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Ws readers know it? Is it Burkhardt ?—He has done them a favour of this kind, in another instance, lie says,
'"the pretended Ali Bey is a Spaniard of the name of Badia, who was employed by Bonaparte as a spy, first in Morocco, and afterwards in Egypt and the east.'
This adventurous Shekh Ibrahim, our Author has learnt, has penetrated as far to the south as Moscho, a station on the Nile, about half way, according to some of the maps, from Ibrim to Dongola. We shall be very glad indeed to hear what such an explorer has seen in a region so very rarely unveiled to intelligent eyes; but a region at the same time the less interesting, in proportion to the diminution, in frequency and magnificence, of the monuments of ancient ages.
At Ibrim, formerly the residence of the Cacheff, and the capital of Nubia, not a vestige of life was to be seen.
'Its destruction by the Mamelukes, when they passed two years ago into Dongola, had been so complete, that no solitary native was to be found wandering among its ruins; there was not even a date tree to be observed. The walls of the houses, which are in some places still standing, alone attest that it has once been inhabited. The population was partly carried off by the Mamelukes, and has partly removed to Dehr.'
It was at Ibrim that this proud and savage, and most detestable tribe, made their last stand against the Pasha of Egypt. 'They were compelled to retreat into Dongola, in which country 4 they have established themselves, having dethroned and driven 'out the independent king of that nation.' They have made so distinguished a figure in the modern period of the wretched history of Egypt, that they will inevitably attract a certain degree of curiosity and interest after them, into the territory which we should be pleased to hear they had been driven to exchange, by another remove, for the very worst part of the African deserts. We transcribe therefore the brief information of their present condition, acquired by Mr. Legh.
* Since their expulsion the Mamelukes are said to have laid aside their old habits of external magnificence, to have addicted themselves to agriculture, and to be in possession of vast quantities of cattle. It is reported also that they have a few large trading vessels on the Nile. We heard that they had successfully repulsed the attacks of a tribe of Arabs living to the west, who had frequently endeavoured to surprise then. Their most formidable neighbours are a black nation who dwell to the east of Dongola.
* The number of the old Mamelukes is not stated higher than five hundred, but they have armed between four and five thousand negro slaves with spears and swords. They have built a great wall round or near their city, particularly strong on the side of the Desert, for the protection of their cattle against the incursions of the Arabs; and
some of the richest among the Beys are said to have established themselves in separate walled enclosures. In general they are very poor, the little treasure they carried with them from Egypt being nearly exhausted The town or city of Dongola, from what I could learn, is much larger than any in Upper Egypt, is built on both sides the Nile, and stands in a vast plain. Such was the information we collected at Dchr. and from conversation with merchants trading to Abyssinia, whom we met during our residence in I'pper Egypt
'Osman Bey Bardissi is at the head of the Mamelukes, and we were informed at Dehr that he had made a vow never to shave either his head or his beard till he should re-enter Cairo in triumph; and that, in the visits he sometimes makes to the capital of Nubia, for the purpose or levying contributions, his flowing hair, his long bushy heard, and fine swarthy person, have a most formidable appearance.' p. 78.
Ruins of temples presented themselves in rather quick succession, during the voyage beyond the Cataracts. They have the complete Egyptian character of architecture and sculpture;
'— But' says Mr. L 'upon the whole, the stones which formed the walls'of the Nubian temples did not appear to be so well wrought, or so nicely joined together, as they are in those we have seen in Egypt On tne other hand, the style of execution in some of the hieroglyphics and other ornaments, indicates a degree of perfection in the arts which renders it difficult to discover their comparative antiquity.'
Many, however, of these sculptures, are pronounced to be in a rude or bad style; and we are not distinctly informed in what sense our Author applies the term 'perfection' to any of them; nor whether any such thing as an imitation, at the same time correct and free, of any object in nature, occurred so much as once in all these exhibitions of ancient art. But indeed the imitation of nature was not the intention of Egyptian art. It had an authoritative model, or system of models, of aquite different kind; and whether the mere manual operation of sculpture was performed better or worse-, was probably not regarded as of any very great importance. For impression on the minds of the multitude, the Egyptian temple-makers had a grand and infallible compensation for all defects of execution in detail, in the commanding effect of the mass and magnitude of the whole Often the gigantic character is displayed also in the details themselves, of ornamental or emblematic sculpture. For example, in one of the hfubian temples, the door-vyay is formed by three columns on each side,
t to which arc attached colossal statues of priests: they (the statues) stand on pedestals three feet three inches high, and are themselves eighteen feet six inches high. They are scarcely injured, are ornamented with girdles, carry each a crosier in his hand; and their rich dress, formerly covered with paint and gold, and gigantic proportions, have a most imposing appearance.'
It is at the temple of Guerfeh Hassan that these episcopal giants thus stand as door-keepers. This temple is an excavation, of such stupendous magnitude, that, on account of its dimensions as well as a certain degree of general resemblance of character, it is justly deemed worthy to be compared to that of Elephanta. After an extensive outer court, there are three successive chambers, the first of which is forty-six feet and a half long, thirty-five feet three inches wide, and twenty-two feet three inches high. The second is thirty-four feet and a half by fifteen and a half; the third is fifteen by eleven, and contains the altar, behind which are four sitting statues cut out of the rock. The second chamber has openings into four lateral apartments, in two of which there will be an experiment of extreme interest for some future investigators.
* At the end of the two largest of these apartments, we observed blocks of stone standing in recesses in the walls, which, from the hollow sound they gave on being struck, we endeavoured to raise, but from our inadequate means, were obliged to give up the attempt;— they are most probably sepulchres.' p. 87.
