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sometimes at work under the burning sun nearly all day, as he tells us; but he took certain liberties with the hours and with the Prophet's injunctions, by now and then tampering with the hands of his watch, and bringing the day rather hastily to a close.
It is not possible to fill up any considerable journal of travels in the vicinity of the Nile, and pass unnoticed the vast extent, magnitude, and number of the architectural monuments and other vestiges of remote antiquity that there remain. Let us follow the author in his visit to the ancient tombs, not far from Siout.
"On the lofty mountains overlooking this richest valley of the Nile, and protecting it from the Libyan desert, is a long range of tombs, the burial-place of the ancient Egyptians; and the traveller, looking for a moment at the little Mohammedan burying-ground, turns with wonder from the little city he has left, and asks, Where is the great city which had its graves in the sides of yonder mountains? Where are the people who despised the earth as a burial-place, and made for themselves tombs in the eternal granite?
"The mountain is about as far from the city as the river, and the approach to it is by another strong cause way over the same beautiful plain. Leaving our donkeys at its foot, and following the nimble footsteps of my little Arab girl, we climbed by a steep ascent to the first range of tombs. They were the first I had seen, and are but little visited by travellers; and though I afterward saw all that were in Egypt, I still consider these well worth a visit. Of the first we entered the entrance-chamber was perhaps forty feet square, and adjoining it on the same range were five or six others, of which the entrance-chambers had about the same dimensions. The ceilings were covered with paintings, finished with exquisite taste and delicacy, and in some places fresh as if just executed; and on the walls were hieroglyphics enough to fill volumes. Behind the principal chamber were five or six others nearly as large, with smaller ones on each side, and running back perhaps 150 feet. The back chambers were so dark, and their atmosphere was so unwholesome, that it was unpleasant, and perhaps unsafe, to explore them; if we went in far, there was always a loud rushing noise, and as Paul suggested, their innermost recesses might now be the abode of wild beasts. Wishing to see what caused the noise, and at the same time to keep out of harm's way, we stationed ourselves near the back door of the entrance chamber, and I fired my gun within; a stream of fire lighted up the darkness of the sepulchral chamber, and the report went grumbling and roaring into the innermost recesses, rousing their occupants to phrensy. There was a noise like the rushing of a strong wind; the light was dashed from Paul's hand; a soft skinny substance struck against my face; and thousands of bats, wild with fright, came, whizzing forth from every part of the tomb to the only avenue of escape. We threw ourselves down and allowed the ugly frightened birds to pass over us, and then hurried out ourselves. For a moment I felt guilty; the beastly birds, driven to the light of day, were dazzled by the glorious sun, and, flying and whirling blindly about, were dashing themselves against the rocky side of the mountain and falling dead at its base. Cured of all wish to explore very
deeply, but at the same time relieved from all fears, we continued going from tomb to tomb, looking at the pictures on the walls, endeavouring to make out the details, admiring the beauty and freshness of the colours, and speculating upon the mysterious hieroglyphics which mocked our feeble knowledge; we were in one of the last when we were startled by a noise different from any we had yet heard, and from the door leading to the dark recesses within, foaming, roaring, and gnashing his teeth, out ran an enormous wolf; close upon his heels, in hot pursuit, came another, and almost at the door of the tomb they grappled, fought, growled fearfully, rolled over, and again the first broke loose and fled; another chase along the side of the mountain, another grapple, a fierce and desperate struggle, and then they rolled over the side, and we lost sight of them." A number of sketches might be introduced of the stupendous temples and avenues of sphinxes at Thebes-of an excursion into the desert in search of an oasis-of the cataracts of Upper Egypt, &c. But as we wish to return to Cairo, and thence to Mount Sinai; and since, for reasons already stated, it is the writer, nearly as much as his subjects, that interests us in these volumes, we choose to have a little of his pleasant gossip about a dinner party which he mustered-Paul being the caterer of the provender-before the author and his companions reached the Cataracts. The affair was celebrated on board a boat, Paul with a prudence worthy of Caleb Balderstone, expressing his wonder that the American had not worked an invitation out of the others who were to be guests, and declaring that it was impossible to do the thing. However, the orders were peremptory, but the details were left to the familiar's discretion-he being at liberty to buy and slay a cow or a camel, if necessary; only let the dinner be abundant. After nine hours' hard work in crossing rivers, and scrambling among ruins, the feeders returned to the feast:
The sharp exercise, and the grating of my teeth at the stubborn movements of my donkey, gave me an extraordinary voracity, and dinner, the all-important, never-to-be-forgotten business of the day, the delight alike of the ploughman and philosopher, dinner, with its uncertain goodness, began to press upon the most tender sensibilities of my nature. My companions felt the vibrations of the same chord, and with an unnecessary degree of circumstance, talked of the effect of air and exercise in sharpening the appetite, and the glorious satisfaction after a day's work of sitting down to a good dinner. I had perfect confidence in Paul's zeal and ability, but I began to have some misgivings. I felt a hungry devil within me, that roared as if he would never be satisfied. I looked at my companions, and heard them talk, and as I followed their humour with an hysteric laugh, I thought the genius of famine was at my heels, in the shape of two hungry Englishmen. I trembled for Paul, but the first glimpse I caught of him re-assured me. He sat with his arms folded, on the deck of the boat, coolly, though with an air of conscious importance, looking out for us. * * Reader, you have seen the countenance of a good man lighted up with the consciousness of having done a good action;
even so was Paul's. I could read in his face a consciousness of having acted well his part. One might almost have dined on it. It said as plainly as face could speak, one, two, three, four, five courses and a dessert, or, as they say at the two-franc restaurants in Paris, Quatre plats, une demi bouteille de vin, et pain à discrétion.
