Overland Journey to India

The following description of the route from England to India was drawn up by Dr. Buist, of the Bombay Times:

The only way, not many years ago, of reaching India from England, was by sailing vessels, which, touching at St. Helena or the Cape of Good Hope, made the voyage in about four months. Now, the journey is usually performed partly by sea, and partly by land, in from thirty-five to forty days. This overland journey, as it is called, admits of variation. Some travel across France to Marseilles, and then proceed by a steamer to Alexandria; and this is undoubtedly the quickest way of reaching Egypt, through which it is necessary to pass. The greater number of travelers, however, prefer proceeding by steamer from Southampton direct to Alexandria, because this saves much fatigue, shifting of luggage, and also some expenses.

Having spent a few months in England in the latter part of 1845, it became necessary for me to decide on returning to my official duties in Bombay. Of the different modes of making the journey, I preferred that by steam vessel from Southampton. Occupied till the last moment with business in London, I did not find it possible to leave town till the morning of the 3d of December. Packing having been got through rapidly enough, I found myself on my way to the South-Western Railway station, at half past six - an unpleasant time to start on a long journey, but travelers learn to accommodate themselves to all sorts of inconveniences. The distance from London to Southampton was traversed in little more than three hours. I found various friends and acquaintances about to be my companions on the journey to India, and a more pleasant and agreeable party than that turned out to be which left Southampton in the Tagus, on the 3d of December, no one need desire to travel with.

It is sad to witness the parting of relatives with those about to leave for India; doubly sad to those who know the sickness, the suffering, the sorrow, and the disappointment too often awaiting the young who quit home with visions of the East flitting before them in their brightest hues. The looked-for return - the bright future - the hopes of happy meetings - all how rarely realised!

We quitted our moorings at three o'clock P. M., and lost sight of England in the darkness while yet very close to it. We steered down the Channel during night. Next day the weather was thick, and the land invisible. The Bay of Biscay, which opens after passing Ushant, has, by means of steam, been divested of half its terrors.

We sighted Cape Finisterre on the morning of the 7th - the first land we had seen since leaving Southampton. We continued to make good progress, though latterly we had had, a rough wind and heavy sea to contend with.

The vessel, in general, approaches tolerably near to the Cape. The outlines of the landscape are bold, varied, and beautiful; but a heavy swell, which commonly rolls in, is apt to interfere with the voyager's contemplations.

From this on running down the coast of Portugal, the steamer on most occasions keeps pretty close in-shore, so that the land is for the most part visible. The first places of note that present themselves are Oporto and Vigo Bay. The appearance presented here by the mainland is exceedingly picturesque. The coast seems rocky and precipitous, jagged and irregular. There are lighthouses on certain small islands, and on more than one of the headlands; and white-walled dwellings and villages everywhere present themselves.

The heights of Torres Vedras, close on shore, present nothing to the eye that is marvellous or attractive, though rich in the most striking historical associations. The magnificent pile at Mafra is generally distinctly visible without the aid of a telescope. It is of enormous extent, containing a palace, convent, and superb church. The lines of Byron here recur to re membrance:

The horrid crags, by toppling convent crowned, 
The cork-trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep, 
The mountain-moss by scorching skies embrowned, 
The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep,
The tender azure of the unruffled deep, 
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough, 
The torrents that from cliff to valley leap, 
The vine on high, the willow branch below, 
Mixed in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.

The ridge, on the highest pinnacle of which the convent of our Lady of the Rock is situated, is wild, rugged, and precipitous, ascending to an elevation of about two thousand five hundred feet. A low cliff skirts the seashore, and singular masses, apparently of drift sand, make their appearance, stretching for some miles along and inland.

A very picturesque appearance is often presented by the fishing-boats when the breeze is fresh. They have a drag-net attached to the extreme end of a long outrigger, stretching some thirty or forty feet beyond the vessel, and hundreds of sea-birds follow the net, with the view, apparently, of picking up any stray fish they can extract from it.

The Rock of Lisbon, a huge, unshapely, but striking mass, indicates the approach to the Tagus. The river opens up magnificently from the sea. The spires and lofty buildings of Lisbon are distinctly visible, with the vessels at anchor off the quay. Cape Espartelle, a remarkable headland, with a lighthouse upon its extremity, becomes visible a little to the south of the debouchure of the Tagus. The cliff is obliquely stratified, and marked like those of Alum bay, Isle of Wight. The land now recedes, and is in a considerable measure lost sight of, till, rounding close in upon cape St. Vincent, the scene of the celebrated engagement in 1797, the bay of Cadiz is entered. In crossing this bay, land is for some time lost sight of. It becomes visible again off cape Trafalgar; but this celebrated headland it was our misfortune to pass in the dark.

The next place of importance reached by the steamer is Gibraltar, where we quit the Atlantic ocean, and enter the Mediteranean. The rock of Gibraltar first comes into view about ten miles off. As the bay is approached, the suddenness of the change in the color of the water, from bright deep blue to green, as the soundings decrease at once from twenty-four to sixteen fathoms, strikes the voyager. The transition is instantaneous, without any intermediate hue or shading. Rounding the point Carnero, and breasting Europa point, you find yourself at once within a beautiful sheltered and spacious recess, some six miles across and ten in depth, with British men-of-war, steamers, and merchant-ships of every nation at anchor. The appearance of the rock of Gibraltar, with respect to its known military strength, generally disappoints the stranger. The most formidable of the batteries are either concealed in mysterious galleries in the bosom of the rock itself, half-way up, or lie so close on the line of the sea, as to be lost sight of amongst the hulls of the vessels around. The promontory consists of a vast rock, rising from twelve hundred to fourteen hundred feet above the sea; it is about three miles in length, and from one-half to three-quarters of a mile in width, and is joined to the mainland by a low sandy isthmus, about a mile and a half in length. On the north side, fronting the isthmus, the rock is almost perpendicular, the east and south sides are also steep and rugged; but on the west side it slopes downward to a fine bay, nine miles long by four and a half miles broad. On this slope lies the town, containing a mixed population of sixteen thousand, and above rise the principal ramparts of the rocky fortress, which is generally garrisoned by from three to four thousand troops. The ordnance consists of more than seven hundred cannons fit for service.

Gibraltar derives its name from Tarif, a Moorish general, by whom it was taken from the Spaniards in 711 - Gibel Tarif, the Mountain of Tarif. It remained in the hands of the Moors till the beginning of the fourteenth century, when it was recovered by the Spaniards. It was retaken by the Moors in 1333. In 1462 it finally fell into the hands of the Christians, after having been possessed by their adversaries for seven hundred and forty-eight years. On the 24th of July, 1704, it was captured by the English, who fell on it suddenly, and stormed it - the garrison amounting to no more than one hundred and fifty men, the batteries mounting one hundred guns. From this time till nearly the end of the century, numberless attempts to wrest it from them have been made by the French and Spaniards, but in vain. During the late war, it seemed to be considered idle to attempt to disturb them.

The town of Algesiras, a place of considerable importance, and remarkable as that at which the Moors first landed in Spain, lies across the bay about five and a half miles off, while the village of St. Roque, at the upper end of the bay, is conspicuous on the slope. The high blue mountains of Granada fill up the background.

The winter climate of Gibraltar is extremely delightful. In December, the temperature varies from 60 to 75 degrees, clouds shading the piercing rays of the sun. In summer, it is occasionally extremely hot, especially when the wind blows from the African shore. The appearance presented by Gibraltar, viewed from the harbor, is peculiarly striking after nightfall. The numberless lights, seen in all their brightness through the open windows, look as if issuing from apertures admitting to some bright cave or furnace in the centre of the rock, whose huge black mass towers on high, the houses in the town being indistinguishable in the darkness. In summer, the surface of the sea is occasionally so closely covered with luminous particles, as to seem sheeted in phosphorus. The slightest ripple increases the intensity of the light, and the dolphins flash through the water, literally moving in light of their own making.' In winter, this in a great measure disappears, the luminosity being confined to a few bright masses which sweep by the ship. I have often taken up bucketsful of water brilliant with luminous particles when stirred, but though I have tried the experiment in a hundred different ways, I have never been so fortunate as to get a sight of the zoophyte or animalcule by which this is given forth, either with the naked eye or glass.

We landed at Gibraltar at noon, and embarked about five o'clock on the evening of the 10th. Of this time - of which a good deal was made by the more active of our passengers - I was unable to avail myself, being occupied in duties which I could not properly desert. Some of the party provided themselves with mules, and made an interesting excursion over the rock. The view of the African shore from Gibraltar Bay is, towards sunset, peculiarly beautiful - the fortress of Ceuta, standing out purple and red in the setting sun, in mimic rivalry of that on the European shore. One huge mass of mountains, of the Atlas group on the African side, with the Sierras of Andalusia on the Spanish shore, fill the mind with beauty' for a long while on leaving or on approaching Gibraltar.

