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little Leander, three of the English ships which had been delayed, sailed up. The Leander, only a fifty-gun ship, threw herself across the bows of two great three-deckers, the Franklin and the mighty L'Orient, with consummate skill, so as to make the most of her feeble battery by raking them. The captains of the Alexander and the Swiftsure threw themselves grimly upon L'Orient, already badly mauled by the Bellerophon before the latter had been compelled to relinquish the unequal fight. The Swiftsure anchored outside the line, where her captain could divide his fire between the Franklin and L'Orient. The Alexander sailed right under the stern of L'Orient and anchored close to her inner quarter. In less than an hour L'Orient was on fire. Under the terrible cannonade of the two ships all attempts to put the fire out were unavailing. At a quarter to ten L'Orient blew up, to the infinite danger of the boats of the British ships, who were trying to save her crew. Nelson, meanwhile, had been so badly wounded that his captains were compelled to fight out the remainder of the action on their own initiative. It was due to this fact that the three rear French ships were left unengaged, and sailed away on the following morning when day broke and showed the condition of the rest of their fleet. They could not be pursued, because only one British ship had sufficient rigging left to follow them. Ten out of the thirteen French ships having been taken or destroyed, the first order Nelson issued when he recovered from the stunning effects of his wound was: “Vanguard, off the Mouth of the Nile, August 22, 1798.-Almighty God having blessed His Majesty's arms with victory, the Admiral intends returning public thanksgiving for the same at two o'clock this day: and he recommends every ship doing the same as soon as convenient.” Such was the battle of the Nile, fought in this roadstead of Abūkir, which fills the curve of the coast between Alexandria and the Rosetta mouth of the Nile. There is no monument of any kind to this most supreme of all naval victories, one of the most decisive battles of the world. But Abūkir is very somnolent, even for immemorial Egypt,

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the land of short memories. Truly the Pharaohs were wise
when they catalogued every detail upon every monument in
their imperishable hieroglyphics. But for that Egypt would
have forgotten that there ever were any Pharaohs. Of Aber-
cromby's battle—the land-battle of Abūkir, fought nearly
three years after Nelson's, and even more immediate in its
results, since it secured the evacuation of Egypt by Napoleon's
army, which had obtained possession of the country in spite
of Nelson's victory—the landmarks are almost lost.
Canopus, the pleasure-city of Alexandria, has fared even
worse. It is vaguely identified with Abūkir, but some
savants place it to the north and some to the south, though
a large Roman temple dedicated to Serapis, discovered not
so very long ago on the estate of Prince Omar Toussoun,
may help them to come to a decision, because we know from
Plutarch that there was a much-frequented shrine and oracle
of Serapis at Canopus. It is incredible how little we know
of Canopus and its site, when we consider that the city gave
its name to a branch of the Nile, and that the eponymous
god connected with it gave his name to the human-headed
Canopic jars, in which the ancient Egyptians preserved the
intestines of their important dead. We know vaguely that
Canopus was a watering-place notorious for its number of
religious festivals and the general dissoluteness of its morals,
and we know that the red dye of the henna, used so widely
in the East for colouring the hands and feet, was manu-
factured here. We know that the Emperor Hadrian estab-
lished a miniature Canopus in his pleasure-city on the way
out to Tivoli, known as the Villa of Hadrian ; but no one
has ever yet made out the exact nature of this Canopus.
Some ancient writers imagined that Canopus was called after
the pilot of Menelaus, who died and was buried here, after
the return of the Greeks from Troy; some imagined that it
was called after the god Canopus. Modern writers will be
more inclined to believe that both the god and the pilot
were invented to account for the name of the town, which is
generally the truth about eponymous heroes in the classics.
We shall know more about it, a great deal, when the wealthy

city of Alexandria wakes up to the importance of excavating some of the square miles of ancient sites which lie unexcavated in its vicinity. At present Alexandria cares so little about anything except commerce, that photographs are almost unprocurable in the city, and the postcard business is in its infancy. To most people who visit Abūkir the blue bay, with its memories of Nelson, will be but a faint background. Their vision will be one of Arab women squatting in the sun, as still as Lot's wife; of little Arab girls in the long dress which pervades half Italy, playing about like the kids of goats; of a grove of date-palms by the shore, and a gay little mosque at the corner of the yellow native village—too poor to support a civilised shop, or to keep its hotel alive, though it is surrounded by the summer villas of pashas.

CHAPTER XXIV

A Visit to the Fayum, the Land of a Thousand
Days

C HE Fayum is well worth a visit. It is so unlike other

parts of Egypt—it is so pleasant to the eye, so instructive, and so easy to get to. A railway takes you direct in about three hours to Medinet Fayum, the capital, an interesting place itself, and the natural centre from which the whole district can be visited by railway carriage. The Fayum is a real oasis, a land flowing with sparkling waters, which is surrounded by the desert on all sides. Except that its waters are not still, but blest with a swift, natural current, which turns the water-wheels automatically, and sweeps away the dread of malaria, the beginning of the twentythird psalm, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters,” might have been written of the Fayum—the land of many waters, whose pastures are so green in the midst of the desert. In the Fayum are the rich palm groves which the teachings of one's childhood have associated with the idea of an oasis. Considering how close it is to Cairo, tourists know surprisingly little of the Fayum, which is a pity, for there are features in the Fayum which adapt it for a tourist-centre, and make it a future Mena or Luxor or *. The dearth of postcards of the Fayum—the almost entire absence of photographs of the Fayum—is partly responsible for this.) At only one Cairo photographer could I discover any photos of it—at Lekejian's ; and his pictures, though

exquisitely beautiful, were not very up-to-date or com

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prehensive. The books about the Fayum also are not upto-date in their pictures. I went there with an entirely wrong view of the place. I imagined Medinet Fayum to be a place picturesque in its decay, like Rosetta or Damietta, full of old mosques and tumble-down palaces. Instead of this I found a thriving modern town, with an old bit here and there, it is true, but depending for its picturesqueness on the Bahr Yūsuf, and the Oriental aspect of its great modern houses. There is the air of wealth about the place. Its houses are like the villas of Shubra, without their immense gardens. They would make an imposing suburb in Cairo. They are the kind of houses one would expect to find in that desolate Garden City, whose foundations grin at you, like toothless gums, on the banks of the Nile all the way from old Cairo to new Cairo. ^ The Fayum is a very wealthy place, and its rich Arab and sy in landowners live in these palaces, and superintend the cultivation of their lands. Some of them live there altogether, others, as their wealth increases, have houses in Cairo also, and use their Medinet Fayum houses, when they want to visit their property, and as country-houses for passing the summer months. Medinet is saved from ugliness and vulgarity because there are no Europeans living in it. Its palaces are purely Arab, and as they are spreading and lofty, and have overhanging, meshrebiya-latticed harem windows, and gay Arab decorations, the effect is Oriental and pleasing. But the old mosque, which once spanned the Bahr Yūsuf, in the main street, overhangs it no longer with its picturesque and tumble-down adjuncts: and the bazar is of the unredeemed sort you find in a prosperous native town which does not disturb itself about foreigners. Medinet Fayum, the capital for four thousand years, is a beautiful city. It is the famous Bahr Yūsuf which gives it its beauty. The Bahr Yūsuf is the river-like canal which flows through the centre of the city as the Torrente S. Maria flows through

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