« 上一頁繼續 »
WEEKLY REGISTER OF CRITICISM AND BELLES LETTRES,
SATURDAY, APRIL 30, 1831.
GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF WHO AND WHAT THE BYSTANDER IS.
Ir has frequently been asked why we have no Spectators or Ramblers now-a-days. Various reasons may be plausibly assigned for the non-appearance of such publications. In the first place, the small follies and vices of society against which they were directed, have been either eradicated by their efforts, or have grown more cunning to hide themselves. Like game in the battue of a keen-eyed sportsman, an occasional jubilee is requisite in order that a new generation may spring up. In the second place, the division of labour, superinduced by the progress of literature, has materially narrowed the sphere of the periodical essayist. Steele and Addison might range, chartered libertines, in their narrow sheet, through the whole range of moral preaching, literary and theatrical criticism, politics, and what not. But, in our modern periodicals, criticism is a distinct department, formally lined and marked out. The theatre, it has been discovered, requires the undivided attention of one labourer. Politics never thrive beyond the columns of a newspaper. The essayist has consequently been so restricted in his topics, that he has found it impossible, as it is expressed in the emphatic language of the ring,," to come to time."
"Old Bachelor," the author of "An Essay on Flirts,' and the sentimental savage, who perpetrated the tirade entitled "April Fools," make their bow to the public. If they fail, they only share the fate of better men.
The Bystander is a designation which they have not assumed hastily, nor without some reference to the times. From their previous lucubrations, to which they have just referred, the reader will naturally conclude, that the tone of their contemplated writings is to be chiefly light and playful—not without a dash of the humourist. And he is correct in his inference. At the same time, the increasing acerbity of party spirit points out to them a field, in which their labours, if successful, may be of the utmost importance. They will seize every opportunity to impress deeply upon the minds of their readers, that, however they may differ upon the great question which now agitates the nation, they possess an immense preponderance of sentiments, opinions, even prejudices, in common. They will ever seek to remind the angry combatants that they are proud of the same fathers, that they have revelled in the same intellectual banquets, that they have sat, and may sit again, at the same feasts, that their minds have been expanded by the aid of the same manly language. We can discuss a metaphysical question, and be angry as heart could wish, without retaining an after grudge. We have all been involved at times in squabbles about matters of local interest, and scowled angrily at our opponents, and kissed, and become friends again. Any why not thus in the present instance? The question at issue is one of vital and pervading interest. Let it be contested strenuously as may be-let neither side give or take an inch of ground without a struggle. But why add to the bitterness of public strife that of private rancour? Why admit unamiable and misery-bringing feelings to taint with their pollution the battle of principle?
This warning is not uncalled for. We do not allude to the unseemly exhibition, in what has ever, until this occasion, been the most decorous of our legislative assemblies. We speak neither of those who all but scowled defiance in their sovereign's face, nor of him who, by an ill-timed bravado, augmented their vindictive anger. We
Undeterred by these considerations, a small knot of friends have determined to attempt the revival of this style of writing. Each of them has of late tried his hand at an essay in the Edinburgh Literary Journal, and more than one of them has been rewarded with some small degree of public approbation. It has struck them that, by uniting their forces, by giving that unity and continuity to their fragments, which is the result of publishing under one name a series of essays, harmonizing in their general tendency, they may each, in the narrower sphere to which the periodical essayist is now confined, make themselves useful in their day and generation.
