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In the quiet village in which the bounds of Maria’s habitation were fixed, there was little temptation to extravagance, but she anticipated a promised visit to the great city as the time when her newly acquired income would be very useful. Shall we accompany her thither, and examine and admire her purchases? Well then, it was that sweetest of all months, the pleasant May, when Mr. and Mrs. L. said farewell for a season to their country home; the lilacs and laburnums were glittering with the early dew, and the anticipation of the smoke and noise of London formed any thing but a pleasant contrast: but they had other expectations than these. Who would not love even London in May ? the season when He who at all times is “as the dew unto Israel,” assumes a yet higher character, and diffuses his cheering and vivifying influence around even as rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth!” Maria had thought of these things too; but many other delights were mingled in the picture her fancy drew of this “ visit to town.”
They arrived a week before the London Missionary meeting, which Mr. L, had promised Maria should attend. We will not follow her through every morning's ramble, or inspect all the purchases she made; no, nor mention all the temptations, and they were not few, that she resisted. But we will imagine her seated between her parents in the noble room in Exeter Hall, listening with almost breathless interest to the affecting statements and thrilling appeals of the different speakers; we will see her mite willingly offered, and accompany it with the prayer, that the giver and the gift may be alike blest.
And now we will follow her home, as silent and thoughtful amid the crowded Strand, she walked by her father's side; we will go with her even into the retirement of her own room. There is the beautiful dressing-case she purchased at the bazaar yesterday,—“ for surely that was useful!” and the pretty French shawl—" so very light and cool for this summer weather ;” and many other treasures are there. Does Maria go and admire them as usual ? No!-it is with regret she looks upon them, and says,—“ And what I have spent in these things, elegant and useful in themselves, yet to me needless, would have educated for a year more than one of the poor heathen females of whom I heard this morning. Oh! how indignantly I repelled my cousin's accusation of selfishness the
other day; and now, would it not be just ? Is there a due proportion between my gifts and my expenditure ?”
We will leave Maria's conscience to answer the appeal; and we will request our readers too, to answer it for themselves individually. Oh! if young ladies in England would consider their perishing sisters in India, might not much more be done than is at present effected. If, indeed, they love Jesus, to them, as well as to those more advanced in life, is the command given, “ Feed my lambs;" they may do it in the Sunday school at home, and by a little selfdenial they may do it too in the Sunday school in India. And after all, what would be their sacrifice, dwelling at home, 'in ceiled houses, compared to that made by those who, having left father and mother, and brethren, and lands for the Gospel's sake, are employed beneath the burning eastern sun, in sowing the seed of the kingdom; patiently hoping against hope, and amid trial and discouragement, yet rejoicing in the belief that eventually the desert and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and that this precious seed shall at length spring up and live, and the moral wilderness of India “ shall rejoice and blossom as the rose!”
E. M. I.
RUINS OF THEBES.
(Concluded from page 258.) “ Our next visit was to Gournou: we crossed the river; landed under a large tree of the Pharoah fig, and again ambled away on asses, to explore more ruins.
" The first to which you are conducted, are those of the Memnonium. Here, again, you have thick lofty walls; a noble portico, with columns of more than eight feet in diameter; tall terminal caryatides, standing out from square pillars, in high full relief: their heads have been broken off and destroyed, or removed ; near them lie the vast and shattered fragments of a huge colossus, of red granite; and not far removed, a large, though smaller figure, of black polished granite, has been overthrown and broken.
“We passed on to a small temple of Isis, which has been left in a most perfect state, and has the appearance of being far more modern than any on either side of the river; the roof entire, three shrines or cells, side by side, and divided by walls: in all of them
the figures of Isis, both seated and standing, are of uncommon beauty. Figures of the wolf, both passant and couchant, are often repeated; there is a bark, with the cow of Isis; a hawk admirably done: the head-dress of Isis very elegant; and the disposition of colours and design in the ornamental borderings round the walls producing a very pleasing effect.
“ From hence we bade our guide to conduct us to some catacombs : he did so, in the naked hill just above. Some are passages, some pits; but, in general, passages in the side of the hill. Here and there you may find a bit of the rock or clay, smoothed and painted, or bearing the mark of a thin fallen coating of composition ; but, for the most part, they are quite plain. Bones, rags, and the scattered limbs of skeletons, which have been torn from their coffins, stripped of their grave-clothes, and robbed of the sacred scrolls, placed with them in the tomb, lie in or around these “ open sepulchres." We found nothing; but surely the very rag blown to your feet is a relic. May it not have been woven by some damsel under the shade of trees, with the song that lightens labour, twenty centuries ago? or may it not have been carried with à sigh to the tiring-men of the temple by one who bought it to swathe the cold and stiffened limbs of a being loved in life, and mourned and honoured in his death? Yes, it is a relic; and one musing on which a warm fancy might find wherewithal to beguile a long and solitary walk.