After staying but a few hours, our gallant vessel was again on her course. The weather, unfortunately, was not propitious. On leaving Gibraltar we encountered a heavy gale of wind, which lasted four days. The wind was westerly, and, as is usual in such circumstances, the mercury in the barometer kept rising as the gale increased. When at its height, the column stood at 30.114, and began steadily to descend as the storm abated. How useful is this instrument to the mariner - how faithful its prognostications of storm and calm!

Pursuing our way up the Mediterranean, the vessel steers direct for Malta, by which we approach the African shore. On the 14th we were off Algiers. The bay and town, with the villas around, were plainly visible by the naked eye: we were little more than six miles off. The country adjoining appeared fertile and well-cultivated, and we could see roads, gardens, and enclosures, with fields and vineyards, all looking in good condition. Cape Faroe, and the promontory of the Seven Capes, are jagged, irregular headlands, very distinctly visible. Cape Bon was another headland which came into sight. We likewise passed within view of the dreary island of Pantellaria, which is evidently the huge tumulus of an extinct volcano. It is about thirty-six miles in circumference, and seems about three thousand feet in height. The raptured craters and streams of lava are easily traceable, with beds of loose stones hurled down the mountain's side during some of its fiercer explosions. A large mass of cloud, which might readily be mistaken for the smoke of smouldering fires, almost constantly rests on the summit of the mountain. There is a considerable town, of the same name with the island, near the seashore on the western slope, and vineyards and gardens appear scattered about in surprising abundance. It belongs to the king of Sicily, and is used as a penal settlement, whither the Sicilian convicts are sent.

Our coal had been so heavily taxed by the storm, which had only now abated, that we were at one time on the point of making for Tunis. The wind got round upon us, and it is astonishing how rapidly in these seas the swell goes down after a gale. Six hours after it had ceased to blow the waves were nearly smooth, and the speed of the vessel almost doubled.

We reached Malta at daybreak on the 17th of December, and proceeded to land with as little delay as possible. Had we come in an opposite direction, we should have had to perform a troublesome quarantine. The island of Malta, which now belongs to England, is sixty miles from the nearest point in Sicily, and two hundred from the African shore. It attains at one place an elevation of six hundred feet. The climate is fine and healthy, though hot in summer, and suffers occasionally from the sirocco, which blows from the south-east, and occurs chiefly in September. The mean annual temperature is 67 degrees; the variation of the yearly means from 1820 to 1840 was no more than 3 degrees; the extreme range during the year is about 24 degrees.

Malta consists entirely of calcareous rocks, with scarcely any soil, diluvium, or abraded matter. The country has rather an arid appearance, but it produces grapes in abundance, and other fruits. At a distance, the view is rendered lively by the great number of windmills perched on the heights, and employed for grinding corn. The inhabitants speak a language partly Arabic and partly Italian, the former predominating.

The port of Malta consists of two splendid harbors, separated from each other by the narrow promontory called Mount Xiberras. On this stands the capital, Valetta. Marsamuscetta is the name given to the western or quarantine harbor; the other is called Valetta, or the great Harbor. The entrance to this last is guarded on the one side by the fortress of St. Elmo, on the other by that of Ricasoli, both of remarkable strength. On Fort St. Elmo is one of the most brilliant lighthouses in the Mediterranean. The great Harbor runs away into numerous creeks and inlets. In one of these is the dockyard, victualling-yard, and arsenal, with a wet-dock just finished, which is said to have cost the government not much under a million sterling. In another is the merchant shipping wet-dock and storeyards. A number of British, American, and French ships of war are commonly at anchor in the port: one British line-of-battle ship, of the largest size, with the admiral's flag on board, being of the number. The vast variety of forms, and diversity of appointments, of the mercantile vessels, especially of those from the Levant, present a most picturesque appearance.

It is seldom the traveler to or from the East can find leisure to examine the whole of the noble sights in or around Malta. There are abundance of excellent guide-books, of which a supply can at all times be procured from the admirable library of Mr. Muir, for those who have leisure and inclination for such things. I shall confine myself to a short notice of those which, during my brief visit now and on a former occasion, I was able to examine.

One of the principal objects of attraction is the cathedral of St. John, the patron of the order of the famed Knights of Malta. It was built in 1580. Externally, it is a heavy-looking pile. It has a fine chime of bells, supposed to have been brought from Rhodes, and its internal decorations are rich and beautiful. The floor is mosaic marble pavement, chiefly composed of sepulchral monuments of the knights, whose figures are represented in white marble. The governor now resides in the palace of the Grand Master; it is a fine spacious building, well worthy of attention.

The most striking object connected with it is the armory. It contains ten thousand stand of modern infantry arms, fit for immediate use. The most attractive portions of its contents are the arms and suits of armor of the middle ages: some of these are beautifully chased, and inlaid with gold. There is a singular piece of ordnance, an eight or ten pounder, made of a moderately strong tube of sheet-copper, covered over with coils of tarred rope. The gun was really neatly formed, and at first the singular nature of the material of which it was made was not apparent. It seems to have been burst in firing. No great wonder that it should. The library is said, at the time of the expulsion of the knights, to have contained seventy thousand volumes. There are in the palace tables, slabs, vases, and ornaments of various kinds, cut from the marble of Valetta.

The fortifications of Malta are most extensive and intricate; they are connected with the harbors; and on looking at their powers of defense, the mind sinks tinder the conviction that they are impregnable. Fort St. Elmo, the most massive of these works, contains accommodation for two thousand men. Few things are more dazzling or trying for the eyes than the rocks and buildings around Malta harbor; they are of an intense yellowish-white, without one particle of vegetation to relieve them. The waters of the harbor are singularly pure, so that the bottom is distinctly visible to the depth of thirty or forty feet. The Parlettario is the favorite resort for quarantine-bound passengers. It is a long narrow room, near the anchorage, divided by a barrier, where the gold and silver filagree-work, for which Malta is famous, is sold. Here also are shell cameos, bracelets, and brooches in mosaic, and a vast variety, of bijouterie. The Maltese females are celebrated for the skill and delicacy with which they embroider in gold and colored silks, as well as for the beauty of the knit silk gloves, etc., which they manufacture; and on these a good deal of money is usually expended in the Parlettario for the benefit of friends at home.

There is a tradition that, from the time of the visit of St. Paul, Malta has been devoid of serpents or other poisonous reptiles. During our stay, we had evidence of the baselessness of the tradition - having seen a snake killed by a soldier on duty close by his sentry-box. It was about three feet long, of a dingy brown, and had very much the hue and aspect of the common cobra. We had no means of determining whether it was poisonous or not. Close by the anchorage were several sentry stations, and the neat economical penthouse with which the soldier was protected from the sun, struck me as particularly suitable for India. It is a light wooden stand, not unlike a music stand in shape, with a movable board, which can be fixed at any degree of angle, to shelter the sentinel from the sun. Without such a protection in summer, the poor soldier would soon be broiled to death.

So many days had been lost in the storm after leaving Gibraltar, that the time allowed us at Malta was limited to eight hours. We quitted the shore at four o'clock, and were on board as speedily as possible. The Oriental Steam Navigation Company had at this time but one vessel for the Bombay mail, as it is called, which plies constantly betwixt Malta and Alexandria - the Iberia. She is of five hundred tons burden, with engines of two hundred horse-power; a clever-going, clean, tidy little ship, with one of the most kind-hearted, attentive, and obliging captains that can be. And here I may be permitted a few passing remarks on the Tagus and Iberia, in which both my voyages were performed, belonging to the lighter class Of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company's ships. The Tagus is a fine powerful vessel, of nine hundred tons and three hundred horse-power, well kept, and a stout sea-boat. Nothing can surpass the politeness and attention of her officers; and the whole attendance has that air of thorough respectability which imparts so much confidence, and assures so much comfort, to the passengers - contrasting strikingly in the latter with the ragamuffianly crew which, on the Suez side, constitutes the servants in the government steamers. The Oriental Company give high pay to their servants, so as to make their service eminently desirable. They keep the establishment always fully employed; the heaviest punishment that can be inflicted on either seaman or servant is dismissal, with the assurance that he will never be employed by them again. The provisioning of the vessel is let out to a provider who receives five shillings aday for each passenger: the officers have nothing to do with it, but to see that everything is abundant and of the best.

We had a beautiful run of six days from Malta to Alexandria; our voyage bringing us within the farther limits of the Mediterranean, known as the Levant. The time occupied from Southampton to Alexandria was about twenty days, including stoppages.

