Page images

narrow flat of cultivated land which separates the Deserts of Libya and Arabia ; nor can that arid soil, and the wretched villages in the valley, afford any scene picturesque or gratifying. The eye can only rest with any pleasure on the waters of the Nile, the island of Rhoda, and some fine orangetrees in the neighbourhood of Giza. These only can refresh the aching sight; and yet this view has so fascinated, as 10 make Savary believe that the poets from hence must have formed their ideas of Elysium*, and so enraptured him as to excite his regrets that he could not remain during life in this garden of bliss. But Savary has proved himself a bad judge of the beautiful in country and women ; his paradise, placed in Europe, would be deserted like a wilderness, and his houri's become antiquated virgins.

“ The ascent to the top is very difficult, and requires reso: lution and strength; each stone is at least four feet high, and the only steps are made by each superior one receding to form the pyramid about three feet. The descent is more unpleasăpt, yet the soldiers went up and down, without any accident, perpetually. At the base of the North front is a door, over which are many hieroglyphics. This, Strabo assures us, was originally half way up the pyramid, and that the drifting sand has covered the base so high. This story would be absurd to credit, if only subject to the observation that such a quantity of drifting sand must necessarily eneroach on the cultivated country also, which it has not done evidently; but now the French, by digging at the four cosa ners, have ascertained the base, and found that no such alteration has taken place, since it is erected on solid rock, and, front the excavations around, there is evident proof that the bodies of the pyramids are constructed of this rock; the huge masses of porphyry and granite used to case them,


* Several great canals, which separated Memphis from the pyramids of Sacarah, did furnish the Greeks with the idea of their infernal rivers, Acheron, Cocytus, and Lethe; but it required Savary's imagination to place the Elysian Fields here on account of the beauty of the scenery.



were brought from the neighbourhood of Cossira, on the Red Sea. By the door at the north front is the entrance into the interior of the pyramid, into the sanctum of the wonder of the world. The passage at first is very narrow and low, then afterwards enlarges. At the extremity of one branch is a well, the depth of which was never ascertained. Another passage communicates to several chambers, in the largest of which is a stone coffin, the lid is taken away, and several attempts have been made to break the sarcophagus ; fortunately the hardness of the stone resisted the Gothic violence. The Arabs pretend, that the corpse of a man, with his sword and some golden ornaments, were found at the first opening of the coffin ; but these traditions are too vague to collect any positive information from. The only certain fact seems to be, that therein reposed the corpse of that prince, for whose memory this stupendous structure was erected.

“ There are two other very large pyramids, one of which Morad Bey attenipted to open ; many stones were dug out; when the labour was found so hydra-headed, that avarice was obliged to abandon the design, and thus this uncompleted work of destruction remains as a monument for the preservation of the rest. There are the ruins of about thirteen smaller ones, numerous catacombs in the rocks, in many of which the colours of the bas-relief on the walls are preserved perfectly fresh. From these circumstances, the corresponding pyramids of Sacarah, and the Plain of Mummies, no doubt can remain of these gigantic piles having been intended to inclose the bodies and perpetuate the fame of princes, who hoped in such mighty characters to have their renown recorded for ever, but whose ashes are dispersed like those of their meaner subjects, and of whose name his. tory retains no trace. Ambition may hence receive instruction, and mortified pride consolation.”—Sir Robert Wilson, p. 137.


Printed by Luke Hansard & Sons, near Lincoln's-Ina Fields, London.

« PreviousContinue »