Eliot Warburton.

The crescent and the cross: or, Romance and realities of eastern ..., Volume 1 online

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quaintances consisted of a handsome young Bussian
Prince,— an antiquary who was residing at Thebes,
named Gastellari, — Sk G-erman traveller, two Italians,
and two Frenchmen.

Our servants had already made things comfortable
in the charnel-house ; a fire was lighted, carpets
spread, and coffee was already difiusing its fragrance.
Prince K.'*s wolf-skin, added to our carpets, afforded
sitting-room for the whole party, who now gathered
round in a circle, comparing their various impressions

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264 MUMMY.

in as many different languages ; German, French,
Russian, Italian, Arabic, and English, Babelled our
sentiments in that singular conversazione. The noon-
day sun now kept the outward world to himself
while the tomb afforded us its friendly shelter before
our time : many a pipe smoked incense to the spirits
of the departed kings whose unconscious hospitality
we were sharing, in common with the bat, the scorpion,
and the worm.

About two o'^clock our party broke up ; and, not-
withstanding threats of coup de aoleil and brain-fever,
we set out once more on our adventures across the
mountains : the sun was scorching hot, and his rays,
reflected from the calcareous cliffs, poured down as in
a focus upon our heads, while the hills excluded every
breath of air. Nothing but the turban can stand this
sort of sun-artillery with impunity ; and to the defence
which this afforded, our guides added cloaks, carpets,
and whatever they could wrap round them.

As we descended a steep path that would have
puzzled a European goat, my horse put his foot on
the breast of a mummy king,* not recognising its
humanity ; and this once reverenced corpse was trod-
den into fragments by the rest of the party. What
1 These are royal cemeteries.

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a story that ghastly royal village told of ambition, and
fidlen power, and its vanity ! A Pharaoh affording
footing to an Arab horse, and trampled on by a
stranger jfrom the far north ! " Is this the man that
made the earth tremble, that did shake kingdoms ; —
that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed
the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his
prisoners V

" Is thy pride brought down to the grave, and the
sound of thy viols ! Is the earth spread under thee,
and doth the earthworm cover thee f *

As we emerged from the mountains, we came in
sight of a vast plain, intersected by the Nile, and ex-
tending as far as the Arabian hills, a distance of about
twenty miles. This plain was strewed with ruins of
extinct cities and temples, appropriately intermingled
with extensive cemeteries, wherein now slept quietly
their once busy populations.

Every one has heard of Thebes, but I suspect very
few have any distinct impressions on the subject ; and
when, in reading some traveller'^s journal, they think
that they have arrived at this long sought-for city,
they find themselves lost in accounts of Camak, Luxor,
Goumou, &c., but no Thebes. Now I am free to con-
^ Isaiah, xiv.

VOL. I. ♦ N

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fess, that, after having twice visited these localities, I
am myself yet ignorant of the site of this renowned
Thebes, unless it be a little mud village, with which
the environs of Luxor are bespattered. The epithet
is, in iact, a noun of multitude singular, embracing at
least five different localities, once, probably, forming
part of the same great city — in this wise : —

As we look down from these mountains, we discern,
on our far right, the palace of Medinet Abou ; before
us the Memnonium ; on our left, the temples of
Goumou. Advanced some distance in front of these,
stand, like videttes, the colossal statues of Shamy and
Damy, or the vocal Memnon and his brother idol.
Then a wide green plain, beyond which flows the
Nile ; and, farther still, on the Arabian side, Luxor
raises its gigantic columns from the river^s edge, and
the propylsB of Camak tower afar off. And this vast
view scarcely embraces Thebes.

