George Bethune English.

A Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar Under the Command of His Excellence Ismael Pasha, undertaken by Order of His Highness Mehemmed Ali Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, By An American In The S online

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Online LibraryGeorge Bethune EnglishA Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar Under the Command of His Excellence Ismael Pasha, undertaken by Order of His Highness Mehemmed Ali Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, By An American In The S → online text (page 9 of 9)
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little before dawn.]

[Footnote 46: During the night of the 22d, I received an order from
the Pasha to precede the march of the troops, and pick out a spot near
Halfya to encamp his army on, in the European manner. Mr. Caillaud was
requested to accompany me in this duty. Mr. Caillaud candidly told me
that he was not a military man, and left the affair entirely to me. I
chose a fine position on the river, about two miles above Halfya, in the
rear of which was plenty of grass for the horses and camels. The Pasha,
however, did not choose to come so far, but pitched his camp on the low
sand flats before Halfya, near which there was no grass for the camels,
who, during the five days following, perished in great numbers. He had
undoubtedly his reasons for this, among which not the least important
was, to be near enough to Halfya to have the town within reach of his
cannon, as the Malek of Halfya had not as yet submitted. The Pasha,
however, had like to have had serious cause to repent of having taken
this position, when the river rose, and threatened to inundate his camp.
Luckily it did not reach the ammunition, otherwise we should probably
have been left without the means of defending ourselves.

This overflowing of the Nile was occasioned by the rise of the Bahar
el Abiud, which, this year at least, commenced its annual augmentation
nearly a month sooner than the Nile.]

[Footnote 47: The troops of Shouus and the Abbadies swam their horses
and dromedaries over the river. Cogia Achmet, one of the chiefs of the
army, in endeavoring to imitate the cavalry of Shageia, lost seventy
horses and some soldiers. The rest of the horses and camels of the army
were taken over by arranging them by the sides of the boats, with their
halters held in hand by the people in the boats. Another large portion
of our horses and camels was taken over by the Shageias and the
Abbadies, who fastened at the breast of each horse, and over the neck of
each camel of ours, so carried over, an empty water-skin blown up with
air, which prevented the animal from sinking, while their guides swam by
their sides, and so conducted them over.]

[Footnote 48: The same day that the camp marched from the Bahar el
Abiud, Mr. Caillaud and Mr. Frediani embarked in the boats to go to
Sennaar, by the river, in order to have an opportunity of visiting the
ruins of "Soba," which lie on the east side of the Nile, not far above
from its junction with the Bahar el Abiud. When these gentlemen rejoined
us at Sennaar, they informed me that almost the very ruins of this city
have perished; they found, however, there some fragments of a temple,
and of some granite, statues of lions: the city itself, they said, had
been built of brick. This city of "Soba" probably takes its name from
"Saba," the son of Cush, who first colonized this country, which is
called, in the Hebrew Bible, "the land of Cush and Saba." - See Gen. x.
7. See the references in a Concordance to the Hebrew Bible, under the
heads of "Cush," and "Saba."

If there were any pyramids near Saba, I should believe it to be the
ancient Meroe, because Josephus represents that the ancient name of
Meroe was "Saba." "Nam Saba urbs eadem fuisse perhibetur quae a Cambyse
Meroe in uxoris honorem dicta est:" quoted from Eichom's ed. of Sim.
Heb. Lex. artic. Sameh Bet Alef

It was impossible for me to ask of the Pasha liberty to accompany the
gentlemen abovementioned, as a battle was expected in a few days between
us and the king of Sennaar, from which I would not have been absent on
any consideration.]

[Footnote 49: The people of Dongola, Shageia, Berber, Shendi, and
Sennaar, do not use mills to make meal. They reduce grain to meal by
rubbing it a handful at a time between two stones - one fixed in the
ground, and one held by the hands. By long and tedious friction, the
grain is reduced to powder. This labor is performed by the women, as is
almost all the drudgery of the people of the Upper Nile.]

