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ART. VII.-BELZONI'S DISCOVERIES IN EGYPT
AND NUBIA, &c. 1. Narrative of the Operations and recent Discoveries within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs, and Excavations in Egypt ant Nubia ; and of a Journey to the Coast of the Red Sea, in search of the Ancient Berenice; and another to the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. By G. Belzoni. 4to. London, 1820.
2. Plates, illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni, in Egypt and Nubia. Atlas folio. London, 1820.
3. Remarks on the Pyramid of Cephrenes, lately opened by Mr. Belzoni. By George Stanley Faber, B. D., Rector of Long Newton. 8vo. London, 1819.
The great antiquity of Egypt, the various revolutions which it has undergone, the wonders of its great river, its pyramids, and other amazing monuments of magnificence, have long been the admiration of the world, and the object of curious and inquisitive research. Notwithstanding much has been done by Norden, Pococke, Shaw, Denon, Hamilton, Legh, Burchardt, and others, whose general accounts of Egypt have left scarcely any thing to be desired concerning its manners and customs; yet it was reserved for the zealous and persevering efforts of Mr. Belzoni to achieve what his predecessors could not accomplish, and to bring to light many valuable and hidden stores of Egyptian antiquity. The celebrity and success of his exertions long preceded liis return into Europe, though some petty attempts were made, in certain French journals, to deprive him (in part at least) of his wellearned reputation : and the perusal of his volume will not disappoint the expectations of curiosity.
Mr. Belzoni is a native of Padua, descended from a family originally from Rome. Compelled by the troubles of Italy, in 1800, to quit the place of his birth, he passed his younger days in the former abode of his ancestors, where he was preparing to become a monk: but the sudden entrance of the French army into Rome checked the course of his education, and made him a wanderer ever since. Having spent nine years in England, he proceeded to the south of Europe; and, at Malta, meeting with an agent of the Pasha (or, as Mr. Belzoni invariably terms bim, the Bashaw) of Egypt, he embarked for Alexandria, on a project of constructing hydraulic machines, for which his previouslyacquired knowledge peculiarly qualified him, in order to irrigate the fields by an easier and more economical system than that which is at present in use in that country. In
June, 1815, Mr. and Mrs. Belzoni arrived at Alexandria ; and after some little delay, caused by the prevalence of the plague, he was at length introduced to the Pasha, Mahomet Ali, who received him very civilly. An arrangement was concluded, and Mr. Belzoni undertook to erect a machine, which should raise as much water with one ox, as the machines of the country do with four. A mutiny among the Bashaw's troops having been quelled, our enterprizing author resumed his hydraulic labour's in the garden of the Pasha, at Soubra, on the Nile, three miles from Cairo. The failure of his project is thus described, interspersed with some characteristic anecdotes of his employer:
“ We went to reside there, in a small house within the walls of the governor's palace, which was closed at night by large gates, something like the Occales in Alexandria. I bad many provoking difficulties to encounter, before I became acquainted with the people of the place, as they supposed, that the introduction of such machines into the country would throw many of them out of work; consequently I was not welcome among them; and the very persons who were to furnish me with what was necessary in wood, iron, carpentry, &c. would be the first to suffer by it, if the machine succeeded. It may, therefore, easily be imagined that I had to contend with many obstacles, besides the prejudice against all strangers, or innovations in the customs of the natives. As a proof of this may be cited the hydraulic machine already in Soubra, sent as a present from England to the Bashaw of Egypt, which is said to lrave cost ten thousand pounds. It was neatly put up, though the engineer, who was in charge of it, met with many difficulties before he effected it. At last it was set to work; but as it was imagined, that an English machine would inundate the whole country in an hour, the quantity of water raised was not adequate to their expectation, and it has been left useless ever since. For my own part, I have no doubt, that the machine might have been made to draw up more water, if the person who constructed it could have seen the place and situation in which it was to act. The failure in this instance had given me an early surmise of what might be my own fate; and I was not mistaken.
