« ZurückWeiter »
rashly bold in so completely and unceremoniously setting aside, at a stroke, the whole authority of the Greek historians, especially after the compliment just paid, in the passage we have transcribed, to the accuracy of the ancients, in their descriptive notices at least, concerning ancient structures --we should think there is insuperable improbability in the nature of the thing. Could it comport with the common sense of any set of human beings that ever lived, to employ, even if they had the power to do so, the labour of myriads, during a long course of years, and with a combination, in the plan of execution, of all possible adaptations to perpetuity, for a purpose confessedly temporary, and when a thousandth, perhaps a ten thousandith part of the toil would have created a solid receptacle for the venerated object; and when also that sacred object had already been preserved in safety for a long time without any such mighty munition?--for a long space of time it surely must have been, subsequently to Joseph's death, before the family of Jacob could have grown to a sufficient multitude to make such a project appear feasible even to the most enthusiastic arnong their very dreamers. Add to this, that their patriotism and imagination might naturally operate in the way of contracting in prospect the probable duration of their sojourn in a land not their own.
But, in the next place, supposing they had the disposition to act in a manner so very preposterous, it seems impossible to believe they could have had the power to do so. We presume no one can reflect on the enormous labour and expense of constructing the great pyramid, and not feel an irresistible conviction that such a work could not be carried on and completed-we do not say without the sanction of the supreme power of the state, but without the direct authority, assistance, and almost coinpulsion of that power.
Now is it not against all manner of probability, that an Egyptian tyrant, long enough after Joseph's death probably, to have had for him little or no direct personal interest of friendship and gratitude, contemplating from his palace at Memphis an alien tribe, which bad never combined or coalesced with his people, and which he and his people would naturally regard through the medium of a jealous, oppressive and calculating policy, devising how to turn them to most servile and gainful account,--that under such circumstances, he would suffer them and aid them to withdraw the main force of their labours from the service of the state, and for an indefinite length of time, to raise for a person of their own tribe a funereal structure surpassing all that had ever been attempted in honour of the proud monarchs of Egypt themselves?-We confess that nothing appears to us much more impossible to be believed.
When our author and his companions approached the sphinx, their attention was awakened to extreme curiosity by a ó reddish hue discernable over the whole mass, quite inconsistent with the common colour of the limestone used in building the pyramids, and of which the sphinx itself is formed.
" This he says, induced us to examine more attentively the superficies of the statue; and having succeeded in climbing beneath the right ear of the figure, where the surface had never been broken, nor in any degree decomposed by the action of the atmosphere, we found, to our very great surprise, that the whole had once been painted of a dingy red or blood colour, like some of the stuccoed walls of the houses in Pompeii and Herculaneum.”
Nor was this all: he detected an inscription, written in black, upon the red surface; so concealed from ordinary observation by the height from the ground, and the shade of the ear, as to elude the vigilance of all former inspectors. Of the characters, partly Coptic and partly Arabic, with
several curious monograms, he has given a fac-simile delineated with the utmost care: no attempt bas been made to interpret them.
The next excursion, in which they passed what Dr. C. agrees with Savary in judging to be the site of Memphis, was to the pyramids of Saccara, which he regards as a continuation of the same great cemetery to which those of Djiza also belonged.' Those of Saccara bear the indications of still more remote antiquity, in the more decayed state of the surface, and in their less artificial and therefore more primitive form, as being nearer to that of the simple tumulus, the most ancient form, beyond all question, of sepulchral monument. These more southern pyramids are in different degrees of approach, toward the tumulus, and toward the finished pyramid; and as we proceed,' says Dr. C. in surveying them from the south towards the north, ending with the principal pyramid of Djiza, we pass from the primeval mound, through all its modifications, until we arrive at the most artificial pyramidal heap.'
One of these southern masses is built of unburnt bricks, and is in a very mouldering state. The bricks contain shells, gravel and chopped straw. There is one which Pococke thought as large as the principal one at Djiza. Like in a measure, to that grand pyramid, a number of these southern ones are graduated, but not with so great a number of steps, one of the most conspicuous' consisting of only six tiers or ranges of stone; the pyramid itself being a hundred and fifty feet in height.'
At Saccara the author descended into several of the rifled catacombs, found scattered fragments of mummies, and observed with the most pointed attention the form and dimensions of the niches where the bodies had been placed, in order to decide the question whether they were laid in a recumbent or set in an upright position. And between his observations here, and information acquired elsewhere, he was satisfied, to absolute certainty, that they were placed horizontally. These subterranean apartments had an oppressively offensive smell, for which he could not at all account.
There is no gaining access to the catacombs where any of the mummies are remaining entire. They are most carefully concealed and obstructed by the Arabs, who make an unworthy trade of their contents. The repositories of embalmed birds are allowed to be examined. Dr. C. descended into one of them, stored with a countless multitude of the earthen jars containing them, piled in ranks over and behind one another. His description, and the subsequent observations on the veneration felt for the Ibis, and the cause of such immense accumulations of these birds, are curious.