EGYPT . The land around Alexandria is so low, that it does not come into sight till we are quite close to the harbor of Alexandria; but some time previously, we observe rising, as it were, out of the sea, the windmills, Pompey's Pillar, the Lighthouse, and Cleopatra's Needle, with several towers and minarets. From the town westward to the Lake Mareotis, for the space of nearly a mile, the sand hillocks by the shore are literally covered with windmills. I counted about two hundred. The turrets are about thirty feet high in all, the length of the arms about twenty feet, breadth of sail three to three and a half feet. They have eight vanes each; and as they are set different ways, and so move in opposite directions in different mills, when tossing their arms in the wind, they look like a set of sea-monsters sprawling about on the shore, and striving to regain their native element. They are all employed in grinding wheat; and though rugged and rude enough in appearance, are in reality simple and efficient implements. They employ a single pair of stones, made either of French bhurr or vesicular lava from Sicily. They have no sifting or bolting apparatus: the ground wheat is received from the stones in a sack, and the flower afterwards dressed through a fine gauze sieve by the hand. I visited several of them, with a view to the introduction of a similar species of machine into India.

On landing at Alexandria, the traveler now feels that he is fairly out of Europe. He may have seen a stray and stunted palm-tree or two at Gibraltar or Malta, with here and there a Turk or Arab in his native dress: these last, indeed, may be met with in the streets of London. At Alexandria all the costumes are. Oriental, European residents mostly dressing like Turks. Vast groves of magnificent date-trees, far surpassing in beauty those to be met with in Western India, stretch away in all directions. Long strings of camels are employed in carrying merchandise. The women are all veiled - covered over with that unsightly blue vestment which conceals the person and the face, leaving a pair of little holes for the eyes to peep through. Formerly it was the custom for passengers from the steam-packets to place themselves on the backs of donkeys, in order to get through the streets. This is all changed now, and the traveler finds a large and roomy van ready for his convenience.

The great square of Alexandria, where most of the European inhabitants reside, has a singularly fine and pleasing appearance, though without anything of which the architect can boast. The houses are built of whitish limestone, like Bathstone, only here the walls remain pure as when erected - taking no tarnish from the weather. In the centre is an obelisk of the yellowish-white Cairo marble, which surmounts a fountain. The residences of the consuls around the square are each surmounted by a flag-staff, on which on gala-days the ensigns of their respective nations are displayed. The French consul has a strange-looking corkscrew staircase surrounding his, and leading to a watch-tower which overlooks the town. Many of the sign boards of the shopkeepers, especially of the apothecaries, are painted with Greek characters. Here are situated the principal hotels, and hence diverge streets to all parts of the town.

Alexandria was originally built in the form of a Madonian mantle, with its longer side to the sea. At one time it contained a population of above half a million, of which half were slaves. It boasted of four thousand palaces, four thousand baths, four hundred theatres or places of amusement, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetables, and forty thousand tributary Jews . Its public libraries are said to have contained seven, hundred thousand volumes of books. It was accidentally destroyed by fire during the war with the Romans in Caesar's time. Ages of misrule under Saracens, and latterly under Turks, fell like a blight on every thing in Alexandria, as on everything else in Egypt: and not until the era of Mehemet Ali, the present vigorous ruler, did the country show any symptom of revival. Since the beginning of the present century, the population of Alexandria has increased from seven thousand to seventy thousand. With its harbor and docks, it now possesses the appearance of a thriving port.

Vestiges of the ancient splendor of Alexandria are everywhere to be found. Fragments of richly-sculptured columns, of architraves, cornices, and other portions of architectural ornament, are to be seen strewed about in every quarter of the city - broken up for lime or for paving-stones, and built into the meanest houses. Huge shafts of granite are continually disclosed, half buried amongst the rubbish or the sand; and the mounds of ruins are in many cases one mass of porphyries, granites, verde-anticoes, and marbles, brought from Upper Egypt or the south of Europe. In the course of a few hours I picked up some hundred specimens of thirty different varieties of the stones I have named, which required only a little polishing to restore to them their lustre. Mosaics, and pieces of ancient glass, are also abundant; the latter marked by that iridescent semi-metallic hue which indicates decay through extreme lapse of time. The sights of Alexandria are Pompey's Pillar, Cleopatra's Needle, the Catacombs, the pasha's palace, and the battle-field where Abercromby fell; the Lake Mareotis, of which a distant view usually satisfies the traveler; and the canal. Pompey's Pillar stands on an eminence about six hundred yards from the present walls of the town, close beside the road which leads from the Rosetta Gate to the Mahmoudye Canal. The total height of the column is ninety-eight feet. The shaft, which is a single block of red granite or syenite, is nine feet eight inches in diameter, and seventy-three in length. It is now shown to have been erected by Publius, the prefect of Egypt, in honor of the Emperor Dioclesian. It probably was only put in its place when it is said to have been erected, forming most likely a portion of some of the more ancient and noble relics of Egypt. Cleopatra's Needles are at the opposite extremity of the town: they consist of two obelisks, one prostrate and one erect, of the same material as the column. One is seventy, the other sixty-five feet high, and about seven feet in diameter at the base. They stood originally at Heliopolis, and were brought to Alexandria by one of the Caesars. Both are covered with hieroglyphics.

The Lake of Mareotis is one of the curiosities of the neighborhood of Alexandria, and is situated a short way beyond the Rosetta Gate. This lake, which is about a hundred and fifty miles in circumference, was originally fresh-water; and being about five or six feet deep, it answered the purpose of navigation. In consequence of its connexion with the Nile being cut off, its waters were wholly dried up, or nearly so; and in this condition it was eighty or ninety years since. An entire change followed. It is divided from the sea by mounds of sand, blown up from the shore, and its bottom is several feet lower than the level of the Mediterranean. Thus exposed to the danger of submersion, it was resolved, during the siege of Alexandria in 1788, to let in upon it the waters of the ocean. It was certain to produce a wide-spread calamity; but when did the demon War stop to consider results? Four cuts were made, each of six yards in width, and ten distant from each other. The water rushed in with a fall of six feet. Two more cuts were finished next day, and the sea finally broke down the divisions. What a scene of devastation! The sea flowed in for a week. The calamity was fearful. The sites of three hundred villages were flooded, and rendered barren for ever. The bank was afterwards closed up again, and the communication with the sea cut off; but the basin of the lake being lower than the surface of the sea, and the Mediterranean here being without tide, there was no means of drawing off the salt water. It was by degrees in a great measure evaporated by the sun, leaving a vast expanse of once fertile surface covered with a dazzling snow-white sheet of salt. In this condition I examined it in June 1845. The Nile is admitted annually to it at flood, and the lake then reappears; but the returning dry season only restores the condition previously existing. Nor does there appear to be any remedy for this, until the successive depositions of silt from the river accumulate sufficiently to raise the bottom of the lake to a level with the sea - an operation only to be effected through some vast and very indefinite lapse of time. Till then, the salt must always mingle with the fresh-water silt deposited every year. Could rice or any grain be grown on it, as in India, which flourishes even on saline grounds, the process of recovery would of course be greatly accelerated. The lake formerly communicated by a canal with a port of Old Alexandria.

In various masses of rock, composed of oolitic limestone, adjacent to the lake and near the town, are a number of curious catacombs, and other ancient works of art, including a variety of mosaics. South of the city are several high mounds, likewise interesting from the relics of ancient art found imbedded in them. The bricks used for building in Alexandria are those excavated from the ruins of the ancient city they are quarried in abundance in all directions. They are well-formed, and excellently burnt and so perfectly cemented together, that it is often more difficult to break the hardened mortar than the material it unites. The potter's wheel of Alexandria is a singular one: it consists of a spindle about two feet long, turning in a socket some one and a half feet under the level of the floor, and a collar about three inches from the upper extremity. The circular disk on which the ware is thrown is of course above this last. The wheel is turned at the rate of about two revolutions a second, by a circular flange some one and a half feet in diameter just above its lower insertion. The potter sits on the floor, his legs in a small pit below the wheel, shuffling with his feet on the flange just mentioned, and so making the wheel revolve. It is certainly the most awkward-looking implement by much that I have seen for the purpose. Yet the ware turned out is good, strong, well-shaped, and is afterwards thoroughly burned in kilns.

Admission to the pasha's palace may be procured by an order from the vakeel, or steward. It is a neat, but plain and unpretending building. The view from it is beautiful. The rooms are handsome, and well-proportioned and arranged and the floors, of inlaid brightly-polished wood, have a very pleasing effect.