The time seems not altogether unpropitious to such an attempt. A marked change has taken place in the man-speak of signs-slight, indeed, but of fearful augury— ners, and indeed in the whole organization of society, that have met us in private circles. We have heard since the last of their predecessors closed his wearied words thoughtlessly and foolishly dropped on one side, lips. There is a wide field for useful and interesting of an appeal to arms-we have marked the bent brow remark, in the contrasted manners of Scotland as it is and suffused face with which this silly speech was renow, and Scotland as it was in 1790. The process by ceived. We know that these were but the pettish effuwhich the change has been effected affords likewise a sions of a hot debate-forgotten as soon as uttered. But pleasing object of contemplation. It is like standing in it is ever thus with the first suggestions of evil. The autumn just where the mountain district subsides into thought passes through the mind, startles us, and disthe level country, and watching the shifting clouds, as appears. Afterwards, when some chance association driving before the wind they unwreathe themselves from recalls it, with its novelty it is found to have lost much one hill to settle upon another. Nor is it the intention of its terror. It is permitted to take up a permanent of the contributors to the Bystander, to confine their ani- lodgement in the brain, as a fancy which never can be madversions to our own firesides, they embrace within reduced to practice. And, finally, in an unguarded mothe range of their remarks the sister-kingdom, and the ment, when passion is awake, and reason slumbers, this continent and past times as well as present. No cha hated, despised thought is hastily caught at, to give form racteristic feature of humanity is devoid of interest to and utterance to our fury. We return to ourselves only them. With such themes to descant upon, the "Loun- to become aware of a deed, the memory of which blasts ger," (a name of good omen in a work of this kind,) the our future existence.
the witching cup of Catholicism,-one who has prostrated his intellect to acquiesce in the broad and unmodified doctrine of the divine right of kings. He is one of your whiners over the gone glories of chivalry, and of the undivided church, and the honesty and quiet of the middle ages. To sum up his character, he is a beautiful reader, and the great happiness of his life has been, to excite the admiration of a circle of blues-youthful and ancient-by his delicate and impassioned reading of Shakspeare; and to kiss daily the withered hand of the faded beauty who, in virtue of her possessing a small portion of wit, is acknowledged patroness of all in Dresden who would be thought to possess it.
Perhaps we are unduly apprehensive of civil commoHaving spent a portion of our life in a country which had suffered dreadfully from its blighting influences, we have had occasion to mark the deep and festering wounds it leaves behind, and are, perhaps, over apprehensive. But even though matters should not come to this extremity, it is fearful to think of the alienation of friends, the heart-burnings in families, which political strife too often occasions. Of what avail is it that we triumph, if it be at the expense of all that makes life endurable? Or will it soothe our disappointed spirits to feel that we have rudely burst the bonds of natural affection, and made others as miserable as ourselves? If, in the course of its labours, the By- In describing Tieck, we have drawn the picture of a stander be able, by its jest or by its earnest, to bring one pretty numerous class of German literati, and one which individual to a right way of thinking upon these topics-we suspect not a few of our readers have been taught to to save, in one instance, fond hearts from being rudely consider the representative of the whole. This mistake separated-it will be a proud reflection to its conductors. may be accounted for in a manner more true than flatAlthough it is not our intention to harp continually tering to our national vanity. This morbid portion of upon this theme-lest, by continued iteration, we render German literature has been more largely translated into both it and ourselves hateful-it is with reference to our English than any other-solely because it attracts more adoption of these pacific principles that we have selected readers. This trash finds as large a public to devour it our title. We do not seek to insinuate that we belong here, although they may gulp it down in secret, having to neither of the two great parties which divide the state; the fear of ridicule before their eyes, as it does at home. nor are we anxious to conceal that our heart is with all The only difference is, that the Germans manufacture those who are generally included under the vague desig- their own love-philtres and other sickening drugs, while nation of Liberals. Did we think that this avowal of we beg or steal from them. our sentiments might in the least interfere with the attention which we hope may be paid to the remonstrances of the Bystander, we might have hesitated to confess so much. But honesty is ever the best policy. And we suspect that our "inclinings" are already more than guessed at by many of our readers. We appeal to our future lucubrations, as the only competent vouchers for the impartiality with which we shall discharge our office of arbiters between the reforming and conservative par-head. tisans.
Our objection to this unwholesome mental food, is not merely that it unfits those who indulge in it for the duties of daily life; although that is no light charge, seeing that a sound and healthy literature sends back its admirers refreshed and invigorated to their respective tasks. It unfits a man for clear and vigorous thinking-it taints and enfeebles the imagination-it diffuses languor through his whole being. It pollutes the heart and deranges the It is the fruitful parent of selfishness, continued craving after excitement, cowardice, and superstitions All prefaces are dull, and ours, we fear, has been un- atheism. It is intellectual opium-eating. wontedly so. But we shall mend, never fear us.
