« PreviousContinue »
for that which he had undertaken to construct. Though of the most costly description, and every way equal to perform what it was calculated to do, it had failed to answer the unreasonable expectations of the Turks,--because the quantity of water raised by it was not sufficient to inundate the whole country in an hour which was their measure of the power of an English water-wheel.'
When that of Belzoni was completed, the Pasha proceeded the gardens of Soubra to witness its effect. The machine was se: to work, and, although constructed of bad materials, and of unskilful workmanship, its powers were greater than had been cortracted for; yet the Arabs, from interested motives, declared against it. The Pasha, however, though evidently disappointed, admitted that it was equal to four of the ordinary kind, and consequently according to the agreement. Unluckily, he took it inti his head to have the oxen removed, and, by way of frolic,' to set what effect could be produced by putting fifteen men into the wheel. The Irish lad got in with them; but no sooner had the wheel begun to turn than the Arabs jumped out, leaving the la alone in it. The wheel, relieved from its load, flew back with such velocity, that poor Curtain was Aung out, and in the fall broke one of his thighs, and, being entangled in the machinery, would, in all probability, have lost his life, had not Belzoni applied all bis strength to the wheel, and stopped it. The accident, however, was fatal to the project and to the future hopes of the projector. Ou this subject, we have the testimony of one whose testimony can never be given in vain; 'Belzoni,' says Mr. Burckhardt, who is known in England as an hydraulic engineer, and is married to an English woman, who has accompanied him to Egypt, entered last year the service of the Pasha as a mechanic; but not being able to contend with the intrigues of a Turkish court, and too honourable to participate in them, he was dismissed as unfit for his business, and five months of pay still remain due to him.' Mr. Burckhardt elsewhere describes Belzoni 'as enterprizing as he is intelligent, high-minded, and disinterested.'
Belzoni's residence at Soubra gave him an opportunity of seeing and learning something of the habits and character of Mahomed Ali. He is a man, he says, full of projects, always busied in something new, and perpetually in motion. Few of them, however, have hitherto answered, and one had nearly proved fatal to himself. He took it into his head to have his troops trained in the European exercise, -- which produced a mutiny. This at least is the cause assigned for it by Burckhardt and Belzoui, though we suspect it was more from the arrears of pay that were due to them. Cairo on this occasion is said to have been given up to plunder for several days by the Albanian soldiers, who were at length quelled by
the exertions of the Syrian cavalry which had remained faithful to the Pasha. The desolation and death-like silence that prevailed in this great city during the revolt, are well described by our author. Mr. Burckhardt says, that the Pasha did not deem it advisable to adopt any strong measures of punishment; but in order to conciliate the good-will and, in case of need, the assistance of the town's-people, he reimbursed to them, out of his own pocket, the whole amount of their loss, calculated at four millions of piastres.” On this occasion many of the Franks were ill-treated, and others fired at, by the Turkish soldiers, even after the plundering of the town had ceased. What kind of discipline these troops are under in Egypt, Mr. Belzoni had but too many opportunities of seeing.
• During my stay at Soubra, a circumstance took place, which I shall remember as long as I live, and which shewed me plainly the country I was in, and the people I had to deal with. Some particular business calling me to Cairo, I was on my ass in one of the narrow streets, where I met a loaded camel. The space that remained between the camel and the wall was so little, that I could scarcely pass; and at that moment I was met by a Binbashi, a subaltern officer, at the head of his men. For the instant I was the only obstacle that prevented his proceeding on the road; and I could neither retreat nor turn round, to give him room to pass. Seeing it was a Frank who stopped his way, he gave me a violent blow on my stomach. Not being accustomed to put up with such salutations, I returned the compliment with my whip across his naked shoulders. Instantly he took his pistol out of his belt; I jumped off my ass ; he retired about two yards, pulled the trigger, fired at my head, singed the hair near my right ear, and killed one of his own soldiers, who, by this time, had come behind me. Finding that he had missed his aim, he took out a second pistol; but his own soldiers assailed and disarmed him.
