FOR some days we continued our journey along the banks of the Dinder, and as the monotonous river turned towards the junction with the Blue Nile, a few miles distant, we made a direct cut across the flat country, to cross the Rahad and arrive at Abou Harraz on the Blue Nile. We passed numerous villages and extensive plantations of dhurra that were deserted by the Arabs, as the soldiers had arrived to collect the taxes. I measured the depths of the wells, seventy-five feet and a half, from the surface to the bottom; the alluvial soil appeared to continue the whole distance, until the water was discovered resting upon hard sand, full of small particles of mica. During the march over a portion of the country that had been cleared by burning, we met a remarkably curious hunting-party. A number of the common black and white stork were hunting for grasshoppers and other insects, but mounted upon the back of each stork was a large copper-coloured flycatcher, which, perched like a rider on his horse, kept a bright look-out for insects, which from its elevated position it could easily discover upon the ground. I watched them for some time: whenever the storks perceived a grasshopper or other winged insect, they chased it on foot, but if they missed their game, the flycatchers darted from their backs and flew after the insects like falcons, catching them in their beaks, and then returning to their steeds to look out for another opportunity.

On the evening of the 23d May we arrived at the Rahad close to its junction with the Blue Nile: it was still dry, although the Dinder was rising. I accounted for this, from the fact of the extreme length of the Rahad's bed, which, from its extraordinary tortuous course, must absorb a vast amount of water in the dry sand, before the advancing stream can reach the Nile. Both the Rahad and Dinder rise in the mountains of Abyssinia, at no great distance from each other, and during the rains they convey a large volume of water to the Blue Nile. Upon arrival at Abou Harraz, four miles to the north of the Rahad junction, we had marched, by careful dead reckoning, two hundred and eighty miles from Gallabat. We were now about a hundred and fifteen miles from Khartoum, and we stood upon the banks of the magnificent Blue Nile, the last of the Abyssinian affluents.

About six miles above this spot, on the south bank of the river, is the large town of Wat Medene, which is the principal trading-place upon the river. Abou Harraz was a miserable spot, and was only important as the turning point upon the road to Katariff from Khartoum. The entire country upon both sides of the river is one vast unbroken level of rich soil, wlich on the north and east sides is bounded by the Atbara. The entire surface of this fertile country might be cultivated with cotton. All that is required to insure productiveness, is a regular supply of water, which might be artificially arranged without much difficulty. The character of all the Abyssinian rivers is to rise and fall suddenly; thus at one season there is an abundance of water, to be followed by a scarcity: but in all the fertile provinces adjacent to the Settite and the upper portion of the Atbara, the periodical rains can be absolutely depended upon, from June to the middle of September; thus, they are peculiarly adapted for cotton, as a dry season is insured for gathering the crop. As we advance to the north, and reach Abou Harraz, we leave the rainy zone. When we had left Gallabat, the grass had sprung several inches, owing to the recent showers; but as we had proceeded rapidly towards the north, we had entered upon vast dusty plains devoid of a green blade; the rainy season between Abou Harraz and Khartoum consisted of mere occasional storms, that, descending with great violence, quickly passed away. Nothing would be more simple than to form a succession of weirs across the Rahad and Dinder, that would enable the entire country to be irrigated at any season of the year, but there is not an engineering work of any description throughout Upper Egypt, beyond the sageer or water-wheel of the Nile. Opposite Abou Harraz, the Blue Nile was a grand river, about five hundred yards in width; the banks upon the north side were the usual perpendicular cliffs of alluvial soil, but perfectly bare of trees; while, on the south, the banks were ornamented with nabbuk bushes and beautiful palms. The latter are a peculiar species known by the Arabs as "dolape" (Borassus AEthiopicus): the stem is long, and of considerable thickness, but in about the centre of its length it swells to nearly half its diameter in excess, and after a few feet of extra thickness it continues its original size to the summit, which is crowned by a handsome crest of leaves shaped like those of the palmyra. The fruit of this palm is about the size of a cocoa-nut, and when ripe it is of a bright yellow, with an exceedingly rich perfume of apricots; it is very stringy, and, although eaten by the natives, it is beyond the teeth of a European. The Arabs cut it into slices, and boil it with water until they obtain a strong syrup. Subsequently I found this palm in great quantities near the equator.