[Footnote 50: On my return from Sennaar, I descended by the river as far
as Berber. On the way I did see some few water-wheels, which, however,
were employed merely to water the patches of ground devoted to raising

[Footnote 51: The Pasha had invited the Malek of Shendi and the Malek of
Halfya to accompany him to Sennaar. The Malek of Halfya excused himself
on account of his age and infirmities, but sent his eldest son along
with the Pasha. By this stroke of policy the Pasha made the tranquility
of the powerful provinces of Shendi and Halfya certain; and the advance
of his army without risk from an insurrection in his rear; as the people
of those provinces would hardly dare to make any hostile movement while
the chief of one province and the heir of the Malek of the other were in
our camp. Nymmer, the Malek of Shendi, is a grave and venerable man
of about 65 years of age, very dignified in his deportment, and highly
respectable for his morals. The Malek of Halfya I have not seen.]

[Footnote 52: The present Sultan of Sennaar is a young man of about 26
years of age; he is black, his mother having been a Egress. He was taken
out of prison, where he had been confined for eighteen years by his
predecessor, who was massacred by the party who placed him upon the
throne. This revolution had taken place not very long before our march
to Sennaar. His name is Bady.]

[Footnote 53: The natives told me that this palace had been built
eighteen years ago, by the late good Sultan that they had had, who
had planted before it rows of trees, which had been destroyed when
the palace was ruined, as I understood them, in the wars between the
different competitors for the throne during the last eighteen years.]

[Footnote 54: The river Nile lost its transparency four days before the
army reached Sennaar. The day that presents the river troubled, marks
the commencement of its augmentation. The day before we observed this
change in the Nile, its waters were very clear and transparent. The day
after, they were brown with mud.]

[Footnote 55: Sennaar has three market-places. On our arrival we found
them deserted, but on assurances from the Pasha that all sellers should
receive a fair price for their commodities, the principal one in a few
days began to be filled. The articles I saw there during my stay in
Sennaar, were as follows: Meat of camels, kine, sheep, and goats; a few
cat-fish from the river, plenty of a vegetable called meholakea; some
limes, a few melons, cucumbers, dried barmea, a vegetable common in
Egypt; beans, durra, duchan, tobacco of the country, plenty of gum
arable, with which, by the way, Sennaar abounds, (the natives use it
in their cookery;) drugs and spices brought from Gidda, among which
I observed ginger, pepper, and cloves; and great quantities of dried
odoriferous herbs found in Sennaar, with which the natives season their
dishes; to which must be added, aplenty of the long cotton cloths used
for dress in Sennaar. Such were the articles offered for sale by the
people of the country. In addition to which, the suttlers of our army
offered for sale, tobacco, coffee, rice, sugar, shirts, drawers, shoes,
gun flints, &c. &c. all at a price three or four times greater than
they could be bought for at Cairo. In some parts of the market-place
the Turks established coffee-houses, and the Greeks who accompanied
the army, cook-shops. These places became the resort of every body who
wanted to buy something to eat, or to hear the news of the day. There
might be seen soldiers in their shirts and drawers, hawking about their
breeches for sale in order to be able to buy a joint of meat to relish
their rations of durra withal, and cursing bitterly their luck in that
they had not received any pay for eight months; while the solemn Turk of
rank perambulated the area, involved, like pious Eneas at Carthage, in
a veil of clouds exhaling from a long amber headed pipe. All around you
you might hear much hard swearing in favor of the most palpable lies;
the seller in favor of his goods, and the buyer in favor of his Egyptian
piasters. In one place a crowd collects around somebody or other lying
on the ground without his head on, on account of some misdemeanor; a
little farther on, thirty or forty soldiers are engaged in driving, with
repeated strokes of heavy mallets, sharp pointed pieces of timber, six
or eight inches square, up the posteriors of some luckless insurgents
who had had the audacity to endeavor to defend their country and their
liberty; the women of the country meantime standing at a distance, and
exclaiming, "that it was scandalous to make men die in so indecent a
manner, and protesting that such a death was only fit for a Christian,"
(a character they hold in great abhorrence, probably from never having
seen one). Such was the singular scene presented to the view by the
market-place of Sennaar.]

