Chap. VIII.

Of the River Nilus.

HEREOF uncontroulably and under general consent many opinions are passant, which notwithstanding upon due examination, do admit of doubt or restriction. It is generally esteemed, and by most unto our days received, that the River of Nilus hath seven ostiaries; that is, by seven Channels disburdeneth it self into the Sea. Wherein notwithstanding, beside that we find no concurrent determination of ages past, and a positive and undeniable refute of these present; the affirmative is mutable, and must not be received without all limitation.

For some, from whom we receive the greatest illustrations of Antiquity, have made no mention hereof: So Homer hath given no number of its Channels, nor so much as the name thereof in use with all Historians. Eratosthenes in his description of Egypt hath likewise passed them over. Aristotle is so indistinct in their names and numbers, that in the first of Meteors he plainly affirmeth the Region of Egypt (which we esteem the ancientest Nation in the world) was a meer gained ground, and that by the setling of mud and limous matter brought down by the River Nilus, that which was at first a continued Sea, was raised at last into a firm and habitable Country. The like opinion he held of Mæotis Palus, that by the floods of Tanais[1] and earth brought down thereby, it grew observably shallower in his days, and would in process of time become a firm land. And though his conjecture be not as yet fulfilled,[2] yet is the like observable in the River Gihon, a branch of Euphrates and River of Paradise; which having in former Ages discharged it self into the Persian Sea, doth at present fall short; being lost in the lakes of Chaldea, and hath left between the Sea, a large and considerable part of dry land.[3]

Others expresly treating hereof have diversly delivered themselves; Herodotus in his Euterpe makes mention of seven; but carelesly of two thereof; that is, Bolbitinum, and Bucolicum; for these, saith he, were not the natural currents, but made by Art for some occasional convenience. Strabo in his Geography naming but two, Pelusiacum and Canopicum, plainly affirmeth there were many more then seven; Inter hæc alia quinque, &c. There are (saith he) many remarkable towns within the currents of Nile, especially such which have given the names unto the ostiaries thereof, not unto all, for they are eleven, and four besides, but unto seven and most considerable; that is, Canopicum, Bolbitinum, Sebenneticum, Phatniticum, Mendesium, Taniticum, and Pelusium:[4] wherein to make up the number, one of the artificial channels of Herodotus is accounted. Ptolomy an Egyptian, and born at the Pelusian mouth of Nile, in his Geography maketh nine: and in the third Map of Africa, hath unto their mouths prefixed their several names; Heracleoticum, Bolbitinum, Sebenniticum, Pineptum, Diolcos, Pathmeticum, Mendesium, Taniticum, Peleusiacum: wherein notwithstanding there are no less then three different names from those delivered by Pliny.[5] All which considered, we may easily discern that Authors accord not either in name or number; and must needs confirm the Judgement of Maginus, de Ostiorum Nili numero & nominibus, valde antiqui scriptores discordant. [6]

Modern Geographers and travellers do much abate of this number; for as Maginus and others observe, there are now but three or foure mouths thereof;[7] as Gulielmus Tyrius long ago, and Bellonius since, both ocular enquirers with others have attested. For below Cairo, the River divides it self into four branches, whereof two make the chief and navigable streams, the one running to Pelusium of the Ancients, and now Damiata;[8] the other unto Canopium, and now Roscetta; the other two, saith Mr. Sandys, do run between these; but poor in water. Of those seven mentioned by Herodotus, and those nine by Ptolomy,[9] these are all I could either see, or hear of.10 Which much confirmeth the testimony of the Bishop of Tyre a diligent and ocular Enquirer; who in his holy war doth thus deliver himself. We wonder much at the Ancients, who assigned seven mouths unto Nilus: which we can no otherwise salve, then that by process of time, the face of places is altered, and the river hath lost his chanels; or that our fore-fathers did never obtain a true account thereof.

