BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


A philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies

by Raynal (Guillaume-Thomas-François, abbé)

Excerpt:

This great province is bounded by the Opinions conRed sea on the east, by Nubia on the cerning the norsouth, by the deserts of Barca, or by Ly- them coast of bia on the west, and on the north by the Africa, and qf Mediterranean. It is about two hundred Egypt in partiand twelve leagues long from north to cular. south. A break of rocks, and a chain of mountains, running almost in the same direction, prevent it from being more than six or seven leagues broad as sar as Cairo. From that capital to the sea the country describes a triangle, the basis of which is one hundred leagues. This triangle includes another, known by the name of Delta, and formed by two branches of the Nile, which empty themselves into the Mediterranean, one of them at the distance of a league from Rosetto, and the other of two from Damietta.

Although this be a burning region, yet the climate is in general healthy; the only insirmity peculiar to Egypt is, the too frequent loss of sight. This calamity is thought to be occasioned by a sine kind of sand, which is scattered about in May and June by the south winds. Would it not be more reasonable to attribute it to the custom those people have of sleeping in the open air nine months in the year? This opinion will be readily admitted, since it is observed, that those who pass the night in their houses, or under tents, seldom experience so great a misfortune.

There are sew countries on the sace of the globe so fruitful as Egypt. The foil yields annually three crops, which require but one tillage. Vegetables succeed corn, and these are followed by pot-herbs; this happy sertility is owing to the Nile.

That river, the source of which is in Ethiopia, owes its increase to clouds, which salling down in rain, occasion its periodical swell. It begins in the month of June, and augments till the end of September, at which time it gradually decreases. Its waters, after having traversed an immense space without dividing, are separated sive leagues above Cairo, into two branches, which meet no more.

A country, however, where nothing is so seldom met with as a spring, and where rain is an extraordinary phenomenon, could only have been sertilized by the Nile. Accordingly, from times of the most remote antiquity, four, score considerable canals were digged at the entrance of the kingdom, beside a great number of small ones, which distributed these waters all over Egypt. Except sive or six of the deepest, they are all dry at the beginning, or towards the middle of winter; but then the foil no longer requires watering. If it should happen, that the river hath not swelled to the height os four hundred inches, the lower grounds are only watered. The others, to which their wells, constructed with swing-gates, or with wheels, become useless, are considered as barren, and freed for that year of all imposts.

The grounds are divided into three classes. That which is considered as the sirst of them, is the one which forms the vakoups, or domain allotted to the mosques, or other religious establishments. It is the worst cultivated of any of the grounds, and that which is more spared in the taxes by an ignorant and superstitious government.

The principal civil and military officers of the state enjoy the prosits of the second class. They leave very little to the bondsmen, who till the grounds with the sweat of their brows ; and they seldom pay into the treasury the taxes they are indebted to it.

The third class is divided between a greater number of plain citizens, whose possessions, more or less extensive, are cultivated by active and intelligent sarmers. These grounds compose the wealth of Egypt, and become the resource of the public treasury.

Though one third of the grounds be left untilled, yet the country is not depopulated. It is reckoned to contain sive or six millions of inhabitants, the most numerous of which are the Cophts, who derive their origin from the an-cient Egyptians, to whom they have no small share of resemblance. Some of them have submitted to the yoke of the koran, the reft have remained subject to the gospel. They occupy, almost exclusively, all the Upper Egypt, and are very numerous in the Lower; several of them are cultivators, but more of them prosess the arts. The most intelligent among them superintend the assairs of rich samilies, or serve as secretaries to men in office. When they have obtained these posts, which are deemed honourable, they soon acquire an absolute sway over masters enervated by the climate and by luxury. This kind of power soon leads them to the possession of wealth, which they generally squander in the most insamous excesses. If motives of avarice should have made them abstain from the pursuit of pleasure, they are deprived of their riches before the close of a turbulent lise, by the tyrants whom they had deceived. Children are scarce ever known to inherit the fortune of their sathers.


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