William Makepeace Thackeray.

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capital name for a club in London certainly ; fancy
gentlemen writing on their cards ' Mr. Jones, Temple-
or-Minerva-Polias Club.' Our country is surely the
most classical of islands.

As for the architecture of that temple, if it be not
entirely stolen from Saint Pancras Church, New Road,
or vice vtrsd, I am a Dutchman. c The Tower of the
Winds' may be seen any day at Edinburgh and the
Lantern of Demosthenes is at this very minute perched
on the top of the church in Regent Street, within a
hundred yards of the lantern of Mr. Drummond. Only
in London you have them all in much better preservation
the noses of the New Road caryatides are not broken
as those of their sisters here. The temple of the Scotch
Winds I am pleased to say I have never seen, but I have
no doubt it is worthy of the Modern Athens and as for
the Choragic temple of Lysicrates, erroneously called
Demosthenes' Lantern from Waterloo Place you can
see it well : whereas here it is a ruin in the midst of a
huddle of dirty huts, whence you try in vain to get a
good view of it.

When I say of the Temple of Theseus (quoting
Murray's Guide-book) that l it is a peripteral hexastyle
with a pronaos, a posticum, and two columns between
the antae,' the commonest capacity may perfectly imagine
the place. Fancy it upon an irregular ground of copper-
coloured herbage, with black goats feeding on it, and the
sound of perpetual donkeys braying round about. Fancy
to the south-east the purple rocks and towers of the


Acropolis meeting the eve to the south-east the hilly
islands and the blue /Egean. Fancy the cobalt sky
above, and the temple itself (built of Pentelic marble) of
the exact colour and mouldiness of a ripe Stilton cheese,
and you have the view before you as well as if you had
been there.

As for the modern buildings here is a beautiful design

of the Royal Palace, built in the style of High-Dutch-
Greek, and resembling Newgate whitewashed and
standing on a sort of mangy desert.

The King's German Guards (2-r/r/3oi//3o/) have left
him perforce ; he is now attended by petticoated Alban-
ians, and I saw one of the palace sentries, as the sun was
shining on his sentry-box, wisely couched behind it.

The Chambers were about to sit when we arrived.
The Deputies were thronging to the capital. One of
them had come as a third-class passenger of an English
steamer, took a first-class place, and threatened to blow
out the brains of the steward who remonstrated with
him on the irregularity. It is quite needless to say that
he kept his place and as the honourable deputy could
not read, of course he could not be expected to under-
stand the regulations imposed by the avaricious pro-
prietors of the boat in question. Happy is the country
to have such makers of laws, and to enjoy the liberty
consequent upon the representative system !

Besides Otho's palace in the great square, there is


another house and an hotel ; a fountain is going to be
erected, and roads even are to be made. At present the
king drives up and down over the mangy plain before
mentioned, and the grand officers of state go up to the
palace on donkeys.

As for the Hotel Royal the Folkestone Hotel might
take a lesson from it they charge five shillings sterling
(the coin of the country is the gamma, lambda, and delta,
which I never could calculate) for a bed in a double-bedded
room ; and our poor young friend Scratchley, with whom
I was travelling, was compelled to leave his and sit for
safety on a chair, on a table in the middle of the room.

As for me but I will not relate my own paltry
sufferings. The post goes out in half-an-hour, and I
had thought ere its departure to have described to you
Constantinople and my interview with the Sultan there
his splendid offers the Princess Badroulbadour, the
order of the Nisham, the Pashalic with three tails and
my firm but indignant rejection. I had thought to
describe Cairo interview with Mehemet Ali proposals
of that prince splendid feast at the house of my dear
friend Bucksheesh Pasha, dancing-girls and magicians
after dinner, and their extraordinary disclosures ! But I
should fill volumes at this rate ; and I can't, like Mr.
James, write a volume between breakfast and luncheon.

I have only time rapidly to jot down my GREAT
ADVENTURE AT THE PYRAMIDS and Punch's enthron-
isation there.



