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including a detention of about ten minutes in crossing the Hindon river.
When the Camel's temper, docility, strength, and capacity to endure thirst, are considered, it must be obvious that no mode of crossing the desert could be discovered, equal to that of a Camel carriage.
The best description of carriage for the purpose, would probably be something between a britska and a cab phaeton, made as light as possible, with hood that will let down or close up entirely, and with dickies for servants before and behind, and room in the body, or under the dickies, for clothes and other baggage. On a good road such carriage should of course be made with steel springs, but for crossing rough roads, I should think, that long springs of buffalo leather, like those used for the Caracollas in the Havannah, described in Alexander's travels, would answer well. The wheels should be all of the same size, and five feet in diameter. I should think that carriages of the sort required, might be built both cheaper and better in India than in Europe. Cal. cutta built carriages are usually lighter than those imported, and the wheels are especially much lighter, and certainly stand the climate better. I have reason to believe that for 1,500 or 1,600 rupees, a carriage of the above description, every way efficient, may be built in Calcutta.
Three Camels per stage would be ample for such carriage, to take two passengers, their servants, and light baggage; and the distance from Suez to Cairo being under eighty miles, four stages would suffice. Three relays would be necessary, and the journey might then be performed with safety and ease in twelve hours. These relays might be sent forward from Suez, when the steamer was first signalized, and would then be ready to take forward the carriage, when the traveller reached the relay station.
The Camel draws with perfect ease, and requires but little training. His pace is a long walk, or a long trot, and there is no unpleasant motion of any sort imparted to the carriage by his movement. It is not generally advisable to take a Camel in draught a longer stage than twenty miles, as when over-worked they are apt to lie down, and will not move; an unpleasant proceeding in mid-stage. But for eighteen miles they will trot readily and well. Camels for draught should be highly fed, and it is a good plan, at the expiration of a stage, to give them half a seer of ghee; this if laid out in skins, they will lap up at once, and will then readily eat their grain or fodder ; but otherwise, they will sometimes be off their food; and it cannot be too strongly impressed on all who employ the Camel in draught, that good feeding is a sine quâ non to ensure its efficiency.
The Camel men generally have a prejudice against employing Camels in draught. They say that the Camel was never intended to draw, but to carry, and look upon it as little less than a sin to put the animal into harness. They have further a prejudice, that it will kill the Camel : this is altogether fallacious. On a plain, the Camel draws with extraordinary ease, and a single Camel is fully equal to two and a half horses. It is not however so easy to combine Camel labour, as it is that of horses, i. e., it is less easy to make them pull quite steadily together; and four Camels are not equivalent to ten horses; I should estimate their power rather that of seven or eight horses. They do not draw very well up hill.
In India, the Rewarree Camels draw with the least training, because they are accustomed, in their own country, to draw the plough ; and I should think the Egyptian Dromedary would draw equally well, for I think I remember to have read in some book of travels, that in Upper Egypt they are occasionally harnessed to the ferry boats,
The carriage should be built as light as is consistent with the union of strength and comfort, for it is far preferable to have a light carriage drawn by two Camels, than to have a heavy carriage with four Camels.
The Camel will draw a buggy well, but the buggy should be so balanced, like the ekkas, that but little weight may rest on the animal; and it must be borne in mind, that in consequence of the Camel's height, the shafts must necessarily have a considerable inclination upwards.
The bridle and saddle required for the Camel in draught, are precisely the same as those used for the common Sandees or Hurkaruh Camels of Upper India. On each side of the saddle however, and a little behind the legs of the rider, is an iron ring into which the hooks of the traces are looped. Around the neck of a Camel is a sort of breast-plate of broad tape or rope, which serves to keep the saddle steady in its position.
The traces are of male bamboo, with a hook at one end to hook into the ring on the saddle, and on the other a loop, like those of a leathern trace, to loop on to the carriage.
The Camels are harnessed in pairs. There is a pole like that used for horses, but its position is more upright, and which is buckled to the saddle, as it would be to the harness of a horse.
When four Camels, or three Camels are used, splinter bars are put on the top of the pole, and the front Camels are harnessed to them by traces in the same manner as the wheel Camels. Each Camel has a separate rider,