At Abou Harraz I discharged my camels, and endeavoured to engage a boat to convey us to Khartoum, thus to avoid the dusty and uninteresting ride of upwards of a hundred miles along its flat and melancholy banks; but there was not a vessel of any kind to be seen upon the river, except one miserable, dirty affair, for which the owner demanded fourteen hundred piastres for a passage. We accordingly procured camels, and started, intending to march as rapidly as possible.

"June 2, 1862. - We packed the camels in the morning and started them off to Rufaar. We followed at 2.30 P.M. as the natives declared it was half a day's journey; but we did not arrive until 8.30 P.M. having marched about twenty-one miles. The town is considerable, and is the head-quarters of our old friend, the great Sheik Achmet Abou Sinn; he is now absent, but his son Ali is at home. He received us very kindly, and lodged us in his own house within a large inclosed court, with a well of good water in the centre. Having read my firman, be paid us the usual compliments, but he lacked the calm dignity and ease of manner of his grand old father. He sat stiffly upon the divan, occasionally relieving the monotony of his position by lifting up the cover of the cushions, and spitting beneath it. Not having a handkerchief, but only the limited natural advantages of a finger and thumb, a cold in the head gave him much trouble, and unpleasant marks upon the wall exhibited hieroglyphics of recent date, that were ill adapted to the reception-room of an Arab chieftain. In about an hour he departed, and shortly after, a dinner of four dishes was brought. No. 1 was an Arab Irish stew, but alas! MINUS the potatoes; it was very good, nevertheless, as the mutton was fat. No. 2 was an Arab stew, with no Irish element; it was very hot with red pepper, and rather dry. No. 3 was a good quick fry of small pieces of mutton in butter and garlic (very good); and No. 4 was an excellent dish of the usual melach, already described.

The wind had within the last few days changed to south, and we had been subjected to dust storms and sudden whirlwinds similar to those we had experienced at this season in the preceding year, when about to start from Berber. We left Rufaar, and continued our march along the banks of the Blue Nile, towards Khartoum. It was intensely hot; whenever we felt a breeze it was accompanied with a suffocating dust, but the sight of the broad river was cool and refreshing. During the dry season the water of the Blue Nile is clear, as its broad surface reflects the colour of the blue sky; hence the appellation, but at that time it was extremely shallow, and in many places it is fordable at a depth of about three feet, which renders it unnavigable for large boats, which, laden with corn, supply Khartoum from the fertile provinces of the south. The river had now begun to rise, although it was still low, and the water was muddy, as the swelling torrents of Abyssinia brought impurities into the main channel. It was at this same time last year, when at Berber, that we had noticed the sudden increase and equally sudden fall of the Nile, that was influenced by the fluctuations of the Blue Nile, at a time when the Atbara was dry.

From Abou Harraz throughout the route to Khartoum there is no object of interest; it is the same vast flat, decreasing rapidly in fertility until it mingles with the desert; and once more, as we journey to the north, we leave the fertile lands behind, and enter upon sterility. The glare of barren plains and the heat of the summer's sun were fearful. Bacheet had a slight coup de soleil; my Tokrooris, whose woolly heads were shaved, and simply covered with a thin skull-cap, suffered severely, as we marched throughout the burning hours of the day. The Arabs were generally very inhospitable, as this was the route frequented by all native merchants, where strangers were of daily occurrence; but towards evening we arrived at a village inhabited by a large body of Fakeers, or priests. As we entered, we were met by the principal Faky, who received us with marked attention, and with a charming courtesy of manner that quite won our hearts; he expressed himself as delighted at our arrival, hoped we were not fatigued by the heat, and trusted that we would rest for a few minutes before we departed to the enchanting village "just beyond those trees," as he pointed to a clump of green nabbuk on the yellow plain, about a mile distant; there, he assured us, we could obtain all kinds of supplies, together with shade, and a lovely view of the river. We were delighted with this very gentlemanly Faky, and, saying adieu with regret, we hurried on to the promised village "just beyond those trees."

For fourteen miles we travelled, hungry and tired, beyond the alluring clump of trees, along the wild desert of hot sand without a habitation; the only portion of truth in the Faky's description was the "lovely view of the river," that certainly accompanied us throughout our journey. We were regularly "sold" by the cunning Faky, who, not wishing to be incommoded by our party, had got rid of us in a most gentlemanly manner. At length we arrived at a village, where we had much difficulty in procuring provisions for ourselves and people.

