Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

feet. Here our Author' finds great fault with a Consul-Genie ral, who had refided fix years at Cairo, for giving a bad design of this pillar, from the travels of Paul Lucas. If he means Conful Maillet, it should be considered, that the editor, Abbé Malerier, added much of his own to the Conful's papers, which are known to be still extant; and great pity it is, that they are not publifhed as he left them...

From hence our Author took the road for the Califh, or Canal of Cleopatra, which supplies Alexandria with fresh water all the year round. It was made for the convenience of trade, to transport merchandise from Cairo to Alexandria, without hazarding the dangerous passage of the Bogafs, or mouth of the Nile. Decay of trade, and the ruin of the country, hinder the inhabitants from expending annually what is necessary to keep it in tolerable repair. It is now like a ditch, and scarcely serves to supply the refervoirs at New Alexandria. In the month of June it was so dry, that our Author walked thro' it. We are referred to the plates at the end of the book, for a view of one of the reservoirs. The pillars that fupport them are of different kinds, for the most part Gothic; which shews that they were repaired by the Saracens. The fmallness of the prefent city of Alexandria, when compared with the old city, and the great expence and trouble of cleaning these reservoirs, is the reason why fo few remain, and so many have been demolished: for if they were not cleaned, or destroyed, they would poison the country. The canal, tho' distinguished by the name of Cleopatra, is certainly as ancient as the old city of Alexandria; for the inhabitants could have had no fresh water without it, the Nile here mixing with the sea. Besides, such a canal was neceffary for the conveyance of the materials for building. : That it was called Cleopatra's canal, might have been owing to some considerable repairs she made, or to fome thews the exhibited there.

Where the ruins of the city end, the Burying-caves, or Sepulchral-grottos, begin. They are now all of them opens and unfurnished'; they are hewn out in the rock, and extend to a great distance, along the sea-side: they are broad enough to have admitted two-corps, and are in length about the fize of a man ; their height is as the rock permitted. There are other rocks which advance into the water, and form natu. ral grottos, which, with fome artificial improvement, are made cool and pleasant retreats for fhade, and bathing. At the distance of thirty or forty paces from the fhore, and opposite to the point of the peninsula that forms the port, is a subterranea: Øys monument, which is commonly called a temple. - You Du


enter with torches in your hand, throa smalt opening, and stoop as you go along a narrow, low paffage, which at the end of twenty paces, opens into a large square chamber. The top is regular, like the four fides; the bottom is covered with fand, sand the odung of bats, and other animals that find a retreat here. But you do not arrive at the temple till after going thro' another pallage, you meets with a more beautiful room, having the top cut out like a vaulted roof, and four doors opposite to one another, each ornamented with an architrave, a cornice, vand a pediment; with a crescent, or half moon, over it. One of these doors ferves for the entrance, the others form a fort of niches, which contain each of them a place hollowed in the rock,s of a size fufficient to admit a corpses which thews it to have been the tombcrof fome king, or other great person. There is no inseription, nor foulpture, to inform us for whom, or on what occafion, it was made. There may be many more fuch; some never opened fince they were firt fhut, and others choaked with fand, as this will be in times for the entrance and passage seem to leffen from the increase of fand driven into it. In ascending, upon the top of the same rock, you fee large foffes or ditches; when or for what purpose cut, no one knows. They descend perpendicularly, and are about forty feet deep, fifty long, and twenty feet wide. Their sides are even; but the bottom is so covered with fand, that it is difficult to discover the heighth of a paffage which, in some of these foffes, should seem to lead to some fubterraneous place: and a stranger, travelling into these countries, cannot be supposed to have it in his power to clean out one of these places, to satisfy his curiosity.

> Before we take our leave of Old Alexandria, it may be worth while to consider, whence came all that quantity of marble and granite employed in building so great a city, and what is become of it all, since the destruction of Alexandria?

To suppose that the workmen went very far for materials, which they might have had near at hand, were absurd, nor, if they had sent a great way off for their materials, could Alexder have raised the city to the magnificence with which it apa peared, even in his time; nor could it have arrived, fo foon after, at the still greater splendor it acquired under the Ptole mies.' It is, therefore, a probable supposition, that the gran deur of Alexandria, fprung from the ruins of Memphis. And this, fays Mr. Norden, may be the easier admitted, because of the difficulty there would be to account otherwife for the preseat state of the ruins of that great city; of which little more semains than barely, fuffices to thew where it once stood.


