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- Round the World - 40/46 -


missionaries God-speed. The race rises step by step, never by leaps and bounds. Upon this point I am much impressed by a paragraph from a lecture delivered by Marcus Dodd, D.D., at the Presbyterian College, London, which seems to me to take a wider and sounder view than one usually finds from such a source, and is therefore specially pleasing. He says: "The great lesson in comparative religion which we learn from the connection of Judaism and Christianity is that men are not always ripe for the highest religion; that there is a fulness of time which it may take four thousand years to produce. The Mosaic religion, imperfect as it was, compared with Christianity, was better for Israel during its period and preparation than the religion of Christ would have been." Then, referring to the Mohammedan religion, he says: "It is not denied that this religion did at once effect reforms which Christianity had failed to effect. It accomplished more for Arabia in a few years than Christianity had accomplished for centuries. It abolished at a stroke the idolatry which Christianity had fought in vain." It is to such men as Mr. Dodd that we are to look to keep religion abreast of the age.

Max Müller says: "In one sense every religion was a true religion, being the only religion which was possible at the time, which was compatible with the language, the thoughts, and the sentiments of each generation, which was appropriate to the age of the world." The Brahman has found the same truth. "Men of an enlightened understanding well know," says he, "that the Supreme has imparted to each nation the doctrine most suitable for it, and He, therefore, beholds with satisfaction the various ways in which He is worshipped." In other words, religion is the highest expression of which a people is capable. There is no reason why we should not try to prepare a people for a better one, but note this, _they must be prepared_. To _force_ new religions upon any race is a sad mistake. In a late address on missionary methods in India, Rev. Phillips Brooks said: "That which makes people distrust foreign missions is the testimony that the Europeans in India will not trust the Christianized Indian. It is not strange that some poor creature should bring discredit on the religion he professes. He worships in strange houses and in a strange way. He kneels in American-style churches and is taught by men full of American ideas. Christianity will never be the religion of India until it comes there imbued with the spirit of the day. In time there must come forth an Indian Christianity, rich, full of power and goodness. The missionaries want this, and are perfectly aware it must come. The influence that now goes to India carries with it the curse as well as the blessing. Let the divisions of church creeds be kept at home, and _let the Indian religion be developed from within_."

We visited several mosques, but they are such poor affairs compared to those of India that we took little interest in them. While the other countries we have thus far visited have all appeared stranger than expected, this is not so with Egypt. Everything seems to be just as I had imagined it. We know too much about the land of the Pharaohs to be taken thoroughly by surprise. Perhaps there is something in our having seen so much that our perceptions are no longer as keen as when we landed in Japan. The appetite for sight-seeing becomes sated, like any other, and I fear we are not as impressionable as before. So we decide not to visit Turkey and Greece upon this trip but to take these when fresh. The crowds of squalid wretches who surround us at every turn, clamoring for backsheesh; the mud hovels in which they manage to live, and the coarse food upon which they exist; the mass of greasy, unwashed rags which hang loosely upon them--such things no longer excite our wonder, or even our pity. We have seen so much of such misery before that I fear we begin to grow callous.

Cairo, as a city, is most picturesque, with its commanding citadel, and its hundreds of mosques with their slender spires and conspicuous minarets; while surrounding all this in the desert lie the ruins of older cities and of tombs and temples innumerable. The Desert of Sahara reaches to the very gates of the city on the east. The city lies between that and the Nile; then comes a narrow strip of green about ten miles in width, and after that the boundless Libyan Desert. The Pyramids stand upon the very edge of this desert, so that it is sand, sand, sand! everywhere around the city of the Caliphs, save and except this little green border along the Nile. But indeed the whole of Egypt is only a narrow green ribbon stretching along the river for some six hundred miles, and widening at the delta, where the waters divide and reach the sea by various channels. All the rest is sand. Egypt has not more cultivable soil than Belgium, and would not make a fair sized State with us.

The Khedive Ismail was determined to make Cairo a miniature Paris, and we see much that recalls Paris to us. The new boulevards, the opera-house, circus, cafés, new hotel--all show how much has already been done in this direction; but he is in hard straits just now, and the cry there, as elsewhere, is for retrenchment and reform. The new streets are Parisian, but it is in the old, narrow streets of the city that one sees oriental life distinctively Egyptian in its character. Indeed these are sights of Cairo which I enjoy most. Muffled ladies pass by, resembling nothing I can think of so much as big black bats as they sit man-fashion on their donkeys, wrapped in black silk cloaks; men in gorgeous silks, also on donkeys, ride along, while laden camels and asses carrying large panniers of clover slowly pick their way through the crowd. Harem ladies, too (there is the weight which pulls Egypt down), roll slowly by in their covered carriages, preceded by the running Lyces. I never saw such a miscellaneous throng in any street before.