This temple is about sixty miles, in a straight line, to the south of Essouan. A little more than twenty miles nearer this latter place, at Kalaptshi, are the ruins of a large temple, which has experienced rougher treatment than the mere effect of time. The one in best preservation is at Dakki. The dimensions of these are given, with a slight notice of ornaments and Greek inscriptions, the latter of which appear to be of no interest. These three temples, of Guerfeh Hassan, Dakki, and Kalaptshi, appeared to the travellers ' to rival some of the finest specimens 'of Egyptian architecture.' Magnitude was, of course, excepted from the points of comparison. At Sibhoi, not very far
northward of Dehr, are the ruins of a large temple, which Mr. Legh pronounces to have been a ' celebrated sanctuary,' (the epithet is not used historically,) 'and well worthy of the attention 'of the admirers of Egyptian architecture.' The structure, however, is following its builders to oblivion: 'the entrance 'into the temple,' says our Author, 'and the temple itself, are * completely buried in the sand of the desert, and it is probable 'that every vestige of the building will disappear from the same 'cause.' When he says, * the temple itself,' he means the relics of the temple; nothing very high above the foundation would have been so concealed, since the height of six feet has sufficed to retain still in sight six sphinxes, of two rows that formed an avenue to the temple. The chief remains are square columns, with statues of priests attached to them, as in the Memnonium at Thebes; bearing, as Mr. L. remarks, some distant resemblance to the Caryatides of the Grecian structures.
He thinks no presumption of a less remote antiquity, iu the Nubian temples, than those of Egypt, can fairly be founded on the fact that the former shew on the exposed surface of the stone much less of the effect of time. He thinks this may be accounted for from the ' mild and unalterable climate within the tropics.' ■' The corroding hand of time has no effect upon them, but they 'are abandoned to the desert, and many of them will in a few 'years entirely disappear.' In such a prediction he surely forgets the slowness of the augmentation of the sand.
It seems that the further we go to the south, the worse in this respect it fares with the temples. The ruins last mentioned, those of Sibhoi, are at a considerably greater distance beyond the Cataracts, than the others we have named; and still further to the south, and very near Dehr, the travellers inspected a ruin, named Amatla, where only six feet of the upper part of a temple remained above the sand; and it seems to be implied that this has not been owing in any great degree to the dilapidation of the walls.—We cannot help complaining that in some instances our Author describes somewhat imperfectly and somewhat confusedly.
At Dehr there is a temple of considerable dimensions excavated in the solid rock.
• In the portico, the hieroglyphics represent the exploits of a hero, the wheels of chariots and the figures of captives are plainly to be discovered: within they exhibit offerings to Osiris, who is represented with the hawk's head and the globe.'
In the inner apartments of several of the temples the painted hieroglyphics had been covered with stucco, probably by the early Christians, who turned some of these structures of idolatry, to the use of churches. In places where this was fallen off, the colours had a wonderful freshness of appearance.
Returned safely to Essouan, Mr. Legh bears testimony to the delightful temperature of its climate, combined with the advantage of a perpetual exemption from the plague.—He notices the black complexion of the inhabitants of the island of Elephantine, as specifically distinguished from the prevailing colour of the people of Upper Egypt; and he accounts for it with sufficient probability by making them the descendants of the Nobatae, who in'the time of Diocletian were drawn from Lybia to inhabit the country immediately above the Cataracts.
The long descent from Essouan to the Mediterranean, was performed by the travellers without many difficulties or adventures, and with an active attention to the stupendous monuments of the labours and superstition of the ancient inhabitants. The aspirants to a personal acquaintance with the darkest solemnity of antiquity, in the sepulchral retirements inhabited new by the forms of those beings that finished their living career, several thousands of years since, will be gratified to be assured that many of the remotely interior recesses of the grand excavated cemetry of Thebes, remain yetunprophaned by research ; though the more accessible of the caverns are now, says our Author,
• converted into habitations for the present cultivators of the plain, from whence they have been driven by the encroachments of the Nile, whose waters during the inundation (in consequence of there being no canals to carry them off) cover the whole of the flat country around.'
In those repositories of the dead called mummy-pits, however, these enthusiasts must reckon on some sensations in a trifling degree different from the emotions simply of an elated solemnity. This warning is not so much founded upon the report of the first of two experiments made by our Author; nothing alarming occurring in that experiment. The scene forms a most striking picture.
'Our curiosity induced us, during our stay here' (it was near Thebes) ' to descend into one of the mummy-pits that abound in this neighbourhood; but it would be difficult to convey an adequate idea of the disgusting scene of horror we had to encounter. The entrance was through a very narrow hole, nearly filled up with rubbish, by which we made our way into a small room about fifteen feet long and six wide; beyond, we reached a chamber somewhat larger, and containing two rows of columns. The walls were covered with paintings, and at the further end stood two full length statues, male and female, dressed in very gay apparel, and having on the one side the figures of two boys, and on the other those of two girls.
'The whole of this chamber was strewed with pieces of cloth, legs, arms, and heads of mummies, left in this condition by the Arabs who visit these places for the purpose of rifling the bodies, and carrying off the bituminous substances with which they have been embalmed. From the chamber above described, two passages lead into the interior and lower part of the mountain, and we penetrated about a hundred yards into that which appeared the longest. Slipping and crawling among the various fragments of these mutilated bodies, we were only able to save ourselves from falling by catching hold of the leg, arm, or skull of a mummy, some of which were lying on the ground, but many still standing in the niches where they had been originally placed.' p. 107.
So that our countrymen obtained a sight which had been permitted to none of the French explorers during their occupation of the country,—that of entire mummies, standing in their ancient position.
We now transcribe part of the account of the one occurrence deserving the name of an adventure, in thecourse of our Author's return down the Nile; and it will be acknowledged to be one of the most interesting stories to be found in any book of travels.