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for guidance when the day for exploration shall come. The minds of scholars are preparing for an intelligent interpretation of what a future age may find; and science, chemical and mechanical, will probably supply such means. hereafter as we have not now, for treating and removing the sand, when its conservative office has lasted long enough. We are not worthy yet of this great unveiling; and the inhabitants are not, from their ignorance, trustworthy as spectators. It is better that the world should wait, if only care be taken that the memory of no site now known be lost. True as I feel it to be that we had better wait, I was for ever catching myself in a speculation, not only on the buried treasures of the mounds on shore, but on means for managing this obstinate sand.
And yet, vexatious as is its presence in many a daily scene, this sand has a bright side to its character, like every thing else. Besides its great office of preserving unharmed for a future age the records of the oldest times known to man, the sand of the desert has, for many thousand years, shared equally with the Nile the function of determining the character and the destiny of a whole people, who have again operated powerfully on the characters and destiny of other nations. Every where the minds and fortunes of human races are mainly determined by the characteristics of the soil on which they are born and reared. In our own small island, there are, as it were, three tribes of people, whose lives are much determined still, in spite of all modern facilities for intercourse, by the circumstance of their being born and reared on the mineral strip to the west-the pastoral strip in the middle-or the eastern agricultural portion. The Welsh and Cornwall miners are as widely different from the Lincolnshire or Kentish husbandmen, and the Leicestershire herdsmen, as Englishmen can be from Englishmen. Not only their physical training is different; their intellectual faculties are differently exercised, and their moral ideas and habits vary accordingly. So it is in every country where there is a diversity of geological formation: and nowhere is the original constitution of their earth so strikingly influential on the character of its inhabitants as in Egypt. There, every thing depends _life itself, and all that it includes-on the state of the unintermitting conflict between the Nile and the Desert. The world has seen many struggles; but no other so pertinacious, so perdurable, and so sublime as the couflict of these two great powers. The Nile, ever young
because perpetually renewing its youth, appears to the inexperienced eye to have no chance, with its stripling force, against the great old Goliath, the Desert, whose might has never relaxed, from the earliest days till now; but the giant has not conquered yet. Now and then he has prevailed for a season, and the tremblers whose destiny hung on the event have cried out that all was over; but he has once more been driven back, and Nilus has risen up again, to do what we see him doing in the sculptures--bind up his water plants about the throne of Egypt. These fluctuations of superiority have produced extraordinary effects on the people for the time, but these are not the forming and training influences which I am thinking of now. It is true that when Nile gains too great an accession of strength,' and runs in destructively upon the Desert, men are in despair at seeing their villages swept away, and that torrents come spouting out from the sacred tombs in the mountain, as the fearful clouds of the sky come down to aid the river of the valley. It is true that, in the opposite case, they tremble when the heavens are alive with meteors, and the Nile is too weak to rise and meet the sand columns that come marching on, followed by blinding clouds of the enemy; and that famine is then inevitable, bringing with it the moral curses which attend upon hunger. It is true that at such times strangers have seen (as we know from Abdallatif, himself an eye witness) how little children are made food of, and even men slaughtered for meat, like cattle. It is true that such have been the violent effects produced on men's conduet by extremity here; - effects much like what are produced by extremity every where. It is not of this that I am thinking when regarding the influence on a nation of the incessant struggle between the Nile and the Desert. It is of the formation of theit ideas and habits, and the training of their desires.
From the beginning, the people of Egypt have had every thing to hope from the river, nothing from the desert; much to fear from the desert, and little from the river. What their fear may reasonably be any one may know who looks upon a hillocky expanse of sand, where the little jerboa burrows, and the hyæna prowls at night. Under these hillocks lie temples and palaces, and under the level sands a whole city. The enemy has come in from behind, and stifled and buried it. What is the hope of the people from the river, any one may witness who, at the regular season, sees the people grouped on
every way bere;
the eminences, watching the advancing waters, and listening for the voice of the orier, or the boom of the cannon, which is to tell the prospect or event of the inundation of the year. Who can estimate the effect on a nation's mind and character, of a perpetual vigilance against the desert (see what it is in Holland of a similar vigilance against the sea); and of an annual mood of hope in regard to the Nile? Who cannot see what a stimulating and enlivening influence this periodical anxiety and relief must exercise on the character of a nation? And, then, there is the effect on their ideas. The Nile was naturally deified by the old inhabitants. It was a god to the mass, and at least one of the manifestations of deity to the priestly class. As it was the immediate cause of all they had, and all they hoped for --the creative power regularly at work before their eyes, usually conquering, though occasionally checked, it was to them the good power; and the Desert was the evil one. Hence came a main part of their faith, embodied in the allegory of the burial of Osiris in the sacred stream, whence he rose, once a year, to scatter blessings over the earth. Then, the structure of their country originated or modified their ideas of death and life. As to the disposal of their dead, they could not dream of consigning their dead to