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The title given to Ali by the sheriff, in gratitude for his being raised by Ali to that honour, was “Sultan of Egypt and the Two Seas.” The Mediterranean and the Red Sea, near the laşt of which the territory of Mecca lay, while the principal ports of Egypt were on the other, are, undoubtedly, the two seas that were meant. The answerable passage to this title in the book of Judith is in its 1st chapter, ver. 12, Therefore Nabuchodonosor was very angry with all this country, and sware by his throne and kingdom ..... that he would slay with his sword all the inhabitants of theland of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and all Judæa, and all that were in Egypt, till you come to the borders of the two seas. It appears then to have been an ancient
practice, to describe Egypt as bordering on those two seas; nor has that way of pointing it out sunk into oblivion in these later ages.
Bathing in the Nile, one Mode of expressing
Gratitude for the Benefits received from the overflowing of that River.
The people of Egypt, particularly the females of that country, express their veneration for the benefits received from the Nile, by
* Revolt of Ali Bey, p. 104. VOL. III.
plunging into it, at the time of its beginning to overflow the country: is it not probable, that the daughter of Pharaoh's going into that river, when Moses was found in his bull-rusb ark, arose from something of the same cause ? a veneration, perhaps, carried farther than that of the present inhabitants of Egypt, and of an idolatrous kind ?
It has ever appeared somewhat strange to me, that a princess of Egypt should bathe in the river itself, and in the neighbourhood of a royal city, in waters so remarkable in all ages, for being covered with boats and crowds of people; and that in the East, where the women so scrupulously concealed their faces, by large veils, from the sight of men : a practice then in use, as well as now.
Much freer as the northern nations are in exposing themselves, it would have been thought, I should imagine, a most indecent thing in a princess of England to have gone from Whitehall, with her attendants about her, to bathe in the Thames, while those attendants amused themselves by walking on the side of the river.
This has so struck commentators, that some of them have seemed to suppose she did not bathe in the Nile, but in some bason of water in the royal gardens, which had a communication with the river, and might therefore be considered as a part of it; but, in such a case, the ark with the infant would not have been in view. Others suppose some highly ornamented edifice of wood might have been constructed in the river, something like our modern bathing machines, into which the princess might enter, and bathe there in perfect security from the prying eye; at the same time that through some small latticed window she might see the little vessel, in which the babe lay: her attendants walking about on the banks, not merely for their diversion, but that the princess might not be disturbed in her privacy.
i Exod. ii. 5.
Vain accounts these! as we find no mention made of any such conveniencies anciently, nor even now, though the present inhabitants of Egypt bathe as much, both for their health, and from superstition, as they could do in the time of Pharaoh' ; and have a very distinguishing regard still for the Nile. But instead of any structures of this sort, the present race of Egyptians, notwithstanding the ncarness of the Nile, have just such hummums, or structures for bathing, in their cities, as are found in other Eastern countries, to which those of the lower ranks resort, those in higher life having such conveniences at home, so fond are the great of retirement in bathing, as well as those in other countries.
Perhaps the following passages, from Irwin's Travels, may lead to the true solution of what appears so extraordinary, in this account of the Egyptian princess. Wednesday, 13th August
We were awakened from our first sleep by the
sounds of tinkling instruments, accompanied by a chorus of female voices. I looked out of the window, and saw a band, of thirty damsels at least, come tripping towards us, with measured paces, and animated gestures. The moon shone very bright, and we had a full view of them, from their entering the gate of our street, until they reached our house. Here they stopped, and spreading themselves in a circle before the door, renewed the dance and song with infinite spirit, and recalled to our minds the picture which is so fully given of these dancing females in Holy Writ. After they had favoured us a few minutes with their lively performance, they moved on to the Hakeem's house, and serenading him with an air or two, this joyous band quitted our quarter, and went, as the dying sounds informed us, to awaken the other slumberers of the town, to melody and joy! &c.
“ Thursday, 14th August. We were impatient to know the cause of the agreeable disturbance we met with last night, and learn from one of our guard, that the dancing girls observe the ceremony we were witness to, on the first visible rise of the Nile. It seems that they took our house in their way to the river, where they went down to bathe at that late hour, and to sing the praises of the benevolent power, who yearly distributes his waters to supply the necessities of the natives.” P. 229, 230. “ I learn,” says this author, in a succeeding page,
* A principal officer of the town of Ghinnah, in Upper Egypt, where they then were.
" that the crocodile is a most formidable tenant of the Nile, and held in great dread by the fishermen ; one of them told us, that he was present at the death of a crocodile a short time. ago, in whose belly were found the gold rings and ornaments of a dancing girl, who was devoured by the monster, ‘as she was bathing in the river,” p. 259. I would make a few remarks here upon
In the first place, Though hummums, erected for bathing, with many conveniencies for that purpose, commonly called bagnios, are very common in Egypt, yet going into the Nile, at particular times, is still practised by the Egyptian females.
Secondly, That it should seem, at those times they do not divest themselves of their clothing, though their going into the Nile is at night, and when men are supposed to be asleep in bed, or at least shut up in their respective houses. The gold rings and ornaments of the girl, that was devoured by a crocodile, were found in that destroying animal when killed soon after ; whereas in the Eastern bagnios, according to Lady Mary Wortley Montague, the women are naked." It seems then, on the contrary, when the women go into the Nile, they are not disrobed, but enter it with their clothes, and even ornaments upon them.
· Letters, vol. 1, p. 162; and vol. 3, p. 30-32.