[Footnote 56: The occasion of this expedition was as follows: - On our
arrival at Sennaar, and after the accord made between the Pasha and the
Sultan of Sennaar, by which the latter surrendered his kingdom to the
disposal of the Vizier of the Grand Seignor, the Pasha sent circulars
throughout all the districts of the kingdom notifying the chiefs of this
act, and summoning them to come in to him and render their homage. The
Chief of the Mountaineers, inhabiting the mountains south and south-west
of Sennaar (the capital), not only refused to acknowledge the Pasha, but
even to receive his letter. On this, the Pasha sent Cogia Achmet, one
of the roughest of his chiefs, with thirteen hundred cavalry, escorting
three, brazen-faced lawyers, out of the ten the Pasha had brought with
him in order to talk with the people of the upper country, to bring this
man and his followers to reason.]

[Footnote 57: Several of the chiefs of Eastern Sennaar had refused to
recognize the act of the Sultan, calling him "a coward" and "a traitor,"
for surrendering their country to a stranger. Some of them took up arms,
which occasioned the expedition commanded by the Divan Effendi.]

[Footnote 58: I must confess that I was much shocked and disgusted by
this act on the part of the Pasha, especially as he had shown so many
traits of humanity in the lower country, which was undoubtedly one
of the principal causes of its prompt submission. This execution was
excused in the camp, by saying, that it would strike such terror as
would repress all attempts at insurrection, and would consequently
prevent the effusion of much blood. It may have been consistent with the
principles of military policy, but I feel an insurmountable reluctance
to believe it.]

[Footnote 59: They told me the names of these rivers, which I put down
upon a sheet of paper devoted to preserving the names of some of the
principal Maleks of the country. In my journey back this paper has
disappeared from among my notes and papers, which has been a subject of
great vexation to me.]

[Footnote 60: The people of Sennaar also believed that our boats could
not pass the third cataract; and, therefore, their opinion with regard
to the shellal at Sulluk is not to be relied on.]

[Footnote 61: The rainy season in Sennaar, at least the commencement of
it, such as I found it, may be thus described: Furious squalls of
wind in the course of one or two hours, coming from all points of
the compass, bringing and heaping together black clouds charged with
electric matter; for twelve or fifteen hours an almost continual roar of
thunder, and, at intervals, torrents of rain; after which, the sky would
be clear for two, three, or four days at a time.]

[Footnote 62: It is nevertheless possible that this fly may be found in
that part of the kingdom of Sennaar which lies on the other side of the

[Footnote 63: It was in the house where I quartered, at Sennaar, that
I saw this singular animal. I jogged Khalil Aga, my countryman and
companion, to look at it. He burst cut into an exclamation, "by God,
that snake has got legs." He jumped up and seized a stick in order to
kill and keep it as a curiosity, but it dodged his blow, and darted away
among the baggage, which was overhauled without finding it, as it had
undoubtedly escaped into some hole in the clay wall of the house. Mr.
Constant, the gentleman, who accompanies Mr. Caillaud, was present
at the time, so that I am convinced that what I saw was not an ocular
delusion. I have been informed, since my return to Egypt, that the
figure of this animal is to be seen sculptured upon the ancient
monuments of Egypt.]

[Footnote 64: The people of Sennaar catch, cook and eat, without
scruple, cats, rats and mice; and those who are rich enough to buy a
wild hog, fatten it up and make a feast of it. I had heard in the lower
country that the people of Sennaar made no scruple to eat swine's flesh,
but I absolutely refused to believe that a people calling themselves
Mussulmans could do this from choice. But after my arrival in Sennaar I
was obliged to own that I had been mistaken. The species of hog found in
the kingdom of Sennaar is small and black; it is not found in that part
of the kingdom called "El Gezira," i.e. the island, but is caught in the
woody mountains of the country near Abyssinia. In the house of one Malek
in Sennaar was found about a dozen of these animals fattening for his