On the 11th June, having slept at the village of Abou Dome, we started at sunrise, and at 9 A.M. we reached the bank of the river, opposite to Khartoum. We were delighted with the view, as the morning sun shone upon the capital of the Soudan provinces; the grove of date trees shaded the numerous buildings, their dark green foliage contrasting exquisitely with the many coloured houses on the extreme margin of the beautiful river; long lines of vessels and masts gave life to the scene, and we felt that once more, after twelve months of utterly wild life, we had arrived in civilization. We had outridden our camels, therefore we rode through a shallow arm of the river, and arrived upon an extensive sandbank that had been converted into a garden of melons; from this point a large ferry-boat plied regularly to the town on the south bank. In a few minutes we found ourselves on board, with our sole remaining horse, Tetel, also the donkeys that we had purchased in Berber before our expedition, and our attendants. As we gained the centre of the river, that was about 800 yards broad, we were greeted by the snort of three of our old friends, the hippopotami, who had been attracted to the neighbourhood by the garden of water-melons. We landed at Khartoum, and, having climbed up the steep bank, we inquired the way to the British Consulate.

The difference between the view of Khartoum at the distance of a mile, with the sun shining upon the bright river Nile in the foreground, to the appearance of the town upon close inspection, was about equal to the scenery of a theatre as regarded from the boxes or from the stage; even that painful exposure of an optical illusion would be trifling compared with the imposture of Khartoum; the sense of sight had been deceived by distance, but the sense of smell was outraged by innumerable nuisances, when we set foot within the filthy and miserable town. After winding through some narrow dusty lanes, hemmed in by high walls of sun-baked bricks, that had fallen in gaps in several places, exposing gardens of prickly pears and date palms, we at length arrived at a large open place, that, if possible, smelt more strongly than the landing spot. Around this square, which was full of holes where the mud had been excavated for brickmaking, were the better class of houses; this was the Belgravia of Khartoum. In the centre of a long mud wall, ventilated by certain attempts at frameless windows, guarded by rough wooden bars, we perceived a large archway with closed doors; above this entrance was a shield, with a device that gladdened my English eyes: there was the British lion and the unicorn! Not such a lion as I had been accustomed to meet in his native jungles, a yellow cowardly fellow, that had often slunk away from the very prey from which I had driven him, but a real red British lion, that, although thin and ragged in the unhealthy climate of Khartoum, looked as though he was pluck to the backbone.

This was the English Consulate. I regarded our lion and unicorn for a few moments with feelings of veneration; and as Mr. Petherick, the consul, who was then absent on the White Nile in search of Speke and Grant, had very kindly begged me to occupy some rooms in the Consulate, we entered a large courtyard, and were immediately received by two ostriches that came to meet us; these birds entertained us by an impromptu race as hard as they could go round the courtyard, as though performing in a circus. When this little divertissement was finished, we turned to the right, and were shown by a servant up a flight of steps into a large airy room that was to be our residence, which, being well protected from the sun, was cool and agreeable. Mr. Petherick had started from Khartoum in the preceding March, and had expected to meet Speke and Grant in the upper portion of the Nile regions, on their road from Zanzibar; but there are insurmountable difficulties in those wild countries, and his expedition met with unforeseen accidents, that, in spite of the exertions of both himself, his very devoted wife, Dr. Murie, and two or three Europeans, drove them from their intended path. Shortly after our arrival at the Consulate, a vessel returned from his party with unfavourable accounts; they had started too late in the season, owing to some difficulties in procuring boats, and the change of wind to the south, with violent rain, had caused great suffering, and had retarded their progress. This same boat had brought two leopards that were to be sent to England: these animals were led into the courtyard, and, having been secured by chains, they formed a valuable addition to the menagerie, which consisted of two wild boars, two leopards, one hyaena, two ostriches, and a cynocephalus or dog-faced baboon, who won my heart by taking an especial fancy to me, because I had a beard like his master.

