Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

lasting barriers against foreign invasion : and, as her civilization increases, and population is enlarged, the strides which those neighbouring deserts are annually making upon her fertile soil will be rebuffed, and stayed within a certain boundary; for what can strive against human labour, industry and perseverance ? Simple, uncultivated men, built those prodigious monuments of pride, the pyramids ; and the rude inhabitants of Holland, and the • Cybele of the ocean,' reclaimed their habitations from the all-engrossing waters. The traffic of Egypt, however, must be always mainly carried on by the sea, for the progress of caravans is slow, expensive, and dangerous. These caravans will, doubtlessly fall more and more into disuse, as the spirit of Mahomedanism grows fainter and fainter: that this creed is gradually losing its influence over the minds of men, is incapable of contradiction, and that it will ultimately give way to the redeeming influences of the religion of Christ, is a consummation devoutly to be hoped. Pilgrimages to the holy cities and the tombs of the saints are by no means so frequent now as they formerly were, nor are the throngers of the temple in any way to be compared in numbers with those who, in the time of Joseph Pitts, or so late as the last century visited the Caaba, and kneeled in adoration at the foot of Mount Arafat. But with the Red Sea at her head, the Indian ocean behind her, the Mediterranean in her front, and

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

the glorious Nile through her centre, can it be said that Egypt wants facility of communication with the whole world? That years

will

pass ere Egypt becomes acquainted with the true principles of commerce, is naturally to be expected, but “ time and the hour” teach wisdom, and wherefore should Egypt alone be exempted from the attainment of that precious treasure? The Pacha, moreover, is anxious to have a navy, and has built excellent ships.

The Pacha drinks wine, has established a printing press, has printed books, and circulated a newspaper, all which are against the principles and the policy of the Mahomedan faith.

The style of architecture and writing peculiar to Egypt, and by many referred alone to the more remote ages of her history, prevailed throughout the period of the Ptolomeian dynasty, as appears from the frequent Greek inscriptions, and also from sculptures, which are occasionally found with both the hieroglyphic and the ordinary writing inscribed on them. During the sway of the Grecian monarchs, however, architecture and sculpture did not flourish with the splendour and wondrous execution which had distinguished them under the native dynasties. Various causes co-operated to the decline of Egyptian art. It certainly cannot, with any truth, be said to have profited by an intercourse with the Greeks, for, from that intercourse, the decline may be dated. Christianity,

more than all, contributed to the extinction of that spirit which had inspired and strengthened the Egyptians to undertake and carry into effect designs so vast and unperishing, as those which now call forth the traveller's astonishment. The days of their superstition were those of the proudest glories, of the happiness and freedom of the Egyptians. Their blind belief in the divine origin of their kings encouraged them in labours to perpetuate a monarch's fame, by eternal monuments : and the numerous objects of their idolatrous worship induced that laborious and minute detail by which their sculptures are distinguished. But when the exercise of the antient faith was made penal, and another doctrine introduced, the temples were gradually abandoned, and the Egyptian spirit, unsubdued by political vicissitude and oppression, sank under the spiritual innovation, which it could neither resist nor comprehend.

212

RECOLLECTIONS.

In one of the coffee-houses at Siout we heard the following singular account of the origin of the Pharaoh dynasty. Pharaoh, we were told, was the son of a fellah, and on the death of his father, he very dutifully exhausted his inheritance in funeral festivities, a sort of Hibernian “ fare-thee-well” to the departed. No funds remaining to meet the visit of the Sheik for taxes, that officer seized the cow, and the donkey, and left Pharaoh in the undisputed possession of three water melons, with which he resolved to “ begin the world.” He accordingly entered the bazaar at Cairo, and, seating himself on the ground, displayed his merchandize, which soon attracted the notice of a Mullah. This reverend personage advanced with becoming gravity, and, taking up one of the melons, was about to depart, when Pharaoh modestly suggested the propriety of paying the purchase money My son,” replied the imperturbable Mullah, “ I take thy melon for the good of the mosque.” With this answer honest Pharaoh was fain to be content, and, seeing another customer approaching, he rubbed his hands in expectation of bringing the remainder of his stock to a better market. But the second melon was seized with as ominous a gesture as the former, and the answer to Pharaoh's expostulation was, “I take thy melon for the use of the government.” Beholding his melons vanish thus unprofitably, he thought of making sure of the only one remaining, by despatching it himself, which he did with great alacrity, and, full of the idea that he had learnt wisdom from the church and statesman, he fixed his plan for the following day. This was a simple one, and soon executed: after the example of the Mullah, he seized the first melon which he saw, and made off with it, telling the exasperated owner not to lose temper at this act, as it was all for the good of the mosque. But Pharaoh found no favour by the expedient which had succeeded so well with the Mullah. He was soundly bastinadoed, and expelled the town. The part out of which he was driven led to the burial ground: thither he repaired, and bethought him of trying whether the character of a policeman might not be more successfully supported, than that which

« ForrigeFortsæt »