Descending from the mountains, we traversed the
plain, which is everywhere excavated in search of
antiquities, found here in such quantities, that the
Pasha has imposed a tax of 3,500 piastres a year on
this subterranean harvest. Herds of wild dogs har-
bour in these excavations, and, as the stranger passes
by, a thousand gaunt, wolfish-looking heads start out

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from their barrows, till the plain looks mottled with
them, and a hungry howl runs along the ground for

We rode straight to Medinet Abou, which alone
would make the fame of any other locality; but
Gamak eclipses all other wonders here, and seems to
rule alone. This palace, however, is very grand in
architecture, and gorgeous with painting. It is very
perfect, too, and a considerable number of chambers
are uninjured, even in the second story. Its labyrinth
of immense courts, magnificently decorated ; the innu-
merable pillars, that everywhere rear their richly-
carved capitals, with or without cornices ; the superb
. colonnades that surround the courts, all convey an
idea of grandeur, before which every human creation,
except Oamak, dwarfs into insignificance. Many
of these columns lie strewn about in such profusion,
that Aladdin's genii might have despaired of creating
them, yet they measure six-and-thirty feet in circum-
ference, and gleam like a cathedral's painted window
with every colour in the rainbow, bright and vivid as
if the sun shone through them.

^ A large colony of Christians was established here, and celebrated
their worship in the great court, having covered the idols with mud.
They fled before the Arab invaders, but ruins of their towns still


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It was late when we returned to our tents, and
fourteen hours'* exposure to the powerful sun of the
Thebaid made us appreciate their shelter and repose.

The next morning we started before sunrise to
watch the effects of the first smile of Aurora upon her
son Memnon ; he has long ceased to greet her coming
with a song, but still, for tradition'^s sake, we wished
to see the meeting. The brief twilight left us little
time for a gallop of three miles, so we flung ourselves
into the Turkish saddles, without waiting to change
them for our own ; and passing by the pillared masses
of the temple of Ammon, just visible through the
morning mist, we stood under Memnon'^s colossal
pedestal before the last stars had melted in the dawn. •
Alas ! for the vanity of human plans and early rising,
this was the only morning since we entered Egypt on
which the sun refused to shine. Memnon himself
would have been puzzled, in his best days, to tell the
moment when he rose.

There are two statues here, of similar size and pro-
portion, about twenty yards apart: they stand isolated
at present, though once forming the commencement of
an avenue of statues leading to a palace, now level
with the sands. The most celebrated of these two
statues stands to the North ; he is hewn out of a single

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mass of granite, and measures, though seated, about
fifty feet in height, exclusive of his pedestal, which
measures six feet more. His companioned figure and
proportions are a fecsimile of his own, but I think the
rock of which the latter is formed is of sandstone.
The granite of which Memnon is composed has a
musical ring when struck, and it is said that the
priests used to produce the sounds which astonished
travellers in ancient times. Humboldt, however, in
his South American travels, speaks of certain rocks
on the river Orinoco, called by the natives "loxas
musicas,*" which he heard yielding low thrilling tones
of music, and accounted for it by the wind passing
through the chinks, and agitating the spangles of mica
into audible vibration.

Whatever Memnon may have formerly done in the
vocal line, much voice can scarcely be expected from
him now, as his chest is gone, and replaced by loose
stones. He fell down in the year 70, B. c, and was
afterwards rebuilt. His pedestal is covered with
Greek and other inscriptions, bearing testimony to
his musical performances; one of these records the
visit of Adrian and his queen Sabina. This Memnon
is a corruption of Miamun, "the beloved of Jove,'"*
and, in hieroglyphic history, is called Amunoph the

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third ; he reigned one hundred years before Sesostris,
or 1430, B. c. His colleague was probably the
Danaus, who led a colony into Greece, and founded
the kingdom of Argos.

From these statues to the Memnonium, as the
palace and temple of Sesostris are called, is about half
a mile. The magnificent hall of this temple is entered
between two calm and contented-looking giants of
rock, each twenty feet high. Within this hall was
the library ! The ceiling is covered with astronomical
figures, which reveal the date of the building, 1322,
B. c. On one of the walls, Sesostris is represented as
seated under the shadow of the Tree of Life, while
gods inscribe his name upon its leaves. It is impos-
sible to convey any idea of the extent and variety of
all these ruins, or of the profiision of sculpture and
painting which everywhere adorns them. A statue of
Sesostris lies without the temple, in the position which
he has occupied unmoved since Gambyses overthrew
him ; the upper part of his body is broken into two
or three vast fragments, and the lower is abnost indis-
tinguishable in its brokenness. The breadth of this
enormous figure across the breast is twenty-three feet ;
the whole was cut from a single block of granite, and
polished as smooth as marble.