The great event of a visit to Cairo is Pyramid Day. The Pyramids are eight miles distant, and an early start has to be made to insure a return in season. Yesterday was our day. These wonders do not impress one at first--few really stupendous works ever do; and even when at their base you think but meanly of their magnitude, so much so that you never hesitate as to whether you will ascend Cheops, the largest. Three Arabs, whose duty it is to assist you, are at once assigned to you by the Sheikh; two of these take your hands, while the third stands behind to "boost" you up at the moment the others pull. It is a hard climb even when so assisted, and many who start are fain to content themselves with getting up one third the distance. I think I rested three times in making the ascent, and each time I found my feeling of disappointment growing beautifully less; while by the time the shout came from my Arabs announcing that they were on the top stone, I was filled with respectful admiration for Cheops, I assure you, and whatever one may say about the equator, I feel sure no one will ever hear me speak disrespectfully of the Pyramids.

They are without doubt the greatest masses ever built by man. Cheops is four hundred and fifty feet high, and covers thirteen acres at the base, tapering to the top, which is only about thirty feet square, where one false step would be certain death, as, contrary to my opinion at first, I saw that one in falling could not possibly rest on any of the layers of projecting stone. I do not like high places, and I felt, while on the top, I would give a handsome sum just to be safe on level ground again. But I got down, or rather was taken down by my three attendants, without much difficulty, and after luncheon we went into the centre of the pile--a work of considerable trouble--and saw the sarcophagus. Attempts have been made to invest the Pyramids with some mysterious meaning, but, I take it, there will be no more of this, since an explanation is now given which meets every objection. They are simply the tombs of various kings, and differ in size because the kings ruled for different periods of time. The mode of procedure was this: When a king came to the throne he began to build his tomb; perhaps this was an excellent way of keeping before him the fact that he also must surely die, and that ere long; successive courses of stone were built around the pile, one course per year, and when the king died the building ceased, his successor taking care to finish the course under progress at the death of his predecessor; hence the great size of Cheops, for the monarch who constructed it reigned forty-two years and built his forty-two courses. This Pyramid is either sixty-five hundred or five thousand years old, according as you decide for one or another mode of computation. Either date will, however, entitle it to the honors of a hoary old age. The old Arabian proverb, "That all things fear Time, but Time fears the Pyramids," holds good no longer, for "the tooth of Time" is slowly but surely disintegrating even these masses. The entire finishing course of huge stone blocks, from top to bottom of Cheops, has already crumbled away, and lies in dust at the base. This is also the case with the second in size, except that a portion still clings around its top; this will fall some day, and leave it stripped like its greater neighbor.

Our Arab guide told us, as he pointed to the numerous monograms carved on the top of Cheops, that a lover who cuts the initials of his adored there, and calls upon Allah to prosper his suit, is certain to win her. Would you believe it, soon after this I saw Vandy secretly carving away.

The Sphinx--the mysterious Sphinx--which has baffled all inquisitive inquirers for centuries without number, stands in the sand only a. short distance from Cheops. Imagine, if you can, with what feelings one gazes upon it. It is as old as the Pyramids, perhaps older, and there it still looks out upon the green and fertile banks of the Nile with the Libyan Desert behind. Its countenance has the same benignant cast, but it tells neither of sorrow nor of anger, neither of triumph nor of defeat. It tells you of no human passion, and yet seems to tell you of all--_the end of all_--and yet it is not a sad face. It is every thing and yet nothing. I never was so utterly unable to vivify an image with at least some imaginings. It could be made one thing or another, but no sooner had I thought it indicated one sentiment than a second look made the idea seem absurd. Like so many countless thousands before me, I gave it up. You cannot extract anything from that face. I thought the lesson might be in its position, and I pleased myself with drawing one from that. There this mystery stands, gazing only upon what is rich and fertile and instinct with life, the life-giving Nile rolling before it, and the fields of golden grain in view. Its back turned resolutely to the dreary sandy waste of death behind; and so it said to me as plainly as if it could speak, This is your lesson: let the dead past bury its dead; look forward only upon that which has life and grows steadily towards perfection. It is upon the bright things of life we must fix our gaze if we would be of use in our day and generation.

When in Alexandria we visited with deep interest the site of the famous Alexandrian Library, in which lay stored the most precious treasures of the world. Had it escaped destruction, how many questions which have vexed scholars would never have arisen, and how much ground which it has been necessary for genius to reconquer would have come to us as our heritage!

The Cleopatra's Needle now in New York, the counterpart of the one in London, was still in Alexandria when we were there. Seventeen


Round the World - 40/46

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