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land-traveller sunk and was swallowed up in the sand, as in a sea. The maritime records specify a flat and shallow coast, without harbour or landing place, and rocks and shallows against which a heavy surf is continually breaking. All these dangers still exist; and are increased by the heavy swell which the north wind, blowing across the greatest breadth of the Mediterranean, brings into the gulf, producing in the extreme what seamen call • the difficulty of working off a lee-shore. The ancients dwell strongly also on the flux and reflux of the sea, generally understood as referring to a peculiar action of the tides. But the tides are scarcely felt anywhere in the Mediterranean; and there appear no means by which they could reach the Syrtis, without passing through the intermediate coasts. This effect, which is compared to that of whirlpools and eddies, seems to be produced, when the sea, forcibly impelled by the above causes upon a fat shore, rushes into its little bays and recesses, and then suddenly recedes ; operations which appear to Captain Beechey sufficient to produce the result described. Direful as the passage of this gulf was esteemed by the ancients, they were doomed to it by a fatal necessity; since, being unable to navigate at any great distance from land, they could no otherwise pass from the territory of Egypt to that of Carthage ; but to the moderns, who easily and systematically stand out to sea, its terrors scarcely exist : Yet is it still deemed unwise, when the wind blows strongly from the north, to pass along the mouth of this dangerous gulf.
It is a somewhat odd circumstance, that though quicksands have been uniformly described as characterising the Syrtis, and the very names have become synonymous, there should not have been found, along the whole coast, such a thing as a quicksand. It is sandy, indeed, in a great degree, but the sand affords everywhere firm footing, and the only appearance of danger is from the tendency to blowing, produced by its extreme dryness. Captain Beechey is willing to believe, that the land may have gradually gained, and by excluding the former mixture of sea, acquired a consolidation before unknown. But this does not seem very probable. All the general features of the coast seem unaltered ; and it would surely have been strange, if so remarkable a feature had existed, that it should not have left a single trace behind it. We incline to think, that the ancients must have formed their idea of quicksands by vaguely combining the sandy character of the coast with the sinking swamp which we have seen to extend along so great a part of it; although the two features have really nothing in common.
The recent travellers have rectified materially the geography of this extensive gulf. They have, indeed, done little more than re-establish its ancient form and dimensions; for those of Ptolemy and Pliny, and even of Herodotus, are more accurate than have been assigned by modern charts. Della Cella and Captain Beechey concur in effacing the gulf of Zuca, a long narrow inlet, which in the best maps has been represented running up into the country, and connected only by a narrow strait with the gulf of the Syrtis. It seems to have been suggested by the lake or marsh of Strabo.
As the traveller wandered along these wilds, he busied himself in searching out sites celebrated in antiquity. Here must have been the altars of the Pbilæni, the Carthaginian youths, who devoted themselves to be buried alive, when the claim of their country to this advanced frontier could no otherwise be admitted; a wild flight of patriotism, which antiquity held in such veneration. The altars, which were of sand, have long since mingled with the surrounding desert. Yet they could not be far distant from the Tower of Euphrantes, built as the barrier of the Cyrenaic against the Carthaginian state, and which Captain Beechey seems to have fixed at a lofty ancient tower called Bengerirad. The strong fortress of Antomala, at the bottom of the gulf, seemed also marked by the ruins of extensive fortifications, at a place called Braiga.
After journeying upwards of four hundred miles along these dreary shores, the travellers came in view of the Pentapolis, or central part of Cyrenaica, a romantic and fertile range, watered, as the Arabs report, by three hundred and sixty springs, and once covered with a succession of magnificent cities. The first was the Berenice of the Ptolemies, earlier and better known under the poetical name of Hesperis. Every trace, however, of the ancient city appears to have been buried under the sands of the surrounding desert; and above it has been built the miserable village of Bengazi. When an Arab bas a house to build here, he goes without the town, and, by digging, speedily comes to the remains of splendid columns and rich entablatures. These, however, do not suit him, till they have been broken and even chipped into small pieces, so as to be adapted to his mode of building. The elegant volute, the rich triglyph, the flowering acanthus, are diligently beat down into fragments, till they no longer retain any trace of their original form. So ill, however, are these fragments cemented with mud, that they are wholly unable to resist the violent rains of the climate; and while the English were at Bengazi, they were continually alarmed by the screams of females, announcing that some one or other of the houses had fallen in.
It was near Bengazi, that the traveller was to look for that remarkable site, on which the ancients founded their celebrated fable of the Hesperian gardens. After all that is said by Captain Beechey, we think it clear that this was a movable feature, gradually carried westward with the progress of discovery; and Atlas, their guardian, marks that they were finally advanced to Mauritania. Yet their first position seems really to have been at this extremity of the Cyrenaic territory; where Scylax in his Coasting Guide Round the Mediterranean gravely establishes them. He throws out, however, the poetical features ; and describes the gardens merely as an enclosed and almost inaccessible spot, of a quarter of a mile square ! filled with a luxuriant growth of the finest trees, both of Africa and Europe. Captain Beechey actually observed a structure which seems extremely analogous to the above description.