THE igth day of October, 1844 (the seventh day of
the month Hudjmudj, and the i22Qth year of the
Mohammedan Hejira, corresponding with the 16,769^
anniversary of the 48th incarnation of Veeshnoo), is a



day that ought hereafter to be considered eternally
famous in the climes of the East and West. I forget
what was the day of General Bonaparte's battle of the
Pyramids ; I think it was in the month Quintidi of the
year Nivose of the French Republic, and he told his
soldiers that forty centuries looked down upon them
from the summit of those buildings a statement which
I very much doubt. But I say the igth DAY OF
OCTOBER, 1844, is the most important era in the
modern world's history. It unites the modern with the
ancient civilisation ; it couples the brethren of Watt
and Cobden with the dusky family of Pharaoh and
Sesostris ; it fuses Herodotus with Thomas Babington
Macaulay ; it interwines the piston of the blond Anglo-
Saxon steam-engine with the needle of the Abyssinian
Cleopatra ; it weds the tunnel of the subaqueous Brunei
with the mystic edifice of Cheops. Strange play of
wayward fancy ! Ascending the Pyramid, I could not
but think of Waterloo Bridge in my dear native London
a building as vast and as magnificent, as beautiful, as
useless, and as lonely. Forty centuries have not as yet
passed over the latter structure 'tis true ; scarcely an
equal number of hackney-coaches have crossed it. But
I doubt whether the individuals who contributed to
raise it are likely to receive a better dividend for their
capital than the swarthy shareholders in the Pyramid
speculation, whose dust has long since been trampled
over by countless generations of their sons.

If I use in the above sentence the longest words I can
find, it is because the occasion is great and demands the
finest phrases the dictionary can supply ; it is because
I have not read Tom Macaulay in vain ; it is because
I wish to show I am a dab in history, as the above dates
will testify ; it is because I have seen the Reverend Mr.
Milman preach in a black gown at St. Margaret's,
whereas at the coronation he wore a gold cope. The
1 9th of October was Punch's Coronation : I officiated at


the august ceremony. To be brief as illiterate readers
may not understand a syllable of the above piece of
ornamental eloquence ON THE IQTH OF OCTOBER, 1844,!


OF CHEOPS. I did it. The Fat Contributor did it.
If I die, it could not be undone. If I perish, I have not
lived in vain.

If the forty centuries are on the summit of the
Pyramids, as Bonaparte remarks, all I can say is, / did
not see them. But Punch has really been there ; this
I swear. One placard I pasted on the first landing-
place (who knows how long Arab rapacity will respect
the sacred hieroglyphic ?). One I placed under a great
stone on the summit ; one I waved in air, as my Arabs
raised a mighty cheer round the peaceful victorious
banner ; and I flung it towards the sky, which the
Pyramid almost touches, and left it to its fate, to mount
into the azure vault and take its place among the con-
stellations ; to light on the eternal Desert, and mingle
with its golden sands ; or to flutter and drop into the
purple waters of the neighbouring Nile, to swell its
fructifying inundations, and mingle with the rich
vivifying influence which shoots into the tall palm-trees
on its banks, and generates the waving corn.

I wonder were there any signs or omens in London
when that event occurred ? Did an earthquake take
place ? Did Stocks or the Barometer preternaturally
rise or fall ? It matters little. Let it suffice that the
thing has been done, and forms an event in History by
the side of those other facts to which these prodigious
monuments bear testimony. Now to narrate briefly the
circumstances of the day.

On Thursday, October 17, I caused my dragoman to
purchase in the Frank bazaar at Grand Cairo the follow-
ing articles, which will be placed in the Museum on my

A is a tin pot holding about a pint, and to contain B


a packet of flour (which is tied up in brown paper), and
C a pigskin brush of the sort commonly used in Europe
the whole costing about five piastres, or one shilling
sterling. They were all the implements needful for
this tremendous undertaking.

Horses of the Mosaic Arab breed I mean those
animals called Jerusalem ponies by some in England, by
others denominated donkeys are the common means of
transport employed by the subjects of Mehemet Ali.
My excellent friend Bucksheesh Pasha would have
mounted me either on his favourite horse, or his best
dromedary. But I declined those proffers if I fall, I
like better to fall from a short distance than a high one.
I have tried tumbling in both ways, and recommend
the former as by far the pleasantest and safest. I chose
the Mosaic Arab then one for the dragoman, one for
the requisites of refreshment, and two for myself not
that I proposed to ride two at once, but a person of a
certain dimension had best have a couple of animals in
case of accident.

I left Cairo on the afternoon of October 1 8, never
hinting to a single person the mighty purpose of my
journey. The waters were out, and we had to cross
them thrice twice in track-boats, once on the shoulders
of abominable Arabs, who take a pleasure in slipping
and in making believe to plunge you in the stream.