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LUXOR. 271

These are the principal objects of interest on the
Lybian side of the river: there are many others,
which, however they may attract the traveller, would
scarcely interest the reader. The valley of the Tombs
of the Queens (who even in death preserved their pro-
priety, by lying apart from the coarser sex) ; the
grottoes of Eoomat Murraee ; and the temple (after-
wards the church) of Dayr el Bahree — ^tell enough of
their own stories in their names for our purpose.

On returning to our boat, a curious rencontre took
place on board a dahabieh that was conveying a lion
from Abyssinia to the Pasha^s menagerie at Cairo.
Mr. M.'^s servant had purchased a wild fox from one
of the natives, and, being anxious to see if the lion
would devour him,*he threw him into the cage : Rey-
nard was game, however, put up his bristles, showed
his teeth, and threatened hostilities ; the lion howled
with affright, and made such efforts to escape, that he
very nearly upset the boat, to the great ire of the
Bais, whose life might have paid forfeit for his pri-
soner's loss. He began to curse all the foxes and
christians under the sun, together with their beards
and those of their fathers : the gallant assailant was
rescued and restored to liberty.

Of Luxor I shall only observe that it forms a fitting

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approach to Gamak. It presents a splendid concision
of courts, columns, statues, ruins, and a lonely obelisk,
whose companion was removed to Paris, and now
flourishes on the " Place de la Concorde."** We
found here the luxury of Arab horses, and rode along
a wide plain covered with coarse grass, and varied by
some gloomy little lakes and acacia shrubs, when, at
the end of an hour, our guide reined in his horse,
and pointed with his spear towards the South. There
lay Gamak ! darkening a whole horizon with its
portals, and pyramids, and palaces. We passed
under a noble archway, and entered a long avenue of
sphinxes : all their heads were broken off, but their
pedestals remained unmoved since the time of Joseph.
It must have been a noble sight in the palmy days of
Thebes — ^that avenue of two hundred enormous sta-
tues, terminated by that temple. Yet this was only
one of many : at least, seven others, with similar por-
ticoes and archways, led from this stupendous edifice.
We rode through half a mile of sphinxes, and then
arrived at the Temple, the splendour of which no
words can describe.

A glorious portal opened into a vast court, crowded
with a perfect forest of the most magnificent columns,
thirty-six feet in circumference, covered with hiero-

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glyphics, and surmounted by capitals, all of different
patterns, and richly painted. No two persons agree
on the number of these apparently countless columns :
some make it amount to 134, others, 160 ; the central
measure 66 feet in height, exclusive of the pedestals
and abacus. Endless it would be to enter into details
of this marvellous pile ; suffice it to say, that the tem-
ple is about one mile and three quarters in circum-
ference, the walls 80 feet high, and 25 feet thick !

With astonishment, and almost with awe, I rode
on through labyrinths of courts, cloisters, and
chambers, and only dismounted where a mass of
masonry had lately fallen in, owing to its pillars
having been removed to build the Pasha's powder
manufactory. Among the infinite variety of objects
of art that crowd this temple, the obelisks are not
the least interesting. Those who have only seen them
at Rome, or Paris, can form no conception of their
effect where all around is in keeping with them. The
eye follows upward the finely tapering shaft, till sud-
denly it seems, not to terminate, but to melt away
and lose itself in the dazzling sunshine of its native

For hours I wandered eagerly and anxiously on,
through apparently interminable variety, every mo-


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ment encountering something new, unheard of, and
unthought of, until then. The very walls of outer
enclosures were deeply sculptured with whole histories
of great wars and triumphs, by figures that seemed to
live again. In some places, these walls were poured
down like an avalanche, not &llen: no mortar had
been ever needed to connect the cliff-like masses of
which they were composed: at this hour, the most
ignorant mason might direct the replacing of every
stone where it once towered, in propylon or gateway,
so accurately was each fitted to the place it was des-
tined to occupy.

We rested for a long time on a fallen column,
under a beautifiil archway that commands a wide view
of the Temple, and then slowly and lingeringly with-
drew. The world contains nothing like it.

We returned to Luxor by a different, yet similar,
avenue of statues to that by which we had approached :
as we proceeded, we could discover other pillars and
portals far away upon the horizon, each marking where
an entrance to this amazing Temple once existed.