Although I take a great interest in wild animals, I confess to have an objection to sleep in the Zoological Gardens should all the wild beasts be turned loose. I do not believe that even the Secretary of that learned Society would volunteer to sleep with the lions; but as the leopards at the Khartoum Consulate constantly broke their chains, and attacked the dogs and a cow, and as the hyaena occasionally got loose, and the wild boars destroyed their mud wall, and nearly killed one of my Tokrooris during the night, by carving him like a scored leg of pork with their tusks, the fact of sleeping in the open air in the verandah, with the simple protection of a mosquito-netting, was full of pleasant excitement, and was a piquante entertainment that prevented a reaction of ennui after twelve months passed in constant watchfulness. The shield over the Consulate door, with the lion and the unicorn, was but a sign of the life within; as the grand picture outside the showman's wagon may exemplify the nature of his exhibition. I enjoyed myself extremely with these creatures, especially when the ostriches invited themselves to tea, and swallowed our slices of water-melons and the greater portion of the bread from the table a few moments before we were seated. These birds appeared to enjoy life amazingly; one kind of food was as sweet as another; they attacked a basket of white porcelain beads that had been returned by Mr. Petherick's men, and swallowed them in great numbers in mistake for dhurra, until they were driven off; they were the scavengers of the courtyard, that consumed the dung of the camels and horses, together with all other impurities.

For some months we resided at Khartoum, as it was necessary to make extensive preparations for the White Nile expedition, and to await the arrival of the north wind, which would enable us to start early in December. Although the north and south winds blow alternately for six months, and the former commences in October, it does not extend many degrees southward until the beginning of December. This is a great drawback to White Nile exploration, as when near the north side of the equator, the dry season commences in November, and closes in February; thus, the departure from Khartoum should take place by a steamer in the latter part of September; that would enable the traveller to leave Gondokoro, lat. N. 4 degrees 54 minutes, shortly before November; he would then secure three months of favourable weather for an advance inland.

Having promised Mek Nimmur that I would lay his proposals for peace before the Governor-General of the Soudan, I called upon Moosa Pasha at the public divan, and delivered the message; but he would not listen to any intercession, as he assured me that Mek Nimmur was incorrigible, and there would be no real peace until his death, which would be very speedy should he chance to fall into his hands. He expressed great surprise at our having escaped from his territory, and he declared his intention of attacking him after he should have given the Abyssinians a lesson, for whom he was preparing an expedition in reply to an insolent letter that he had received from King Theodore. The King of Abyssinia had written to him upon a question of frontier. The substance of the document was a declaration that the Egyptians had no right to Khartoum, and that the natural boundary of Abyssinia was the junction of the Blue and White Niles as far north as Shendy (Mek Nimmur's original country); and from that point, in a direct line, to the Atbara; but that, as the desert afforded no landmark, he should send his people to dig a ditch from the Nile to the Atbara, and he requested that the Egyptians would keep upon the north border. Moosa Pasha declared that the king was mad, and that, were it not for the protection given to Abyssinia by the English, the Egyptians would have eaten it up long ago, but that the Christian powers would certainly interfere should they attempt to annex the country.

The Egyptians seldom had less than twenty thousand troops in the Soudan provinces; the principal stations were Khartoum, Cassala, and Dongola. Cassala was close to the Abyssinian frontier, and within from fifteen to twenty days' march of Souakim, on the Red Sea, to which reinforcements could be despatched in five days from Cairo. Khartoum had the advantage of the Blue Nile, that was navigable for steamers and sailing vessels as far south as Fazogle, from which spot, as well as from Gallabat, Abyssinia could be invaded; while swarms of Arabs, including the celebrated Hamrans, the Beni Amer, Hallongas, Hadendowas, Shookeriahs, and Dabainas, could be slipped like greyhounds across the frontier. Abyssinia is entirely at the mercy of Egypt.

Moosa Pasha subsequently started with several thousand men to drive the Abyssinians from Gallabat, which position they had occupied in force with the avowed intention of marching upon Khartoum; but upon the approach of the Egyptians they fell back rapidly across the mountains, without a sign of showing fight. The Egyptians would not follow them, as they feared the intervention of the European powers.

