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NILOMETER. All our readers are probably aware of the peculiar causes which contribute to the fertility of Egypt. It was not like the neighbouring country of Judea, a land of hills and valleys, that drank of the rain of heaven, for in Egypt, even at this day, showers are of rare occurrence, and in some parts, altogether unknown. The annual overflow of the Nile was the great source of its fruitfulness, which was usually proportionate to the height attained by its waters. If this were inconsiderable, famine was a necessary consequence, as in the seven years' dearth recorded in the days of Joseph.*
It is not to be wondered at therefore, that some attempt should be made for the purpose of accurately measuring this increase or decrease; and for this purpose the building represented in our cut was principally designed. It is called the Mokkias or Mikkias, and is situate on the Island of Rodda, between old Cairo and Giza. It is a work of the Saracens, and has considerable pretensions to elegance; the name is derived from a term signifying measure, and the rise and fall of the waters of the Nile is ascertained by reference to the graduated column shewn in the centre of the engraving.
* Genesis xli. 54. Vol. v, 4th SERIES. CC
The rise of the Nile usually commences about the 18th or 19th of June, and attains its greatest height about the middle of September
“In your patience possess ye your souls." Wuen Mary and Janet Macpherson* came to their uncle, Dr. Wilmot's, it was with the expectation of staying merely a few weeks during the illness of their dear mamma. But week after week had passed, and now, at the end of six months, it was arranged that they should continue there. For some time after their arrival the weekly report proved favorable; fever gradually subsided, strength seemed slowly returning : and it was hoped, watchful care, quietness, and nourishment, would soon, under the Divine blessing, effect a cure. But after two months, these bright hopes were less strongly, and less frequently, expressed; then followed a strange, unsatisfactory reserve; and lastly came the melancholy truth, that, though medical aid had availed in some measure to the restoration of the body, the mind continued in such a state of imbecility and weakness, that at present it was utterly impossible for Mrs. Macpherson to resume the care of her family. Truly may we say, what is outward loveliness, what are mental endowments, when the hand of God touches the children of men?“He maketh their beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment. Every man, therefore, is but vanity.”
Under such circumstances, neither Dr. nor Mrs. Wilmot could think of parting with the little girls; they were associated, therefore, in their own children's daily lessons and recreations, while the guardians, to whose care, in conjunction with that of their beloved mother, Col. Macpherson's will had left them, took care amply to remunerate Miss Robarts for her additional charge. Thus were Mary and Janet, in the general opinion of their friends, happily provided for; yet was it far from being (especially to Mary) a comfortable home. No intentional unkindness was manifested, but the frequent occasions on which she saw that religion was despised, and not seldom herself on account of it, were very painful. Being of a peculiarly humble spirit, and thoughtful above her years, she often feared lest her own failings should strengthen the prejudice of her relatives. Little did she think, dear child, how much conviction was even then at work; and how large a share the feeling of self-accusation had, in the irritability she was called to encounter. But more distressing than all, to Mary's affectionate heart, was the change taking place, almost imperceptibly, in Janet. At first she had been far the most ready to resent any contradiction of their received ideas; but this proceeded from pride rather than principle. Familiarity with other modes of thinking and acting, weakened those impressions which had not as yet struck root; and she sometimes asked her sister, “ whether it would not be easy to avoid much that was disagreeable, by not being quite so precise ?"
* See preceding number.
Among other sources of grief, Mary felt keenly the light estimation which was put upon God's sacred day: the family, it was true, attended church, at least such members as were so disposed; any one who felt otherwise inclined being easily able to find some excuse. Miss Robarts, however, and the little ones went regularly, unless prevented by rain, severe cold, or intense heat.
It was on a wet Sunday, when dinner was over in the schoolroom, and Miss Robarts had said, she supposed they must all remain at home, that Mary withdrew to her own quiet chamber. Her spirit had been wounded by the light chat of the school-room, and she wept as she remembered her once holy Sabbaths, and the beloved circle with whom she used to welcome their return; truly finding “ that blessed day the best of all the seven.” She thought, “0, if her dear mamma were well again, to gather them as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings !" With a feeling bordering on impatience, she felt ready to exclaim,-“How long shall we be deprived of a parent's care? how long shall dear Janet be exposed to such a dangerous influence?” But Mary had learned where to pour forth her sorrows, and the thought that all was ordered by her heavenly Father, calmed the rising tempest. She knelt down, and prayed for grace to meet the circumstances in which she was placed. In simple language this young Christian asked the Lord, to appear for them in his own good time; and then she rose refreshed and comforted, gently whispering with fervent devotion,
“Father! I wait thy daily will;
Till death and heaven reveal the rest." “Return unto thy rest, O my soul! for God hath dealt bountifully with thee.” Mary was now in a state of mind to read her Bible with profit and delight: she had been thus engaged for about a quarter of an hour, when little Sophia, with a face lighted up with joy, came running in.
“O see, cousin Mary,” she exclaimed, “what a beautiful book papa has given me; prints from the History of England !"
“Very pretty indeed, dear;" said Mary, taking it in her hand.
“You have just done reading, cousin Mary; will you look the pictures over with me, for I forget some of the subjects ?"
“ To-morrow, dear, I shall enjoy looking at them."
6 And why not to-day?" asked Sophia, reddening. “To-morrow, between school-hours, I hope we shall have a good game of play; so, if you are not inclined to look at them to-day, most likely I shall not be inclined to-morrow."
"I cannot help it, dear Sophia ; I don't think it a proper employment for Sunday."
Just then, Miss Robarts' voice was heard on the stairs. “The weather seems clearing; so perhaps we may as well go out.” At the same moment Caroline opened the door, to inform the little girls.
“But what,” she enquired, “is the matter with you two children; one looking as fretful as possible, just ready to cry; the other as fierce as a cockatoo ?”
“Well!” said Sophia, still swelling with anger; “because Mary is so cross and ridiculous. I asked her to look at these beautiful prints, and she says, to-morrow, dear,' she will.”
“And if she did say so, it is very naughty of you to put yourself · in a passion, and very rude and vulgar to attempt mocking any
one. But really," continued Caroline, turning to Miss Robarts, “I do prefer a natural, childlike passion, to such unnatural nonsensical stiffness." · “Shall I set Mary a lesson in the History of England ? it would be quite a case of conscience," rejoined Miss Robarts, laughing.