網頁圖片
PDF

Mr. Buckingham, “that it is high time you were dead.” “Why,” replied the Count, very much astonished, “I am little more than seven hundred years old! My father lived a thousand, and was by no means in his dotage when he died.” Here ensued a brisk series of questions and computations, by means of which it became evident that the antiquity of the mummy had been grossly misjudged. It had been five thousand and fifty years, and some months, since he had been consigned to the catacombs at Eleithias. “But my remark,” resumed Mr. Buckingham, “ had no reference o age at the period of interment; (I am willing to grant, in fact, that you are still a young man), and my allusion was to the immensity of time during which, by your own showing, you must have been done up in asphaltum.” “In what?” said the Count. “In asphaltum,” persisted Mr B. “Ah, yes; I have some faint notion of what you mean; it might be made to answer, no doubt, but in my time we employed scarcely anything else than the bichloride of Mercury.” “But what we are especially at a loss to understand,” said Doctor Ponnonner, “is how it happens that, having been dead and buried in Egypt five thousand years ago, you are here to-day all alive, and looking so delightfully well.” “Had I been, as you say, dead,” replied the Count, “it is more than probable that dead I should still be; for I perceive that you are yet in the infancy of Galvanism, and cannot accomplis with it what was a common thing among us in the old days. But the fact is, I fell into catalepsy, and it was considered by my best friends that I was either dead or should be; they accordingly embalmed me at once—I presume you are aware of the chief principle of the embalming process ** “Why, not altogether.” “Ah, I perceive;—a deplorable condition of ignorance Well, I cannot enter into details just now ; but it is necessary to explain that to embalm, (proerly speaking), in Egypt, was to arrest indefinitely all the animal functions subjected to the process. I use the word “animal” in its widest sense, as includin the physical not more than the moral an vital being. Irepeat that the leading principle of embalmment consisted, with us, in the immediately arresting, and holding