Upon our first arrival in Khartoum, from 11th June until early in October, the heat was very oppressive, the thermometer seldom below 95 degrees Fahr. in the shade, and frequently 100 degrees, while the nights were 82 degrees Fahr. In the winter, the temperature was agreeable, the shade 80 degrees, the night 62 degrees Fahr. But the chilliness of the north wind was exceedingly dangerous, as the sudden gusts checked the perspiration, and produced various maladies, more especially fever. I had been extremely fortunate, as, although exposed to hard work for more than a year in the burning sun, I had remarkably good health, as had my wife likewise, with the exception of one severe attack while at Sofi. Throughout the countries we had visited, the temperature was high, averaging about 90 degrees in the shade from May until the end of September; but the nights were generally about 70 degrees, with the exception of the winter months, from November until February, when the thermometer generally fell to 85 degrees Fahr. in the day, and sometimes as low as 58 degrees at between 2 and 5 A.M.

I shall not repeat a minute description of Khartoum that has already been given in the "Albert N'yanza;" it is a wretchedly unhealthy town, containing about thirty thousand inhabitants, exclusive of troops. In spite of its unhealthiness and low situation, on a level with the river at the junction of the Blue and White Niles, it is the general emporium for the trade of the Soudan, from which the productions of the country are transported to Lower Egypt, i.e. ivory, hides, senna, gum arabic, and bees'-wax. During my experience of Khartoum it was the hotbed of the slave-trade. It will be remarked that the exports from the Soudan are all natural productions. There is nothing to exhibit the industry or capacity of the natives; the ivory is the produce of violence and robbery; the hides are the simple sun-dried skins of oxen; the senna grows wild upon the desert; the gum arabic exudes spontaneously from the bushes of the jungle; and the bees'-wax is the produce of the only industrious creatures in that detestable country.

When we regard the general aspect of the Soudan, it is extreme wretchedness; the rainfall is uncertain and scanty, thus the country is a desert, dependent entirely upon irrigation. Although cultivation is simply impossible without a supply of water, one of the most onerous taxes is that upon the sageer or water-wheel, with which the fields are irrigated on the borders of the Nile. It would appear natural that, instead of a tax, a premium should be offered for the erection of such means of irrigation, which would increase the revenue by extending cultivation, the produce of which might bear an impost. With all the talent and industry of the native Egyptians, who must naturally depend upon the waters of the Nile for their existence, it is extraordinary that for thousands of years they have adhered to their original simple form of mechanical irrigation, without improvement.

If any one will take the trouble to watch the action of the sageer or water-wheel, it must strike him as a most puny effort to obtain a great result, that would at once suggest an extension of the principle. The sageer is merely a wheel of about twenty feet diameter, which is furnished with numerous earthenware jars upon its exterior circumference, that upon revolving perform the action of a dredger, but draw to the surface water instead of mud. The wheel, being turned by oxen, delivers the water into a trough which passes into a reservoir, roughly fashioned with clay, from which, small channels of about ten inches in width radiate through the plantation. The fields, divided into squares like a chess-board, are thus irrigated by a succession of minute aqueducts. The root of this principle is the reservoir. A certain steady volume of water is required, from which the arteries shall flow throughout a large area of dry ground; thus, the reservoir insures a regular supply to each separate channel.

In any civilized country, the existence of which depended upon the artificial supply of water in the absence of rain, the first engineering principle would suggest a saving of labour in irrigation: that, instead of raising the water in small quantities into reservoirs, the river should raise its own waters to the required level.

Having visited every tributary of the Nile during the explorations of nearly five years, I have been struck with the extraordinary fact that, although an enormous amount of wealth is conveyed to Egypt by the annual inundations of the river, the force of the stream is entirely uncontrolled. From time immemorial, the rise of the Nile has been watched with intense interest at the usual season, but no attempt has been made to insure a supply of water to Egypt during all seasons.

The mystery of the Nile has been dispelled; we have proved that the equatorial lakes supply the main stream, but that the inundations are caused by the sudden rush of waters from the torrents of Abyssinia in July, August, and September; and that the soil washed down by the floods of the Atbara is at the present moment silting up the mouths of the Nile, and thus slowly, but steadily, forming a delta beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, on the same principle that created the fertile Delta of Egypt. Both the water and the mud of the Nile have duties to perform, - the water to irrigate; the deposit to fertilize; but these duties are not regularly performed: sometimes the rush of the inundation is overwhelming, at others it is insufficient; while at all times an immense proportion of the fertilizing mud is not only wasted by a deposit beneath the sea, but navigation is impeded by the silt. The Nile is a powerful horse without harness, but, with a bridle in its mouth, the fertility of Egypt might be increased to a vast extent.

