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´╗┐Title: Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Egypt
Author: Baikie, James, 1866-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Egypt" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

      PEEPS AT


    [Illustration: PLATE 1.






     A. & C. BLACK, LTD.
     4, 5 & 6, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _First published October 1912_
     _Reprinted January and April 1916_


                   64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

                   205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

                   ST. MARTIN'S HOUSE, 70 BOND STREET, TORONTO

                   Macmillan Building, BOMBAY
                   309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

     _Printed in Great Britain._

       *       *       *       *       *


          CHAPTER                        PAGE

       I. A LAND OF OLD RENOWN             1
      II. A DAY IN THEBES                  6
     III. A DAY IN THEBES (_continued_)   11
      IV. PHARAOH AT HOME                 17
       V. THE LIFE OF A SOLDIER           24
                        (_continued_)     47
      IX. EXPLORING THE SOUDAN            54
       X. A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY           59
      XI. EGYPTIAN BOOKS                  66
     XII. TEMPLES AND TOMBS               72
    XIII. AN EGYPTIAN'S HEAVEN            82

       *       *       *       *       *



  *1. AN EGYPTIAN GALLEY, 1500 B.C.                      _Frontispiece_

                                                            FACING PAGE

   2. THE GODDESS ISIS DANDLING THE KING                              9



  *5. ZAZAMANKH AND THE LOST CORONET                                 32

   6. GRANITE STATUE OF RAMSES II.                                   35

   7. NAVE OF THE TEMPLE AT KARNAK                                   38

  *8. "AND THE GOOSE STOOD UP AND CACKLED"                           41

  *9. AN EGYPTIAN COUNTRY HOUSE                                      48

  10. STATUES OF KING AMENHOTEP III.                                 51

  11. THE SPHINX AND THE SECOND PYRAMID                              54

 *12. A DESERT POSTMAN                                               57


  14. GATEWAY OF THE TEMPLE OF EDFU                                  73

  15. WALL-PICTURES IN A THEBAN TOMB                                 80

 *16. PHARAOH ON HIS THRONE                                          20

    _Sketch-Map of Ancient Egypt on page viii_

 * These eight illustrations are in colour; the others are in black
      and white.

       *       *       *       *       *





If we were asked to name the most interesting country in the world, I
suppose that most people would say Palestine--not because there is
anything so very wonderful in the land itself, but because of all the
great things that have happened there, and above all because of its
having been the home of our Lord. But after Palestine, I think that
Egypt would come next. For one thing, it is linked very closely to
Palestine by all those beautiful stories of the Old Testament, which
tell us of Joseph, the slave-boy who became Viceroy of Egypt; of Moses,
the Hebrew child who became a Prince of Pharaoh's household; and of the
wonderful exodus of the Children of Israel.

But besides that, it is a land which has a most strange and wonderful
story of its own. No other country has so long a history of great Kings,
and wise men, and brave soldiers; and in no other country can you see
anything to compare with the great buildings, some of them most
beautiful, all of them most wonderful, of which Egypt has so many. We
have some old and interesting buildings in this country, and people go
far to see cathedrals and castles that are perhaps five or six hundred
years old, or even more; but in Egypt, buildings of that age are looked
upon as almost new, and nobody pays very much attention to them. For the
great temples and tombs of Egypt were, many of them, hundreds of years
old before the story of our Bible, properly speaking, begins.

The Pyramids, for instance, those huge piles that are still the wonder
of the world, were far older than any building now standing in Europe,
before Joseph was sold to be a slave in Potiphar's house. Hundreds upon
hundreds of years before anyone had ever heard of the Greeks and the
Romans, there were great Kings reigning in Egypt, sending out their
armies to conquer Syria and the Soudan, and their ships to explore the
unknown southern seas, and wise men were writing books which we can
still read. When Britain was a wild, unknown island, inhabited only by
savages as fierce and untaught as the South Sea Islanders, Egypt was a
great and highly civilized country, full of great cities, with noble
palaces and temples, and its people were wise and learned.

So in this little book I want to tell you something about this wonderful
and interesting old country, and about the kind of life that people
lived in it in those days of long ago, before most other lands had begun
to waken up, or to have any history at all. First of all, let us try to
get an idea of the land itself. It is a very remarkable thing that so
many of the countries which have played a great part in the history of
the world have been small countries. Our own Britain is not very big,
though it has had a great story. Palestine, which has done more than any
other country to make the world what it is to-day, was called "the least
of all lands." Greece, whose influence comes, perhaps, next after that
of Palestine, is only a little hilly corner of Southern Europe. And
Egypt, too, is comparatively a small land.

It looks a fair size when you see it on the map; but you have to
remember that nearly all the land which is called Egypt on the map is
barren sandy desert, or wild rocky hill-country, where no one can live.
The real Egypt is just a narrow strip of land on either side of the
great River Nile, sometimes only a mile or two broad altogether, never
more than thirty miles broad, except near the mouth of the river, where
it widens out into the fan-shaped plain called the Delta. Someone has
compared Egypt to a lily with a crooked stem, and the comparison is very
true. The long winding valley of the Nile is the crooked stem of the
lily, and the Delta at the Nile mouth, with its wide stretch of fertile
soil, is the flower; while, just below the flower, there is a little
bud--a fertile valley called the Fayum.

Long before even Egyptian history begins, there was no bloom on the
lily. The Nile, a far bigger river then than it is now, ran into the sea
near Cairo, the modern capital of Egypt; and the land was nothing but
the narrow valley of the river, bordered on either side by desert hills.
But gradually, century by century, the Nile cut its way deeper down into
the land, leaving banks of soil on either side between itself and the
hills, and the mud which it brought down in its waters piled up at its
mouth and pressed the sea back, till, at last, the Delta was formed,
much as we see it now. This was long before Egypt had any story of its
own; but even after history begins the Delta was still partly marshy
land, not long reclaimed from the sea, and the real Egyptians of the
valley despised the people who lived there as mere marsh-dwellers. Even
after the Delta was formed, the whole country was only about twice as
large as Wales, and, though there was a great number of people in it for
its size, the population was only, at the most, about twice as great as
that of London.

An old Greek historian once said, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile," and
it is perfectly true. We have seen how the great river made the country
to begin with, cutting out the narrow valley through the hills, and
building up the flat plain of the Delta. But the Nile has not only made
the country; it keeps it alive. You know that Egypt has always been one
of the most fertile lands in the world. Almost anything will grow there,
and it produces wonderful crops of corn and vegetables, and, nowadays,
of cotton. It was the same in old days. When Rome was the capital of the
world, she used to get most of the corn to feed her hungry thousands
from Egypt by the famous Alexandrian corn-ships; and you remember how,
in the Bible story, Joseph's brethren came down from Palestine because,
though there was famine there, there was "corn in Egypt." And yet Egypt
is a land where rain is almost unknown. Sometimes there will come a
heavy thunder-shower; but for month after month, year in and year out,
there may be no rain at all.

How can a rainless country grow anything? The secret is the Nile. Every
year, when the rains fall in the great lake-basin of Central Africa,
from which one branch of the great river comes, and on the Abyssinian
hills, where the other branch rises, the Nile comes down in flood. All
the lower lands are covered, and a fresh deposit of Nile mud is left
upon them; and, though the river does not rise to the higher grounds,
the water is led into big canals, and these, again, are divided up into
little ones, till it circulates through the whole land, as the blood
circulates through your arteries and veins. This keeps the land fertile,
and makes up for the lack of rain.

Apart from its wonderful river, the country itself has no very striking
features. It is rather a monotonous land--a long ribbon of green running
through a great waste of yellow desert and barren hills. But the great
charm that draws people's minds to Egypt, and gives the old land a
never-failing interest, is its great story of the past, and all the
relics of that story which are still to be seen.

In no other land can you see the real people and things of the days of
long ago as you can see them in Egypt. Think how we should prize an
actual building that had been connected with the story of King Arthur,
if such a thing could be found in our country, and what wonderful
romance would belong to the weapons, the actual shields and helmets,
swords and lances, of the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot and
Tristram and Galahad--if only we could find them. Out there in Egypt you
can see buildings compared with which King Arthur's Camelot would be
only a thing of yesterday; and you can look, not only on the weapons,
but on the actual faces and forms of great Kings and soldiers who lived,
and fought bravely for their country, hundreds of years before Saul and
Jonathan and David began to fight the battles of Israel. You can see the
pictures of how people lived in those far-away days, how their houses
were built, how they traded and toiled, how they amused themselves, how
they behaved in time of sorrow, how they worshipped God--all set down by
themselves at the very time when they were doing these things. You can
even see the games at which the children used to play, and the queer
old-fashioned toys and dolls that they played with, and you can read the
stories which their mothers and their nurses used to tell them.

These are the things which make this old land of Egypt so interesting to
us all to-day; and I want to try to tell you about some of them, so that
you may be able to have in your mind's eye a real picture of the life of
those long past days.



If any foreigner were wanting to get an idea of our country, and to see
how our people live, I suppose the first place that he would go to would
be London, because it is the capital of the whole country, and its
greatest city; and so, if we want to learn something about Egypt, and
how people lived there in those far-off days, we must try to get to the
capital of the country, and see what is to be seen there.

Suppose, then, that we are no longer living in Britain in the twentieth
century, but that somehow or other we have got away back into the past,
far beyond the days of Jesus Christ, beyond even the times of Moses,
and are living about 1,300 years before Christ. We have come from Tyre
in a Phoenician galley, laden with costly bales of cloth dyed with
Tyrian purple, and beautiful vessels wrought in bronze and copper, to
sell in the markets of Thebes, the greatest city in Egypt. We have
coasted along past Carmel and Joppa, and, after narrowly escaping being
driven in a storm on the dangerous quicksand called the Syrtis, we have
entered one of the mouths of the Nile. We have taken up an Egyptian
pilot at the river mouth, and he stands on a little platform at the bow
of the galley, and shouts his directions to the steersmen, who work the
two big rudders, one on either side of the ship's stern. The north wind
is blowing strongly and driving us swiftly upstream, in spite of the
current of the great river; so our weary oarsmen have shipped their
oars, and we drive steadily southwards under our one big swelling sail.

At first we sail along through a broad flat plain, partly cultivated,
and partly covered with marsh and marsh plants. By-and-by the green
plain begins to grow narrower; we are coming to the end of the Delta,
and entering upon the real valley of Egypt. Soon we pass a great city,
its temples standing out clear against the deep blue sky, with their
towering gateways, gay flags floating from tall flagstaves in front of
them, and great obelisks pointing to the sky; and our pilot says that
this is Memphis, one of the oldest towns in the country, and for long
its capital. Not far from Memphis, three great pyramid-shaped masses of
stone rise up on the river-bank, looking almost like mountains; and the
pilot tells us that these are the tombs of some of the great Kings of
long past days, and that all around them lie smaller pyramids and other
tombs of Kings and great men.

But we are bound for a city greater even than Memphis, and so we never
stop, but hasten always southward. Several days of steady sailing carry
us past many towns that cluster near the river, past one ruined city,
falling into mere heaps of stone and brick, which our pilot tells us was
once the capital of a wicked King who tried to cast down all the old
gods of Egypt, and to set up a new god of his own; and at last we see,
far ahead of us, a huge cluster of buildings on both sides of the river,
which marks a city greater than we have ever seen.

As we sweep up the river we see that there are really two cities. On the
east bank lies the city of the living, with its strong walls and towers,
its enormous temples, and an endless crowd of houses of all sorts and
sizes, from the gay palaces of the nobles to the mud huts of the poor
people. On the west bank lies the city of the dead. It has neither
streets nor palaces, and no hum of busy life goes up from it; but it is
almost more striking than its neighbour across the river. The hills and
cliffs are honeycombed with long rows of black openings, the doorways of
the tombs where the dead of Thebes for centuries back are sleeping. Out
on the plain, between the cliffs and the river, temple rises after
temple in seemingly endless succession. Some of these temples are small
and partly ruined, but some are very great and splendid; and, as the
sunlight strikes upon them, it sends back flashes of gold and crimson
and blue that dazzle the eyes.

[Illustration: Plate 2

But now our galley is drawing in towards the quay on the east side of
the river, and in a few minutes the great sail comes thundering down,
and, as the ship drifts slowly up to the quay, the mooring-ropes are
thrown and made fast, and our long voyage is at an end. The Egyptian
Custom-house officers come on board to examine the cargo, and collect
the dues that have to be paid on it; and we watch them with interest,
for they are quite different in appearance from our own hook-nosed,
bearded sailors, with their thick many-coloured cloaks. These Egyptians
are all clean shaven; some of them wear wigs, and some have their hair
cut straight across their brows, while it falls thickly behind upon
their necks in a multitude of little curls, which must have taken them
no small trouble to get into order. Most wear nothing but a kilt of
white linen; but the chief officer has a fine white cloak thrown over
his shoulders; his linen kilt is stiffly starched, so that it stands out
almost like a board where it folds over in front, and he wears a gilded
girdle with fringed ends which hang down nearly to his knees. In his
right hand he carries a long stick, which he is not slow to lay over the
shoulders of his men when they do not obey his orders fast enough.

After a good deal of hot argument, the amount of the tax is settled and
paid, and we are free to go up into the great town. We have not gone far
before we find that life in Thebes can be quite exciting. A great noise
is heard from one of the narrow riverside streets, and a crowd of men
comes rushing up with shouts and oaths. Ahead of them runs a single
figure, whose writing-case, stuck in his girdle, marks him out as a
scribe. He is almost at his last gasp, for he is stout and not
accustomed to running; and he is evidently fleeing for his life, for the
men behind him--rough, half-naked, ill-fed creatures of the working
class--are chasing him with cries of anger, and a good deal of
stone-throwing. Bruised and bleeding, he darts up to the gate of a
handsome house whose garden-wall faces the street. He gasps out a word
to the porter, and is quickly passed into the garden. The gate is
slammed and bolted in the faces of his pursuers, who form a ring round
it, shouting and shaking their fists.

In a little while the gate is cautiously unbarred, and a fine-looking
man, very richly dressed, and followed by half a dozen well-armed negro
guards, steps forward, and asks the workmen why they are here, making
such a noise, and why they have chased and beaten his secretary. He is
Prince Paser, who has charge of the Works Department of the Theban
Government, and the workmen are masons employed on a large job in the
cemetery of Thebes. They all shout at once in answer to the Prince's
question; but by-and-by they push forward a spokesman, and he begins,
rather sheepishly at first, but warming up as he goes along, to make
their complaint to the great man.