Travelers for India usually hurry through Egypt, with the view of not losing the steamboat, which is ready for them at Suez. But as there are two steamers a-month, those who have time and money to spare, may occupy themselves very delightfully in spending a fortnight on the journey. The conveyance of travelers from Alexandria to Suez is effected by the pasha, at an expense of £12. This charge includes everything save liquors and hotel bills of all kinds at Cairo, which fall on the passenger, and frequently amount to 15s., or £1. All charges of this class seem in Egypt extortionately high, and are indeed out of all proportion to tavern bills in Europe. But then it must be remembered that the whole establishments are permanently maintained, for the sake of employment, one day in fourteen; that unless when the passengers are on the way, the innkeepers are wholly idle. And now the arrangements hurry every one so fast, that they can only get some half-dozen hours of even the passengers, desiring to saddle them with the expenses incurred on their account during the interval when the house is open for the reception of guests, but when there are no guests to be received. Having arranged matters at the Transit Office, the traveler is duly informed of the hour when the vans quit the hotel and should make the best of his time in the interval. The vans proceed to the place of embarkation, about two miles distant, on the Mahmoudye Canal. The luggage is forwarded beforehand on camels, a carpet-bag being all that is allowed - it is all, indeed, that is requisite - for each individual to carry along with him.

The road to the canal leads through the great square already described, and on to the Rosetta Gate - an old ragged fragment of the fortifications of the town. And here, to his astonishment, the traveler finds that Alexandria is being fortified, after the manner of Paris, with walls, and bastions, and ditches, and all the other contrivances of military engineership. The works are being constructed on the recommendation of the French, and under the superintendence of French engineers. A quarter of a century in time, and some millions of money, may be allowed for their completion, the miserable starving population being taxed for this useless and wanton waste. Passing onward, the road leads close to the elevation on which stands Pompey's Pillar. Not far to the left is the battle-field where Sir Ralph Abercromby fell.

The Mahmoudye Canal connects Alexandria with Atfeh, a navigable point on the Nile. This important public work was begun in 1819, and completed in little more than six months, having been opened on the 24th of January 1520. It is forty-eight miles in length, ninety feet across, and about eighteen feet in depth. For a long distance, the banks of the canal are ornamented on one side by neat villas, with most beautiful shrubberies and flower-gardens in front of them. The little kiosks, or summer-seats, consisting in a circle of benches, shadowed by lofty trees, almost hang over the banks. The canal is nowhere strait, and passes along a country so perfectly level, that locks are not required. One only exists at Ada. As many as a hundred and fifty thousand people are said to have been employed in the excavation of the canal: the inhabitants of all the villages in Lower Egypt were marched down to the stations respectively assigned to them, one month's pay having been advanced to enable them to supply themselves with provisions. The assemblage of so enormous a multitude, which would have formed a double line from end to end of the canal, had they stood as close as possible to each other, was sure to be productive of fatal results; and accordingly twenty thousand are understood to have perished on the occasion. Provisions ran scanty, many fell victims to starvation, and pestilence swept many more away. Two-thirds of them were without tools or clothing of any kind whatever, groping up the mud, and lifting it out with their hands. The last portion of this statement appeared to myself incredible, until I had seen people engaged in cleaning out a portion of an old canal near the Lake Mareotis. They dug with their hands into the soft mud, until a portion about a cubic foot in size was detached; this was passed on to the nearest workman, and so conveyed by others to the bank. Not one vestige of implement or attire was possessed, or apparently desired by them.

The banks of the canal are sufficiently high to intercept the view of the adjoining country, so that, after passing the villas already alluded to, there is really nothing to be seen. A good sailing-boat traversed the distance in eight hours; one, tugged by horses, in ten. A small high-pressure steamer is presently employed, which goes snort, snorting along at the rate of about five miles an hour. The boats containing the passengers and luggage are towed behind. We started at half-past six, and were no less than eleven hours on the canal, reaching Atfeh on the Nile at half-past five. It has always been my fortune to pass this filthy little village late at night, or early in the morning, so as scarcely to be able to see it, and the matter did not seem entitled to excite much regret. On reaching the Nile, the traveler finds a neatly-kept and commodious steamer awaiting him not very roomy, but such as passengers, if not numbering more than fifty, may put up with without much discomfort. In going up the Nile, several large works for assisting the irrigation of the country are passed.

One who has examined the magnificent specimens of grain now grown in England, is exceedingly disappointed on examining that for which Egypt, for thirty centuries, has been famous. I collected many specimens in 1840: it is exceedingly prolific on the root, but not more so than grain at home thinly sown on rich soil. The stalks of the barley are seldom above eighteen or twenty inches long each root produces from six to twenty-five stems, fifteen being about the average. There are six rows of grains or pickles on each stalk, each row containing at an average about ten grains, so that the return from the seed in from six to nine hundred. The roots are from six to fourteen inches from each other, and I do not believe that an acre of land in Egypt will yield nearly so much grain, by measure or weight, as a similar surface in England - both under present cultivation. The barley itself, when rubbed out, would have been little short of unsaleable in average season at home, so thin, husky, and poor it was. It is trampled out of the straw by oxen, and cleared of chaff by the wind. The straw is chopped or cut up into what we in India call boosa, by an implement closely resembling a turnip-sowing harrow, drawn over it by oxen, each roller being armed with three or four circular cutters. The crop which most surprises by its abundance is tobacco, vast fields of which extend in all directions. Nor is it to be wondered at that the cultivation of this narcotic should rival in extent that of grain, or roots, or fruits for human food. In Egypt, every man who can afford it smokes at every hour of the day. The dull and watery eye, the want of energy and enterprise apparent in all, tell too plainly how the drug is doing its work. It is sad to see Englishmen reducing themselves to the level of Turks, as is too often the case, by the filthy and degrading practice of everlasting smoking. A singular variety of raft, consisting of a framework of slight sticks, buoyed up by a vast number of earthen pots, is frequently to be seen on the Nile. They appear to be chiefly employed in carrying coarse earthenware down the river.

From the moment of arrival in Egypt, we feel that we are in a country possessing many relics of the past but this feeling cannot be said to exist in perfect force till we approach Cairo, which is the threshold of all the great marvels of ancient art. Those who have not before sailed up the Nile, watch for the first appearance of the pyramids. These become suddenly visible about forty miles below Cairo; and the cry that they are in sight, renders the spectator almost breathless with anxiety to discover them. They are seen far across the desert breaking the western horizon, and seem at this enormous distance almost as large as when looked at from Cairo. Here the desert sand has fairly drifted over the fertile soil, and is blown in masses into the river. The banks of the Nile, indeed, show that this has been an event of frequent occurrence since silt began to accumulate, alternate beds of sand and mud being visible all down a section of ten to fifteen feet of bank. The sand examined through a magnifier, is of a yellowish smoke color, sharp and angular, often of a pretty regular cubical form. It looks like the quartz portions of disintegrated granite, which it probably is.

The banks of the Nile, which have been hitherto dull and uninteresting, become exceedingly striking as we approach Boulac, which is in the vicinity of Cairo. Long lines and groups of trees skirt the left bank of the river. Amongst some half-dozen of beautiful acacias, the magnificent golden flowers of the acacia fistula stand conspicuous. The tree receives its name from the seed-pod being of the form and size of an ordinary fife: the flower is something like that of the laburnum, with each branch five or six times the size of those of the latter tree. Then come the gardens and pleasure grounds around the palace of Shoubra. The island of Rhoda, a garden nearly altogether, divides and half fills up the river in front. The beautiful weeping-willow of Egypt - most graceful and lovely of its loveliest of races - is conspicuous everywhere. The long sweeping yards of the lateen-sailed boats of the Nile, sometimes not less than sixty feet in length, shoot up by the shore. Just beyond are the large cotton-mills and other works of the pasha, intruding English steam-engines, and huge chimney stalks, which, though striking enough as contrasts, seem here eminently out of place. Sweeping along the eastern horizon, at a distance of two miles, is the Citadel, with the vast city and countless minarets of Grand Cairo. On the other or right side but two objects present themselves to the eye - the desert and the pyramids: and they are enough.

