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in the year, there will not -be found a set of jolly dogs drowning the calumniated hour, like the unfortunate Clarence, in a wine cask; and while the masters are thus killing this eldest born of time, the apprentices, with a like murderous intention, engage 'in fights with the Charleys, and strive to get rid of midnight by the most violent and disreputable means. Even the gravest dowagers do not flinch from this species of slaughter; not only forming an unholy alliance with tlip four kings, but enlisting the very knaves in their warfare against poor twelve at night. There is not, indeed, an hour on the dial-plate that has so much to fear from clubs, or has more cause to dread finding every man with his card in his hand, as it were, prepared for a challenge. Amongst its other imputed sins, twelve o'clock at night likewise labours under an ill reputation for gallantry, which, but for the plea of" numerus defendit," might perhaps give us some trouble, so inveterate is the nodon. No one has a worse name for dealing in ropeladders and assignations, for hiding blushes and encouraging all sorts of peccadilloes. All this, however, is prejudice, pure prejudice; for, as I hope to be saved, I do not think there is a single cuckold, even east of Temple-bar, that can fairly lay his misfortune to the door of this hour. The worst that can justly be charged against twelve at night is the helping a lady to put on her rouge; or, perhaps, a little innocent flirtation in window-seats, doorways, or the staircases of crowded assemblies. Most commonly, indeed, twelve at night is otherwise employed; being either engaged at the dinner-table, or, perhaps, listening to the snoring of country gentlemen in the House of Commons, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer explains his budget, or Messrs.
B or B favour the speaker with a methodist sermon. There
are some malicious persons, 1 own, who pretend that this good behaviour of twelve at night is all owing to gas lights and vagrant acts, which make him more careful of exposing his infirmities. But every body knows that the chief pleasure of gallantry lies in the vice; and Milton has told us that
"It's only daylight that makes sin;"
from which premises the logical conclusion is, that twelve at night is a stranger to the greatest charm of love, and may be regarded as less disposed to indulgence than certain other sly and prudish hours, which hope to pass unobserved and unsuspected. In confirmation of all which, appeal may safely be made to the prevalence of ottomans and muslin curtains, and to the published annals of Doctors Commons.
Another unfounded accusation against midnight is keeping late hours. Formerly, not to be in bed before midnight was, I admit, esteemed a rakehellish practice. But Shakspeare, who knew every thing, (omne cognoscibile, at least,) and, as the Frenchman has it, "jirst destroyed this worF and den made anuscr fur himself,*"—Shakspeare has fully refuted this calumny. "To be up after midnight," he says, "and to go to bed then, is early; so that to go to bed after midnight is to go to bed betimes.'' Midnight lucubrations were formerly, perhaps, a frequent cause of those pale and emaciated faces which were then to
• In probable quotation of "Exhausted worlds and then imagined new."— Dr. Johnson's Prologue.
he found in the quadrangles of Trinity and Christchurch; but now-adays, if such faces are to be seen there, I should much rather be disposed to accuse Aurora, brandy-punch, and Havannah cigars.
While some peTsons have busied themselves in traducing twelve at night, and accusing it of all sorts of wantonness and debauchery, others bare been no less industrious in embroiling this hour with legitimacy, and in sending it to the aircere dttro for treason and conspiracy. If these gentlemen, however, would tell the truth, they would own that the only treason now in vogue, the treason against common sense and common right, is carried on openly and in the face of day.
To defend midnight from the charge of sorcery will, with many, be thought a rejection of all authority, and a contempt for established order,—that unforgiveable sin of the modern code. There are, it must be owned, so many useful practices and prejudices which are alone "upheld by old repute, consent, and custom," without any other foundation, that it is no wonder if certain folks are a little shy of meddling with ghosts, witches, and divining rods, for fear of pulling an old house about their heads. The hole of a water-rat may let in water enough to burst a dyke. At first sight, therefore, I was, like a loyal rightthinking man as I am, about to let judgment go by default, to admit the "secret, black, and midnight hags" of Macbeth, and abide by the consequences, when luckily I recollected a recent declaration against the reality of witchcraft from the Bench, which seems to prove with tolerable satisfaction that sorcery is no longer " part and parcel of the law of the land," and consequently not under the protection of the libel code. I shall, therefore, take the liberty—under correction of the Constitutional Society—of asserting that if, in the language of the poet, " there's no such thing" as witchcraft, we may logically conclude that midnight cannot have been guilty of the offence. All this, however, I advance with great modesty and hesitation, seeing that contradictory precedents are equally binding; and that the dictum of King James's judges is quite as valid in law as Mr. Justice Abbot's can be, for the life of him.
