תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

As regards the removing of the prostrate obelisk at Alexandria, it would be a slur upon our many scientific engineers for me to propose a plan-but of its possibility no doubt can exist. In 1824, Admiral Donally, in a letter published in the Appendix to W. Rae Wilson's Travels, submitted a plan for its removal. This consisted in fitting out the frame of a flat-bottomed vessel in England, and sending her to Alexandria," and what in ship-building are called “ways,' laid on an inclined plane from the needle to the harbour; an excavation should then be made under one end of the obelisk, and a shore or prop placed under it. At a certain distance from that, (depending upon the stability of the substratum,) let another excavation be made, and a second shore placed, and so on according to circumstances-I think one at each end, and one in the centre would answer. Thus the obelisk would be suspended upon three points. The frame of the flat vessel might then be easily placed under it, and strongly fastened together, and then planked and caulked, taking care that the ways' or inclined plane be properly placed. The shores then cut away, one by one, and the hole they make in the bottom closed, and the vessel, which will draw very little water launched into the harbour; temporary masts placed in her, and attended or towed by another ship, she might, I think, arrive safely in the Thames.” Objections have been made to launching it at all at the new harbour, on account of its rocky and unsafe character; and it has been suggested by a distinguished officer, Major-General Sir John Burgoyne, who, to a knowledge of the country, adds engineering talents of the highest order, now happily employed for the benefit of Ireland, that it would be better“ to roll and drag the monster across the isthmus, on which the present town is built, to the good harbour, and then embark it by means of a sufficient jetty.” This jetty might, I think, be easily constructed near the Mahmoudie canal, where the water is sufficiently deep, and without rocks; perhaps, the construction of a mere raft of timber, or coating it in a case of timber with airtight boxes would be sufficient, and then towing it away, during calm weather, with a steamer to England. Although the proposal which I made in April, 1839, of having the obelisk erected as the “Nelson Testimonial," has not been attended to; yet, I do not despair of seeing it one day ornamenting the capital of Great Britain. Several gallant officers have expressed a desire of seeing it standing in the square of Greenwich Hospital; and, certainly, it would not only be an appropriate site, but one that affords many facilities for its erection. A penny subscription from all the inhabitants of London would place it in any part of England.

landing-place. I have no doubt that, if asked for by the French, Mohammad Alee would give permission for their removal, when they would be placed without loss of time in Paris, as another "characteristic of conquest.It is likewise interesting to notice the fact of this obelisk's construction in the reign of Thothmes III., the Pharaoh supposed to have been destroyed in the Red Sea.

624

APPENDIX.

I.- Page 193.

ON THE MEMBRANE OF THE CAMEL'S MOUTH.

The peculiarity that this beast possesses of protruding a large inflated bladder-like substance from its mouth, when irritated, or over-driven, as I mentioned in the text, is very remarkable, and has but very lately been satisfactorily accounted for. In the “Nuova Giornale de Litterati," No. xvi. Dr. Paolo Savi, Professor of Natural History in the University of Pisa, published a most int ting memoir on this subject. His observations were made upon some of the animals of the Camelus Dromedarius, belonging to the celebrated breed of San Rossore, in that neighbourhood. He has discovered that this "guttural bladder” is nothing else than an extraordinary development of the uvula, which is usually fourteen or fifteen inches in length, and attached, not to the free margin of the soft palate, as in other mammalia, but to its anterior or adherent edge, and also to the arches of the palate; so that, hanging like a curtain in front of the velum pendulum palati, it appears to shut up the opening into the fauces. It is united to the posterior or free margin of the soft palate a kind of frænaculum, divided longitudinally into two portions. There is also a semilunar reduplication of mucous membrane, that can occasionally close the opening of the posterior nares;

“this kind of partition is so placed as to cover the larynx by its inclination; and consequently, it forms with that part and the superior wall of the nasal canal, a cul de sac." When the animal wishes to project the sac, it raises the soft palate, and with it, and the semilunar partition, closes the posterior nares, expiring at the same time with great force. The air not finding a ready egress by the mouth, owing to the isthmus faucium being closed by the enlarged and distended uvula, forces it forwards, and inflates it into the form of an elongated bladder, owing to its flaccid sides, &c. being attached to the palatine arches by means of the reduplication of membrane before mentioned. In this manner it is protruded from the side of the mouth, and retracted by the azygos muscle, and some of the fibres of the levatores palati mollis.—See Jamieson's Philos. Journal, Vol. xii. 1825.