He and his mates, he says, have been working for weeks. They have had no
wages; they have not even had the corn and oil which ought to be issued
as rations to Government workmen. So they have struck work, and now they
have come to their lord the Prince to entreat him either to give command
that the rations be issued, or, if his stores are exhausted, to appeal
to Pharaoh. "We have been driven here by hunger and thirst; we have no
clothes, we have no oil, we have no food. Write to our lord the Pharaoh,
that he may give us something for our sustenance." When the spokesman
has finished his complaint, the whole crowd volubly assents to what he
has said, and sways to and fro in a very threatening manner.

Prince Paser, however, is an old hand at dealing with such complaints.
With a smiling face he promises that fifty sacks of corn shall be sent
to the cemetery immediately, with oil to correspond. Only the workmen
must go back to their work at once, and there must be no more chasing of
poor Secretary Amen-nachtu. Otherwise, he can do nothing. The workmen
grumble a little. They have been put off with promises before, and have
got little good of them. But they have no leader bold enough to start a
riot, and they have no weapons, and the spears and bows of the Prince's
Nubians look dangerous. Finally they turn, and disappear, grumbling,
down the street from which they came; and Prince Paser, with a shrug of
his shoulders, goes indoors again. Whether the fifty sacks of corn are
ever sent or not, is another matter. Strikes, you see, were not unknown,
even so long ago as this.


A DAY IN THEBES--_Continued_

Having seen the settlement of the masons' strike, we wander up into the
heart of the town. The streets are generally narrow and winding, and
here and there the houses actually meet overhead, so that we pass out of
the blinding sunlight into a sort of dark tunnel. Some of the houses
are large and high; but even the largest make no display towards the
street. They will be fine enough inside, with bright courts surrounded
with trees, in the midst of which lies a cool pond of water, and with
fine rooms decorated with gay hangings; but their outer walls are almost
absolutely blank, with nothing but a heavy door breaking the dead line.
We pass by some quarters where there is nothing but a crowd of mud huts,
packed so closely together that there is only room for a single
foot-passenger to thread his way through the narrow alleys between them.
These are the workmen's quarters, and the heat and smell in them are so
overpowering that one wonders how people can live in such places.

By-and-by we come out into a more open space--one of the bazaars of the
city--where business is in full swing. The shops are little shallow
booths quite open to the front; and all the goods are spread out round
the shopkeeper, who squats cross-legged in the middle of his property,
ready to serve his customers, and invites the attention of the
passers-by by loud explanations of the goodness and cheapness of his
wares. All sorts of people are coming and going, for a Theban crowd
holds representatives of nearly every nation known. Here are the
townsfolk, men and women, out to buy supplies for their houses, or to
exchange the news of the day; peasants from the villages round about,
bringing in vegetables and cattle to barter for the goods which can only
be got in the town; fine ladies and gentlemen, dressed elaborately in
the latest Court fashion, with carefully curled wigs, long pleated robes
of fine transparent linen, and dainty, brightly-coloured sandals turned
up at the toes. At one moment you rub shoulders with a Hittite from
Kadesh, a conspicuous figure, with his high-peaked cap, pale complexion,
and heavy, pointed boots. He looks round him curiously, as if thinking
that Thebes would be a splendid town to plunder. Then a priest of high
rank goes by, with shaven head, a panther skin slung across his shoulder
over his white robe, and a roll of papyrus in his hand. A Sardinian of
the bodyguard swaggers along behind him, the ball and horns on his
helmet flashing in the sunlight, his big sword swinging in its sheath as
he walks; and a Libyan bowman, with two bright feathers in his leather
skull-cap, looks disdainfully at him as he shoulders his way through the

All around us people are buying and selling. Money, as we know it, has
not yet been invented, and nearly all the trade is done by means of
exchange. When it comes to be a question of how many fish have to be
given for a bed, or whether a load of onions is good value for a chair,
you can imagine that there has to be a good deal of argument. Besides,
the Egyptian dearly loves bargaining for the mere excitement of the
thing, and so the clatter of tongues is deafening. Here and there one or
two traders have advanced a little beyond the old-fashioned way of
barter, and offer, instead of goods, so many rings of copper, silver, or
gold wire. A peasant who has brought in a bullock to sell is offered 90
copper "uten" (as the rings are called) for it; but he loudly protests
that this is robbery, and after a long argument he screws the merchant
up to 111 "uten," with 8 more as a luck-penny, and the bargain is
clinched. Even then the rings have still to be weighed that he may be
sure he is not being cheated. So a big pair of balances is brought out;
the "uten" are heaped into one scale, and in the other are piled weights
in the shape of bulls' heads. Finally, he is satisfied, and picks up his
bag of rings; but the wily merchant is not done with him yet. He spreads
out various tempting bargains before the eyes of the countryman, and,
before the latter leaves the shop, most of the copper rings have found
their way back again to the merchant's sack.

A little farther on, the Tyrian traders, to whom the cargo of our galley
is consigned, have their shop. Screens, made of woven grass, shelter it
from the sun, and under their shade all sorts of gorgeous stuffs are
displayed, glowing with the deep rich colours, of which the Tyrians
alone have the secret since the sack of Knossos destroyed the trade of
Crete. Beyond the Tyrian booth, a goldsmith is busily employed in his
shop. Necklets and bracelets of gold and silver, beautifully inlaid with
all kinds of rich colours, hang round him; and he is hard at work, with
his little furnace and blowpipe, putting the last touches to the welding
of a bracelet, for which a lady is patiently waiting.

In one corner of the bazaar stands a house which makes no display of
wares, but, nevertheless, seems to secure a constant stream of
customers. Workmen slink in at the door, as though half ashamed of
themselves, and reappear, after a little, wiping their mouths, and not
quite steady in their gait. A young man, with pale and haggard face,
swaggers past and goes in, and, as he enters the door, one bystander
nudges another and remarks: "Pentuere is going to have a good day again;
he will come to a bad end, that young man."

By-and-by the door opens again, and Pentuere comes out staggering. He
looks vacantly round, and tries to walk away; but his legs refuse to
carry him, and, after a stumble or two, he falls in a heap and lies in
the road, a pitiful sight. The passers-by jeer and laugh at him as he
lies helpless; but one decent-looking man points him out to his young
son, and says: "See this fellow, my son, and learn not to drink beer to
excess. Thou dost fall and break thy limbs, and bespatter thyself with
mud, like a crocodile, and no one reaches out a hand to thee. Thy
comrades go on drinking, and say, 'Away with this fellow, who is drunk.'
If anyone should seek thee on business, thou art found lying in the dust
like a little child."

But in spite of much wise advice, the Egyptian, though generally
temperate, is only too fond of making "a good day," as he calls it, at
the beerhouse. Even fine ladies sometimes drink too much at their great
parties, and have to be carried away very sick and miserable. Worst of
all, the very judges of the High Court have been known to take a day off
during the hearing of a long case, in order to have a revel with the
criminals whom they were trying; and it is not so long since two of them
had their noses cut off, as a warning to the rest against such shameful

Sauntering onwards, we gradually get near to the sacred quarter of the
town, and can see the towering gateways and obelisks of the great
temples over the roofs of the houses. Soon a great crowd comes towards
us, and the sounds of trumpets and flutes are heard coming from the
midst of it. Inquiring what is the meaning of the bustle, we are told
that one of the images of Amen, the great god of Thebes, is being
carried in procession as a preliminary to an important service which is
to take place in the afternoon, and at which the King is going to
preside. Stepping back under the doorway of a house, we watch the
procession go past. After a group of musicians and singers, and a number
of women who are dancing as they go, and shaking curious metal rattles,
there comes a group of six men, who form the centre of the whole crowd,
and on whom the eyes of all are fixed.

They are tall, spare, keen-looking men, their heads clean shaven, their
bodies wrapped in pure white robes of the beautiful Egyptian linen. On
their shoulders they carry, by means of two long poles, a model of a
Nile boat, in the midst of which rises a little shrine. The shrine is
carefully draped round with a veil, so as to hide the god from curious
eyes. But just in front of the doorway where we are standing a small
stone pillar rises from the roadway, and when the bearers come to this
point, the bark of the god is rested on the top of the pillar. Two
censer-bearers come forward, and swing their censers, wafting clouds of
incense round the shrine; a priest lifts up his voice, loudly intoning a
hymn of praise to the great god who creates and sustains all things; and
a few of the by-standers lay before the bark offerings of flowers,
fruit, and eatables of various kinds. Then comes the solemn moment. Amid
breathless silence, the veil of the shrine is slowly drawn aside, and
the faithful can see a little wooden image, about 18 inches high,
adorned with tall plumes, carefully dressed, and painted with green and
black. The revelation of this little doll, to a Theban crowd the most
sacred object in all the world, is hailed with shouts of wonder and
reverence. Then the veil is drawn again, the procession passes on,
and the streets are left quiet for awhile.

[Illustration: Plate 3

We are reminded that, if we wish to get a meal before starting out to
see Pharaoh passing in procession to the temple, we had better lose no
time, and so we turn our faces riverwards again, and wander down through
the endless maze of streets to where our galley is moored at the quay.



The time is coming on now for the King to go in state to the great
temple at Karnak to offer sacrifice, and as we go up to the palace to
see him come forth in all his glory, let me tell you a little about him
and the kind of life he leads. Pharaoh, of course, is not his real name;
it is not even his official title; it is just a word which is used to
describe a person who is so great that people scarcely venture to call
him by his proper name. Just as the Turks nowadays speak of the "Sublime
Porte," when they mean the Sultan and his Government, so the Egyptians
speak of "Per-o," or Pharaoh, as we call it, which really signifies
"Great House," when they mean the King.

For the King of Egypt is a very great man indeed; in fact, his people
look upon him, and he looks upon himself, as something more than a man.
There are many gods in Egypt; but the god whom the people know best,
and to whom they pay the most reverence, is their King. Ever since there
have been Kings in the country, and that is a very long time now, the
reigning monarch has been looked upon as a kind of god manifest in the
flesh. He calls himself "Son of the Sun"; in the temples you will see
pictures of his childhood, where great goddesses dandle the young god
upon their knees (Plate 2). Divine honours are paid, and sacrifices
offered to him; and when he dies, and goes to join his brother-gods in
heaven, a great temple rises to his memory, and hosts of priests are
employed in his worship. There is just one distinction made between him
and the other gods. Amen at Thebes, Ptah at Memphis, and all the rest of
the crowd of divinities, are called "the great gods." Pharaoh takes a
different title. He is called "the good god."

At present "the good god" is Ramses II. Of course, that is only one part
of his name; for, like all the other Pharaohs, he has a list of titles
that would fill a page. His subjects in Thebes have not seen very much
of him for a long time, for there has been so much to do away in Syria,
that he has built another capital at Tanis, which the Hebrews call Zoan,
down between the Delta and the eastern frontier, and spends most of his
time there. People who have been down the river tell us great wonders
about the beauty of the new town, its great temple, and the huge statue
of the King, 90 feet high, which stands before the temple gate. But
Thebes is still the centre of the nation's life, and now, when it is
growing almost certain that there will be another war with those vile
Hittites in the North of Syria, he has come up to the great city to
take counsel with his brother-god, Amen, and to make arrangements for
gathering his army. The royal palace is in a constant bustle, with
envoys coming and going, and counsellors and generals continually
passing in and out with reports and orders.

Outside, the palace is not so very imposing. The Egyptians built their
temples to last for ever; but the palaces of their Kings were meant to
serve only for a short time. The new King might not care for the old
King's home, and so each Pharaoh builds his house according to his own
taste, of light materials. It will serve his turn, and his successor may
build another for himself. A high wall, with battlements, towers, and
heavy gates, surrounds it; for, though Pharaoh is a god, his subjects
are sometimes rather difficult to keep in order. Plots against the King
have not been unknown in the past; and on at least one occasion, a great
Pharaoh of bygone days had to spring from his couch and fight
single-handed for his life against a crowd of conspirators who had
forced an entrance into the palace while he was enjoying his siesta. So
since then Pharaoh has found it better to trust in his strong walls, and
in the big broadswords of his faithful Sardinian guardsmen, than in any
divinity that may belong to himself.

Within the great boundary wall lie pleasant gardens, gay with all sorts
of flowers, and an artificial lake shows its gleaming water here and
there through the trees and shrubs. The palace itself is all glittering
white stucco on the outside. A high central door leads into a great
audience hall, glowing with colour, its roof supported by painted
pillars in the form of lotus-stalks; and on either side of this lie two
smaller halls. Behind the audience chamber are two immense
dining-rooms, and behind these come the sleeping apartments of the
numerous household. Ramses has a multitude of wives, and a whole army of
sons and daughters, and it takes no small space to house them all. The
bedroom of the great King himself stands apart from the other rooms, and
is surrounded by banks of flowers in full bloom.

The Son of the Sun has had a busy day already. He has had many letters
and despatches to read and consider. Some of the Syrian vassal-princes
have sent clay tablets, covered with their curious arrow-headed writing,
giving news of the advance of the Hittites, and imploring the help of
the Egyptian army; and now the King is about to give audience, and to
consider these with his great nobles and Generals. At one end of the
reception hall stands a low balcony, supported on gaily-painted wooden
pillars which end in capitals of lotus-flowers. The front of this
balcony is overlaid with gold, and richly decorated with turquoise and
lapis lazuli. Here the King will show himself to his subjects,
accompanied by his favourite wife, Queen Nefertari, and some of the
young Princes and Princesses. The folding doors of the audience chamber
are thrown open, and the barons, the provincial governors, and the high
officers of the army and the State throng in to do homage to their


In a few moments the glittering crowd is duly arranged, a door opens at
the back of the balcony, and the King of the Two Lands, Lord of the
Vulture and the Snake, steps forth with his Queen and family. In earlier
times, whenever the King appeared, the assembled nobles were expected to
fall on their faces and kiss the ground before him. Fashion has
changed, however, and now the great folks, at all events, are no longer
required to "smell the earth." As Pharaoh enters the balcony, the nobles
bow profoundly, and raise their arms as if in prayer to "the good god."
Then, in silent reverence, they wait until it shall please their lord to

Ramses sweeps his glance over the crowd, singles out the General in
command of the Theban troops, and puts a question to him as to the
readiness of his division--the picked division of the army. The soldier
steps forward with a deep bow; but it is not Court manners for him to
answer his lord's question directly. Instead, he begins by reciting a
little psalm of praise, which tells of the King's greatness, his valour
and skill in war, and asserts that wherever his horses tread his enemies
flee before him and perish. This little piece of flattery over, the
General begins, "O King, my master," and in a few sensible words gives
the information required. So the audience goes on, counsellor after
counsellor coming forward at the royal command, reciting his little
hymn, and then giving his opinion on such matters as his master suggests
to him. At last the council is over, the King gives orders to his
equerry to prepare his chariot for the procession to the temple, and, as
he turns to leave the audience chamber, the assembled nobles once more
bow profoundly, and raise their arms in adoration.

