Page images

had been discovered, which occasioned me many interruptions from visitors, among others was the Abbé de Forbin.

'On February 28, we discovered a block of granite (at 4) in an inclined direction towards the centre of the pyramid, and I perceived that the inclination was the same as that of the passage of the first pyramid or that of Cheops; consequently I began to hope that I was near the true entrance. On the first of March we observed three large blocks of stone one upon the other, all inclined towards the centre: these large stones we had to remove as well as others much larger as we advanced, which considerably retarded our approach to the desired spot. I perceived, however, that I. was near the true entrance, and, in fact, the next day about noon, on the 2d of March, was the epoch at which the grand pyramid of Cephrenes was at last opened, after being closed up for so many centuries, that it remained an uncertainty whether any interior chambers did or did not exist. The passage I discovered was a square opening of four feet high and three and a half wide, formed by four blocks of granite; and continued slanting downward at the same inclination as that of the pyramid of Cheops, which is an angle of 26°.-It runs to the length of 104 feet 5 inches, lined the whole way with granite. I had much to do to remove and draw up the stones which filled the passage (4, 5,) down to the port-cullis (6) or door of granite, which is fitted into a niche also made of granite. I found this door supported by small stones within 8 inches of the floor, and in consequence of the narrowness of the place it took up the whole of that day and part of the next to raise it sufficiently to afford an entrance; this door is 1 foot 3 inches thick, and, together with the work of the niche, occupies 6 feet 11 inches, where the granite work ends: then commences a short passage, (7) gradually ascending towards the centre, 22 feet 7 inches, at the end of which is a perpendicular of 15 feet: on the left is a small forced passage (9) cut in the rock, and also above, on the right, is another forced passage, (8) which runs upwards and turns to the north 30 feet, just over the port-cullis. There is no doubt that this passage was made by the same persons who forced the other, in order to ascertain if there were any others which might ascend above, in conformity to that of the pyramid of Cheops. I descended the perpendicular (x) by means of a rope, and found a large quantity of stones and earth accumulated beneath, which very nearly filled up the entrance into the psssage below (12) which inclines towards the north. I next proceeded towards the channel (10) that leads to the centre and soon reached the horizontal passage. This passage is 5 feet 11 inches high, 3 feet 6 inches wide, and the whole length, from the above-mentioned perpendicular (x) to the great chamber (11) is 158 feet 8 inches. These


passages are partly cut out of the living rock, and at half-way there is some mason's work, probably to fill up some vacancy in the rock; the walls of this passage are in several parts covered with incustations of salts.

'On entering the great chamber, I found it to be 46 feet 3 inches long, 16 feet 3 inches wide, and 23 feet 6 inches high; for the most part cut out of the rock, except that part of the roof towards the western end. In the midst we observed a sarcophagus of granite, partly buried in the ground, to the level of the floor, 8 feet long, 3 feet 6 inches wide, and 2 feet 3 inches deep inside, surrounded by large blocks of granite, being placed apparently to guard it from being taken away, which could not be effected without great labour; the lid of it had been opened; I found in it only a few bones of a human skeleton, which merit preservation as curious reliques, they being, in all probability, those of Cephrenes, the reported builder of this pyramid. On the wall of the western side of the chamber is an Arabic inscription, a translation of which has been sent to the British Museum.* It testifies that this pyramid was opened by the Masters Mahomet El Aghar and Otman, and that it was inspected in presence of the Sultan Ali Mahomet the 1st, Ugloch.' There are also several other inscriptions on the walls, supposed to be Coptic (qu. enchorial?); part of the floor of this chamber had been removed in different places evidently in search of treasure, by some of those who had found their way into it. Under one of the stones I found a piece of metal something like the thick part of an axe, but it is so rusty and decayed that it is almost impossible to form a just idea of its form. High up and near the centre there are two small square holes, one on the north and the other on the south, each one foot square; they enter into the wall like those in the great chamber of the first pyramid. I returned to the before-mentioned perpendicular (x) and found a passage to the north (12) in the same inclination of 26° as that above: this descends 48 feet 6 inches, where the horizontal passage (13) commences, which keeps the same direction north 55 feet, and half-way along it there is on the east a recess (13) of 11 feet deep. On the west side there is a passage (15) 20 feet long, which descends into a chamber (16) 32 feet long and 9 feet 9. inches wide, 8 and 6 feet high; this chamber contains a quantity of small square blocks of stone, and some unknown inscriptions written on the walls. Returning to the original passage, (13) and advancing north, near the end of it is a niche (17) to receive a portcullis like that above. Fragments of granite, of which it was made, are lying near the spot; advancing still to the north I en* We cannot find that this Inscription has yet reached its destination. A Tartaric title, as Uleg Bey, &c.


tered a passage (18) which runs in the same inclination as that before-mentioned, and at 47 feet 6 inches from the niche it is filled up with some large blocks of stone (19) put there to close the entrance which issues out precisely at the base of the pyramid. According to the measurements, it is to be observed that all the works below the base are cut into the living rock, as well as part of the passages and chambers before-mentioned. Before I conclude I have to mention that I caused a range of steps to be built, from the upper part of the perpendicular (x) to the passage below, for the accommodation of visitors.

• It may be mentioned, that at the time I excavated on the north side of the pyramid, I caused the ground to be removed to the eastward between the pyramid and the remaining portico which lies nearly on a line with the pyramid and the sphinx. I opened the ground in several places, and, in particular, at the base of the pyramid; and in a few days I came to the foundation and walls of an extensive temple, which stood before the pyramid at the distance of only 40 feet. The whole of this space is covered with a fine platform which no doubt runs all round the pyramid. The pavement of this temple, where I uncovered it, consists of fine blocks of calcareous stone, some of which are beautifully cut and in fine preservation; the blocks of stone that form the foundation are of an immense size. I measured one of 21 feet long, 10 feet high, and 8 in breadth (120 tons weight each); there are some others above ground in the porticoes, which measured 24 feet in length, but not so broad nor so thick.' Thus far Belzoni.

