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times the water is raised from the river to the high banks by bullocks traversing up and down an inclined plane. They appear to have been known,' says Captain Chesney, and used, in Mesopotamia, from the earliest times; and the river's bank is quite covered with them, all at work, and producing all the fertility of Egypt, as far inwards as irrigation is extended; beyond which the country is, generally speaking, a desert.'
From Hit to Hilla or Babylon, little is seen but the black tents of the Bedouins; the land mostly desert, with the date-tree showing itself in occasional clusters: but, on approaching Babylon, cuts and canals, for the purposes of irrigation, became more frequent. Two streams, one above, the other below, the ruins of Babylon, take the common eastern name of Nile. For about thirty miles below Hilla, both banks are crowded with mud villages, embedded in date-trees; and to these may be added a multitude of huts, formed of and supported by bundles of reeds placed slanting, at four or six feet apart, and covered with matting of the same material; villages of this kind are hereabouts exceedingly numerous, and generally built around a sort of mud fortress, with semicircular towers and battlements, inclosing a space sufficiently large to secure all the grain from depredation.
Lower down, towards Lemlun, the country being level, and the banks little raised above the river, irrigation is carried on by the simple operation of a lever, moveable on a pole, having a leather bucket at one extremity and a basket of stones at the other, being the same that is used in Egypt and Spain; and, we may add, in the garden-grounds beyond Hammersmith. The banks are here covered with cultivation, fringed with a double and nearly continuous belt of luxuriant date-trees, extending down to the Persian Gulf; and attaining,' says Captain Chesney, 'a degree of perfection, with a variety of productiveness, fur beyond those of the Nile.'
At Lemlun, the Euphrates throws off its branches, forming a delta, which is said by Captain Chesney to resemble that of Damietta; and here, when the river is swollen, the country is inundated, to the extent of sixty miles in width, covering the fertile rice-fields known by the name of the Lemlun Marshes. Here, as in Egypt, the huts of the peasantry are surrounded by water; and it is no uncommon occurrence to see a whole village afloat, and the people following on foot, or in their canoes, to arrest the materials of their dwellings, which are erected on the same spots, and exposed to the same disaster, the following year.
At fifty miles below Lemlun, the marshes terminate; and here the river is greatly increased in depth and width, by a junction of a branch of the Tigris, called the Hie-taking a breadth of about
three hundred yards as far as Shuge Shug, inundating the country on the left bank, when swollen, and, at the same time, irrigating the right one. At Korna, about three hundred and fifty miles below Hilla, the main branch of the Tigris joins the Euphrates, where it takes the name of Shut ul Arab, which it keeps down to the sea, varying in breadth from five hundred to nine hundred yards, with a depth from three to five fathoms; both banks covered with villages, the land smiling with cultivation, and the scenery, as our traveller says, wearing an imposing and majestic appearance.
The whole distance, by the course of the river, from Bir to Bussora, is calculated, by Chesney, at 1143 miles; and, throughout this distance, he is of opinion that, from the time the Euphrates begins to rise to that when it has reached almost its lowest point, no insuperable impediments are offered to its navigation by steam. In January, there is usually a temporary and moderate rise; but the great and regular rise begins towards the end of March, when the rains set in-and the river attains its greatest height from the 21st to the 28th of May. Its lowest state is in November. Captain Chesney is not very clear in this part of his statement, which is of great importance in deciding the point as to a constant and uninterrupted navigation of the Euphrates, more especially as, in its low state, he enumerates no fewer than thirty-nine obstructions, by rocks and shallows, between Diget-us-Laik and Bushloubford-a distance of about five hundred miles, nearly half the length of the navigation, between Bir and Bussora.-As these obstructions are stated to occur only at or about the lowest state of the river, and the greater part, if not all of them, it is said, may be passed by a steamer, properly constructed, it will not be necessary for us to notice them in detail.
Captain Chesney gives a plan of a steam-boat, which we do not much admire; this is obviously not his forte; we dare say, however, that a steam-boat like those we have alluded to on the Paisley canal, long and narrow, not drawing more than eighteen inches water, the bottom spoon-shaped, and constructed either of light wood or thin iron plates, might attempt, and perhaps succeed, to navigate the Euphrates from Bir, if thought expedient to commence so high, at all or most times of the year, but would always be liable to damage and uncertainty on account of the rocks and shoals. With regard to the supplies of provisions and fuel, we consider Captain Chesney's statements to be satisfactory. Bir contains about two thousand houses, and would supply rice, flour, poultry, &c.; of Giabar, we may say the same. Deir, the ancient Thapsacus, contains fifteen hundred houses, and would supply
plenty of provisions. Anna has eighteen hundred houses; its picturesque islands are covered with date-trees, and the surrounding country is rich. Hit, with its fifteen hundred houses, affords plenty of butcher's meat. Hilla or Babylon covers a large tract of ground with an inadequate population, not exceeding ten thousand souls, inhabiting about two thousand seven hundred houses; but the bazaars are good and well supplied with meat, fish, rice, and even luxuries; the government regular, and well disposed towards strangers. Dewania, with its fifteen hundred houses, can furnish ordinary supplies. In short, throughout the whole navigation of the river, plenty of meal and grain may be had at intervals of fifteen or twenty miles, and the Euphrates throughout abounds in fish, an excellent species of which is taken in such quantities, that Captain Chesney's boatmen purchased thirty-nine pounds in weight for 3åd.