Should it be objected, that so great a Prince as Alexander, would never have destroyed one city in order to raise an other from its ruins ; this is granted : but he might well have employed the materials of a city, already decayed, in building another that was to bear his own name. That Memphis ftiii existed in the days of Alexander, no one can doubt; but it must have been then in a state of ruin: for it is not likely that the Persians, who carried destruction thro? the whole country, would thew more favour to Memphis than to the other cities in Egypt. Cambyses had carried away their Deities; their priests were gone, and the splendor of religion was eclipsed at Memphis. What then must have been the condition of their magnificent temples, forsaken by their own inhabitants, and despised, and prostituted to the vileft purposes, by the Perfians? In this case, Alexander might have made use of them in building other temples: and the canal, finge called after Cleopatra, might aslift in conveying the materials from Memphis. But if from thence, how is it that they are not adorned with hieroglyphics? This is indeed, an objection that mult be clearly answered, or it will deftroy this favourite hypothesis of Mr. Norden’s, that Alexandria was raised from the ruins of Memphis. He obseryes, therefore, that in Alexander's time, there was no longer any tafte, .even in Egypt, for the old Egyptian architectures, that Greece, tho? fe derived the principles of that art from the Egyptians, had changed their way of building, into one that was more light, and ornamented in a different manner, and that he had neither the immense riches, nor quantity of materials and workmen, necessary for such solid edifices. Here, perhaps, jour Readers will be ready to ask, what has this to do with hieroglyphics, and materials ready for ule? Alexander, according to Mr. Norden, being accustomed, from his youth, to the Grecian architecture, would not change it for that of a country he had conquered; and, in cutting down, to a proper size, the materials with which the ruins of Memphis might furnith him, the hieroglyphics, must be loft: which, probably, gave the Greeks little concern, as they had no reverence for them on a religious account, and were, moreover, totally ignorant of their meaning. Besides, how improper would it be to make use of a pillar covered with hieroglyphics, together with a pilJar of the Corinthian Order? ...

If this answer prove not satisfactory to our Readers, as very likely, it may not, Memphis must remain in its own ruins, and the canal must be restored to Cleopatra. If you ask, what is become of the ruins of Alexandria itself? the answer is, great


part of them are still on the spot, either above; or under ground; and some have been transported to Europe. It is but little, indeed, that is carried away at once, but this in time will amount to a great deal.

If you enquire of Mr. Norden after the tomb of Alexana der, the Serapeum, Museum, &c. he will tell you, that he could find no traces of them, tho' he took all possible pains to discover them. Alexander's tomb is said, by one author, in the fifteenth century, to have exifted at that time, and to have been respected by the Saracens; but the inhabitants have no tradition left about it. Our Author enquired, and fearched for it in vain. This discovery, fays be, may be reserved for fome future traveller. The same is said of the Serapeum. He could discover no traces of that magnificent temple ; but thinks its ruins may be hid under one of the hills or mounts he has mentioned. From what the seventy Interpreters have said, he determines the fituation of the Museum to have been where the Jeffer Pharillon now is. However, adds he, you may, if you think proper, fuppofe it to have been between that and the palace; but he advises you, in this research, to keep near the port, and then cautions you not to dispofe of the different quan ters of the city, as the author of Remarks upon the Commentaries of Cæfar, published in England, has done. He is a little fevere upon this Editor, and upon the great architect, Palladio, whom that Editor is said to have followed, and whom Mr. Norden charges with having indulged himself in the same liberty that painters take, who, in designing the scene of an history piece, represent, by imagination, places they never faw.

Our Author opens his account of New Alexandria, in terms which we tranflate as follows. We may compare the new • city of Alexandria to a poor orphan, who has no inheri<tance left him but the honourable name of his father. The

vast extent of the old city, is, in the new, reduced to a small flip of land, lying between the two ports. The fplendid temples, are changed into inelegant mosques : the mag

nificent palaces, into ill-built houses: the royal palace itself, • into a place of confinement for flaves : la numerous and S opulent people, are fucceeded by a few foreign traders, and a

parcel of wretches, the fervants of thofe traders. A city once fo famous for the extent of its commerce, is now no more than a place to take. fhipping at. In short, it is not a phoenix raised out of its own alhes, but rather one of thofe vermin bred from the dirt, or duft, 'which has infected the whole country, by means of the Koran,


« AnteriorContinuar »