As the supply of water raised by the sageer is received in a reservoir, from which the irrigating channels radiate through the plantations, so should great reservoirs be formed throughout the varying levels of Egypt, from Khartoum to the Mediterranean, comprising a distance of sixteen degrees of latitude, with a fall of fifteen hundred feet. The advantage of this great difference in altitude between the Nile in latitude 15 degrees 30 minutes and the sea, would enable any amount of irrigation, by the establishment of a series of dams or weirs across the Nile, that would raise its level to the required degree, at certain points, from which the water would be led by canals into natural depressions; these would form reservoirs, from which the water might be led upon a vast scale, in a similar manner to the insignificant mud basins that at the present day form the reservoirs for the feeble water-wheels. The increase of the river's level would depend upon the height of the dams; but, as stone is plentiful throughout the Nile, the engineering difficulties would be trifling.

Mehemet Ali Pasha acknowledged the principle, by the erection of the barrage between Cairo and Alexandria, which, by simply raising the level of the river, enabled the people to extend their channels for irrigation; but this was the crude idea, that has not been carried out upon a scale commensurate with the requirements of Egypt. The ancient Egyptians made use of the lake Mareotis as a reservoir for the Nile waters for the irrigation of a large extent of Lower Egypt, by taking advantage of a high Nile to secure a supply for the remainder of the year; but, great as were the works of those industrious people, they appear to have ignored the first principle of irrigation, by neglecting to raise the level of the river.

Egypt remains in the same position that Nature originally allotted to her; the life-giving stream that flows through a thousand miles of burning sands suddenly rises in July, and floods the Delta which it has formed by a deposit, during perhaps hundreds of thousands of inundations; and it wastes a superabundance of fertilizing mud in the waters of the Mediterranean. As Nature has thus formed, and is still forming a delta, why should not Science create a delta, with the powerful means at our disposal? Why should not the mud of the Nile that now silts up the Mediterranean be directed to the barren but vast area of deserts, that by such a deposit would become a fertile portion of Egypt? This work might be accomplished by simple means: the waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at certain seasons with overwhelming violence, while at other seasons they are exhausted, might be so controlled that they should never be in excess, neither would they be reduced to a minimum in the dry season; but the enormous volume of water heavily charged with soil, that now rushes uselessly into the sea, might be led throughout the deserts of Nubia and Libya, to transform them into cotton fields that would render England independent of America. There is no fiction in this idea; it is merely the simple and commonplace fact, that with a fall of fifteen hundred feet in a thousand miles, with a river that supplies an unlimited quantity of water and mud at a particular season, a supply could be afforded to a prodigious area, that would be fertilized not only by irrigation, but by the annual deposit of soil from the water, allowed to remain upon the surface. This suggestion might be carried out by gradations; the great work might be commenced by a single dam above the first cataract at Assouan, at a spot where the river is walled in by granite hills; at that place, the water could be raised to an exceedingly high level, that would command an immense tract of country. As the system became developed, similar dams might be constructed at convenient intervals that would not only bring into cultivation the neighbouring deserts, but would facilitate the navigation of the river, that is now impeded, and frequently closed, by the numerous cataracts. By raising the level of the Nile sixty feet at every dam, the cataracts would no longer exist, as the rocks which at present form the obstructions would be buried in the depths of the river. At the positions of the several dams, sluice gates and canals would conduct the shipping either up or down the stream. Were this principle carried out as far as the last cataracts, near Khartoum, the Soudan would no longer remain a desert; the Nile would become not only the cultivator of those immense tracts that are now utterly worthless, but it would be the navigable channel of Egypt for the extraordinary distance of twenty-seven degrees of latitude - direct from the Mediterranean to Gondokoro, N. lat. 4 degrees 54 minutes.