Some very singular pits or chasms, of natural formation, are found in the neighbourhood of Bengazi ; they consist of a level surface of excellent soil of several hundred feet in extent, enclosed within steep, and for the most part perpendicular sides of solid rock, rising sometimes to the height of sixty or seventy feet, or more, before they reach the level of the plain on which they are situated. The soil at the bottom of these chasms appears to have been washed down from the plain above, by the heavy winter rains, and is frequently cultivated by the Arabs; so that a person, in walking over the country where they exist, comes suddenly upon a beautiful orchard or garden, blooming in secret, and in the greatest luxuriance, at a considerable depth beneath his feet, and defended on all sides by walls of solid rocks, so as to be at first sight apparently inaccessible. The effect of these secluded little spots, protected as it were from the intrusion of mankind, by the steepness and the depth of the barriers which enclose them, is singular and pleasing in the extreme; they reminded us of some of those secluded retreats which we read of in fairy legends or tales. It was impossible to walk along the edge of these precipices, looking everywhere for some part less abrupt than the rest, by which we might descend into the gardens beneath, without calling to mind the description given by Scylax of the far-famed gardens of the Hesperides.'
None of these retreats approached to the dimensions assigned by Scylax; but the structure seems characteristic of the country round Bengazi, and due search might probably discover one or more on a much larger scale than those seen by Captain Beechey. M. Pacho, following out Gosselin's very natural idea, that these gardens may be an oasis in the desert, has found an oasis at Maradeh, at a little distance in the interior, where he seeks to place them; but really, to take his own report, this soil, covered with a saline crust, producing only the common date tree, and in which only a few old men and women live miserably on barley and palm wine, seems to have absolutely
nothing that can correspond to our idea of the enchanted gardens of the west.
The road now lay chiefly through a succession of valleys, many of which were singularly beautiful, resembling, on a smaller scale, those of Switzerland or Savoy. The sides are in many places steep and rocky; but every cleft is filled with a brilliant vegetation, which made it scarcely possible for the traveller to believe that he was in Africa, the region of parched and desert monotony. "The white pine and the olive,' says M. Pacho, " adorn the sides of the mountains, whose summits are crowned ' with forests of thuya and arborescent juniper. A vegetation « less powerful, but more brilliant, fills the numerous ravines and
the valleys running through them. The rocks, overhung with dark groves, present sepulchral grottoes, the only vestige of • towns which have disappeared, with their ancient inhabitants. · These pious excavations, the funereal tree which covers them, • with the hoarse and savage songs of the Arabs, which are repeated from valley to valley, arrest the pensive traveller, and fill him with solemn and tender recollections.
On this route were found the two ancient and now entirely deserted cities of Tenchira and Ptolemeta. The former has been entirely converted into a heap of fragments and rubbish, in which no single feature of any interest is now distinguishable. The power of destruction, however, has been resisted by the Cyclopean strength of its walls, which form one of the most perfect remaining specimens of ancient fortification. They are a mile and a half in circuit, defended by twenty-six quadrangular towers, and admitting no entrance but by two opposite gates. In Ptolemeta there remains, of the walls, only one magnificent gateway; but within are the remains of an am phitheatre, of two theatres, and of the columns and tesselated pavement of a palace. The area was covered partly with grain, and partly with a thick vegetation of shrubs growing four or five feet high; nor was there any symptom of animal life, except the cries of the jackal and hyena, and the noise of owls and bats starting from the buildings, wben disturbed by the approach of the strangers; a solitude and desolation which could not but be deeply felt, when contrasted with the busy scene which the city must have presented during the days of its wealth and grandeur under the Ptolemies.
These were only preludes to the more splendid scene of ruin which was presented by Cyrene itself, the ancient capital. Its situation is equally singular and beautiful. The high table plain on which it is seated, descends towards the sea abruptly, yet not by a single steep, but by a series of stages, like steps, along
each of which there is a smooth rocky path, still marked by the wheels of the ancient chariots of Cyrene. About eight hundred feet below the city, commences a finely wooded plain, still 1500 feet above the sea, to which it descends by a similarly steep front. The view from the brow of the height of Cyrene, extending over the rocks, plain, and distant ocean, is such as Captain Beechey thinks it vain for him to attempt to describe. This city is, like the others, thoroughly deserted as to all permanent habitation; but several fine fountains, with chambers cut in the rock, afford spots of agreeable repose and refreshment for the wandering Arabs. The travellers, in approaching, often disturbed flocks and herds that were peaceably feeding in front of them. These, and particularly that called the Fountain of Apollo, appear to bave been highly ornamented, and fine statues and bas reliefs are still found in their vicinity. There are also remains of a spacious amphitheatre, built on the brow of the hill, with the fresh northern breeze blowing into it, and of several temples, particularly one dedicated to Diana. Numerous statues are also scattered through the city, many of which are partly or wholly under ground; and those which remain on the surface have usually suffered severe mutilation. But the most striking feature in Cyrene is the pomp of its City of the Dead.
All the ancient nations were lavish of art and cost upon the abodes of their ancestors; but none, like Cyrene, had such Jengthened walls of rock out of which to excavate their tombs. • If,' says M. Pacho,the palaces and their inhabitants, with • the arts and civilization, have disappeared from Cyrene, its vast • Necropolis, the depositary of a part of their bones, attests both
its ancient splendour and its immense population. Eight or nine rows of sepulchral grottoes, arranged in terraces, extend along • the mountain on which rose the capital of African Greece. · These grottoes, around which are grouped tombs and sarco. phagi, are equally rich in ornaments and inscriptions. Their • fronts present an agreeable contrast of varied styles, and may
indicate, by the perfection or decay of the art, the various eras • to which these monuments belong. These rows of sepulchres extend a mile and a half along the roads leading to Cyrene, and, having their fronts adorned as above, present the appearance of gay and splendid streets. Indeed Della Cella actually supposes them to have been the habitations of the living, and consequently views the Cyreneans as a species of Troglodytic race; but both the English and French travellers unite in refuting such an opinion. Mr Beechey, with the enthusiasm of an artist, conceives that years might be spent with satisfaction in delineating these sepulchral remains, and a full view thus obtained of the successive styles of ancient architecture.