The voyage up the Nile, extending to 120 miles from Atfeh, occupied from eighteen to nineteen hours, and was brought to a close at Boulac. Here travelers disembark, and go to Cairo by vans provided on purpose. The drive to the city is by no means over a good road; but being through fields and gardens, the scene is everywhere most rich and beautiful. All, save the spirit of man is divine; saving, it may be added, his habitations and his fleshly tenements. More wretched hovels than are the houses, more squalid wretches than are the people, cannot be conceived. Crossing various canals and gardens, and threading some beautiful avenues of trees, the traveler at length reaches the great square of Grand Cairo, and the picture presented is sufficiently striking. There is nothing in the way of building which deserves the name of fine architecture; but the houses are lofty and picturesque, and of every conceivable shape and size - tall graceful minarets shooting up in all directions. The Hotel d'Orient the principal one in Cairo, is in the great square, and is a large and very showy building, though the establishment and style of living is somewhat too French for an Englishman's taste. There is an excellent, though less conspicuous, English tavern close by. The area enclosed by the great square is surrounded by a very wide and deep ditch, which is filled with water during the inundation: fine rows of acacia-trees skirt it on both sides, and form a double avenue along the road which intersects it. Vast crowds of people are at all times in the neighborhood, and here almost alone in Cairo there is abundant room for observing the passers-by. It is indeed almost the only open space in this vast city, the thoroughfares of which consist of narrow lanes, hardly anywhere deserving the name of streets. The houses are so high, and the balconies above project so far, that it is often difficult to obtain a glimpse of the sky above. They are almost everywhere crowded most densely with people. Nimble donkeys, with jingling bells, trot rapidly along, threading their way with extraordinary dexterity through the multitude. Lines of huge camels, with vast burdens on their sides, bear down upon you, threatening to close up the pathway, and arrest the progress of the living current. Contrasted with all this activity and bustle, is the profound composure of the shopkeepers, who, in the richest dresses, and with long flowing beards, recline beside their wares, smoking their hookas, or long cherry-stalked, amber-mouthed pipes, as in a state of the most apathetic unconcern. I have rarely seen so large a proportion of fine-looking men as are to be found thus occupied in many of the bazaars.

We reached Cairo at eight o'clock in the morning, and were told that the first set of vans would set off for Suez at eleven, and the last at four o'clock in the afternoon. To those who propose going forward, there is little time to spare. Some of our party, however, who were active, were able to traverse the city, to inspect the palace of the pasha, and to enjoy the magnificent view from the battlements of the Citadel. They also had a little time to spend on shopping at the silk embroidery and perfumery bazaars, and to purchase some memorials of their stay; to visit the reading-rooms and museum of the Egyptian Society - the valuable collection of Dr. Abbot being one of the richest and most interesting in Egypt.

Cairo is said to contain a population of two hundred thousand inhabitants: it stands on a plateau about forty feet above the level of the Nile, and on the edge of the Desert. The Citadel is one of the most prominent objects of attraction, and can be examined however short almost may be the traveler's stay. It was built about the year 1171, by the Caliph Yoosef Salah-e-deen, well known in the history of the Crusaders as the Magnificent Saladin. A long ride through narrow, crowded, and irregular lanes, past numerous mosque of great magnitude and beauty, leads to the bottom of the steep winding ascent, at the extremity of which is the gate of the fortress. The first object of attraction which it contains is a magnificent mosque, which has now been ten years in process of construction. It is still incomplete. It consist of an open square, surrounded by a single row of thirty-five columns. In the centre of this is a superb fountain, and on the east a lofty gate leads to the inner part of the house of prayer. I do not know to what variety of architecture the building can be referred. I cannot concur with Sir Gardiner Wilkinson, that its attractions are due more to the beauty of the material of which it is constructed than to the skill displayed in the structure itself. To me it seemed in this latter respect supremely beautiful; not the less so because of the extent to which it departed from anything known to us of Greek, Roman, Gothic, or even of Indian art. The extreme richness of its decorations partake nothing of tediousness - they are all symmetrical, tasteful, and beautiful. I do not even know that the effect is heightened by the burnished brass mouldings which surrounded the base of the capital and top of the basement of the column, though this sort of combination of metal and stone is one of the most unusual in masonry. The walls, which consist of the common buildingstone of Cairo, are everywhere crusted over with a yellowish-white variegated horny-colored marble. It is brought from a considerable way across the country, having been discovered some fourteen years since at a place called Wadee Moahut, about seventy miles from the Nile, and is a travertine, or fresh-water limestone, deposited from springs. The undulations and coatings of the deposit form beautiful markings in the marble; it is unfortunately not susceptible of a very high polish, and is often defaced by small angular crevices, which, however, cease to be observable a few yards off. It is brought in large blocks from the quarry, and sawn into slices beside the building. The magnificent granite columns which formerly surrounded Joseph's Hall are lying prostrate around. They were pulled down in 1827, to make room for the mosque, and were in all likelihood originally the fragments of some of the noble works of Egypt's splendor in its earlier days. They are of the same material as that of which Pompey's Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle are composed. Just beyond the mosque is the palace and harem of the pasha a neat, plain building, more richly than tastefully fitted up and furnished within, but quite worthy of examination. The Mint is beyond this; and near by is Joseph's Well, an excavation two hundred and sixty feet in depth, a winding staircase leading to the bottom. The reader must be reminded that the Joseph here referred to is not the Hebrew patriarch, though commonly imagined to be such, but the famous Sultan Saladin, by whom the works were constructed.

From the palace garden may be seen the spot where Emir Bey leaped his horse over the wall, to escape the massacre which awaited his brother Mamelukes on the 1st of March 1811. Mohammed Au had prepared an expedition into Arabia, to chastise the Wahabees, who had robbed and murdered the pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The Mamelukes, impatient of his curtailment of their power, resolved to avenge and liberate themselves by the overthrow of his government. Their secret was badly kept, and the pasha was informed of the plot hatching against him. He pretended to disbelieve it altogether, and treated it as a slander against the Mamelukes. His preparations being completed, he invited all his courtiers and chiefs to the Citadel, to be present at the investiture of his son with authority to be exercised during his absence. The beys of the Mamelukes were received with the usual courtesy; but on their retirement, found the gates shut against them, while volleys of musketry were poured in on them from every side. Horses and riders fell in heaps. It is said that four hundred and forty were slaughtered in the court, Emir Bey alone escaping. He remembered that a heap of rubbish thrown over the wall, had accumulated to a considerable height near its base. He leaped his horse over: the animal was dashed to pieces, but the rider escaped. He found shelter in the tents of some soldiers near, and succeeded in making his way to Constantinople. He survived till within these few years. The beautiful aqueduct seen from the Citadel was originally built by Saladin the Magnificent in 1171, for the purpose of bringing water from the Nile to supply the garrison: it was renewed and enlarged in 1518.

Before requesting the reader to accompany me on the route eastward to Suez, I shall pause to describe some things which I visited and felt interested in on the occasion of my previous visit to Cairo.

THE NILE PYRAMIDS. Egypt, as is well known, consists of the fertile valley of the Nile, and a strip of desert on each side. The Nile, formed by streams coming out of Abyssinia on the south, is about 1500 miles in length; at certain places it forms rapids, or sloping cataracts, and at other points encloses islands, interesting for their beauty or the ruins which remain upon them. The remarkable phenomenon connected with the Nile, is its annual overflow of the banks which border it - an event looked for with as much certainty as the daily rising of the sun. These inundations of the Nile are owing to the periodical rains which fall between the tropics. They begin in March, but have no effect upon the river until three months later. Towards the end of June it begins to rise, and continues rising at the rate of about four inches a-day, until the end of September, when it falls for about the same period of time. The towns are generally built in such a situation and manner as not to be overflowed by the inundation, and in some parts of the country there are long raised causeways, upon which the people may travel during the floods. It is only in cases of an extraordinary rise that any villages are destroyed. The inundations, instead of being viewed as a calamity, are considered a blessing, for they are the cause of inexhaustible fertility. After the waters have subsided, the earth is found covered with mud, which has been left there by the river, This mud, which is principally composed of argillaceous earth and carbonate of lime, serves to fertilize the overflowed land, and is used for manure for such places as are not sufficiently saturated by the river; it is also formed into bricks, and various vessels for domestic use. The whole valley of the Nile may be considered as an alluvial plain, formed of the washed-down mud and sand of Central Africa, and it is therefore to these inundations that Egypt owes its existence.

Notwithstanding the overflow of the Nile, the atmosphere of Egypt is extremely dry and healthful. During our winter, the climate of Egypt is delightful. The inhabitants speak with intense affection of the Nile, for to it they owe the verdure of their fields, their food, their drink, and the cotton for their clothing. In its taste the water is delicious and salubrious.

The Pyramids are situated about ten miles from Cairo, in a western direction, and consequently on the farther side of the Nile. The traveler may now have the benefit of a carriage for the journey: formely, the only conveyance was by donkeys. The road leads by Old Cairo, a decayed suburb of Cairo, at two miles' distance, on the banks of the river. The Nile is forded or crossed in boats at the upper end of the island of Rhoda. When within a couple of miles of the end of the journey, a number of frightful-looking Bedouins commonly make a rush from a large village a little way off, as if intent on mischief. They are men anxious to be employed as guides; and they had better be employed at once, to save further annoyance.

