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MOUNT CASIUS, FROM THE SEA.

The entrance into Asia Minor by the mouth of the Orontes possesses a grandeur rarely equalled even in this beautiful country. Mount Casius, above five thousand feet in height, rises abruptly from the sea, its sides broken into deep ravines, and lower down into wooded slopes; its summit is a bold rocky pinnacle. Barks usually lie off for wood, which is cut from the forests: the vessels in the plate came from the port of Latikea, and were becalmed near the base: it was a lovely moonlight night, not a cloud in the sky, not a breeze amidst the mountain forests; the murmur of the low waves on the bar alone broke on the stillness. The mouth of the Orontes is close at hand to the left, and might be made navigable, as formerly, to Antioch, which is six leagues distant: "One cause of the ruin of this city," Tavernier states, "was the stopping up by sands of the mouth of the haven." The time is, however, now come, when the cities and rivers of Asia Minor and Assyria will no longer be sealed to the sails or carriage-wheels of England. Colonel Chesney, by his first able and minute survey of these countries two years since, drew the public attention prominently to the subject He is gone out a second time, furnished with all the necessary resources and aids to his great undertaking; and the accounts of his progress up to the present time are satisfactory, and seem almost to realise his own sanguine anticipations. The course detailed in his memoir was to commence at Scanderoon or the Orontes: he decided in his second journey on the latter: this river has a shallow bar at the mouth, and that which was once the ancient port of Seleucia is partly filled up: he states that it might be cleared, and rendered secure and available for steam-vessels, and that a canal of sixty-seven miles in length might be cut from the nearest approach of the Orontes to the Euphrates, which is opposite Bir.

The Orontes is sometimes a deep and rapid river, but never a "broad expanse," as it is frequently, but erroneously, represented: its navigation would be fraught with substantial benefits to the rich territories which it bathes. Colonel Chesney and his companions, on reaching this first step of their gallant enterprise, encamped on a dry spot of ground near Suadeah, at the mouth of the Orontes, in bell-tents and marquees, with a long tent for their provisions. Shears were erected to unlade the stores, &c, and the scene, with the British flag floating over their heads, and the noble mountains which surrounded them, of whom Casius was the monarch, was most animated and picturesque. An observatory was also erected. The bar in the river rendered the landing of goods often difficult and laborious, and at times the sea broke over it fearfully. On one occasion, the gig of the Columbine was upset, with the captain and four seamen, of whom two got ashore, while the captain and the other two were fortunately picked up, when nearly exhausted. They proceeded by land to Antioch, where they hired a large house, and were very hospitably received and well treated, both by natives and officers belonging to Ibrahim Pasha, though the latter was long hostile to their proceeding. Extensive surveys of the country have been made; the vegetation is described as magnificent, and enlivened by innumerable birds of every kind. It is rich in natural history; and ounces, panthers, wolves, bears, jackals, &c., were becoming familiar acquaintance with the explorers of the mountains. Eagles were as numerous as crows at home. A scientific party was despatched to the Gulf of Scanderoon, and thence to Karamania, and to cross the Taurus on its return. On this enterprise, the malaria attacked the travellers, but they soon recovered. During their march, a hyena bore off a lamb from the very door of one of the tents. The geology of Upper Syria is said to be very interesting; Mr. Ainsworth, the medical companion, had drawn up two or three reports upon it Science as well as commerce will reap rich returns from this new communication with India. At the close of last year, the larger steamer was afloat in the Euphrates: it was launched, broadside on, from a height of twenty-three feet, in an angle of twenty-seven degrees, along three slips, and went off in good style, with the Turkish, Arab, and English flags flying, amidst the firing of guns and rockets, and to the astonishment of the natives to see iron float. Colonel Chesney had met with considerable difficulties: the heavy materials of the other boats had stuck in the navigation between Aleppo and Bir; the jealousy of Ibrahim, and of the inhabitants on the route, and the intrigues set on foot to embarrass the expedition, were at last, after much anxiety, and hope deferred, surmounted and removed, by the perseverance and firmness of the conductors. A severe and tedious illness also attacked Colonel Chesney: accounts from Aleppo to the end of February state his recovery, and that the lighter materials and stores had reached Port William on the Euphrates, and the heavier parts of the Tigris steamer, boilers, diving-bell, &c., were about to be conveyed thither by animals provided by the Pasha. Chesney was on a tour in search of coal, fuel, and supplies; nearly all the officers had been ill, but were recovered; nineteen of the men had died. The latest accounts state, that the misunderstandings with Ibrahim Pasha had been removed, and that the expedition, of two fine steamers, had definitively started for Bussorah, down the Euphrates, and afterwards the Tigris, under the most favourable auspices.