"In fact, the worthy butler of Ravenswood could not have stood in the hall of his master in the days of its glory, before thunder broke china and soured buttermilk, with more sober and conscious dignity than did Paul stand on the deck of my boat to receive us. A load was removed from my heart. I knew that my credit was saved, and I led the way with a proud step to my little cabin. Still I asked no question and made no apologies. I simply told my companions we were in Paul's hand, and he would do with us as seemed to him good. Another board had been added to my table, and my towel had been washed and dried during the day, and now lay, clean and of a rather reddish white, doing the duty of a table-cloth. I noticed two tumblers, knives and forks, and plates, which were strangers to me, but I said nothing; we seated ourselves and waited, nor did we wait long; soon we saw Paul coming towards us, staggering under the weight of his burden, the savoury odour of which preceded him. He entered and laid before us an Irish stew. Reader, did you ever eat an Irish stew? Gracious Heaven! I shall never forget that paragon of dishes; how often in the desert, among the mountains of Sinai, in the Holy Land, rambling along the valley of Jehoshaphat, or on the shores of the Dead Sea, how often has that Irish stew risen before me to tease and tantalize me, and haunt me with the memory of departed joys! The potato is a vegetable that does not grow in Egypt. I had not tasted one for more than a month, and was almost startled out of my propriety at seeing them; but I held my peace, and was as solemn and dignified as Paul himself. Without much ceremony we threw ourselves with one accord upon the stew. *** For my own part, as I did not know what was coming next, if anything, I felt loath to part with it. My companions were knowing ones, and seemed to be of the same way of thinking, and without any consultation all appeared to be approaching the same end, to wit, the end of the stew. With the empty dish before him, demonstrative to Paul that so far we were perfectly satisfied with what he had done, that worthy purveyor came forward with an increase of dignity to change our plates. I now saw that something more was coming. I had suspected from the beginning that Paul was in the murton line, and involuntarily murmured, this day a sheep has died;' and presently on came another cut of the murdered innocent, in cutlets, accompanied by fried potatoes. Then came boiled mutton and boiled potatoes, and then roast mutton and roast potatoes, and then came a macaroni paté. I thought this was going to damn the whole; until this I had considered the dinner as something extraordinary and recherché. But the macaroni, the thing of at least six days in the week, utterly disconcerted me. I tried to give Paul a wink to keep it back, but on he came; if he had followed with a chicken, I verily believe I should have thrown it at his head. But my friends were unflinching and uncompromising. They were determined to stand by Paul to the last, and we laid in the macaroni paté with as much vigour as if we had not already eaten
a sheep. Paul wound us up and packed us down with pancakes. I never knew a man that did not like pancakes, or who could not eat them even at the tail of a mighty dinner. And now, feeling that happy sensation of fulness which puts a man above kings, princes, or pachas, we lighted our long pipes and smoked. Our stomachs were full and our hearts were open. Talk of mutual sympathy, of congenial spirits, of similarity of tastes, and all that, 'tis the dinner which unlocks the heart."
Certain speculations in the course of the flow of soul that followed the feast took place, respecting the means and stratagems which Paul had used to furnish such a plentiful display; when it turned out that the author had done least of any present towards supplying the table, and that he was congratulated rather ironically upon possessing such a treasure of a steward.