After a short delay, the great gates of the boundary wall of the palace
are opened; a company of spearmen, in quilted leather kilts and leather
skull-caps, marches out, and takes position a short distance from the
gateway. Behind them comes a company of the Sardinians of the guard,
heavily armed, with bright helmets, broad round shields, quilted
corselets, and long, heavy, two-edged swords. They range themselves on
either side of the roadway, and stand like statues, waiting for the
appearance of Pharaoh. There is a whir of chariot-wheels, and the royal
chariot sweeps through the gateway, and sets off at a good round pace
towards the temple. The spearmen in front start at the double, and the
guardsmen, in spite of their heavy equipment, keep pace with their royal
master on either side.

The waiting crowd bows to the dust as the sovereign passes; but Pharaoh
looks neither to the right hand nor to the left. He stands erect and
impassive in the swaying chariot, holding the crook and whip which are
the Egyptian royal emblems. On his head he wears the royal war helmet,
in the front of which a golden cobra rears its crest from its coils, as
if to threaten the enemies of Egypt. His finely-shaped, swarthy features
are adorned, or disfigured, by an artificial beard, which is fastened on
by a strap passing up in front of the ears. His tall slender body is
covered, above his corselet, with a robe of fine white linen, a perfect
wonder of pleating; and round his waist passes a girdle of gold and
green enamel, whose ends cross and hang down almost to his knees,
terminating in two threatening cobra heads (Plate 4 and Cover Picture).
On either side of him run the fan-bearers, who manage, by a miracle of
skill and activity, to keep their great gaily-coloured fans of perfumed
ostrich feathers waving round the royal head even as they run.

Behind the King comes a long train of other chariots, only less splendid
than that of Ramses. In the first stands Queen Nefertari, languidly
sniffing at a lotus-flower as she passes on. The others are filled by
some of the Princes of the blood, who are going to take part in the
ceremony at the temple, chief among them the wizard Prince Khaemuas, the
greatest magician in Egypt, who has spells that can bring the dead from
their graves. Some in the crowd shrink from his keen eye, and mutter
that the papyrus roll which he holds so close to his breast was taken
from the grave of another magician Prince of ancient days, and that
Khaemuas will know no peace till it is restored. In a few minutes the
whole brilliant train has passed, dazzling the eyes with a blaze of gold
and white and scarlet; and crowds of courtiers stream after their
master, as fast as their feet can carry them, towards Karnak. You have
seen, if only for a moment, the greatest man on earth--the Great
Oppressor of Hebrew story. Very mighty and very proud he is; and he does
not dream that the little Hebrew boy whom his daughter has adopted, and
who is being trained in the priestly college at Heliopolis, will one day
humble all the pride of Egypt, and that the very name of Ramses shall be
best remembered because it is linked with that of Moses.



When you read about the Egyptians in the Bible, it seems as though they
were nearly always fighting; and, indeed, they did a good deal of
fighting in their time, as nearly every nation did in those old days.
But in reality they were not a great soldier people, like their rivals
the Assyrians, or the Babylonians. We, who have had so much to do with
their descendants, the modern Egyptians, and have fought both against
them and with them, know that the "Gippy" is not fond of soldiering in
his heart. He makes a very good, patient, hardworking soldier when he
has good officers; but he is not like the Soudanese, who love fighting
for fighting's sake. He much prefers to live quietly in his own native
village, and cultivate his own bit of ground. And his forefathers, in
these long-past days, were very much of the same mind. Often, of course,
they had to fight, when Pharaoh ordered them out for a campaign in the
Soudan or in Syria, and then they fought wonderfully well; but all the
time their hearts were at home, and they were glad to get back to their
farm-work and their simple pleasures. They were a peaceful, kindly,
pleasant race, with little of the cruelty and fierceness that you find
continually among the Assyrians.

[Illustration: PLATE 4.

In fact, the old Egyptian rather despised soldiering as a profession. He
thought it was rather a miserable, muddled kind of a job, in which,
unless you were a great officer, you got all the hard knocks and none
of the honours; and I am not sure that he was far wrong. His great
idea of a happy life was to get employment as a scribe, or, as we should
say, a clerk, to some big man or to the Government, to keep accounts and
write reports. Of course the people could not all be scribes; but an
Egyptian who had sons was never so proud as when he could get one of
them into a scribe's position, even though the young man might look down
upon his old father and his brothers, toiling on the land or serving in
the army.

A curious old book has come down to us from these ancient days, in which
the writer, who had been both a soldier and a high officer under
Government in what we should call the diplomatic service, has told a
young friend his opinion of soldiering as a profession. The young man
had evidently been dazzled with the idea of being in the cavalry, or,
rather, the chariotry, for the Egyptian soldiers did not ride on horses
like our cavalry, but drove them in chariots, in each of which there
were two men--the charioteer, to drive the two horses, and the soldier,
who stood beside the driver and fought with the bow, and sometimes with
the lance or sword.

But this wise old friend tells him that even to be in the chariotry is
not by any means a pleasant job. Of course it seems very nice at first.
The young man gets his new equipment, and thinks all the world of
himself as he goes home to show off his fine feathers.

    "He receives beautiful horses,
     And rejoices and exults,
     And returns with them to his town."

But then comes the inspection, and if he has not everything in perfect
order he has a bad time of it, for he is thrown down on the ground, and
beaten with sticks till he is sore all over.

But if the lot of the cavalry soldier is hard, that of the infantry-man
is harder. In the barracks he is flogged for every mistake or offence.
Then war breaks out, and he has to march with his battalion to Syria.
Day after day he has to tramp on foot through the wild hill-country, so
different from the flat, fertile homeland that he loves. He has to carry
all his heavy equipment and his rations, so that he is laden like a
donkey; and often he has to drink dirty water, which makes him ill.
Then, when the battle comes, he gets all the danger and the wounds,
while the Generals get all the credit. When the war is over, he comes
home riding on a donkey, a broken-down man, sick and wounded, his very
clothes stolen by the rascals who should have attended on him. Far
better, the wise man says, to be a scribe, and to remain comfortably at
home. I dare say it was all quite true, just as perhaps it would not be
very far from the truth at the present time; but, in spite of it all,
Pharaoh had his battles to fight, and he got his soldiers all right when
they were needed.

The Egyptian army was not generally a very big one. It was nothing like
the great hosts that we hear of nowadays, or read of in some of the old
histories. The armies that the Pharaohs led into Syria were not often
much bigger than what we should call an army corps nowadays--probably
about 20,000 men altogether, rarely more than 25,000. But in that number
you could find almost as many different sorts of men as in our own
Indian army. There would be first the native Egyptian spearmen and
bowmen--the spearmen with leather caps and quilted leather tunics,
carrying a shield and spear, and sometimes an axe, or a dagger, or
short sword--the bowmen, more lightly equipped, but probably more
dangerous enemies, for the Egyptian archers were almost as famous as the
old English bowmen, and won many a battle for their King. Then came the
chariot brigade, also of native Egyptians, men probably of higher rank
than the foot-soldiers. The chariots were very light, and it must have
been exceedingly difficult for the bowman to balance himself in the
narrow car, as it bumped and clattered over rough ground. The two horses
were gaily decorated, and often wore plumes on their heads. The
charioteer sometimes twisted the reins round his waist, and could take a
hand in the fighting if his companion was hard pressed, guiding his
horses by swaying his body to one side or the other.

Round the Pharaoh himself, as he stood in his beautiful chariot, marched
the royal bodyguard. It was made up of men whom the Egyptians called
"Sherden"--Sardinians, probably, who had come over the sea to serve for
hire in the army of the great King. They wore metal helmets, with a
round ball on the top and horns at the sides, carried round bossed
shields, and were armed with great heavy swords of much the same shape
as those which the Norman knights used to carry. Behind the native
troops and the bodyguard marched the other mercenaries--regiments of
black Soudanese, with wild-beast skins thrown over their ebony
shoulders; and light-coloured Libyans from the West, each with a couple
of feathers stuck in his leather skull-cap.

Scouts went on ahead to scour the country, and bring to the King reports
of the enemy's whereabouts. Beside the royal chariot there padded along
a strange, but very useful soldier--a great tame lion, which had been
trained to guard his master and fight with teeth and claws against his
enemies. Last of all came the transport train, with the baggage carried
on the backs of a long line of donkeys, and protected by a
baggage-guard. The Egyptians were good marchers, and even in the hot
Syrian sunshine, and across a rough country where roads were almost
unknown, they could keep up a steady fifteen miles a day for a week on
end without being fagged out.

Let us follow the fortunes of an Egyptian soldier through one of the
great battles of the nation's history. Menna was one of the most skilful
charioteers of the whole Egyptian army--so skilful that, though he was
still quite young, he was promoted to be driver of the royal war-chariot
when King Ramses II. marched out from Zaru, the frontier garrison town
of Egypt, to fight with the Hittites in Northern Syria. During all the
long march across the desert, through Palestine, and over the northern
mountain passes, no enemy was seen at all, and, though Menna was kept
busy enough attending to his horses and seeing that the chariot was in
perfect order, he was in no danger. But as the army began to wind down
the long valley of the Orontes towards the town of Kadesh, the scouts
were kept out in every direction, and the whole host was anxiously on
the lookout for the Hittite troops.

Kadesh came in sight at last. Far on the horizon its towers could be
seen, and the sun's rays sparkled on the river and on the broad moat
which surrounded the walls; but still no enemy was to be seen. The
scouts came in with the report that the Hittites had retreated
northwards in terror, and King Ramses imagined that Kadesh was going to
fall into his hands without a battle. His army was divided into four
brigades, and he himself hurried on rather rashly with the first
brigade, leaving the other three to straggle on behind him, widely
separated from one another (Plate 4).

The first brigade reached its camping-ground to the north-west of
Kadesh; the tired troops pitched camp; the baggage was unloaded; and the
donkeys, released from their burdens, rolled on the ground in delight.
Just at that moment some of the Egyptian scouts came in, bringing with
them two Arabs whom they had caught, and suspected to belong to the
enemy. King Ramses ordered the Arabs to be soundly beaten with sticks,
and the poor creatures confessed that the Hittite King, with a great
army, was concealed on the other side of Kadesh, watching for an
opportunity to attack the Egyptian army. In great haste Ramses, scolding
his scouts the while for not keeping a better lookout, began to get his
soldiers under arms again, while Menna ran and yoked to the royal
chariot the two noble horses which had been kept fresh for the day of

But before Pharaoh could leap into his chariot a wild uproar broke out
at the gate of the camp, and the scattered fragments of the second
brigade came pouring in headlong flight into the enclosure. Behind them
the whole Hittite chariot force, 2,500 chariots strong, each chariot
with three men in it, came clattering and leaping upon the heels of the
fugitives. The Hittite King had waited till he saw the first brigade
busy pitching camp, and then, as the second came straggling up, he had
launched his chariots upon the flank of the weary soldiers, who were
swept away in a moment as if by a flood.

The rush of terrified men carried off the first brigade along with it in
hopeless rout. Ramses and Menna were left with only a few picked
chariots of the household troops, and the whole Hittite army was coming
on. But though King Ramses had made a terrible bungle of his
generalship, he was at least a brave man. Leaping into his chariot, and
calling to the handful of faithful soldiers to follow him, he bade Menna
lash his horses and charge the advancing Hittites. Menna was no coward,
but when he saw the thin line of Egyptian troops, and looked at the
dense mass of Hittite chariots, his heart almost failed him. He never
thought of disobedience, but, as he stooped over his plunging horses, he
panted to the King: "O mighty strength of Egypt in the day of battle, we
are alone in the midst of the enemy. O, save us, Ramses, my good lord!"
"Steady, steady, my charioteer," said Ramses, "I am going among them
like a hawk!"

In a moment the fiery horses were whirling the King and his charioteer
between the files of the Hittite chariots, which drew aside as if
terrified at the glittering figures that dashed upon them so fearlessly.
As they swept through, Menna had enough to do to manage his steeds,
which were wild with excitement; but Ramses' bow was bent again and
again, and at every twang of the bowstring a Hittite champion fell from
his chariot. Behind the King came his household troops, and all together
they burst through the chariot brigade of the enemy, leaving a long
trail marked by dead and wounded men, overturned chariots, and maddened

Still King Ramses had only gained a breathing-space. The Hittites far
outnumbered his little force, and, though his orderlies were madly
galloping to bring up the third and fourth brigades, it must be some
time yet before even the nearest could come into action. Besides, on the
other bank of the river there hung a great cloud of 8,000 Hittite
spearmen, under the command of the Hittite King himself. If these got
time to cross the river, the Egyptian position, bad enough as it was,
would be hopeless. There was nothing for it but to charge again and
again, and, if possible, drive back the Hittite chariots on the river,
so as to hinder the spearmen from crossing.

So Menna whipped up his horses again, and, with arrow on string, the
Pharaoh dashed upon his enemies once more. Again they burst through the
opposing ranks, scattering death on either side as they passed. Now some
of the fragments of the first and second brigades were beginning to
rally and come back to the field, and the struggle was becoming less
unequal. The Egyptian quivers were nearly all empty now; but lance and
sword still remained, and inch by inch the Hittites were forced back
upon the river. Their King stood ingloriously on the opposite bank,
unable to do anything. It was too late for him to try to move his
spearmen across--they would only have been trampled down by the
retreating chariots. At last a great shout from the rear announced the
arrival of the third Egyptian brigade, and, the little knot of brave men
who had saved the day still leading, the army swept the broken Hittites
down the bank of the Orontes into the river.

Great was the confusion and the slaughter. As the chariots struggled
through the ford, the Egyptian bowmen, spread out along the bank, picked
off the chiefs. The two brothers of the Hittite King, the chief of his
bodyguard, his shield-bearer, and his chief scribe, were all killed. The
King of Aleppo missed the ford, and was swept down the river; but some
of his soldiers dashed into the water, rescued him, and, in rough first
aid, held the half-drowned leader up by the heels, to let the water
drain out of him. The Hittite King picked up his broken fugitives,
covered them with his mass of spearmen, and moved reluctantly off the
field where so splendid a chance of victory had been missed, and turned
into defeat. The Egyptians were too few and too weary to attempt to
cross the river in pursuit, and they retired to the camp of the first

Then Pharaoh called his Captains before him. The troops stood around,
leaning on their spears, ashamed of their conduct in the earlier part of
the day, and wondering at the grim signs of conflict that lay on every
side. King Ramses called Menna to him, and, handing the reins to a
groom, the young charioteer came bowing before his master. Pharaoh
stripped from his own royal neck a collar of gold, and fastened it round
the neck of his faithful squire; and, while the Generals and Captains
hung their heads for shame, the King told them how shamefully they had
left him to fight his battle alone, and how none had stood by him but
the young charioteer. "As for my two horses," he said, "they shall be
fed before me every day in the royal palace."