When in the midst of it, the brutes stop and demand
money of you you are alarmed, the savages may drop
you if you do not give you promise that you will do
so. The half-naked ruffians who conduct you up the
Pyramid, when they have got you panting to the most
steep, dangerous, and lonely stone, make the same
demand, pointing downwards while they beg, as if they
would fling you in that direction on refusal. As soon as
you have breath, you promise more money it is the
best way you are a fool if you give it when you come

The journey I find briefly set down in my pocket-
book as thus : Cairo Gardens Mosquitoes Women
dressed in blue Children dressed in nothing Old
Cairo Nile, dirty water, ferry-boat Town Palm-
trees, ferry-boat, canal, palm-trees, town Rice fields
Maize fields Fellows on dromedaries Donkey down
Over his head Pick up pieces More palm-trees
More rice fields Water-courses Howling Arabs
Donkey tumbles down again Inundations Herons or
cranes Broken bridges Sands Pyramids. If a man
cannot make a landscape out of that he has no imagina-
tion. Let him paint the skies very blue the sands very
yellow the plains very flat and green the dromedaries
and palm-trees very tall the women very brown, some
with veils, some with nose-rings, some tattooed, and
none with stays and the picture is complete. You
may shut your eyes and fancy yourself there. It is the
pleasantest way, entre nous.



IT is all very well to talk of sleeping in the tombs : that
question has been settled in a former paper, where I
have stated my belief that people do not sleep at all in


Egypt. I thought to have had some tremendous visions
under the shadow of those enormous Pyramids repos-
ing under the stars. Pharaoh or Cleopatra, I thought,
might appear to me in a dream. But how could they,
as I didn't go to sleep ? I hoped for high thoughts, and
secret communings with the Spirit of Poesy I hoped to
have let off a sonnet at least, as gentlemen do on visiting
the spot but how could I hunt for rhymes, being
occupied all night in hunting for something else ? If
this remonstrance will deter a single person from going
to the Pyramids, my purpose is fully answered.

But my case was different. I had a duty to perform
I had to introduce PUNCH to Cheops I had vowed to
leave his card at the gates of History I had a mission,
in a word. I roused at sunrise the snoring dragoman
from his lair. I summoned the four Arabs who had
engaged to assist me in the ascent, and in the under-
taking. We lighted a fire of camels' dung at the north-
east corner of the Pyramid, just as the god of day rose
over Cairo. The embers began to glow, water was
put into the tin pot before mentioned, the pot was put
on the fire 'twas a glorious a thrilling moment ! '

At 46 minutes past 6 A.M. (by one of Dollond's
chronometers) the water began to boil.

At 47 minutes the flour was put gradually into the
water it was stirred with the butt end of the brush
brought for the purpose, and Schmaklek Beg, an Arab,
peeping over the pot too curiously, I poked the brush
into his mouth at n minutes before 7 A.M.

At 7, THE PASTE WAS MADE doubting whether it
was thick enough Schmaklek tried it with his finger. It
was pronounced to be satisfactory.

At n minutes past 7, I turned round in a majestic
attitude to the four Arabs, and said, l Let us mount.'
I suggest this scene, this moment, this attitude, to
the Committee of the Fine Arts as a proper subject for
the Houses of Parliament PUNCH pointing to the


Pyramids, and introducing civilisation to Egypt I
merely throw it out as a suggestion. What a grand
thing the Messieurs Foggo would make of it !

Having given the signal the Sheikh of the Arabs
seized my right arm, and his brother the left. Two
volunteer Arabs pushed me (quite unnecessarily) behind.
The other two preceded one with a water-bottle for
refreshment ; the other with the posters the pot the
paint-brush and the paste. Away we went away !

I was blown at the third step. They are exceedingly
lofty ; about five feet high each, I should think but
the ardent spirit will break his heart to win the goal
besides, I could not go back if I would. The two Arabs
dragged me forward by the arms the volunteers pushed
me up from behind. It was in vain I remonstrated with
the latter, kicking violently as occasion offered they
still went on pushing. We arrived at the first landing-

I drew out the poster how it fluttered in the breeze !
With a trembling hand I popped the brush into the
paste-pot, and smeared the back of the placard ; then I
pasted up the standard of our glorious leader at 19
minutes past 7, by the clock of the great minaret at
Cairo, which was clearly visible through my refracting
telescope. My heart throbbed when the deed was done.
My eyes filled with tears I am not at liberty to state
here all the emotions of triumph and joy which rose in
my bosom so exquisitely overpowering were they.
There was Punch familiar old Punch his back to the
desert, his beaming face turned towards the Nile.