• A great noise arose in the street, and, as it happened to be close to the seraglio in the Esbakie, some of the guards ran up; but on seeing what the matter was, they interfered and stopped the Binbashi. I thought my company was not wanted, so I mounted my charger, and rode off. I went to Mr. Baghos, and told him what had happened. We repaired immediately to the citadel, saw the Bashaw, and related the circumstance to him. He was much concerned, and wished to know where the soldier was, but observed, that it was too late that evening to have him taken up. However, he was apprehended the next day, and I have never heard or knew any thing more about him. Such a lesson on the subject was not lost upon me; and I took good care,
in future, not to give the least opportunity of the kind to men of that E description, who can murder an European with as much indifference as they would kill an insect.
Some little time after this, another circumstance took place, which I cannot omit relating. A charming young lady, about sixteen years of age, daughter of the Chevalier Bocty, now consul-general of Sweden went out of her house, in company with her mother, sister, and some
other ladies, to go to a bath. They formed a cavalcade on asses, as is the custom of the country; and had not proceeded far from their door when they met a soldier, à monster I should say, who took a pistol from his belt, and, with the greatest coolness, fired and killed the young lady
, She was one of the most amiable creatures, both in her manners and person, that ever lived ; and was most deservedly lamented by every one who knew her. This is quite enough, surely, to invite young European ladies to that country! I must say, to the honour of Ma hommed Ali, that the monster was taken and executed: but what satisfaction could this be to her afflicted parents ?'-pp. 20, 21.
The project of the water-wheel having totally failed, Mt. Belzoni began to turn his thoughts towards Upper Egypt. In this voyage he seems at first to have had no definite object in view : but, on the suggestion of Mr. Burckhardt, and the encouragement of Mr. Salt, he readily undertook to remove the enormous bust, to which these gentlemen have given the name of the · Younger Memnon,' from the neighbourhood of Thebes, down the Nile to Cairo. In his account of this transaction, Mr. Belzoni manifesti some indignation at the statement which has gone forth, of his being employed on this task by Mr. Salt; and declares that he had no other idea than, that all the researches he was about to make for antiquities were for the benefit of the British Museum.' We can know nothing, of course, of what passed between him and the British Consul; but with regard to the bust of Memnon, we have always understood that it was a joint present of Messrs. Burckhardt and Salt to the Museum, and that they indemnified Mr. Belzoni for all expenses in getting it down to Alexandria, and made him besides a remuneration for his trouble. Burckhardt indeed sats, in a letter now before us, · Mr. Salt and myself have borne the expenses jointly, and the trouble of the undertaking has devolved upon Mr. Belzoni, whose name I wish to be mentioned, if ever ours shall on this occasion, because he was actuated by public spirit, fully as much as ourselves. And, in the same letter, he says, "a. though upwards of 100 fellahs were occupied for many days with our Memnon, and that we paid £ 100 for the boat only, and made a present to Mr. Belzoni, small indeed, but as much as our circumstances permitted, the total expense incurred by us, as far as Alexandria, does not amount to more than £300.' 'We regret ! perceive any feeling of irritation on a matter which appears to us of no importance, and on a point too wherein the merit of our has never been called in question. The name of Belzoni alone is coupled with the bust of Memnon in the Museum, and this, we think, ought to satisfy him. There is no discredit in the two gentlemen having employed him at their joint expense, to undertake a task which lie most ably and honourably performed, and to their en.
tire satisfaction. Let him recollect, that it was by the pecuniary assistance of Mr. Salt, Mr. Briggs and some others, that Captain Caviglia was enabled to uncover the Sphynx. If there should unfortunately subsist any difference on other points respecting his researches, between him and the Consul, we sincerely regret it; being
quite satisfied that both were actuated by the same zealous endeasvour to promote the extension of antiquarian knowledge, and to " add to the unrivalled collection of the works of ancient art in the British Museum.
We are much pleased with the handsome manner in which our author speaks of Mr. Burckhardt. 11
• The first hour of my arrival (at Cairo) I had the pleasure of seeing my good and much lamented friend, Burckhardt, whose death has been a great loss to me. He was the most candid, disinterested, and sincere being I have ever met with ; totally free from that invidious and selfish disposition, which is so often to be found in travellers, who wish to be alone in one quarter of the world, to relate their story agreeable to the suggestions of their own imagination to the people of another. But Burckhardt had none of that littleness of mind : he was a true explorer, and a hardy one, without pride, or the ambition to be thought more than he was.'--p. 134.
