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flats round Venice; the minarets of the mosques suggest the campanili, but the fellahin are much more attractive figures in the landscape, and make brilliant flashes of colour. I once saw a man bicycling on the deep sand of a donkey-path in the middle of camels and blacked-robed women with pitchers on their heads. Perhaps he was cycling from Cairo to Alexan. dria-it has been done, though no one has yet succeeded in motoring it in a roadless place like Egypt.
The Virgilian plough was in full force as we passed, sometimes extra picturesque from being driven by the beautifully hideous Egyptian buffalo, uncommonly like one of the prehistoric animals by the lake at the Crystal Palace, which impressed me so much in my childhood, that I did not care for any real animals except the elephant and the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus. The Virgilian plough, which is of wood, with a steel tooth, is still used in the highly farmed Delta, because the steel plough, unless the soil is very well “washed,” brings up the salt—which is always present in that brackish province -to the surface, while the Virgilian, or perhaps I should say the Pharaonic plough, only gives the earth a scratch and a promise.
Egypt is saved from many railway disasters by its un.. suitability for railway tunnels. As its railways always run along the Nile or across the desert, engineering difficulties
Rails have been laid at the rate of three miles a day, when Lord Kitchener was impatient to meet the Mahdi.
Presently we came to a very large town with very dirty streets. It was surrounded with birkets-pools of stagnant water, which at the same time served for liquid dustheaps, and had Bedâwin camping round them.
There was an enormous mosque in the background, so we knew that it must be Tanta, and that this must be the celebrated Pilgrims' mosque. The pilgrimage is in honour of a native of Fez, in Morocco-the Seyyid Ahmed el-Bedâwi. He was so struck with Tanta when passing through it with his family, on his way to Mecca, that on his return he established himself here and lived here till he died. The Nile
may have seemed a very blessed sight to a native of Morocco, who had come across the Sahara from home, and across the Arabian deserts from Mecca. Tanta is, in a way, the capital of the garden of Egypt.
Seyyid Ahmed el-Bedâwi is supposed to have succeeded to the attributes of Shu, the Egyptian Hercules. He is appealed to by all who are in need of strength to stand a sudden calamity, such as a storm or an accident. Mr. Hall says that to avert them, people call out “Ya Seyyid, ya Bedâwi”; and the song of “Gad el-Yûsara," "He brought back the captives,” records the might and prowess of this hero. In the second call to prayer, chanted by the muezzin an hour before daybreak, he is invoked under the name of Abu Farrâg, Shekh of the Arabs, and coupled with El-Hasan and El-Husên, and "all the favourites of God."
There used to be fairs held in his honour three times a year at Tanta, each of which lasted a week or more, and even now the pilgrimage assumes vast dimensions. As many as 200,000 people have attended it. Pleasure and business play quite as great a part in it as religion, except in the matter of fanaticism against Christians.
At Tanta the reposefulness of our journey was rudely interrupted. The English of the guard was equal to telling us that we had to change, but not equal to answering any of our questions, nor could we find an English-speaking station official. But we found what was even more efficacious, a big-wig in the National Bank of Egypt, whom we had met inspecting his branch at Khartûm. He volunteered to see us into our train, which was right at the other side of the station.
We had just comfortably ensconced ourselves in an empty compartment, when the guard came along, and asked us to get out and go into an adjoining compartment, half full of smoking Levantines, because an Egyptian had come with his family and wished our compartment to be turned into a harem compartment for his wives, and a ridiculous child in the worst style of Levantine splendour with anklets clasped round high yellow boots. An officious policeman interfered,
and said that we must turn out, but the Bank magnifico assured us that we were within our rights in refusing to stir, and we refused, because the gyppy was so consequential about it.
The gyppy was consequential, perhaps because he wanted his wives to have a compartment without other women, so that he could go with them. I thought we might just as well have a compartment to ourselves ; at any rate there was plenty of room for them in the women's compartment, into which the guard forth with conducted them. There were other humours for my note-book and my kodak. The very typical fellahin women of the Delta jingled from ankle to forehead ; their foreheads were covered with gold chains and crescents. A shoddy Italian was pouring out such an Italian torrent of words, that he walked full tilt into a pillar, which he had not noticed. The same fate befell a callow Egyptian of the golf-collar type, who was gaping open-mouthed at the prettiness and pretty clothes of an English lady-not a very common sight in Tanta Station. This was made more ridiculous because this gorgeous young man, who wore very light flannels, and one of the then-new green felt hats, and pale lemon-coloured suede gloves, was walking arm in arm with a full-rigged Arab of the old style, reading his Koran as Roman Catholic priests mutter from their breviary.