From the desert or the river ; from within, or firom
without; by sunshine, or by moonlight — however
you contemplate Oarnak — ^appears the very aspect in
which it shows to most advantage. And when this

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was all perfect ; when its avenues opened in vista
upon the noble temples and palaces of Sesostris, upon
Goumou, Medinet Abou, and Luxor ; when its courts
were paced by gorgeous priestly pageants, and busy
life swanned on a river flowing between banks of
palaces like those of Venice magnified a hundredfold —
when all this was in its prime, no wonder that its
fame spread even over the barbarian world, and found
immortality in Homer's song.

For many a day after I had seen it, and even to
this hour, glimpses of Thebes mingle with my reveries
and blend them with my dreams, as if that vision had
daguerreotyped itself upon the brain, and left its im-
press there for ever.

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To glide adown old Nilas, where he threads
Egypt and ^Ethiopia, from the steep
Of utmost Axam6, antil he spreads.
Like a calm 6ock of silver-BeeG^ sheep,
His waters on the plain ; and crested heads
Of cities and proad temples gleam amid,
And many a vaponr-belted pyramid.

fViich of >^/Am.— Shbllby.

We sailed away from Thebes one balmy evening,
and soon the only testimony of its existence was in
our memories, and in a young jackall, one of our ex-
portations thence ; this creature, true to its instinct,
now began a series of moumfiil bowlings, and continued
them without intermission throughout the night.

Our crew, who had hitherto been paid extra for
almost every day's work, began to wax very indolent
when they had no longer the stimulus of bribery to
induce exertion. We at first remonstrated with them,
but in vain; we then insisted on leaving the worst

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of them behind us ; and thereupon the remainder,
with the exception of the' pilot, broke out into regular
mutiny. We had only ourselves to depend upon, as
Mahmoud had taken fright, and Abdallah was a mere
negation. We were in the loneliest part of the river,
and fer from any authority to which we could appeal ;
so that we were reduced to the unpleasant necessity
of taking the law into our own hands. The men rested
on their oars, and refrised to move : the Bais affected
not to hear ; and Mahmoud said we must make the
best terms we could come to : so, while Bussell stood
garrison at our cabin fortress, I jumped forward among
the crew, and with the hippopotamus-thong whip,
soon restored the rais to his hearing, and the crew to
motion. Some took to their oars, others jumped up,
and seemed inclined to show fight ; but the eloquent
mouths of our pistols dissuaded them, and added
weight to an injunction to row if they valued their
lives. This restored discipline at once, and they
pulled with such hearty good-will that we reached
Dendera that evening.

On arriving there, we left the boat, to visit the
temple, telling the rais he might sail away, if he
dared ; and then, leaving no firearms behind us, we
started across a jungle-covered plain for the famous

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ruins that Tindicated their sacred character by in-
ducing the Indian troops under Sir David Baird to
kneel down and pray before them.

As, after bright sunshine, it is some time before our
eyes recover their perception of objects in the shade,
so, after Oamak, all other buildings appear divested
of interest and grandeur, until our bigotry for the
former subsides. Thus we found at Dendera, that
though its appearance at any other time would have
struck us as magnificent, demands on the sublime
had been rendered so unconscionable by Garnak, that
we could not appreciate this beautiftil temple as it
deserved. It is pronounced by critics to aflford a
lamentable proof of the decadence of architectural art
under the Ptolemies; but to the mere eye of curiosity
its appearance is very majestic, and nothing can be
more rich than the carvings and hieroglyphics that
adorn the massive pillars crowned with heads of Isis.
The ceilings are covered with the celebrated astro-
nomical paintings ; and the next most popular repre-
sentation throughout this edifice seems to be that of
serpents : these appear in every variety of form and
attitude ; some are walking on human legs, and some
spinning erect upon their tails like corkscrews, while
they present strange offerings to deities equally pre-

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KENEH. 279

posterouB. We crawled upon oar hands and knees
through raanj dark passages, and emerged upon a
terrace commanding a noble view. When the priests
of old stood here, and looked upon that wide realm
over which they held such unlimited influence, how
little did thej think of the coming time, when their
&ith should be forgotten, or derided ; and strangers,
from a land unknown in their estimation of the world,
should stand there alone ! The solitude all round us
was profound ; the sudden arrest of cultivation, when
bordering the desert, was curious ; for there the high
com waved, and here the sands spread up to its very
roots like a lake ; far away, the Nile glistened under
the setting sun ; and beyond, rose the smoke of Keneh,
and the chain of hills that reaches to the shores of the
Bed Sea.