We must, however, do Tieck the justice to admit, that, although subdued to the nature of the element he has so long breathed, he has a capacity of better things in him, and has published several works composed in a sounder and more manly tone of feeling. His burlesque dramas, to which he has given the venerable names of “Puss in The Old Man of the Mountain, The Lovecharm, and Boots," "Little Thumb," and the like, are playful and Pietro of Albano. Tales from the German of Tieck. just satires upon the fashionable weaknesses most predoSmall 8vo. Pp. 335. London. Edward Moxon.minant at the time of their publication. With the happiest and most sportive wit, he alternately directs his arrows now against those very errors into which he has himself given-now against the opposite extreme. In the former of these works, we have a regular drama manufactured out of the adventures of the faithful adherent of the Marquis of Carrabas. But the gentlemen haunting the sixth bench of the pit are also introduced criticising away with all their might. The heads of the mystical, rationalist, and antiquarian schools of Germany, canvass the merits of the piece in a most edifying style, and many of their little imitators join in the discussion. Peculiarly happy are the remarks of the sage, insisting upon the truth and accuracy with which the actor who represents the cat imitates the motions of the feline species. and thereupon kneeling down to him as a godlike actor. Equally profound is the mystic who discovers the poet's hidden meaning. In the other drama we have named, some of the over-refinements of modern education are delicately exposed.
It is not, however, any of this class of Tieck's works that the present translator has brought before the public. He knew better what was most likely to go down, and selected from the author's legends and tales of overstrained sentiment. The first is a moral tale, warning against such perversions of sentiment as none could fall into but the self-willed idle brooder over his own imaginings, who could conceive them-a medicine, in short, needed by none but incurables. The other two are stories of witch-rhymes
TIECK is a name of reputation among the tea-table coteries of Germany. He ranks in the same class with the Schlegels, Uhland, and La Motte Fouqué. He is acute, fanciful, passionate, and effeminate. He has translated portions of Shakspeare with great truth and delicacy. He has wrote poems innumerable, against which no one can urge any other objection than that they are sweet even to cloying, and every one of them most pertinaciously and tiresomely like all the rest. He has wrote romances; some of which are expositions of what he thinks the proper mode of educating the human mind in art and science, and for the active duties of life; while others are of that class so much approved of by German subscribers to circulating libraries-tales of diablerie, in which the magic is a shadowy allegory of the workings of human passion, and passion is expressed in that excited, fervent state, where it is on the very verge of melting into madness. Tieck is a free-thinker too, and above believing any thing in the way that common mortals believe it. But, then, according to him, the power of Conceiving the existence of a Supreme Being (whether such a Being exists, is, in his eyes, a matter of comparative indifference) is the noblest attribute of man, and ought to be carefully cultivated. In accordance with this principle, he is, with all his scepticism, not like Frederick Schlegel in outward show, yet, in his inner soul, one who hath bowed his knee to the idolatries, and drunk deep of
"With a voice as if he would split his breast, he read and conjured again; his breath seemed often to fail him; it was as though the gigantic effort must kill him. Hereupon a medley of voices were suddenly heard as in a quarrel, laughed; songs darted from among them, together with the then again as in talk; they whispered; they shouted and jumbled notes of strange instruments. All the vessels grew alive, and strode forward, and went back again; and out of the walls in every room gushed creatures of every kind, vermin, and monsters, and hideous abortions in the richest confusion.
and incantations, and of people who have sold themselves
"In the city on that same night strange things had been going on, which as yet were a secret to every body. Scarcely had the darkness spread thickly abroad, when Pietro, whom people commonly called by the name of his birthplace, Apone, "Master!' screamed Beresynth: 'the house is growing or Abano, retiring into his secret study at the back of his too tight. What shall we do with all these ghosts? they house, set all his apparatus, all the instruments of his art, must eat one another. O woe! O woe! they are all with in due order, for some mysterious and extraordinary under-cub, and are come here to whelp: new brutes keep sprouttaking. He himself was clad in a long robe, charactered ing out of the old ones, and the child is always wilder and with strange hierogylphs; he had described the magical | frightfuller than its dam. My wits are leaving me in the circles in the hall, and he arranged every thing with his lurch. And then this music into the bargain, this ringing utmost skill, to be certain of the result. He had searched and piping, and laughter athwart it, and funeral hymns diligently into the configuration of the stars, and was now enough to make one cry! Look, master! look! the walls, awaiting the auspicious moment. the rooms, are stretching themselves, and spreading out into vast halls; the ceilings are running away out of sight; and the creatures are still shooting forth, and thicken as fast as the space grows. Have you no counsel? have you no help?'