I always wonder what the priests fall back on to interest them in that oft-read book. When I went to Oxford, and had to go to chapel every day, I consoled myself with reading the parts of the Prayer-book, which did not come into the services I had ordinarily attended, such as the Thirty-Nine Articles. This had the further effect of familiarising me with a subject, in which I knew I should have to be examined, at the close of my University career. A great deal of it was good food for sardonic reflection. As it happened, I reaped a harvest. When I did come to be examined in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the three examiners (for the first time in many years) determined to make the Rudiments, as we briefly called them, a reality. Out of
sixteen men who went up from Trinity all except myself were “caught on the hop” and “spun"; other colleges suffered as severely. I astonished my examiners. I had read the Thirty-Nine Articles (as being the only part of the Prayer-book, in which a very religiously brought up young man like myself had not had all his interest exhausted) so often in chapel that its expressions and statements of opinion were as familiar to me as “ Dearly beloved Brethren." The examiners and I had quite a witty warfare over the Rudiments, and I was complimented and passed, while the son of a Bishop, who rather bored the Fellows of the College with his "unco guidness," was ignominiously ploughed. With a little encouragement, and reading them over once or twice, I could still bring the Thirty-Nine Articles with great effect into the kind of articles I write.
Tanta is, I believe, a rich business place, but very unabashed in its Egyptianness: it has many minarets and few gentle
On the outskirts its houses are no better than Bedrashên's and have their roofs similarly decorated with dung cakes, casks, and so on. Boys were bathing naked in the filthy swamp by the kind of market outside the station. There is nothing more Egyptian than that objectless sheep, hugely fat, with a disgusting beef-pudding of a tail, tied outside a shop, with a little fodder to munch. Most shops near the Tanta Station had a sheep. To show how little Tanta enters into the calculations of the Europeans in Egypt, even Baedeker believes that the dome of the big mosque is still unachieved, whereas it has for some time enjoyed a grandiose dome with two minarets.
I was glad to get away from Tanta Station, with its unlovely surroundings and its persistent hawkers of oranges, bananas, and orange-coloured sponge-cake. The little Delta towns are quite picturesque. They are rather like Sudanese towns with a loose reed thatch. Here and there we passed one of the type you get outside Alexandria, looking like the mastaba tombs round the pyramids, with a door at each end and rows of little pimply domes on the top-really rather on the principle of the bazars of Constantinople and Tunis,
a whole village under one dish-cover-for purposes, I suppose, of defence; for the atmosphere must be undesirable, especially as domestic animals like donkeys and pigs and goats would have to share in its security. The minarets of the little Delta towns are short, and might be taken for forge chimneys. Tanta, by the by, has two hotels of sorts (“The Blooming Hellas” and “ The Pyramids"), a palace of the Khedive, and consular agents of four Great Powers.
Samanud excited us more than anything we had seen on the railway so far ; it had a really splendid cemetery, with Sheikh's tombs good enough for a minor caliph. The cemetery was much larger than the town ; it went on for a mile or two-a most fascinating exhibition of mud domes. It has also, I believe, mounds of real interest belonging to the days when it was the capital of the Sebennyte Nome, which gave its name to the dynasty of Nektanebo, the Pharaoh who entertained Plato. With the reign of the second Nektanebo the native kings of Egypt came to an end.
He was conquered by the Persians, who were conquered by the Macedonians. Alexander was succeeded by the Ptolemies, and the Ptolemies by the Roman Emperors. Only four or five miles from Samanud are the ruins of the famous Busiris, the original residence of Osiris. Here the cultivation was given a novel character in our eyes by the use of the doublethreaded Archimedean screw, which Archimedes is said to have invented during his stay in Egypt. I had never seen it before. A fellah turns the handle as if he was grinding a piano-organ, and it drains or irrigates the land according as he pumps from the land to the water or from the water to the land. It looks rather like a cannon of exaggerated rifling, with its nose just below the water and a rod going up the middle. It is used here because the canal banks are low. It could not compete with the shadůf and the sakiya on the high banks of the Nile in Upper Egypt. It has the effect of a cascade running up instead of down, and is quite an interesting toy.
It may be hard work, for there were two men to it. While one was grinding the organ the other was lying on