according to M. Mangin, he met a female of the Egyptian sect at Paris, who, with an accent of bitter regret, exclaimed, “ Ah! Monsieur, où est le Caire, où est le quartier Juif?” The Copts are supposed to be the descendants of the antient Egyptians, and, at the present day, are the universal clerks of the country. They are Christians, and have a patriarch, who nominates to the Archbishopric of Gondar.

This sect is extremely austere, with something like a Quakerish singularity of manner--their look is staid, their vestments simple, their demeanour according to the strict order of the ritual, their ceremonies precise, and they are uniform in their hours of rising and repose, of eating, drinking, in their spousal ceremonials, and the ordinary usages of life.

At Alexandria and Cairo are various houses of European merchants, consisting of English, French, Italian, and German. There is little doubt but that Egypt would become, if her resources were properly administered, one of the most prosperous countries of the globe. Independently of her central situation, between the three great divisions of the antient world, and the facility she possesses for a traffic with India and China, she has an exhaustless mine of wealth in her native river, which, in its periodical inundations, renews the soil, giving it a perpetual youth and vigour, whilst the ground of other countries, by over cultivation, becomes exhausted, and requires the expenditure of a store of wealth, to bring it into any thing like a remunerative capability. The deserts which surround Egypt may be considered as impregnable and ever

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