"His companion, the hideous Beresynth, was also dressed in magical garments. He fetched every thing at his master's bidding, and set it down just as Pietro thought needful. Painted hangings were unrolled over the walls; the floor of the room was covered over; the great magical mirror was placed upright; and nearer and nearer came the moment which the magician deemed the most fortunate.
"Hast thou put the crystals within the circles?' demanded Pietro.
"Yes;' returned his busy mate, whose ugliness kept bustling to and fro merrily and unweariably amid the vials, mirrors, human skeletons, and all the other strange implements. The incense was now brought; a flame blazed upon the altar; and the magician cautiously, almost with trembling, took the great volume out of his most secret cabinet.
"Do we start now?' cried Beresynth. "Silence!' answered the old man solemnly: 'interrupt not these holy proceedings by any profane or any useless words.' He read, at first in a low voice, then louder and more earnestly, as he paced with measured steps to and fro, and then again round in a circle. After a while he paused and said, Look out, how the heavens are shaping themselves.'
"Thick darkness,' replied the servant on his return, has enwrapt the sky; the clouds are driving along; rain is beginning to drip.'
"They favour me!' exclaimed the old man: it must succeed.' He now knelt down, and murmuring his incantations, often touched the ground with his forehead. His face was heated; his eyes sparkled. He was heard to pronounce the holy names which it is forbidden to utter; and, after a long time, he sent his servant out again to look at the firmament. Meanwhile the onrush of the storm was heard; lightning and thunder chased each other; and the house seemed to tremble to its lowest foundations. "Hearken to the tempest!' shouted Beresynth, coming back hastily: hell has risen up from below, and is raging with fire and fierce cracking crashes of thunder; a whirlwind is raving through the midst of it; and the earth is quaking with fear. Hold with your conjuring, lest the spokes of the world splinter, and the rim that holds it together burst.'
"Fool! simpleton!' cried the magician; 'have done with thy useless prating! Tear back all the doors; throw the house-door wide open.'
"The dwarf withdrew to perform his master's orders. Meanwhile Pietro lighted the consecrated tapers; with a shudder he walked up to the great torch that stood upon the high candlestick; this too at last was burning; then he threw himself on the ground, and conjured louder and louder. His eyes flashed; all his limbs shook and shrunk as in convulsions; and a cold sweat of agony trickled from his brow. With wild gestures, as if scared out of his senses, the dwarf rushed in again, and leaped for safety within the circles. The world is at the last gasp,' he shrieked, pale and with chattering teeth: the storms are rolling onward; but all beneath the voiceless night is dismay and horror; every living thing has fled into its closet, or crept beneath the pillows of its bed, to skulk away from its fears.'
"The old man lifted up a face of ghastly paleness from the floor, and with wrenched and indistinguishable features, screamed in sounds not his own, Be silent, wretch, and disturb not the work. Give heed, and keep a fast hold on thy senses. The greatest things are still behind.'
"In complete exhaustion Pietro now raised himself; his whole form was changed, and he seemed to be dying. Look out once more,' he said, faintly: turn thine eyes towards the dome, and bring me tidings of what thou seest.'
"I am treading the rabble here on the head,' roared Beresynth, totally bewildered; 'they are disporting themselves in twining about me like serpents, and are laughing me to scorn. Are they ghosts? are they demons, or empty phantoms? Get away! Well, if you won't move out of my path, I'll stamp downright upon your green and blue snouts. Everybody must take care of number One, even if a devil is to be the sufferer.' He stumbled out muttering.
