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soil, but it is thought by the fellahs more valuable as an article of fuel, for which purpose it is mixed with chopped straw and then dried. For the growth of Indian corn it is common to apply a dressing from the dust of the streets, the rubbish heaps of the villages, and the nitrous scrapings of the earthen floors of huts and stables, to enrich and lighten the stiff alluvial clay deposited by the inundation. In September the picking commences, unless retarded by the upfavorable weather, which seldom happens, the only scourge of the crop being an occasional blighting dew. Fifteen or eighteen pounds in weight is considered a good day's work for a man, and three cantars are a fair average yield per acre, though sometimes six, seven, and even eight are attained. Every tifteen days the picking is renewed, and each plant supplies about a pound and a quarter in a season. The cotton is then dried and put into bales, and is ready to be ginned. Sometimes in their haste the fellahs dry by means of ovens, a process which gives a yellowish hue and weakens the staple.
For the work of ginning, until the last five years, the old-fashioned dolab or Egyptian hand-gin was universally employed. This, however, is rapidly going out of use in consequence of the superiority of the Macarthy steam-gin, which, though ordinarily manufactured in England, is, like the saw-gin, the invention of an American. For a long time a prejudice existed against cleaning by any kind of improved machinery from abroad, the saw-gin having proved to be hurtful and not adapted to the long staple of Egyptian
cotton. But the superiority and thoroughness of the Macarthy gin, when in competent hands, has dissipated this objection. The advantage of this invention over the saw-gin, which is only suited to short-stapled cotton, is that, when properly attended to, it does not cut the staple. It also preserves the lustrous whiteness so characteristic of Egyptian cotton, but so liable to be spoiled by the slow manipulations required in working the dulab.
Nearly eighty steam-ginning establishments have been put up within the last two years, each of them running from 25 to 200 gins. These large brick factories, and the incessant smoke of their tall chimneys, are now a common sight in all parts of Lower Egypt. Although working day and night, they have much more than they can do to dispose of the cotton brought to them by the fellah cultivators, all anxious to hasten their crop to the Alexandria market and take advantage of the high prices ruling there. During the past season I have seen many of these establishments along both branches of the Nile entirely barricaded with bags of cotton waiting to be cleaned. Each gin cleans about two cantars in twenty-four hours. The proprietors charge from one to four dollars a cantar for ginning, taking in addition the seed they separate from it, which is ordinarily worth twice as much more. This seed, which constitutes more than two-thirds of the weight of unginned Egyptian cotton, has of late years been especially valued on account of the fine oil for machinery, as well as the nutritive cattle food obtained from the residue after pressure.
During the last six months (as I have said in a former despatch) its price has, at times, exceeded that of wheat, although a few years ago the surplus over the amount needed for sowing was usually burnt as fuel. A well-informed mercbant in Alexandria declares the opinion that during the past two years these enterprises have repaid their capital besides yielding an annual dividend of forty per cent. This is, perhaps, an overestimate, but from a detailed statement of the yearly outlay and profits of a large ginning establishment furnished to me by the propriétor, I am inclined to think that most of them have more than repaid the original investment.
After having been ginned the cotton is packed in bales, ordinarily of 500 pounds, by hydraulic presses, and is thus ready to be sent by boat or railway to Alexandria for sale and exportation to Europe.
Such is the demand for labor in cultivation and cleaning, that within a year wages have doubled. At a cotton-ginning establishment in Mansurah the night operative receives about one English shilling a day, and the boy or girl who works by day-light about half as much. The compensation of field hands is less, but has risen in the same proportion. The works on the Suez canal, where an able-bodied man can gain about a franc a day, had to sustain the increased rate of wages. Nothing could more clearly show the improved condition of the fellahs in Egypt than to contrast these facts with the statement of the late Mr. Gliddon, formerly United States consul in Cairo, that in 1841 the average net income of an Arab laborer was twopence-halfpenny a day.
