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stupendous whole, Cairo's collection of Egyptian antiquities is colossal and overwhelming - statues, mummies, coffins, sarcophagi, scarabs, papyri, jewels, grave-furniture, stelæ, and carved inscriptions. If one facing such a monument as this is bewildered and confused, how much greater is the confusion of one writing of it — forced to say something, yet knowing neither where to begin nor where to end?
I am content to let the task go largely unperformed,
at least for the present, — mentioning but a few of the treasures now and considering others, perhaps, as reference to them may be appropriate when we come to explore the various sites whence they were exhumed. The carved stelæ, for example, and the grave statues, such as the magnificent diorite image of Khephrên or the innumerable wooden effigies which fill several rooms of the museum, -must be considered more fully when we take up the description of the ancient cemeteries of Ghizeh and Sakkâra. The gems and jewels and the vast array of accessories which the Egyptian of old caused to be buried with him for use in the happy hereafter we shall have repeated reference to as we go up the Nile, inspecting tombs without number. For the present, as connected with our mention of this incomparable museum, let us consider nothing but the actual tenants of those tombs- the mummied bodies of the mon
archs who ruled in a day when Mycenæ was yet undreamed of.
It is true that the mummied kings are by no means the oldest objects in the building, but their effect is unquestionably the most overpowering and impressive. It is no light matter to feel that one looks upon the very flesh and bone, the very faces and features, of Pharaohs who reigned long years before Moses led the Israelites out of bondage -- long years, indeed, before Israel was even captive. Yet these are they ! This is their flesh. These are the very hands that once the rod of empire must have swayed. These are the lips that gave law to a nation. And in the silence of death, after many thousand years have rolled over their desert tombs, their faces still preserve a kingly character and an individuality that is indescribable.
Over the bodies of the kings one speaks instinctively in a whisper, as at the bier of one but newly dead. And is it not fitting that it should be so ? I cannot but feel something near allied to pity for these world-worn, war-scarred monarchs, dragged from the deep sepulchres in which they plotted to slumber for all eternity, and put once again on show for a gaping crowd. And so terribly real they are, these emperors of the long ago! We who have come to think of Agamemnon as half mythical are brought face to face with those brave men who were before
Agamemnon, who lived before Troy's towers rose, or Greece was great, or even before Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brethren! When this proud figure was erect and powerful, no man knew the name of Homer, and many centuries must elapse before the light should dawn in Galilee. Of all the wonderful things that the hand of prying man has garnered out of the buried fields of Egyptian antiquity and housed in the museum of Cairo, nothing can compare with this taciturn file of monarchs dead and turned to clay, here present in the body as when they were laid to rest, and bearing on their blackened faces some image of the vanished soul.
Men may differ as they will in their estimates of Greek and Egyptian art. They may quarrel over the problems of chronology. They may question the reality of Abraham and query which was the Pharaoh of the Oppression. All must stand dumb and awed before these royal corpses stretched in silent majesty upon their bier. What if they could be endued with power to speak out? How speedily those dead lips might confute our modern wisdom with all its dogmatizing over what went on in Egypt three thousand years ago!
EFORE proceeding to a consideration of the
older sites of Egypt it seems essential to acquire some general understanding of the ancient beliefs, especially of such as pertained to the future life and its relation to the earthly existence of mankind. It is by no means an easy task to reduce to convenient form the great mass of existing detail on this subject, yet it must be done, because without it an intelligent appreciation of the most impressive remains of old Egypt is impossible.
Two species of survival from the dynastic times have to be considered - namely, the tombs of various sorts, and the temples. Each species is so intimately connected with the religion of the ancient peoples and their ideas of the attributes of their gods that what is