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1. Egypt, from its geographical position and commercial importance, has in all ages acted a conspicuous part in the history of the world. No surprise can therefore be felt at the profound interest which the learned and ingenious part of mankind have always experienced in whatever concerns its ancient monuments or actual condition. In the most remote ages, we behold the Patriarchs, attracted by its fertility and abundance, abandon their own country to sojourn in this land. Hither, likewise, travelled the sages and philosophers of Greece, not perhaps, as is commonly supposed, to study wisdom under Egyptian masters ; but to make their own observations on its government, policy, arts, sciences, and the extremely peculiar character, which its inhabitants, while they subsisted as a nation, continued to manifest in all their actions. From those remote periods to the present, though the Egyptian race has long disappeared from among mankind, and their language become an enigma, the country they inhabited, and the monuments of
deur and power which they left behind, have been an object of untiring curiosity; and to this source of interest, which can never cease or diminish so long as the history of the arts shall be thought worthy of attention, another, of a more popular nature, has now been added, in the political and moral revolution commenced by Mohammed Ali. A despot, destitute of the resources supplied by study, and an enlarged knowledge of mankind, relying solely on his own rude genius, and the hints furnished by his personal experience, has manifested the design, not merely to found a dynasty, — which in the East would be nothing new; — but at the same time to regenerate and conduct into the track of European civilisation, a people de. moralised and degraded by a thousand years of political servitude. But to profess and undertake are easy. Selym, Ab-dul-Hamid, and Mahmood may justly, perhaps, obtain credit for similar projects ; but the deplorable condition of the Turkish empire is a proof that their enterprises are simply entitled to the praise of well-meaning efforts, rendered ineffectual by ignorance and want of genius. To know whether Mohammed Ali should be ranked in the same class of projectors, we have only to observe the effects produced upon the country and people by his administration ; from which his character and intellectual endowments, the only instruments he can possess for effecting his purposes, --- will be much better ascertained, than from any tact which he may exhibit in diplomatic transactions.
II. Many considerations connected with the above views concurred in determining me to visit Egypt. Various works had, I knew, been recently added to those bequeathed to us by former writers on its antiquities and resources ; but, upon an attentive examination of the greater number of them, I found that, on several important points, their authors seemed to possess extremely vague and imperfect information, and differed in a remarkable manner from each other. It therefore appeared, if I valued the acquisition of correct notions, and felt a repugnance to adopt, on a subject so highly interesting, ideas palpably crude and extravagant, that it was necessary to become a traveller myself, and form my own opinions on the spot. Once in the country, the desire of tracing southward, as far as possible, the footsteps of Egyptian civilisation, induced me to extend my journey into Nubia, to about the latitude of Mekka, beyond which the Nile is not navigable, and where all important monuments cease. As I had anticipated, the result was productive of extreme gratification. The rock temples and extinct volcanoes of Nubia, – now, for the first time, explored, the pyramids of Ghizeh,
the colossal ruins of Thebes, - the Upper and Lower Cataracts, - the savage beauties of Lake Mæris, -the rose-gardens and olive plantations of the Arsinoëtic Nome, the desert, — the Bedouins, — and, above all, the grandeur and wonderful qualities of the Nile,-- united in maintaining the persuasion that, in selecting the scene of my observations, I had done well in preferring Egypt and Nubia to all other
parts of the world. Such notions, however, as I had derived from my previous studies, proved, upon examination, both defective and incorrect. respects, the country itself had changed; for the people, projected by recent innovations into the track of improvement, appeared in many respects to be daily assimilating more and more to the nations of Europe ; still preserving, however, in this perceptible mutation, those striking peculiarities of manners and habits which characterise every Oriental people. Hitherto the innovation of Mohammed Ali might be said to have produced no beneficial external result ; but it was clear that public opinion, and the sentiments of individuals, the roots of action, had undergone a change. Without knowing why or wherefore, the bigoted Turk and ignorant Fellah had ceased to exhibit, in their intercourse with Europeans, that brutal contempt which is the most offensive characteristic of barbarians ; taking their tone, perhaps, from their Ruler, who, it matters little whether from partiality or policy, openly evinces, on all occasions, a respect for enlightened foreigners.
III. Immediately on my arrival, I found that Egypt was in a position truly extraordinary: the ancient landmarks had been removed; new ideas, feelings, wants, had been generated : society, convulsed to its centre, and reduced, as it were, to a state of fusion, seemed ready to assume any new form into which the genius of the times might mould it; but what that new form was to be, no man, whether