Having returned to Cairo, our traveller proceeded towards Mount Sinai, the caravan of Pilgrims for Mecca fortunately being about to start at the time for the tomb of the Prophet. The caravan, we are farther told, consisted of more than 30,000 devotees, with probably 20,000 camels and dromedaries. They were put under the safe conduct of the Sheik of Akaba, who had been summoned by the Pacha of Egypt to perform this duty, the author having assumed the garb of a merchant, and engaging three young Bedouins to be guides across the Desert to Suez. We must, however, make rapid progress towards the holy Mount, only tarrying so long as to introduce a few scattered notices concerning the roaming descendants of Ishmael, among whom he sojourned for some time. He says
"Wild and unsettled, robbers and plunderers as they are, they have laws which are as sacred as our own; and the tent, and the garden, and the little pasture-ground are transmitted from father to son for centuries.
"Not far from the track we saw, hanging on a thorn-bush, the black cloth of a Bedouin's tent, with the pole, ropes, pegs, and everything necessary to convert it into a habitation for a family. It had been there six months; the owner had gone to a new pasture-ground, and there it had hung, and there it would hang, sacred and untouched, until he returned to claim it. 'It belongs to one of our tribe, and cursed be the hand that touches it,' is the feeling of every Bedouin. Uncounted gold might be exposed in the same way, and the poorest Bedouin, though a robber by birth and profession, would pass by and touch it not."
One of the author's guides communicated the following characteristic particulars belonging to their customs and manners.
"I remember he told me that all the sons shared equally; that the daughters took nothing; that the children lived together; that if any of the brothers got married, the property must be divided; that if any difficulty arose on the division, the man who worked the place for a share of the profits must divide it; and, lastly, that the sisters remain with the brothers until they (the sisters) are married. I asked him, if the brothers did not choose to keep a sister with them, what became
of her; but he did not understand me. I repeated the question, but still he did not comprehend it, and looked to his companions for an explanation. And when, at last, the meaning of my question became apparent to his mind, he answered, with a look of wonder, 'It is impossible-she is his own blood.' I pressed my question again and again in various forms, suggesting the possibility that the brother's wife might dislike the sister, and other very supposable cases; but it was so strange an idea, that to the last he did not fully comprehend it, and his answer was still the same'It is impossible-she is his own blood.'
"I asked him who governed them; he stretched himself up and answered in one word, God.' I asked him if they paid tribute to the pacha; and his answer was, No we take tribute from him.' I asked him how. 'We plunder his caravans.'
Having arrived at a plain table of ground they at length saw before them, towering " in awful grandeur, so huge and dark that it seemed close to us and barring all further progress, the end of my pilgrimage, the holy mountain of Sinai." His account of the ascent to its summit is exceedingly striking, and presents a happy specimen of his descriptive powers. We quote merely from what he says after having reached that summit.
"And among all the stupendous works of Nature, not a place can be selected more fitted for the exhibition of almighty power. I have stood upon the summit of the giant Etna, and looked over the clouds floating beneath it, upon the bold scenery of Sicily, and the distant mountains of Calabria; upon the top of Vesuvius, and looked down upon the waves of lava, and the ruined and half-covered cities at its foot; but they are nothing compared with the terrific solitudes and bleak majesty of Sinai. An observing traveller has well called it 'a perfect sea of desolation.' Not a tree, or shrub, or blade of grass is to be seen upon the bare and rugged sides of innumerable mountains, heaving their naked summits to the skies, while the crumbling masses of granite all around, and the distant view of the Syrian desert, with its boundless waste of sands, form the wildest and most dreary, the most terrific and desolate picture that imagination can
The level surface of the very top, or pinnacle, is about sixty feet square. At one end is a single rock about twenty feet high, on which, as said the monk, the spirit of God descended, while in the crevice beneath his favoured servant received the tables of the law.
"The ruins of a church and convent are still to be seen upon the mountain, to which, before the convent below was built, monks and hermits used to retire, and, secluded from the world, sing the praises of God upon his chosen hill. Near this, also in ruins, stands a Mohammedan mosque ; for on this sacred spot the followers of Christ and Mohammed have united in worshipping the true and living God. Under the chapel is a hermit's cell, where, in the iron age of fanaticism, the anchorite lingered out his days in fasting, meditation, and prayer."
Before entering upon the second volume, in which our traveller sets out for the city of Petra, and to cross the "great and terrible desert," which spreads from the base of Sinai to the Promised Land,