[Illustration: PLATE 5.

Both armies had suffered too much loss for any further strife to be
possible, and a truce was agreed upon. The Hittites drew off to the
north, and the Egyptians marched back again to Egypt, well aware that
they had gained little or nothing by all their efforts, but thankful
that they had been saved from the total destruction which had seemed so

A proud man was Menna when he drove the royal chariot up to the bridge
of Zaru. As the troops passed the frontier canal the road was lined on
either side with crowds of nobles, priests, and scribes, strewing
flowers in the way, and bowing before the King. And after the Pharaoh
himself, whose bravery had saved the day, there was no one so honoured
as the young squire who had stood so manfully by his master in the hour
of danger.



How did the boys and girls live in this quaint old land so many hundreds
of years ago? How were they dressed, what sort of games did they play
at, what sort of lessons did they learn, and what kind of school did
they go to? If you could have lived in Egypt in those far-off days, you
would have found many differences between your life of to-day and the
life that the Egyptian children led; but you would also have found that
there were very many things much the same then as they are now. Boys and
girls were boys and girls three thousand years ago, just as they are
now; and you would find that they did very much the same things, and
even played very much the same games as you do to-day.

When you read in your fairy-stories about a little boy or girl, you
often hear that they had fairy godmothers who came to their cradles, and
gave them gifts, and foretold what was going to happen to the little
babies in after years. Well, when little Tahuti or little Sen-senb was
born in Thebes fifteen hundred years before Christ, there were fairy
godmothers too, who presided over the great event; and there were others
called the Hathors, who foretold all that was going to happen to the
little boy or girl as the years went on. The baby was kept a baby much
longer in those days than our little ones are kept. The happy mother
nursed the little thing carefully for three years at all events,
carrying it about with her wherever she went, either on her shoulder, or
astride upon her hip.

If baby took ill, and the doctor was called in, the medicines that were
given were not in the least like the sugar-coated pills and capsules
that make medicine-taking easy nowadays. The Egyptian doctor did not
know a very great deal about medicine and sickness, but he made up for
his ignorance by the nastiness of the doses which he gave to his
patients. I don't think you would like to take pills made up of the
moisture scraped from pig's ears, lizard's blood, bad meat, and decaying
fat, to say nothing of still nastier things. Often the doctor would look
very grave, and say, "The child is not ill; he is bewitched"; and then
he would sit down and write out a prescription something like this:
"Remedy to drive away bewitchment. Take a great beetle; cut off his head
and his wings, boil him, put him in oil, and lay him out. Then cook
his head and his wings; put them in snake-fat, boil, and let the patient
drink the mixture." I think you would almost rather take the risk of
being bewitched than drink a dose like that!

[Illustration: Plate 6
Note the hieroglyphics on base of statue. _Pages_ 68, 69]

Sometimes the doctor gave no medicines at all, but wrote a few magic
words on a scrap of old paper, and tied it round the part where the pain
was. I daresay it did as much good as his pills. Very often the mother
believed that it was not really sickness that was troubling her child,
but that a ghost was coming and hurting him; so when his cries showed
that the ghost was in the room, the mother would rise up, shaking all
over, I daresay, and would repeat the verse that she had been taught
would drive ghosts away:

    "Comest thou to kiss this child? I suffer thee not to kiss him;
     Comest thou to quiet him? I suffer thee not to quiet him;
     Comest thou to harm him? I suffer thee not to harm him;
     Comest thou to take him away? I suffer thee not to take him away."

When little Tahuti has got over his baby aches, and escaped the ghosts,
he begins to run about and play. He and his sister are not bothered to
any great extent with dressing in the mornings. They are very particular
about washing, but as Egypt is so hot, clothes are not needed very much,
and so the little boy and girl play about with nothing at all on their
little brown bodies except, perhaps, a narrow girdle, or even a single
thread tied round the waist. They have their toys just like you. Tahuti
has got a wonderful man, who, when you pull a string, works a roller up
and down upon a board, just like a baker rolling out dough, and besides
he has a crocodile that moves its jaws. His sister has dolls: a fine
Egyptian lady and a frizzy-haired, black-faced Nubian girl. Sometimes
they play together at ninepins, rolling the ball through a little gate.

For about four years this would go on, as long as Tahuti was what the
Egyptians called "a wise little one." Then, when he was four years old,
the time came when he had to become "a writer in the house of books,"
which is what the Egyptians called a school-boy; so little Tahuti set
off for school, still wearing no more clothes than the thread tied round
his waist, and with his black hair plaited up into a long thick lock,
which hung down over his right ear. The first thing that he had to learn
was how to read and write, and this was no easy task, for Egyptian
writing, though it is very beautiful when well done, is rather difficult
to master, all the more as there were two different styles which had to
be learned if a boy was going to become a man of learning. I don't
suppose that you think your old copy-books of much importance when you
are done with them; but the curious thing is that among all the books
that have come down to us from ancient Egypt, there are far more old
copy-books than any others, and these books, with the teachers'
corrections written on the margins, and rough sketches scratched in here
and there among the writing, have proved most valuable in telling us
what the Egyptians learned, and what they liked to read; for a great
deal of the writing consisted in the copying out of wise words of the
men of former days, and sometimes of stories of old times.

These old copy-books can speak to us in one way, but if they could speak
in another, I daresay they would tell us of many weary hours in school,
and of many floggings and tears; for the Egyptian school-master
believed with all his heart in the cane, and used it with great vigour
and as often as he could. Little Tahuti used to look forward to his
daily flogging, much as he did to his lunch in the middle of the day,
when his careful mother regularly brought him three rolls of bread and
two jugs of beer. "A boy's ears," his master used to say, "are on his
back, and he hears when he is beaten." One of the former pupils at his
school writing to his teacher, and recalling his school-days, says: "I
was with thee since I was brought up as a child; thou didst beat my
back, and thine instructions went into my ear." Sometimes the boys, if
they were stubborn, got punishments even worse than the cane. Another
boy, in a letter to his old master, says: "Thou hast made me buckle to
since the time that I was one of thy pupils. I spent my time in the
lock-up, and was sentenced to three months, and bound in the temple." I
am afraid our schoolboys would think the old Egyptian teachers rather
more severe than the masters with whom they have to do nowadays.

Lesson-time occupied about half the day, and when it came to an end the
boys all ran out of the school, shouting for joy. That custom has not
changed much, anyway, in all these hundreds of years. I don't think they
had any home lessons to do, and so, perhaps, their school-time was not
quite so bad as we might imagine from the rough punishments they used to

When Tahuti grew a little older, and had fairly mastered the rudiments
of writing, his teacher set him to write out copies of different
passages from the best known Egyptian books, partly to keep up his
hand-writing, and partly to teach him to know good Egyptian and to use
correct language. Sometimes it was a piece of a religious book that he
was set to copy, sometimes a poem, sometimes a fairy-tale. For the
Egyptians were very fond of fairy-tales, and later on, perhaps, we may
hear some of their stories, the oldest fairy-stories in the world. But
generally the piece that was chosen was one which would not only
exercise the boy's hand, and teach him a good style, but would also help
to teach him good manners, and fill his mind with right ideas. Very
often Tahuti's teacher would dictate to him a passage from the wise
advice which a great King of long ago left to his son, the Crown Prince,
or from some other book of the same kind. And sometimes the exercises
would be in the form of letters which the master and his pupils wrote as
though they had been friends far away from one another. Tahuti's
letters, you may be sure, were full of wisdom and of good resolutions,
and I dare say he was just about as fond of writing them as you are of
writing the letters that your teacher sometimes sets as a task for you.

When it came to Arithmetic, Tahuti was so far lucky that the number of
rules he had to learn was very few. His master taught him addition and
subtraction, and a very slow and clumsy form of multiplication; but he
could not teach him division, for the very simple reason that he did not
properly understand it himself. Enough of mensuration was taught him to
enable him to find out, though rather roughly, what was the size of a
field, and how much corn would go into a granary of any particular size.
And when he had learned these things, his elementary education was
pretty well over.

[Illustration: Plate 7

Of course a great deal would depend on the profession he was going to
follow. If he was going to be only a common scribe, his education
would go no farther; for the work he would have to do would need no
greater learning than reading, writing, and arithmetic. If he was going
to be an officer in the army, he entered as a cadet in a military school
which was attached to the royal stables. But if he was going to be a
priest, he had to join one of the colleges which belonged to the
different temples of the gods, and there, like Moses, he was instructed
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was taught all the strange ideas
which they had about the gods, and the life after death, and the
wonderful worlds, above and below, where the souls of men lived after
they had finished their lives on earth.

But, whether his schooling was carried on to what we should call a
University training or not, there was one thing that Tahuti was taught
with the utmost care, and that was to be very respectful to those who
were older than himself, never to sit down while an older person was
standing in the room, and always to be very careful in his manners.
Chief of the older people to whom he had to show respect were his
parents, and above all, his mother, for the Egyptians reverenced their
mothers more than anyone else in the world. Here is a little scrap of
advice that a wise old Egyptian once left to his son: "Thou shalt never
forget what thy mother has done for thee. She bare thee, and nourished
thee in all manner of ways. She nursed thee for three years. She brought
thee up, and when thou didst enter the school, and wast instructed in
the writings, she came daily to thy master with bread and beer from her
house. If thou forgettest her, she might blame thee; she might lift up
her hands to God, and He would hear her complaint." Children nowadays
might do a great deal worse than remember these wise words of the
oldest book in the world.

But you are not to think that the Egyptian children's life was all
teaching and prim behaviour. When Tahuti got his holidays, he would
sometimes go out with his father and mother and sister on a fishing or
fowling expedition. If they were going fishing, the little papyrus skiff
was launched, and the party paddled away, armed with long thin spears,
which had two prongs at the point. Drifting over the quiet shallow
waters of the marshy lakes, they could see the fish swimming beneath
them, and launch their spears at them. Sometimes, if he was lucky,
Tahuti's father would pierce a fish with either prong of the spear, and
then there was great excitement.

But still more interesting was the fowling among the marshes. The spears
were laid aside on this kind of expedition, and instead, Tahuti and his
father were armed with curved throw-sticks, shaped something like an
Australian boomerang. But, besides the throw-sticks, they had with them
a rather unusual helper. When people go shooting nowadays, they take
dogs with them to retrieve the game. Well, the Egyptians had different
kinds of dogs, too, which they used for hunting; but when they went
fowling they took with them a cat which was trained to catch the wounded
birds and bring them to her master. The little skiff was paddled
cautiously across the marsh, and in among the reeds where the wild ducks
and other waterfowl lived, Sen-senb and her mother holding on to the
tall papyrus plants and pulling them aside to make room for the boat, or
plucking the beautiful lotus-lilies, of which the Egyptians were so
fond. When the birds rose, Tahuti and his father let fly their
throw-sticks, and when a bird was knocked down, the cat, which had been
sitting quietly in the bow of the boat, dashed forward among the reeds
and secured the fluttering creature before it could escape.

[Illustration: PLATE 8.

Altogether, it was great fun for the brother and sister, as well as for
the grown folks, and Tahuti and Sen-senb liked nothing so well as when
the gaily-painted little skiff was launched for a day on the marshes. I
think that, on the whole, they had a very bright and happy life in these
old days, and that, though they had not many of the advantages that you
have to-day, the boys and girls of three thousand years ago managed to
enjoy themselves in their own simple way quite as well as you do now.



The little brown boys and girls who lived in Egypt three thousand years
ago were just as fond as you are of hearing wonderful stories that begin
with "Once upon a time;" and I want in this chapter to tell you some of
the tales that Tahuti and Sen-senb used to listen to in the evening when
school was over and play was done--the oldest of all wonder-tales,
stories that were old and had long been forgotten, ages before The
Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk were first thought of.

One day, when King Khufu, the great King who built the biggest of the
Pyramids, had nothing else to do, he called his sons and his wise men
together, and said, "Is there anyone among you who can tell me the tales
of the old magicians?" Then the King's son, Prince Baufra, stood up and
said, "Your Majesty, I can tell you of a wonder that happened in the
days of your father, King Seneferu. It fell on a day that the King grew
weary of everything, and sought through all his palace for something to
please him, but found nothing. Then he said to his officers, 'Bring to
me the magician Zazamankh.' And when the magician came, the King said to
him, 'O Zazamankh, I have sought through all my palace for some delight,
and I have found none.' Then said Zazamankh, 'Let thy Majesty go in thy
boat upon the lake of the palace, and let twenty beautiful girls be
brought to row thee, and let their oars be of ebony, inlaid with gold
and silver. And I myself will go with thee; and the sight of the
water-birds, and the fair shores, and the green grass will cheer thy
heart.' So the King and the wizard went down to the lake, and the twenty
maidens rowed them about in the King's pleasure-galley. Nine rowed on
this side, and nine on that, and the two fairest stood by the two
rudders at the stern, and set the rowing song, each for her own side.
And the King's heart grew glad and light, as the boat sped hither and
thither, and the oars flashed in the sunshine to the song of the rowers.

"But as the boat turned, the top of the steering-oar struck the hair of
one of the maidens who steered, and knocked her coronet of turquoise
into the water; and she stopped her song, and all the rowers on her
side stopped rowing. Then his Majesty said, 'Why have you stopped
rowing, little one?' And the maiden answered, 'It is because my jewel of
turquoise has fallen into the water.' 'Row on,' said the King, 'and I
will give you another.' But the girl answered, 'I want my own one back,
as I had it before.' So King Seneferu called Zazamankh to come to him,
and said, 'Now, Zazamankh, I have done as you advised, and my heart is
light; but, behold, the coronet of this little one has fallen into the
water, and she has stopped singing, and spoiled the rowing of her side;
and she will not have a new jewel, but wants the old one back again.'

"Then Zazamankh the wizard stood up in the King's boat, and spoke
wonderful words. And, lo! the water of one half of the lake rose up, and
heaped itself upon the top of the water of the other half, so that it
was twice as deep as it was before. And the King's bark rode upon the
top of the piled-up waters; but beyond it the bottom of the lake lay
bare, with the shells and pebbles shining in the sunlight. And there,
upon a broken shell, lay the little rower's coronet. Then Zazamankh
leaped down and picked it up, and brought it to the King. And he spake
wonderful words again, and the water sank down, and covered the whole
bed of the lake, as it had done at first. So his Majesty spent a joyful
day, and gave great rewards to the wizard Zazamankh."