"Things now grew tranquil, and Pietro stood up. He waved his arm, and all those strange forms which had been crawling about the floor and twisting around each other in the air, vanished. He wiped off the sweat and tears, and drew his breath more freely. His servant came back and said: Master, all is quiet and well; but sundry light forms flitted by me, and lost themselves in the dark sky. Thereupon, while I kept staring immovably towards the dome, a mighty crash sounded, as if all the strings of a harp were breaking at once, and a clap came that made the streets and the houses all tremble. The great door of the church burst open; flutes warbled sweetly and lovelily; and a soft light brightness streamed forth from the heart of the church. Immediately after, the form of a woman stepped into the radiance, pale, but glancing, bedecked with crowns of flowers; she glided through the door, and gleams of light strewed a path for her to tread along. Her head upright, her hands folded, she is floating hither toward our dwelling. Is this she for whom you have been waiting?'
"Take the golden key,' answered Pietro, and unlock the innermost richest chamber of my house. See that the purple tapestries are spread out, that the perfumes are scattering their sweetness. Then away, and get thee to bed, Make no further enquiry into what happens. Be obedient and silent, as thou valuest thy life.'
"I know you too well,' returned the dwarf, and walked off with the key, casting back another look of something like mischievous delight.
"Meanwhile a lovely murmur approached. Pietro went into the entrance-hall, and in glided the pale body of Crescentio, in her robe of death, still holding the crucifix in her folded hands. He stood still before her; she drew up the lids from her large eyes, and shrank back from him with such a quick start that the wreaths of flowers dropped down from her shaking head. Without speaking a word he wrested her fast-clasped hands asunder; but in the left she kept the crucifix tightly clenched. By the right hand he led her through room after room, and she moved by his side stiffly and with indifference, never looking around. "They reached the furthest chamber. Purple and gold, silk and velvet, were its costly garniture. The light only glimmered in faintly by day through the heavy curtains. He pointed to the couch; and the unconscious holder of a charmed life stooped and bent down like a lily that the wind shakes; she sank upon the red coverlet and breathed painfully. From a golden vial the old man poured a precious essence into a little crystal cup, and set it before her mouth. Her pale lips sipped the wondrous draught; she again unfolded her eyes, fixed them on her former friend,
turned away from him with an expression of loathing, and finished volume of the Cabinet Library which has yet fell into a deep sleep."
200 if to
View of Ancient and Modern Egypt; with an Outline of its Natural History. By the Rev. Michael Russell. LL.D. (Edinburgh Cabinet Library, Vol. III.) Edinburgh Oliver and Boyd. London: Simpkin 1831. and Marshall.
We have no experimental notion of the traveller's feelings as he journeys up the valley of the Nile, but we know that there is no country whose antiquities press so heavily upon the imagination as the land of Egypt. We have studied with attention ancient and modern descriptions of them, have consulted engravings, have lost no opportunity of seeing every sarcophagus, and idol, and huge head, that came within our reach; and yet, whenever we revert to the structures of that country, we feel, while striving to picture them to our mind's eye, like one labouring under the pressure of a nightmare-seeking to grapple with vague impossibilities. There they stand, so huge in their dimensions, that the mind is baffled when it attempts to conceive superintendents long enough lived, or workmen numerous enough to rear them. Nor is this all, regard them nearer-each huge block of scarcely penetrable stone is tattooed all over with minute but exquisitely finished hieroglyphics. Further-in every building we can recognise the traces of design necessarily referring it to the purposes of some vast and comprehensive superstition. Yet there they stand alone in a half cultivated desert, surrounded by a people which can neither understand nor feel them. Scarcely a tradition lingers in the world of the men who built them, or the purposes they were meant to serve; for what are a few names, and half-a-dozen vague anecdotes handed down to us at second and third hand? We know more about the process of the world's creation than of theirs. They are dark and inscrutable as the material universe to which they seem more nearly akin than the mere buildings of men. As the Titans of old mythology occupied a place intermediate between gods and the humankind, so do the pyramids and the huge temples of the hundred-gated Thebes between the mountains and the edifices of man's