And therefore when it is said in holy Scripture,11 The Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea, and with his mighty wind he shall shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry-shod. If this expression concerneth the river Nilus, it must only respect the seven principal streams. But the place is very obscure, and whether thereby be not meant the river Euphrates, is not without some controversie; as is collectible from the subsequent words; And there shall be an high way for the remnant of his people, that shall be left from Assyria; and also from the bare name River, emphatically signifying Euphrates, and thereby the division of the Assyrian Empire into many fractions, which might facilitate their return: as Grotius hath observed;12 and is more plainly made out, if the Apocrypha of Esdras,13 and that of the Apocalyps14 have any relation hereto.

Lastly, Whatever was or is their number, the contrivers of Cards and Maps afford us no assurance or constant description therein. For whereas Ptolomy hath set forth nine, Hondius in his Map of Africa, makes but eight, and in that of Europe ten. Ortelius in the Map of the Turkish Empire, setteth down eight, in that of Egypt eleven; and Maginus in his Map of that Country hath observed the same number. And if we enquire farther, we shall find the same diversity and discord in divers others.

Thus may we perceive that this account was differently related by the Ancients, that it is undeniably rejected by the Moderns, and must be warily received by any. For if we receive them all into account, they were more then seven, If only the natural sluces, they were fewer; and however we receive them, there is no agreeable and constant description thereof. And therefore how reasonable it is to draw continual and durable deductions from alterable and uncertain foundations; let them consider who make the gates of Thebes, and the mouths of this River a constant and continued periphrasis for this number, and in their Poetical expressions do give the River that Epithet unto this day.[15]

The same River is also accounted the greatest of the earth, called therefore Fluviorum pater, and totius Orbis maximus, by Ortelius: If this be true, many Maps must be corrected, or the relations of divers good Authors renounced.

For first, In the deliniations of many Maps of Africa, the River Niger exceedeth it about ten degrees in length, that is, no less then six hundred miles. For arising beyond the Æquator it maketh Northward almost 15 degrees, and deflecting after Westward, without Meanders, continueth a strait course about 40 degrees; and at length with many great currents disburdeneth it self into the Occidental Ocean. Again, if we credit the descriptions of the good Authors, other Rivers excell it in length, or breadth, or both. Arrianus in his history of Alexander, assigneth the first place unto the River Ganges; which truly according unto later relations, if not in length, yet in breadth and depth may be granted to excell it. For the magnitude of Nilus consisteth in the dimension of longitude, and is inconsiderable in the other; what stream it maintaineth beyond Syene or Asna, and so forward unto its original, relations are very imperfect; but below these places, and farther removed from the head, the current is but narrow, and we read in the history of the Turks, the Tartar horsemen of Selimus, swam over the Nile from Cairo, to meet the forces of Tonumbeus. Baptista Scortia16 expresly treating hereof, preferreth the River of Plate in America; for that as Maffeus hath delivered, falleth into the Ocean in the latitude of forty leagues; and with that source and plenty that men at Sea doe tast fresh water, before they approach so near as to discover the land. So is it exceeded by that which by Cardan is termed the greatest in the world, that is the River Oregliana[17] in the same continent; which as Maginus delivereth, hath been navigated 6000 miles; and opens in a chanel of ninety leagues broad; so that, as Acosta, an ocular witnesse recordeth, they that sail in the middle, can make no land of either side.

