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Synopsis

A few pages by way of "Forespeache."

The plain unvarnished tale of the travel in Midian, undertaken by
the second Expedition, which, like the first, owes all to the
liberality and the foresight of his Highness Ismail I., Khediv of
Egypt, forms the subject of these volumes. During the four months
between December 19, 1877, and April 20, 1878, the officers
employed covered some 2500 miles by sea and land, of which 600,
not including by-paths, were mapped and planned; and we brought
back details of an old-new land which the civilized world had
clean forgotten.

The public will now understand that one and the same subject has
not given rise to two books. I have to acknowledge with gratitude
the many able and kindly notices by the Press of my first volume
("The Gold Mines of Midian," etc. Messrs. C. Kegan Paul & Co.,
1878). But some reviewers succeeded in completely
misunderstanding the drift of that avant courier. It was an
introduction intended to serve as a base for the present more
extensive work, and--foundations intended to bear weight must be
solid. Its object was to place before the reader the broad
outlines of a country whose name was known to "every schoolboy,"
whilst it was a vox et praeterea nihil, even to the learned,
before the spring of 1877. I had judged advisable to sketch, with
the able assistance of learned friends, its history and
geography; its ethnology and archaeology; its zoology and
malacology; its botany and geology. The drift was to prepare
those who take an interest in Arabia generally, and especially in
wild mysterious Midian, for the present work, which, one foresaw,
would be a tale of discovery and adventure. Thus readers of "The
Land of Midian (Revisited)" may feel that they are not standing
upon ground utterly unknown; and the second publication is
shortened and lightened--perhaps the greatest advantage of
all--by the prolegomena having been presented in the first.

The purpose of the last Expedition was to conclude the labours
begun, during the spring of 1877, in a mining country unknown, or
rather, fallen into oblivion. Hence its primary "objective" was
mineralogical. The twenty-five tons of specimens, brought back to
Cairo, were inspected by good judges from South Africa,
Australia, and California; and all recognized familiar
metalliferous rocks. The collection enabled me to distribute the
mining industry into two great branches--(1) the rich silicates
and carbonates of copper smelted by the Ancients in North Midian;
and (2) the auriferous veins worked, but not worked out, by
comparatively modern races in South Midian, the region lying
below the parallel of El-Muwaylah. It is, indeed, still my
conviction that "tailings" have been washed for gold, even by men
still living. We also brought notices and specimens of three
several deposits of sulphur; of a turquoise-mine behind Ziba; of
salt and saltpetre, and of vast deposits of gypsum. These are
sources of wealth which the nineteenth century is not likely to
leave wasted and unworked.

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