Dr Russell has condensed within small compass, arranged in a felicitous manner, and narrated with spirit and elegance, all that the mass of readers care to know about this land of wonders-enough to convey an impressive picture of all its peculiarities. After an introductory chapter, which, although well written, and in genious in its views, is to our mind the least satisfactory in the book, he proceeds to lay before us in the second, a compendium of the physical and political geography of Egypt. His third traces the civil history of the country from the first faint whispers of tradition, down to the invasion of the Saracens. The next three chapters treat of the mechanical labours of the ancient Egyptians their literature and science and the remains of ancient art in the valley of the Nile. Chapters seven and eight contain the civil history and statistics of modern Egypt. The ninth, as supplementary to these two, treats of the oases which gem the desert around Egypt, and seem to have been, in the old time, islands of the civilisation of We have, last of all, one chapter containing a summary of the manners and customs of the tribes which have in succession inhabited Egypt, and one presenting us with a survey of its natural history. This brief analysis of the contents of the volume now before us, will serve to indicate the mass of interesting matter it contains. The author has displayed, in the execution of his task, an extent of reading which is only equalled by his critical sagacity and good taste. Altogether this is the most interesting, and certainly, in a literary point of view, the most highly
which that nation was the continent.
It is difficult to select short passages capable of conveying an adequate idea of a work like this. There is an interest, however, attaching to the patient and sagacious spirit evinced by some of the explorers of Egyptian antiquities, that has induced us to select one or two of their adventures. First comes Mr Davison's descent into what is called the "well" of the first pyramid.
"The account given by Mr Davison of his descent into the well now alluded to, is so interesting, that we cannot withhold from the reader an outline of his proceedings. Conceiving it to be very deep, he provided himself with a large quantity of rope, one end of which he tied round his waist; and letting down a lantern attached to a small cord, he prevailed on two of his servants and three Arabs to hold he resolutely prepared to follow. With no small difficulty, the line-the latter assuring him that there were ghosts below, and that he never could hope to return. Taking with him a few sheets of paper, a compass, a measure, and another lighted candle, he commenced the descent, and soon bottom of the first well or shaft. Here he reached found, on the south side, at the distance of about eight feet descended perpendicularly to the depth of five feet only; from the place where he landed, a second opening, which and at four feet ten inches from the bottom of this, he dis covered a third shaft, the mouth of which was nearly blocked up with a large stone, leaving an opening barely sufficient to allow a man to pass. Here he dropped down his lantern, not only with the view of ascertaining to what depth he was about to proceed, but also to determine whether the air were pernicious or otherwise. The shaft, however, was so tortuous, that the candle soon became invisible; but the consul was not to be discouraged, as nothing less than a journey to the bottom would satisfy his eager curiosity. His main difficulty arose from the superstitious dread of the Arabs, who could hardly be prevailed After many prayers, upon to go down and hold the rope. and threats, and promises of money, and of all the treasure which might be found in the well, the avarice of one man so far overcame his terror, that he ventured to descend; though, on reaching the bottom, he stared about him pale and trembling, and appeared more like a spectre than a human being."
"Mr Davison now pushed forward with the rope round his body, being convinced, from the distant view of the lantern which he had let down, that this well was somefarther than half-way to the spot where the candle had what deeper than the first. Having proceeded a little rested, he came to a grotto about fifteen feet long, four or five wide, and nearly the height of a man. From this place the third shaft or well was sloping; and, by throwing down a stone, he ascertained it to be of much greater depth than the others. But, still resolved to persevere, he pushed the lantern a little before him, and set out afresh on his journey, calling to the Arab to loosen the rope gently, and with the purpose of aiding a descent. availing himself of little holes made in the rock, obviously At length, the shaft beginning to return a little more to the perpendicular, he arrived speedily at the bottom, where he found all farther passage precluded by a large accumulation of sand and rubbish.