My friend, Dr. Houston, informs me, that in the dissection of the mouth and fauces of the camel now in the collection of the College of Surgeons, he was struck with the very great flaccidity of the folds of membrane lining the arches of the palate, uvula, and all the adjacent parts ; and says, that the submucus cellular tissue beneath this was particularly lax, allowing the membrane to be drawn out to a great extent. From the appearance that the parts present, it seems to me to partake

[blocks in formation]

more of the nature of erectile tissues; and, in all probability, the whole lining membrane of the jaws, palate, and pharynx, partakes of this flaccid and, under certain circumstances, and at particular seasons, erectile nature.

Since the above was first published, I have had an opportunity of carefully dissecting all these parts along with my venerable friend, Professor Seiler of Dresden, and have satisfied myself of the accuracy of Professor Savi's observations.

K.-Page 205.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE TROCHILUS OF EGYPT.

That the ancient Egyptians paid particular attention to the habits of the lower animals, there can now be little doubt, and that this knowledge of natural history was turned to account in their mythology, there is every reason to believe. Among the many fabulous accounts related of the animals of Egypt, there is a curious story told by Herodotus and Pliny, about a little bird of the plover kind, the Charadrius Spinosus, of Latham, and called by those ancient writers, the Trochilus.

Speaking of the crocodile, the former says, “ Beasts and birds universally avoid it—the Trochilus alone excepted—which, from a sense of gratitude, it treats with kindness. When the crocodile leaves the water, it reclines itself on the sand, and generally towards the west, with its mouth open; the Trochilus, entering its throat, destroys the leeches; in acknowledgment for which service, it never does the Trochilus injury.”— Herod. Euterpe, Ixviii.

The recital of Pliny is still more extravagant. The following quaint translation of it may offer an apology for its insertion verbatim :-“When he (the crocodile) hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep upon the sands in the shore ; and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard thereof, cometh the wren—a little bird, called there Trochilus, and the king of the birds in Italy, and shee, for her victual's sake, hoppeth first about his mouth ; falleth to pecking or picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth ; and all to make him gape. Then getteth shee within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and chaws.”—Pliny, B. viii. chap. 25.

Should the crocodile by chance close his mouth, it is again related by other authorities, how the little picktooth expands its wings, which, being provided with spurs, prick the monster, to remind him of the confinement of his benefactor. This little bird is still very common in Egypt, and called by the natives Sicsac. Foolish as this legend may appear, there is some

[blocks in formation]

As soon

foundation for it; and although we cannot credit the polite understanding and friendly footing between these animals, yet it is a very remarkable fact, that the great difficulty at present attending the shooting, or near approach to the reptile, is owing to the invariable presence of the Sicsac. as the crocodile comes ashore to sleep, it is sure to be attended by the plover, who remains near it, either seated on the same bank, or wheeling above it in the air; and hence, in all probability, its name of Trochilus, from the Greek word Toxos. Its note is peculiarly wild and startling, particularly on the approach of man, and by this means it gives warning to the sleeping monster. Its remaining in the vicinity of the crocodile may be to procure food either from its exuvies or the great number of flies and other insects that haunt and annoy it, the moment it appears on land; and this apparent sympathy between them may have given rise to the tales of Herodotus and Pliny.

L.-PAGE 254.

THE SCARAB ÆUS.

