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Art. I. Travels in Africa,
Egypt, and Syria, from the year 1792 to 1798. By W. G. Browne. Second Edition, enlarged, 4to. pp. 626. Price in Boards, ll. 165. Longman and Co. Cadell and Co. 1806. THE dispersion of mankind, as recorded in our sacred scriptures, affords the only rational solution of phænomena which are found in all nations. During the former half of the period which has elapsed since the general deluge, the human race seems to have been actuated by a centrifugal force, which has separated, estranged, and diversified them from each other, till it has become very difficult to obtain access to many nations; and scarcely more easy to recognize them, when discovered, as members of the same family with ourselves. A gradual approximation has, nevertheless, for more than two thousand years, been effected by various means. The insatiable lust of dominion transported Alexander to India, and Cæsar to Britain. Instigated by the auri sacra fames,, the Portuguese and the Spaniards explored the Eastern and the Western Indies, and opened to other nations a path round the habitable globe. A nobler object, and a more beneficent purpose, (though too often debased by unworthy appendages) prompted missionaries to penetrate the most distant, barbarous, or bigoted nations, to impart to them the light of the Gospel, which either had not yet travelled to their remote habitations, or had long been extinguished by the power of darkness.
These several motives co-operate still toward a complete discorery of the world; but the principal advances which the last forty years have witnessed, in this pursuit, seem to have been excited by a fourth motive, distinct from all that are yet mentioned, and as much superior to the former of them, as it is inferior to the last. The love of science, apparently, is the principle, by which the labours of governments, of private societies, and of individuals, have been chiefly animated, in the extension of geographical discovery. Tal Vol. III
this honourable motive we willingly attribute Mr. Browne's adventurous and laborious expedition, ås he has left our charity to its free scope, by affording no intimation of the purposes and views with which he explored the insulated regions of Africa. Many other omissions, equally remarkable, cannot pass unnoticed by us : but considering the arduous nature of his undertaking, we regard them as occasions of regret, rather than of censure, reserving our right to blame for cases where it is required by imperious duty.
The very title of this work indicates the author's deficiency of precision. It implies that Egypt forms no part of Africa, and that the figures 1798 are not ineant to denote a year.
Mr. B. landedat Alexandria, 10th January, 1792. His first attempt was to discover the temple of Jupiter Ammon; of which, as it failed, and as Mr. Hornemann has since followed our traveller to the Oasis of Siwa, it is unnecessary to give a detailed'account. That fertile spot is placed by Mr. B. in 29o. 12' N. Lat. and 44° 54'. E. Long: from Ferro. It extends one way (we know not in what direction) six miles; and four and a hali, the other. This space is mostly filled with date trees; but likewise produces a sufficiency of wheat for the inhabitants, the number of whom, or that of their habitations, is not estimated; with abundance of water, both fresh and salt; a reddish species of rice; pomegranates, figs, olives, apricots, and plantains; the gardens flourishing remarkably. The heat was oppressive in March; the complexion of the people is darker than that of the Egyptians; and they speak a different dialect of the Arabic. They are Mahometans, seemingly independent of all external controul, and under little subordination to their own Shechs, who are elective. · Secured by surrounding deserts from invasion, the depravity of their nature is evinced by these insulated mortals, in their mutual discord and violence. They possess camels, hairy sheep, goats, and a very few oxen. They fabricate earthen vessels, and transport the fruit of their date trees to Alexandria and Cairo, to procure other commodi! ties; slaves, however, they purchase from the people of Fezzar, the caravan from Mürzouk passing by them on its way to Cairo. The wandering Arabs of the Desert between Tripoli and Egypt, occasionally visit them ; apparently without giving them molestation.
The following notes are supplemental in the present edition.
" I have omitted to remark in the first edition of this work, that the singular optical deception, termed by the French Mirage, was frequently observable after we had left the coast. That phenomenon, in the sequel, became familiar to me. It does not take place till some time after the sun be risen, and disappears before his setting. It consists of an appearance' resembling inundation, at the distance of two or three miles. When
villages, clumps of date-trees, or other dark objects are within the limits of vision, they assume the likeness of islands, and their images are seen reversed, as in the reflecting surface of a sheet of water.
In the Memoires sur l’Egypte, tom. i. p. 64, C. Gaspard Monge has treated this subject at length. But his explanation of it is not extremely perspicuous, nor perfectly satisfactory. It wants experimental details, and the exactness desired in physical inquiries. The remaining difficulties, however, have been completely removed, and this as well as other optical deceptions have been explained with great acuteness and precision by our countryman, Dr. Wollaston, whose name is inseparably united with the scientifick discoveries of the present century, in a Memoir on double Images, caused by Atmospherical Refraction. See Phil. Trans. 1800.'
• Since the publication of the first edition of this work, the labours of Mr. Hornemann have added much to the stock of information concern ing this Oasis. The object of the Temple has received illustration from the pen
of the learned editor of Mr. H.'s Journal; and the collective testimony has been detailed and weighed with his wonted precision, judgment, and sagacity, by the author of the Geographical System of Herodotus, &c.
All the circumstances which can aid-its decision are before the public.. While on the one hand, in identifying objects of antiquarian research, easy credulity is to be deprecated ; on the other, it must be remembered, that rigorous demonstration can scarcely, in any case, be expected.' p. 30.
After visiting Abu-kir and Rashid, Mr. B. proceeded 6th May, to Terané, near the western branch of the Nile, in Lat. 30° 24': and thence made an excursion to the lakes, about 35 miles W.N.W. of that place; whence very large supplies of Natron are obtained. Of these lakes, General Andreossi has since given a description, which differs considerably from our author's; but he adheres, in the main, to the judgement that he formed of them on the spot.
Having resided at Cairo from 16 May to 10 September, Mr. B. navigated the Nile as high as Assuan, the ancient Syene, with the hope of penetrating to Abyssinia : but he was prevented by a civil war between the Mamluks; which interrupted the caravans, and of which he had no previous knowledge. He returned, therefore to Ghenné, 7 November, and (after visiting the port of Cossir) to Cairo, 8 December; at the close of that month, he made an excursion to Feiúm, near the lake Mæris, now called Birket-al-kurûn, about 60 Miles S. W. of Cairo. At this place, Mr. B. spent three days; but the whole information he has furnished respecting it will easily be present. ed to our readers.
• At a small distance to the North are the ruins of an antient town, called by the Arabs Medinet Faris, city of the Persians, probably antient Arsinoe. Some mutilated busts and statues found here were offered for sale. I also observed sonce jars, resembling those used to contain the