“During my stay at Soubra, I became acquainted with many Turks, and in particular with the governor of the palace, as we had our house within his walls. The garden of the Bashaw was under his care, and a guard was kept at the gates. The seraglio is so situated, that the front looks over the hill: at the back of it is the garden, which is under the care of Greeks, who in a few years have brought it to great perfection. There are beautiful alcoves, made in form of cupolas, entirely covered with plants; and the water machines, which are constantly at work, keep up a perpetual verdure. There is a fountain in the European style, and a great quantity of fruit, particularly grapes and peaches; but they never grow to any
many get rotten and fall before they are ripe; in consequence, the Turks eat thern green.
“ The Bashaw is in continual motion, being sometimes at his citadel, and sometimes at his seraglio in the Esbakie; but Soubra is his principal residence. His chief amusement is in the evening a little before sunset, when he quits his seraglio, and seats himself on the bank of the Nile, to fire at an earthen pot, with his guards. If any of them hit it, he makes him a present, occasionally of forty or fifty rubies. He is himself an excellent marksman; for 1 saw him fire at and hit a pot only fifteen inches high, set on the ground on the opposite side of the Nile, though the river at Soubra is considerably wider than the Thames at Westminster Bridge. As soon as it is dark, he retires into the garden, and reposes either in an alcove, or by the margin of a fountain, on an European chair, with all his attendants round him. Here his numerous buffoons keep him in continual high spirits and good humour. By moonlight the scene was beautiful. I was admitted into the garden whenever I wished, by which means I had an opportunity of observing the domestic life of a man, who from nothing rose to be viceroy of Egypt, and conqueror of the most powerful tribes of Arabia.
“ From the number of lights I frequently saw through the windows of the seraglio, I supposed the ladies were at such times amusing themselves in some way or other. Dancing women are often brought to divert them, and sometimes the famous Catalani of Egypt was introduced. One of the buffoons of the Bashaw took it into his head one day, for a frolic, to shave his beard; which is no trifle among the Turks; for some of them, I really believe, would sooner have their head cut off than their beard : he borrowed some Franks' clothes of the Bashaw's apothecary, who was from Europe, and, after dressing himself in our costume, presented himself to the Bashaw as a European, who could not speak a single word either of Turkish or Arabic, which is often the case. Being in the dark, the Bashaw took him for what he represented himself to be, and sent immediately for the interpreter, who put some questions to him in Italian, which he did not answer: he was then questioned in french, but no reply; and next in the German and Spanish languages, and still he was silent: at last, when he saw that they were all deceived, the Bashaw not excepted, he burst out in plain Turkish, the only language he was acquainted with, and his well known voice told them who he was; for such was the change of his person, particularly by the cutting off his beard, that otherwise they could scarcely have recognised bim. The Bashaw was delighted with the fellow; and, to keep up the frolic, gave him an order on the treasury for an enormous sum of money, and sent him
to the Kaciabay, to present himself as a Frank, to receive it. The Kaciabay started at the immensity of the sum, as it was nearly all that the treasury could furnish: but upon questioning this new European, it was soon perceived who he was. In this attire he went home to his women, who actually thrust him out of the door ; and such was the disgrace of cutting off his beard, that even his fellow buffoons would not eat with him till it was grown again.
*“ The Bashaw seems to be well aware of the benefits that may be derived from his encouraging the arts of Europe in his country, and had already reaped some of the fruits of it. The fabrication of gunpowder, the refining of sugar, the making of fine indigo, and the silk manufacture, are introduced, much to his advantage: he is constantly inquiring after something new, and is delighted with any thing strange to his imagination. Having heard of electricity, he sent to England for two electric machines, one with a plate, the other with a cylinder. The former was broken by the way; the latter was discounted. The physician of the Bashaw, an Armenian, did not know, though it was so easy a matter, how to set it up. Happening to be at the garden one evening, when they were attempting it, and could not succeed, I was requested to put the several pieces together; and, having done so, I made one of the soldiers mount on the insulating stool, charged the machine, and gave the Turk a good shock; who, expecting no such thing, uttered a loud cry, and jumped off, as much terrified as if he had seen the devil. The Bashaw laughed at the man's jumping off, supposing his fright to be a trick, and not the effect of the machine ; and when told, that it was actually occasioned by the machine, he affirmed positively that it could not be, for the soldier was at such a distance, that it was impossible the small chain he held in his hand could have such power. I then desired the interpreter to inform his Highness, that if he would mount the stool himself, he would be convinced of the fact. He hesitated for a while whether to believe me or not; however he mounted the stool. I charged well, put the chain into his hand, and gave him a pretty smart shock. He jumped off, like the soldier, on feeling the effect of the electricity ; but immediately threw himself on the sofa in a fit of laughter, not being able to conceive how the machine could have such power on the human body.” (P. 12—16.)