Now the ground of this assertion was surely the magnifying esteem of the Ancients, arising from the indiscovery of its head. For as things unknown seem greater then they are, and are usually received with amplifications above their nature; so might it also be with this River, whose head being unknown and drawn to a proverbial obscurity, the opinion thereof became without bounds; and men must needs conceit a large extent of that to which the discovery of no man had set a period. And this an usual way to give the superlative unto things of eminency in any kind; and when a thing is very great, presently to define it to be the greatest of all. Whereas indeed Superlatives are difficult; whereof there being but one in every kind, their determinations are dangerous, and must not be made without great circumspections. So the City of Rome is magnified by the Latins to be the greatest of the earth; but time and Geography inform us, that Cairo is bigger, and Quinsay in China[18] far exceedeth both. So is Olympus extolled by the Greeks, as an hill attaining unto heaven; but the enlarged Geography of aftertimes, makes slight account hereof, when they discourse of Andes in Peru, or Teneriffa in the Canaries. And we understand by a person who hath lately had a fair opportunity to behold the magnified mount Olympus, that it is exceeded by some peakes of the Alpes. So have all Ages conceived, and most are still ready to swear, the Wren is the least of Birds; yet the discoveries of America, and even of our own Plantations have shewed us one far less, that is, the Humbird,19 not much exceeding a Beetle. And truly, for the least and greatest, the highest and lowest of every kind, as it is very difficult to define them in visible things; so is it to understand in things invisible. Thus is it no easie lesson to comprehend the first matter, and the affections of that which is next neighbour unto nothing, but impossible truly to comprehend God, who indeed is all in all. For things as they arise unto perfection, and approach unto God, or descend to imperfection, and draw neerer unto nothing, fall both imperfectly into our apprehensions; the one being too weak for our conceptions, our conceptions too weak for the other.

Thirdly, Divers conceptions there are concerning its increment or inundation. The first unwarily opinions, that this encrease or annual overflowing is proper unto Nile, and not agreeable unto any other River; which notwithstanding is common unto many Currents of Africa. For about the same time the River Niger and Zaire do overflow; and so do the Rivers beyond the mountains of the Moon, as Suama, and Spirito Santo. And not only these in Africa, but some also in Europe and Asia; for it is reported of Menan in India, and so doth Botero report of Duina in Livonia; and the same is also observable in the River Jordan in Judea; for so it is delivered,20 that Jordan overfloweth all his banks in the time of harvest.

The effect indeed is wonderful in all, and the causes surely best resolvable from observations made in the Countries themselves, the parts through which they pass, or whence they take their Original. That of Nilus hath been attempted by Many, and by some to that despair of resolution, that they have only referred it unto the Providence of God, and his secret manuduction of all things unto their ends. But divers have attained the truth, and the cause alledged by Diodorus, Seneca, Strabo, and others, is allowable; that the inundation of Nilus in Egypt proceeded from the rains in Æthiopia, and the mighty source of waters falling towards the fountains thereof. For this inundation unto the Egyptians happeneth when it is winter unto the Æthiopians; which habitations, although they have no cold Winter (the Sun being no farther removed from them in Cancer, then unto us in Taurus) yet is the fervour of the air so well remitted, as it admits a sufficient generation of vapours, and plenty of showers ensuing thereupon. This Theory of the Ancients is since confirmed by experience of the Moderns; by Franciscus Alvarez, who lived long in those parts, and left a description of Æthiopia; affirming that from the middle of June unto September, there fell in his time continual rains. As also Antonius Ferdinandus, who in an Epistle written from thence, and noted by Codignus, affirmeth, that during the winter, in those Countries there passed no day without rain.

Now this is also usual, to translate a remarkable quality into a propriety, and where we admire an effect in one, to opinion there is not the like in any other. With these conceits do common apprehensions entertaine the antidotal and wondrous condition of Ireland; conceiving only in that Land an immunity from venemous creatures: but unto him that shall further enquire, the same will be affirmed of Creta, memorable in ancient stories, even unto fabulous causes, and benediction from the birth of Jupiter. The same is also found in Ebusus or Evisa, an Island near Majorca upon the coast of Spain.21 With these apprehensions do the eyes of neighbour Spectators behold Ætna, the flaming mountain in Sicilia; but Navigators tell us there is a burning mountain in Island: a more remarkable one in Teneriffa of the Canaries,[22] and many Vulcano's or fiery Hils elsewhere. Thus Crocodiles were thought to be peculiar unto Nile, and the opinion so possessed Alexander, that when he had discovered some in Ganges, he fell upon a conceit he had found the head of Nilus; but later discoveries affirm they are not only in Asia and Africa, but very frequent in some rivers of America.

