I would here observe that what is called the Second Cataract is properly a succession of partial falls and swift rapids for more than a hundred miles before we arrived at Succoot. I counted nine; some of them, particularly the second, fifth, seventh, and ninth, very dangerous to pass, though at this time the Nile had fallen but a few feet. Before we arrived at the fifth, two boats were wrecked against the rocks which crowd the rapids, and one filled and sunk; and before we had passed the ninth several similar accidents had taken place. To pass the fifth and ninth rapids, it was necessary to employ about a hundred men to drag the boats one after another against the current. At the fifth pass, several of the boats were damaged, and two soldiers and two boatmen drowned. At this pass, the river is interrupted by a ledge of rocks reaching nearly across, and over which the Nile falls. Between this ledge of rocks and the western shore of the river is a practicable passage, wide enough to admit a boat to be hauled up the current, which here runs furiously. Overlooking this passage are two hills, one on the east and one on the west side of the river: on these hills are the ruins of ancient fortifications. They are also surmounted by two small temples in the Egyptian style: that on the west side is almost perfect. It is sculptured exteriorly and interiorly with figures and hieroglyphics, and the ceiling is painted azure.
The appearance of the country on each side of the falls is similar to that of the country south of Assuan—a sandy desert studded with rocky hills and mountains, The only appearance of vegetation observable was in some of the islands and on the immediate banks of the river, where we met at every mile or two with small spots of fertile ground, some of them cultivated and inhabited. The rocky hills consist frequently of beautiful black granite, of the color and brilliancy of the best sea-coal. Here and there, at different points on the Cataract, I observed some forts built by the natives of the country. They are constructed of unhewn stones cemented with mud, and flanked by towers and angular projections something resembling bastions, and are pierced with loopholes for musquetry. Their interior presents the following appearance:—against the interior side of the walls all round are built low chambers, communicating by small doors with the area and frequently with each other. I could observe nothing in these chambers except the bottom part of the small handmills used by the Orientals to grind meal, which could not be hastily removed as they were fixed in the ground; every thing else the inhabitants had carried off on the approach of the army. The great area in the centre of these forts appeared to have been occupied by the camels and flocks of the inhabitants; some of these forts are to be seen surmounting the high rocky islands with which the Second Cataract abounds, and make a picturesque appearance.