The Pyramids scarcely appear to increase in size until you are close up to their base; then their bulk seems enormous, and the distance betwixt one and the other looks like a forenoon's journey. They are four in number in one view three large, and one small - and are usually known as the Pyramids of Gizeh. They stand on a plateau some forty feet above the plain, and are fairly within the Desert. I do not believe any one who has not visited them has a correct idea of their vast dimensions. The present base of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, as it is called, is 746 feet each way; the mass is estimated at eighty-five millions of cubic feet, and covers an area of eleven acres. Measured by the slope, its height is 611 feet, and its perpendicular height is 461 feet, being 117 feet higher than St. Paul's, London. The age of the Pyramids is unknown, but it cannot be less than three thousand years. And what a waste of human labor in their construction! A hundred thousand men, changed every three months, for twenty years, are said by the Greek writers to have been occupied in their erection!

At a distance, the Pyramids appear to be tolerably smooth and pyramidal; but on coming close to them, they are found to have a ragged and half-ruined aspect, in consequence of the outer coating of stones and plaster having been removed. Their sides in this rough state present the appearance of a series of steps, composed of huge blocks of yellowish-white limestone. The ascent is toilsome, but I made a point of reaching the top of the Great Pyramid. The ledges of stone are uncomfortably high for a stair; and ladies meaning to ascend, should provide themselves with a footstool, which the guides could lift and hand up to them at each step. There are altogether 206 tiers of stone, from one to four feet high. At length we reached the top, which is an irregular platform, thirty-two feet square; the stones constituting the apex having been thrown down. On gaining this lofty eminence, on which there was room to move about, I felt an extraordinary exhilaration of spirits, not only from the effect of historical associations, but from the remarkable fineness of the atmosphere. The view on all sides was magnificent. One of its most striking features is the distinctness of the line which divides the fertile region from the Desert. There is no middle ground - no debateable land, over which fertility and desolation, the sand of Sahara and the silt of the Nile, alternately hold sway. So far as the influence of the Nile extends, all is verdure; the moment the sand begins, utter waste ensues.

Having satisfied our curiosity, the party descended; but all found that coming down was a vast deal more fatiguing and dangerous than going up. However, we got to the bottom in safety; and being pretty well appetized, we adjourned to luncheon in a sort of cave close by, where victuals we had brought with us were enjoyed. It is necessary to make this provision for refreshment, because there is no house, tent, or village in the neighbor hood. The Great Pyramid is not entirely solid. An entrance has been made, by which a series of labyrinthian passages and chambers have been discovered. The entrance is on the north side; but we did not feel inclined to enter; for the journey in some places requires to be performed on hands and knees. At the centre are two chambers of red granite, in one of which is a sarcophagus; and here is supposed to have slept one of the great rulers of the earth, the king of what was the greatest kingdom of the earth, the proud mortal for whom this mighty structure was raised.

The ascent of the second Pyramid is seldom attempted by visitors: it is much more difficult than that of the first, especially over that portion of the smooth granite crust which still remains about thirty feet down. It is of somewhat less magnitude than the other, but looks as large, from standing on higher ground. The third of the group is considerably smaller. The fourth I did not visit. In the neighborhood of these grand objects of antiquity lie scattered about many interesting remains. The most attractive of these is the Sphinx - a gigantic figure, half-woman, half-lion, nearly all hewn from the solid rock, the fore-legs and part of the back only being built. There is an altar between the two paws, on which sacrifices appear to have been offered. From the lower part of the body to the top of the head, the Sphinx measures 66 feet, the recumbent portion 102, the paws 50, and the circumference of the head 100 feet. Such has been the drifting of the sands, that the whole figure is now covered except the head and a portion of the dilapidated neck.

A few miles above the Pyramids of Gizeh once stood Memphis, a city as large and flourishing as Alexandria, but now utterly destroyed, and the very ruins hardly distinguishable. Continuing the journey up the valley of the Nile, and within the distance of two hundred miles, the traveler passes the ruins of many decayed cities, now reduced to miserable villages of half-starving Arabs, but once the glory of Egypt. Among these are Arsinoe, Dendera, Thebes, Karnac, Edfou, Elephantina, and Philoe.

Edfou is thus described by Mr. Stephens: ‘At one corner of this miserable place stands one of the magnificent temples of the Nile. The propylon (or gateway), its lofty proportions enlarged by the light of the moon, was the most grand and imposing portal I saw in Egypt. From a base of nearly 100 feet in length, and 30 in breadth, it rises on each side of the gate in the form of a truncated pyramid, to the height of 100 feet, gradually narrowing, till at the top it measures 75 feet in length and 18 in breadth. Judge, then, what was the temple to which this formed merely the entrance; and this was far from being one of the large temples of Egypt. It measured, however, 440 feet in length and 220 in breadth, about equal to the whole space occupied by St. Paul's Churchyard. Its dromos, pronaos, columns, and capitals, all correspond; and enclosing it is a high wall, still in a state of perfect preservation. I walked round it twice, and, by means of the wall erected to exclude the unhallowed gaze of the stranger, I looked down upon the interior of the temple. Built by the Egyptians for the highest uses to which a building could be dedicated - for the worship of their gods - it is now used by the pasha as a granary and storehouse.'

Few travelers proceed farther up the Nile than Philoe, as the journey through Nubia is less safe or agreeable than that within the Egyptian territory. Yet without a visit to the Nubian valley of the Nile, which extends to near the head branches of the river in Abyssinia, much of the ancient grandeur of this part of the world will remain unexplored. Nubia, which is at present a Turkish province, subject to the pasha of Egypt, is frequently called by the name Ethiopia - from the black complexion of whose inhabitants the term Ethiopian came in early times to signify one who is black, or a negro. This country of Nubia, or Ethiopia, is understood by some historians to have enjoyed a degree of civilization and refinement in art at a date even earlier than Egypt; and till the present day, it possesses pyramids and other monuments of architectural skill as wonderful, in the eyes of the traveler, as those in the lower divisions of the Nile.

So much for a glance at the archaeological treasures of Egypt; let us now return to Cairo, in order to undertake an excursion which has been seldom performed.

THE PETRIFIED FOREST. This extraordinary curiosity is situated eight or ten miles south from Cairo, and is reached by a journey on the back of a donkey through a rugged piece of country. The ground over which you travel is a dry gravely soil, without a particle of vegetation. Having proceeded for some miles through a rocky valley, a sudden turn to the right takes you through a low range, of sand-hills, and in less than a quarter of an hour you arrive at the forest. And such a forest! Trees lying prone on the ground, and transferred into stone. The world contains nothing so wonderful as a work of nature. On every side the prostrate forest extends as far as the eye can reach. Plains and rolling hillocks of sand sweep on and on to the horizon, all strewed thickly over with fragments of fallen trees. They lie at some places so close to each other, that a sure-footed Cairo donkey can scarcely thread his way through them: at other places they are few and far between, scarcely within stone-throw of each other, as if those had been the thickets, these the openings, in the forest. The trees are nowhere round in the surface, but sharp and angular, as if split by heat into many fragments. Few pieces are more than from four to six feet in length; but a series of these may often be seen lying end to end for a space of from fifty to sixty feet, as if the tree they constituted had been sawn or broken across, the pieces remaining in their places. The aspect of the fallen trunks is like that of the half rotten bog-wood found in an Irish or a Scottish morass. In hue, they are for the most part of a lightish chesnut-brown; some of them Of a dusky-white, precisely of the color of common ash or pine long exposed to the weather. Of this tint are nearly all the smaller fragments, which often lie about as if chipped off from the larger ones. There are no fangs of roots or branches connected with the stems, but there are the rudiments of both in abundance. The knots indicating where branches once had been, are often of singular beauty and distinctness; sometimes so much so, as to seem fresh torn off the stem. The whole scene is the very picture of solitude and desolation, enhanced beyond that of the ordinary Desert - which leaves no token of ever having been more productive than it is - inasmuch as the remains around remind you that what is now salt and barrenness must once have been fertility and verdure. The trees, as already said, are mostly on the surface; many of them, however, are half-buried, others barely show themselves above the sand. The sand itself is light colored; the nodules of stone intermixed with it are rounded; sea-shells everywhere abounding. Near the edge of the forest there are what resemble the dry beds of small-sized streams and torrents: here the little cliffs displayed are of very soft limestone, full of oyster-shells, so fresh and bright, that they seem scarcely at all affected by the weather. They are of the transparent kind, nearly flat, and scarcely thicker than common paper. Selenite here abounds, as generally over the Desert, where sea-salt prevails. It is here for the most part fibrous, the fibers being horizontal, and at right angles to the axes of the vein. I took nearly half a ton of specimens home with me; and these, like the whole of the rest of my collection, were carried free of charge both by the Egyptian Transit and Steam Navigation Company. They were afterwards distributed amongst various of our public museums.

