Arab boys came to the river-side, and kept up a sort of singing in chorus for some time, which was more melodious than most of their efforts of this kind ; then a man mounted on horseback, and dressed fantastically to personate a fool, advanced, attended by a number of Arabs on foot, whom he diverted by a variety of ludicrous gestures. This procession paraded about for some time, with much shouting and clapping of hands; and was, we understood, an ancient custom, to propitiate the waters of the Nile, that they might rise to their usual level.

We left Kenéh with a fair breeze about nine o'clock at night, and were becalmed the greatest part of next day near a pleasant village, luxuriantly shaded. In the middle of most of the villages there are generally one or more large spreading trees, mostly sycamores, which afford a shade sufficient for a number of people; beneath these the Arabs love to sit, passing their hours indolently away with conversation, and the everlasting pipe. The soil beneath is often nothing but a mass of thick dust or light earth, without any verdure ; here they sit and recline with great content, when a little exertion of watering might procure a green and verdant couch. The patriarchs of the village, with their long beards, were all enjoying themselves in the shade of some beautiful trees at the river's side. There was not a breath of wind, and the heat was too powerful for our Arab sailors to walk on the beach, and pull the cangia along by a rope, which is the common practice in a calm. We resolved, however, to go and see what is supposed to be the site of -Coptos, where some widely-scattered ruins are still to be seen; and · having hired a boat, we crossed over, as it was a few miles walk from the opposite shore. Amidst large and confused heaps of rubbish, are some remains of walls, a few feet high, and fragments of pillars of fine granite. On our return, we passed through a village on the declivity of a hill, and stepped into its large mosque. The hour of evening prayers was just begun; and the peasants of the neighbourhood, many of them fine-looking men, others venerable with age, were gathering fast to their devotions. The corridor was supported by lofty pillars, among which were two or three fine ones of granite, which they had actually taken in pieces from the ruins of Coptos to support their house of faith. In a small building adjoining were several small reservoirs of water, cool and shaded, where the believers were carefully and devoutly washing their feet before they entered the mosque. In this climate their manner of worshipping has often a very impressive as well as picturesque effect. Just after sun-set, when the last and loveliest hues are cast over the silent Egyptian scenery, or more often when the moon has spread her brilliant light on the river and shore, the Turks and Arabs come to the water's edge, and, heedless of the traveller beside them, spread their cloak on the bank, and turning their face to Mecca, and alternately kneeling and standing, are for some time entirely absorbed in their devotions, heedless of every object around, and apparently actuated by a deep and solemn sense of the duty they are engaged in.

At the village of Koft a funeral passed by as we stood near the mosque; the burial-ground was on the side of a bill, shaded by palms, and commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country. The tombs were all of one form, low, a few feet in length, and plastered white. There was no outcry on this occasion, or funeral wail,

as it was a child who had died; when an Arab had partly covered the corpse, egch of the relatives pushed the earth gently with his hands into the grave, continually repeating some Arab words, signifying “Be thou happy.”

Although there is a sameness in the character of the Egyptian scenery, it is such as is to be seen in no other land. The Libyan and Arabian chains of mountains, perfectly naked, stretch on each side of the Nile nearly to the first cataract, generally within a few miles of the river, and sometimes close to it, or forming its bank. At the foot of these naked masses of a light colour, often appear groups of the most vivid and beautiful verdure, the palm and sycamore spreading over some lonely cottage, a herd of goats and buffaloes winding their way, or a camel silently grazing. The utter barrenness and desolation that often encompass scenes and spots of exquisite fruitfulness and beauty, the tomb of the Santon with its scanty shade, and the white minaret with its palm and cypress placed on the very verge of a boundless desert, or amidst a burning expanse of sand, are almost peculiar to Egypt. Then you often pass from the rich banks of the Nile, covered with lime and orange-trees, where groups of Orientals are seated luxuriously in the shade, into a wild and howling waste, where all, even the broken monuments of past ages, only inspire feelings of sadness and regret.