"Having reached this point, our adventurer began to reflect on two circumstances which had not before occurred to him, either of which would have agitated weaker nerves. The first was, that the multitude of bats which he had disturbed might put out his candle, and the second, that the immense stone on the mouth of the pit might slip down and close the passage for ever. On looking about the bottom, he found a rope-ladder, which, though it had lain there sixteen years, was as fresh and strong as if perfectly new. It had been used, as is conjectured, by Mr Wood,-the author of a work on the ruins of Balbec and Palmyra,-to assist his progress downwards; but he, it is concluded, must have stopped short at the grotto. When Mr Davison on his return, had reached the bottom of the first shaft, the candles fell and went out; upon which the poor Arab thought himself lost.' He laid hold of the rope, as his master was about to ascend, declaring that he would rather have his brains blown out than be left alone there with the devil. I therefore permitted him,' says the consul, 'to go before; and, though it was much more difficult to ascend than to descend, I know not how it was, but he scrambled up a hundred times more quickly than he had come down,'”
The main difficulty Mr Davison had to struggle with was the superstition of his attendants. It was chiefly physical obstacles that threw themselves in the way of the sagacious and enduring Belzoni.
"The resolution of Belzoni, however, a private unassisted individual, achieved a conquest over the mystery of ancient art, which the power and ingenuity of a great nation had relinquished as beyond the reach of human means. His success in detecting the sepulchral labyrinths of Thebes, inHamed him at once with the desire and the confidence of discovering a passage into the secret chambers of Cephrenes, the reputed founder of the second Pyramid.
"His first attempt was not attended with an adequate degree of success, while the labour and expense which it entailed upon him were so great as would have cooled the ardour of a less zealous antiquary. He began by forcing a passage, which he was soon obliged to abandon, as equally hopeless to himself, and dangerous to the persons employed. But this disappointment only increased his desire to accomplish an object on which he had staked his happiness, as well as his reputation. Observing minutely the exterior of the Great Pyramid, he satisfied himself that the passage was not placed exactly in the middle of the building, but that it ran in a straight line to the eastern side of what is called the King's Chamber; which, being in the centre of the Pyramid, he conjectured that the entrance must be as far from the middle of the face, as is the distance from the centre of the chamber to the east end of it. Having made this clear and simple observation, he concluded, that, if there were any chamber in the second Pyramid, the orifice could not be at the spot where he had begun his excavation, but, calculating by the position of the passage in the first, nearly
thirty feet farther east.
"Encouraged by these new views, he returned to his task, and was immediately delighted to observe that, at the very place where he intended to recommence operations, there was a hollow on the surface of the building. Any travelier, says he, who shall hereafter visit the Pyramids, may plainly perceive this concavity above the true entrance. Summoning his Arabs, he forthwith resumed his toils; and so correct was his measurement that he did not deviate more than two feet from the mouth of the passage which was to admit him into the recesses of this vast edifice. The native workmen were indeed as sceptical as ever, entertaining not the slightest expectation that any approach would ever be discovered, and occasionally muttering their opinion of him in the expressive term magnoon, which, in their language,
denotes madman or fool.
"After clearing away a great deal of rubbish, and cutting through massy stones, he had the satisfaction to see the edge of a block of granite,the material used for casing the passages in the Pyramid of Cheops,-inclining downward at the same angle as in the latter building, and pointing towards the centre. On the following day three large slabs were discovered, one on each side, and the third on the top, indicating very distinctly that the object of his search was now about to be realized. In a few hours, accordingly, the right entrance into the Pyramid was opened,-proving to be a passage four feet high, and three feet six inches wide, formed of granite, and descending a hundred and four feet towards the centre, at an angle of twenty-six degrees. Nearly all this passage was filled with large stones which had fallen from the upper part, and, as the floor slopes downwards, they had slid on till someea54) 9323 165 193 siid on till some larger than the rest stopped the way. "The next portion of his task was to remove this' Tubbish, which had extended even to the entrance of the chamber. At length he reached a portcullis, which, being a fixed block of stone, at first sight appeared to obstruct all farther progress into the interior. It stared me in the face,' says Mr Belzoni, and said 'ne plus ultra-putting an end, as I thought, to all my projects; for it made a close joint with the groove at each side, and on the top it seemed as firm as the rock itself which formed the passage. On a close inspection, however, he perceived that, at the bottom, it was raised about eight inches from the lower part of the groove which was cut beneath to receive it; and he found by this circumstance that the large slab before him was nothing more than a barrier of granite, one foot three inches thick. Having observed a small aperture at the top, he thrust a straw into it upwards of three feet,-a discovery which convinced him that there was a vacuum prepared to receive the portcullis. The raising of it, indeed, was a work of no small difficulty. As soon, however, as it was elevated
high enough for a man to pass, an Arab entered with a candle, and announced that the place within was very fine. A little more room enabled our adventurer to squeeze his person through, when he exclaims, After thirty days I had the pleasure of finding myself in the way to the central chamber of one of the two great Pyramids of Egypt, which have long been the admiration of beholders.?"../.