T. J. TAYLOR. CALCUTTA, April 15th, 1839.
Extracts from Mr. Walne's letter of 15th June, 1839.-Dromedary
Carriages. I now proceed to the question of Dromedary carriages. My attention has for sometime been seriously turned to this subject, and though observation has quite convinced me that the Camel is a most useful animal for draught, and may be turned to great account in taking across the desert trucks loaded with coals, and other heavy articles, I have hitherto felt rather less sanguine as to adapting Dromedaries (i. e. light Camels) to vehicles calculated to combine comfort with expedition. The difficulty attaches principally to the carriage, and the peculiar road over which it has to pass, and is one, after all, which will doubtless be overcome by the ingenuity of the coach maker. Though a considerable portion of the Suez desert is a hard gravelly plain, there are here and there broad bands of deep sand, over which an ordinary carriage cannot readily pass, whilst in other spots the road is so strong and rough as to defy the best springs, and put ease out of the question. It is, in short, as nature has made it; and though art may do something to improve its condition, this line can never acquire the properties of a good carriage road. To overcome these obstacles it is necessary that the wheels should have a much greater diameter than those usually employed, and in my proposals forwarded by the last steamer to the Honorable Court of Directors, I suggested, for the conveyance of coals a truck, or cart, with two wheels of nine feet diameter, the weight being suspended from the axle, and the pole resting by a bar on the necks of two Camels. A carriage however for the conveyance of passengers, obviously requires four wheels, and as their diameter must be not less than six feet, and should if possible be more, the whole vehicle will be apt to acquire rather an unwieldy form. The height however of the body from the ground may be diminished (though a little at the expense of strength) by giving a dip or bend a to the axles
which, as well as the wheels, must be of wrought 6
iron, and by placing the suspension (not curricle) springs at the sides, 6 6. The pole must be adapted not only to the height of Dromedaries
as they stand, but also to their habit of occasionally lying down, and the draught be on the hump and ribs of the animals, the harness being similar to that of Major Pew's Artillery. The body should of course be as light as is consistent with the requisite strength, have good arrangements for ventilation, and might contain comfortable sitting room for eight persons, four inside, and two in a cabriolet division at either end. For a carriage of this kind, four Dromedaries will be necessary, and the journey being divided into four stages, each ve
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hicle will require 16 animals. Taking the calculation at 13 carriages and 208 Dromedaries, the following will be the annual expense of the latter, reckoning beans at p. 60 the ardeb. 2,600 ardebs of beans, at 60,
p. 156,000 374,400 Okes cut straw,
37,440 104 Feddans Berseem,...
42,600 52 Boys, at 35
22,560 20 Men, at 60 ditto,
15,120 1 Nazir, at 300,...
3,600 Incidental expenses, say,
280,000 £ 2,800 To render the Dromedaries serviceable for bringing passengers from Suez, as well as conveying them to that place, it is requisite to add 52 Dromedaries (increasing the annual expense one fourth,) to be placed at the Suez station, at the same time doubling the number of carriages. The latter would, at each end of the journey, await the arrival of the following steamer, but for the intermediate time the animals should be withdrawn from the stations to the neighbourhood of Cairo, where alone they could be fed with economy, and be properly looked after.
For both mules and dromedaries there must be some expense attending the carriage of beans to Suez, and there may also be an occasional outlay for water at the stations in the desert. In the event of the former being employed, each mule would, on ordinary occasions, carry a bag of beans and a small girbeh of water, sufficient for the 30 hours passed in the desert; and if carriages be adopted, the dromedaries sent forward for relays will take with them a quantity of beans and straw sufficient for the journey. In either case the detention of the animals at Suez should be as short as possible, not only on account of the great additional expense of feeding them there, but the bad condition which is apt to result from the continued use of brackish water.
In the above estimates I have only calculated the number of animals, whether mules or dromedaries, required for the transit of 100 passengers, but I need not observe that to provide for casualties a larger establishment would be required. The clover season too, in which the whole stud must be turned out, will give rise to some inconvenience, that must be anticipated and provided for.
It will have been seen, by a comparison of the two estimates, that in the annual expense of keeping mules for sedans, and dromedaries for
carriages, there is no very material difference. The speed will, I consider be nearly equal, and I question if in either mode the actual journey be in general performed in less than eighteen hours. Even in carriages I presume the travellers, particularly ladies, would gladly avail themselves of ten or twelve hours rest at the stations, and as the departure of the steamer must be regulated by the arrival of the cargo and bag. gage, no advantage would be gained by compelling passengers to hurry through a journey, that must, under the most favourable circumstances, be sufficiently fatiguing. As however the advantages and disadvantages of either scheme can only be judged of by experience, the best advice I can give the Committee is to direct comparative experiments on the actual road, to be made and reported on a rough carriage, that might afterwards serve as a break; and a sedan frame, four dromedaries and two mules, are all that would be required, and a series of trials made for a few weeks, and at a trifling outlay, would set the question at rest, and enable the Committee to adopt a plan that need not entail the expense of subsequent alterations.
The freight of coal from Alexandria to Cairo is, in native boats, 6 a ton, and the landing, stowing, and subsequent transfer to the steamer, will cost about one more. The latter charge is the mere cost of Arab labour, and is distinct from the annual expense of a clerk, weigher, gate-keepers, &c., which, with proper management, might be serviceable in the baggage and cargo department, as well as in the coal depôt, provided the latter be limited to the supply of the Nile steamers. In the event however of there being a depôt, on a large scale, connected with the transfer of coals to Suez, the establishment should be entirely separate.
If by employing large steamers coaled at Aden, the depôt at Suez can be dispensed with, doubtless there will be a great advantage to the Company in such an arrangement. The business of the Egyptian Agency, already sufficiently comprehensive, will be proportionately lighter, and probably a great annual expense will be avoided.
In my letter to Mr. Greenlaw, dated 17th December, I offered an estimate of the expense of delivering coal, which was at that time from Alexandria to Suez about 21. a ton. A recent rise in Camel hire has added nearly 10 per cent to the cost as then calculated ; so that the carriage of coals by hired Camels, particularly where so large a quantity as 10,000 tons is required, has less to recommend it than formerly. An immense saving may however be effected by the adoption of the Camel suspension truck, to which I have already alluded, and I calculate that coal may be put on board at Suez for about ll. 13s., exclusive of the cost of delivery by contract (at present 21.,) at Alexandria.