Imágenes de páginas

to 129 feet; but Greaves, in sounding it with a line, found the plummet rest at the depth of 20 feet.

We threw down some stones, and observed that they rested at about the depth which Greaves has mentioned; but being at length provided with a stone nearly as large as the mouth of the well, and about fifty pounds in weight, we let this fall, listening attentively to the result from the spot where the other stones rested; we were agreeably surprised by hearing, after a length of time which must have equalled some seconds, a loud and distinct report, seeming to come from a spacious subterraneous apartment, accompanied by a splashing noise, as if the stone had been broken into pieces, and had fallen into a reservoir of water at an amazing depth. Thus does experience always tend to confirm the accounts left us by the ancients, for this exactly answers to the description given by Pliny of this well.

After once more regaining the passage we examined the chamber at the end of it, mentioned by all who have described the interior of this building. Its roof is formed by the inclination of large masses of stone leaning towards each other, like the appearance presented by those masses which are above the entrance of the pyramid. Then quitting the passage altogether, we climbed the slippery and difficult ascent which leads to what is called the principal chamber. The workmanship, from its perfection, and its immense proportions, is truly astonishing. All about the spectator, as he proceeds, is full of majesty, mystery, and wonder. Presently we entered that “glorious room, as it is justly called by Greaves, where, “as within some consecrated oratory, Art

[ocr errors]


may seem to have contended with Nature.” It stands "in the very heart and centre of the pyramid, equi-distant from all its sides, almost in the midst between the basis and the top. The floor, the sides, the roof of it, are all made of vast and exquisite tables of Thebaick marble." It is often called Oriental granite, and sometimes Egyptian granite; but it differs in no respect from European granite, except that the red feldspar enters more largely as a constituent into the mass than is usual in the granite of Europe. So exquisitely are the masses of this granite fitted to each other upon

the sides of this chamber, that, having no cement between them, it is really impossible to force the blade of a knife within the joints. This has been often related before; but we actually tried the experiment, and found it to be true. There are only six ranges of stone from the floor to the roof, which is twenty feet high, and the length of the chamber is about twelve yards. It is also about six yards wide. The roof or ceiling consists only of nine pieces, of stupendous size and length, traversing the room from side to side, and lying, like enormous beams, across the top.

It is impossible to leave the Pyramids of Djiza without some notice of the long list of philosophers, marshals, emperors, and princes, who, in so many ages, have been brought to view the most wonderful of the works of man. There has not been a conqueror pre-eminently distinguished in the history of the world, from the days of Cambyses down to the invasion of Napoleon Buonaparte, who withheld the tribute of his admiration from the genius of the place. The vanity of Alexander the Great was so piqued by the overwhelming impression of their majesty, that nothing less than being ranked among the gods of Egypt could elevate bim sufficiently above the pride of the monarchs by whom they were erected. When Germanicus had subdued the Egyptian empire, and seated “a Roman præfect upon the splendid throne of the Ptolemies," being unmindful of repose or of triumph, the antiquities of the country engaged all his attention. The humblest pilgrim, pacing the Libyan sands around them, while he is conscious that he walks in the footsteps of so many mighty and renowned men, imagines himself to be for an instant admitted into their illustrious conclave. Persian satraps, Macedonian heroes, Grecian bards, sages, and historians, Roman warriors, all of every age, nation, and religion, have participated, in common with him, the same feelings, and have trodden the same ground. Every spot that he bebolds, every stone on which he rests his weary limbs, have witnessed the coming of men who were the fathers of law, of literature, and of the arts. Orpheus, Musæus, Homer, Lycurgus, Solon, Pythagoras, Plato, Plutarch, contributed by their presence to the dignity of the place. Desolate and melancholy as the scene appears, no traveller leaves it without regret, and many a retrospect of objects which call to his mind such a long list of illustrious visitors.

As we left Bulac we had one of the finest prospects in the world, presented by the wide surface of the Nile crowded with vessels, the whole city of Cairo, the busy throng of shipping at the quay, the citadel and heights of Mokatam, the distant Said, the Pyramids of Djiza and Saccara, the plisk of Heliopolis, and the Tombs of the Sultans; all se were in view at the same time; the greater objects ng tinged with the most brilliant effect of light it is posle to conceive; while the noise of the waters, the shouts the boatmen, and the moving picture every where offered

the Nile, gave a cheerful contrast to the stillness of the sert, and the steadfast majesty of monuments, beautifully scribed by a classic bard as “looking tranquillity.”


This celebrated monument of Egyptian antiquity is still

be seen about sixty yards to the right of the great pyraid, from the eastern point, and opposite Cairo. This enorous figure, carved out of one stone, was considerably diminhed in its bulk by the accumulation of sand, till the industry

the French had lately uncovered more of this figure than ad been seen for centuries past. The most of its features ave been mutilated by different barbarians from time to me; its face, perfectly Nubian, still preserves a considerble degree of feminine beauty. It has no breasts, neither re the feet visible; and, as the rock seems to have been cut þr the particular purpose of exhibiting the back of a lion, his representation is said to intimate, that when the sun passes from Leo into Virgo, the increase of the Nile is sure o follow. The height of the Sphynx is twenty-six feet, the șircumference of the head twelve, while the length of the back is supposed to be nearly sixty feet. But the supposition of a subterraneous passage from thence to the pyramids s proved to be totally unfounded.

[ocr errors]

THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON. We have told you of the Great Plague in London, and how it swept off about 100,000 of the inhabitants in one year. Next year, that is, on September 3, 1666, Hume says, in his History of England, "a calamity bappened in London, which threw the people into great consternation. Fire, breaking out in a baker's house near the bridge, spread itself on all sides with such rapidity, that no efforts could extinguish it, till it laid in ashes a considerable part of the city. The inhabitants, without being able to provide effectually for their relief, were reduced to be spectators of their own ruin; and were pursued from street to street by the flames, which unexpectedly gathered round them. Three days and nights did the fire advance; and it was only by the blowing up of houses, that it was at last extinguished. The King and Duke used their utmost endeavours to stop the progress of the flames; but all their industry was unsuccessful. About four hundred streets, and thirteen thousand houses, were reduced to ashes.

The causes of this calamity were evident. The narrow streets of London, the houses built entirely of wood, the dry season, and a violent east wind which blew; these were so many concurring circumstances, which rendered it easy to assign the reason of the destruction that ensued. But the people were not satisfied with this obvious account. Prompted by blind rage, some ascribed the guilt to the republicans, others to the catholics; though it is not easy to conceive how the burning of London could serve the pur

« AnteriorContinuar »