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cuts open as much of the flesh as the law permits with an Ethiopian (flint) stone, and immediately runs away, pursued by those who are present, throwing stones at him amidst bitter execrations, as if to cast upon him all the odium of this necessary act. For they look upon every one who has offered violence to, or inflicted a wound or any other injury upon a human body, to be hateful; but the embalmers, on the contrary, are held in the greatest consideration and respect, being the associates of the priests, and permitted free access to the temples as sacred persons.

"As soon as they have met together to embalm the body thus prepared for them, one introduces his hand through the aperture into the abdomen, and takes every thing out, except the kidneys and heart. Another cleanses each of the viscera with palm wine and aromatic substances. Lastly, after having applied oil of cedar and other things to the whole body for upwards of thirty days, they add myrrh, cinnamon, and those drugs which have not only the power of preserving the body for a length of time, but of imparting to it a fragrant odour. It is then restored to the friends of the deceased. And so perfectly are all the members preserved, that even the hairs of the eyelids and eyebrows remain undisturbed, and the whole appearance of the person is so unaltered that every feature may be recognised. The Egyptians, therefore, who sometimes keep the bodies of their ancestors in magnificent apartments set apart for the purpose, have an opportunity of contemplating the faces of those who died many generations before them; and the height and figure of their bodies being distinguishable, as well as the character of the countenance, they enjoy a wonderful gratification, as if they lived in the society of those they see before them."

On the foregoing statements of the two historians, I may be permitted some observations.

First. The wooden figures kept as patterns are similar (except in size) to those small ones of glazed pottery, representing the deceased in the form of Osiris, so common in our collections.

Secondly. It is evident from the mummies which have been found in such abundance at Thebes and other places, that in the three different modes of embalming several gradations existed;


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some of which differ so much in many essential points as almost to justify our extending the number mentioned by the historians.

Thirdly. The extraction of the brain by the nostrils is proved by the appearance of the mummies found in the tombs; and some of the crooked instruments (always of bronze) supposed to have been used for this purpose have been discovered at Thebes.

Fourthly. The incision in the side is, as Diodorus says, on the left. Over it the sacred eye of Osiris was placed, and through it the viscera were returned when not deposited in the four vases. Fifthly. The second class of mummies without any incision in the side are often found in the tombs; but it is also shown from the bodies at Thebes that the incision was not always confined to those of the first class, and that some of an inferior kind were submitted to this simple and effectual process.

Sixthly. The sum stated by Diodorus of a talent of silver can only be a general estimate of the expense of the first kind of embalming; since the various gradations in the style of preparing them prove that some mummies must have cost far more than others: and the sumptuous manner in which many persons performed the funerals of their friends kept pace with the splendour of the tombs they made, or purchased for their reception.

Seventhly. The execrations with which the paraschistes was pursued could only have been a religious form, from which he was doubtless in little apprehension; an anomaly not altogether without a parallel in other civilised countries.

Eighthly. Diodorus is in error when he supposes the actual face of the body was seen after it was restored to the family; for even before it was deposited in the case, which Herodotus says the friends made for it, the features, as well as the whole body, were concealed by the bandages which enveloped them. The resemblance he mentions was only in the mummy case, or the cartonage which came next to the bandages; and, indeed, whatever number of cases covered a mummy, the face of each was intended as a representation of the person within, as the lower part was in imitation of the swathed body.

Diodorus mentions three different classes of persons who assisted in preparing the body for the funeral, the scribe, who




regulated the incision in the side; the paraschistes, or cutter; and the embalmers. To these may be added the undertakers, who wrapped the body in bandages, and who had workmen in their employ to make the cases in which it was deposited.* Many different trades and branches of art were constantly called upon to supply the undertakers with those things required for funereal purposes as the painters of mummy cases; those who made images of stone, porcelain, wood, and other materials; the manufacturers of alabaster, earthenware, and bronze vases; those who worked in ivory; the leather-cutters, and many others. And it is not improbable that to the undertakers, who were a class of priests, belonged a very large proportion of the tombs kept for sale in the cemeteries of the large towns.