It was evening ere we arrived at Luxor, a poor yet populous village, erected partly amidst the ruins of the great temple. This edifice is near the water's edge, and its lofty yellow pillars, each thirty feet in circumference, and ranged in long colonnades, instantly arrest the attention. On landing, we found on the sand a dozen grim Egyptian statues, large as life, cut in coarse granite, after the fashion of the great Memnon, and in a sitting posture, close to the edge of the water, that rippled at their feet. The weight of each statue was enormous, and would render the removal difficult; or else a traveller might well be tempted to ship one of them, as they seemed to be no man's property. There are two most beautiful obelisks fronting the gateway, seventy feet high but in reality much loftier, as a considerable part is buried in rubbish. Their hieroglyphics are cut deeper, and with greater delicacy, than those on any other obelisks in Egypt. A Frenchman, in the employment of Drouetti the consul, resided here, who shewed us much politeness ; he was an intelligent man, dressed in the Arab costume, and had resided sixteen years in various parts of this country. His companion, Moris Bonnet, had gone to Cairo for a supply of wine and other comforts, and he felt solitary and impatient for his return: he possessed a small collection of minerals and other curiosities, and had manufactured a cool delightful sort of palm-wine out of the juice of the tree, which was very grateful to us in the sultry heat of the day. Sixteen years residence in Upper Egypt is really a trial of a man's patience and enthusiasm, and for two Frenchmen above all beings. Suleiman Aga, commander of the Pacha's Mamelukes at Esneh, a town two days' sail farther, was not so resigned : this man was one of Bonaparte's colonels, and on the ruin of his master's fortunes he came to Egypt, and offered his services to the Pacha, protesting at the same time he would never consent to change his religion. Mahmoud laughed, and said, he cared nothing about his religion, if he only served him well ; but he must allow himself to be called by a Turkish naine, and wear the costunie, Suleiman Aga now lives in style as commandant at Esneh, and receives travellers, very hospitably; but his soul pines, amidst Egyptian beauty, for a suitable companion, and he implored a fellow-traveller and friend of mine to send him out an English or Italian wife : he swore he would pay implicit deference to his friend's advice, and marry the lady the moment she arrived. The women around him, he said, were so insipid ; and be would live there contented could he be but blessed with one whom he could converse with, and whose vivacity and intelligence would brighten bis solitary hours.

It is difficult to describe the stupendous and noble ruins of Thebes. Beyond all others they give you the idea of a ruined, yet imperishable city; so vast is their extent, that you wander a long time confused and perplexed, and discover at every step some new object of interest. From the temple of Luxor to that of Karnac the distance is a mile and a half, and they were formerly connected by a long avenue of sphinxes, the mutilated remains of which, the heads being broken off the greater part, still line the whole path. Arrived at the end of this avenue, you first pass under a very elegant arched gateway, seventy feet high, and quite isolated. About fifty yards farther you enter a temple of inferior dimensions, which Drouetti has been busy in excavating ; you then advance into a spacious area, strewed with broken pillars, and surrounded with vast and lofty masses of ruins,—all parts of the great temple: a little on your right is the magnificent portico of Karnac, the vivid remembrance of which will never leave him who has once gazed on it. Its numerous colonnades of pillars, of gigantic form and height, are in excellent preservation, but without ornament; the ceiling and walls of the portico are gone ; the plat-stone still connects one of the rows of pillars, and is ornamented, and viewed from below, with a slender remain of the edifice still attached to it, it seems almost to hang in the sky. Passing hence, you wander amidst obelisks, porticoes, and statues, the latter without grace or beauty, but of a most colossal kind. If you ascend one of the hills of rubbish, and look around, you see a gateway standing afar, conducting only to solitude; detached and roofless pillars, while others lie broken at their feet, the busts of gigantic statues appearing above the earth, while the rest of the body is yet buried, or the head torn away, while others lie prostrate or broken into useless fragments. On the left spread the dreary deserts of the Thebais, to the edge of which the city extends. In front is a pointed and barren range of mountains : the Nile flows at the feet of the temple of Luxor ; but the ruins extend far on the other side of the river, to the very feet of those formidable precipices, and into the wastes of sand : the natural scenery around Thebes is as fine as can possibly be conceived. The remainder of the statue is still here, the beautiful bust of which Belzoni sent to the British Museum ; it was fallen and broken off long since. Drouetti is quite inexcusable in causing one of the two beautiful obelisks at the entrance of the temple of Karnac to be thrown down and broken, that he might carry off the upper part : such an act is absolute sacrilege. One cannot help imagining that a vast deal yet remains to be discovered beneath this world of ruins, on both sides of the river; but the pursuit requires incessant and undivided attention. А traveller must lay his account to spend six months in excavating here, with a body of Arabs, who work very cheaply, and must put up with many privations, before he could expect to be richly compensated for his paips.

