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river of Egypt, is a matter of fact which he positively attests; his own opinions, founded on a groundless theory, merit no attention. In truth the whole information Ptolemy or any
of his age could give, seems little more than an amplification of that communicated by Eratosthenes, as quoted by Strabo. He mentions the Astaberas, and Astapus, which some call the Astosabas as falling into the Nile, and adds “but they say there is another running froin the south out of certain lakes, and that this nearly makes up the straight body of the Nile, and that the suminer rains occasion its overflowing: These two latter circumstances, clearly point out the great riyer of Abyssinia, as they are applicable to no other of the streams which join the Nile. But it
may still be objected, that however at variance with one another, and with the truth, all accounts agree that the source of the Nile is in the Mountains of the Moon, which are not in Abyssinia. (By the way I know not that these mountains are mentioned previous to Ptolemy.) But where are these Mountains of the Moon? If by that name be meant the range of hills intersecting Africa from east to west a few degrees
north of the equator, or even the highest part of them, I assert that the appellation is just as well suited to those of Abyssinia, as of any to the westward. No doubt we see in the modern maps the Mountains of the Moon, but these are merely the dreams of Arabian geographers followiny Ptolemy. There is not the vestige of a proof that any part of these ranges of mountains ever bore that name in any part of Africa. The Abyssinian mountains are probably the highest of that extensive range; at least very near the sources of the rivers falling into the Abay, streains take their rise and flow into the Indian Ocean, It will not avail the supporters of the argument deduced from the · Lunar Mountains," that their name might have been acquired from the worship of that luminary by the inhabitants, seeing this will apply to all the Pagan inhabitants of Nubia, whether on the mountains or the plains, whether on the banks of the Blue or White Rivers, the Maleg or the Dender, in fact to all the Polytheists of Africa, and perhaps every where else. A late Reviewer very neatly and truly observes (vide Eclectic Review) that
« the Mountains of the Moon, are less known than the Mountains in the Moon.”
If Major Rennel have not deviated from his usual accuracy, or if I mistake him not, I apprehend the question, at least this branch of it, to be decided in favour of the claims of the Blue River.-It was a favourite opinion of the ancients, that the Niger and Nile rose from the same lake; nay that the Niger fell into the Nile ; that at any rate the connection between them was so intimate that we continually find them associated in the minds of poets.--Nay, if we can believe Browne, Horneman, &c. it is still the opinion of the natives that they are one and the same river.--If by the Niger, the Jollabola described by Park be meant, how rivers whose sources are near two thousand miles distant, could ever be supposed to originate in one lake, is not easily accounted for, but upon some idea of the gross ignorance of the ancients, or perhaps of the vast extent of that range of hills now called "Mountains of the Moon. But the belief of their connection was generally received, and is, it seems, still entertained.But by what river, in the opinion of the Africans, does this junction take place why this very Bahar el Azergue, and not by the Bahar el Abiad, if we are to credit, and if I mistake not the meaning of, the greatest geographer in the world. This opinion cannot be founded on observation, but must rest upon traditionary reports, founded perhaps on the legends of Egyptian priests or Greek geographers; it proves, however, that those narratives of the Niger and the Nile referred to the river of Abyssinia. The absurdity of any such real connection, Major Rennel proves by the best of arguments, i. e. that the source of the Nile, probably as high as that of the Niger, must be many thousand feet more elevated than the latter at the end of its immense
It is merely of the ancient opinion of their connection I speak, and thence infer, that it was the river of Abyssinia alone, they (the ancients) viewed as the true Nile.
As I write entirely from recollection, not having the advantage of a single book to refer to, I may in this, as in some other points, have mistaken the meaning of Major Rennel. The several arguments, as will be hereafter shewn, in favour of Bruce, can be but little affected by it.