Towards the close of the dissertation on the origin and design of the pyramids, he has brought together in a note, the opinions of many learned men on the question, -hardly perhaps worth such a consumption of time and intellect as these references alone would suffice to show that it has cost-whether the Egyptian god named Apis, Serapis, and Osiris, was not in truth a deification of the patriarch Joseph. Dr. C.
appears considerably inclined to adopt the affirmative. This would explain, he thinks, various particulars in the Egyptian mythology and ritual. Thus, the annual mournings which took place for the loss of the body of Osiris, and the exhibition of an empty soros upon those occasions, might be ceremonies derived from the loss of Joseph's body, which had been carried away by the Hebrews when they left the country.'-—'If,' he says, the connexion between ancient Egyptian mythology and Jewish history had been duly tra. ced, an evident analogy founded upon events which have reference to the earliest annals of the Hebrews, might be made manifest.'
One of the excursions from the head-quarters at Cairo, was to the undoubted site of the ancient Heliopolis, the On of the Mosaic history; where stands, 'on the spot where the Hebrews had their first settlement the celebrated obelisk, the only great work of antiquity,' says our author, now remaining in all the land of Goshen.' Its height is between sixty and seventy feet; its breadth at the base, six feet: the whole being one entire mass of reddish granite. From the coarseness of the sculpture, as well as the history of the city to which this obelisk belonged, there is reason to believe it the oldest monument of the kind in Egypt.' An engraving is given from the drawing, in making which he was particularly attentive to preserve the rude character of the sculptured hieroglyphics, instead of misrepresenting them, as it is justly complained that travellers have been in the habit of doing, in such subjects, by giving more correctly delineated forms of the objects they suppose to have been intended by the ancient sculptor.
Dr. Clarke, though evidently one of the very last men to despair of the attainment of any object important to knowledge and literature, seems to surrender all hope on the subject of the elucidation of the Egyptian lieroglyphics.
“ Jsis long ago declared, that no mortal had ever removed her veil; and the impenetrable secret seems not likely to be divulged. One solitary fact has been vouchsafell to ages of restless inquiry upon this subject; namely, that the hierogly. phic characters constituted a written language, the signs of an ancient alphabet, erpressed according to the most ancient mode of writing, in capital letters; and it is probable that the more compound forms were a series of monograms."
He several times adverts to it as a curious fact, apparently well established, that the alphabetical characters of ancient Egyptian writing, were formed from the hieroglyphics, by a gradual change, or degeneration of those signs from their primitive form, of pictures of visible objects, into types at last very little more than arbitrary.
The noted crux ansata, or cross surmounted with a ring as a handle, so continually recurring among the hieroglyphics, is regarded as the only one of them that has had the misfortune to be detected. Our author cites the authority of those early christian writers, who, on the testimony of converted heathens, have declared it to typify life to come:' this he thinks may be admitted as its abstracted or symbolical meaning; his opinion of its immediate signication he has not done much amiss to leave in the Latin of Jablonski.
On the return to Rosetta the travellers examined, a little to the south of Rachmanie, a mass of ruins, which had escaped the observation of the French, though D'Anville had marked the spot as the situation of the ancient Sais. Dr. C. had no doubt that he was standing among the relics of that city, while beholding in irregular heaps the remains of massive foundations, and the still lofty ramparts of a vast inclosure. From the inhabitants of a neighbouring village he obtained a variety of curious antiquities, on which he has made several interesting observations; especially on a hieroglyphic tablet, now in the university library at Cambridge, and of which a very large engraving is given in the book.
In one sense, any sculptured stone, any fragment of a column, or a sphinx, or a god, was a more interesting object than almost any of the living human beings expending their little mortal allotment of time on this enchanted ground. Our author, however, took proper notice of their condition, character, and habits. The people of Cairo were suffering much, at the very time the English were in possession of the city,'from the barbarity of the Turks. One form in which it was exercised, was particu
larly atrocious. They murdered, without ceremony or restraint, whereever they met with them, the women who were known or suspected to have been married to, or to have cohabited with men of the French army. They even accounted this a meritorious sort of religious sacrifice to the sanctity of the true faith. Multitudes were abar.doned to this fate at the departure of the French, while some accompanied the embarkation. Our author and his companions aided the cscape of four young women, by dexterously managing to conceal them in their djerm in descending the Nile. The people had also a grievous recollection of that low villain general Menou, whose rapacity had omitted no expedient of extortion. Dr. C. gives, afterwards, a very amusing account of his interviews and negociations with this base, and insoleni, and irritable Mahomedan, (for such he preten:led to have become, respecting the antiquities which the French, at the time of their surrender at Alexandria, were designing secretly to carry off; especially the magnificent sarcophagus of Alexander, of which Dr. c. had privately received some slight intelligence, upon which he acted with a promptitude which resulted in the addition of this sumptuous relic to the riches of the British museum.
In a polite interview with a gentleinan of the Egyptian institute, he found them packing up some of those performances which have since resulted in the vast and superb work Description de l'Egypte. They acknowledged the limited scope which had been allowed to their researches, which, they said, “ had always been restricted to the march of their army."