Another opinion confineth its Inundation, and positively affirmeth, it constantly encreaseth the seventeenth day of June; wherein perhaps a larger form of speech were safer, then that which punctually prefixeth a constant day thereto. For this expression is different from that of the Ancients, as Herodotus, Diodorus, Seneca, &c. delivering only that it happeneth about the entrance of the Sun into Cancer; wherein they warily deliver themselves, and reserve a reasonable latitude. So when Hippocrates saith, Sub Cane & ante Canem difficiles sunt purgationes; There is a latitude of days comprised therein; for under the Dog-star he containeth not only the day of its ascent, but many following, and some ten days preceding. So Aristotle delivers the affections of animals: with the wary terms of Circa, & magna ex parte: and when Theodorus translateth that part of his, Coeunt Thunni & Scombri mense Februario post Idus, pariunt Junio ante Nonas: Scaliger for ante Nonas, renders it Junii initio; because that exposition affordeth the latitude of divers days: For affirming it happeneth before the Nones, he alloweth but one day, that is the Calends; for in the Roman account, the second day is the fourth of the Nones of June.

Again, Were the day definitive, it had prevented the delusion of the devil, nor could he have gained applause by its prediction; who notwithstanding (as Athanasius in the life of Anthony relateth) to magnifie his knowledge in things to come, when he perceived the rains to fall in Æthiopia, would presage unto the Egyptians the day of its inundation. And this would also make useless that natural experiment observed in earth or sand about the River; by the weight whereof (as good Authors report) they have unto this day a knowledge of its increase.[23]

Lastly, It is not reasonable from variable and unstable causes, to derive a fixed and constant effect, and such are the causes of this inundation, which cannot indeed be regular, and therefore their effects not prognosticable like Eclipses. For depending upon the clouds and descent of showers in Æthiopia, which have their generation from vaporous exhalations, they must submit their existence unto contingencies, and endure anticipation and recession from the movable condition of their causes. And therefore some years there hath been no encrease at all, as some conceive in the years of Famin under Pharaoh, as Seneca, and divers relate of the eleventh year of Cleopatra; nor nine years together, as is testified by Calisthenes. Some years it hath also retarded, and came far later then usually it was expected, as according to Sozomen and Nicephorus it happened in the days of Theodosius; whereat the people were ready to mutiny, because they might not sacrifice unto the River, according to the custom of their Predecessors.

Now this is also an usual way of mistake, and many are deceived who too strictly construe the temporal considerations of things. Thus books will tell us, and we are made to believe that the fourteenth year males are seminifical and pubescent; but he that shall enquire into the generality,[24] will rather adhere unto the cautelous[25] assertion of Aristotle, that is, bis septem annis exactis, and then but magna ex parte. That Whelps are blind nine days, and then begin to see, is generally believed, but as we have elsewhere declared,[26] it is exceeding rare, nor do their eye-lids usually open until the twelfth, and sometimes not before the fourteenth day. And to speak strictly, an hazardable determination it is unto fluctuating and indifferent effects, to affix a positive Type or Period. For in effects of far more regular causalities, difficulties do often arise, and even in time it self, which measureth all things, we use allowance in its commensuration. Thus while we conceive we have the account of a year in 365 days, exact enquirers and Computists will tell us, that we escape 6 hours,[27] that is a quarter of a day. And so in a day which every one accounts 24 hours, or one revolution of the Sun; in strict account we must allow the addition of such a part as the Sun doth make in his proper motion, from West to East, whereby in one day he describeth not a perfect Circle.