As to fuel-wood, charcoal, bitumen, petroleum or naphtha, are to be had along the whole line of the Euphrates. At Giabar, a little below Bir, at Gasar Sadi, at Hit, and several other places, are abundant sources of this bitumen, under different states-in some places liquid, in others solid;-and from Bir to Bussora wood and charcoal may be had in any quantity. So abundant is the supply of bitumen, says Captain Chesney, that one of the ancient fountains close to Hit gives the necessary quantity for all of the extensive demands along the lower Euphrates and Bagdad.' How singular it is, that for ages past, the duration of which is hidden from man, this substance has continued to flow, inexhaustible, as it would seem! The slime,' which the descendants of Noah made use of instead of mortar,' is admitted by all the commentators to have been the liquid naphtha; we know from Herodotus that it was used in the stupendous buildings of Babylon, and the historians of Alexander testify to the fact; nay, it is still visible in the ruins of this ancient city. The dry hard flakes are sold at the rate of about 22d. per cwt.; and the naphtha, when reduced to a thick liquid, at about 11d. per cwt.-in either state much cheaper than coal in England. Small wood for fuel is not more than 1d. per cwt. When these materials are mixed, they burn with a brilliant flame and give out a strong heat; and Captain Chesney seems to think, that they would be found as cheap and equally efficient, for the sea steamer to and from Bombay, as coal.
There is another point, however, connected with the navigation of the Euphrates deserving of serious consideration: we allude to the danger to which the lives of those employed on it would be exposed. At present there is no dependence to be placed on many of the Arab tribes bordering on the river, and on the desert
between it and the Mediterranean, which must necessarily be crossed to complete the communication. The Pasha of Egypt, however, is likely to become the quiet possessor of all Syria, and that part of Arabia through which the Euphrates flows-in consequence thereof, an improved condition of the wandering and marauding tribes may probably be brought about; but a long time will be required to fix men like these to any permanent abode. The marked support of the Pasha,' [of Bagdad?] Captain Chesney tells us, ensures safety wherever he is obeyed or even has influence; but by far the greater part of the inhabitants near the river are subject to no control; there is in reality no way that I know of at present to pass these hostile, ill-disposed tribes without contests, and perhaps bloodshed occasionally.' He was himself several times attacked in the course of his route.
If the state of the population and the impediments in the river were the only difficulties, means might probably be found to surmount them; but there is another of so serious a nature as, in our opinion, to render this route to India wholly impracticable for all useful purposes. We allude to the desert above mentioned, which is interposed between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, and which must be passed either from Scanderoun or the mouth of the Orontes, or from Lattakia to Aleppo, and from thence to Bir or Beles, which is lower down and much shorter. The best of these passages would require fifty or sixty hours, and subject the passengers to the depredations and illtreatment of Arabs ever on the watch. To wait for the irregular caravans, and after all obtain only a doubtful protection, would defeat the whole object. Captain Chesney suggests that a canal might be cut from the nearest approach of the Orontes to the Euphrates, which is opposite Beles, a distance of sixty-seven miles; but who is to be at the expense of making such a canal? and if made, would not the effect be merely to attract the robbers to one fixed point, where they would be sure of falling in with their prey? The Orontes, besides, has a shallow bar at its mouth, and that which was once the ancient port of Seleucia is now filled up, and to clear it out would entail an
Let us, however, suppose all these difficulties to be got over : it remains to sum up the distances-and the time which the communication between England and Bombay by this route would probably take. And first let us look at Captain Chesney's
The return by the same route at the lowest state of the Euphrates 48.'
Our calculation differs not very materially :—
Falmouth to Malta, stopping at Cadiz or Gibraltar
Malta to Scanderoun
Through Aleppo to the Euphrates, among tribes of half
Sheek Giaber or Beles (up the river 12 days)
Bussora to Muskat
Muskat to Bombay .
And allowing for incidental delays and stoppages, we should say fifty-six days or two months.
It must be obvious that, by this route, there can be no certainty as to time, especially from Bombay to England, as the adverse stream of the Euphrates, in addition to the other obstructions, must render that portion of the passage, for a great part of the year, if not always, precarious. That we might improve and reduce more to a certainty the navigation of the Euphrates that the ancient town and harbour of Scanderoun might be rendered more healthy by draining the contiguous marsh-that the port of Seleucia and the mouth of the Orontes might be made secure and available for steam-vessels-that a canal of sixty-seven miles might be dug from the Orontes to the Euphrates, and another of nineteen miles from this river to the renowned city of Bagdad—and that the rocks which obstruct the navigation of the river itself might be removed all these things, and many more, we are quite ready to admit with Captain Chesney, are possible-and perhaps not difficult to be accomplished; but for what purpose, we may ask, should these great works be undertaken by England, at the cost perhaps of a million of money? Is it for the more speedy conveyance of a few passengers and (very often unimportant) despatches to and from India? Can it be thought worth while to incur such an expense, while another route presents itself, which is perfectly secure and equally speedy, without incurring