This creature offers another and still more striking example of the interest taken by the Egyptian priests in zoology. No animal formed a more important part, not only in the mysteries of their religion, but in their hieroglyphic writings, than did this. There is scarcely a monument in that country on which it is not either carved or painted. Seals, rings, necklaces, and amulets, formed of amethyst, green stone, cornelian, agate, and numberless other stones, as well as porcelain and common blue pottery ware, were carved into the form of this insect.

The animals I have figured in the text are a male and female Copris, one of the species of the Scarabeides, and which I am inclined to believe is the insect represented more frequently upon the Egyptian paintings than the Scarabæus Sacer. The male Copris differs from the female by the prominences in the form of horns on the head and corslet of the former. The Scarabæus Sacer is somewhat smaller, and without these horns, and both it and the Ateuchus-another beetle of the Scarabeides, are very common in that country-much more so than the Copris. The best proof, however, that can be offered as to this latter insect being the true mythological or symbolic beetle of the ancients is, that an embalmed Scarabee was found at Thebes, which Latreille pronounced to be the Copris Sabeus of Fabricius.

To enumerate the various surmises and conflicting opinions that have been set forth, accounting for the worship of this animal, would form a volume in itself. Like most of the other animals, it had in all likelihood many mystical meanings, the interpretations of which are to us still a secret. The most generally received opinions are, that it was emblematic

[blocks in formation]

of the sun, and also of the great reproductive power of the universe. It holds a conspicuous place in the representation of the zodiac at Denderah where it is supposed to mean the sign Cancer; or at least that the Greek sign of that creature was derived from it. Clemeus Alexandrinus says“ The oblique course of the heavenly bodies is represented by a snake, but that of the sun by a scarabee; because, shaping a piece of dung into a circular form, he rolls it backwards, his face being turned in a contrary direction to his course." Plutarch says—“The scarabee depositing his seed in a piece of dung made into a circular form, rolls it backwards, as the sun appears to turn the heavens round in a contrary direction, himself being borne from west to east.” Porphyry gives a like statement. That it does roll its ball backwards I have no doubt, and in that way it may be emblematical of the supposed annual course of the sun, from west to east, contrary to his diurnal course from east to west, as here stated; but I have seen them much more frequently in the position I have described at page 253 of this volume.

As Mr. Mure seems to have collected most of the opinions upon this topic, I here quote the following from his “ Dissertation on the Calendar and Zodiac of Ancient Egypt;"

Paoni (Cancer). “ The month of the sun by pre-eminence, that is, of the greatest height and brilliancy of the luminary, corresponding to our July; which season, the rapid approach of the Nile to its full tide, and the rise of the dog -star, rendered the most important and joyous of the year ; hence its dedication by preference to the splendid orb itself, which influenced and reigned supreme over their calendar, as well as their mythology.

“ The sign of this season on the Greek zodiac is a crab; an unmeaning emblem as referred to Egyptian mythology. But on the greater number of Egyptio-Greek astronomical monuments, we find the scarabee, instead of the crab, as the emblem of the solstitial month; and it is hardly neces. sary to observe, that the scarabee is the symbol of the sun, or On, in his noblest capacity, as Lord of the universe, first source and origin, and continual preserver of the created world. In this respect the scarabee was a representative not only of the solar orb itself, but, by analogy, of certain deities of distinguished rank, whose loftier attributes comprehended those of the brilliant Lord of the physical world; as of Phtha, the Demiurgus or creative power, whom the Greeks identified with their Hephæstus or Vulcan, probably as combining with his other properties that of god of fire. In the ancient astronomical picture on the tomb of the kings, the scarabee, with the red disk of the sun in his claws, occupies a conspicuous place among the zodiacal emblems. The same insect also occurs in an astrological gem of Count Pahlen's collection, accompanying Libra and Scorpio; and we seem to have further curious evidence that it was the original symbol of this division of the ancient Egyptian zodiac, in the circumstance that the cypher of the same division, still in vulgar use, is apparently but

« הקודםהמשך »