Fourthly, It is affirmed by many, and received by most, that it never raineth in Egypt, the river supplying that defect, and bountifully requiting it in its inundation: but this must also be received in a qualified sense, that is, that it rains but seldom at any time in the Summer, and very rarely in the Winter. But that great showers do sometimes fall upon that Region, beside the Assertion of many Writers, we can confirm that honourable and ocular testimony, and that not many years past, it rained in Grand Cairo divers days together.28

The same is also attested concerning other parts of Egypt, by Prosper Alpinus, who lived long in that Country, and hath left an accurate Treaty of the medical practise thereof. Cayri raro decidunt pluviæ, Alexandriæ, Pelusiique & in omnibus locis mari adjacentibus, pluit largissime & sæpe; that is, it raineth seldom at Cairo, but at Alexandria, Damiata, and places near the Sea, it raineth plentifully and often. Whereto we might adde the latter testimony of Learned Mr. Greaves, in his accurate description of the Pyramids.[29]

Beside, Men hereby forget the relation of holy Scripture.30 Behold I will cause it to rain a very great hail,[31] such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof, even untill now. Wherein God threatning such a rain as had not happened, it must be presumed they had been acquainted with some before, and were not ignorant of the substance, the menace being made in the circumstance. The same concerning hail is inferrible from Prosper Alpinus. Rarissime nix, grando, it seldom snoweth or haileth. Whereby we must concede that snow and hail do sometimes fall, because they happen seldom.

Now this mistake ariseth from a misapplication of the bounds or limits of time, and an undue transition from one unto another; which to avoid, we must observe the punctual differences of time, and so distinguish thereof, as not to confound or lose the one in the other. For things may come to pass, Semper, Plerumq;, Sæpe aut Numquam, Aliquando, Raro; that is, Always, or Never, For the most part, or Sometimes, Ofttimes, or Seldom. Now the deception is usual which is made by the mis-application of these; men presently concluding that to happen often, which happeneth but sometimes: that never, which happeneth but seldom; and that alway, which happeneth for the most part. So is it said, the Sun shines every day in Rhodes, because for the most part it faileth not. So we say and believe that a Camelion never eateth, but liveth only upon air,[32] whereas indeed it is seen to eat very seldom, but many there are who have beheld it to feed on Flyes. And so it is said, that children born in the eighth moneth live not, that is, for the most part, but not to be concluded alwaies: nor it seems in former ages in all places: for it is otherwise recorded by I concerning the births ofEgypt.[33]

Lastly, It is commonly conceived that divers Princes have attempted to cut the Isthmus or tract of land34 which parteth the Arabian and Mediterranean Sea: but upon enquiry I find some difficulty concerning the place attempted; many with good authority affirming, that the intent was not immediately to unite these Seas, but to make a navigable chanel betweene the Red Sea and the Nile, the marks whereof are extant to this day, it was first attempted by Sesostris, after by Darius, and in a fear to drown the Country, deserted by them both; but was long after re-attempted and in some manner effected by Philadelphus. And so the grand Signior who is Lord of the Country, conveyeth his Gallies into the Red Sea by the Nile; for he bringeth them down to Grand Cairo where they are taken in pieces, carried upon Camels backs, and rejoyned together at Sues, his port and Naval station for that Sea; whereby in effect he acts the design of Cleopatra, who after the battle of Actium in a different way would have conveyed her Gallies into the Red Sea.[35]

And therefore that proverb36 to cut an Isthmus, that is, to take great pains, and effect nothing, alludeth not unto this attempt; but is by Erasmus applyed unto several other, as that undertaking of the Cnidians to cut their Isthmus, but especially that of Corinth so unsuccessfully attempted by many Emperours. The Cnidians were deterred by the peremptory disswasion of Apollo, plainly commanding them to desist; for if God had thought it fit, he would have made that Country an Island at first.[37] But this perhaps will not be thought a reasonable discouragement unto the activity of those spirits which endeavour to advantage nature by Art, and upon good grounds to promote any part of the universe; nor will the ill success of some be made a sufficient determent unto others; who know that many learned men affirm, that Islands were not from the beginning:[38] that may have been made since by Art, that some Isthmus have been eat through by the Sea, and others cut by the spade: And if policy would permit, that of Panama in America were most worthy the attempt: it being but few miles over, and would open a shorter cut unto the East Indies and China.39


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}. Ross argues with the content of this chapter in Arcana Microcosmi, II:13.