in perpetual abeyance, all the animal functions subjected to the process. To be brief, in whatever condition the individual was, at the period of embalmment, in that condition he remained. Now, as it is my ood fortune to be of the blood of the caraboeus, I was embalmed alive, as you see me at present.” “The blood of the Scaraboeus 1" exclaimed Doctor Ponnonner. “Yes. The Scarabaeus was the insignium, on the “ arms,” of a very distinguished and a very rare patrician family. To be “ of the blood of the Scaraboeus,” is merely to be one of that family of which the Scaraboeus is the insignium. I speak figuratively.” “But what has this to do with your being alive 2" “Why it is the general custom, in Egypt, to deprive a corpse, before embalmment, of its bowels and brains; the race of the Scaraboei alone did not coincide with the custom. Had I not been a Scaraboeus, therefore, l should have been without bowels and brains; and without either it is inconvenient to live.” “I perceive that ;” said Mr. Buckingham, “and I presume that all the entire mummies that come to hand are of the race of Scaraboei.” “Beyond doubt.” “I thought,” said Mr. Gliddon very meekly, “that the Scaraboeus was one of the Egyptian gods.” “One of the Egyptian what?” exclaimed the Mummy, starting to its feet. “Gods" repeated the traveler. “Mr. Gliddon 1 really am ashamed to hear you talk in this style,” said the Count, resuming his chair. “No nation upon the face of the earth has ever acknowledged more than the one God. The Scaraboeus, the 1bis, etc. were, with us, (as similar creatures have been with others) the symbols, or media, through which we offered worship to a Creator too august to be more directly approached.” There was here a pause. At length the colloquy was renewed by Doctor Ponnonner. “It is not improbable, then, from what you have explained,” said he, “that among the catacombs near the Nile, there may exist other mummies of the Scaraboeus tribe, in a condition of vitality.” “There can be no question of it,” relied the Count; “all the Scaraboei emi. accidentally while alive, are alive now. Even some of those purposely so embalmed, may have been overlooked by their executors, and still remain in the tombs.” “Will you be kind enough to explain,” I said, “what you mean by ‘purposely so embalmed * * “With great pleasure,” answered the Mummy, after surveying me leisurely through his eye-glass—for it was the first time I had ventured to address him a direct question. “With great pleasure,” said he. “The usual duration of man's life, in my time, was about eight hundred years. Few men died, unless by most extraordinary accident, before the age of six hundred ; few lived longer than a decade of centu. ries; but eight were considered the natural term. After the discovery of the embalming principle, as I have already described it to you, it occurred to our philosophers that a laudable curiosity might be gratified, and, at the same time, the interests of science much advanced, by living this natural term in instalments. In the case of history, indeed, experience demonstrated that something of this kind was indispensable. A historian, for example, having attained the age of five hundred, would write a book with great labor and then get himself carefully embalmed; leaving instructions to his executors pro tem., that they should cause him to be revivified after the lapse of a certain period—say five or six hundred years. Resuming existence at the expiration of this term, he would invariably find his great work converted into a species of hap-hazard note-book—that is to say, into a kind of literary arena for the conflicting guesses, riddles, and personal squabbles of whole herds of exasperated commentators. These guesses, etc., which passed under the name of annotations or emendations, were found so completely to have enveloped, distorted, and overwhelmed the text, that the author had to go about with a lantern to discover his own book. When discovered, it was never worth the trouble of the search. After re-writing it throughout, it was regarded as the bounden duty of the historian to set himself to work, forthwith, in correcting from his own private knowledge and experience, the traditions of the day concerning the epoch at which he had originally lived Now this process of re-scription and personal rectification, pursued by various individual sages, from time to time, had the effect of preventing our history from degenerating into absolute fable.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Doctor Ponnonner at this point, laying his hand gently upon the arm of the Egyptian– “I beg your pardon, sir, but may I presume to interrupt you for one moment?” “By all means, sir,” replied the Count, drawing up. “I merely wished to ask you a question,” said the Doctor. “You mentioned the historian's personal correction of traditions respecting his own epoch. Pray, sir, upon an average, what proportion of these Kabbala were usually found to be right?” “The Kabbala, as you properly term them, sir, were generally discovered to be precisely on a par with the facts recorded in the un-re-written histories themselves;–that is to say, not one individual iota of either, was ever known, under any circumstances, to be not totally and radically wrong.” “But as it is quite clear,” resumed the Doctor, “that at least five thousand years have elapsed since your entombment, I take it for granted that your histories at that period, if not your traditions, were sufficiently explicit on that one topic of universal interest, the Creation, which took place, as I presume you are aware, only about ten centuries before.” “Sir!” said Count Allamistakeo. The Doctor repeated his remarks, but it was only after much additional explanation, that the foreigner could be made to comprehend them. The latter at length said, hesitatingly: “The ideas you have suggested are to me, I confess, utterly novel. During my time I never knew any one to entertain so singular a fancy as that the universe (or this world if you will have it so) ever had a beginning at all. I remember, once, and once only, hearing something remotely hinted, by a man of many speculations, concerning the origin of the human race; and by this individual the very word Adam, (or Red Earth) which you make use of, was employed. He employed it, however, in a generical sense, with reference to spontaneous germination from rank soil (just as a thousand of the lower genera of creatures are germinated)—the spontaneous germination, I say, of five vast hordes of men simultaneously upspringing in five distinct and nearly equal divisions of the globe.” Here, in general, the company shrugged their shoulders, and one or two of us touched our foreheads with a very significant air. Mr. Silk Buckingham, first glancing slightly at the occiput and then at the sinciput of Allamistakeo, spoke as follows:— “The long duration of human life in your time, together with the occasional practice of passing it, as you have explained, in instalments, must have had, indeed, a strong tendency to the general development and conglomeration of knowledge. I presume, therefore, that we are to attribute the marked inferiority of the old Egyptians in all particulars of science, when compared with the moderns, and more especially with the Yankees, altogether to the superior solidity of the Egyptian skull.” “I confess again,” replied the Count, with much suavity, “that I am somewhat at a loss to to you ; pray, to what particulars of science do you allude * Here our whole party joining voices, detailed, at great length, the assumptions of". and the marvels of animal magnetism. Having heard us to an end, the Count proceeded to relate a few anecdotes, which rendered it evident that prototypes of Gall and Spurzheim had flourished and faded in Egypt so long ago as to have been nearly forgotten, and that the manoeuvres of Mesmerism were really very contemptible tricks when put in collation with the positive miracles of the Theban savans, who created lice, and a great many other similar things. I here asked the Count if his people were able to calculate eclipses. He smiled rather contemptuously, and said they were. his put me a little out, but I began to make other inquiries in regard to his astronomical knowledge, when a member of the company, who had never as yet opened his mouth, whispered in my ear that, for information on this head, I had better consult Ptolemy, (whoever Ptolemy is) as well as one Plutarch de facie luna. I then questioned the Mummy about burning-glasses and lenses, and, in general, about the manufacture of glass; but I had not made an end of my queries before the silent member again touched me quietly on the elbow, and begged me for God’s sake to take a peep at Diodorus Siculus. As for the Count, he merely asked me, in the way of reply, if we moderns possessed any such microscopes as would enable us to cut cameos in the style of the Egyptians. While I was thinking how I should answer this question, little Doctor Ponnonner committed himself in a very extraordinary way.