the waters, which were too sacred to receive any meaner body than the incorruptible one of Osiris ; nor must any other be placed within reach of its waters, or in the way of the pure production of the valley. There were the boundary rocks, with the limits afforded by their caves. These became sacred to the dead. After the accumulation of a few generations of corpses, it became clear how much more extensive was the world of the dead than that of the living; and as the proportion of the living to the dead became, before men's eyes, smaller and smaller, the state of the dead became a subject of proportionate importance to them, till their faith and practice grew into what we see them in the records of the temples and tombs-engrossed with the idea of death, and in preparation for it. The unseen world became all in all to them; and the visible world and present life of little more importance than as the necessary introduction to the higher and greater. The imagery before their eyes perpetually sustained these modes of thought. Every, where they had in presence the symbols of the worlds of death and life; the limited scene of production, activity, and change ;-the valley, with its verdure, its floods, and its busy, multitudes, who were all incessantly passing away, to be succeeded by their like ; while, as a boundary to this scene of life, lay the region of death, to their view unlimited, and everlastingly silent to the human ear. Their imagery of death was wholly suggested by the scenery of their abode. Our reception of this is much injured by our having been familiarized with it first through the ignorant and vulgarized Greek adoption of it, in their imagery of Charon, Styx, Cerberus, and Rhadamanthus : but if we can forget these, and look upon the older records with fresh eyes, it is inexpressibly interesting to contemplate the symbolical representations of death by the oldest of the Egyptians, before Greek or Persian was heard of in the world; the passage of the dead across the river or lake of the valley, attended by the conductor of souls, the god Anubis; the formidable dog, the guardian of the mansion of Osiris (or the divine abode); the balance in which the heart or deeds of the deceased are weighed against the symbol of Integrity; the infant Harpocrates—the emblem of a new life, seated before the throne of the judge ; the range of assessors who are to pronounce on the life of the being come up to judgment; and finally the judge himself, whose suspended sceptre is to give the sign of acceptance-or condemnation. Here the deceased has crossed the living valley and river; and in the caves of the death region, where the howl of the wild dog is heard by night, is this process of judgment going forward : and none but those who have seen the contrasts of the region with their own eyes, none who have received the idea through the borrowed imagery of the Greeks, or the traditions of any other people, can have any adequate notion how the mortuary ideas of the primitive Egyptians, and, through them, of the civilised world at large, have been originated by the everlasting con. flict of the Nile and the Desert.
How the presence of these elements has, in all ages, determined the occupations and habits of the inhabitants, needs only to be pointed out; the fishing, the navigation, and the almost amphibious habits of the people are what they owe to the Nile, and their practice of laborious tillage to the Desert. A more striking instance of patient industry can nowhere be found than in the method of irrigation practised in all times in this valley. After the subsidence of the Nile, every drop of water needed for tillage, and for all other purposes, for the rest of the year, is hauled up and distributed by human labour, up to the point where the sakia, worked by oxen, supersedes the shadoof, worked
by men. Truly the Desert is here a hard task-master; or, rather, a pertinacious enemy, to be incessantly guarded against : but yet a friendly adversary, inasmuch as such natural compulsion to toil is favourable to a nation's character.
One other obligation which the Egyptians owe to the Desert struck me freshly and forcibly, from the beginning of our voyage to the end, It plainly originated their ideas of art; not those of the present inhabitants, which are wholly Saracenic still: but those of the primitive race who appear to have originated art all over the world. The first thing that impressed me in the Nile scenery, above Cairo, was the angularity in all the forms. The trees appeared almost the only exceptions. The line of the Arabian hills soon became so even as to give them the appearance of being supports of a vast table-land, while the sand, heaped up at their bases, was like a row of pyramids. Elsewhere, one's idea of sand-hills is that, of all round eminences, they are the roundest; but here their form is generally that of truncated pyramids. The entrances of the caverns are square. The masses of sand left by the Nile are square. The river banks are graduated by the action of the water, so that one may see a hundred natural nilometers in as many miles. Then, again, the forms of the rocks, especially the limestone ranges, are remarkably grotesque. In a few days, I saw, without looking for them, so many colossal figures of men and animals springing from the natural rocks, so many sphinxes and strange birds, that I was quite prepared for any thing I afterwards met with in the temples. The higher we went up the country, the more pyramidal became the forms of even the mud houses of the modern people : and in Nubia they were worthy, from their angularity, of old Egypt. It is possible that the people of Abyssinia might, in some obscure age, have derived their ideas of art from Hindostan, and propagated them down the Nile. No one can now positively contradict it. But I did not feel on the spot that any derived art was likely to be in such perfect harmony with its surroundings as that of Egypt certainly is ;-a harmony so wonderful as to be, perhaps, the most striking circumstance of all to an European, coming from a country where all art is derived *, and its main beauty
* Even the Gothic spire is believed by those who know best to be an attenuated obelisk; as the obelisk is an attenuated pyramid. Our Gothic aisles are sometimes conjectared to be a symmetrical stone copy of the glades of a forest: but there are pillared aisles at El Karnac and Medeenet Haboo, which were constructed in a country which