In the account of his first able survey, Colonel Chesney observes, that the great river of Scripture, the Euphrates, connected as it is with the earliest times and the leading events in the history of the world, and the ancient channel of extensive commercial intercourse—is not likely to deceive our sanguine interest and expectation. In the upper part of its course, it struggles in a tortuous channel through high hills, forcing its way over a pebbly or rocky bed, at the rate of two to four and a half miles an hour, according to the season of the year and the different localities, carrying with it a considerable body of water, but without any cataracts, though the stream meets with frequent obstructions, above and a little below Anna, by a rocky bottom, and is shallow enough in places to allow camels to pass in the autumn, the water then rising to their bellies, about four and a half feet deep. This portion of the river is compared with the scenery of the Rhine below Schaffhausen: its bank is covered thickly with high brushwood, interspersed with timber of moderate size. It is here studded with a succession of long narrow islands, some of them thickly wooded, and others cultivated; and on several of these are moderate-size towns or villages. The banks of the river are well peopled, not only with Bedouin Arabs in tents, of whom there are many thousands, but also with permanent residents in houses of brick, mud, stone, and reeds. About ten miles below Hit, the hills gradually diminish, and the surface becomes comparatively flat; the current becomes duller and deeper, with an appearance resembling that of the Danube between Widdin and Silistria, but much more animated, the banks being covered with Arab villages of mats or tents, almost touching each other, with numerous flocks of goats, sheep, and cattle feeding near them; also beautiful mares, clothed and piqueted close to the tents, their masters strolling about, and the slaves busily employed in raising water by means of pullies: this is a common machine throughout the Eastern world: at times the water is raised from the Euphrates, as in Egypt from the Nile, to the high banks, by bullocks traversing up and down an inclined plane: these usages appear to have prevailed in Mesopotamia in the earliest times, and the river's bank is quite covered with them, all at work, and producing all the fertility of Egypt, as far inland as irrigation is extended; beyond which, the country is, generally speaking, a desert. From Hit to Hilla, or Babylon, little is seen but the black tents of the Bedouins; the land mostly desert, with the date-tree shewing itself in occasional clusters.

The whole distance, by the course of the river, from Bir to Bussorah, is calculated by Chesney at 1143 miles; and throughout this distance, he is of opinion that, from the time the Euphrates begins to rise, to that when it has reached almost its lowest point, no insuperable impediments are offered to its navigation by steam. In January, there is usually a temporary and moderate rise, but the great and regular rise begins towards the end of March, when the rains set in, and the river attains its greatest height from the 21st to the 28th of May. Its lowest state is in November, and then Colonel Chesney enumerates no fewer than thirty-nine obstructions, by rocks and shallows, between Digetus-Laik and Bushloubford, a distance of about five hundred miles, nearly half the length of the navigation between Bir and Bussorah: the greater part of these obstructions, however, may be passed by a steamer, properly constructed. With regard to the supplies of provisions and fuel, Bir contains two thousand houses, and would supply rice, flour, poultry, &c. Deir, the ancient Thapsacus, contains fifteen hundred houses, and would supply plenty of provisions. Anna has eighteen hundred houses; its picturesque islands are covered with date-trees, and the surrounding country is rich. Hit, with its fifteen hundred houses, affords plenty of butcher's meat Hilla, or Babylon, covers a large tract of ground, with an inadequate population, not exceeding ten thousand souls: the bazaars are good, and well supplied with meat, fish, rice, and even luxuries; the government regular, and well disposed towards strangers. In short, throughout the whole navigation of the river plenty of meal and grain may be had at intervals of fifteen or twenty miles, and the Euphrates throughout abounds in fish, an excellent species of which is taken in such quantities, that Colonel Chesney's boatmen purchased thirty-nine pounds in weight for four-pence. As to fuel, wood, charcoal, bitumen, naphtha are to be had along the whole line of the Euphrates. A little below Bir, at Hit and several other places, are abundant sources of this bitumen, under different states—in some places liquid, in others solid; and from Bir to Bussorah wood and charcoal may be had in any quantity. So abundant is the supply of bitumen, says Colonel Chesney, that one of the ancient fountains close to Hit gives the necessary quantity for all of the extensive demands along the lower Euphrates and Bagdad. How singular it is, that for ages past this substance has continued to flow, inexhaustible as it would seem. The slime, which the descendants of Noah made use of instead of mortar, is admitted by all the commentators to have been the liquid naphtha; we know from Herodotus that it was used in the stupendous buildings of Babylon, and the historians of Alexander testify to the fact; nay, it is still visible in the ruins of this ancient city. The dry hard flakes are sold at the rate of about three-pence per hundred-weight, and the naphtha, when reduced to a thick liquid, at about eleven-pence per hundred-weight,—in either state much cheaper than coal in England. Small wood for fuel is not more than three halfpence per hundred-weight When these materials are mixed, they burn with a brilliant flame, and give out a strong heat.

There is another point connected with the navigation of the Euphrates deserving of serious consideration, namely, the danger to which the lives of those employed on it would be exposed. At present there is no dependence to be placed on many of the Arab tribes bordering on the river, and in the territories between it and the Mediterranean. The Pasha of Egypt, however, now quiet possessor of all Syria, and of great part of Arabia through which the Euphrates flows, will probably improve the condition and check the lawlessness of the wandering and marauding tribes. Colonel Chesney was himself several times attacked in the course of his first journey: at present the fear of Ibrahim Pasha, whose wrath is swift to punish, begins to prevail among these Arabs. The marked support of the Pasha, he observes, "insures safety wherever he is obeyed, or even has influence; but by far the greater part of the inhabitants near the river are subject to no control: there is, in reality, no way that I know of to pass these hostile, ill-disposed tribes, without contests, and perhaps bloodshed occasionally." The territory through which must pass the canal of sixty-seven miles in length, to join the Orontes to the Euphrates opposite Bir, is chiefly desert, and exposed to the molestations of the people; but these are now less to be feared: the wild hordes of the Turcoman and the Bedouin will soon begin to feel the benefits of such an intercourse, and to be more habituated to the novel sight of strangers thus traversing their wilds. The expense of the expedition was estimated at twenty thousand pounds; it has already extended to forty thousand, which has indisposed our government to engage in another undertaking of a similar description. Its success is on this account to be intensely desired; as, should it chance, which is hardly probable, to fail, a second attempt must be undertaken by individual liberality.

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