[Footnote 65: The mountains of Bokki border upon the kingdom of
Fezoueli, which lies south of Sennaar twenty days march. The mountains
of Fezoueli are supposed to contain gold mines; pieces of gold are
frequently found in the torrents that flow from those mountains in the
rainy season. A native of that country told the Pasha Ismael, that he
had seen a piece of gold, found in those mountains, as big as the bottom
part of the silver narguil of his Excellence, i.e. about six inches in
diameter. That there is gold in that country, is certain, as the female
prisoners, taken at Bokki, had many gold rings and bracelets, of which
they were quickly disencumbered by our soldiers. The Pasha intends to
visit Fezoueli after the rainy season is over, to find the veins
from whence this gold is washed down by the torrents, and, in case of
success, to work the mines.]

[Footnote 66: We passed Attar Baal the same night. The reader is
aware that a boat carrying a courier, could not be detained to give a
passenger an opportunity to see ruins.]

[Footnote 67: The "Adit," or Nile of Bruce, enters the Bahar el Abiud
nearly at right angles, but such is the mass of the latter river, that
the Nile cannot mingle its waters with those of the Bahar el Abiud for
many miles below their junction. The waters of the Adit are almost black
during the season of its augmentation; those of the Bahar el Abiud, on
the contrary, are white: so that for several miles below their junction,
the eastern part of the river is black, and the western is white. This
white color of the Bahar el Abiud is occasioned by a very fine white
clay with which its waters are impregnated. At the point of junction
between the Bahar el Abiud and the Adit, the Bahar el Abiud is almost
barred across by an island and a reef of rocks; this barrier checks its
current, otherwise it would probably almost arrest the current of the
Adit. It is, nevertheless, sufficiently strong to prevent the Adit from
mingling with it immediately, although the current of the Adit is very
strong, and enters the Bahar el Abiud nearly at right angles.]

[Footnote 68: Since my return to Egypt, we have learned that this army,
after some bloody battles, had succeeded in taking possession of Darfour
and Kordofan.]

[Footnote 69: The provinces lying on the third Cataract, between Shageia
and Berber, are called, 1st, Monasier; 2d, Isyout, 3d, El Raba Tab.]

[Footnote 70: He came up in one of the nine boats that were able to
pass, as mentioned before.]

[Footnote 71: As the people of these countries dislike the piasters
of Egypt, I bought a quantity of soap at Sennaar from the Greeks who
accompanied the army as sutlers, in order to serve as a medium of
exchange; for in most of the provinces on the Upper Nile, they prefer
soap to any thing you can offer, except dollars, or the gold coin of

[Footnote 72: Khalil Aga, a native of New York, took the turban a few
weeks before the departure of Ismael Pasha from Cairo. Learning that I
was to accompany his Excellence, he requested me to obtain of the Pasha
that he might be attached to me during the expedition. He is probably
the first individual that ever traversed the whole of the river Nile
from Rosetti to Sennaar. I have done the same, except about two hundred
miles of the third cataract.]

[Footnote 73: This I suppose to be the point where terminates the
singular bend in the river noticed in the former part of my journal.]

[Footnote 74: The wind, during the day, was constantly from the north,
which was the general direction of our march from the time we quitted
the river till we reached it again, so that we had the breezes always in
our faces. The air of the desert is so very dry that no part of my
body was moistened by perspiration except the top of my head, which
was sheltered from the influence of the sun and air by the folds of my
turban. I did not feel incommoded by heat in the desert when out of the
sun's rays, but on arriving at Assuan I found it almost intolerable.]

[Footnote 75: The names of the wells in the desert of Omgourann, between
Berber and Seboo, are as follows: - 1st, Apseach. 2d, Morat. 3d, El
Medina. 4th, Amrashee, 5th, Mogareen. In the two latter, water is only
found after heavy rains.]

