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universally a thick hedge, composed of dry branches of acacia, and other thorny trees, which secures the cattle, and prevents the slaves from escaping; but, as it takes no root, it is never green, and has consequently a gloomy aspect. The lower classes live in houses little better than huts, formed of the straw of the maize, or some other material, equally coarse and insecure.
In their persons they differ from the Negroes of the coast of Guinea; their complexions are, however, perfectly black, and their hair generally short and woolly, though with some exceptions, which reaches eight or ten inches in length: this is esteemed a beauty.
The Arabs, who are numerous, are a distinct people; preserving their peculiarity of feature, colour, and language, by living together, and intermarrying amongst themselves. The slaves are brought from a country they call Fertit, or Land of Idolaters: they have a language of their own, and resemble the Negroes of Guinea.
The priests hold the next rank to the officers of government, but they are grossly ignorant of every thing but the Koran.
The women are not held in such subjection, as in some Mahometan countries; their opinion, in domestic affairs, is generally consulted, and mostly decisive. If a man, from vanity, for it cannot be for profit, marries a princess or woman of high rank, she becomes sovereign of his family and sole proprietor
of his possessions: he has no longer a voice in his own affairs, and he is obliged to yield to all her caprices, however absurd, from a fear of the monarch's displeasure, who is sure to be her avenger: yet most of the laborious offices of domestic life devolve upon the women: they prepare the soil, sow the grain, and gather in the harvest; they afterwards grind the corn and make it into bread. They not only prepare the food, which, contrary to the notion of the Arabs, is here esteemed a disgraceful task for a man, but fetch water, wash the clothes, and clean the house. Even the clay buildings are constructed chiefly by women. I have sometimes met travellers on a journey, the man mounted idly on an ass, whilst the poor wife trudged behind him, carrying their stock of provisions, with perhaps the addition of the vessels for culinary purposes. Such treatment of the feebler sex is a certain mark of barbarism: women are generally respected in proportion as the men are civilized.
From the picture I have given of the inhabitants of Dar-Fur, though I had many acquaintance, you may believe that I had few companions, and that I sighed for a change of situation: this was very difficult to procure, and it was not till after many solicitations, refusals, delays, and intrigues with some of the grandees, who favoured my escape, that I found means to depart with the caravan that was returning to Cairo; glad of my liberty, eveu at the price of measuring back the same road by which I came. My old friends in that city were rejoiced to see me
again, in health and safety, having supposed that I had long ago fallen a victim either to the climate or to the treachery of the people. I had not been a month at Cairo, before I formed the design of penetrating into Abyssinia. Much was said to deter me from this undertaking, but my resolution once taken, I am not easily diverted from my purpose; I thereföre hired a boat, to carry me to Furshout, the residence of the sheik of Upper Egypt. The vessel in which I sailed is called a Canja, and is commodious, safe, and expeditious, though, to the eye of a person accustomed to it, it has an appearance of danger. The sails are extremely large, and, when required to be furled, the sailors climb up and furl them as they stand; the cabin forms an agreeable dining room, with airy windows, behind which is a comfortable chamber; but the fear of robbers obliges every window to be close shut at night. These plunderers of the Nile watch their opportunity to approach the vessel, either swimming under water, or upon goat-skins, when they think they shall be least observed, and make free with whatever they find within their reach.
Journey to Abyssinia.
We set sail from the port of Boulac, having first obliged our rais, or captain, to leave his son with one of my friends, as a pledge for his good behaviour.
The pyramids of Geeza and Sakara, and a prodigious number of others, built of white clay, stretching far into the desert to the south-west, were fine objects in our passage, till we reached two convents of Copts, where we spent the night. In our progress, next day, we passed several villages, probably near the site where Memphis, the ancient seat of the Pharaohs, formerly stood; but, as the exact spot is a matter of dispute amongst the learned, I shall not attempt to point it out.
A few miles beyond the point of Metrahenny, I observed several men fishing in a very unusual man
They were placed on a raft of palm branches, supported by a float of clay jars, fastened together in the form of a triangle; one man, provided with a casting net, stood at each corner of the base, and both threw their nets into the stream at the same time, whilst a third, at the point, threw in his the moment the other two drew theirs out of the water. Supposing we were likely to purchase fish, they drew alongside of us: a few large pieces of tobacco made us masters of their spoil, amongst which was a fish of ten pounds weight, of a clear salmon colour, silvered on the sides, with a tinge of blue upon the back. It is called Binny, and sometimes reaches to the weight of seventy pounds. On conversing with the men, I found that fishing was not their profession, but served to fill up their time in the course of their voyage to Cairo, where they dispose of these earthen jars, in exchange for money, or such commodities as
they want. As we proceeded, we passed a number of villages on each side of the river, some planted with date trees, others surrounded with palms. The last pyramid we saw is of a singular construction: the base being formed of a hill of the exact shape required, and the building is continued till it terminate nearly in a point.
Near the miserable village of Nizelet-el-Arab begin large plantations of sugar-canes. They cut these canes into round pieces, of three inches long, and, after slitting them, steep them in water, which makes a most refreshing drink.
The white mountains appeared again in view: square and flat on the top, like tables, they seem to be laid upon the earth, rather than growing out of it, the several strata are so regularly divided. Beni Suef deserves the name of a town: it has a market and a mosque, with three large steeples. All the houses in this part have pigeon-houses on the top, from which the owners derive considerable profit. They are made of earthern pots, one above the other, occupying the upper story, and giving the walls of the turrets a lighter and more picturesque appearance. We passed by a number of villages, on the western shore, whilst the eastern appeared destitute of inhabitants.
At a village called Rhoda, are the manificent ruins of the ancient city of Aatinous, built by Adrian. My curiosity was too great to pass them unnoticed, and our captain showed a reluctance to land, because he