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ber of deciphered cartouches has been so considerably added to in the present publications, the symbolic, hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic alphabets remain in the same state as before.
Art. V. Recollections of Egypt. By the Baroness Von Minutoli.
12mo. pp. 280. London, 1827. FROM Osymandyas to Mahomed Ali is a rather violent
transition; but those of our readers who have patiently followed us through the chronological details of the preceding article, relating to the history of Ancient Egypt, may not be displeased if we afford them a peep at Egypt as it is.
The Baron Henry Menu Von Minutoli, the husband of the Authoress of this agreeable volume, is a general in the Prussian service, who, in the year 1820—1, obtained from his sovereign leave of absence to undertake a scientific tour in the East. His plan was, to travel through Egypt to Dongola; thence to proceed to visit the Cyrenaica and the Oases, and to return through Syria and Greece. But circumstances prevented the execution of the whole of this plan, and the Baron was obliged to content himself with a visit to the Oasis of Ammon and an excursion as far southward as Syene. His not being able to visit the long' neglected site of the ancient Cyrene, is said to have been owing to the petty jealousy of certain European speculators in antiquities, resident in Egypt, who secretly laboured with the most ignoble views to defeat his intention. Sometime after his return, the General pub, lished an account of his Travels, written in German; but of this ' splendid work,' no English translation has hitherto appeared, notwithstanding an announcement which promised it more than a year ago. We must confess that we await it without impatience. Our own travellers have left little or nothing to describe between Alexandria and Syene, and the little that is new in the Baron's work must relate to the Ammonian Oasis and the pyramid of Sakkara. In the mean time, this slight but lively sketch by the Baroness, who accompanied her husband to Egypt, will, we doubt not, be favourably received.
The most melancholy spot, perhaps, in Egypt, is Alexandria, partly from the comparatively modern date of its grandeur and decay, the recent character of its rains, which more closely connects the desolation with our sympathy, and the semi-European aspect of the place; partly from the recollection of the crimes and follies which were acted there in Christian times. In Upper Egypt, it must be pleasant enough to compare the wonders of the scene with the records of Herodotus; but at Alexandria, only painful associations would be awakened by reference to the pages of Gibbon. The work of destruction is most complete. Nothing remains of its ancient splendour but the column improperly called Pompey's Pillar, and the two obelisks, only one of which is standing. These are surrounded with heaps of rubbish covering the ground as far as the eye can reach.
• Every thing bears the stamp of the hand of time, and the exhaustion of the soil ;-the aridity is such that it does not allow even a few wild bushes to vegetate; the bustle which once prevailed in this part of the city, has now given place to silence and meditation. At a short distance we see the Greek convent; a grove of palmtrees rises above its walls, and the evening breeze alone breaks the general stillness. The present state of this celebrated country in. spires a melancholy and painful feeling. A gloomy tinge seems to be spread over all objects; we even try to discover some connection, direct or indirect, between the solemn and grand style of the ancient Egyptian architecture, and the grave and regular physiognomy of the present inhabitants. As for the latter, they are seldom seen to smile; and the ebullitions of lively mirth are, in their eyes, a want of decorum, and often even a proof of mental alienation.
• On going the following day to the Rosetta gate, I saw ruins of more modern date-houses abandoned since the late revolutions in Egypt, and devastated at the taking of Alexandria by the French army. When Egypt became a province of the Roman empire, Alexandria was one of the best fortified cities of that time; and continued so till the decline of the empire. At the time of its conquest by the Saracens, this city having considerably fallen off from its ancient magnificence, it had been found necessary to reduce its ex. tent. A new line of ramparts was accordingly built, known by the name of Enclosure of the Arabs; and gates were erected, remarkable for the beauty of their architecture, but of which only a few fragmeots now remain.
Since Egypt has become a part of the Ottoman Empire, the splendour and the strength of this city have gradually declined, as has been manifested, in the later periods of its history, by the facility with wbich the enemy's troops have taken possession of the country. The present Government has begun to repair in some measure the ancient fortifications ; but, to say the truth, little or nothing has been done, though means have been found to make it believed at Constantinople, that these works have cost immense sums.'
Among the Baroness's travelling companions from Alexandria to Cairo, was an Abyssinian girl who had left her country in company with the daughter of the King of Abyssinia, her relative, who married a servant of Lord Valentia's at the time of his Lordship's travels in that country. This Englishman, after several years' residence in Abyssinia, had gone with his wife to Alexandria, where they had both lately died, leaving this young girl, their heiress, under the protection of the English Consul. The Baroness does not appear to have gained much information respecting that nation.
She speaks of their piquing themselves upon a kind of ortho
doxy' which induces them obstinately to refuse listening to the Roman Catholic missionaries; not being aware of the deep rooted sense of injury, as well as aversion, towards both the Greek Melchites and the Latins, which is hereditary in the African churches. We were told,' she adds, • that some who had attempted to enter their country for the purpose of spreading their doctrines have been crucified. It is probable that they do not ill-treat the Protestant missionaries sent out by the London Bible Society: their mode of worship is said to approach more nearly to the simplicity of the first ages of the church.