When King Khufu heard that story, he praised the men of olden times. But
another of his sons, Prince Hordadef, stood up, and said, "O King, that
is only a story of bygone days, and no one knows whether it is true or a
lie; but I will show thee a magician of to-day." "Who is he, Hordadef?"
said King Khufu. And Hordadef answered, "His name is Dedi. He is a
hundred and ten years old, and every day he eats five hundred loaves of
bread, and a side of beef, and drinks a hundred jugs of beer. He knows
how to fasten on a head that has been cut off. He knows how to make a
lion of the desert follow him, and he knows the plan of the house of God
that you have wanted to know for so long."

Then King Khufu sent Prince Hordadef to bring Dedi to him, and he
brought Dedi back in the royal boat. The King came out, and sat in the
colonnade of the palace, and Dedi was led before him. Then said his
Majesty, "Why have I never seen you before, Dedi?" And Dedi answered,
"Life, health, strength to your Majesty! A man can only come when he is
called." "Is it true, Dedi, that you can fasten on a head which has been
cut off?" "Certainly I can, your Majesty." Then said the King, "Let a
prisoner be brought from the prison, and let his head be struck off."
But Dedi said, "Long life to your Majesty; do not try it on a man. Let
us try a bird or an animal."

So a goose was brought; its head was cut off; and the head was laid at
the east side of the hall, and the body at the west. Then Dedi rose, and
spoke wonderful words. And, behold! the body of the goose waddled to
meet the head, and the head came to meet the body. They joined together
before his Majesty's throne, and the goose stood up and cackled (Plate

Then, when Dedi had joined to its body again the head that had been
struck off from an ox, and the ox followed him lowing, King Khufu said
to him, "Is it true, O Dedi, that you know the plans of the house of
God?" "It is true, your Majesty; but it is not I who shall give them to
you." "Who, then?" said the King. "It is the eldest of three sons who
shall be born to the lady Rud-didet, wife of the priest of Ra, the
Sun-God. And Ra has promised that these three sons shall reign over this
kingdom of thine." When King Khufu heard that word, his heart was
troubled; but Dedi said, "Let not your Majesty's heart be troubled. Thy
son shall reign first, then thy son's son, and then one of these." So
the King commanded that Dedi should live in the house of Prince
Hordadef; and that every day there should be given to him a thousand
loaves, a hundred jugs of beer, an ox, and a hundred bunches of onions!

When the three sons of Rud-didet were born, Ra sent four goddesses to be
their godmothers. They came attired like travelling dancing-girls; and
one of the gods came with them, dressed like a porter. And when they had
nursed the three children awhile, Rud-didet's husband said to them, "My
ladies, what wages shall I give you?" So he gave them a bushel of
barley, and they went away with their wages. But when they had gone a
little way, Isis, the chief of them, said, "Why have we not done a
wonder for these children?" So they stopped, and made crowns, the red
crown and the white crown of Egypt, and hid them in the bushel of
barley, and sealed the sack, and put it in Rud-didet's store-chamber,
and went away again.

A fortnight later, when Rud-didet was going to brew the household beer,
there was no barley. And her maidservant said, "There is a bushel, but
it was given to the dancing-girls, and lies in the store-room, sealed
with their seal." So the lady said to her maid, "Go down and fetch it,
and we shall give them more when they need it." The maid went down, but
when she came to the store-room, lo! from within there came a sound of
singing and dancing, and all such music as should be heard in a King's
Court. So in fear she crept back to her mistress and told her, and
Rud-didet went down and heard the royal music, and she told her husband
when he came home at night, and their hearts were glad because their
sons were to be Kings.

But after a time the lady Rud-didet quarrelled with her maid, and gave
her a beating, as ladies sometimes did in those days; and the weeping
maid said to her fellow-servants, "Shall she do this to me? She has
borne three Kings, and I will go and tell it to his Majesty, King
Khufu." So she stole away first to her uncle, and told him of her plot;
but he was angry because she wished to betray the children to King
Khufu, and he beat her with a scourge of flax. And as she went away by
the side of the river a great crocodile came out of the water, and
carried her off.... But here, alas! our story breaks off; the rest of
the book is lost, and we cannot tell whether King Khufu tried to kill
the three royal babies or not. Only we do know that the first three
Kings of the race which succeeded the race of Khufu bore the same names
as Rud-didet's three babies, and were called, like all the Kings of
Egypt after them, "Sons of the Sun."

These, then, are absolutely the oldest fairy-stories in the world, and
if they do not seem very wonderful to you, you must remember that
everything has to have a beginning, and that the people who made these
tales hadn't had very much practice in the art of story-telling.



Our next story belongs to a time several hundred years later, and I dare
say it seemed as wonderful to the little Egyptians as the story of
Sindbad the Sailor does to you. It is called "The Story of the
Shipwrecked Sailor," and the sailor himself tells it to a noble

"I was going," he says, "to the mines of Pharaoh, and we set sail in a
ship of 150 cubits long and 40 cubits wide (225 feet by 60 feet--quite a
big ship for the time). We had a crew of 150 of the best sailors of
Egypt, men whose hearts were as bold as lions. They all foretold a happy
voyage, but as we came near the shore a great storm blew, the sea rose
in terrible waves, and our ship was fairly overwhelmed. Clinging to a
piece of wood, I was washed about for three days, and at last tossed up
on an island; but not one was left of all my shipmates--all perished in
the waves.

"I lay down in the shade of some bushes, and when I had recovered a
little, I looked about me for food. There was plenty on every hand--figs
and grapes, berries and corn, with all manner of birds. When my hunger
was satisfied, I lit a fire, and made an offering to the gods who had
saved me. Suddenly I heard a noise like thunder; the trees shook, and
the earth quaked. Looking round, I saw a great serpent approaching me.
He was nearly 50 feet long, and had a beard 3 feet in length. His body
shone in the sun like gold, and when he reared himself up from his coils
before me I fell upon my face.

"Then the serpent began to speak: 'What has brought thee, little one,
what has brought thee? If thou dost not tell me quickly what has brought
thee to this isle, I shall make thee vanish like a flame.' So saying, he
took me up in his mouth, carried me gently to his lair, and laid me down
unhurt; and again he said, 'What has brought thee, little one, what has
brought thee to this isle of the sea?' So I told him the story of our
shipwreck, and how I alone had escaped from the fury of the waves. Then
said he to me: 'Fear not, little one, and let not thy face be sad. If
thou hast come to me, it is God who has brought thee to this isle, which
is filled with all good things. And now, see: thou shalt dwell for four
months in this isle, and then a ship of thine own land shall come, and
thou shalt go home to thy country, and die in thine own town. As for me,
I am here with my brethren and my children. There are seventy-five of us
in all, besides a young girl, who came here by chance, and was burned by
fire from heaven. But if thou art strong and patient, thou shalt yet
embrace thy children and thy wife, and return to thy home.'

"Then I bowed low before him, and promised to tell of him to Pharaoh,
and to bring him ships full of all the treasures of Egypt; but he smiled
at my speech, and said, 'Thou hast nothing that I need, for I am Prince
of the Land of Punt, and all its perfumes are mine. Moreover, when thou
departest, thou shalt never again see this isle, for it shall be changed
into waves.'

[Illustration: PLATE 9.

"Now, behold! when the time was come, as he had foretold, the ship drew
near. And the good serpent said to me, 'Farewell, farewell! go to thy
home, little one, see again thy children, and let thy name be good in
thy town; these are my wishes for thee.' So I bowed low before him, and
he loaded me with precious gifts of perfume, cassia, sweet woods, ivory,
baboons, and all kinds of precious things, and I embarked in the ship.
And now, after a voyage of two months, we are coming to the house of
Pharaoh, and I shall go in before Pharaoh, and offer the gifts which I
have brought from this isle into Egypt, and Pharaoh shall thank me
before the great ones of the land."

Our last story belongs to a later age than that of the Shipwrecked
Sailor. About 1,500 years before Christ there arose in Egypt a race of
mighty soldier-Kings, who founded a great empire, which stretched from
the Soudan right through Syria and Mesopotamia as far as the great River
Euphrates. Mesopotamia, or Naharaina, as the Egyptians called it, had
been an unknown land to them before this time; but now it became to them
what America was to the men of Queen Elizabeth's time, or the heart of
Africa to your grandfathers--the wonderful land of romance, where all
kinds of strange things might happen. And this story of the Doomed
Prince, which I have to tell you, belongs partly to Naharaina, and, as
you will see, some of our own fairy-stories have been made out of very
much the same materials as are used in it.

Once upon a time there was a King in Egypt who had no child. His heart
was grieved because he had no child, and he prayed to the gods for a
son; so in course of time a son was born to him, and the Fates (like
fairy godmothers) came to his cradle to foretell what should happen to
him. And when they saw him, they said, "His doom is to die either by the
crocodile, or by the serpent, or by the dog." When the King heard this,
his heart was sore for his little son, and he resolved that he would put
the boy where no harm could come to him; so he built for him a beautiful
house away in the desert, and furnished it with all kinds of fine
things, and sent the boy there, with faithful servants to guard him, and
to see that he came to no hurt. So the boy grew up quietly and safely in
his house in the desert.

But it fell on a day that the young Prince looked out from the roof of
his house, and he saw a man walking across the desert, with a dog
following him. So he said to the servant who was with him, "What is this
that walks behind the man who is coming along the road?" "It is a dog,"
said the page. Then the boy said, "You must bring me one like him," and
the page went and told His Majesty. Then the King said, "Get a little
puppy, and take it to him, lest his heart be sad." So they brought him a
little dog, and it grew up along with him.

Now, it happened that, when the boy had grown to be a strong young man,
he grew weary of being always shut up in his fine house. Therefore he
sent a message to his father, saying, "Why am I always to be shut up
here? Since I am doomed to three evil Fates, let me have my desire, and
let God do what is in His heart." So the King agreed, and they gave the
young Prince arms, and sent him away to the eastern frontier, and his
dog went with him, and they said to him, "Go wherever you will." So he
went northward through the desert, he and his dog, until he came to
the land of Naharaina.

[Illustration: Plate 10

Now, the chief of the land of Naharaina had no children, save one
beautiful daughter, and for her he had built a wonderful house. It had
seventy windows, and it stood on a great rock more than 100 feet high.
And the chief summoned the sons of all the chiefs of the country round
about, and said to them, "The Prince who can climb to my daughter's
window shall have her for his wife." So all the young Princes of the
land camped around the house, and tried every day to climb to the window
of the beautiful Princess; but none of them succeeded, for the rock was
very steep and high.

Then, one day when they were climbing as they were wont, the young
Prince of Egypt rode by with his dog; and the Princes welcomed him,
bathed him, and fed his horse, and said to him, "Whence comest thou,
thou goodly youth?" He did not wish to tell them that he was the son of
Pharaoh, so he answered, "I am the son of an Egyptian officer. My father
married a second wife, and, when she had children, she hated me, and
drove me away from my home." So they took him into their company, and he
stayed with them many days.

Now, it fell on a day that he asked them, "Why do you stay here, trying
always to climb this rock?" And they told him of the beautiful Princess
who lived in the house on the top of the rock, and how the man who could
climb to her window should marry her. Therefore the young Prince of
Egypt climbed along with them, and it came to pass that at last he
climbed to the window of the Princess; and when she saw him, she fell in
love with him, and kissed him.

Then was word sent to the Chief of Naharaina that one of the young men
had climbed to his daughter's window, and he asked which of the Princes
it was, and the messenger said, "It is not a Prince, but the son of an
Egyptian officer, who has been driven away from Egypt by his
stepmother." Then the Chief of Naharaina was very angry, and said,
"Shall I give my daughter to an Egyptian fugitive? Let him go back to
Egypt." But, when the messengers came to tell the young man to go away,
the Princess seized his hand, and said, "If you take him from me, I will
not eat; I will not drink; I shall die in that same hour." Then the
chief sent men to kill the youth where he was in the house. But the
Princess said, "If you kill him, I shall be dead before the sun goes
down. I will not live an hour if I am parted from him." So the chief was
obliged to agree to the marriage; and the young Prince was married to
the Princess, and her father gave them a house, and slaves, and fields,
and all sorts of good things.

But after a time the young Prince said to his wife, "I am doomed to die,
either by a crocodile, or by a serpent, or by a dog." And his wife
answered, "Why, then, do you keep this dog always with you? Let him be
killed." "Nay," said he, "I am not going to kill my faithful dog, which
I have brought up since the time that he was a puppy." So the Princess
feared greatly for her husband, and would never let him go out of her

Now, it happened in course of time that the Prince went back to the land
of Egypt; and his wife went with him, and his dog, and he dwelt in
Egypt. And one day, when the evening came, he grew drowsy, and fell
asleep; and his wife filled a bowl with milk, and placed it by his side,
and sat to watch him as he slept. Then a great serpent came out of his
hole to bite the youth. But his wife was watching, and she made the
servants give the milk to the serpent, and he drank till he could not
move. Then the Princess killed the serpent with blows of her dagger. So
she woke her husband, and he was astonished to see the serpent lying
dead, and his faithful wife said to him, "Behold, God has given one of
thy dooms into thy hand; He will also give the others." And the Prince
made sacrifice to God, and praised Him.

Now, it fell on a day that the Prince went out to walk in his estate,
and his dog went with him. And as they walked, the dog ran after some
game, and the Prince followed the dog. They came to the River Nile, and
the dog went into the river, and the Prince followed him. Then a great
crocodile rose in the river, and laid hold on the youth, and said, "I am
thy doom, following after thee." ...

But just here the old papyrus roll on which the story is written is torn
away, and we do not know what happened to the Doomed Prince. I fancy
that, in some way or other, his dog would save him from the crocodile,
and that later, by some accident, the poor faithful dog would be the
cause of his master's death. At least, it looks as if the end of the
story must have been something like that; for the Egyptians believed
that no one could escape from the doom that was laid upon him, but had
to suffer it sooner or later. Perhaps, some day, one of the explorers
who are searching the land of Egypt for relics of the past may come on
another papyrus roll with the end of the story, and then we shall find
out whether the dog did kill the Prince, or whether God gave all his
dooms into his hand, as his wife hoped.

These are some of the stories that little Tahuti and Sen-senb used to
listen to in the long evenings when they were tired of play. Perhaps
they seem very simple and clumsy to you; but I have no doubt that, when
they were told in those old days, the black eyes of the little Egyptian
boys and girls used to grow very big and round, and the wizard who could
fasten on heads which had been cut off seemed a very wonderful person,
and the talking serpents and crocodiles seemed very real and very

Anyhow, you have heard the oldest stories in all the world--the fathers
and mothers, so to speak, of all the great family of wonder-tales that
have delighted and terrified children ever since.



There is no more wonderful or interesting story than that which tells
how bit by bit the great dark continent of Africa has been explored, and
made to yield up its secrets. But did you ever think what a long story
it is, and how very early it begins? It is in Egypt that we find the
first chapters of the story; and they can still be read, written in the
quaint old picture writing which the Egyptians used, on the rock
tombs of a place in the south of Egypt, called Elephantine.

