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ns to enter his dwelling, and partake of a repast; and the chief part of the population crowded round, among whom were a few of the prettiest women we had seen in Egypt. The very early marriages sadly impair their attractions; and, joined with exposure to the burning sun, make them look haggard at thirty. At one place there was a young girl of twelve years of age, married however, and carrying her child in her arms. Such is the force of custom, that even in the most remote situations, where no looks but those of their neighbours are likely to meet them, you see the peasant women come to the Nile for water, with their features rigidly concealed, being all, except the eyes, covered with a thick veil.
The next town we reached was Essouan, around which are scattered the ruins, uninteresting however, of the ancient town of Syene; they stand on the steep banks of the river, in some parts in the form of the ruined turrets of a castle. In the afternoon we crossed to the island of Elephantine. The vivid descriptions given by Denon of this island are a little overcharged. It is a very enchanting spot, about a mile in length, and near a quarter of a mile broad: the northern part of it is a desert in miniature, all rocks and barrenness, with the fine ruin of a small temple on its most conspicuous point: the rest is covered with wardens, cottages, and groves of palm and fruit trees even to the water's edge. One can never behold a scene of more strange and exceeding beauty than the one presented at sunset from the highest point of Elephantine. The river above was studded with a number of islets on the high shore; on the left, were the ruins of Syene; the right shore was composed of lofty hills of light yellow sand, which spread inland to a boundless extent; the black and naked ranges of mountains below Essouan were purpled with the setting sun; all seemed dreary and desolate save the one lovely spot on which we stood. A man who has never toiled through long and burning deserts can have little idea of the rapture with which a group of trees or a bright spot of verdure is hailed; or the deep luxury of feeling excited by again moving anion;; cottages, and fountains, and cool retreats. The land of Palestine was, no doubt, beautiful and rich; but the ecstasy the Israelites felt on beholding and entering it, and the glowing language used in describing it, had their origin as much perhaps in the passage through the dreary and howling wilderness, as in the attractions of the scenes themselves.
The next morning we rode to the Isle of Philce. The way was through a perfect desert of sand and rocks; the latter piled in huge and lofty masses. About half-way was a fountain of water, covered by a lofty arch of brick from the rays of the sun. Beneath this two poor women were sitting, who offered us water in hope of a trifling reward. A few miles farther we came to the shore, opposite the Isle of Philcs, and, having procured a boat, crossed over. It is a branch of the Nile, which here makes a circuit, as if on purpose to encompass this singular spot. Not half as large as Elephantine, it has no verdure except a few scattered palm-trees at the water's edge, but its rocky and romantic surface is completely covered with superb ruins. They consist of the remains of several temples: one only of which is in a good state of preservation. There are two lofty gateways, and the pillars of one of the corridors have the same capitals as those of Tcntyra, the head of Isis. The family of au Arab inhabited some of the chambers of the temple. He was very savage when he perceived our intention of penetrating into his harem, and drew his long knife, protesting he would revenge the attempt. At every step you tread on some fragment of antiquity; for this celebrated isle must once have been holy ground, and peculiarly devoted to religious retirement. No situation could be better adapted to such a purpose, encircled by a branch of the NUe, and imprisoned on every side by utter desolation. The desert spreads its wastes and mountains in front; the dark and fantastic cliffs of the adjacent isles and shores look as if rent by some convulsion, and, viewed through the long colonnades which crown the rocks even to the water's edge, the effect is quite panoramic. Then the loneliness and stillness of every thing around, only interrupted by the distant rush of the cataracts: and a climate perpetually pure, that gives even to the nights a bewitching softness and splendour. Whoever is sick of the world, and would hold communion only with Nature and past ages, let him go and take up his abode at Philoe.