The second visit we paid to Karnac was still more interesting. The moon had risen, and we passed through one or two Arab villages in the

way, where fires were lighted in the open air, and the men, after the labours of the day, were seated in groups round them, smoking and conversing with great cheerfumess. It is singular that in the most burning climates of the East, the inhabitants always love a good fire at night, and a traveller soon catches the habit ; yet the air was still very warm. There was no fear of interruption in exploring the ruins, as the Arabs dread to come here after daylight, as they often say these places were built by Afrit, the devil; and the belief in apparitions prevails among most of the Orientals. We again entered with delight the grand portico. It was a night of uncommon beauty, without a breath of wind stirring, and the moonlight fell vividly on some parts of the colonnades, while others were shaded so as to add to, rather than diminish their grandeur. The obelisks, the statues, the lonely colùmns on the plain without, threw their long shadows on the mass of ruins around them, and the scene was in truth exquisitely mournful and beautiful.

As from the western firmament

The sun sank in the sky,
The Hero and the Prophet went-
While evening from the minaret sent

The Muezzin's holy cry
Of “ Allah hu” o'er wall and gate,

Deeply and solemnly-
“ There's but one God, eternal, great :"-

He knew that he must die!
The night breeze from the midway air
Wafted the sound, that to his ear
Echoed of conquest and renown

With him for ever past;
That he who swept the eastern world
Like a tornado blast,
Hush'd in death-slumber should go down,

Forgotten, overcast,
In the tomb's darkness hurl'd,

And countless millions call in vain,
Their chief to glory's lists again.
Forth to the mosque the Prophet went,
On faithful Ali's arm he leant ;

His look was firm, his turban'd brow

Paled not though death was near him now
But he had faced him oft before

In many a combat's rage,
Then wherefore should he dread him more

When past his noon of age,
He had enough achiered for fame,
And earth ran over with his name?
But he had not been one of those

Who combated alone
From lust of vengeance upon foes

He mercy oft had shown;
It was the Koran author's cause,
The Islem faith, and power, and laws,

For which on nations near and far
Had Aash'd his conquering scimitar ;.
Glory to Allah, all his aim,
“ Allah il Allah,” still the samć.

But now the soldier's eye of fire,

That lit the ranks of war,
Wax'd dim and weak, the prophet lyre

Shall never sound again-
Ainab all Asia's hope shall bar

From sight of fellow men ;
The crescent its green flag inay wave,
But only on its hero's grave;
The Koran still may chanted be,
And all men hear, save only her
The founder of the mighty race
That bow at Mecca's holy place.
And he would close his time with prayer,

For life was Aitting fast,
And feeble in the evening air

He to the mosque hath past.
His friend still gazing on his chief
In speechless and heart-piercing grief-
They enter at the holy gate :

The prophet on the tribune stands,
Then prays and rises in his state,

Looking the lord of countless lands,
Grace in his form, and majesty,
And rule in his awe-gathering eye,
And carriage that might dare or brave
Upon the margin of his grave

All human power, all human fears,

The wreck of worlds, the storms of years; Yet mingling with a faded air

Of limb, and face, and frame, Speaking the body weak to bear

That spirit's ardent Aame; That captived longer will not be Its scarce controlld intensity.

My faithful Islamites! the grave

Is'dug for memI am no more
A thing of fear-Whate'er you crave

Of vengeance, on me take a store:
You I have stricken, strike me now-

You I have robbed, take of my gold
You I have humbled; this old brow

Humble in dust an hundred fold !-
Take justice of me for your wrong!
Haste! for my moments are not long;
And mortal love and mortal hate
Will soon be one to me in weight !”
'Twas silent ! like an earthquake land,

Where all is swallow'd up and dead-
Tears only answer'd the demand-

The dying Prophet bent his head : Faintly his parting orders gave,

Breath'd his farewell to all around,
Then sank enshrined into his grave,

While the world startled at the sound
Of woe from kingdoms he had won,
Vast as the realm of Philip's son,
Soon to belong from their decay,
Like their dead chief, to yesterday.

« 上一页继续 »