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sea, out of which the cities and towns appear rising like so many islands; and with the departure of the water the verdure becomes most luxuriant, and the soil fertile. As soon as the river rises, it is the business of the agriculturist to clear out the canals, which are opened in September to admit the incoming water, and shut again to retain it when the river falls.
At the termination of the Egyptian valley, where the mountains diverge, is an opening through the western chain, by which the waters of the Nile are conveyed into the province of Egypt called the Fayoum. Here was situated an immense lake, to serve as a mighty reservoir of water for use when the inundation did not rise to a sufficient height, and as a drain when the land was too much flooded. Thus it was filled in an excessive, and emptied in a limited inundation. This district of the Fayoum is an appendage to the Valley of the Nile, and is one of the most valuable and fertile provinces of Egypt.
The climate is not generally considered unhealthy, but the heat is very great, and the atmosphere dry, no rain falling in Upper, and very rarely in Lower Egypt. Lightning is frequently seen, but it is seldom attended with thunder. It is owing to the dryness of the atmosphere that bread, fruits, and meal, have been found in the tombs in so good a state of preservation ; that the perfumes of ancient Egypt, even after the lapse of ages, retain their fragrance; and that the inscriptions remain uninjured and legible. The north-westerly is the most favourable and pleasant wind, and the southerly the most disagreeable and noxious. The latter prevails during April and May, and is known by the name of the Khamseen. It is described as like the blast of a furnace, dry and of intense heat. A worse kind of wind, though not so frequent, is the simoom. This blows from the south-east. The atmosphere, while it rages, is changed to a red tinge, the sun becomes of the colour of blood, sand and dust are set in violent motion, and though it seldom lasts more than half an hour, it is always a severe and trying visitation.
It is, of course, more painful in the open desert than in the cities of Egypt. Whirlwinds are not infrequent, and sand and dust are sometimes borne aloft by them to the height of five or seven hundred feet, and borne down again with such impetuosity, as to overturn and bury any object which
may come in their path. Some idea may be given of the fertility of Egypt by the statement, that the earth produces flowers and fruits during every month in the year. In November, the seeds of wheat are sown as the Nile recedes within its banks; the narcissus, the violet, the ragged robin, come out into blossom, and it is the time for gathering the dates and the sebesten plums. In December, the trees lose their foliage, but the wheat, herbs, and flowers cover the earth, and give it the aspect of a pleasant spring. January is the time for sowing lupins, beans, flax, and
other seeds; the orange tree and the pomegranate come into blossom ; the ears of wheat show themselves in Upper Egypt, and in Lower Egypt they gather the sugar-cane, senna, and clover. In the month of February, the fields are completely covered with verdure. Rice is now sown and barley reaped. Cabbages, cucumbers, and melons become ripe and ready
In March, the trees and shrubs come into flower, and the wheat sown in October and November is ready for the sickle. During the first part of the month of April occurs the harvest of roses, an important season in the district of the Fayoum. Then follows a second sowing of wheat, and the reaping of any sown in the end of the year, and clover yields a second crop. In May, wheat harvest continues ; the acacia tree and the henna plant come into blossom, and early fruits, such as grapes, figs, dates, and the fruit of the carob tree, are gathered. In June, Upper Egypt has its harvest of the sugar-cane, and July is occupied in planting rice and maize, and getting in flax and cotton, and the grapes
which abundance round Cairo. The month of August yields a third
crop of clover ; and in this month the great white lilies and jessamine come into blossom, the palm trees and vines are laden with ripe fruit, and melons have already become too watery. The gathering of oranges, citrons, tamarinds, and olives, and the harvest of rice, bring in the month of September; in October, the general sowing time comes round
again, amidst the odoriferous fragrance of the acacia and other trees. Beginning with the overflow of the Nile, four seasons have been distinguished. The first, the wet season, extending from the middle of August to December, when fever and opthalmia very frequently prevail. The second, or fruitful season, is from December to March, during which vegetation makes most rapid progress, and the sun is moderately hot, the temperature being about that of our summer months. The third season is the most unhealthy, and lasts from March to May. It is the time when the Khamseen winds prevail, and all nature feels their noxious inAuence. The fourth season is that which precedes the great inundation, and lasts from May to the time of the overflow. It will be apparent from this brief survey of the Egyptian calendar, that the land of Egypt is one on which the Creator lavishes the bounties of his providence, a granary and fruitful place in the midst of the earth, abounding with all kinds of supply for the wants of man and beast.
On the western shore of the Nile, and across the Libyan chain of mountains, are situated in the midst of the desert certain districts of fertility and verdure, which have long since received the name of Oases. The word is a Coptic term, denoting an inhabited place, but has now become adopted into the English language. These cases are surrounded by the sands of the desert, and possess springs of water in the midst of the sterile waste. Poetically,
they have been celebrated as isles of the blessed in the midst of the sandy ocean, which presents no trifling barrier in the path of the traveller who may wish to pay them a visit. Across this desert there is no beaten track, the sands being always shifting, and water becoming occasionally of fearful value. In these scenes it is that the optical delusion known as the mirage often occurs—the deceptive appearance of water in the midst of the sandy plain. The oases are four in number, the largest being that of El Kargeh. It is situated seven days' journey from Thebes, and is formed by several springs of water, which fertilize tracts of ground around them, inviting and delicious to the eye of the traveller who has crossed the desert. This oasis is reckoned to comprise one hundred miles, but this estimate includes the intermediate desert between the fertile tracts. Here are the ruins of a temple and a grove of palm trees, and a city named Kargeh, the eastern side of which overlooks the desert. It has considerable population, and there are besides several towns and villages on this oasis, with their temples and burying-places. One hundred miles from the great oasis is another, the western, or oasis of Dakel, inhabited by Bedouin Arabs, who live in twelve villages. Considerable quantities of indigo are manufactured in one of these villages, of which there is a large export. The little oasis, that of Bakariah, lies considerably to the north of these already mentioned. Its capital is Kasr, and it has four