In quality Egyptian cotton is noted for the fineness and length of the staple and in the manufacture of a certain class of fabrics. When there is a deficiency of sea-island cotton, it is often advantageously mixed with a substitute for it. In price it ranks second to it, the best Egyptian being about one-half the value of the sea-island. At different times the culture of the sea-island variety has been introduced in Egypt, and with considerable success. But its rapid degeneration requiring the importation of fresh seed every year, the greater care necessary for its cultivation, and, as is commonly believed, the comparative smallness of the crops, have discouraged the experiment, notwithstanding the higher price realized for it. An experienced English planter, living in Egypt, informs me, however, of a successful trial made by himself a few years ago in using sea-island seed, where the yield was 575 pounds of clean cotton per acre. The cost of cultivation per acre, he says, was a little less than seven dollars. Habin Pacha, brother of the late viceroy, has recently made a small experiment of growing from the seed of the short-stapled New Orleans cotton, and the one bale which he sent to Liverpool brought in January of this year twentyfour pence a pound. Had the quantity been somewhat larger, the purchasers, it is stated, would have added twopence a pound to the price. New Orleans cotton on the day of the sale at Liverpool was quoted from twenty to twenty-six pence a pound. The same accomplished and enterprising prince informed me, a few days ago, that he was expecting ten tons of New Orleans seed, to be tried on his estates in upper Egypt. In his experiment this seed produced about onefourth less than the Egyptian. But from other sources I learn that little expense for artificial irrigation is required for its growth, and the cotton produced being more suited to the ordinary manufacturing machinery, is more in demand than the finer-stapled variety commonly raised in this country.
The price of cotton, as I have frequently observed in former despatches, has been greatly affected by recent events in the United States. Before the outbreak of the southern insurrection fair cotton in the Alexandria market was quoted from $11 to $13 the cantar, which rate did not greatly increase until October, 1861, when it rose to $18 and $19. At the end of the year it fell to about $15. After the settlement of the Trent affair prices recovered, and between June and October, 1862, it was worth about $45. It then fell; but during the last two months it has ranged from $30 to $40, the quotation to-day being $30 for fair. A large part of the land formerly cultivated in Egypt is to-day sterile. Of the seven mouths of the Nile existing in ancient times, but two remain ; and there are traces in the desert of many canals of irrigation which are now abandoned. Of course the banks of these disused water-courses were once clothed with verdure, for in Egypt water invariably produces fertility. The population of Egypt, which anciently was estimated at 8,000,000, had been reduced by wars, pestilence, and misgovernment, within the present century, to about 2,000,000. It may reasonably be set down at this time between four and five millions; and there are various signs, such as the rapid growth of villages on the lines of travel, the great number of small children everywhere seen, and the exemption of the country for many years from war and destructive epidemics, of a continuous increase. Consequent on this is a steady augmentation of the area of cultivation by the reopening of old canals and the digging of new ones.
The Suez Canal Company have enlarged and extended a very ancient navigable canal of Nile water, Žagazey, running east to Tenisah on the line of their route, which, turning southwardly, will be completed next summer as far as Suez, thus rendering cultivable a strip of desert stretching seventy-five miles. This tract is eagerly sought by Bedouins, who desire to abandon their nomadic life for the more profitable pursuit of cotton culture. Part of the territory here mentioned was known in ancient times as the fruitful land of Goshen, occupied by the brothers of Joseph, then prime minister of one of the Pharaohs. The Suez Company have also rescued from the Salt Lake Menzaleh, along the line of their unfinished maritime canal, many thousand acres of rich, black soil, which, on exposure to air and fresh water-irrigation is expected to fertilize.
In a few places on the western border of the Nile valley the shifting sands of the desert have encroached on the domain of cultivation. But on the whole, the tendency is decidedly the other way, and the alluvion gains on the desert. Scientific observation has established the fact that the bed of the Nile and the valley on each side of it have always progressively risen at a rate varionsly estimated from three and a half to six inches in a century ; * and, as Sir Gordon Wilkinson suggests, such a perpendicular rise of the water necessarily causes it to flow to a greater distance over an open space to the east; and here it may not be inappropriate to cite the same author's historic illustrations of this doctrine. The alluvial plain of Tbebes, on the western shore of the Nile, he says, “in the time of Amunoph III, or about fourteen hundred years before our era, was not more than two-thirds of its present breadth, and the statues of that monarch, around which the alluvial mud has accumulated to the height of nearly seven feet, are based on the sand that once extended some distance before them. This at once explains why the ancient Egyptians were constantly obliged to raise mounds round the old towns to prevent their being overwhelmed by the inundation of the Nile, the increased height of its rise, which took place after a certain number of years, keeping pace with the gradual elevation of the bed of the river.”—Ancient Egyptians, chapter V.