We visited the Governor at Keneh, and having put
an effectual stop to the mutiny, we darted away as
rapidly as oars could drive us ; nor, from that day for-
ward, had we the slightest cause of complaint to find
with our crew.

The next day we reached Bellini, the starting point
for Abydus, where stands the temple of Sesostris,
which I have described in ascending the river. There
was a small garrison of cavalry here, with handsome,

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serviceable-looking horses. There was also a settle-
ment of Alm^. We saw herds of buffaloes in the
river, that seemed to be playing at hippopotamus,
keeping only their noses above the water.

During several following days we killed a great
number of quails and a jackall, which I speared, after
fair duel, in his mountain den. Our remaining cha-
meleon and the little jackall died of the cold, which
sometimes even we felt very severely in contrast to
the weather within the Tropics.

Arrived at Man&loot, I went ashore to visit Dr.
Dubray, a French physician, in the Pasha^s service.
It is not likely that these pages will ever reach his
eyes, so that I the more willingly make mention of
his kindness and disinterested offices. He had charge
of a regiment of Egyptian cuirassiers, mustering about
eight hundred strong : the horses were at grass, but
the men looked tolerably well drilled and appointed.

This was a considerable town " in the time of the
Mamelukes,"*"* an epoch which is made use of in this
country, as " before the Union '*'* is in Ireland to de-
note a period of prosperity that never existed. The
encroachments of the Nile and the taxing officers
have very much impaired the extent of Man&Ioot,
which does not now contain above five thousand inha-

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bitants. The day we left Man&Ioot, we fired at a
great number of crocodiles with our usual lack of suc-
cess in obtaining their scalps : and, after some more
days, only varied by such incidents as I have already
noticed, we arrived at Cairo, exactly two months after
we had started from thence.

We remained only one day at the Hotel d'Orient,
by far the best in Cairo ; and then removed into
lodgings, where alone one can enter into the spirit of
Egyptian life. At an hotel, surrounded by Euro-
peans, one is entirely secluded from those hourly
opportunities of observation so entertaining to a tra-
veller. We had taken a friendly leave of all our crew,
and presented Bacheet with a present in addition to
the gratuities expected by his comrades. We were
much pleased by the poor fellow bringing us, in a day
or two afterwards, a present of the Ibreemee dates, so
prized by the Egyptians : it was all he had to

We took a house to ourselves in the Soog Ezallot,
or "place of the evening market.*" As in Parisian
houses, the porter and his family occupying the
ground-floor were handed over with the rest of the
furniture. Having paid our rent in advance, we were
then required to pay nearly as much more " for the

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possession of the key,*"^ which consisted of a piece of
wood with some nails in it.

Our mansion contained a courtyard, in which stood
a sickly-looking palm-tree, crisped by the heat, and a
couple of hencoops that wore almost as much appear-
ance of vegetation. On the first floor were two
sitting-rooms, consisting of high, vaulted chambers
without doors, opening off a terrace, and two bed-
rooms. Above these were other rooms and terraces,
shaded by trellised vines. It required but a short
time to take an inventory of the Aimiture, which was
particularly simple — it consisted of one deal table and
two iron bedsteads. A broad wooden bench ran round
the sitting-rooms, on which we were to sit in state, or
squat in comfort. This looked desolate enough at
first ; but our camp furniture, mats, carpets, and other
appendages of Oriental travel, soon gave an appearance
of comfort to the bleak dwelling and its forlorn walls.

And yet there was a strange air of luxury over all
this. The stone floors, and whitewashed walls, and
curtainless windows, had always a golden glow of
sunshine, or a deep, refreshing gloom flung over them.
The vine-leaves threw a cool, quivering shade over
the marble terraces : the fragrant fiimes of Latakeea
mingled with the balmy air ; and the coffee, which

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was always roasting, contributed its pleasant odour.

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