The benefits, not only to Egypt, but to civilization, would be incalculable; those remote countries in the interior of Africa are so difficult of access, that, although we cling to the hope that at some future time the inhabitants may become enlightened, it will be simply impossible to alter their present condition, unless we change the natural conditions under which they exist. From a combination of adverse circumstances, they are excluded from the civilized world: the geographical position of those desert-locked and remote countries shuts them out from personal communication with strangers: the hardy explorer and the missionary creep through the difficulties of distance in their onward paths, but seldom return: the European merchant is rarely seen, and trade resolves itself into robbery and piracy upon the White Nile, and other countries, where distance and difficulty of access have excluded all laws and political surveillance. Nevertheless, throughout that desert, and neglected wilderness, the Nile has flowed for ages, and the people upon its banks are as wild and uncivilized at the present day as they were when the Pyramids were raised in Lower Egypt. The Nile is a blessing only half appreciated; the time will arrive when people will look in amazement upon a mighty Egypt, whose waving crops shall extend, far beyond the horizon, upon those sandy and thirsty deserts where only the camel can contend with exhausted nature. Men will look down from some lofty point upon a network of canals and reservoirs, spreading throughout a land teeming with fertility, and wonder how it was that, for so many ages, the majesty of the Nile had been concealed. Not only the sources of that wonderful river had been a mystery from the earliest history of the world, but the resources and the power of the mighty Nile are still mysterious and misunderstood.

In all rainless countries, artificial irrigation is the first law of nature, it is self-preservation; but, even in countries where the rainfall can be depended upon with tolerable certainty, irrigation should never be neglected; one dry season in a tropical country may produce a famine, the results of which may be terrible, as instanced lately by the unfortunate calamity in Orissa. The remains of the beautiful system of artificial irrigation that was employed by the ancients in Ceylon, attest the degree of civilization to which they had attained; in that island the waters of various rivers were conducted into valleys that were converted into lakes, by dams of solid masonry that closed the extremity, from which the water was conducted by artificial channels throughout the land. In those days, Ceylon was the most fertile country of the East; her power equalled her prosperity; vast cities teeming with a dense population stood upon the borders of the great reservoirs, and the people revelled in wealth and plenty. The dams were destroyed in civil warfare; the wonderful works of irrigation shared in the destruction; the country dried up; famine swallowed up the population; and the grandeur and prosperity of that extraordinary country collapsed and withered in the scorching sun, when the supply of water was withdrawn.

At the present moment, ten thousand square miles lie desolate in thorny jungles, where formerly a sea of waving rice-crops floated on the surface; the people are dead, the glory is departed. This glory had been the fruit of irrigation. All this prosperity might be restored: but in Egypt there has been no annihilation of a people, and the Nile invites a renewal of the system formerly adopted in Ceylon; there is an industrious population crowded upon a limited space of fertile soil, and yearning for an increase of surface. At the commencement of this work, we saw the Egyptians boating the earth from the crumbling ruins, and transporting it with arduous labour to spread upon the barren sandbanks of the Nile, left by the retreating river; they were striving for every foot of land thus offered by the exhausted waters, and turning into gardens what in other countries would have been unworthy of cultivation. Were a system of irrigation established upon the principle that I have proposed, the advantages would be enormous. The silt deposited in the Mediterranean, that now chokes the mouths of the Nile, and blocks up harbours, would be precipitated upon the broad area of newly-irrigated lands, and by the time that the water arrived at the sea, it would have been filtered in its passage, and have become incapable of forming a fresh deposit. The great difficulty of the Suez canal will be the silting up of the entrance by the Nile; this would be prevented were the mud deposited in the upper country.