Although, from various causes, such as insecurity of property and political misfortunes which it is needless to mention, there is less land cultivated now than when Egypt was densely populated, there is obviously more land which is cultivable—that is, more land within reach of irrigation-than at any former period. And if this advantage be skilfully improved, a larger population can be at the present day supported than in the most proper days of antiquity.
It is the judgment of common observers that in the article of cotton Egypt is not cultivated to more than one-fifth of its capacity. Immense territories of desert could easily be reclaimed to fertility by the introduction of canals; and it is even proposed by English capitalists to utilize the vast marshes anciently the site of flourishing provinces surrounding Alexandria, by drawing off the salt water which has so long covered them. By the government survey of the year 1843 the following result was obtained :
Acres cultivated. Acres uncultivated. Upper Egypt.
826, 825 763, 176 Middle Egypt
750, 409 843, 608 Lower Egypt
2, 249, 106 1, 551, 011
3, 826, 340 3, 157, 795 * The savans of the French expedition, at the close of the last century, estimate the mean secular rate of the elevation of the bed of the Nile, and of the level of its valleys, by the allavial deposit of the river, at nearly five inches, (4.960 English inches.) Mr. Leonad Horner, in his valuable memoir on the geological history of Egypt, published in 1858, in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, estimates it at within a small fraction of ihree and a half inches ; Sir Gardner Wilkinson, at six inches; and Hekekyan Bey, whose researches on this subject are more recent and more thorough than those of other investigetors, at nearly five and three-quarters inches, or, more exactly, 5.736 inches.
How many of these "uncultivated" acres are cultivable the official survey fails to tell us; but my learned friend Hekekyan Bey, who has passed a life of scientific labor in the service of the Egyptian government, estimates that the entire extent of land within reach of inundation, and therefore cultivable, is 6,000,000 (six millions) acres, of which only one-half is cultivated. Nothing but the doubling of her population, or the universal use of steam-power and laborsaving machinery, can test the full agricultural capacity of Egypt. In short, for this purpose, Egypt is at this moment in want of an accession of four millions of agricultural laborers.
When we consider that most of the cultivable land is adapted for the growth of cotton, and that hardly more than 300,000 acres are devoted to this object, it is clear that the breadth of cotton culture could be greatly enlarged without inconveniently lessening the production of the cereal and other important staples of the country. It may here be observed that in the markets of Europe Egyptian grain, from its inferior quality, commands a less price than the grain of the United States or of Russia. For the same reason, in England, it is principally used in distilleries of ardent spirits.
The present viceroy has manifested a purpose to encourage in every way the culture of cotton, and his unsurpassed practical experience in Egyptian agricul. ture affords an assurance that his measures will be judicious and effective. conversation a few days since he expressed to me the opinion that the crop
of this season will be forty per cent. greater than that of the preceding.
Besides a larger population, another important requisite for an increased cotton culture in the rainless country of Egypt is a more extensive irrigation. The barrage, a vast stone structure at the head of the Delta, built on the Nile in order to secure a more equal distribution of its water, and to maintain a supply for the lateral canals, when the period of inundation bas passed, is a costly attempt in this direction ; nor has it been altogether without benefit in keeping uniformly full some of the existing canals which were formerly dry or ill-supplied for a part of the year. The barrage, however, was but a part of a com. prehensive system of irrigation planned by Mehemet Ali, which contemplated the digging of large canals on either side of the river to distribute the waters dammed up by it, but which, unfortunately, was abandoned at his death, and thus the full advantage of the scheme bas never been realized.
