Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from one bank to the other. Here it begins to run Northward, winding, however, a little to the East, for the space of nine or ten leagues, and then enters the so-much-talkedof Lake of DAMBIA, flowing with such violent rapidity, that its waters may be distinguished through the whole passage, which is no less than six leagues. Here begins the greatness of the Nile. Fifteen miles farther, in the land of ALATA, it rushes precipitately from the top of a high rock, and forms one of the most beautiful water-falls in the world. Lobo says, he passed under it without being wet, and resting himself, for the sake of the coolness, was charmed with a thousand delightful rainbows, which the sun-beams painted on the water, in all their shining and lively colours”. The fall of this mighty

* This, Mr. Bruce, the late traveller, avers to be a downright falsehood. He says, a deep pool of water reaches to the very foot of the rock; and, allowing that there was a seat or bench (which there is not) in the middle of the pool,itis absolutely impossible, by any exertion of human strength, to have arrived at it. But it may be asked, can Mr. Bruce say what was the face of the country in the year 1622, when Lobo saw the magnificent sight which he has described? Mr. Bruce's pool of water may have

been formed since; and Lobo, perhaps, was content to sit down without a bench. -

C 3 stream,

stream, from so great a height, makes a noise that may be heard at a considerable distance; but it was not found, that the neighbouring inhabitants were deaf. After the cataract, the Nile collects its scattered stream among the rocks, which are so near each other, that, in Lobo's time, a bridge of beams, on which the whole imperial army passed, was laid over them. Sultan SEQUED has since built a stone bridge of one arch, in the same place, for which purpose he procured masons from India. Here the river alters its course, and passes through various kingdoms, such as AM HARA, OLACA, CHOAA, DAMOT, and the kingdom of GorAMA, and, after various windings, returns within a short day's journey of its spring. To pursue it through all its mazes, and accompany it round the kingdom of GoIAMA, is a journey of twenty-nine days. From Abyssinia, the river passes into the countries of FAzu Lo and OM BARCA, two vast regions little known, inhabited by nations entirely different from the Abyssins. Their hair, like. that of the other blacks in those regions, is short and curled. In the year 1615, R A ss E L A C H R Is To s, Lieutenant-general to

Sultan

Sultan SEQUED, entered those kingdoms in a hostile manner; but, not being able to get intelligence, returned without attempting any thing. As the empire of Abyssinia teraminates at these descents, Lobo followed the course of the Nile no farther, leaving it to rage over barbarous kingdoms, and convey wealth and plenty into AEgypt, which owes to the annual inundations of this river its envied fertility”. Lobo knows nothing of the Nile in the rest of its passage, except that it receives great increase from many other rivers, has several cataracts like that already described, and that few fish are to be found in it; that scarcity is to be attributed to the river-horse and the crocodile, which destroy the weaker inhabitants of the river. Something, likewise, must be imputed to the cataracts, where fish cannot fall without being killed. Lobo adds, that neither he, nor any with whom he conversed about the crocodile, ever saw him weep ; and

* After comparing this description with that lately given by Mr. Bruce, the reader will judge whether Lobo is to lose the honour of having been at the head of the Nile near two centuries before any other European

traveller. C 4 therefore

[ocr errors]

therefore all that hath been said about his tears must be ranked among the fables invented for the amusement of children.

“As to the causes of the inundations of the Nile, Lobo observes, that many an idle hypothesis has been framed. Some theorists ascribe it to the high winds, that stop the current, and force the water above its banks. Others pretend a subterraneous communication between the Ocean and the Nile, and that the sea, when violently agitated, swells the river. Many are of opinion, that this mighty flood proceeds from the melting of the snow on the mountains of Æthiopia; but so much snow and such prodigious heat are never met with in the same region. Lobo never saw snow in Abyssinia, except on Mount SEMEN in the kingdom of TIG RE, very remote from the Nile; and on NAMARA, which is, indeed, not far distant, but where there never falls Snow enough to wet, when dissolved, the foot of the mountain. To the immense labours of the Portuguese, mankind is indebted for the knowledge of the real cause of these inundations, so great and so regular. By them we are informed, that Abyssinia, where the Nile rises, is full of mountains, and, in its natural situation, is much higher than AEgypt; that in the winter, from June to September, no day is without rain ; that the Nile receives in its course, all the rivers, brooks, and torrents, that fall from those mountains, and, by necessary consequence, swelling above its banks, fills the plains of Ægypt with inundations, which come regularly about the month of July, or three weeks after the beginning of the rainy season in AEthiopia. The different degrees of this flood are such certain indications of the fruitfulness or sterility of the ensuing year, that it is publicly proclaimed at Cairo how much the water hath gained during the night.”

24 that

Such is the account of the Nile and its inundations, which it is hoped, will not be deemed an improper or tedious digression, especially as the whole is an extract from Johnson's translation. He is all the time the actor in the scene, and in his own words relates the story. Having finished this work, he returned in February, 1734, to his native city, and, in the month of August following,

« AnteriorContinuar »