ONE of the most beautiful scenes in the work is this approach to the magnificent Temple of Luxor, but it has been shorn of a striking feature by the removal of one of its obelisks, which now decorates the Place Louis XV. in Paris, – a spot which, as it has changed its name with every revolution in France, it may be as well to preserve here by that by which it was longest known.

    How beautiful, how grand the approach to Luxor must have been, when these Obelisks stood before the colossal statues of Remeses II., one on either side of the approach to the stupendous pylons, enriched with sculpture and painting, by which the Temple was entered!

    This sketch is made from the summit of a mound that overlooks the huts of the village of Luxor, which, like the foul nests of the swallow, disfigure the beautiful objects to which they are attached; it is here that the vast propylon and the remaining obelisk, in their half-buried state, are best seen, though surrounded by the mud-huts of the modern Arab village, each covered by clusters of pigeon-houses composed of brown earthen pots, in which they breed. The incredible quantity of such pots even now used by the inhabitants of Egypt leads one to conjecture that the same custom prevailed in remote times, and may in some degree account for the prodigious quantities of broken earthenware found on or near the sites of the ancient towns and cities.

    The mud-huts of the natives bear the common character of Egyptian buildings in the extension of their bases; they are all pyramidal, sloping upwards to their roofs, but upright within, – a principle adopted, in all probability, by far more ancient inhabitants than those who built the oldest of the structures of Egypt.

    The propyla are enriched with elaborate sculpture, recording the military deeds and conquests of Remeses II. A besieged city surrounded by water is represented; in which this Pharaoh is seen in his war-chariot triumphant over his vanquished foes. On the right wall Remeses II. is again represented, seated on a throne giving audience to his subjects, or sitting in judgment on his captives at the gate of the camp, – the Eastern locality for its customary administration.

    The perforations or openings seen in these propyla, and the grooves or steps immediately below, were for affixing the flag-staffs, on which floated the banners on the days of ceremony. One only of the colossal statues of Remeses is seen between the obelisk and the propylon; the other is concealed in this view, but the unseen statue appears in another plate in this work, which represents a side view of the remaining obelisk and both the statues, and also in a vignette of this statue alone.

    Over the left propylon appears the top of the minaret of the Mosque of Abd Alhajaj. The Nile and the Lybian mountains are seen beyond, and mark in this view the relative position of the temple to the river.

    Whilst our artist was sketching, a hawk – a descendant of those from whom Osiris was symbolised – perched sometimes on the obelisk, and occasionally swept down upon the pigeons, collected in such infinite numbers around him.

    At Luxor there still remains a community of Coptic Christians, but their rules and doctrines are so debased, and differ so widely from our own, that even Gibbon designated their religion as “a sightless and hideous mummery of a Christian church.”


                    Roberts’s Journal.