The information to be derived from the ancients, merely amounts to this:—that the Nile rose from an immense lake_or lakes far to the south, and to the eastward of Egypt, indeed near the Indian Ocean, and which lakes were situated in the Mountains of the Moon, or that range of bills which intersects Africa from east to west, from Cape Gardefan to Cape Verd :that in its course it partly enclosed Meroe; receiving other rivers particularly the Astaberas and Astapus, now the Tecazze and the Mareb, (perhaps by the latter sometimes was meant the Dender, or even at times the Guangue;)—that it (the Nile) was so intimately connected with another large river, usually called the Niger, that in the opinion of some, they originated from the same lake, and according to others, ultimately formed the saine river. Even these circumstances are not uniformly adhered to; the very names of the different auxiliary rivers; nay, the situation of Meroe itself, though almost at their very doors, were not precisely ascertained by ancient writers. These two points only seem universally agreed upon, viz. that the source of the Nile lay to the south eastward, and that it issued from immense lakes, situated in the highest part of the African peninsula where rivers also took their rise and course to the Indian Ocean. These particulars can apply to the river of Abyssinia only :--the Bahar el Abiad does not possess a single feature of resemblance to the above description. The appellation “Mountains of the Moon,” the very existence of which is unproved, seems to have been more universal than that of Caucasus, Ararat or Taurus, the very scite or limits of which are to this day the objet of dispute. Such an appellation was most probably of astronomical or mythological origin, and might as as well apply to the mountains of Abyssinia, as to those in Dar Fur, or any where else. The greatest adversaries of Bruce, even Browne, have not pretended or indeed insinuated, that a lake of any kind exists at the source of the “ White River." We are of course, on every principle of fair reasoning, bound to believe that the Nile of the ancients, like that of the moderns, rose in the mountains of Abyssinia, and flowed into the immense lake Dembea, which alone merits the epithets bestowed upon that from which the “ Sacred River,” flowed; that the religious wo:ship still paid to the Abay by the present Pagan natives, is the
remnant of that which was bestowed on the river of Egypt from its source to its einbouchure in the Me. diterranean.
But to proceed to the second branch of this question. The names of mountains and rivers, particularly the latter, in sultry climates especially, are seldom subject to the revolutions of language, but generally retain those bestowed upon them by the aboriginal inhabitants of the countries in which they are situated, Notwithstanding the Roman, Saxon, Danish and Norman conquests and colonizations of south Britain the greatest parts of the rivers and mountains of that couns try, still retain their Celtic denominations. These appellations express the form, or figure, or other quality of the objects they are meant to express. It is indeed from these names, that a clue is afforded for tracing the original inhabitants of any territory. Occasionally the original naine, when descriptive of known qualities, may be, and actually is, translated into the language of the conqueror, but in those circumstances the original appellation can easily be traced,
The river in question has borne the name of Nile or Neel from such remote antiquity, as to induce the supposition that it was bestowed by the most ancient inhabitants of Egypt, of Nubia, and Ethiopia.-Unfortunately little is known of the ancient language of Egypt, or of Meroe, but happily the industry of modern times has unfolded to the present age the stores of literature of a nation perhaps equally ancient, equally learned, and possessing a religion wonderfully similar. How or when the intercourse between Egypt and India coinmenced:-whether the latter received with colonies her religion, language, and polity from the former, is still unknown, (thanks for this, and some other things, to the caution of the Asiatic Society.) But that a greatintercourse and a most intimate connection subsisted between them in times now most remote, is firmly established by the sacred books of the Hindoos, in which are found vast remains of the religion, customs, nay, the very legendary tales of the countries lying on the banks of the Nile. The topography of these, seems nearly as well known, and is almost as fully described in the Puranas, as that of the territories watered by the Indus, by the Ganges, or the still greater Buhampooter. There curiosity naturally looks for in
formation respecting Egypt and the Nile, and there curiosity is not disappointed. Captain Wilford, from these sources, has written a long and most ingenious dissertation upon Egypt and the Nile, but, as was tural, his conclusions are often questionable. Indeed it has already been stated, that his Nanda, which he will have to be the Nile of Abyssinia, can be no other than the Tacazze, and his little Chrishna the Mareb, (the Astaberas and Astosabas or Astapus of the Greeks:) it appears however, that it was from these books, that Ptolerny received at Alexandria, from the learned Indians he owns his obligations to, much of the information he details regarding Egypt, Meroe, &c.
But from these sources, one fact most material to this question seems to be established -I mean the original name of the river of Egypt. Now it is demonstrated, what indeed has long been suspected, that all the ancient names of this river, denoted the colour of its waters. Thus Nil or Niler, a pure Sanscrit word, signifies blue or dark azure: Cali aud Chrishna (other Sanscrit names of this river) denote the colour dark blue, or azure, The Greek name Melos, was, it
seems, merely a translation of the Egyptian name of the holy river. It now therefore is clear, that the original name of the most celebrated river of the world, is at this very moment applied to it, by all the inhabitants of Nubia and Barbara. Those who know the river in question, from Abyssinia to Egypt, give it the appellation of Bahar el Azergue, a literal translation of Nile, Neel, Cali, &c. the epithets applied to it by almost every ancient nation, during a course of many thou
years. Both above and below its junction with the Bahar el Abiad or White River, it retains the same name, though the original one (Nile or Neel) is not altogether unknown; and that among various nations, soine of these originally from the banks of the White River, or Pseudo Nile, who would naturally wish to arrogate to their native stream the right of giving its name to the most famous of all rivers. When we thus see those nations differing from each other in almost every thing else, without one dissenting voice, concurring in bestowing upon this river, both above and below its junction with the White River, an appellation which it has continued to bear for thousands of years, thus unanimously asserting that it is the nuain branch of