Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

is, however, nothing unworthy of his character as a clergyman, and there are occasional effusions of pious feeling, which prove the truth of his own declaration, that he is not ashamed of the cross. We are particularly gratified by the liberal spirit which he exhibits, and by the entire absence of sectarian feelings. No reader would have suspected him to be an Episcopalian, if he had not hiinself incidentally alluded to the fact.

He describes the condition of Egypt as exhibiting a wonderful progress in arts, manufactures and other internal improvements, under the energetic sway of Mohammed Ali. This man has risen from the lowest condition, to be the real sovereign of Egypt. He has spread the terrors and the benefits of his dominion over Palestine and Syria; and if the Grand Seignior had not been protected by European arms, the indomitable pacha would, it is probable, have seated himself on the throne of Constantinople. He has introduced into Egypt arts and manufactures from Europe ; he has established military and naval schools ; he is creating a powerful army and navy; he is digging canals, and is projecting and executing other great plans for the improvement of his dominions. But all this is done by the merciless oppression of his subjects, from whom he extorts almost all their earnings, and whose sons he compels to serve as soldiers and sailors. He is, therefore, bated by his subjects, who would gladly seize any opportunity to burl him from his throne. The pacha is said to regret the necessity which compels him to wield an iron sceptre; but he pleads his condition, and that of Egypt, as leaving him no alternative. It may be doubted, whether his reign is not, on the whole, an advantage to his people. They would be plundered by their rulers, in any case; while they derive some benefits from the pacha. He allows no robbers but himself; and travelling is said to be as safe in his dominions, as it is in Europe. Even in Palestine and Syria, his firman commands implicit and eager obedience; and at Damascus,—notorious for the fanatical hatred which its inbabitants have borne towards Christians, and where, a little while since, no Christian dared to appear in a foreign costume,—the terror of the pacha proved so effectual a protection to Mr. Jones and a large party from the ship, that not the slightest mark of disrespect was exhibited towards them. Mr. Jones describes the person of this formidable despot :

“ Mohammed Ali is about 60 or 65 years of age, about five feet eight inches in height, and heavy, though he can scarcely be called corpulent. His forehead is large and rough; the eyes gray and small, with a deep wrinkle running upward from the outer angle; they are very keen and restless; and I believe there was not one of our large party, upon whom they were not repeatedly fixed during this interview. He converses with earnestness, and laughs frequently; but his laugh is discordant and unnatural. The nose is aquiline, the mouth depressed at the corners, and garnished with a superb, silvery beard. The expression of his face, when he smiles, is rather pleasant; but, at other times, a person in his presence feels as he would do near an open barrel of gunpowder, with a shower of red-hot cinders falling around him.”—pp. 125, 126.

The visit of Mr. Jones and bis companions to the pyramids, forms an interesting part of the book. These mysterious structures stand near the Nile, on its western bank. The largest are at Gbizeh, about nine miles from Old Cairo.

“There are three of them at this place, called, after their reputed founders, the pyramids of Cheops, Cephrenes and Mycerinus. They stand on a natural platform, or piece of table land, one hundred and fifty feet in height, projected from the adjoining range of mountains. That of Cheops is the largest, and has been repeatedly measured ; but, on account of the rubbish that has accumulated along the sides, it is difficult to do this correctly; and there is great discrepancy in the results.

English feet. Herodotus makes its height, 800, and length of each side, 800. Strabo, 625,

600. Le Brun, 616,

704. Thevenot, 520,

612. Davison, 461,

746. French Scavans, 470,

704. “ As the angles are exposed to view quite down to the foundation, there is less difficulty in ascertaining the number of layers, which is said to be two hundred and six; each layer being of smaller dimensions than the next lower. A series of steps is thus formed, each about thirty inches in height and twenty in width. The pyramid of Cheops is truncated, terminating above in a platform of about twenty feet square; that of Cephrenes is continued up to a sharp point, and is coated from this about one fifth of the way down, with triangular blocks, so as to present, at this part, a perfectly smooth surface. It is supposed that the whole of this pyramid was originally coated in this manner; and that it was covered with hieroglyphics. I ascended to the smooth portion of its surface, but could discover no traces of such inscriptions. The three pyramids stand nearly in a straight line, running north and south, and face exactly the four cardinal points. Belzoni measured that of Cepbrenes, and found it to be six hundred and eighty-four feet on each side, at the base, and four hundred and fifty-six in height; that of Mycerious is much smaller,

Feet.

and has been mutilated so as to be rather an unsightly object. They are composed chiefly of secondary limestone, taken from the adjoining mountains. As the angles of the pyramids have suffered from the weather, and probably also from human violence, and have thus been broken into smaller steps, we were able, without much difficulty, to ascend to the summit of that of Cheops. The natives,– inany of whom had been attracted from a neighboring village, by the sight of strangers,—when seen from this elevation, appeared dwindled into the merest pigmies.”—pp. 88, 89.

The party visited the interior of the pyramid of Cheops. The entrance is on the northern side, about thirty feet above the base, and equidistant from each of the angles. There is a passage three and a half feet square, lined with polished marble, and inclininy at an angle of about twenty-six degrees. This passage

leads to a chamber: “ This was what is called the king's chamber; a name given to it on account of a sarcophagus of red granite, seven feet six inches in length, and of proportionate width and depth, highly polished, but entirely plain. This apartment is thirty-seven feet long, seventeen wide, and about twenty in height; and is cased, in every part, with polished Egyptian granite.”—p. 91.

