William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
FROM ABYDOS TO THEBES.

The Ruins of Abydos.--The Sheik of Bellianeh.--A Misunderstanding.--A Dinner in the Ruins.--A Night in the Temple.--Exploring the Ruins.--By whom were they built? --Germs of Religious Ideas.--The Temple of Dendera.--Mr. Seward's Birthday.

Abydos, May 15th.--Though we were unfortunate in reaching Bellianeh at a late hour last evening, we found sedan-chairs, fellahs, donkeys, and camels, awaiting us on the river-bank. The sheik of the district, and the United States vice-consul, a Copt, met us, and proceeded with us immediately to the ruins, where we now write.

These ruins stand on the verge of the Libyan Desert, and overlook the level plain of the Nile, here seven miles wide. Mr. Seward came in a chair, the ladies on donkeys, the official persons on horseback, the servants, the beds, and the provisions for the night, on camels. It happened unavoidably that the procession broke into groups, which left some of its members without guides whom they could recognize. Night came on before we crossed the plain. We arrived at an Arab village, passing through very narrow and crooked streets, and under low Moorish arches. There we alighted and climbed some stone steps, by the light of torches held out for our guidance. We entered a court, or chamber, which opens to the sky. How could we doubt that we were at least in the vestibule of the Temple of Memnon? It was a surprise to have the room quickly though feebly lighted up, and to find the floor

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