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many other travellers have described the masses of vegetation, both living and dead, which in parts of the White Nile, e.g, Baḥr al-Ghazâl, completely obstruct the fairway of the river. These masses, or blocks of sudd* as they are called, are often of very considerable length, and where they exist the river becomes practically a mere swamp. Sir Samuel describes one which was three-quarters of a mile wide ; it was perfectly firm, and was already overgrown with high reeds and grass. The graves of the people who had died of the plague were actually upon it. When the Nile stream approached this vegetable dam it plunged beneath it by a subterranean channel with a rush like a cataract. From time to time these dams are added to by small islands of vegetation, which drift down upon them, and trees and dead crocodiles, and hippopotami, help to make the mass more dense. Sudd is met with between Shâmbî (lat. 7° 5' 53" north) and the Sobat River (lat. 9° 22' 8" north), or a distance of 250 miles, and on the White Nile between Lake Nô and the Sobat River. See “Report on the Soudan," by Sir W. Garstin, K.C.M.G., London, 1899. With the view of opening the White Nile to navigation, the Egyptian Government, in 1899, voted the sum of £E. 10,000 for cutting the sudd between Lake Nó and Shâmbî, and a party of 700 men, 4 officers, with 4 steamers, left Omdurmân in December, 1899, to carry out the work. The blocks of sudd were nine in number. The grass and dry vegetation upon them were set fire to, and when they were burnt, the blocks were cut gradually into sections, each of which had to be towed away by a steamer, by means of a steel hawser. The sudd cutting party was under the command of Major Peake, who, according to a telegram of May 17th, from Cairo, stated that the White Nile was then clear as far as Bedden, and that Sir W.
* Arab. Jw sadd, or a sudd; plural udtal.
Garstin's orders had been effectively carried out. When the sudd was removed, a vast amount of stagnant water was set free, and as a result the fish died in large numbers in the lower reaches of the river. In 1901, Lieut. Drury freed the sudd north of Ghâba Shâmbî, and further operations connected with the clearance of the river were carried out by Major Matthews in 1902, and Lieut. Drury and Mr. Poole in 1903.
The Barrage or Barrages. From time immemorial the Nile has been allowed to water the land of Egypt according to its own will and pleasure, and there are no records to show that any ruler of Egypt seriously undertook to regulate the supply of water to the cultivable lands by means of dams or reservoirs. The river has been allowed to waste itself for thousands of years, and it was not until the present century that any attempt was made to keep the Nile and its branches within bounds. It is recorded by Clot Bey (Willcocks, op. cit., p. 257 ; R. H. Brown, History of the Barrage, p. I; Milner, England in Egypt, p. 239) that Napoleon I. saw the necessity of some means of regulating the supply of water to the Rosetta and Damietta branches of the Nile, with the view of letting the whole of it flow first down one branch and then down the other, thus doubling the effect of the inundation in flood. In 1833 Muhammad Ali blocked the head of the Rosetta branch with a stone dam, which made the Nile stream flow into the Damietta branch, wherefrom all the large canals in the Delta drew their supply. Linant Pâsha, seeing the serious effect which would be produced upon Alexandria and the Eastern Delta if this action were continued, remonstrated with his master, and proposed as an alternative the construction of a Barrage across the head of each branch, about six miles below the bifurcation of the river. This proposal was approved by Muhammad Alî, and when informed by Linant Pasha of the amount of stone, etc., which would be required, promptly ordered it to be taken from the Pyramids, and only relinquished this plan when it was proved to him that stone could be got at a cheaper rate from the quarries at Cairo.
The work was begun in 1833, and was continued until 1835, but towards the end of this year it was carried on with less vigour, and soon after it was entirely stopped. For seven years the old system of clearing out the canals by the corvée was revived, and nothing more was done.
In 1842 Mougel, a French engineer, proposed a system of Barrages, to which was united a series of fortifications which were to be built at the bifurcation of the river, and the idea pleased Muhammad 'Ali, who ordered the work to be undertaken at once. The Damietta Barrage was begun in 1843, and the Rosetta Barrage in 1847. The work was hurried on so fast that it was badly done, and the disrepute into which Mougel's magnificent scheme fell in later years was due to his master's impatience and interference with his plans. Muḥammed 'Ali insisted that so many tons of concrete should be poured each day into the foundations, whether the river was flowing over them or not; as a result the water washed out the lime and cement, and the stones were thus left without proper binding material.