The hydraulic “ machine was set to work ; and although constructed with bad wood and bad iron, and erected by Arabian carpenters and bricklayers, it was a question whether it did not draw six or seven times as much water as the common machines. The Bashaw, after long consideration, gave his decision; and declared, that it drew up only four times as much. It is to be observed, that the water produced by this machine was measured by comparison with the water procured by six of their own; and that, at the time of measuring, the Arabs urged their animals at such a rate, that they could not have continued their exertion above an hour; and for the moment they produced nearly double the quantity of water, that was usually obtained. Notwithstanding all this, the calculation of the Bashaw was to my satisfaction, as it decided on the accomplishment of my undertaking. Still Mahommed Ali perceived plainly the prejudice among the Arabs, and some of the Turks, who were concerned in the cultivation of the land; for instead of four hundred people, and four hundred oxen, they would have only to command one hundred of each, which would make a considerable difference in their profits : but, as it happened, an accident occurred, that put an end to all their fears.
The Bashaw took it into his head to have the oxen taken out of the wheel, in order to see, by way of frolic, what effect the machine would have by putting fifteen men into it. James, the Irish lad in my service, entered along with them ; but no sooner had the wheel turned once round, than they all jumped out, leaving the lad alone in it. The wheel, of course, overbalanced by the weight of the water, turned back with such velocity, that the catch was unable to stop it. The lad was thrown out, and in the fall broke one of his thighs. I contrived to stop the wheel before it did farther injury, which might have been fatal to him. The Turks have a belief, that, when euch accidents happen in the commencement of any new invention, it is a bad omen. In consequence of this, exclusive of the prejudice against the machine itself, the Bashaw had been persuaded to abandon the affair. It had been stated to him, also, that it cost as much as four of the usual machines in making, while nothing was said of the advantages as to the oxen, that would be saved in the working of it. The business ended in this manner; and all that was due to me from the Bashaw was consigned to oblivion, as well as the stipulation I had made with him.” (P. 22—24.)
Thus disappointed in the object of his speculation, Mr. Belzoni listened to the suggestions of Mr. Salt, the British consul at Cairo, and of the late enterprizing traveller, Mr. Burchardt; and departed for Thebes, for the purpose of conveying to Alexandria the colossal head of young Memnon, which is now deposited in the British Museum. In his way thither he stopped to examine the celebrated temple of Tentyra. Dendera, the ancient Tentyra,-lies on the western bank of the Nile, near the extremity of a fertile plain, bounded by an extensive forest of palms and dates, which furnishes the greater part of Egypt with charcoal. The ruins of ancient Tentyra, which lie a little to the west of the modern town, are of considerable extent. The remains of three temples still exist: the largest of these, which was visited by Mr. Belzoni, is in a fine state of preservation, and surrounded by high mounds of rubbish belonging to the old city. This beautiful remain of Egyptian architecture is thus described :
“ The enormous masses of stone employed in the edifice are so well disposed, that the eye discovers the most just proportion every where. The majestic appearance of its construction, the variety of its ornaments, and, above all, the singularity of its preservation, had such an effect on me, that I seated myself on the ground, and for a considerable time was lost in admiration. It is the first Egyptian temple the traveller sees on ascending.the Nile, and it is certainly the most magnificent. It has an advantage over most others, from the good state of preservation it is in; and I should have no scruple in saying, that it is of a much later date than any other. The superiority of the workmanship gives us sufficient reason to suppose it to be of the time of the first Ptolemy; and it is not improbable, that he, who laid the foundation of the Alexandrian library, instituted the philosophical society of the Museum, and studied to render himself beloved by his