'Bless him!' I exclaimed, embracing him ; and almost
choking gave the signal to the Arabs to move on.

These savage creatures are only too ready to obey an
order of this nature. They spin a man along, be his size
never so considerable. They rattled up to the second
landing so swiftly that I thought I should be broken-
winded for ever. But they gave us little time to halt.


YallahJ Again we mount ! 'tis the last and most
arduous ascent the limbs quiver, the pulses beat, the
eyes shoot out of the head, the brain reels, the knees
tremble and totter, and you are on the summit ! I don't
know how many hundred thousand feet it is above the
level of the sea, but I wonder after that tremendous
exercise that I am not a roarer to my dying hour.

When consciousness and lungs regained their play,
another copy of the placard was placed under a stone
a third was launched into the air in the manner before
described, and we gave three immense cheers for Punch^
which astonished the undiscovered mummies that lie
darkling in tomb-chambers, and must have disturbed the
broken-nosed old Sphinx who has been couched for
thousands of years in the desert hard by. This done, we
made our descent from the Pyramid.

And if, my dear Sir, you ask me whether it is worth
a man's while to mount up those enormous stones, I will
say, in confidence, that thousands of people went to see
the Bottle Conjuror, and that we hear of gentlemen
becoming Freemasons every day.



As there are some consumptive travellers, who, by
dodging about to Italy, to Malta, to Madeira, manage to
cheat the winter, and for whose lungs a perpetual
warmth is necessary ; so there are people to whom, in
like manner, London is a necessity of existence, and who
follow it all the year round.

Such individuals, when London goes out of town,
follow it to Brighton, which is, at this season, London plus
prawns for breakfast and the sea air. Blessings on the
sea air, which gives you an appetite to eat them !


You may get a decent bed-room and sitting-room
here for a guinea a day. Our friends the Botibols have
three rooms, and a bedstead disguised like a chest of
drawers in the drawing-room, for which they pay some-
thing less than a hundred pounds a month. I could not
understand last night why the old gentleman, who
usually goes to bed early, kept yawning and fidgetting
in the drawing-room after tea ; until, with some hesita-
tion, he made the confession that the apartment in
question was his bed-room, and revealed the mystery of
the artful chest of drawers. Botibol's house in Bedford
Square is as spacious as an Italian Palace ; the second -
floor front, in which the worthy man sleeps, would
accommodate a regiment ; and here they squeeze him
into a ch'iffbnmlre ! How Mrs. B. and the four delightful
girls can be stowed away in the back room, I tremble to
think : what bachelor has a right to ask ? But the air
of the sea makes up for the closeness of the lodgings.
I have just seen them on the cliff mother and daughters
were all blooming like crimson double dahlias !

You meet everybody on that Cliff. For a small
charge you may hire a fly, with a postillion, in a pink
striped chintz jacket which may have been the cover
of an arm-chair once and straight whity-brown hair,
and little wash-leather inexpressibles, the cheapest
little caricature of a post-boy eyes have ever lighted on.

I seldom used to select his carriage, for the horse and
vehicle looked feeble, and unequal to bearing a person of
weight; but last Sunday I saw an Israelitish family of
distinction ensconced in the poor little carriage the
ladies with the most flaming polkas, and flounces all the
way up ; the gent in velvet waistcoat, with pins in his
breast big enough once to have surmounted the door of
his native pawnbroker's shop, and a complement of
hook-nosed children, magnificent in attire. Their
number and magnificence did not break the carriage
down ; the little postillion bumped up and down as


usual, as the old horse went his usual pace. How they
spread out, and basked, and shone, and were happy in the
sun there those honest people !

The Mosaic Arabs abound here ; and they rejoice
and are idle with a grave and solemn pleasure, as becomes
their Eastern origin.

If you don't mind the expense, hire a ground-floor
window on the Cliff, and examine the stream of human
nature which passes by. That stream is a league in
length ; it pours from Brunswick Terrace to Kemp
Town, and then tumbles back again ; and so rolls, and
as it rolls perpetually, keeps rolling on from three o'clock
till dinner-time.

