regulate the supply of water into the lower districts, as well as by large reser-
voirs, that retain the waters of the inundation, and economise its outlay.
The works of this nature, carried into effect by Mehemet Ali, are incredible ;
they extend over a space of 104,356,667 cubic metres. M. Linant, the Pasha's
able and indefatigable chief engineer, has proposed a plan for embankments
to cross the Nile, near the junction of the Damietta and Rosetta branches,
which would produce amazing results, not only for the Delta, but for the lands
on either side the river as far as Cairo. Its importance may be estimated by
the calculation that it would save the employment of 25,000 sakeeyehs, involv-
ing the labour of 25,000 men and 50,000 oxen.* These canals are exclu-
sively interesting to Egypt; I now turn to those that interest the whole
commercial and travelling world.
The formation of a canal from Suez to the Mediterranean is first in import-
ance. It would shorten the passage to India, from the Levant, by 8,000 miles,
that from London by 5,500 miles; that from New York by 3,000, to say
" Many a day and many a dreadful night
Incessant labouring round the stormy Cape."
Sesostris attempted to unite the Red Sea with the Nile, and Nechos, sa^s
Herodotus, attempted to carry out his views with the cost of 100,000 lives in
the enterprise. Fortunately for the population of Egypt, an Oracle forbade
him to advance the undertaking, saying that it would " open Egypt to the
invasion of strangers." Probably the same Oracle, issuing from his own pro-
found brains, may have operated on the mind of Mehemet Ali, who certainly
has hitherto not displayed his usual energies in emulating the useful labours of
It would seem that this canal was at length completed, and not only con-
veyed shipping from the Nile to the Arabian Gulf, but, by irrigation, converted
the desert into fruitful fields, on which rose (and fell) with its fructifying
waters, the cities of Heroopolis, Phlagriopolis, and Serapeum, near Arsinoe.
Trajan and Amru re-opened this canal at intervals of about 500 years ; but
now it has. vanished, except a small portion reaching into Cairo, called the
Kalish. If this canal once existed, there is no reason that another, infinitely
more important, might not be created and maintained across the same deserts.
The level of the Red Sea is thirty feet higher than that of the Mediter-
ranean, and fifteen feet higher than the lowest period of the Nile at Cairo,
but five feet lower than the Nile at its highest period. By means of the
latter fact, turned to good account, the desert could be irrigated by fresh
water during the very season in which that process is necessary.
A railway from Cairo to Suez is more popular, and perhaps more feasible
* Any person curious in these matters may consult " Histoire sommaire de VErypt,
tvus Miktmet Ali," par M. Mengin ; the " Semaphore cC Orient ;" and Clot Bey's inestima
ble " Jlpercu general sur VEgypte."