The steam pump which is employed by the larger proprietors has proved an important auxiliary in irrigation, and it is suggested that a movable machine of this kind might be of use to many of the less extensive cultivators. A cheap labor-saving pump, worked by hand, is also much needed, to supersede the more costly sakia or water-wheel, which requires the labor, on an average, of two cattle and one man. Twenty-five years ago, Linaut Bey, a leading engineer in Mehemet Ali's service, reckoned that in addition to the almost innumerable shadoofs, there were in Lower Egypt alone 50,000 sakias, worked at an annual expense of £650,000 ; what it is now I cannot accurately judge, but it must bave vastly augmented with the object of reducing the expense of irrigation. The viceroy has just complied with my suggestion in ordering some experiments to be made with a cheap and simply constructed pump, invented by a Boston engineer, which is said to raise, with the labor of one man, 100 gallons per minute. This, if successful, is manifestly a great improvement on the ordinary shadoof, by which one man can only raise one-fourteenth of the quantity in the same time.
A serious obstacle to agricultural progress in Egypt is the use, by the fellahs, of the antiquated implements of husbandry, which are essentially the same as those employed by the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago. It is generally admitted that these ploughs, which rather scratch than upheave the soil, and these uncouth clod-crushers, might advantageously be displaced by the strong and light ploughs and harrows which can be imported from the United States at a low yet remunerating price. The absence of these, and of other simple inventions of the kind, affords a profitable opportunity for American capital and enterprise.
“In no country," said Herodotus, when describing Egypt, “do they gather their seed with so little labor;" and the remark is nearly as true now as it was in the days of the historian, centuries before the Christian era. As was anciently declared by another Greek writer, they are still “content with having slight furrows, with light ploughs, on the surface of the land.” But when the land, as has happened in Lower Egypt, and the Delta, from the despotic appropriation and thriftless husbandry of former rulers, has become what is called aladish, and gone to waste, these “light ploughs” are powerless to improve it. Villages, for example, often being deprived of laborers to furnish recruits for foreign wars, were at one time appropriated by the government, and its lands exploited by a short-sighted and ruinous system of agriculture, from the effects of which the country still suffers. In order to have an uninterrupted succession of crops, the inundation was excluded by dykes, irrigation being supplied from the brackish water of wells. The deposit of salt after evaporation, added to that which would be pushed to the surface by the upward filtration of the Nile, would soon convert a once fruitful tract into a desert, where nothing would grow but a rank crop of “halfa," a deep-rooted, tough grass, which, with the ordinary farming implements of Egypt, it is almost impossible to extirpate. It has thus been considered an unprofitable undertaking to attempt to improve these barren lands, raised as they frequently are by the deposits left by former growths of this pestilent grass, above the level of inundation, and from this cause one-half of the delta is said to be uncultivated.
The agency of steam has, however, at last been employed in the work of restoring fertility, and with signal success. The tenacious and matted roots of the “halfa,” which resist the utmost efforts of ploughs drawn by oxen, are, by the steam-plough, cut up without difficulty.
The fellah cultivators are obliged to pay the government tax in advance, and, as they usually expend their gains to enlarge their lands, they are accustomed to borrow money on the security of the coming crop. This they formerly got from Levantine usurers at an interest of from three to five per cent. a month, and I have known instances where even geven per cent. a month was given ; but within the last year, in consequence of an unusual flux of money and other causes, the rate has greatly declined, and it will, probably, never again attain such an excessive height as heretofore. The security offered is almost invariably good, for the summary forms of justice adopted by the Egyptian government compel a prompt fulfilment of contracts, and do not tolerate the vexatious delays which attend litigation in Christian countries.
I subjoin here what I have reason to deem an exact statement of the cost of cultivating a single acre with cotton. It is furnished me by a successful planter at Mansanah, in Lower Egypt; but the items are upon a scale of expense considerably larger than is necessary in some of the other districts : Tax paid to government....
110 piasters. Ploughing..
60 do. Seed ..
100 do. Picking.
480 piasters = $24
As, therefore, an acre in Mansanah yields an average of four cantars, the er pense for raising one cantar will amount, according to the foregoing statement, to