During the civil war in America, Egypt proved her capabilities by producing a large amount of cotton of most excellent quality, that assisted us materially in the great dearth of that article; but, although large fortunes were realized by the extension of this branch of agriculture, the Egyptians suffered considerably in consequence. The area of fertile soil was too limited, and, as an unusual surface was devoted to the growth of cotton, there was a deficiency in the production of corn; and Egypt, instead of exporting as heretofore, was forced to import large quantities of grain. Were the area of Egypt increased to a vast extent by the proposed system of irrigation, there would be space sufficient for both grain and cotton to any amount required. The desert soil, that is now utterly worthless, would become of great value; and the taxes upon the increased produce would not only cover the first outlay of the irrigation works, but would increase the revenue in the ratio proportionate to the increased surface of fertility. A dam across the Atbara would irrigate the entire country from Gozerajup to Berber, a distance of upwards of 200 miles; and the same system upon the Nile would carry the waters throughout the deserts between Khartoum and Dongola, and from thence to Lower Egypt. The Nubian desert, from Korosko to Abou Hamed, would become a garden, the whole of that sterile country inclosed within the great western bend of the Nile towards Dongola would be embraced in the system of irrigation, and the barren sands that now give birth to the bitter melon of the desert (Cucumis colocynthis), would bring forth the water-melon, and heavy crops of grain.* The great Sahara is desert, simply because it receives no rainfall: give it only water, and the sand will combine with the richer soil beneath, and become productive. England would become a desert, could it be deprived of rain for three or four years; the vegetation would wither and be carried away by the wind, together with the lighter and more friable portions of the soil, which, reduced to dust, would leave the coarser and more sandy particles exposed upon the surface; but the renewal of rain would revivify the country. The deserts of Egypt have never known rain, except in the form of an unexpected shower, that has passed away as suddenly as it arrived; even that slight blessing awakens ever-ready Nature, and green things appear upon the yellow surface of the ground, that cause the traveller to wonder how their seeds could germinate after the exposure for so many months in the burning sand. Give water to these thirsty deserts, and they will reply with gratitude.

* The great deserts of Northern Africa, to about the 170 N. lat., are supposed to have formed the bottom of the Mediterranean, but to have been upheaved to their present level. The volcanic bombs discovered in the Nubian Desert suggest, by their spherical form, that the molten lava ejected by active volcanoes had fallen from a great height into water, that had rapidly cooled them, in the same manner that lead shot is manufactured at the present day. It is therefore highly probable that the extinct craters now in existence in the Nubian Desert were active at a period when they formed volcanic islands in a sea - similar to Stromboli, &c. &c.

This is the way to civilize a country: the engineer will alter the hard conditions of nature, that have rendered man as barren of good works as the sterile soil upon which he lives. Let man have hope; improve the present, that his mind may look forward to a future; give him a horse that will answer to the spur, if he is to run in the race of life; give him a soil that will yield and tempt him to industry; give him the means of communication with his fellow-men, that he may see his own inferiority by comparison; provide channels for the transport of his produce, and for the receipt of foreign manufactures, that will engender commerce: and then, when he has advanced so far in the scale of humanity, you may endeavour to teach him the principles of Christianity. Then, and not till then, can we hope for moral progress. We must begin with the development of the physical capabilities of a country before we can expect from its inhabitants sufficient mental vigour to receive and understand the truths of our religion. I have met with many Christian missionaries, of various and conflicting creeds, who have fruitlessly sown the seed of Christianity upon the barren soil of Africa; but their labours were ill-timed, they were too early in the field, the soil is unprepared; the missionary, however earnest, must wait until there be some foundation for a superstructure. Raise the level of the waters, and change the character of the surrounding deserts: this will also raise the intellectual condition of the inhabitants by an improvement in the natural conditions of their country. . . . . . .

The first portion of our task was completed. We had visited all the Nile tributaries of Abyssinia, including the great Blue Nile that had been traced to its source by Bruce. The difficult task still lay before us - to penetrate the unknown regions in the distant south, to discover the White Nile source.* Speke and Grant were on their road from Zanzibar, cutting their way upon untrodden ground towards Gondokoro. Petherick's expedition to assist them had met with misfortune, and we trusted to be able to reach the equator, and perhaps to meet our Zanzibar explorers somewhere about the sources of the Nile. Although we had worked hard throughout all seasons, over an immense extent of country, we were both strong and well, and the rest of some months at Khartoum had only served to inspire us with new vigour for the commencement of the work before us. By the 17th December, 1862, our preparations were completed; three vessels were laden with large quantities of stores - 400 bushels of corn, twenty-nine transport animals, including camels, donkeys, and horses (among the latter was my old hunter Tetel). Ninety-six souls formed my whole party, including forty well-armed men, with Johann Schmidt and Richarn. On the 18th December we sailed from Khartoum upon the White Nile towards its unknown sources, and bade farewell to the last vestige of law, government, and civilization. I find in my journal, the last words written at our departure upon this uncertain task, "God grant us success; if He guides, I have no fear."

* The account of the White Nile voyage, with the happy meeting of captains Speke and Grant, and the subsequent discovery of the "Albert N'yanza," has been already given in the work of that title.