[Illustration: Plate 11

In early days the land of Egypt used to end at what was called the First
Cataract of the Nile, a place where the river came down in a series of
rapids among a lot of rocky islets. The First Cataract has disappeared
now, for British engineers have made a great dam across the Nile just at
this point, and turned the whole country, for miles above the dam, into
a lake. But in those days the Egyptians used to believe that the Nile,
to which they owed so much, began at the First Cataract. Yet they knew
of the wild country of Nubia beyond and, in very early times indeed,
about 5,000 years ago, they used to send exploring expeditions into that
half-desert land which we have come to know as the Soudan.

Near the First Cataract there lies the island of Elephantine, and when
the Egyptian kingdom was young the great barons who owned this island
were the Lords of the Egyptian Marches, just as the Percies and the
Douglases were the Lords of the Marches in England and Scotland. It was
their duty to keep in order the wild Nubian tribes south of the
Cataract, to see that they allowed the trading caravans to pass safely,
and sometimes to lead these caravans through the desert themselves. A
caravan was a very different thing then from the long train of camels
that we think of now when we hear the name. For, though there are some
very old pictures which show that, before Egyptian history begins at
all, the camel was known in Egypt, somehow that useful animal seems to
have disappeared from the land for many hundreds of years. The Pharaohs
and their adventurous barons never used the queer, ungainly creature
that carries the desert postman in our picture (Plate 12), and the
ivory, gold-dust, and ebony that came from the Soudan had to be carried
on the backs of hundreds of asses.

The barons of Elephantine bore the proud title of "Keepers of the Door
of the South," and, in addition, they display, seemingly just as
proudly, the title "Caravan Conductors." In those days it was no easy
task to lead a caravan through the Soudan, and bring it back safe with
its precious load through all the wild and savage tribes who inhabited
the land of Nubia. More than one of the barons of Elephantine set out
with a caravan never to return, but to leave his bones, and those of his
companions, to whiten among the desert sands; and one of them has told
us how, hearing that his father had been killed on one of these
adventurous journeys, he mustered his retainers, marched south with a
train of a hundred asses, punished the tribe which had been guilty of
the deed, and brought his father's body home, to be buried with all due

Some of the records of these early journeys, the first attempts to
explore the interior of Africa, may still be read, carved on the walls
of the tombs where the brave explorers sleep. One baron, called Herkhuf,
has told us of no fewer than four separate expeditions which he made
into the Soudan. On his first journey, as he was still young, he went in
company with his father, and was away for seven months. The next time he
was allowed to go alone, and brought back his caravan safely after an
absence of eight months.

On his third journey he went farther than before, and gathered so large
a quantity of ivory and gold-dust that three hundred asses were required
to bring his treasure home. So rich a caravan was a tempting prize
for the wild tribes on the way; but Herkhuf persuaded one of the
Soudanese chiefs to furnish him with a large escort, and the caravan was
so strongly guarded that the other tribes did not venture to attack it,
but were glad to help its leader with guides and gifts of cattle.
Herkhuf brought his treasures safely back to Egypt, and the King was so
pleased with his success that he sent a special messenger with a boat
full of delicacies to refresh the weary traveller.

[Illustration: PLATE 12.

But the most successful of all his expeditions was the fourth. The King
who had sent him on the other journeys had died, and was succeeded by a
little boy called Pepy, who was only about six years old when he came to
the throne, and who reigned for more than ninety years--the longest
reign in the world's history. In the second year of Pepy's reign, the
bold Herkhuf set out again for the Soudan, and this time, along with
other treasures, he brought back something that his boy-King valued far
more than gold or ivory.

You know how, when Stanley went in search of Emin Pasha, he discovered
in the Central African forests a strange race of dwarfs, living by
themselves, and very shy of strangers. Well, for all these thousands of
years, the forefathers of these little dwarfs must have been living in
the heart of the Dark Continent. In early days they evidently lived not
so far away from Egypt as when Stanley found them, for, on at least one
occasion, one of Pharaoh's servants had been able to capture one of the
little men, and bring him down as a present to his master, greatly to
the delight of the King and Court. Herkhuf was equally fortunate. He
managed to secure a dwarf from one of these pigmy tribes, and brought
him back with his caravan, that he might please the young King with his
quaint antics and his curious dances.

When the King heard of the present which his brave servant was bringing
back for him, he was wild with delight. The thought of this new toy was
far more to the little eight-year-old, King though he was, than all the
rest of the treasure which Herkhuf had gathered; and he caused a letter
to be written to the explorer, telling him of his delight, and giving
him all kinds of advice as to how careful he should be that the dwarf
should come to no harm on the way to Court.

The letter, through all its curious old phrases, is very much the kind
of letter that any boy might send on hearing of some new toy that was
coming to him. "My Majesty," says the little eight-year-old Pharaoh,
"wisheth to see this pigmy more than all the tribute of Punt. And if
thou comest to Court having this pigmy with thee sound and whole, My
Majesty will do for thee more than King Assa did for the Chancellor
Baurded." (This was the man who had brought back the other dwarf in
earlier days.) Little King Pepy then gives careful directions that
Herkhuf is to provide proper people to see that the precious dwarf does
not fall into the Nile on his way down the river; and these guards are
to watch behind the place where he sleeps, and look into his bed ten
times each night, that they may be sure that nothing has gone wrong.

The poor little dwarf must have had rather an uncomfortable time of it,
one fancies, if his sleep was to be broken so often. Perhaps there was
more danger of killing him with kindness and care, than if they had left
him more to himself; but Pepy's anxiety was very like a boy. However,
Herkhuf evidently succeeded in bringing his dwarf safe and sound to the
King's Court, and no doubt the quaint little savage proved a splendid
toy for the young King. One wonders what he thought of the great cities
and the magnificent Court of Egypt, and whether his heart did not weary
sometimes for the wild freedom of his lost home.

Herkhuf was so proud of the King's letter that he caused it to be
engraved, word for word, on the walls of the tomb which he hewed out for
himself at Elephantine, and there to this day the words can be read
which tell us how old is the story of African exploration, and how a boy
was always just a boy, even though he lived five thousand years ago, and
reigned over a great kingdom.



About 3,500 years ago, there reigned a great Queen in Egypt. It was not
usual for the Egyptian throne to be occupied by a woman, though great
respect was always shown to women in Egypt, and the rank of a King's
mother was considered quite as important as that of his father. But once
at least in her history Egypt had a great Queen, whose fame deserves to
be remembered, and who takes honourable rank among the great women, like
Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, who have ruled kingdoms.

During part of her life Queen Hatshepsut was only joint sovereign along
with her husband, and in the latter part of her reign she was joint
sovereign with her half-brother or nephew, who succeeded her; but for at
least twenty years she was really the sole ruler of Egypt, and governed
the land wisely and well.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that happened in her reign was the
voyage of discovery which she caused to be made by some ships of her
fleet. Centuries before her time, when the world was young, the
Egyptians had made expeditions down the Red Sea to a land which they
sometimes called Punt, and sometimes "The Divine Land." Probably it was
part of the country that we now know as Somaliland. But for a very long
time these voyages had ceased, and people only knew by hearsay, and by
the stories of ancient days, of this wonderful country that lay away by
the Southern Sea.

One day, the Queen tells us, she was at prayers in the temple of the god
Amen at Thebes, when she felt a sudden inspiration. The god was giving
her a command to send an expedition to this almost forgotten land. "A
command was heard in the sanctuary, a behest of the god himself, that
the ways which lead to Punt should be explored, and that the roads to
the Ladders of Incense should be trodden." In obedience to this command,
the Queen at once equipped a little fleet of the quaint old galleys that
the Egyptians then used (Plate 1), and sent them out, with picked crews,
and a royal envoy in command, to sail down the Red Sea, in search of the
Divine Land. The ships were laden with all kinds of goods to barter with
the Punites, and a guard of Egyptian soldiers was placed on board.

We do not know how long it took the little squadron to reach its
destination. Sea voyages in those days were slow and dangerous. But at
last the ships safely reached the mouth of the Elephant River in
Somaliland, and went up the river with the tide till they came to the
village of the natives. They found that the Punites lived in curious
beehive-shaped houses, some of them made of wicker-work, and placed on
piles, so that they had to climb into them by ladders. The men were not
negroes, though some negroes lived among them; they were very much like
the Egyptians in appearance, wore pointed beards, and were dressed only
in loincloths, while the women wore a yellow sleeveless dress, which
reached halfway between the knee and ankle.

Nehsi, the royal envoy, landed with an officer and eight soldiers, and,
to show that he came in peace, he spread out on a table some presents
for the chief of the Punites--five bracelets, two gold necklaces, a
dagger, with belt and sheath, a battle-axe, and eleven strings of glass
beads--much such a present as a European explorer might give to-day to
an African chief. The natives came down in great excitement to see the
strangers who had brought such treasures, and were astonished at the
arrival of such a fleet. "How is it," they said, "that you have reached
this country, hitherto unknown to men? Have you come by way of the sky,
or have you sailed on the waters of the Divine Sea?" The chief, who was
called Parihu, came down with his wife Aty, and his daughter. Aty rode
down on a donkey, but dismounted to see the strangers, and, indeed, the
poor donkey must have been greatly relieved, for the chieftainess was an
exceedingly fat lady, and her daughter, though so young, showed every
intention of being as fat as her mother.

After the envoy and the chief had exchanged compliments, business began.
The Egyptians pitched a tent in which they stored their goods for
barter, and to put temptation out of the way of the natives, they drew a
guard of soldiers round the tent. For several days the market remained
open, and the country people brought down their treasures, till the
ships were laden as deeply as was safe. The cargo was a varied and
valuable one. Elephants' tusks, gold, ebony, apes, greyhounds, leopard
skins, all were crowded into the galleys, the apes sitting gravely on
the top of the bales of goods, and looking longingly at the land which
they were leaving.

But the most important part of the cargo was the incense, and the
incense-trees. Great quantities of the gum from which the incense was
made were placed on board, and also thirty-one of the incense sycamores,
their roots carefully surrounded with a large ball of earth, and
protected by baskets. Several young chiefs of the Punites accompanied
the expedition back to Thebes, to see what life was like in the strange
new world which had been revealed to them. Altogether the voyage home
must have been no easy undertaking, for the ships, with their heavy
cargoes, must have been very difficult to handle.

The arrival of the squadron at Thebes, which they must have reached by a
canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea, was made the occasion of a
great holiday festival. Long lines of troops in gala attire came out to
meet the brave explorers, and an escort of the royal fleet accompanied
the exploring squadron up to the temple quay where the ships were to
moor. Then the Thebans feasted their eyes on the wonderful treasures
that had come from Punt, wondering at the natives, the incense, the
ivory, and, above all, at a giraffe which had been brought home. How the
poor creature was stowed away on the little Egyptian ship it is hard to
see; but there he was, with his spots and his long neck, the most
wonderful creature that the good folks of Thebes had ever seen. The
precious incense gum was stored in the temple, and the Queen herself
gave a bushel measure, made of a mixture of gold and silver, to measure
it out with.

So the voyage of discovery had ended in a great success. But Queen
Hatshepsut's purpose was only half fulfilled as yet. In a nook of the
limestone cliffs, not far from Thebes, her father before her had begun
to build a very wonderful temple, close beside the ruins of an older
sanctuary which had stood there for hundreds of years. Hatshepsut had
been gradually completing his work, and the temple was now growing into
a most beautiful building, very different from ordinary Egyptian
temples. From the desert sands in front it rose terrace above terrace,
each platform bordered with rows of beautiful limestone pillars, until
at last it reached the cliffs, and the most sacred chamber of it, the
Holy of Holies, was hewn into the solid wall of rock behind.

This temple the Queen resolved to make into what she called a Paradise
for Amen, the god who had told her to send out the ships. So she planted
on the terraces the sacred incense-trees which had been brought from
Punt; and, thanks to careful tending and watering, they flourished well
in their new home. And then, all along the walls of the temple, she
caused her artists to carve and paint the whole story of the voyage. We
do not know the names of the artists who did the work, though we know
that of the architect, Sen-mut, who planned the building. But, whoever
they were, they must have been very skilful sculptors; for the story of
the voyage is told in pictures on the walls of this wonderful temple, so
that everything can be seen just as it actually happened more than three
thousand years ago.

You can see the ships toiling along with oar and sail towards their
destination, the meeting with the natives, the palaver and the trading,
the loading of the galleys, and the long procession of Theban soldiers
going out to meet the returning explorers. Not a single detail is
missed, and, thanks to the Queen and her artists, we can go back over
all these years, and see how sailors worked, and how people lived in
savage lands in that far-off time, and realize that explorers dealt with
the natives in foreign countries in those days very much as they deal
with them now. When our explorers of to-day come back from their
journeys, they generally tell the story of their adventures in a big
book with many pictures; but no explorer ever published the account of a
voyage of discovery on such a scale as did Queen Hatshepsut, when she
carved the voyage to Punt on the walls of her great temple at
Deir-el-Bahri, and no pictures in any modern book are likely to last as
long, or to tell so much as these pictures that have come to light again
during the last few years, after being buried for centuries under the
desert sands.

[Illustration: PLATE 13.

Queen Hatshepsut has left other memorials of her greatness besides the
temple with its story of her voyage. She has told us how one day she was
sitting in her palace, and thinking of her Creator, when the thought
came into her mind to rear two great obelisks before the Temple of Amen
at Karnak. So she gave the command, and Sen-mut, her clever architect,
went up the Nile to Aswan, and quarried two huge granite blocks, and
floated them down the river. Cleopatra's Needle, which stands on the
Thames Embankment, is 68-1/2 feet high, and it seems to us a huge stone
for men to handle. Our own engineers had trouble enough in bringing it
to this country, and setting it up. But these two great obelisks of
Queen Hatshepsut were 98-1/2 feet high, and weighed about 350 tons
apiece. Yet Sen-mut had them quarried, and set up, and carved all over
from base to summit in seven months from the time when the Queen gave
her command! One of them still stands at Karnak, the tallest obelisk in
the temple there; while the other great shaft has fallen, and lies
broken, close to its companion. They tell us their own plain story of
the wisdom and skill of those far-off days; and perhaps the great Queen
who thought of her Creator as she sat in her palace, and longed to
honour Him, found that the God whom she ignorantly worshipped was indeed
not far from His servant's heart.