In 1853, the new Viceroy, ‘Abbâs Pâsha, dismissed Mougel, being dissatisfied with the rate of progress made, and Mazhar Bey was ordered to finish the Barrages on Mougel's plans. Commissions sat on the matter, and although the defects of the work already done were well known, no attempt was made to remedy them, and the Barrages were finished in 1861. They had cost £1,800,000, exclusive of the corvée, and the fortifications, etc., cost £2,000,000 more. These works form the famous “ Barrage," which lies about fourteen miles to the north of Cairo; the Rosetta Barrage has 61 arches and two locks, and is about 1,512 feet long; the Damietta Barrage has 61 arches (originally
71) and two locks, and is about 1,730 feet long. In 1863 the gates of the Rosetta Barrage were closed, so that more water might be turned into the Damietta branch, and cracks promptly appeared in the structure. In 1867 ten openings or arches of the Rosetta Barrage separated themselves from the rest of the work, and moved out of their places. In 1876, Mr. (the late Sir) John Fowler reported on the Barrage, and he proved that the floor and foundations were cracked, that the latter were too shallow, and that £1,200,000 would have to be spent to make the work fit for any useful purpose; General Rundall, R.E., also reported on the Barrage, and estimated that it could be made serviceable for £500,000, and described how the repairs were to be carried out * Finally, in 1883, Rousseau Pâsha, Director General of Public Works, declared that the Barrage could only be used as a distributor of the river discharge between the two branches, and that to make it fit for this purpose it would be necessary to spend about £400,000 upon it.
With the failure of the Barrage to do its work, the supply of water in the canals naturally failed, and the Egyptian Government had to pay a Company £ 26,000 per annum to pump water into one canal only; and when Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff, in 1883, came to Egypt, ministers were solemnly thinking of adopting a scheme for pumping water into all the canals in the Delta. The engines were to cost LE.700,000, and the annual cost was to be about £250,000 ; and “the Egyptian Government was actually on the verge of trying to lift the whole river” (Milner, op. cit., p. 242). The English ministers set aside this scheme at once, and directed Mr. (now Sir) W. Willcocks to test the capacity of the Barrage and its power to hold up water. These instruc
• Major H. Brown (op. cit., p. 94) says “the manner of restoring the Barrage as recommended by General Rundall is very nearly that which was actually adopted, and further, the cost of the restoration was correctly estimated."
tions were carried out, and it was found that parts of the structure had not been finished, and that the Damietta section had never been provided with gates. At the cost of about £, 26,000 he effected such important repairs, that he was able to hold up water to the depth of nearly four feet more than had ever been possible before, and the cotton crop in 1884 amounted to 3,630,000 kanțars (1 kanțar = 1011 lbs.), as against that of 1879, at that time the highest known, which amounted to 3,186,600 ķanțars. The work was a great triumph, and Mr. Willcocks continued his experiments in 1885 with even greater success. It now became possible to consider the systematic repair of the Barrage, and the complete restoration of this fine work was begun in 1886, and finished at a cost of about £ 472,000 in 1891, at which time it was abie to hold up a head of about 13 feet of water. Thus Mougel's Barrage was made a success, and it would be difficult to describe the greatness of the benefit which the English officials conferred upon Egypt by making it perform the work intended.
Now during the years while the Barrage was an object of ridicule, the position of Mougel Bey went from bad to worse, and at length he became extremely poor and was forgotten ; the Egyptian Government visited upon him the sins of Muhammad 'Ali, who had made the Barrage a failure by his haste and impatience, and had left him unprovided for, and the French Government had done nothing for him. At the moment when Sir Colin Moncriefi was planning the restoration of the Barrage, the poor old man, broken down by grief and semi-starvation, was brought to his notice, and he left no stone unturned until the Egyptian Government bestowed an adequate pension upon him, and lifted him out of the reach of want.
But although the Barrage is doing splendid work, it does not even now store all the water which is required for the cotton and other crops in the summer throughout