+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

expeditions, and to attempt the most hazardous
excavations. But the great object of
their ambition was an enormous bust of
Memnon, in rose-coloured granite, which lay
half buried in the sand on the left bank of
the Nile.

Signer Dronetti had failed in all his attempts
to raise it, nor was Mr. Salt a whit more
successful. One day, while the latter was
thinking what a pity it was that such a
precious monument should be left to perish
by decay, a stranger asked to speak with
him. Mr. Salt desired him to be admitted;
and immediately, despite his visitor's
oriental garb and long beard, he recognised
the Hercules of Astley's.

"What has brought you to Egypt ? " asked
the astonished consul.

"You shall hear, sir," replied the Italian.
"After having completed my engagement in
London, I set out for Lisbon, where I was
employed by the manager of the theatre
of San Carlo to perform the part of Samson
in a Scriptural piece which had been
arranged expressly for me. From thence I
went to Madrid, where I appeared with
applause in the theatre Delia Puerta del Sol.
After having collected a tolerable sum of
money, I resolved to come here. My first
object is to induce the Pasha to adopt an
hydraulic machine for raising the waters of
the Nile."

Mr. Salt then explained his wishes respecting
the antiquities; but Belzoni, could not,
he said, enter upon that till he had carried
out his scheme of waterworks.

He was accompanied, he said in continuation,
by Mrs. Belzoni, and by an Irish lad of
the name of James Curtain; and had reached
Alexandria just as the plague was beginning
to disappear from that city, as it always does
on the approach of St. John's day, when, as
almost everybody knows, " out of respect for
the saint," it entirely ceases. The state of the
country was still very alarming, yet Mr. Belzoni
and his little party ventured to land, and
performed quarantine in the French quarter;
where, though really very unwell, they were
wise enough to disguise their situation; " for
the plague is so dreadful a scourge," he
observed, " and operates so powerfully on human
fears and human prejudices, that, during its
prevalence, if a man be ill, he must be ill of
the plague, and if he die, he must have died of
the plague."

Belzoni went straight to Cairo, where he
was well received by Mr. Baghos, interpreter
to Mahommed Ali, to whom Mr. Salt
recommended, him. Mr. Baghos immediately
prepared to introduce him to the Pasha, that
he might come to some arrangement respecting
the hydraulic machine, which he
proposed to construct for watering the gardens of
the seraglio. As they were proceeding towards
the palace, through one of the principal
streets of Cairo, a fanatical Mussulman struck
Mr. Belzoni so fiercely on the leg with his
staff, that it tore away a large piece of flesh.
The blow was severe, and the discharge
of blood copious, and he was obliged to be
conveyed home, where he remained under
cure thirty days before he could support
himself on the wounded leg. When able to
leave the house, he was presented to the
Pasha, who received him very civilly ; but
on being told of the misfortune which
had happened to him, contented himself
with coolly observing, " that such
accidents could not be avoided where there were

An arrangement was immediately concluded
for erecting a machine which was to raise as
much water with one ox as the ordinary ones
do with four. Mr. Belzoni soon found,
however, that he had many prejudices to
encounter, and many obstacles to overcome, on
the part of those who were employed in the
construction of the work, as well as of those
who owned the cattle engaged in drawing
water for the Pasha's gardens. The fate of a
machine which had been sent from England
taught him to augur no good for that which he
had undertaken to construct. Though of the
most costly description, and every way equal
to perform what it was calculated to do, it had
failed to answer the unreasonable expectations
of the Turks, — because " the quantity of
water raised by it was not sufficient to
inundate the whole country in an hour!—
which was their measure of the power of an
English water-wheel.''

When that of Belzoni was completed, the
Pasha proceeded to the gardens of Sonbra to
witness its effect. The machine was set to
work, and, although constructed of bad
materials, and of unskilful workmanship, its
powers were greater than had been contracted
for; yet the Arabs, from interested motives,
declared against it. The Pasha, however,
though evidently disappointed, admitted that
it was equal to four of the ordinary kind, and,
consequently, accorded with the agreement.
Unluckily, he took it into his head to have
the oxen removed, and, " by way of frolic," to
see what effect could be produced by putting
fifteen men into the wheel. The Irish lad
got in with them.; but no sooner had tho
wheel begun to turn than the Arabs jumped
out, leaving the lad alone in it. The wheel,
relieved from its load, flew back with such
velocity, that poor Curtain was flung out, and
in the fall broke one of his thighs; and, being
entangled in the machinery, would, in all
probability, have lost his life, had not Belzoni
applied his prodigious strength to the wheel,
and stopped it. The accident, however, was
fatal to the project and to the future hopes of
the projector.

At that time the insolence of the Turkish
officers of the Pashalic was at its height, and
the very sight of a "dog of a Christian"
raised the ire of the more bigoted followers of
the Prophet. While at Soubra, which is
close to Cairo, Belzoni had a narrow escape