Warburton, Eliot
Travels in Egypt and the Holy Land, or, The crescent and the cross: comprising the romance and realities of eastern travel — Philadelphia, 1859

Page: 35
Citation link: 
https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/warburton1859/0061
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CHAP. VII.]

MAHMOUDIEH CANAL

IS

new city with the Nile, and enable it to fulfil its destinies of be-
coming the emporium of three quarters of the globe.

In the greatness and the cruelty of its accomplishment, this
canal may vie with the gigantic labors of the Pharaohs. 250,-
000 people, men, women, and children, were swept from the
villages of the Delta, and heaped like a ridge along the destined
banks of that fatal canal. They had only provisions for one
month, and implements they had few, or none : but the Pasha's
command was urgent—the men worked with all the energy of
despair, and stabbed into the ground as if it was their enemy ;
children carried away the soil in little handfuls ; nursing mothers
laid their infants on the shelterless banks ; the scourge kept them
to the work, and mingled blood with their milk, if they attempted
to nourish their offspring. Famine soon made its appearance,
and they say it was a fearful sight, to see that great multitude
convulsively working against time. As a dying horse bites the
ground in his agony, they tore up that great grave—25,000 peo-
ple perished, but the grim contract was completed, and in six
weeks the waters of the Nile were led to Alexandria.

The canal is forty-eight miles in length, ninety feet in
breadth, and eighteen in depth ; it was finished altogether in ten
months, with the exception of the lock, which should have con-
nected it with the river ; the Bey who had charge of this depart-
ment lost his contract—and his head.

We embarked in a boat, not unlike those that ply in Ireland
upon the Grand Canal, and, to say the truth, among the dreary
wastes of swamp that surrounded us, we might also have fancied
ourselves in the midst of the Bog of Allen. The boat was towed
by four wild, scraggy-looking horses, ridden by four wilder,
scraggier-looking men; their naked feet were stuck in shovel
stirrups, with the sharp sides of which they scored their horses'
flanks, after the fashion of crimped cod. It is true, these jockeys
wore tattered turbans instead of tattered hats, and loose blue
gowns instead of grey frieze. Yet still there was nothing very
new or imposing in the equipage, and the mud cabins that here
and there encrusted the banks did not tend to obliterate Tipperary
associations. But—hold ! there is a palm-tree, refreshing to the
cockney's eye • an ostrick (though a tame one) is trotting along
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