As for the nature of the trees, they are not palms, as their branches show; nor am I aware that there is any living race nearly kindred to them. They are completely silicified, ring like cast-iron, strike fire with flint, and scratch glass. How has this transformation been effected? By no chemical process now known to man. We have nothing at all analogous to it either in the laboratory of the chemist or that of nature. There is no substance more indestructible than charcoal. Cut off from air, it resists the most intense heats known to us, and remains in the bowels of the earth unscathed for millions of years! Here the whole woody and carbonaceous matter has vanished, and its place we find silica the earth of flints, a substance nearly insoluble, and by itself infusible by any heat we are acquainted with. Yet so quietly and perfectly has the exchange been effected, that for every atom of charcoal that has been displaced, an atom of flint has been left behind. Textures and tissues so minute, that the help of microscopes is required for their detection that their delineation can only be attempted after they have been much magnified - are changed in substance, but in substance only: the most minute and fragile of their forms remain as when the green leaves and bright blossoms drew their sustenance, and the vital fluids circulated through them. Egypt is the land of hoar antiquity; but what are the wonders of the mummy-case to this? The trees look as if they had fallen down, and been turned to stone on the ground where they grew; they look like to a forest felled by mighty winds; ' they bear no marks of rolling or abrasion, such as that by which flints themselves are rounded. Yet all is sea-sand and shells everywhere; there is nothing to sustain vegetation; and whether the theory that they belong to an age previous to that of the rock in which they are occasionally imbedded, be adopted or not, it is clear that, subsequent to their assumption of their present form and condition, the ground on which they now repose sunk beneath, and rose again far above, the surface of the sea.

It is singular, considering the extent of area, and the diversity of positions in the world over which silicified trees are found exposed above ground, that so little has been written on the subject. In Trinidad, in the West Indies, they are abundant; and they prevail over a vast expanse of surface on the seaboard of New Holland. They abound on the Coromandel coast near Madras; and in Scinde are found from Sukkur to Kurrachee, on salt desert sand, resting on nummulite limestone, exactly as in Egypt.

CAIRO TO SUEZ. It has been already stated that our party arrived at Cairo on the morning of the 23d of December. Only a few hours is allowed, and every one should make his arrangements without unnecessary delay. Having arranged at the Transit Office to get all luggage, a small bag excepted, sent forward, and secured his place, the traveler may be considered ready to start. The conveyance to Suez is by vans, which start in detachments at specified hours. In hot weather, it is preferable to start from Cairo in the afternoon, so as to travel all night. By this plan he arrives at the centre sleeping-station in the morning, and after a few hours' repose, he can again proceed, so as to reach Suez early in the following morning. Some go on direct; others stop.

The distance from Cairo to Suez is eighty-five or eighty-six miles; and as the line of route is without any towns or villages, station-houses have been erected for the accommodation of travelers, and for changing of horses. There are altogether seven station-houses, of which No. 4 from Cairo is the most commodious. Refreshments are furnished at three of the stations, and they are usually of the most sumptuous kind. The vans are of different sizes. For the greater part they are strong clumsy machines, open all around, tolerably stuffed, but without springs - merely suspended on leathern straps. They have two wheels about five feet in diameter; that is, one-third larger than those of a common carriage. They are drawn by four horses, two being in shafts, and two before them in traces. They are, in general, not over-well trained, tempered, or conditioned; but really, on the whole, get on wonderfully well. The plan of the drivers generally is to urge them a good gallop for a mile or so, and then allow them a few minutes to rest. Including twelve hours' repose by the way, the journey from Cairo to Suez is performed in thirty-two to thirty-six hours.

There is but little of the Suez desert covered with drift sand; it consists mainly of hard gravel, with a vast abundance of loose stones in all directions. The vans seldom adhere very regularly to any particular track, and the jolting is occasionally dreadful. In the direction of Suez, as indeed in most other directions, unless when approaching the Nile, you enter on the Desert at once. The burying-ground around the city is all in sand and the first step beyond this, the ground is as completely barren and desolate as it can be in the heart of the Great Sahara itself The route through might be almost traced by the skeletons and bones of camels to be seen all a long thousands and thousands lie bleaching by the wayside. The surface of the ground is salt, and covered with rounded pebbles, chiefly the Egyptian agate, and sea-shells. Pieces of petrified wood, often of considerable magnitude, lie strewed around: and when the limestone rock shows itself above the sand and gravel, it is generally perforated by the pholas, or some other variety of marine borer. The rocks, like those near Cairo, abound in petrifactions - beautiful specimens of crabs and stars-fishes being amongst the most abundant. Little nimble fairylooking lizards, in color very like the surface of the ground around them, are occasionally to be seen in the Desert also a curious variety of serpent, with two horn-like processes protruding from the forehead. There are numberless vultures and carrion crows, which feed on the dead carcases of the animals who so frequently perish on the way across. Besides these, scarcely a living thing is to be seen. Here and there are considerable quantities of the poisonous henbane, and half-way betwixt Suez and Cairo numerous bushes of the prickly acacia or camelthorn. Just beyond the centre station is what is called the tree of the Desert;' a solitary acacia, about one and a half feet in diameter, and ten feet length of stem, with a large thick bushy round top. This is seen at a vast distance from each side: to the weary wayworn traveler it seems almost impossible to approach it, he riding for hours after first catching sight of it without apparently coming nearer it.

The beautiful phenomenon known to sailors as 'looming,' to naturalists as mirage, equally visible in extremely cold as in warm countries, is often seen in great perfection betwixt Cairo and Suez. It is occasioned by the unequal temperature and refractive powers of different strata of the atmosphere - objects being invariably elongated or depressed, or a succession of images of them exhibited one over another. Scoresby gives drawings of images of ships and icebergs being seen by him in the arctic regions-direct or reversed, or the one and the other alternately - high up in the air. Pools, and lakes of water, are occasionally seen to fill up the hollows or valleys; and this is the shape the illusion most frequently assumes. Three of us together once saw so perfect a picture of a pool surrounded by lofty rocks and hills, by which there were two tall men in black fishing, that, but for the fact that we had traversed the ground before, and knew that there was no such thing in existence, no reasoning short of that which induced us to refuse the testimony of ourselves could have persuaded us that it was all deception. The fishers turned out to be a couple of crows, the rocks and trees a few stones and shrubs - not half so many inches in reality as they seemed feet in altitude. On another occasion, the low hillocks to the south of the centre station rose into stupendous cliffs - a noble river cleft its way through a chasm by which they were disrupted, and was received in a finely-wooded lake at their base. It seemed some three or four miles off - the whole was occasioned by the distortion of objects not two hundred yards away. So constantly had we witnessed these exhibitions in April 1840, that the Red Sea was visible for nearly an hour before we believed it to be other than an illusion: the sight of ships and steamers was the first thing that convinced us of the reality.

The portion of the road nearest to Suez is extremely rough, and the path is covered on every side with large rounded stones; whole forming one of the most unsightly portions of the Desert. Barren and arid as it is, it is curious to find fresh plants of the water-melon species growing here and there on the most unfruitful-looking spots. The leaves are about the tint, form, and size of those of the sweet-scented geranium. The stems trail along the ground, attaining a length of two or three feet. The fruit is about the size of a smallish apple, bright-green, and very pretty. In many places here, the sand of the Desert is in process of solidification into rock. The muriates and sulphates of the sea-salt, with which the soil is charged, seem to act on the calcareous material abounding everywhere; and the result is a carbonate of soda and sulphate of lime. The last constitutes the cementing material: it is bright and shining, in small plates or crystals, and yields readily to the finger-nail. A specimen of the rock which is the result of this, would most grievously perplex a geologist not familiar with the process by which it is formed. It consists of the sand and the sea-shells of the Desert - the last of these, when near Suez, being all apparently perfectly recent and identical with those now in the Red Sea; of the Egyptian jaspers, which here mainly constitute the gravel of the Desert, and are themselves the remnants of an abraded conglomerate of one of the rock formations at hand, and of the oyster, nummulite, and other shells of the different varieties of tertiary limestone, everywhere presenting itself above the surrounding drift and alluvium. With these heterogeneous materials, the bones of birds and animals now existing in the country, or portions of the works of man, may occasionally mingle, and present a conglomerate made up of as many different kinds of material as can be collected together. This, it must be recollected, is a process not confined to a few limited spots: it is apparently in progress over vast expanses of surface in all parts of the Desert towards the shore of the Red Sea. Though there is no continuous rain, heavy showers occasionally fall near Suez; and in the pools formed by them, fishes, some inches long, have been found four or five miles from the sea.

