William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By Olive Risley Seward; William Henry Seward | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VII.
ESNEH, EDFOU, ASSOUAN, AND PHILÆ.

The Coptic Convents.--Youssef and his Donkey.--Our Steamer aground.---The Ruins of Esneh.--The Temple of Edfou.--Assouan.--Its Surprising Activity.--Its African Population.--The Ancient Quarries.--Philæ and the Cataracts of the Nile.--A Mon. ument of the First French Republic.

Esneh, May 21st.--If time would allow, it would be an interesting task to visit the Coptic convents which are found in small and poor villages on the desert verge. Their history is a touching one. They were founded as a refuge for the Coptic Christians from a decree of the Emperor Diocletian, and they were again sought as an asylum by the Copts--who had become Christians, when driven away by the Mussulman conquerors from their home at Medéenet Háboo. Their present tenants are represented as being very poor, and as retaining of Christianity little more than a ritual of the early Church.

The courteous governor and the hospitable consul took leave of us at a late hour on the night of the 19th, with good wishes for the voyage we were about to resume. Our favorite English-speaking donkey-boy, Youssef, petitioned us to take him with us to the United States, but he depends on his vocation to support his widowed mother. We raised steam and cast off from the bank at daylight, passed Edfou without stopping, but either our pilot was at fault, or sand-bars had suddenly changed. We came to a dead stop. Sultan Pacha, at that moment, coming down the river with his

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