Our Authoress had the courage to penetrate into the mysterious recesses of the great pyramid of Cheops ; but we are disappointed at finding the only information respecting that of Sakkara conveyed in a brief note. The entrance to this pyramid was discovered by the Baron. It . contains a great number of passages and corridors, and several chambers, in the walls of which were incrusted convex pieces of porcelain of various colours, which, when seen by torch-light, must have a pretty effect. There are also hieroglyphics above several doors, a circumstance which has not hitherto been remarked in the other Pyramids. The largest of these chambers, the walls of which were blackened by the smoke of the torches, contained, instead of a sarcophagus, a small sanctuary, formed of several blocks of stone, placed one upon another, into which a man could easily enter, and from which the voice of the oracle was probably made to issue. It is to be regretted, that the sand of the desert blocked up the entrance to this Pyramid a short time after the operations which my husband had caused to be undertaken there. Five-and-twenty Arabs had worked there during two-and-twenty days. In order to reach the interior, they were obliged to descend into a well fifty feet deep. This passage was extremely dangerous ; for, a short time after my husband first went down, the side of the well fell in, and it was so choked
up, that it took more than eight days to clear it again. If any persons had been inside of the Pyramid at such a moment, they must have perished by a cruel death. p. 82, note.
The discovery of hieroglyphics in the pyramids, if we may depend upon the accuracy of the statement, is a circumstance of high interest; since these stupendous monuments have generally been supposed to be the work of a foreign dynasty, and the absence of the hieratic symbols has been accounted for on this ground.
The Thebaid was the retreat of the persecuted Jacobites in the reign of Justinian and his successors, and here, the spirit of St. Anthony still animates the Coptic monks. The following anecdote is not uninteresting, though too much is made of it. It was told by Dr. Ricci to the Baroness.
• Desirous of visiting Upper Egypt, I some years since accepted the offer of an English gentleman to accompany him thither. I had been struck, like you, by the singular form of these rocks, when my attention was attracted by a new object. I saw on their summit a man, who descended, by the means of a rope, with inconceivable agility; he soon disappeared, and afterwards throwing himself into the river, came up to our boat to ask alms for his convent. It was one of these Cophtic monks, who came as usual, to implore the charity of those who passed by. The great address with which the man had made his descent, and some questions which we put to him relative to his convent, having excited our curiosity, we rowed to. wards the shore ; and following our guide, who took the same steep and narrow path, cut in the rock, by which he had come down, we arrived, not without much difficulty, at the top, from which we discovered an immense horizon. At our feet the Nile, on the banks of which were many verdant spots, flowed in the distance through the fertile plains of the province of Minieh. Numerous villages, with their palm groves, and herds of buffaloes and flocks of goats, scattered over the plains, and the rich vegetation of this country, presented the most pleasing and diversified scene, What a contrast struck us as we looked towards the spot which we had first reached. Blocks of stone, detached and scattered here and there over a desert of sand, extending further than the eye could reach, presented an image of chaos ; the hand of man had never attempted to change this barren tract into a fruitful soil: and it is probable, that such an attempt would have proved vain. We then perceived a wretched hut, which the monk pointed out to us as his dwelling, situated in the midst of a small cemetery; and this convent, which resembled most other monasteries in nothing but its elevated position, did not appear to us at all calculated to inspire a love of retirement. Having satisfied our curiosity, we were going to quit this place, which had so little to recommend it, when we suddenly heard some words spoken in the beautiful language of Petrarch and Tasso. We turned to the side from which the voice proceeded, and saw an old man, whose lofty and majestic stature had not been bent with age, and who, introducing himself to us as the prior of the convent, invited us in the most polite terms to enter and rest ourselves. Extremely surprised at meeting, under the coarse habit of a Cophtic monk, with a man familiar with the language and customs of Europe, we accepted his invitation, and sat down on a stone bench ; our host and three other monks, the only inmates of the convent, iminediately set before us some dates, and bread, still quite warni, which they had just baked in the ground between two stones, according to the manner of the country.
• Meanwhile, I attentively surveyed the singular and surprising individual whom we had so unexpectedly met with in this desert place. A long silver beard descended in curls upon his breast; his eyes
had retained all the fire and vivacity of youth, yet there was in his looks something gloomy, and expressive of profound melancholy; bis features were dignified and regular; his mouth, which seemed as if it never smiled, diminished the effect of his fine countenance, which might have been compared to a beautiful northern landscape, deprived, by a misty atmosphere, of the effects of light and of the brilliant tints of the south. Being no longer able to repress the interest, or rather the curiosity which I felt, I ventured with some hesitation, to ask him some questions on his situation, and the reasons that could have induced him to adopt it, adding, that Egypt could certainly not be his native country. A transient expression of melancholy overspread his countenance, and being sensible of my indiscretion, I begged him to pardon my curiosity, in consideration of the interest I felt for him. He replied, that there was nothing par. ticular in bis history to merit the attention of any body; that he was a Roman by birth, and that being the youngest of his family, his parents had educated him for the ecclesiastical profession, for which he had a decided aversion ; that flying from the paternal roof, he passed the greater part of his life among infidels, whose faith he had even embraced; that the death of an adored being had made him sensible of the enormity of his faults and his errors; and that, determined to pass the remainder of his life in penitence, he had chosen this wild and desert spot to end his days. He thus concluded his short narrative, and turning his eyes towards the cemetery, added : Port of the wretched ! the only refuge against the storms of life, why dost thou not present thyself to the imagination of men, when, agitated by tumultuous passions and unbridled desires, they act as if their life were without limit, and their afflictions without end ; whereas, every thing tends towards thee, and the remembrance of the good we may have done in this world, alone accompanies us into the next, and survives our death! Moved by these words, and the expression which accompanied them, we took leave of the venerable old man, who gave us his blessing on our departure. Nine months after, on my return from Upper Egypt, being desirous of once more seeing the Čophtic prior, I took the road to his convent; as I ap. proached, one of the monks perceiving me, pointed to a fresh grave. He had ceased to suffer.'
20-6. An indifferent portrait of the present King of Egypt, Mahomed Ali, is prefixed to the volume. It seems that that worthy sucessor of the Pharoahs and Ptolemies is by birth a countryman of the great Founder of Alexandria : he was born at Cavalla in Macedonia.