Warburton, Eliot
Travels in Egypt and the Holy Land, or, The crescent and the cross: comprising the romance and realities of eastern travel — Philadelphia, 1859

Page: 106
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License: Public Domain Mark Use / Order
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your soul, and do you seek for their realization ? Or have
mere curiosity and the spirit of unrest driven you forth to
wander ? Come away to the Nile. Here are sunshines that
are never clouded, and fragrant airs as gentle as a maiden's
whisper ; instead of northern gales that howl around you as if
vou were an old battlement. Here are nights all a-glow with
stars, and a crescent moon, that seems bowing to you by courtesy,
not bent double by rheumatism. You never hear the sound of
your native tongue ; and somehow men don't talk, and there-
fore don't think, so lightly when they have to translate their
thoughts into a strange language. Here is the highest species
of monastic retirement: you stand apart from the world; you
see its inhabitants so widely differing from yourself in their
appearance, their habits, their hopes, and their fears, that you
are enabled to look upon man in the abstract and to study his
phenomena without prejudice. As you recede from Europe
further and further on, towards the silent regions of the Past,
you live more and more in that Past; the river over which you
glide—the desert, the forest, the very air you breathe—are
calm; the temples, in their awful solitudes, the colossal statues,
the tombs, with their guardian sphinxes, all are profoundly
calm; and, at length even your island restlessness softens down,
and merges into the universal peace around.

Cairo ! for the present farewell. It was late when I issued
from the gates, but it was impossible to be in a hurry on such
an evening, and on such a spot. The distance between the
modern metropolis and the river was once occupied by Babylon,
and is now broken by many a mound and chasm—the distorted
features of a city that died a violent death.

The metropolism of Egypt had an uneasy life of it. To say
nothing of its youth at Thebes, it has wandered about Lower
Egypt, as if it were a mere encampment. Under the name of
Memphis, it remained for some time on the western bank of the
river. It fled from Nebuchadnezzar to the opposite side under
the "alias" of Babylon; paid a visit to Alexandria under the
Ptolemies ; and returned to Babylon, where it was besieged by
Amrou. A dove built its nest in the tent of the Saracen general;
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