Travellers possessing little of that ardour which distinguishes Mr. Belzoni, have broke forth into raptures on their first view of the gigantic ruins of Thebes ; and we have no doubt that our author is quite correct in the following account of the city of the hundred
'On the 22d, we saw for the first time the ruins of great Thebes, and landed at Luxor. Here I beg the reader to observe, that but very impersect ideas can be formed of the extensive ruins of Thebes, even from the accounts of the most skilful and accurate travellers. It is absolutely impossible to imagine the scene displayed, without seeing it. The most sublime ideas, that can be formed from the most magnificent specimens of our present architecture, would give a very incorrect picture of these ruins; for such is the difference, not only in magnitude, but in form, proportion, and construction, that even the pencil can convey but a faint idea of the whole. It appeared to me like entering a city of giants, who, after a long conflict, were all destroyed, leaving the ruins of their various temples as the only proofs of their former existence. The temple of Luxor presents to the traveller at once one of the most splendid groups of Egyptian grandeur. The extensive propylæon, with the two obelisks, and colossal statues in the front; the thick groups of enormous columns; the variety of apartments and the sanctuary it
the beautiful ornaments which adorn every part of the walls and columns, described by Mr. Hamilton; cause in the astonished traveller an oblivion of all that he has seen before. If his attention be attracted to the north side of Thebes by the towering remains, that pro
a great height above the wood of palm trees, he will gradually VOL. XXIV. NO XLVII.
enter that forest-like assemblage of ruins of temples, columns, obelisks, colossi, sphynxes, portals, and an endless number of other astonishing objects, that will convince him at once of the impossibility of a description. On the west side of the Nile, still the traveller finds himself among wonders. The temples of Gournou, Memnonium, and Medinet Aboo, attest the extent of the great city on this side. The unrivalled colossal figures in the plains of Thebes, the number of tombs excavated in the rocks, those in the great valley of the kings, with their paintings, sculptures, mummies, sarcophagi, figures, &c. are all objects worthy of the admiration of the traveller; who will not fail to wonder how a nation, which was once so great as to erect these stupendous edifices, could so far fall into oblivion, that even their language and writing are totally unknown to us.'— pp. 37, 38.
Mr. Belzoni observes, that the water of the Nile reaches quite to the propyleon of the Memnonium; and he considers this as a proof, that the bed of the river bas risen since this temple was erected. There can be no doubt of it-the beds of all rivers are gradually rising, from the constant deposit of that part of the alluvial materials brought down from the higher lands, which has been left within the banks, while these and the bordering plains have been raised in proportion. This deposit has buried many of the ruins of Egypt, and thus strengthened the proof of their great antiquity. The bust of Memnon, the immediate object of our author's research, soon caught his eye; it was lying with its face upwards, and, • apparently smiling on me,' he says, ' at the thought of being taken to England.'
It will readily be imagined, that in a country, destitute of the arts like Egypt, and with a people, semi-barbarous like the Arabs, Belzoni had a thousand difficulties to overcome before he could succeed in moving this bust of ten or twelve tons weight one inch from its bed of sand. The chiefs eyed him with jealousy, and conceived, as usual, that he came in quest of hidden treasures; and the fellahs were with difficulty set to work, having made up their minds that it was a hopeless task. When these simple people saw it first move, they all set up a loud shout, declaring it was not their exertions, but the power of the devil, that had effected it. The enormous mass was put in motion by a few poles, and palm-leaf ropes, all the means which they could command, and which nothing but the ingenuity of our traveller could have made efficient. But these materials, poor as they were, created not half the difficulty and delay occasioned by the intrigues of the Cachefs and Kaimakans, all of whom were desirous of extorting as much money as they possibly could, and of obstructing the progress of the work, as the surest means of effecting their purpose. Even the labourers, on finding that money was given to them for removing a mere mass of stoue, took it into their heads that it must be filled with gold,