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396

DANGEROUS POSITION.

some other means contrived to get over the projection, when creeping along the line of junction of the casing, he took my hands, drew me up to where he was above me, and then letting down his girdle, assisted to mount up the younger, but less active, and less daring climber of the two. We then proceeded much as follows :-One of them got on the shoulders of the other, and so gained the joining of the stone above, which was often five feet asunder; the upper man then helped me in a similar action, while the lower pushed me up by the feet. Having gained this row, we had often to creep for some way along the joining, to where another opportunity of ascending was afforded. In this way we proceeded to the summit, and some idea may be formed of my feelings, when it is recollected, that all these stones of such a span are highly polished, are set at an angle less than 45', and that the places we had to grip with our hands and feet, were often not two inches wide, and their height above the ground upwards of four hundred feet; a single slip of the foot, or a slight gust of wind, and, from our position, we must all three have been dashed to atoms, long before reaching the ground. On gaining the top, my guides gave vent to sundry demonstrations of satisfaction, clapping me on the back, patting my head, kissing my hands, and uttering a low growl, which presently rose into the more audible, and to my ears, less musical cry of “ buckshese!" From all this

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I began to suspect that something wonderful had been achieved ; and some idea of my perilous situation broke upon me, as I saw some of my friends beneath waving their hats, and looking up with astonishment, as we sat perched upon the top, which is not more than six feet square; the apex stone is off, and it now consists of four outer slabs, and one in the centre, which is raised upon its end, and leans to the eastward. I do not think that human hands could have raised it thus from its bed, on account of its size, and the confined space they would have to work on. I am inclined to think the top was struck with lightning, and the position thus altered by it. The three of us had just room to sit upon the place. I saw two or three names scratched upon the central slab, to which of course I added my own, and collected some bones of the jerbil, which lay scattered about, as a memento. At first, I imagined these might have been carried up by hawks, but I soon heard the animals squeeling under where I sat. I could not discover the Arabic inscription mentioned by Wilkinson, on any of the stones ; but I had far more interesting and absorbing objects to meet my attention, for the grandeur and extent of the picture that now presented itself from this giddy height, was almost as intoxicating as the ascent I had just completed. Around me lay the vast plain of interminable sand, that marked the Lybian and African deserts, the scorching, echoless wilderness

398

VIEW FROM THE TOP.

which mingled with the clear blue of the atmosphere at the horizon. In a sloping vale, bounded by massive rocks, the unvaried hue of barrenness was enlivened by what appeared to me a narrow silver ribbon, that wound its tortuous course for miles and miles, as it seemed to rise out of the junction of sand and sky above, and was lost to vision as it sunk into it in a similar manner below. Its banks were green and verdant, with the richest foliage, and groves of waving palms were now and then relieved by the gleam of noon-day light, that glanced from the snow-white minaret, or the stately dome of a marabut. This ribbon was the river Nile—its banks the land of Egypt.

The thousand pinnacles of the mosques of Cairo rose to view beyond the goodly land; the white sail of the Kanghia looked but as a sea bird's wing, and the drove of camels, as a black dotted line upon the plain beneath.

The whole of the pyramids were below me, almost at my feet. What remembrances ; what inexpressible emotions must not the traveller ever feel, while viewing such an exciting picture, where the shadows of the past, and the realities of the present rush together on bis senses.

Memphis and Heliopolis stood within my view; but these are gone, as are the people that raised those stupendous sepulchres. Battles have been fought round their base, the storms of above 3000 years have played harmlessly around them; men, the most renowned the world ever saw, have

SKETCH OF THE PYRAMID.

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come to wonder at their greatness, and the earth itself has changed much of its external form since they were built ; dynasties and kingdoms have passed away ; the very bodies of the persons for whose use they were erected, were most likely ransacked for the bit of gold that may have ornamented them; yet, there they stand, as if waiting for the dawning of another transformation of our planet.

The accompanying view of the pyramid of Chephrenes, was taken from the platform on the top of the great pyramid of Cheops—the figures are sitting on the second step.

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400

THE OUTER COATING.

The heat was most intense, and the stones so hot, that it became unpleasant to sit on them very long, and it would be rather too daring an experiment to attempt standing. The descent was, as might be expected, much more dangerous, though not so difficult. The guides, however, tied a long sash under my arms, and so let me slide down from course to course of these covering stones, which are of a yellowish lime-stone, somewhat different from the material of which the steps are composed, and totally distinct from the rock of the base, or the coating of the passages. The elevation of this pyramid is about 450 feet, with a base, according to Belzoni, of 684 feet ; but I am of opinion, as all will be who examine it, that the sand has accumulated to a great height up

its sides. The smooth coating on the upper 140 feet, is part of that spoken of by Herodotus, and was what the olden authors styled marble-a term applied by them to all polished stones. The Halicarnassian historian likewise informs us, that these stones were raised by small pieces of wood, and the coating commenced from the top! This has been denied ; but an examination on the spot will, I think, convince any observant inquirer of its truth, and that in fact, it was the easiest and perhaps the only way in which the pyramids could be so finished. The accompanying cut shows the shape of these stones, and how they were placed, and as the pyramid was completed, except the

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