Ha : what a crowd of well-known London faces you
behold here only the sallow countenances look pink
now, and devoid of care. I have seen this very day,
at least

Forty-nine Railroad Directors, who would have been
at Baden-Baden but for the lines in progress ; and
who, though breathing the fresh air, are within an
hour and a half of the City.

Thirteen barristers, of more or less repute, including
the Solicitor-General himself, whose open and jovial
countenance beamed with benevolence upon the
cheerful scene.

A Hebrew dentist driving a curricle.
At least twelve well-known actors or actresses. It
went to my heart to see the most fashionable of
them driving about in a little four-wheeled pony-
chaise, the like of which might be hired for five

Then you have tight-laced dragoons, trotting up and
down with solemn, handsome, stupid faces, and huge
yellow mustachios. Myriads of flys, laden with happy
cockneys ; pathetic invalid-chairs trail along, looking
too much like coffins already, in which poor people are
brought out to catch a glimpse of the sun. Grand


equipages are scarce ; I saw Lady Wilhelmina Wiggins's
lovely nose and auburn ringlets peeping out of a cab,
hired at half-a-crown an hour, between her ladyship
and her sister, the Princess Oysterowski.

The old gentleman who began to take lessons when
we were here three years ago at the Tepid Swimming
Bath with the conical top, I am given to understand is
still there, and may be seen in the water from nine till



I HAVE always had a taste for the second-rate in life.
Second-rate poetry, for instance, is an uncommon deal
pleasanter to my fancy than your great thundering first-
rate epic poems. Your Miltons and Dantes are magnifi-
cent but a bore : whereas an ode of Horace, or a song
of Tommy Moore, is always fresh, sparkling, and
welcome. Second-rate claret, again, is notoriously
better than first-rate wine : you get the former genuine,
whereas the latter is a loaded and artificial composition
that cloys the palate and bothers the reason.

Second-rate beauty in women is likewise, I maintain,
more agreeable than first-rate charms. Your first-rate
beauty is grand, severe, awful a faultless frigid angel
of five feet nine superb to behold at church, or in the
park, or at a Drawing-room but ah ! how inferior to
a sweet little second-rate creature, with smiling eyes,
and a little second-rate nez retrousst, with which you
fall in love in a minute.

Second-rate novels I also assert to be superior to the
best works of fiction. They give you no trouble to


read, excite no painful emotions you go through them
with a gentle, languid, agreeable interest. Mr. James's
romances are perfect in this way. The ne plus ultra
of indolence may be enjoyed during their perusal.

For the same reason, I like second-rate theatrical
entertainments a good little company in a provincial
town, acting good old stupid stock comedies and farces ;
where nobody comes to the theatre, and you may lie at
ease in the pit, and get a sort of intimacy with each
actor and actress, and know every bar of the music that
the three or four fiddlers of the little orchestra play
throughout the season.

The Brighton Theatre would be admirable but for
one thing Mr. Hooper, the manager, will persist in
having Stars down from London blazing Macreadys,
resplendent Miss Cushmans, fiery Wallacks, and the
like. On these occasions it is very possible that the
house may be filled and the manager's purpose
answered ; but where does all your comfort go then ?
You can't loll over four benches in the pit you are
squeezed and hustled in an inconvenient crowd there
you are fatigued by the perpetual struggles of the apple-
and-ginger-beer boy, who will pass down your row and
for what do you undergo this labour ? To see Hamlet
and Lady Macbeth, forsooth ! as if everybody had not
seen them a thousand times. No, on such star nights,
' The Commissioner' prefers a walk on the Cliff to the
charms of the Brighton Theatre. I can have first-rate
tragedy in London : in the country give me good old
country fare the good old comedies and farces the
dear good old melodramas.

We had one the other day in perfection. We were,
I think, about four of us in the pit ; the ginger-beer boy
might wander about quite at his ease. There was a re-
spectable family in a private box, and some pleasant fellows
in the gallery ; and we saw, with leisure and delectation,
that famous old melodrama, * The Warlock of the Glen.'


In a pasteboard cottage, on the banks of the Atlantic
Ocean, there lived once a fisherman, who had a little
canvas boat, in which it is a wonder he was never

Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works (Volume 22) → online text (page 23 of 31)