When within four miles of Suez, you reach the edge of a perfectly level plain, diversified here and there by slight ridges and hillocks of sand and gravel, but the whole wearing the appearance of one of the most recent upheavals - the Red Sea, at a geological period comparatively recent, having obviously covered a large surface now dry land. It was noon before we reached Suez, and we were to leave at three; but as I had been before disappointed in my attempts to examine the country around, I was resolved to make the most of the two hours at my disposal. I accordingly, hammer in hand, and knapsack on back, proceeded to make a geological ramble; and I need only say, was amply repaid for my trouble, as well as for the annoyance from a scorching sun. Close to Suez is the track where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea in flying into the wilderness from Egyptian bondage. Wilkinson assumes the place to have been a little above the harbor, at the camel ford, where the water then must have been much deeper than now, and where the effects of 'a strong east wind,' as described in Exodus, are now similar to what they seem to have been from the account given of them in Holy Writ. The extremity of the Red Sea is a few miles above the town, and thither travelers sometimes proceed to have the pleasure of placing one foot on African, the other on Arabian ground.

The entire journey through Egypt from Alexandria to Suez is usually performed in seventy-two hours; and to afford time for travelers getting forward, the steamers for India do not start for sever al hours later.

SUEZ TO INDIA. Suez is a poor, walled town, situated at the head of the Red Sea, and sustains its existence principally by the trade of the great caravans of pilgrims from Egypt in their journey to Mecca. Latterly, it has come a little into note by being made the point of embarkation for India. The pasha built a very large and handsome hotel at Suez, the only decent-looking building in the place. The water here is all highly saline: it contains a considerable quantity of pure alkali, and is well adapted for washing - that used by Europeans for drinking is brought from the Nile. Coal is also transported across the Desert from Cairo on camels, and here costs £6 a ton.

Quitting Suez, a long pull of nearly two miles through shallows and intricate channels brings you to the roadstead, where the steamer waits your reception - the smoking funnel and roaring steam giving note of a preparation for a start. The Gulf of Suez, which comes to a point a little way above the town, is about three miles across at the place from which the steamer starts. The distance from Suez to Aden is sixteen hundred miles due south-east; that from Aden to Bombay is nineteen hundred and sixty miles east and by north. Passengers to Calcutta are accommodated in the magnificent steamers of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company, each from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred tons burden, and four hundred to five hundred horse-power. These vessels proceed straight to Aden, this part of the route being common to both; then stretch away south-east for Ceylon, nearly at right angles to the path pursued by the Bombay vessels. The Bombay passengers are conveyed by the packets or war-steamers of the Indian navy: a portion of these are from seven hundred to seven hundred and fifty tons burden, and from two hundred and twenty to two hundred and fifty horse-power. Two very superior vessels, each of twelve hundred tons and four hundred horse-power, have lately been put on the line, and two others of still larger dimensions are now in process of construction. It was on board the Acbar, a first-rate ship, commanded by one of the most popular officers of the Indian navy, that we found ourselves on Christmas eve 1845. The traveler towards the East, who has been dragging by each remove a lengthening chain - who has found semi-tropical Europe at Gibraltar and Malta, and fairly tasted of the Orient in Egypt - at length finds a floating fragment of India before him at Suez. The talk becomes exclusively of Bombay: inquiries are made after old places and friends, and England is spoken of as now a distant country, not soon to be seen again. The regulations as to dress, discipline, etc., are the same in the Indian as in the royal navy and the packets are in all respects regarded as ships of war. To the old Indian, everything looks familiar; to the visitor for the first time to the East, all seems a fragment and foretaste of what is to come. Seldom indeed, do you find so large a variety of races assembled in so narrow compass. The officers, engineers, and regular seamen of the ship are Englishmen, all rigged out man-of-war fashion. The pilots are Arabs, from Aden or Mocha. Their costumes are beautifully picturesque and they are for the most part highly intelligent-looking men. Then you have the sepoys of the Bombay Marine Battalion, smart, dark-olive complexioned men, in the common uniform of the English soldier. The servants of the ship are mostly Portuguese, natives of the East, dressed in jackets and trousers of white cotton, such as Europeans not in uniform usually wear in India. The butler and head-servants are generally Parsees or Mussulman: the Hindoo is forbidden by his creed from serving where his hands might be denied by the flesh of the sacred cow. The firemen are mostly Mohammedans, or low-caste Hindoos strong active fellows, who perform all the drudgery about the engine-room.

Fairly afloat on the Red Sen. there is little to attract the eye, the shores being rocky, sandy, and lifeless. If the weather be clear, we see in the distance north from Suez the towering summit of Sinai. As the traveler proceeds southwards, he begins to be interested in the changes presented by the firmament. At night the Southern Cross becomes prominent amongst the constellations, and the beautiful clouds of Magellan give nubulae of an aspect altogether different from any he has seen before. The Great Bear is no longer seen to sweep around the Pole; the tail becomes at times altogether invisible, the four stars which constitute the quadrangle only keeping in view, and the great land-mark, so to speak, by which the tyro astronomer guides his way amongst the constellations, is for a period lost sight of. The moon and planets again shine out with unusual splendor; and the phenomena, new to the European, are presented by a night sky intensely bright without the sensation of cold being occasioned by it.

The middle channel alone is navigable for vessels of any considerable burden. Vast margins on either shore are filled up with coral to near the surface of the water. The scenes these present are often beyond description beautiful. When we went up in June 1845, the wind blew a strong breeze against us. Captain Barker, who was engaged in the survey, knew every channel and island so well, that he often took the most narrow and intricate, to enable him to keep the lee of some rocky island, and so shelter his ship from the adverse wind. From the mast-head, the track through which we navigated was of so deep and intense a blue, it was hard to believe that the waters were not colored by some dyeing substance. They looked like the liquid seen streaming from the dyers pot. A few ships length on either side, they suddenly became slightly tinted with green; a little beyond, the greenish blue became turned into a bluish green; a band of the most intense emerald green succeeded, and then swept towards to shore; the last hue the sea assumed, before breakers appeared, was a whitish green, when the coral was but a few feet beneath the surface. These colors appeared in well-defined bands they were not shaded, nor run into each other, as if produced by the gradual shoaling of the reef, but seemed the effect of a set of shelves, with precipices of no great elevation between. The effect of the whole was heightened by the brown and burnt hue of the rocks and islands which were constantly appearing, rising suddenly from the surface to an altitude of some scores or hundreds of feet.

Keeping straight on our course down the middle of the Red Sea, we do not approach the land till the Straits of Babel-Mandeb make their appearance. Here the sea is greatly narrowed, not only by the projections of land, but by the island of Perim. The Straits are closed in on both sides by rugged, barren, burnt-looking rocks the distance across being about three miles. Pushing her way through one of the channels, the steamer turned towards the left in a south-easterly direction, being now in what is called the Sea of Babel-Mandeb, which is a portion of tho Indian Ocean. A series of picturesque and precipitous capes and headlands, along the coast of Arabia-Felix, on our left, came in view, and stretched away to the most prominent of them, for which we were steering Cape Aden.

It was near midnight when we reached Aden, and a portion only of the passengers landed. The only object of the stoppage is to take in coal. Aden is situated in latitude 12 degrees 47 minutes north, longitude 45 degrees 9 minutes east. It is a wild, barren peninsula, composed of volcanic rocks, and of no use except as a half-way house to India via the Red Sea. Within two hundred yards of the landing-place there is a hotel, kept by a Parsee. It contains a large roomy hall, in which smoking is specially forbidden, but always indulged in, with a very good verandah all round, and good bedrooms, and baths. There is a store for general merchandise behind, and a billiard-room, likely to become a common nuisance, close by. I was one of the party who went ashore to the hotel; but all attempts to sleep were vain, in consequence of the noise made by members of the party, who chose to sit up drinking and smoking ! As early as three o clock I arose, and made a most interesting little excursion to the extinct volcanoes in the neighborhood, where the garrison is situated. This leads me to speak of the manner in which the place has become a British settlement.

Aden fell into our possession in 1839. It previously belonged to the sultan of Lahege, who was little better than a common marauder, and in 1837 plundered a Madras vessel sailing under British colors, which had the misfortune to go ashore. A collision with Britain followed; and finally, after some fighting, and a stipulation by treaty to pay the sultan a few thousand dollars annually, the place was taken possession of. The population has since risen from six hundred to above ten thousand, besides the troops and their followers from India : of these there are generally three thousand in garrison. A traffic is kept up with the interior of Arabia by means of camels and asses. There is good fresh water in wells in the cantonments, but nowhere besides, which is a sore drawback in the place.

We quitted Aden about three in the afternoon, and after losing sight of land, saw nothing but the broad ocean, till the high lands on the south of Bombay made their appearance. In a few hours the vessel arrived at its destination, and I stood once more on Indian ground, with well-known faces around me. The journey altogether from Southampton had occupied from thirty-nine to forty days, which is about the average allowance of time. My expenses may be set down at £20. Fortunately, no accident had occurred on the journey; neither, as is usually the case, was there any interruption in the arrangements established for the benefit of travelers. All went on smoothly and agreeably; and every year promises to add new accommodations and new pleasures to the excursion. Such is the story of what is now a very unromantic affair.