“Look at our architecture " he exclaimed, greatly to the indignation of both the travelers, who pinched him black and blue to no purpose. “Look,” he cried with enthusiasm, “at the Bowling-Green Fountain in New York; or if this be too vast a contemplation, regard for a moment the Capitol at Washington, D. C. "-and the good little medical man went on to detail very minutely the proportions of the fabric to which he referred. He explained that the portico alone was adorned with no less than four and twenty columns, five feet in diameter, and ten feet apart. The Count said that he regretted not being able to remember, just at that moment, the precise dimensions of any one of the principal buildings of the city of Aznac, whose foundations were laid in the night of Time, but the ruins of which were still standing, at the epoch of his entombment, in a vast plain of sand to the westward of Thebes. He recollected, however, (talking of porticoes) that one affixed to an inferior palace in a kind of suburb called Carnac, consisted of a hundred and forty-four columns, thirty seven feet each in circumference, and twent-five feet apart. The approach to this portico, from the Nile, was through an avenue two miles long, composed of sphynxes, statues and obelisks, twenty, sixty, and a hundred feet in height. The |. itself (as well as he could rememer) was, in one direction, two miles long, and might have been, altogether, about seven in circuit. Its walls were richly painted all over, within and without, with hieroglyphics. He would not pretend to assert that even fifty or sixty of the Doctor's Capitols might have ico. built within these walls, but he was by no means sure that two or three hundred of them might not have been squeezed in with some trouble. That palace at Carnac was an insignificant little building, after all. He, (the Count) however, could not conscientiously refuse to admit the ingenuity, magnificence, and superiority of the Fountain at the Bowling-Green, as described by the Doctor. Nothing like it, he was forced to allow, had ever been seen in Egypt or elsewhere. I here asked the Count what he had to say to our rail-roads. “Nothing,” he replied, “in particular.” They were rather slight, rather ill conceived, and clumsily put together. The could not be compared, of course, wit the vast, level, direct, iron-grooved causeways, upon which the Egyptians conveyed entire temples and solid obelisks of a hundred and fifty feet in altitude. I spoke of our gigantic mechanical forces. He agreed that we knew something in that way, but inquired how I should have gone to work in getting up the imposts on the lintels of even the little palace at Carnac. This question I concluded not to hear, and demanded if he had any idea of Artesian wells; but he simply raised his eye-brows; while Mr. Gliddon, winked at me very hard, and said, in a low tone, that one had been recently discovered by the engineers employed to bore for water in the Great Oasis. I then mentioned our steel; but the foreigner elevated his nose, and asked me if our steel could have executed the sharp carved work seen on the obelisks, and which was wrought altogether by edge-tools of copper. his disconcerted us so greatly that we thought it advisable to vary the attack to Metaphysics. We sent for a copy of a book called the “Dial”, and read out of it a chapter or two about something which is not very clear, but which the Bostonians call the Great Movement or Progress. The Count merely said that Great Movements were awfully common things in his day, and as for Progress it was quite a nuisance, but it never progressed. We then spoke of the great beauty and importance of Democracy, and were at much trouble in impressing the Count with a due sense of the advantages we enjoyed in living where there was suffrage ad libitum, and no king. He listened with marked interest, and in fact seemed not a little amused. When we had done, he said that, a great while ago, there had occurred something of a very similar sort. Thirteen Egyptian rovinces determined all at once to be ree, and so set a magnificent example to the rest of mankind. They assembled their wise men, and concocted the most ingenious constitution it is possible to conceive. For a while they managed remarkably well; only their habit of bragging was prodigious. The thing ended, however, in the consolidation of the thirteen states, with some fifteen or twenty others, into the most odious and insupportable despotism that ever was heard of upon the face of the Earth. I asked what was the name of the usurping tyrant.

As well as the Count could recollect, it was Mob. Not knowing what to say to this, I raised my voice, and deplored the Egyptian ignorance of steam. The Count looked at me with much astonishment, but made no answer. The silent gentleman, however, gave meaviolent nudge in the ribs with his elbows— told me I had sufficiently exposed myself for once—and demanded if I was really such a fool as not to know that the modern steam engine is derived from the invention of Hero, through Solomon de Caus, We were now in imminent danger of being discomfited ; but, as good luck would have it, Doctor Ponnonner, having rallied, returned to our rescue, and inquired if the people of Egypt would seriously pretend to rival the moderns in the all-important particular of dress. The Count, at this, glanced downward to the straps of his pantaloons, and then, taking hold of the extreme end of one of his coat-tails, held it up close to his eyes for some minutes. Letting it fall, at last, his mouth extended itself very gradually from ear to ear;-but I don't remember that he said anything in the way of reply. Hereupon we recovered our spirits, and the Doctor, approaching the Mummy with great dignity, desired it to say can: didly, upon its honor as a gentleman, if the Egyptians had comprehended, at any period, the manufacture of either Ponnonner's lozenges, or Brandreth's pills. We looked, with profound anxiety, for an answer;-but in vain. It was not forthcoming. The Egyptian blushed and hung down his head. Never was triumph more consummate; never was defeat borne with so ill a grace. Indeed I could not endure the spectacle of the poor Mummy's mortification. I reached my hat, bowed to him stiffly, and took leave. Upon getting home I found it past four o'clock, and went immediately to bed. It is now ten, A. M. I have been up since seven, penning these memoranda for the benefit of my family and of mankind The former I shall behold no more. My wife is a shrew. The truth is, 1 am heartily sick of this life and of the nineteenth century in general. I am convinced that every thing is going wrong. Besides, I am anxious to know who will be President in 2045. As soon, therefore, as I shave and swallow a cup of coffee, I shall just step over to Ponnonner's and get embalmed for a couple of hundred years.

