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with the snowy robes which they wore. As we reclined beneath our awnings and glided up between the rocky shores, our boatmen chanted in weird, wild cadence a song akin to that which may have greeted the ears of Rameses the Great, or Tothmes I. in those old centuries so long ago.
Language has been exhausted in describing the beauty of the sacred island of Philæ, the home of the gods and the site of the most beautiful temple in Egypt. We agree with the sentiment of Eliot Warburton, who characterizes Philæ as the most unearthly, wild, strange and lovely spot he ever beheld. “No dreamer,” he says, "of the old mystical times, when beauty, knowledge and
power were realized on earth, ever pictured to himself a scene of wilder grandeur, or more perfect loveliness.”
The following lines suggest some of its sacred associations :
The footsteps of an elder race are here,
The approach to the island is one of extreme picturesqueness. Giant black basalt and syenite rocks, worn by the winds and waves of thousands of years, rise on either side, many of them covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions of the many conquerors and potentates who have passed this gateway of the land of Nile. The little island of Philæ, as will be seen from our frontispiece, is crowded with ruins still beautiful even in their sad decay. Where once the college of priests guarded this sacred site now utter desolation reigns, and only one solitary caretaker wanders like a belated ghost of midnight lingering in the dawn of day. This island of dreamy beauty was a favourite resort of Cleopatra. She often moored her silken-sailed dahabeiah beneath its walls.
The temple of Philæ was strongly marked by what Sir Gardiner Wilson called the “symetrophobia " of the Egyptians. The long colonnades have no balance of numbers or design. No two of:
the columns are alike, but the very variety and beauty and brightness of colour against the blue sky gives them a strange fascination. Of this lovely temple, as of Cleopatra's beauty, it may be said, “age cannot wither, nor custom stale its infinite variety.” Mutilated and marred as it is, it still has a pathetic interest. The carving of some of the columns is still unfinished, although the hand that last wrought at them has been turned to dust two thousand years ago.
In the great portico, shown in picture on page 320, the boat steward spread our lunch. Beneath the columns and archi. traves carved with the symbols of a vanished superstition, amid the stately halls where once swept the pageants and processions of white-robed priests, where incense burned and chant and invocation filled the air, a group of tourists from a country undiscovered over a thousand years after that old worship had passed away, mused and pondered on the evanescence of human institutions, the inevitable decay of false religions and the banishment of the worship of the false gods from the face of the earth.
Our Canadian party did not proceed further up the Nile than Philæ. I therefore a bridge from Dr. Manning's admirable volume, “The Land of the Pharaohs,” the following account of Nubia and Abu-Simbel :
The general aspect of Nubian scenery is similar to that of Egypt, but with some marked differences. The Nile flows on through a valley with mountain ranges on either hand. Its banks, fertilized by the river, are of a rich emerald green. Beyond this narrow strip of verdure all is bare rock and barren sand. The population is scanty. The soil indeed is wonderfully productive, but there is very little of it. The cottages are often mere walls of baked mud, covered with thatch, with only a single chamber in each. Some of the sheikhs' houses, however, are very picturesque, and are built in the curious fashion which we have seen in Upper Egypt. The upper parts are ornamented with bands of plaster cornices, and rows of earthen pots are let into the walls, to serve as pigeon-houses. (See page 322.)
The landscape has been gradually becoming more tropical in character, so that we actually enter the tropics a little way above Philæ without being conscious of any marked change. Fields of maize, millet, cotton and sugar-cane line the banks, and produce three harvests in the year. The men have either gone down into Egypt, or are working on the banks of the river, or are gossiping under the pleasant shade of the palms. The old women are at home minding the babies, or grinding corn, or baking bread. The young girls are busy in the fields picking cotton, or reaping, or sowing the seed for the next harvest. It is at the wayside well that the life of the people may be best seen.
Though Nubia did not form part of Egypt proper, yet, at the present day it more closely resembles the Egypt of the Pharaohs than does the region of the Lower Nile. Cut off from the rest of the world by the cataract on the north, and by the desert on the east and west, its manners and customs have remained almost unchanged. Faces are depicted on the monuments, which might pass for portraits of those whom we see around us. The contour of the features is precisely the same. The likeness is rendered more obvious by a similarity in the mode of dressing the hair, which is arranged in small corkscrew curls, kept close to the head by saturation with castor-oil. The necklaces, ear-rings, and bracelets are the same as those worn three or four thousand years ago. In any Nubian hut, wooden pillows or headrests may be found whose form is absolutely undistinguishable from those which may be seen in the British Museum, brought there from Theban tombs. (See page 325.)
The temples of Nubia are even more numerous than those of Egypt. But being placed there by foreign rulers as trophies of their victories, they