Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/39

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24
LECTURE I.

gives them only as a selection. To copy the whole would, he says, be the work of years. Dr. Dümichen has published another folio volume of texts of special interest, selected from the same temple, without interfering with those published by M. Mariette. Every square foot of the walls is in fact covered with picture or text. I had the pleasure of passing some time, one or two years ago, at Qurna, on the left bank of the Nile, near Thebes, with a great scholar, who had spent much time in copying the inscriptions of a single tomb; but though he worked indefatigably and rapidly, he was compelled to come away leaving a great part of his intended work unaccomplished. Would that we might rely upon the zeal of future labourers for the completion of such tasks as the present generation is unable to perform! Unfortunately the monuments are rapidly perishing, and there are no effectual means of arresting the progress of destruction. The tombs are convenient abodes for Arab families, who destroy the paintings and inscriptions either by the dense smoke of their fires or by actually pulling down walls. I was taken to see the "Lay of the Harper," one of the most interesting remains of Egyptian poetry, which was published a few years ago by Dr. Dümichen; but we found the walls on which the poem was written a mere heap of ruins. But the vandalism of European and American travellers is most fatal to the monuments. There is, or rather was, a