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The compiler of the following pages was prompted to the work partly by his own reflections, and partly by the request of a friend, who thought that such a labor might be useful to the cause of truth. It is not a scientific work, nor was it penned for the learned. They probably will have already acquired, in their studies, all the information they can gather from its pages.
On such a subject as this book presents, to have attempted originality, would unavoidably have been to commit error; for its simple object was to collect into a plain and comprehensible compend, the results of the research of many different inquirers in the field of Egyptian archaeology. The writer, therefore, begs leave distinctly to disavow all claim to the merits of authorship. He aspires here to no more than the humble office of a compiler. He will be abundantly satisfied, if he shall be found to have so used the materials, furnished by others more learned than himself, as to have made an intelligible, true, and readable book.
He would not be guilty of the injustice of robbing those to whose labors he has been so largely indebted. He has used them without hesitation or reserve, wherever they could, in his view, advance the cause of truth; because, first, he believed of many of them that, as lovers of truth, they would not withhold such use; and next, because he meant distinctly to declare to the world, as he has done, that he claims to be no more than a compiler. He has often referred in the following pages to the writer from whom he obtained information, and has quoted his words; but as in some instances this is not done, he begs leave to make a general acknowledgment, and enumerate the principal authors to whom he is indebted. These are Champollion le Jeune, Champollion Figeac, Rosellini, Young, Spineto, Lepsius, Wilkinson, Birch, Osborn, Bunsen, Kitto, Hengstenberg, and the "Description" of the French savans.
Had there been precisely such a work as is here attempted, accessible to English readers, the writer would, with becoming modesty, have withheld his efforts. The only one of a similar kind, is the truly learned work of Hengstenberg, "Egypt and the Books of Moses;" very well translated into English from the German, in 1843, by Mr. Robbins, then of the Andover Seminary, and published in the same year. But this work, valuable as it confessedly is, (and none has been more useful to the compiler,) is almost too learned for general readers: its arrangement also seemed susceptible of improvement; but above all, there was additional testimony resting in the writings of others, which it was desirable to incorporate with the valuable contributions of Hengstenberg. Hence the present attempt.
It had been easy to make the work more full. Many more illustrations and confirmations might have been produced, and a chapter might have been written on the fulfil
ment of prophecies concerning Egypt: but to have done this, would have been in some measure to defeat the object of the work; which was to select the plainest and most intelligible proofs, and to present them with reasonable brevity; in the hope that without wearisomeness they might engage the attention of the general reader, who could not be expected to find much interest in evidence that could be made plain by learned discussion only.
To Mr. Gliddon undeniably belongs the merit of having first awakened general attention, in the United States, to the very interesting subject of Egyptian antiquities. As the result of his labors in that cause, many intelligent and educated Americans have since busied themselves in the field of research. Several have visited Egypt; and while the following sheets were passing through the press, one of them returned from that country, who, at the request of the writer, placed at his disposal a brief journal of his voyage up and down the Nile. This is printed at the close of the present volume, with a note explanatory of the causes which led to its appearance.
New-York, September, 1849.
AND ITS MONUMENTS.
Interest excited by Egypt.—Object of the present work.—Art of writing very ancient in Egypt.—Egyptian author Manetho.—Greek writers, Herodotus, Diodorus.—Work of Horapollo.—Modern efforts at deciphering the hieroglyphics.—Father Kircher.—Zoega.—Warburton's hint.—Quatremere's discovery. —Work of the French savans.—Discovery of the Rosetta stone.
"egypt.—This country offers subjects of conversation and meditation which no traveller can entirely neglect, whoever he may be, if he have eyes to see, a memory to remember, and a sprinkling of imagination wherewith to dream. Who can be indifferent to the tableau of unaccountable Nature on the banks of the Nile: at the spectacle of this river-land, that no other land resembles 1 Who will not be moved in the presence of this people, which of old accomplished such mighty deeds, and now are reduced to misery so extreme? Who can visit Alexandria, Cairo, the Pyramids, Heliopolis, Thebes, without being moved by reminiscences, 2