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Egypt in favor of Scripture, until the great science of "Egyptology" has been made—in the hands of ingenious philologists, accomplished German infidels, crafty French sophists, decayed Italian scholars, and popular appealers to the spirit of infidelity, which always is alive—to attack the received opinions of the Christian church upon Scripture history and chronology.
I have been to Egypt, partly to gratify the confirmation of a faith instilled in childhood, and inculcated by teachings of accomplished scholars. Accident threw in my way, in a tour in Italy three years since, works upon the records of Egypt and theology, which, by the skilful management of the hieroglyphical records, had the effect to darken for a time my Christian faith, and to suggest doubts and conjectures rather than confidence in the Scripture records.
Perhaps a future volume may give me the opportunity of showing more fully than can be done here, what is the true character of those works; and, I may also relate my own convictions after a pretty thorough examination of the whole subject.
Before undertaking this visit to Egypt, I had enjoyed the advantage of consulting the most important works relating to that country, in the principal public libraries of Europe—including the British Museum, and the Royal libraries at Paris, Vienna, and Berlin; and I had studied the Egyptian remains in the chief Museums. The privilege of some acquaintance with several of the learned archaeologists and oriental scholars of Europe, had been of essential service in enabling me to prepare for this voyage. Unambitious of fame, I had nothing to lose; nothing to gain but truth.
In the works, the names of which the lectures of Gliddon have brought to notice in America, there was much to question. The " monumenti" of Rosellini and Champollion are filled with evidences of Scripture fulfilment and Scriptural illustration. The philologists of Germany and Paris have found their own refutation in the pages of the Berlin theologists. Some are too absurd, too malicious against Scripture, to be noticed, and are disavowed by moderate archaeologists like Bunsen, who are by no means to be praised for their orthodoxy: and their sophistry, like that of Fourier and the French infidels on the Zodiacs of Dendera and Esne, so fully exposed in the work of Champollion—" Fourier and Napoleon"—soon satisfied me that their objections were null, and their study loss of time; philological ingenuities, ethnological resemblances were all their objections were founded on.
The volumes of Osborn, Hengstenberg, and Wilkinson furnish much that is conclusive in confirmation of the Bible; and after a careful study of these introductory works, perhaps no candid man would need further evidence, that the Egyptian monuments do really illustrate and verify the Scriptures. These books, with the great French and Italian works on the hieroglyphics, and the Egyptian grammar and dictionary, will enable me to commence the profitable study of the monuments themselves.
The eminent scholar Letronne, of Paris, although too Jesuitical and conservative, in an age when looseness and license of opinion was prevailing around him, has grouped much that is valuable of the evidence, from the Egyptian monuments, in favor of Scripture truth. His death, lamented by all the archaeologists of Europe, free-thinking as well as orthodox, has deprived the world of much that is rare as well as definite upon the subject. Part of this, and a summary of the materials that I have collected, will be given to the world in a future and more elaborate work. When, upon a subject so vast, a scholar like Letronne hesitates to group his evidence until he can put upon it the stamp of incontrovertibility and completeness, it may seem presumptuous in a novice not to hesitate also. The object of the present pages, however, is more introductory than full; a mere journal of objects as they presented themselves.
The purpose of the author in going to the Nile being fully understood, he will describe his voyage and visit to those interesting places, in which difficulty, of necessity, made his voyage adventurous, threw him upon all his fancy for interest, and made him catch enthusiasm from the high religious satisfaction, poetry from the genius of the place, and constant excitement from the noble antiquities of the "times when the world was young."
The Rhine, Switzerland, the Italian lakes, the Tyrol, French, German, Hungarian revolutions, added interest to his journey to the ancient land. He paused in Greece, gazed on Parnassus and the Parthenon, and galloped over Attica. He looked upon the Areopagus, for it was the Mars Hill from which Paul preached of the temples in which dwelt the Living God; upon Mount Ida and the Troad; upon the citadel at Smyrna—that one ruin of the seven churches of God, and where Polycarp poured out his blood for Christ; upon ancient Byzantium's wall, and modern Constantinople's beauties; followed the Bosphorus to the Symplegades; roamed with a solitary Greek boatman through the isles of the jEgean; gazed upon the isle where St. John wrote the awful Revelation; breathed the mild air of Rhodes, and followed art and nature with a dreamer's eye. But what was Lake Leman to the Lake Mareotis? what were all the rivers in the world when one sees the glorious Nile?
Arriving at Alexandria by the Turkish steamer, I was impatient to rush over the canal, and without waiting for a steamboat, I jumped into one of the most ordinary of the carrying boats, and arrived in two days at Atfeh; an Arab boy, who knew a little Italian, was my companion. What a delight to behold that broad glorious river; its rushing waters, its noble palm groves; the Libyan and Arabian mountains; the strange life in the Arab towns, and all the varied novelties of oriental life and scenery!
It was in the latter part of November, 1848, that, at Atfeh, I procured a traveller's boat of the agent of the Oriental Company, and began my voyage up the Nile. The rich loam of its banks told stories of its deposits, as the soundings in Alexandria's harbor did to Herodotus; and proofs of the exhaustions of Nubia's soil gave increased certainty to the correctness of Scriptural chronology. Geologists have ascertained for us some facts, but the claim of ten thousand years for the world's history of man finds, apparently, but doubtful support from the Delta of the Nile. Deltas have yet to tell their tale, and Biblical Geology is yet to be written.
I had some knowledge of the vulgar Arabic, which I had studied with the oriental advantages of Paris and Vienna, and in Marcel's Dictionnaire of the vulgar Arabic. The Arabic rudiments which I had acquired from Causin de Percival and De Sacy enabled me to traffic for my provisions, and order my dinner with ease; which, as I had no dragoman, was a matter of convenience. At the end of a short time I had learned something of Nile boatmen and Egyptian life, had been satiated with the songs, "La Allah, 1' Allah y' lilla," could understand some of their stories of Antar and Hybla, learned to admire their deep earnestness; and, on the whole, to think favorably of the Egyptian Arabs. The song for "Hawaga" [the traveller] when he sits down to table, the sleeping song, the watchfire on the bank when the boat pulls to the shore, the wild dance and the sakia, or rude drum, the perfect time of their tunes and chorus—all these were novelties.
It was the liveliest of Cairo donkeys, and the ugliest and smartest of donkey boys, that took me into Cairo. These donkey boys, like the Gamins of Paris and the newspaper boys, will tell you every thing. They enliven your rides to the site of Heliopolis, to the fountain and tree of the Holy Family at Mataryeh, to the Citadel of Saracenic and Mohammedan Egypt, telling on its ruined walls tales of Pharaoh Hophra,* Saladin, and Mohammed Ali. One must not pass over the new mbsque at Cairo. Its interior architecture is of the finest Saracenic, and when completed, its exterior will be quite as imposing as that of our Capitol at Washington.
It was pleasant to amble through the groves of palm and acacia that abound in the rich, wild country north of Cairo, to that rare palace of orientalism at Shoubra of Mohammed Ali, whose gardens and kiosks and mosaics, are only rivalled by those of Granada. In these rides, I frequently met Mohammed Ali in his carriage, like a plain English gentleman, and he always saluted me with the uniform politeness that he has ever displayed towards Anglo-Saxons. He had recently lost his eldest son. the celebrated Ibrahim Pacha. We heard * His caitouche is in the wall.