[ocr errors]

THERE is a philosophy, which, taking man for the highest and purest exhibition of the divisible—that type of all being, in which organism is perfected—recognizes him also as linking it with the indivisible, as the penultimate of forms—part of heaven and part of earth. This being accepted, whereto we are greatly inclined, his relations to inferior creatures become beautifully dignified. They constitute, under the sun, a sort of archangelship, drawn by the common ties of common sympathies toward all things that breathe and move, yet holding an awful throne, by right of its spiritual lineage. Then becomes he, to their material nature, a “God made visible”—the immediate expression of that mystery and power which are the elements of all supreme rule, whether human or Divine. These earth-mated things are his subjects, and here, at least, his lust of despotism is gratified—for he is ruler and lord above them, for evil as for good. When for evil, how terrible must he be to them with his dread engines and his fierce subtlety When for good, what moving of strange thoughts, what yearnings for a better and gentler being must visit them : Was it not so with our race when “there were giants in those days,” and angels trod the earth amidst the sons of Adam If creation be an unresting tendency, eternally ascending toward the perfect, then is our supposition less a fancy than a truth, and our dominion over the beast of the earth and the fowl of the air becomes a heritage of fearful ... ties, embracing wide extremes of pleasure and of pain. Duties, then, of startling significancy, open to us, and we feel the presence of self-derived majesty expand throughout our ‘principality, and in beneficence above immortal subjects. We are no longer tyrants, but right royal masters. We know them not as the insensate objects of a rude caprice, dumb foot-balls to our blind and heady passions, to be chased and torn and worried in our savage glee, but as the creatures of our “dedicated love; to be guarded gently, nurtured well, and led by easy ways up through serener airs to happier fields. This is the apocalyptic vision of an elder race. Man, “the ascender, beckoning the flocks and herds—the live ocean-tide

[ocr errors]

of his inheritance, up the steep—the calm radiance of his merciful brow drawing its flood toward the stars . It is a healthful philosophy, full of lenient and noble teachings. These co-mates, and sharers of the sun with us, are introduced within the circle of our sympathies. We become cursed and harsh with dwelling forever amidst false hopes and careweighed aspirations, and to get forth into this marvelous outer world, full as it is of loveliness, of quaint and mirth-provoking forms, is a pleasant relief. Here are beings infinitely numerous, who breathe and move by the same laws with us, yet who, in their appareling, their modes and humors, “answer mere Nature." Just as we love the matron smiling front of her eternal freshness, will we love these, and shed upon them out of our hearts, a wide beneficence. How can we fail to love a keen-eyed wild bird, coming from solitude, burnished and many-hued, as if the air where its surpassing beauty grew held stores of gold, of amethyst, and glittering gems within its depths, and had sifted them in gradual splendor down upon the plumy thing that sat within its stillness. What a pleasant mystery its gay eccentric being is. How we delight to watch its tameless heart, pulsing through every gesture, and to wonder what it thinks and feels, and how its moods go. Who has not noticed the joyful amazement lightin

up an infant's eye when you hold a bir

before it: or a sleek-furred squirrel, just from its leaf-cradle in the hollow oak. How he screams with the novel joy, as its shrinking fingers feel the strange, soft touch. His first impulse, (the royal patron roused already,) is to fondle, caress and feed the little prisoner, and though the awkward, chubby fist of the youn

Hercules may strangle his delicate vass

at the first grasp, yet it is not from cruelty, but in the eagerness of the new delight. All children are enthusiastic naturalists so long as the happy time of innocent, free impulse lasts, and that man is the purer and the better for it who has retained that wise enthusiasm all his days. Apart from any philosophy, who has not observed how such tastes ameliorate the asperities of character—how simplehearted, kindly, and merciful the natu

« 上一頁繼續 »