“ We descended to the temple of Medinet Habou : ruined mud hovels are scattered on a level with its roof, and, indeed, upon it. In this temple you find a large open court, surrounded with cloisters, which are supported by massive square pillars, and also by columns; figures of deities and hieroglyphics are depicted on them; and, upon the walls around, scenes of war and triumph are every where pourtrayed. In one of the courts of the very temple thus adorned, are the clear vestiges of a Christian place of worship: the altar and the small columns which supported the nave of its small choir; poor and humble do they look in the midst of such ruins as these; but to the Christian eye they are arrayed with glory. Here men, confessing Christ the Saviour of the world, have knelt in prayer:-“ Who shall say that Christ was not present, dimly seen perhaps; yet felt with secret reverence and affection !"*
* Vide Christian Researches, by the Rev. Mr. Jowett.
“We rode back to the Memnonium, visited some other catacombs to the northward of it, and stopped before many of those which have been converted by the poor Arabs into dwellings, to try if we could meet with a mummy in a perfect state: we were not successful. We purchased a few trifles which these men, taught by us to “ ransack up the quiet grave," bring eagerly for sale, and then returned across the plain to our boat, passing and pausing before those celebrated statues so often described: they are seated on thrones, looking to the east, and on the Nile: in this posture they are upwards of fifty feet in height; and their bodies, limbs, and heads, are large, spreading, and disproportioned. A frantic victor, baffled by the secret of its strange music, bade his myrmidons drag down one of these colossal heads; but soon after, priests rebuilt it, and renewed the juggle, to the success of which many inscriptions on the statue bear testimony: among others, one Claudius Maximus, of the XXII legion, states that he heard the voice, it is silent now. These are very awful monuments : they bear the form of man; and there is a something in their very posture which touches the soul: they sit erect, calm; they have seen generation upon generation swept away, and still their stony gaze is fixed on man toiling and perishing at their feet. 'Twas late and dark ere we reached our home. The day following we again crossed to the western bank, and rode through a narrow hot valley in the desert to the tombs of the kings. Your Arab catches at the head of your ass in a wild dreary-looking spot, about five miles from the river, and motions you to alight. On every side of you rise low, but steep hills, of the most barren appearance, covered with loose sand and crumbling stones, and you stand in a narrow bridle-path, which seems to be the bottom of a natural ravine: you would fancy that you had lost your way, but your guide leads you a few paces forward, and you discover in the side of the hill an opening like the shaft of a mine. At the entrance you observe that the rock, which is a close-grained, but soft stone, has been cut smooth and painted. He lights your wax torch, and you pass into a long corridor; on either side are small apartments which you stoop down to enter, and the walls of which you find covered with paintings: scenes of life faithfully represented; of every-day life, its pleasures and labours; the instruments of its happiness and of its crimes. You turn to each other with a delight, not however unmixed with sadness, to mark how much the days of man then passed, as they do to this very hour. You see the labours of agriculture,—the sower, the basket, the plough; the steers; and the artist has playfully depicted a calf skipping among the furrows. You have the making of bread, the cooking for a feast; you have a flower-garden, and a scene of irrigation ; you see couches, sofas, chairs, and arm-chairs, such as might, this day, adorn a drawingroom in London or Paris; you have vases of every form down to the common jug; you have harps, with figures bending over them, and others seated and listening ; you have barques, with large, curious, and many-coloured sails; lastly, you have weapons of war, the sword, the dagger, the bow, the arrow, the quiver, spears, helmets, and dresses of honour.
“ From the corridor with these lateral chambers you enter another, long and dark, leading to an empty apartment, large and lofty, and thence into a third passage, and other chambers beyond, which are gloomy, damp, and have a disagreeable smell. The colours on the walls are much faded ; but the hero of the tomb and the various deities, hieroglyphics and mysteries, are every where to be seen : some of the mysteries are of a nature to exercise and amuse the mind. Doubtless many important and eternal truths, distorted by tradition, lie hidden beneath these ancient symbols; however, the fancy treads too closely on the understanding in most minds when an attempt is made to guess our way to interpretation, which will meet and strengthen our preconceived notions and established opinions.
“Of course while we remained at Luxor, we constantly, according to our bent, visited something, and happily employed our time.
“There is a beautiful walk up the river, on the eastern bank, and at a bend there, you may run up on a raised camel-path, and turning, command a view, which fills the mind at the moment, takes its place in the picture-gallery of the imagination, and is often afterwards summoned to the mind's eye. Luxor; Karnac; the ruins on the western bank, with the rocky hills behind them; the reaches of the tranquil river; the verdure of the vale; the sands of the Arabian Desert ; the grand colonnade of Luxor in shadow; the back of the propylon; the pointed obelisks ; and the large masses of Karnac, with the scattered groves of dates, in the light of the setting sun, are the noble features of this scene."