1 [That is, the Don; Mæotis is the Sea of Azov.]

2 [Wren: Yet after Aristotle 740 yeares, about the yeare of Christ 410, itt became soe fordable that the Huns and Vandals (observing a hinde to goe usually through itt to the pastures in Natolia) came in such swarms over the same way, that at last they overrann all Europe also.

It is, in our days, quite shallow, about 45 feet maximum depth.]

3 [Wren: "The river which rann by Verulam [the Roman predecessor of St Albans in Hertfordshire] was once navigable up to the wals thereof, as appears by story, and anchors digd up, but is now rich land, 20 miles lower." There are many such places: Agde and Montpellier in France, for instance; Ostia and Pisa in Italy, etc.]

4[Strabo XVII.1.18. This list is a mess in the various editions of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, so I have pushed it into shape following Strabo; although perhaps this makes nonsense of the following phrase, Strabo mentions but seven, not eight. As published, the list is "Canopicum, Bolbitinum, Selenneticum, Sebenneticum, Pharniticum, Mendesium, Taniticum and Pelusium".]

5 [Pliny's names for the main mouths are in accord with this list, except that he uses "Canopicum" in preference to "Heracleoticum" (but lists both). He also lists several other minor or false mouths.]

6 [It is hardly surprising that authors who cover a period of over half a millennium do not report precisely the same geographical phenomena, especially in regard to the delta of an extremely active and extremely variable river. As an exercise, consider the modern situations of some towns that were ports 500 years ago: say, Rye in England, or Aigues-Mortes and Montpellier in France. Or consider such engineering phenomena as the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway and the Panama Canal.]

7 [Wren: But Honterus, in his geographical map of Ægypt, sets down 17, distinct in situation and name, and he wrote not soe long agoe, that they should since be varyed.]

8 [This is the Bucolic of Herodotus; the "Rosetta" is his Bolbitine.]

9 [Wren: Of note, the rest smaller branches, and soe not considerable, and therefore omitted. {Two of the mouths named by Ptolomy are called "false mouths"; therefore, we should perhaps say that Ptolomy lists seven mouths.}]

10 Sand. Relation.

11 Isa. 11.15, 16.

12 Gr. Not in Isaiam.

13 Esdr. 2. 13:43, 47. [2 Esdras [43] And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river. [44] For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. [45] For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth. [46] Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and now when they shall begin to come, [47] The Highest shall stay the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore sawest thou the multitude with peace.]

14 Apoc. 16.12. ["And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."]

15 [Wren: "Why should we call the ancients to accompt for that which, tho' then true, is now altered after 2000 yeares. Let us rather hence collect the mutability of all things under the moone." Browne considered this in the 1646 edition, which has here a phrase omitted in subsequent editions, "conceaving a perpetuity in mutability, and upon unstable foundations erecting eternall assertions".]

16 De natura & incremento Nili.

17 [The Amazon; Wren: "Oregliana River is 6000 miles longe, 270 miles broad at the mouth."]

18 [Now (and until the next externally imposed "systematization" of Chinese spelling in English, or, less likely, it changes its name) Hang-chou, visited by Marco Polo]

19 Tomineio.

20 Iosh. 3. [This note is missing in 1672; it is in 1686; the reference is in the text of 1646.]

21 [According to Pliny, iii(78) (englished by Holland). Rabbits don't breed there, either, says Pliny; and its earth taken to Colubraria affords protection from the numerous vipers bred on that island.]

22 [Hekla in Iceland; El Teide in Tenerife, which has been inactive since the early twentieth century.]