There is another chamber lower down than the king's chamber:

“ This is seventeen feet long, fourteen wide, and twelve feet in height; and is also cased with polished granite. There are other chambers in this pyramid, but of irregular shape; and it is uncertạip, whether they were part of the original design, or are accidental; a pit, descending, with several offsets, to a depth of one hundred and fifty-five feet, or to a level with the Nile, with which it probably had a communication, has also been explored. It is probable, that there are several other passages not yet discovered; and among them one by which there was a subterranean entrance to the pyramid; a passage, apparently of this character, having been recently discovered in the pyramid of Cepbrenes."-p. 91.

Mr. Jones enters into an ingenious discussion of the origin and design of the pyramids. He compares them with similar structures which are found in Mexico, Hindostan, and in the Polynesian islands. On one of the pyramids in Mexico is an inscription, in the picture writing of the Mexicans, which Humboldt has translated. This inscription has a clear reference to the deluge, and to the erection of the tower of Babel. The conclusion to which Mr. Jones has come is this:

"After the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel, the stricken and confounded families of the plain of Shinar, as they

were gradually scattered over different and often far distant regions, carried with them, each, not only a deep impression of the event, but also a feeling of awe connected with the edifice where had been such a wonderful display of supernatural power. And they afterwards adopted this structure, as the model for temples for the worship of the mysterious divinities that their superstitious fears gradually wrought out for them;—the god of fire, the god of the sun, or the god of the palpable but invisible air.

“We have here a case sufficiently extensive in its operation, and also sufficiently powerful. When looking at the huge structures in Egypt, I can bardly imagine any other cause than that of religion, to be able to produce such a stupendous effect.”—p. 106.

This conclusion appears to us a very rational one. The idea, that the pyramids were built as sepulchres, cannot be admitted as probable. Mr. Jones says, in a note:

"At Benares, is a pyramid like those of Egypt, formed of earth, and covered with bricks. The Brahmins of India, when they heard the Egyptian pyramids described by Mr. Wilford, declared at once that they were religious structures, and inquired whether they had not a subterraneous communication with the Nile. He described the well in that of Cheops to them, when they affirmed that it was for supplying the priests with water in their ceremonies, and that the sarcophagus in the great chamber was on such occasions filled with water and lotus-flowers.”—p. 99.

Mr. Jones proposes a query, “whether the mounds in our western country, which are often of prodigious size, had not the same origin and a similar purpose, —the circular form being only a slight change, in consequence of the material here employed.” This query is worthy of attention, though the Rev. J. M. Peck intimates an opinion, that these western mounds are

as much the results of natural causes as any other prominences on the surface of the globe."*

Mr. Jones makes a plausible conjecture respecting the use of straw by the Hebrews, in making bricks while in Egypt:

“I examined the Egyptian bricks with reference to the complaint of the Hebrews, that straw was not allowed them in the manufacture. A few here have straw mixed up with them; and it will doubtless check the process of disintegration to which they are exposed; but it does not seem, at present, to be considered a necessary ingredient. But it is universally employed in the process of manufacturing, or rather in drying the bricks. They are in size like our bricks, and are cut with a spade from the earth, when moistened by the yearly floods. Fine straw is then scattered on the adjoining grounds, and the bricks are spread over this to dry; and were this precaution not used, the bricks, in drying, would adhere to the earth and be spoiled. I conclude, then, that here was occasioned the dilemma in which the Israelites soon found themselves; they could make the tale of bricks; but when they came to remove them, at the close of their labors, they found them attached to the soil, and their labors lost. I frequently saw bricks exposed for drying, but never without a layer of fine straw beneath.”—pp. 29, 30.

* Peck's Guide to Emigrants, p. 145.

The main attraction of this book is the visit to Jerusalem. Mr. Jones spent a number of days in the holy city, and he gives, on the whole, the most lucid, rational and satisfactory account which we have ever read, of the ancient state of the city, its present condition, and the locality of important places and events in its history. He possessed those feelings of devout reverence, unmingled with superstition, which are necessary to nable a visiter to Jerusalem to survey its ruins, and examine the traditions which haunt every part of it, without indulging in puerile credulity, or a scornful skepticism. The following passage describes his emotions on surveying the city, the morning after his arrival, from the roof of ihe convent where he had slept:

“ Immediately east of the city, and separated from it by a narrow valley or ravine, was a mountain large enough to command our respect by its vastness, and yet not too large for gracefulness and beauty. I knew it at once to be the Mount of Olives. It has three summits; one in the centre, and one at each extremity; they are of nearly equal height, and when viewed from the city, present, for their outline, a gentle and beautiful curve. A large part of it is covered with olive-trees, particularly the central and northern summits and declivities; and they still form so striking a feature, that if the mountain were now to be named, we should be apt to call it the Mount of Olives.

* Nearer to me, and just within the city walls, on the east, was a large open place, and from the centre of this rose an octangular edifice of considerable beauty; I had seen pictures of it, and recognized it as the mosque of Omar, standing on the supposed site of the temple of Solomon. There, at least, was undoubtedly Mount Moriah, and my own eyes were gazing upon it.

“I turned from it soon, however, to look for a spot of still more absorbing interest. Where was Mount Calvary? Not far from me rose two domes, one somewhat peaked, the other one more obtuse, but very large. In all directions, however, were domes of various sizes, and the mind was puzzled, though still arrested by the position as well as the magnitude of these two. A couple of old and venerable looking monks were hanging over the parapet of a neighboring convent, watching my motions; and turning to inquire of them, I found my surmise had been correct. This was the church of Mount Calvary and of the Holy Sepulchre.—'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.?

« PoprzedniaDalej »