It was by means of a copy from a drawing finished by one of the chief engineers of the institute, that Dr. C. has been enabled to give an elegant plan of the catacombs near Alexandria, the Necropolis of the ancient Ricotis, a city that was in ruins before the building of Alexandria. He spent six hours within these dark and solemn apartments, to which access is obtained by a strait descending perforation in the soft rock, not by the ancient entrance, which is now concealed. Even after all he had already beheld, of the labours of the Egyptians in accommodation or in honour of the dead, he contemplated with amazement this vast cemetery, with its temple of Scrapis, ( as he is inclined to judge one of the apartments may have been,) surrounded with regal tombs. In this supposed sanctuary, or close in its vicinity, he saw sculptured the orb with wings, which figure, if it is considered as the symbol of Serapis, as god of the shades, will tend, he remarks, to confirm Jablonski's opinion, “ that Serapis was a type of the infernal sun, that is to say, of the sun during its course through the lorer hemisphere, or winter signs of the zodiac; as Ammon was of the supernal, or path of the sun during the summer months.' And it is ingeniously attempted to be shown that even this explanation is perfectly compatible with the notion of those who believe that Serapis was no other than a mythological personation of the patriarch Joseph.
Considerable space is occupied with curious description, narration and disquisition, concerning Pompey's pillar. The examiners were very reasonably amazed at the manner in which they found this stupendous column supported, that is to say, ' upon a small prop of stone about four feet square; this is absolutely the sole base on which the pedestal rests. The inverted hieroglyphics on this stone, prove it to be the fragment of some structure in ruins before the pillar was raised.
The Greek inscription on the pedestal, which had been noticed by Maillet and by Pococke, eluded the most accurate examination of Dr. C. and several attentive investigators with hiin, as it had baflled all the French inspectors, during their long residence in the country. The late colonel Squire was the first that descried it. When recovered, it proves to be of
as little consequence as many a compartment of hieroglyphics would doubtless be found, if their import could be elicited from under that sacred gloom of mystery which has such a power of giving a portentous character to the merest trifles. All that can be learned from this legend, rescued by lynx-eyed inquisition from eternal oblivion, and conjecturally restored in the vacant places of some irrecoverable letters, and even one whole line, is, that
“ Posthumus Præfect of Egypt, and the People of the Metropolis, (* honour') the most revered Emperor, the protecting Divinity of Alexandria, the Divine Hadrian or [Diocletian] Augustus.”
The whole line supplied, is that which adds “the people of the metropolis. From the combination of a number of circumstances in Roman history with facts in ancient customs relative to monuments to the illustrious dead, and with circumstances observable about this column, Dr. C. deduces with considerable confidence the conjecture, or the opinion, that it is a monument raised to Pompey, by either Julius Cæsar or Hadrian; and he thinks it probably once bore on its summit an urn, there being in the stone a circular excavation exactly fitted for the position of the foot of such a funereal addition.
We must not stay to recount anecdotes, of considerable interest, respec, ting gen. Menou; the contrasted, dignified, and Spartan habits of the English commander-in-chief, Hutchinson; or the execrable villany of the Turkish Carudan Pasha, whom the English commander took an opportunity of accosting, to the Moslem face and beard of him, and at the very head of his army, with the terms · liar, coward, villain, assassin,' and every other opprobrious appellation he could think of, till he wept with rage and fear, and whom every reader will regret it could not have comported with a just policy for sir J. Hutchinson to have ordered a company of Highlanders to seize and hang up in the very camp of the Mahomedans.
The travellers, having a widely extended peregrination yet in prospect, were now in haste-and we have still more reason to be so-to leave Egypt, a field where a vast measure of the wonderful and mysterious is still in reserve for inquisitive labourers who will, at some future period, be enabled to protract their residence and operations in perfect exemption from Arab and Mamluke robbers, and Turkish fanatics and assassins.
The long narrow stripe of sand from Alexandria to Aboukir, where our author was to embark, seems to have no claim, but in virtue of some groves of date trees, to maintain its barren substance above the waters which are on each side working its destruction. In passing along this most dreary tract, he is ied into interesting reflections and questions relative to its ancient geography; since this wretcbed line of desert ought to be the ground on which anciently stood the cities of Nicopolis. Taposiris Parva, and Canopus. How is it possible!--is the question forced upon the observer. The only answer is that afforded by the very palpable indications that large encroachments have been made by the sea; so that, as Dr. C reiparks, the sites and remains of those cities are perhaps at this time under water. At one spot some stately fragments, bearing the ancient Egyptian character, were seen by Col. Squire, in the very act, as it were, ofgielding to the invading element, being partly submerged, and no longer able to testify as to the extent of the kindred works, now, doubtless swallowed up.
The Turkish frigate in which our travellers were privileged to pase over to Asia, was one of the most remarkable scenes into which they had ever been thrown, and would have been one of the most amusing if there had been no danger of starvation or of foundering. It was such a medley