23 [Wren: They have now a more certain way, for all the ancients agree that Nilus begins to flow about the beginning of July (the sonn going out of Cancer into Leo) and about the end of September returnes within his bankes againe. From the first rise to his wonted level are commonly 10 days: the just hight is 16 cubits. In 12 cubits they are sure of a famine, in 13 of scarcitye and dearthe, 14 cubits makes them merye, 15, secure, and 16, triumphe, beyonde this (which is rare) they looke sad agen, not for feare of want, but least the slow fall of the waters should defer the seed-time to longe; which usually begins in 9ber, and the harvest in Maye. But of this you may reade in Plinye's Natural History, lib. v. cap. 9, and lib. xviii, cap. 18. But most excellently in Seneca's iv. lib. of natural quæstions, which is worthe the reading. Itt seems that in the 7 yeares of famine whereof Joseph (instructed by God) prophesyed, there had noe rain faln in Æthiopia, and that therefore Nilus had not overflowed.]

24 [As Browne does in Book IV, Chapter XII.]

25 [cautelous: cautious; properly, wily, cunning, deceitful. The word (or its reflex) is still current in French.]

26 [In Book III, Chapter XXVII.]

27 [Wren: Lege overreckon every common yeare 10' 44" according to Alphonsus, and every 4th yeare, 42' 56". But Tycho by long and exact observation sayes the retrocession made by this overreckoninge is now but 41', precisely: so that in 300 yeares to come the retrocession of the æquinoxes in the Julian kalendar (for in heaven they are fixed) cannot be above one day: soe that the kalendar reformed would remaine to all times.]

28 Sir William Paston Baronet.

29 [In his Pyramidographia (1646)]

30 Exod. 9[:18. 1646 has "grievous haile".]

31 [Wren: Haile is raine as itt fals first out of the clowde, but freeses as it fals, and turnes into haile-stones, yf the lower ayre be colder then that from whence it fals.]

32 [A question dealt with in Book III, Chapter XXI.]

33 [As in Book IV, Chapter XII.]

34 Lingua maris Ægyptij. Isa. 11.15. ["And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make [men] go over dryshod."]

35 [According to Plutarch, Antony.]

36 Isthmum perfodere.

37 [In Herodotus I.174: The priestess says to them ("in iambic verse") not to wall nor trench the isthmus to protect it from an attempted invasion, because "Zeus would have given you an island, if he had wanted to." Whereupon they ceased their work, surrendering to the invading army when it arrived. One might say it was something of an ancient anti-missile defense system, with the nay-sayers supported by the oracle.]

38 [As discussed in Chapter 6 above.]

39 [Wren notes: "Betweene Panama and the Nombre de Dios, which lyes on bothe sides that strip of lande, the Spaniards accompte about 40 miles at most; but the Spaniards enjoying both those havens, and consequently having the free trade of both seas without corrivalitye of other nations (which yf that pasage were open would not longe be his alone), will never endure such an attempt, and for that cause hath fortified bothe those havens soe strongly that he maye enjoye this proprietye without controule. But itt withall supposes that to cutt through the ridge of mountains which lies between those 2 havens is impossible, and would prove more unfecible then that of Ægypt, which yf itt might be compassed would be of more advantage to these 3 parts of the world than that of Panama, and nearer by 1000 leagues to us, the remotest kingdome trading to the East Indyes."

Wilkin continues: "This long projected intercourse with the East Indias seems — under the present enterprising Pasha of Egypt, to be in a fair way of accomplishment. Letters thither having been actually sent off by the Mediterranean mail in the spring of 1835. The Pasha has sent to M. Brunel requesting his assistance in carrying on the great work of improvement in the channel of the Nile; and one of our British engineers, Mr. Galloway, who has the conduct of a railway constructing between Cairo and Suez, has been created a Bey of Egypt."

Work on the Suez Canal was begun in 1859 and completed in 1869 under the general direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps. Interestingly, it was (a much older) de Lesseps who made the first serious attempt to build a canal at Panama. That attempt was, to put it mildly, a fiasco.]

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