By the opening of this pyramid, and the discovery of human bones within the sarcophagus buried in the central chamber, (which were wanting in that found in the first pyramid,) the question as to the original design of those stupendous fabrics is, we should suppose, completely set at rest. It is quite certain, as M. Pauw has observed, that if they were intended for gnomons or sun-dials, as some have thought, the authors of them, had they studied how to make a bad sun-dial, could not well have contrived a worse than a pyramid; a stile of this form, placed in the latitude of Lower Egypt, must, for a great part of the year, and the greater part of the day, devour its own shadow, which, falling on its side and within its base, would consequently be useless. As little probability is there that they were intended to fix a permanent meridian, or to ascertain if the poles of the earth changed their place. As well might some future antiquarian of a new race of people conjecture, from observing the four sides of our church steeples to face the four cardinal points of the compass, that they had been built under the direction of mathematicians and astronomers, and that the whole nation was therefore particularly addicted to those sciences. It might happen

happen with regard to the builders of the pyramids, as with European churches, that some superstitious notions, connected with the east and the rising sun, may have determined the position of their faces, but that this position had any connection with science is a modern conjecture which has served at least to exercise the ingemuity of the learned. If any reasonable doubt could ever have been entertained of their original purpose, we think there are now sufficient grounds to pronounce them the mere monuments of posthumous vanity; a more civilized and artificial modification of the rude tumulus or cairn, to preserve in security, or perhaps to mark the spot where, the remains of some despot have been deposited, for which purpose they were prepared in his lifetime, or may have been raised to the memory of some favourite chief, after his death, by his faithful followers. The history of the pyramids of Egypt, obscure as it is, is in favour of the former supposition. The extraordinary care that was taken in the preservation of the body after death from violence and corruption, was quite consistent with the opinion of the Egyptians, that the soul never deserted the body while the latter continued in a perfect state. To secure this union, Cheops is said to have employed three hundred and sixty thousand of his subjects for twenty years* in raising over the augusta domus,' destined to hold his remains, a pile of stone equal in weight to six millions of tons, which is just three times that which the vast Breakwater, thrown across Plymouth Sound, will be when completed; and to render his precious dust still more secure, the narrow chamber was made accessible only by small, intricate pasBages, obstructed by stones of an enormous weight, and so carefully closed externally as not to be perceptible. Yet how vain are all the precautions of man! Not a bone was left of Cheops either in the stone coffin or in the vault when Shaw entered the gloomy chamber; a circumstance which led him to conclude, hastily enough, that the pyramids were never intended for sepulchral monuments; and the learned Bryant, having settled them to be temples consecrated to the Deity, had no difficulty in transforming the sarcophagus into a water-trough to hold the sacred element drawn up from the Nilea conception about as felicitous as that which would have converted the supposed sarcophagus of Alexander into a bathing-tub; a proof of which was in the holes in the bottom to let out the water! Belzoni however has gone far to prove that Strabo and Diodorus Siculus knew better, and that these ancient authors had good grounds for asserting the Egyptian pyramids to be sepulchral monuments. The discovery now made of the Saracens having opened the second pyramid is, we believe, perfectly new.

*Herodotus, lib. ii.


We do not suppose that Mr. Belzoni is a man of much education or deep science; but he certainly possesses considerable talent for research, and unwearied perseverance; the very requisites which are calculated to explore and bring to light the hidden treasures of antiquity. From the exertions of such a man, the British Museum is likely to become the first repository in the world for Egyptian art and antiquities; and we trust that every possible encouragement will be given to those exertions by rewarding him liberally for what he has done, and by promises of future rewards proportioned to the value of his discoveries; for if we are rightly informed, he is not in circumstances to incur expense without the chance of remuneration.

ART. VII.-Endymion: A Poetic Romance. By John Keats. London. 1818. pp. 207.

REVIEWERS have been sometimes accused of not reading the works which they affected to criticise. On the present occasion we shall anticipate the author's complaint, and honestly confess that we have not read his work. Not that we have been wanting in our duty-far from it-indeed, we have made efforts almost as superhuman as the story itself appears to be, to get through it; but with the fullest stretch of our perseverance, we are forced to confess that we have not been able to struggle beyond the first of the four books of which this Poetic Romance consists. We should extremely lament this want of energy, or whatever it may be, on our parts, were it not for one consolation—namely, that we are no better acquainted with the meaning of the book through which we have so painfully toiled, than we are with that of the three which we have not looked into.

It is not that Mr. Keats, (if that be his real name, for we almost doubt that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody,) it is not, we say, that the author has not powers of language, rays of fancy, and gleams of genius-he has all these; but he is unhappily a disciple of the new school of what has been somewhere called Cockney poetry; which may be defined to consist of the most incongruous ideas in the most uncouth language.

Of this school, Mr. Leigh Hunt, as we observed in a former Number, aspires to be the hierophant. Our readers will recollect the pleasant recipes for harmonious and sublime poetry which he gave us in his preface to ' Rimini,' and the still more facetious instances of his harmony and sublimity in the verses themselves; and they will recollect above all the contempt of Pope, Johnson, and such like poetasters and pseudo-critics, which so forcibly contrasted itself with Mr. Leigh Hunt's self-complacent approbation of


« PreviousContinue »