The Egyptians were, if not quite the earliest, at least among the
earliest of all the peoples of the world to find out how to put down
their thoughts in writing, or in other words, to make a book; and one of
their old books, full of wise advice from a father to his son, is,
perhaps, the oldest book in the world. Two words which we are constantly
using might help to remind us of how much we owe to their cleverness.
The one is "Bible," and the other is "paper." When we talk of the Bible,
which just means "the Book," we are using one of the words which the
Greeks used to describe the plant out of which the Egyptians made the
material on which they wrote; and when we talk of paper, we are using
another name, the commoner name, of the same plant. For the Egyptians
were the first people to make paper, and they used it for many centuries
before other people had learned how much handier it was than the other
things which they used.

Yet, if you saw an Egyptian book, you would think it was a very curious
and clumsy thing indeed, and very different from the handy volumes which
we use nowadays. When an Egyptian wanted to make a book, he gathered the
stems of a kind of reed called the papyrus, which grew in some parts of
Egypt in marshy ground. This plant grew to a height of from 12 to 15
feet, and had a stalk about 6 inches thick. The outer rind was peeled
off this stalk, and then the inner part of it was separated, by means
of a flat needle, into thin layers. These layers were joined to one
another on a table, and a thin gum was spread over them, and then
another layer was laid crosswise on the top of the first. The double
sheet thus made was then put into a press, squeezed together, and dried.
The sheets varied, of course, in breadth according to the purpose for
which they were needed. The broadest that we know of measure about 17
inches across, but most are much narrower than that.

When the Egyptian had got his paper, he did not make it up into a volume
with the sheets bound together at the back, as we do. He joined them end
to end, adding on sheet after sheet as he wrote, and rolling up his book
as he went along; so when the book was done it formed a big roll,
sometimes many feet long. There is one great book in the British Museum
which measures 135 feet in length. You would think it very strange and
awkward to have to handle a book like that.

But if the book seemed curious to you, the writing in it would seem
still more curious; for the Egyptian writing was certainly the
quaintest, and perhaps the prettiest, that has ever been known. It is
called "hieroglyphic," which means "sacred carving," and it is nothing
but little pictures from beginning to end. The Egyptians began by
putting down a picture of the thing which was represented by the word
they wanted to use, and, though by-and-by they formed a sort of alphabet
to spell words with, and had, besides, signs that represented the
different syllables of a word, still, these signs were all little
pictures. For instance, one of their signs for _a_ was the figure of an
eagle; their sign for _m_ was a lion, and for _u_ a little chicken; so
that when you look at an Egyptian book written in the hieroglyphic
character, you see column after column of birds and beasts and creeping
things, of men and women and boats, and all sorts of other things,
marching across the page.

When the Egyptians wanted any of their writings to last for a very long
time, they did not trust them to the frail papyrus rolls, but used
another kind of book altogether. You have heard of "sermons in stones"?
Well, a great many of the Egyptian books that tell us of the great deeds
of the Pharaohs were written on stone, carved deep and clear in the hard
granite of a great obelisk, or in the limestone of a temple wall. When
one of the Kings came back from the wars, he generally published the
account of his battles and victories by carving them on the walls of one
of the great temples, or on a pillar set up in the court of a temple,
and there they remain to this day for scholars to read.

When the hieroglyphics were cut in stone, the lines were often filled in
with pastes of different colours, so that the whole writing was a blaze
of beautiful tints, and the walls looked as if they were covered with
finely-coloured hangings. Of course, the colours have mostly faded now;
but there are still some temples and tombs where they can be seen,
almost as fresh as when they were first laid on, and from these we can
gather some idea of how wonderfully beautiful were these stone books of
ancient Egypt. The scribes and carvers knew very well how beautiful
their work was, and were careful to make it look as beautiful as
possible; so much so, that if they found that the grouping of figures to
make up a particular word or sentence was going to be ugly or clumsy,
they would even prefer to spell the word wrong, rather than spoil the
appearance of their picture-writing. Some of you, I dare say, spell
words wrong now and again; but I fancy it isn't because you think they
look prettier that way.

But now let us turn back again to our papyrus roll. Suppose that we have
got it, clean and fresh, and that our friend the scribe is going to
write upon it. How does he go about it? To begin with, he draws from his
belt a long, narrow wooden case, and lays it down beside him. This is
his palette; rather a different kind of palette from the one which
artists use. It is a piece of wood, with one long hollow in it, and two
or three shallow round ones. The long hollow holds a few pens, which are
made out of thin reeds, bruised at the ends, so that their points are
almost like little brushes. The shallow round hollows are for holding
ink--black for most of the writing, red for special words, and perhaps
one or two other colours, if the scribe is going to do a very fine piece
of work. So he squats down, cross-legged, dips a reed-pen in the ink,
and begins. As he writes he makes his little figures of men and beasts
and birds face all in the one direction, and his readers will know that
they must always read from the point towards which the characters face.
Now and then, when he comes to some specially important part, he draws,
in gay colours, a little picture of the scene which the words describe.

Now, you can understand that this picture-writing was not very easy work
to do when you had nothing but a bruised reed to draw all sorts of
animals with. Gradually the pictures grew less and less like the
creatures they stood for to begin with, and at last the old hieroglyphic
broke down into a kind of running hand, where a stroke or two might
stand for an eagle, a lion, or a man. And very many of the Egyptian
books are written in this kind of broken-down hieroglyphic, which is
called "hieratic," or priestly writing. But some of the finest and
costliest books were still written in the beautiful old style.

On their papyrus rolls the Egyptians wrote all sorts of things--books of
wise advice, stories like the fairy-tales which we have been hearing,
legends of the gods, histories, and poems; but the book that is oftenest
met with is one of their religious books. It is nearly always called the
"Book of the Dead" now, and some people call it the Egyptian Bible, but
neither of these names is the right one. Certainly, it is not in the
least like the Bible, and the Egyptians themselves never called it the
Book of the Dead. They called it "The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day,"
and the reason they gave it that name was because they believed that if
their dead friends knew all the wisdom that was written in it, they
would escape all the dangers of the other world, and would be able in
heaven to go in and out just as they had done upon earth, and to be
happy for ever.

The book is full of all kinds of magical charms against the serpents and
dragons and all the other kinds of evil things that sought to destroy
the dead person in the other world. The scribes used to write off copies
of it by the dozen, and keep them in stock, with blank places for the
names of the persons who were to use them. When anyone died, his
friends went away to a scribe, and bought a roll of the Book of the
Dead, and the scribe filled in the name of the dead person in the blank
places. Then the book was buried along with his mummy, so that when he
met the demons and serpents on the road to heaven, he would know how to
drive them away, and when he came to gates that had to be opened, or
rivers that had to be crossed, he would know the right magical words to

Some of these rolls of the Book of the Dead are very beautifully
written, and illustrated with most wonderful little coloured pictures,
representing different scenes of life in the other world, and it is from
these that we have learned a great deal of what the Egyptians believed
about the judgment after death, and heaven. But the common ones are very
carelessly done. The scribes knew that the book was going to be buried
at once, and that nobody was likely ever to see it again; so they did
not care much whether they made mistakes or not, and often they missed
out parts of the book altogether. They little thought that, thousands of
years after they were dead, scholars would dig up their writings again,
and read them, and see all their blunders.

Of course, a great deal of this book is dreadful rubbish, and anything
more unlike the noble and beautiful teaching of the Bible you can
scarcely imagine. It has no more sense in it than the "Fee! fi! foh!
fum!" of our fairy-stories. Here is one little chapter from it. It is
called "The Chapter of Repulsing Serpents," and the Egyptians supposed
that when a serpent attacked you on your way to heaven, you had only to
recite this verse, and the serpent would be powerless to harm you:
"Hail, thou serpent Rerek! advance not hither. Stand still now, and thou
shalt eat the rat which is an abomination unto Ra (the Sun-God), and
thou shalt crunch the bones of a filthy cat."

It sounds very silly, doesn't it? And there are many things quite as
silly as this in the book. You can scarcely imagine how wise people like
the Egyptians could ever have believed in such drivel. But, then, side
by side with this miserable stuff, you find really wonderful and noble
thoughts, that surely came to these men of ancient days from God
Himself, telling them how every man must be judged at last for all that
he has done on earth, and how only those who have done justly, and loved
mercy, and walked humbly with God, will be accepted by Him.



Anyone travelling through our own land, or through any European country,
to see the great buildings of long ago, would find that they were nearly
all either churches or castles. There are the great cathedrals, very
beautiful and wonderful; and there are the great buildings, sometimes
partly palaces and partly fortresses, where Kings and nobles lived in
bygone days. Well, if you were travelling in Egypt to see its great
buildings, you would find a difference. There are plenty of churches,
or temples, rather, and very wonderful they are; but there are no
castles or palaces left, or, at least, there are next to none. Instead
of palaces and castles, you would find tombs. Egypt, in fact, is a land
of great temples and great tombs.

[Illustration: Plate 14

Now, one can see why the Egyptians built great temples; for they were a
very religious nation, and paid great honour to their gods. But why did
they give so much attention to their tombs? The reason is, as you will
hear more fully in another chapter, that there never was a nation which
believed so firmly as did the Egyptians that the life after death was
far more important than life in this world. They built their houses, and
even their palaces, very lightly, partly of wood and partly of clay,
because they knew that they were only to live in them for a few years.
But they called their tombs "eternal dwelling-places"; and they have
made them so wonderfully that they have lasted long after all the other
buildings of the land, except the temples, have passed away.

First of all, let me try to give you an idea of what an Egyptian temple
must have been like in the days of its splendour. People come from all
parts of the world to see even the ruins of these buildings, and they
are altogether the most astonishing buildings in the world; but they are
now only the skeletons of what the temples once were, and scarcely give
you any more idea of their former glory and beauty than a human skeleton
does of the beauty of a living man or woman. Suppose, then, that we are
coming up to the gates of a great Egyptian temple in the days when it
was still the house of a god who was worshipped by hundreds of thousands
of people.

As we pass out of the narrow streets of the city to which the temple
belongs, we find ourselves standing upon a broad paved way, which
stretches before us for hundreds of yards. On either side, this way is
bordered by a row of statues, and these statues are in the form of what
we call sphinxes--that is to say, they have bodies shaped like crouching
lions, and on the lion-body there is set the head of a different
creature. Some of the sphinxes, like the Great Sphinx, have human heads;
but those which border the temple avenues have oftener either ram or
jackal heads.

As we pass along the avenue, two high towers rise before us, and between
them is a great gateway. In front of the gate-towers are two tall
obelisks, slender, tapering shafts of red granite, like Cleopatra's
Needle on the Thames Embankment. They are hewn out of single blocks of
stone, carved all over with hieroglyphic figures, polished till they
shine like mirrors, and their pointed tops are gilded so that they flash
brilliantly in the sunlight. Beside the obelisks, which may be from 70
to 100 feet high, there are huge statues, perhaps two, perhaps four, of
the King who built the temple. These statues represent the King as
sitting upon his throne, with the double crown of Egypt, red and white,
upon his head. They also are hewn out of single blocks of stone, and
when you look at the huge figures you wonder how human hands could ever
get such stones out of the quarry, sculpture them, and set them up.
Before one of the temples of Thebes still lie the broken fragments of a
statue of Ramses II. When it was whole the statue must have been about
57 feet high, and the great block of granite must have weighed about
1,000 tons--the largest single stone that was ever handled by human
beings. Plate 10 will give you some idea of what these huge statues
looked like.

Fastened to the towers are four tall flagstaves--two on either side of
the gate--and from them float gaily-coloured pennons. The walls of the
towers are covered with pictures of the wars of the King. Here you see
him charging in his chariot upon his fleeing enemies; here, again, he is
seizing a group of captives by the hair, and raising his mace or his
sword to kill them; but whatever he is doing, he is always gigantic,
while his foes are mere helpless human beings. All these carvings are
brilliantly painted, and the whole front of the building glows with
colour; it is really a kind of pictorial history of the King's reign.

Now we stand in front of the gate. Its two leaves are made of cedar-wood
brought from Lebanon; but you cannot see the wood at all, for it is
overlaid with plates of silver chased with beautiful designs. Passing
through the gateway, we find ourselves in a broad open court. All round
it runs a kind of cloister, whose roof is supported upon tall pillars,
their capitals carved to represent the curving leaves of the palm-tree.
In the middle of the court there stands a tall pillar of stone,
inscribed with the story of the great deeds of Pharaoh, and his gifts to
the god of the temple. It is inlaid with turquoise, malachite, and
lapis-lazuli, and sparkles with precious stones.

At the farther side of this court, another pair of towers and another
gateway lead you into the second court. Here we pass at once out of
brilliant sunlight into semi-darkness; for this court is entirely roofed
over, and no light enters it except from the doorway and from grated
slits in the roof. Look around you, and you will see the biggest single
chamber that was ever built by the hands of man. Down the centre run two
lines of gigantic pillars which hold up the roof, and form the nave of
the hall; and beyond these on either side are the aisles, whose roofs
are supported by a perfect forest of smaller columns.

Look up to the twelve great pillars of the nave. They soar above your
head, seventy feet into the air, their capitals bending outwards in the
shape of open flowers. On each capital a hundred men could stand safely;
and the great stone roofing beams that stretch from pillar to pillar
weigh a hundred tons apiece. How were they ever brought to the place?
And, still more, how were they ever swung up to that dizzy height, and
laid in their places? Each of the great columns is sculptured with
figures and gaily painted, and the surrounding walls of the hall are all
decorated in the same way. But when you look at the pictures, you find
that it is no longer the wars of the King that are represented. The
inside of the temple is too holy for such things. Instead, you have
pictures of the gods, and of the King making all kinds of offerings to
them; and these pictures are repeated again and again, with endless
inscriptions, telling of the great gifts which Pharaoh has given to the

Finally we pass into the Holy of Holies. Here no light of day ever
enters at all. The chamber, smaller and lower than either of the others,
is in darkness except for the dim light of the lamp carried by the
attendant priest. Here stands the shrine, a great block of granite, hewn
into a dwelling-place for the figure of the god. It is closed with cedar
doors covered with gold plates, and the doors are sealed; but if we
could persuade the priest to let us look within, we should see a small
wooden figure something like the one that we saw carried through the
streets of Thebes, dressed and painted, and surrounded by offerings of
meat, drink, and flowers. For this little figure all the glories that we
have passed through have been created: an army of priests attends upon
it day by day, dresses and paints it, spreads food before it, offers
sacrifices and sings hymns in its praise.

Behind the sanctuary lie storehouses, which hold corn and fruits and
wines enough to supply a city in time of siege. The god is a great
proprietor, holding more land than any of the nobles of the country. He
has a revenue almost as great as that of Pharaoh himself. He has troops
of his own, an army which obeys no orders but his. On the Red Sea he has
one fleet, bringing to his temple the spices and incense of the
Southland; and from the Nile mouths another fleet sails to bring home
cedar-wood from Lebanon, and costly stuffs from Tyre. His priests have
far more power than the greatest barons of the land, and Pharaoh, mighty
as he is, would think twice before offending a band of men whose hatred
could shake him on his throne. Such was an Egyptian temple 3,000 years
ago, when Egypt was the greatest power in the world.

