An Egyptian Man and Woman in their proper Habits.

Egyptian couple

An Account of

EGYPT, a country in Africa, is parted from Asia by the Red Sea, and bounded on the north by the Mediterranean; on the east by Arabia Petræa; on the south by Æthiopia and Nubia; and on the west by Barbary.  The air of this country is very unhealthy, occasioned by the heat of the climate.  The soil is made fruitful by the river Nile, which overflows the country annually, from the middle of June to September, and supplies the want of rain, of which there is very seldom any.  It abounds with corn, and does not want for rice, sugar, dates, sena [senna], cassia, balm,


leather, flax and linen cloth, which they export.  Diodorus Siculus relates, that there had been formerly in Egypt, eighteen thousand great towns; the most noted of which was Alexandria.  In the eastern parts, beyond the river Nile, is the famous country of Thebais, with its desarts [sic], where St. Anthony, St. Paul, and other anchorets [anchorites; ascetics], had their cells.  Beyond the Red Sea there is another desart, where the children of Israel lived forty years.  The modern inhabitants are fine swimmers, handy, pleasant, and ingenious, but lazy.  This kingdom was first governed by the Pharaohs; afterwards conquered by Alexander the Great; and in the sixteenth century, Selim, the Turkish Emperor, conquered the Mamulucks [Mamluks; originally slave soldiers, who became a powerful military caste, occasionally seizing power for themselves, as in Egypt], or Saracens; for in the year 1516, defeating and killing Camson [Qansuh I-Ghawri], Soldan [Sultan] of Egypt, and Tomumbey [Tuman Bey] the next year after, Egypt was perfectly conquered by the Ottomans or Turks, who have governed it ever since by their Bashaws [Pashas].  The old religion of this country was idolatry, but now Mahometanism prevails most, through there are some few Christians.

An Account of BARBARY.

BARBARY is bounded by Egypt on the east, Mount Atlas on the south, the Atlantic Ocean on the west, and the Mediterranean to the north.  Though this country be under the Torrid Zone, yet the mountains


and sea coasts, between the Straits of Gibraltar and Egypt, are more cold than hot.  The men of this country are allowed many wives though they seldom are married to more than one.  The women are always veiled in the presence of men; so that a man knows no more of the beauty of the woman he marries, than what he learns from her parents, till they are actually married.  The people are of a good mild humour, and such as live abroad under tents, as the Arabians or shepherds, are laborious, valiant, and liberal; but they who live in cities are proud, covetous, and revengeful; and though they traffic much, know but very little, and have neither banks nor bills of exchange.  Their commodities are beef, hides, linen, and cotton; raisins, figs, and dates.  It is a rich country, and governed, part of it, as Fez and Morocco, by Kings; and the other, as Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, by Bashaws from the Grand Seignior [sic].   As for religion, they have the Christian, Jewish, and Mahometan, and they who live in the mountains and fields with their flocke [sic], which are a great number, have hardly any at all.  When any one dies, his friends have women that cry and scratch their faces, and take on seemingly with great grief for the deceased.  They live mostly on rice, beef, veal, mutton; but wine is forbidden by Mahomet's law.


A Description of ZAARA, or the Great Desarts

THE air of this country is very hot, so that the people are forced to keep in their little huts, or seek refreshment in caverns, the most part of the day; these desarts have a great number of lions, tigers, and ostriches.  The inhabitants are unpolished, savage, and very bold, for they will stand and meet the fiercest lion or tiger.  They are divided into families or clans, each head of a family is sovereign in his own canton, and the eldest is always head; they follow the Mahometan religion, but are no strict observers of it.  The country is a mere desart, as the name imports, and so parched for want of water, that the caravans from Morocco to Negroland are obliged to carry both water and provisions, the province producing hardly any thing for the support of life.


A Negroe Man and Woman in their proper Habits.

Negro couple

An Account of the Land of the NEGROES.

THIS country lies along the river Niger, on both sides of it, between Zaara and Guinea.  It contains fourteen kingdoms. ---  The inhabitants of the sea coast are somewhat civilized by their commerce with the Portuguese; but those that dwell up higher in the country are savage and brutal.  They are continually at war with one another, and all the prisoners they take in war they sell for slaves.  They sow neither wheat nor barley, but only millet; and their chief food is roots and nuts, pease and beans.  The country is surrounded with woods, and abounds with


elephants.  They have no wine, but a pleasant sort of liquor, which they get from a certain sort of palm trees, in this manner --- they give three or four strokes with a hatchet on the trunk of a tree, and set vessels to receive the distilling juice, which is very sweet, but in a few days grows strong, yet will not keep long, for in fifteen days it grows sour.  One tree will yield near a gallon in twenty-four hours.  The commodities of this country are gold, ostrich feathers, amber, gums, civit [sic], elephants teeth, and red-wood.

An Account of ÆTHIOPIA.

ÆTHIOPIA is about one-half of Africa, and divided into the Upper and Lower Æthiopia.  This country is pretty full of mountains. much higher than the Alps or Pyrenees, but level, spacious, and well inhabited, and fruitful on the top; the soil near the Nile is fruitful, but at a distance chiefly sandy desarts.  The people comely and well shaped, though black or swarthy.  Their cattle are very large, their horses and camels courageous and stout.  Their kings sit at table alone. --- Their messes not being very neat or costly, are served in black clay dishes, covered with straw caps finely woven;  they use neither knives nor forks, spoons nor napkins, and think it beneath them to feed themselves, and so have youths on purpose to put the meat in


their mouths.  They have no towns, but live in tents, which are so very numerous where the King is, that they resemble a great city; and they have also their officers to prevent disorder, and things are so well managed, that they can remove speedily on all occasions without confusion.  Their commodities are metals, gems, cattle, corn, sugar, canes, wine, and flax.  They are a mixture of Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, and Christians.  The government is subject to an Emperor, who is called Prestor [sic] John [Prester John, a supposed Christian monarch, originally placed in the Far East, then later in Africa - in the early 1500s equated with the Christian King of Abyssinia].  In Lower Æthiopia the commodities are silver, gold, ivory, pearls, musk, ambergris, oil, lemons, citrons, rice, millet, &c.  The people have hitherto been esteemed barbarous and savage; but if the relations of Bruce [presumably James Bruce, author of  "Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile"], the celebrated traveller, are in the least to be depended on, we have done them great injustice in this respect; and we are well assured that they are not generally canibals [sic], as we have been accustomed to think them.  The Hottentots [the name is now considered derogatory; the name Khoikhoi is preferred] inhabit part of the country, who are the most odious of all the human species, for they besmear their bodies with grease and all manner of filth, and adorn themselves with hanging the guts of bears about their arms, legs and necks.


An Account of GUINEA.

GUINEA is a kingdom of Africa; the country is very extensive, and the people of Europe drive a great trade in it.  The French were the first who discovered it, about the year 1346.  The soil of this country is fertile, but the heat insupportable by any but the natives, who are counted the blackest of all the Negroes, and most of them go quite naked.  Ignorance and stuperstition [sic] reign among them, and it is said that they offer human sacrifices.  They look on God to be a good being, and for that reason only are civil to him; they worship the devil, and pray earnestly he may do them no mischief.  Their commodities are cotton, rice, sugar, canes, elephants, peacocks, apes, and pearls.  Several small Princes and states in the inland country, who are generally at war, sell their prisoners for slaves to the Europeans; others traffic to different countries for purchasing slaves, or steal them, and bring them down to the coast; and some will sell their children and nearest relations, if they have an opportunity.

A Museum for Young Gentlemen and Ladies - late 1790s