[Footnote 76: Close by this rock was the skull of some wretched man
who had perished on this spot. All along our route we saw hundreds of
skeletons of camels. The skull that we saw probably belonged to one of
two Mogrebin soldiers who deserted at Berber, in order to return to.
Egypt, and who both perished with thirst in the desert.]

[Footnote 77: Our guide, an Abadie, would not permit the camels of our
caravan to be watered at the well of Apseach, saying, that if he did,
all the water then in the well would be consumed, and the consequence
would be, that the nest traveler that came might perish with thirst.]

[Footnote 78: The ground near the well of Morat is full of scorpion
holes. On my arrival at midnight I spread my carpet on the ground and
slept soundly. In the morning when it was taken up, we found under it a
scorpion, I am sure four inches in length, its color green and yellow.
I was told that they abound near all the wells of the desert, and I have
seen very many at different places on the borders of the river.]

[Footnote 79: Which we found to be the case till we came within fifteen
hours march of the Nile.]

[Footnote 80: Out of the twenty-two camels that we had commenced our
march with from Berber, only twelve reached the river.]

[Footnote 81: This was occasioned by the heat of the sun and the dryness
of the air of the desert, which made nearly two fifths of our water to

[Footnote 82: Before we entered the desert our caravan had been joined
by several runaway domestics, who had fled from the army to return to

[Footnote 83: The soldier of the Cadilaskier before mentioned, who was
the conductor, i.e. the chief of the caravan, had recourse to a singular
expedient to rouse one of them whom the whip could not stir. He seized
his purse of money, which this man carried in his bosom, swearing that
if he chose to stop and die there he might, and that he would be his
heir and inherit his purse. This testamentary disposition on the part
of the soldier had a wonderful effect. The man got up from the sand and
walked forward very briskly, calling upon the soldier to restore the
purse, as he was determined not to lie down any more till he reached
the river. The soldier, however, observing the effect of his proceeding,
retained the purse till we arrived at the river, when he restored it.]

[Footnote 84: The last time I saw him was when I gave him part of the
last bowl; he kissed my slipper, shedding abundance of tears, and saying
that I was the only one of the caravan that had shown him mercy. I
bade him keep up a good heart, for that on the morrow morning, by the
blessing of God, we should be at the river.]

[Footnote 85: Directly opposite Seboo, on the other bank of the river,
stands an ancient Egyptian temple. Seboo is four days march of a camel
above Assuan.]

[Footnote 86: The reason for their refusal I afterwards learned, was,
that they believed that the lad was already dead, and that therefore
they should miss the reward promised.]

[Footnote 87: Three days after my arrival at Assuan I had news of the
fate of this lad, from a Nubian voyager of the desert, on his way to
Assuan, who had found him, thirty-six hours after our arrival at Seboo,
lying in the ravine leading to the river, but almost dead. He had
stopped, it seems, to sleep a few hours, believing that sleep would
refresh him, and that he could do it without danger, as the river was
not many hours off. On his awaking, he found himself so weak that it
was with great difficulty that he reached the ravine, where he fell. The
traveler gave him water, and placed him on his dromedary, and brought
him to the river, but he was too far gone; he died in a half an hour
after he reached it. The last words he spoke, this man told me, related
to his God, his prophet, and his mother: this traveler dug his grave
and buried him. I told this man that I had offered a reward at Seboo to
whoever would bring this unfortunate young man to the river, and that I
would give the money to him as a recompense for having done all he could
do in such a case. The man, to my astonishment, replied, "that it was
not money that he would take as a reward for what he had done; that he
would receive no reward for it but from the hands of God, who would pay
more for it than I could." I told him that I was happy to have found a
Mussulman mindful of the precepts of the Koran, which inculcate charity
and benevolence to all those who are in distress, and that the record
of such deeds would occupy a great space on the almost blank page of our
good actions.]

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Online LibraryGeorge Bethune EnglishA Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar Under the Command of His Excellence Ismael Pasha, undertaken by Order of His Highness Mehemmed Ali Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, By An American In The S → online text (page 9 of 9)