But if the temples of ancient Egypt are wonderful, the tombs are almost
more wonderful still. Very early in their history the Egyptians began to
show their sense of the importance of the life after death by raising
huge buildings to hold the bodies of their great men. Even the earliest
Kings, who lived before there was any history at all, had great
underground chambers scooped out and furnished with all sorts of things
for their use in the after-life. But it is when we come to that King
Khufu, who figures in the fairy-stories of Zazamankh and Dedi, that we
begin to understand what a wonderful thing an Egyptian tomb might be.

Not very far from Cairo, the modern capital of Egypt, a line of strange,
pointed buildings rises against the sky on the edge of the desert. These
are the Pyramids, the tombs of the great Kings of Egypt in early days,
and if we want to know what Egyptian builders could do 4,000 years
before Christ, we must look at them. Take the largest of them, the Great
Pyramid, called the Pyramid of Cheops. Cheops is really Khufu, the King
who was so much put out by Dedi's prophecy about Rud-didet's three
babies. No such building was ever reared either before or since. It
stands, even now, 450 feet in height, and before the peak was destroyed,
it was about 30 feet higher. Each of its four sides measures over 750
feet in length, and it covers more than twelve acres of ground, the size
of a pretty large field. But you will get the best idea of how
tremendous a building it is when I tell you that if you used it as a
quarry, you could build a town, big enough to hold all the people of
Aberdeen, out of the Great Pyramid; or if you broke up the stones of
which it is built, and laid them in a line a foot broad and a foot deep,
the line would reach a good deal more than halfway round the world at
the Equator. You would have some trouble in breaking up the stones,
however; for many of the great blocks weigh from 40 to 50 tons apiece,
and they are so beautifully fitted to one another that you could not get
the edge of a sheet of paper into the joints!

Inside this great mountain of stone there are long passages leading to
two small rooms in the centre of the Pyramid; and in one of these rooms,
called "the King's Chamber," the body of the greatest builder the world
has ever seen was laid in its stone coffin. Then the passages were
closed with heavy plug-blocks of stone, so that no one should ever
disturb the sleep of King Khufu. But, in spite of all precautions,
robbers mined their way into the Pyramid ages ago, plundered the coffin,
and scattered to the winds the remains of the King, so that, as Byron
says, "Not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops."

The other pyramids are smaller, though, if the Great Pyramid had not
been built, the Second and Third would have been counted world's
wonders. Near the Second Pyramid sits the Great Sphinx. It is a huge
statue, human-headed and lion-bodied, carved out of limestone rock. Who
carved it, or whose face it bears, we do not certainly know; but there
the great figure crouches, as it has crouched for countless ages,
keeping watch and ward over the empty tombs where the Pharaohs of Egypt
once slept, its head towering seventy feet into the air, its vast limbs
and body stretching for two hundred feet along the sand, the strangest
and most wonderful monument ever hewn by the hands of man (Plate 11).

Later on in Egyptian history the Kings and great folk grew tired of
building pyramids, and the fashion changed. Instead of raising huge
structures above ground, they began to hew out caverns in the rocks in
which to lay their dead. Round about Thebes, the rocks on the western
side of the Nile are honeycombed with these strange houses of the
departed. Their walls, in many cases, are decorated with bright and
cheerful pictures, showing scenes of the life which the dead man lived
on earth. There he stands, or sits, placid and happy, with his wife
beside him, while all around him his servants go about their usual work.
They plough and hoe, sow and reap; they gather the grapes from the vines
and put them into the winepress; or they bring the first-fruits of the
earth to present them before their master (Plate 15). In other pictures
you see the great man going out to his amusements, fishing, hunting, or
fowling; or you are taken into the town, and see the tradesmen working,
and the merchants, and townsfolk buying and selling in the bazaars. In
fact, the whole of life in Ancient Egypt passes before your eyes as you
go from chamber to chamber, and it is from these old tomb-pictures that
we have learned the most of what we know of how people lived and worked
in those long-past days.

In one wild rocky glen, called the "Valley of the Kings," nearly all the
later Pharaohs were buried, and to-day their tombs are one of the sights
of Thebes. Let us look at the finest of them--the tomb of Sety I., the
father of that Ramses II. of whom we have heard so much. Entering the
dark doorway in the cliff, you descend through passage after passage and
hall after hall, until at last you reach the fourteenth chamber, "the
gold house of Osiris," 470 feet from the entrance, where the great King
was laid in his magnificent alabaster coffin. The walls and pillars of
each chamber are wonderfully carved and painted. The pillars show
pictures of the King making offerings to the gods, or being welcomed by
them, but the pictures on the walls are very strange and weird. They
represent the voyage of the sun through the realms of the
under-world, and all the dangers and difficulties which the soul of the
dead man has to encounter as he accompanies the sun-bark on its journey.
Serpents, bats, and crocodiles, spitting fire, or armed with spears,
pursue the wicked. The unfortunates who fall into their power are
tortured in all kinds of horrible ways; their hearts are torn out; their
heads are cut off; they are boiled in caldrons, or hung head downwards
over lakes of fire. Gradually the soul passes through all these dangers
into the brighter scenes of the Fields of the Blessed, where the
justified sow and reap and are happy. Finally, the King arrives,
purified, at the end of his long journey, and is welcomed by the gods
into the Abode of the Blessed, where he, too, dwells as a god in
everlasting life.

[Illustration: Plate 15

The beautiful alabaster coffin in which the mummy of King Sety was laid
is now in the Soane Museum, London. When it was discovered, nearly a
century ago, it was empty, and it was not till 1872 that some modern
tomb-robbers found the body of the King, along with other royal mummies,
hidden away in a deep pit among the cliffs. Now it lies in the museum at
Cairo, and you can see the face of this great King, its fine, proud
features not so very much changed, we can well believe, from what they
were when he reigned 3,200 years ago. In the same museum you can look
upon the faces of Tahutmes III., the greatest soldier of Egypt; of
Ramses II., the oppressor of the Israelites; and, perhaps most
interesting of all, of Merenptah, the Pharaoh who hardened his heart
when Moses pled with him to let the Hebrews go, and whose picked troops
were drowned in the Red Sea as they pursued their escaping slaves.

It is very strange to think that one can see the actual features and
forms on which the heroes of our Bible story looked in life. The reason
of such a thing is that the Egyptians believed that when a man died, his
soul, which passed to the life beyond, loved to return to its old home
on earth, and find again the body in which it once dwelt; and even,
perhaps, that the soul's existence in the other world depended in some
way on the preservation of the body. So they made the bodies of their
dead friends into what we call "mummies," steeping them for many days in
pitch and spices till they were embalmed, and then wrapping them round
in fold upon fold of fine linen. So they have endured all these hundreds
of years, to be stored at last in a museum, and gazed upon by people who
live in lands which were savage wildernesses when Egypt was a great and
mighty Empire.



In this chapter I want to tell you a little about what the Egyptians
thought of heaven--what it was, where it was, how people got there after
death, and what kind of a life they lived when they were there. They had
some very quaint and curious ideas about the heavens themselves. They
believed, for instance, that the blue sky overhead was something like a
great iron plate spread over the world, and supported at the four
corners, north, south, east, and west, by high mountains. The stars were
like little lamps, which hung down from this plate. Right round the
world ran a great celestial river, and on this river the sun sailed day
after day in his bark, giving light to the world. You could only see him
as he passed round from the east by the south to the west, for after
that the river ran behind high mountains, and the sun passed out of
sight to sail through the world of darkness.

Behind the sun, and appearing after he had vanished, came the moon,
sailing in its own bark. It was protected by two guardian eyes, which
watched always over it (Plate 13), and it needed the protection, for
every month it was attacked by a great enemy in the form of a sow. For a
fortnight the moon sailed on safely, and grew fuller and rounder; but at
the middle of the month, just when it was full, the sow attacked it,
tore it out of its place, and flung it into the celestial river, where
for another fortnight it was gradually extinguished, to be revived again
at the beginning of the next month. That was the Egyptians' curious way
of accounting for the waxing and waning of the moon, and many of their
other ideas were just as quaint as this.

I do not mean to say anything of what they believed about God, for they
had so many gods, and believed such strange things about them, that it
would only confuse you if I tried to make you understand it all. But the
most important thing in all the Egyptian religion was the belief in
heaven, and in the life which people lived there after their life on
earth was ended. No other nation of these old times ever believed so
firmly as did the Egyptians that men were immortal, and did not cease to
be when they died, but only began a new life, which might be either
happy or miserable, according to the way in which they had lived on

They had a lot of different beliefs about the life after death, some of
them rather confusing, and difficult to understand; but I shall tell you
only the main things and the simplest things which they believed. They
said, then, that very long ago, when the world was young, there was a
great and good King called Osiris, who reigned over Egypt, and was very
good to his subjects, teaching them all kinds of useful knowledge. But
Osiris had a wicked brother named Set, who hated him, and was jealous of
him. One day Set invited Osiris to a supper, at which he had gathered a
number of his friends who were in the plot with him. When they were all
feasting gaily, he produced a beautiful chest, and offered to give it to
the man who fitted it. One after another they lay down in the chest, but
it fitted none of them. Then at last Osiris lay down in it, and as soon
as he was inside, his wicked brother and the other plotters fastened the
lid down upon him, and threw the chest into the Nile. It was carried
away by the river, and at last was washed ashore, with the dead body of
the good King still in it.

But Isis, wife of Osiris, sought for her husband everywhere, and at last
she found the chest with his body. While she was weeping over it the
wicked Set came upon her, tore his brother's body to pieces, and
scattered the fragments far and wide; but the faithful Isis traced them
all, and buried them wherever she found them.

Now, Isis had a son named Horus, and when he grew to manhood he
challenged Set, fought with him, and defeated him. Then the gods all
assembled, and gave judgment that Osiris was in the right, and Set in
the wrong. They raised Osiris up from the dead, made him a god, and
appointed him to be judge of all men after death. And then, not all at
once, but gradually, the Egyptians came to believe that because Osiris
died, and rose again from the dead, and lived for ever after death,
therefore all those men who believed in Osiris would live again after
death, and dwell for ever with Osiris. You see that in some respects the
story is strangely like that of the death and resurrection of Jesus

Well, then, they supposed that, when a man died on earth, after his body
was mummified and laid in its tomb, his soul went on to the gates of the
palace of Osiris in the other world, where was the Hall of Truth, in
which souls were judged. The soul had to know the magic names of the
gates before it could even enter the Hall; but as soon as these names
were spoken the gates opened, and the soul went in. Within the Hall
there stood a great pair of scales, and beside the scales stood a god,
ready to mark down the result of the judgment; while all round the Hall
sat forty-two terrible creatures, who had authority to punish particular

The soul had to make confession to these avengers of sin that he had not
been guilty of the sins which they had power to punish; then, when he
had made his confession, his heart was taken, and weighed in the scales
against a feather, which was the Egyptian sign for truth. If it was not
of the right weight, the man was false, and his heart was thrown to a
dreadful monster, part crocodile, part hippopotamus, which sat behind
the balances, and devoured the hearts of the unjust; but if it was
right, then Horus, the son of Osiris, took the man by the hand, and led
him into the presence of Osiris the Judge, and he was pronounced just,
and admitted to heaven.

But what was heaven? Well, the Egyptians had several different ideas
about it. One rather pretty one was that the souls which were pronounced
just were taken up into the sky, and there became stars, shining down
for ever upon the world. Another was that they were permitted to enter
the boat, in which, as I told you, the sun sails round the world day by
day, and to keep company with the sun on his unending voyage.

But the idea that most believed in and loved was that somewhere away in
a mysterious land to the west, there lay a wonderful and beautiful
country, called the Field of Bulrushes. There the corn grew three and a
half yards high, and the ears of corn were a yard long. Through the
fields ran lovely canals, full of fish, and bordered with reeds and
bulrushes. When the soul had passed the Judgment Hall, it came, by
strange, hard roads, and through great dangers, to this beautiful
country. And there the dead man, dead now no more, but living for ever,
spent his time in endless peace and happiness, sowing and reaping,
paddling in his canoe along the canals, or resting and playing draughts
in the evening under the sycamore-trees.

Now, I suppose that all this seemed quite a happy sort of heaven to most
of the common people, who had been accustomed all their days to hard
work and harder fare; but by-and-by the great nobles came to think that
a heaven of this sort was not quite good enough for them. They had never
done any work on earth; why should they have to do any in heaven? So
they thought that they would find out a way of taking their slaves with
them into the other world. I fancy that at first they actually tried to
take them by killing the slaves at their master's grave. When the
funeral of a great man took place, some of his servants would be killed
beside the tomb, so that they might go with their lord into heaven, and
work for him there, as they had worked for him on earth.

But the Egyptians were always a gentle, kind-hearted people, and they
quickly grew disgusted with the idea of such cruelty, so they found
another way out of the difficulty. They got numbers of little clay
figures made in the form of servants--one with a hoe on his shoulder,
another with a basket in his hand, and so on. They called these little
figures "Answerers," and when a man was buried, they buried a lot of
these clay servants along with him, so that, when he reached heaven, and
was summoned to do work in the Field of Bulrushes, the Answerers would
rise up and answer for him, and take the task off his shoulders.

So, along with the mummies of the dead Egyptians, there is often found
quite a number of these tiny figures, all ready to make heaven easy for
their master when he gets there. They have sometimes a little verse
written upon them, to tell the Answerer what he has got to do in the
other world. It runs like this:

"Oh, thou Answerer, when I am called, and when I am asked to do any kind
of work that is done in heaven, and am required at any time to cause
the field to flourish, or to convey the sand from east to west, thou
shalt say, 'Here am I.'"

It all seems rather a curious idea of heaven, does it not? And most
curious of all is the idea of dodging work in the other world by
carrying a bundle of china dolls to heaven with you. But, even if we
think that very ridiculous, we need not forget that the Egyptians had a
wonderfully clear and sure grasp of the fact that it is a man's
character in this world which will make him either happy or unhappy in
the next, and that evil-doing, even if it escapes punishment in this
life, is a thing that God will surely punish at last.

Remember that these men of old, wonderfully wise and strong as they were
in many ways, were still the children of the time when the world was
young; like children, forming many false and even ridiculous ideas about
things they could not understand; like children, too, reaching out their
groping hands through the darkness to a Father whose love they felt,
though they could not explain His ways. We need not wonder if at times
they made mistakes, and went far astray. We may wonder far more at the
way in which He taught them so many true and noble things and thoughts,
never leaving Himself without a witness even in those days of long ago.

The End.


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