There are relics of past ages more enduring than stone or marble-festivals, the observance of which has been transmitted, not only from generation to generation, but from one tribe of the human race to another, which has expelled it from the seats of its ancestors. The feelings and imaginations of man are the same in all ages, and once a set form of expressing them has gained a local habitation, it is indestructible. Of this class of relics is a solemnity observed untually at the rising of the Nile.
of the Nile, is still annually observed at Cairo, and is one The festival of opening the Calige, or cutting the bank of the few ancient customs which continue to identify the inhabitants of the modern capital with their remotest an16th of August was the day appointed for this solemnity, cestors. The year in which Mr Carne visited Egypt, the the inundation having reached nearly its greatest height. Accompanied by some friends, he repaired about eight in the evening to the place, which was a few miles distant from the city, amidst the roaring of cannon, illuminations, and fireworks. The shores of the Nile, a long way down from Boulak, were covered with groups of people,-some seated beneath the large spreading sycamores smoking, others gathered around parties of Arabs, who were dancing with infinite gaiety and pleasure, and uttering loud exclamations of joy, affording an amusing contrast to the passionless demeanour and tranquil features of their Moslem oppressors. Perpetually moving over the scene, which was illumined by the most brilliant moonlight, were seen Albanian soldiers in their national costume, Nubians from the burning clime of farther Egypt, with Matlouks, Arabs, and Turks.,
"At last day broke, and soon after the report of a cannon announced that the event so ardently wished for was at hand. In a short time the kiaya bey, the chief minister of the pasha, arrived with his guard, and took his seat on the summit of the opposite bank. A number of Arabs now began to dig down the dike which confined the Nile, the bosom of which was covered with a number of pleasureboats full of people, waiting to sail along the canal through the city. Before the mound was completely demolished, the increasing dampness and shaking of the earth induced the workmen to leave off. Several of them then plunged into the stream, and, exerting all their strength to push down the remaining part, small openings were soon made, and the river broke through with irresistible violence; for some time it was like the rushing of a cataract. i 599
"According to custom, the kiaya bey distributed a good sum of money,-throwing it into the bed of the canal below, where a great many men and boys scrambled for it. It was an amusing scene, as the water gathered fast round them, to see them struggling and groping amidst the waves for the coin; but the violence of the torrent soon bore them away. There were some, indeed, who had lingered to the last, and now sought to save themselves by swimming,still buffeting the waves, and grasping at the money showered down, and diving after it as it disappeared,,, Unfor tunately, this sport costs a few lives every year, and the author informs us there was one young man drowned on the present occasion.
The different vessels, long ere the fall had subsided, rushed into the canal, and entered the city, their decks crowded with all ranks, uttering loud exclamations of joy. The overflowing of the Nile is the richest blessing of Heaven to the Egyptians; and, as it finds its way gradually into various parts of Cairo, the inhabitants flock to drink of it, to wash in it, and to rejoice in its progress. The vast square called the Birket, which a few hours before had presented the appearance of a dusty neglected field, was now turned into a beautiful scene, being covered with an expanse of water out of the bosom of which arose the finest sycamore trees. The sounds of joy and festivity, of music and songs, were now heard all over the city, with cries of Allah, Allah!' and thanks to the Divine bounty for so inestimable a benefaction."
We have only to add, that the illustrations of this volume are engraved in wood by Branston in a very superior style.