Twelve o'clock at night, like other great personages, leads a very different life in town and in the country. In London the only stars it ever sees are those in the chalky firmament of ball-rooms or on the breasts of gallant knights; its only lights are wax candles and ladies' eyes; and if it were even inclined to dose, the thunder of rolling carriages, and the roar of the footmen's artillery, would " murder sleep." In the country, midnight is as tranquil as the grave, and melancholy as the churchyard. When its approach is announced by the iron tongue of time, the owl hoots in concert with the bell, and the tender virgin hides her moistened forehead deep between the sheets, while her snowy bosom palpitates with " thick-coming fancies" and "horrible imaginings." Why this particular hour should be so disagreeable to village maidens, while it is in such general estimation with metropolitan belles, I leave for others to elucidate; nor shall I further extend the present lucubration, than to do justice by twelve at night upon the score of religion; a point the more important, because in the present day it is so much the fashion to think that no man is right in his own faith, unless he is troublesomely inquisitive concerning that of his neighbour; and because it it so customary to be more anxious to know what church an individual frequents, than what are his actions, or what his moral respectability. For the satisfaction of the curious, then, he it known that twelve o'clock at night, before the Reformation, bore a most exemplary character for piety; and " midnight lauds" were in universal request. I presume, therefore, that no one in these Protestant realms will suppose for one moment that twelve at night is the worse for having embraced the Lutheran religion; or will believe that its piety is a bit the less fervent because it seeks the privacy of a chamber, and is no longer exhibited in churches ami monasteries. With this fact in the rear of my defence, I think I may save myself the trouble of peroration, and without further ceremony commit my client, with a certainty of acquittal, to the verdict of an enlightened and intelligent country.
vOL. XI. NO. XLv. R
TO IANTHE SLEEPING
Lady! dream, but not of Love;
Love is an inconstant thing,
Let not words, and looks of art,
Let thy virgin beauties glow,
Like the flowers that wreathe their leaves
Be thy glancing foot the fleetest,
Be thy tuneful voice the sweetest,
Where the gay and happy throng,
To weave the dance, and breathe the song,
Pleasure, wit, and friendship, prove ;—
But Lady 1 listen not to Love.
LETTERS FROM THE EAST. NO. vII.
Thb next day we crossed to the opposite shore to visit the ruins of Kurnu. The hieroglyphics there are all of a warlike character; the columns are plain and without any ornament; the capitals perfectly simple, and bear a greater resemblance to the Doric than to any other order, and are the same as those of Karnac and Luxor. Close to Kurnu lie the fragments of an enormous statue. The bust is thirtyfive feet in length, the width of the shoulders twenty-five feet, and the whole must have been nearly eighty feet high. It consisted of one solid piece of granite. It has fallen on its face, and the features are quite obliterated; its thickness is prodigious.