The boat we had hired was rowed by two boys to the adjacent isle, when one of the Berebers, who turned out to be a complete character, demanded, with an appearance of great anger, to be'taken on board. His object was to share in the present usually given, and he afforded us infmite diversion. His features, like those of the rest of his countrymen, were singularly expressive and animated. An aquiline nose; eyes full of lustre; the every look of which expressed his meaning better than words ; his hair was divided into thick tresses, and his frame, full of activity and muscle, had scarcely any llesh; he was quite black. His looks and gestures were a complete pantomime, and he sung a livelier boatsong than we had been used to; for the Arabs have all a monotonous chant, with which they keep time to their oars. On settingoffon our return, we were surrounded by a small host, importuning for a bakshish, or present. The acting of our Bereber friend was admirable. He endeavoured to intimidate some from applying, exerted his voice the loudest, and kept his keen comic face in the foremost rank, though he had received more than any of the others. ' ••
The ride to Essouan through the desert was very pleasant, it being near sunset; and to bathe in the Nile afterwards, how exquisite a pleasure! the intense heat being past, the evening air was as balm to the feeling, cool and soft, without being chill. The next day we directed the Cangia to remain at Elephantine, the isle afforded a delightful retirement, which was indeed as a home and a shadow in a weary land. After wandering through wastes of sand and rocks, fatigued and languid, you gaze on the rich groves and unfading verdure of this isle as you would on the shore from a stormy sea. How often I have wandered amidst its shades during the burning heat of day. There was a favourite spot where a group of trees stood near the water's edge, apart from the cottages; on the opposite shore rose a lofty range of sandhills, and the channel between was broken by some fine rocks, and one little isle covered with verdure, on which stood one or two habitations; on the left were the ruins of the two island temples:—it was delightful to sit for hours here, and see the sun go down on the romantic and beautiful scenery.
The Cataracts, a few miles above Essouan, are very insignificant, the fall over a ledge of rocks, extending nearly the whole breadth of the channel, being but a few inches in height, though the noise may be heard at some distance. This being the termination of our voyage, the next morning we went down with the current at a good rate, and soon reached Esneh and then Luxor. At the former town there are some hundreds of Mamelukes in the service of the Pacha, to whom they are slaves, being Circassians and others purchased by him when very young. They are still for the most part men in their youth, handsomely dressed, and are commanded by Suleiman Aga, the quondam French colonel, by whom they are disciplined in the European manner. One day, being becalmed near the opposite shore on our return, we landed at the entrance of a little valley, confined by lofty precipices. Advancing up this romantic spot, wecame to asmall monastery, with its cemetery in the wild. The gate was closed, and, no answer being given to the repeated calls, we entered through one of the windows, and found all its apartments silent and deserted. It must have been so for some time. In the burial-ground were many tomb-stones with inscriptions, in memory of the fathers who had lived and died in this solitude, which seemed not to be intruded on by human footsteps, save some chance traveller should direct his wayward steps there. A self-denying place it was altogether for this little community of fathers, who might truly say they had nothing to do with the pleasures of the world, with more reason than most who so profess in the present day.
Returning to Thebes, we set out early in the morning on a visit to the Tombs of the Kings, and passing again near the ruins of Kurnu, sought the house of Osmin, an Arab, who keeps the keys. Having waited two hours till he arrived, he soon set before us a couple of fowls, and some cakes of bread, spread on a mat in the open air, as we had a fatiguing walk before us. The path was first across the sand, and then a continual and tedious ascent up the mountains, till it approached the place of the sepulchres. They are situated in a kind of amphitheatre formed by naked and pointed summits of the mountains: in the middle of this is a steep descent or chasm, and at its bottom are the entrances of these abodes of the dead. Descending a flight of steps, the door of the largest tomb was opened, and the passage, by a slight descent, conducted into the various chambers. The surprise and delight felt at viewing these wonderful cemeteries can hardly be expressed; there is no spectacle in the world, perhaps, like that which they afford. The chambers are fourteen in number, hewn out of the solid rock; and the walls and ceilings are covered with bas-reliefs, in the highest state of perfection, which is owing partly to their having been carefully preserved from injury and from the external air. The painting looks as fresh as if laid on but a few years ago. The figures, finely and deeply cut in the rock, are of various colours, some of a light and deep blue, yellow, or red, with a mixture of white; they are in some parts diminutive; in others, three or four feet in height. These groups of figures represent sometimes the progress of the arts or the productions of agriculture; in one part you see a long religious procession, in another a monarch sitting on his throne, dressed in his splendid attire, and giving audience tq his subjects; or a spectacle of death, where a corpse is laid out on the bier attended by mourners: various animals also, as large .'is life, and a number of serpents, the different hues and folds of the body of which are beautifully executed, in particular one of a large size of the Boa Constrictor. The features of the women in these representations bear a close resemblance to those of Modem Egypt; the face oval, the complexion rather dark, the lips full, the expression soft and gentle, and altogether African. In some of the chambers the sculptures on the Walls and ceilings are only partially executed, the work being evidently left in an unfinished state. The ambition of a monarch to eternize hismemory or preserve his remains untouched, never could have chosen a more suitable or wildly impressive situation.
