The Flora has less variety than that of most countries. Very few plant!
are indigenous, and these are mostly of a pale, delicate appearance, that well
becomes their home, the desert; but which would appear to great disadvan-
tage among the well-fed plants of Europe.
The native trees are the palms, the sycamore (which is called " the incor-
ruptible," and of which mummy cases were made)—the gum-acacia, the
white and black poplar, the cypress, the olive, willow, myrtle, and tamarisk
The plantain, oak, and beech, have been partially introduced, and the fruit-
trees of every climate seem to prosper here, with the exception of the pine-
apple and cherry, which do not thrive. If there be any fruits more especially
Egyptian, they are the melon, cucumber, and other watery plants, which
abound in perfection throughout the country.
The Valley of the Nile has been, in all times, remarkable for its produce
of wheat, with which, under its Roman tyrants, it was obliged to supply the
canaille of the imperial city. I am told it is of an inferior quality ; but it
makes excellent bread, white, light, and well-tasted. Like its cultivators, it
is always bearded, and looks like barley: its increase has been estimated at
from fifty to one hundred fold ; but now, they say, it rarely produces more
than twenty or thirty fold, except in very favourable localities. Barley is
principally cultivated as food for horses ; and, being satisfied with a sandy
soil, although it requires much moisture, they contrive to get ten or twelve
fold increase on the seed.
Dourah, or Indian corn, is very extensively cultivated, as it does not require
irrigation, though Nature only knows how it fills its gigantic stalks with sap
in the arid soils, over which it waves its seas of verdure. Maize, millet, and
rice, are also cultivated ; the latter is denied antiquity in Egypt, as it does not
appear in the monuments. It was probably brought from India, and is only
cultivated in the lowlands of the Delta, and latterly in the swamps of Sennaar.
The sugar-cane thrives well ; but, as yet, it is not cultivated in sufficient
quantities, or quality, to supply Egypt. Beans, peas, lentils, lupines, and
onions, and all kitchen-herbs and vegetables, grow almost wild.
With respect to the Animal Kingdom, I have already spoken of the human
speci?s, which appears to be rapidly diminishing under the enlightened tyran-
ny of Mehemet Ali ; having shrunk one-fifth within the last ten years. The
other animals seem to have followed Egypt, when it went a pleasuring on
the Nile from the interior; at least, there are no animals found in Egypt that
do not also exist in Nubia and Abyssinia.
The horse appears to advantage in this country, where a good practical
mixture of races has taken place, between those of Dongola, of Arabia, and
even of Europe. The Egyptian horse is taller than the generality of Arabi-
ans ; his eye full of fire ar.d intelligence; his head well set on ; his fore-
hand rather straight for our taste, but fine at the withers; his quarters are
well-turned; his barrel, good; his legs, clean; his pasterns, long; and,
altogether, he is the most servicea&Ze-looking horse I have seen in the East,
He is found on all the tombs and sculptures, as well as in the stables