About a mile and half distant are the ruins of Medinet Abou, apparently those of a temple and palace, which are entered by a small and very handsome gateway. The portico of the former conducts to a large square, round the sides of which run lofty corridors; the capitals of the pillars are highly ornamented, and the ceilings they support richly painted. The various bas-reliefs cut on it still preserve their vivid colours, which are most frequently of a light blue and red. The aspect of this ruined palace is peculiarly fresh and gay, just that of a court, as if time had in pity spared it for its elegance. Seated on the shores of the Nile, Medinet Abou must once have possessed its cool retreats, its fountains, and woods of perpetual green; but the face of Nature is perfectly desolate now, and though, after the lapse of so many centuries, it is still beautiful within, every sign of vegetation has perished without, and it is completely enveloped in a frightful waste. We proceeded along the loose sand, and wound up between the hills; the weather was very sultry. The burial-place of ancient Thebes is situated here, and innumerable graves and vaults are seen scattered over this part of the desert, even to the foot of the precipices. The mummies have been drawn from their tombs with a rapacious and unsparing hand. In this vast cemetery there were no objects such as we expect to see around the remains of the dead, but a waste of bright and scorching sand, amidst black and naked rocks. The corpses of the poor Egyptians had most of them been torn from their deep graves and strong vaults; many of the latter, to which flights of steps led, after being rifled, had their doors secured, till another visit might produce fresh discoveries; others were entirely empty and spoiled. The chief part of this havoc was committed by the Arabs, who tore the bodies open to get at the resin used in the embalming, which they sold at Cairo at a high price; but travellers and savuns,ar\A their agents, have also had their share in this sacrilege, if so it may be called. It is a sad and disgusting sight; the sands and the edges of the graves in some parts being strewed with the bones and pieces of the flesh of the mummies, thrown wantonly about. The poor Egyptians, who had slept in peace for some thousands of years, have been mercilessly dealt with here, and the remains of warriors, citizens, and sages, may now lie mingled together in the burning sun; for no retreat or sanctuary of the dead has been suffered to remain inviolate. I picked up a foot with part of the leg, that from its smallness and delicacy seemed to have belonged to an Egyptian lady. It had suffered little from time, except being shrunk in size, for the flesh, though quite ikied, still adhered to it, but it strongly retained the mummy smell. Not far from hence, in the plain below, are the two colossal statues of Memnon: each of them is cut out of a solid block of granite; they are in a sitting posture, are near sixty feet in height, and can be seen from a great distance round. The architecture is coarse; the posture easy and tranquil, with their gigantic hands placed on their knees. At this time the inundation had gathered round these enormous statues for some extent, and invaded a part of their stone chair or seat: their appearance, thus isolated, was most strange, they seemed to sit like the stern and ancient genii of the plain, over whom time and decay had no power.
The Nile for the last few days had grown narrower, and its banks more wild and rugged; the climate seemed to become more pure as we advanced; the heat at Esn6h, where we arrived on the second day, was very intense,—indeed it would have been difficult to have borne it, but for the luxury of bathing twice a day in the Nile, at sunrise and sunset. The ruin of the temple is situated in the middle of the town, and its portico, the most beautiful and best preserved in Egypt, is obscured by a mass of rubbish; it is situated near the market-place; the capitals of the pillars are mostly different from each other, and this variety, as in the portico of Etfu, has a delightful effect: they are taken from the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants and trees, as the vine, the lotus, and the palm-tree.
In the progress towards the cataracts, we observed the colour of the inhabitants of the villages become gradually darker, till at last it became quite black.
At length we reached Etfu, or Apollinopolis Magna. Its temple is a noble ruin, of vast extent, and commands a most extensive view of the river and the plains above and below; the piers of the gateway are eighty-five feet in height, and the length of the outer wall of the temple is near four hundred and twenty feet. You enter into an immense area, round which runs a lofty corridor, supported by a single row of pillars, and at the end is the portico, with three rows of columns: the capitals of the pillars, like those of the temple of Esneh. This great and magnificent temple is in an excellent state of preservation. The villagers have built a number of' wretched cottages in the courts and on the roof of the edifice; a multitude of people were at work beneath the corridors, and the noise of their operations resounded through every part of the building. The miserable huts and their squalid inhabitants haunting your sight at every avenue of this splendid ruin, sadly injured its effect. One could not help earnestly wishing that like Thebes and Tentyra, it stood in some deep and desert solitude, where the foot of man seldom approached. The next village we came to was sweetly situated in a grove of palms, and its small gardens looked very neat and inviting. Here we met with a Greek, who had wandered to a great distance, and seemed to live by his wits. He had with him a young Abyssinian girl, who had not long left her own country, purchased, no doubt, by this man for himself first probably, and afterwards for sale. She was of a dark complexion, and was seated beneath one of the trees; but was not pretty, as her countrywomen are so often said to be.
Landing early one morning, we strolled to a Coptic village, and found the people remarkably civil. The old sheik was very importunate with