The number of days, seventy or seventy-two, mentioned by the two historians, is confirmed by the Scripture account of Jacob's funeral; and this arbitrary period cannot fail to call to mind the frequent occurrence of the numbers 7 and 70, which are observed in so many instances both among the Egyptians and Jews. But there is reason to believe that it comprehended the whole period of the mourning, and that the embalming process only occupied a portion of it; forty being the number of days expressly stated by the Bible to have been assigned to the latter, and "three score and ten to the entire mourning.

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The custom of embalming bodies was not confined to the Egyptians: the Jews adopted this process to a certain extent, "the manner of the Jews" being to bury the body “wound in linen clothes with spices; as Lazarus was swathed with bandages. The embalmers were probably members of the medical profession, as well as of the class of priests. Joseph is said to have "commanded the physicians to embalm his father;" and Pliny states that during this process certain examinations took place, which enabled them to study the disease of which the deceased had died. They appear to have been made in compliance with an order from the government, as he says, the kings of Egypt had the bodies opened after death to ascertain the nature of their

* See above, pp. 117, 118, 119.

diseases, by which means alone the remedy for phthisical complaints was discovered.

Certain regulations respecting the bodies of persons found dead were wisely established in Egypt, which, by rendering the district or town in the immediate vicinity responsible in some degree for the accident, by fining it to the full cost of the most expensive funeral, necessarily induced those in authority to exercise a proper degree of vigilance, and to exert their utmost efforts to save any one who had fallen into the river, or was otherwise exposed to the danger of his life. From these too we may judge of the great responsibility they were under, for the body of a person found murdered within their jurisdiction.

"If a dead body," says Herodotus, "was accidentally found, whether of an Egyptian or a stranger, who had been taken by a crocodile, or drowned in the river, the town upon the territory of which it was discovered was obliged to embalm it according to the most costly process, and to bury it in a consecrated tomb. None of the friends or relations were permitted to touch it; this privilege was accorded to the priests of the Nile alone, who interred it with their own hands, as if it had been something more than the corpse of a human being."

Herodotus fails to inform us what became of the intestines, after they had been removed from the body of those embalmed according to the first process; but the discoveries made in the tombs clear up this important point, and enable us to correct the improbable account given by Porphyry. The latter writer says, "When the bodies of persons of distinction were embalmed, they took out the intestines and put them into a vessel, over which (after some other rites had been performed for the dead) one of the embalmers pronounced an invocation to the Sun in behalf of the deceased. The formula, according to Euphantus, who translated it from the original into Greek, was as follows:-'O thou Sun, our sovereign lord! and all ye Deities who have given life to man! receive me, and grant me an abode with the eternal Gods. During the whole course of my life I have scrupulously worshipped the Gods my fathers taught me to adore; I have ever honoured my parents, who begat this body; I have killed

no one; I have not defrauded any, nor have I done an injury to any man; and if I have committed any other fault during my life, either in eating or drinking, it has not been done for myself, but for these things.' So saying, the embalmer pointed to the vessel containing the intestines, which was thrown into the river; the rest of the body, when properly cleansed, being embalmed."

Plutarch gives a similar account of their "throwing the intestines into the river," as the cause of all the faults committed by man, "the rest of the body when cleansed being embalmed;" which is evidently borrowed from the same authority as that of Porphyry, and given in the same words. But the positive evidence of the tombs, as well as our acquaintance with the religious feelings of the Egyptians, sufficiently prove this to be one of the many idle tales by which the Greeks have shown their ignorance of that people; and no one who considers the respect with which they looked upon the Nile, the care they took to remove all impurities which might affect their health, and the superstitious prejudice they felt towards every thing appertaining to the human body, could for an instant suppose that they would on any consideration be induced to pollute the stream, or insult the dead, by a similar custom.

But the inaccurate statements of the Greeks respecting Egypt and the Egyptians are numerous; and not only have we to censure them for failing to give much interesting information, which they might have acquired after their intercourse with the country became unrestrained, but to regret that what they tell us can seldom be relied on, unless confirmed by the monuments.

It might appear incredible that errors could have been made on the most common subjects, on things relating to positive customs which daily occurred before the eyes of those who sought to inquire into them, and are described by Greek writers who visited the country. But when we observe the ignorance of Europeans respecting the customs of modern Egypt,—of Europeans, who are a people much less averse to inquire into the manners of other countries, much more exposed to the criticismı of their compatriots in giving false information than the ancient Greeks, and to whom the modern inhabitants do not oppose the

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