Leaving Thebes the same night, the next place of any consequence we stopped at was Keneh, passing by in the way a long encampment of Turkish troops, who were on their march to join Ibrahim Pacha, All's eldest son, at Sennaar. There were several renegades attached to the Pacha's army; among others, a young American of some talents and good family, who came to Egypt, turned Mahometan, and got an appointment in the Pacha's army, but was soon disgusted with a campaign in the desert of Sennaar. He quitted the camp in company with a Scotchman, a soldier in the same army, and after a painful journey arrived at Cairo. At the time*I knew him there, he had an appointment as a writer in some way under the Pacha with a small salary. He should have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the only object almost worth turning Mahometan for, if to indulge in Turkish voluptuousness was his aim; but he was not rich enough, for it requires means in Egypt as well as in Europe to live a life of pleasure. However, at Cairo he was often in company with a missionary for the conversion of the Jews, and an excellent man, whose discourses made him perceive the folly of Mahometanism, though he had written a treatise in defence of it. He accordingly became extremely penitent, was conveyed down the Nile secretly to Alexandria, and on reaching Europe was received once more into the bosom of Christianity.
"His companion, the Scotchman, was more unfortunate: he went about the streets of Cairo with little on him except a blanket, and Sometimes came to me for relief. "I can make it badly out, Sir," said he to me one day, " among the Turks ; I shall turn Christian again." In the way to Girge the wind became violent for one or two days, and obliged the vessel to stop. One afternoon, in order to pass the time, I took a walk to a village at some distance, and seating myself beneath a palm, took out a volume of the Arabian Nights to read. After some time two Arabs came up, and sat down beside me. The book was beyond their comprehension, save that a figure of a beautiful Eastern princess in the frontispiece interested them wonderfully. One of them, an old fellow with a beard, made the most expressive signs of admiration, while his eyes sparkled with pleasure. They invited me to enter the village; where, being seated on the floor of a cottage, they set dates and milk before me, and a number of women gathered before the door out of curiosity. The custom they have of concealing a good part of their faces is a very laudable one: considering the number of fine-looking men among the Arabs, it is strange there should be such almost universal plainness among the other sex in Egypt.
A little naked boy came into the hut; he seemed to be a great favourite, being a Marabcy; that is, dedicated from his infancy to be a fakir, or Arab priest. The little dog looked very round and fat, and was, I believe, covered over with oil. All at once the sounds of music were heard without, and. a strange group made its appearance. A boy carried a flag of red and white, a tall respectable-looking Arab played a tambourine, a young man a long drum, and another a pair of castanets. They all sung in a low voice; and in the midst was a fakir, for whom all the display was made. He was a very good-looking man, with a full florid face, a black bushy beard, and his thick hair in wild disorder. He moved his head up and down strangely in time to the music, and joined in the chant with the others. He came into the hut where I was, and behaved with great ease and civility; and seemed more a man of the world than a self-denying saint.
The figure of the beautiful woman in the book, which the two Arabs had kissed with earnestness, the fakir seemed to view with dislike, as the Koran forbids a fondness for pictures. The Prophet was right, perhaps, in prohibiting the use of pictures or images to his people; the wretched paintings of the Virgin and the saints, male and female, in the Greek church may have quite as much effect on the imagination, if it can at all be excited by such things, as the vile statues of the Catholics. The only human figure I saw in Greece that was better worth worshipping, if I may be allowed the expression, than half their marvellous calendar, was a young Greek girl at Tripolitza. She was dying—but her figure was symmetry itself. Her father was a priest, and her mother was, as she was well termed, a magnificent woman, of large size, stout, and her features had a noble and imperial character, quite unlike her daughter, who was of the smallest size in which loveliness could well inhabit. The girl was laid in the corridor to breathe the fresh air. She did not speak; but her elegant yet emaciated limbs, but ill concealed by the loose drapery, were moved at times, in agony, while a hurried ejaculation escaped her, and her face was buried in the long tresses of her beautiful hair. Never does a woman arrest every feeling so irresistibly as in hopeless sorrow and anguish; if experience among both the unhappy Greeks and Turks could confirm this, it were easy to appeal to it. I have heard the lament of a mother over all her murdered family; of a widow for her husband torn from her arms, and slain; the parting of a lady from her son, whose father lay covered with wounds; but in the touching and impassioned expression of sorrow the Christian must yield to the Ottoman:—the men take it calmly and passively; but the Turkish women—there is the very soul of sorrow there, and of tenderness.
Vain fears! vain hopes! vain supplications!
Weak and unworthy lamentations'
Endure the ill; for every grief
Time brings to all a sure relief.
Misfortune passes,—we pass too,—
Or it soon finds an end,—or you. M.