Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

among them that the sound was in some way or other due to the expansion in the stone of which the base was composed, brought about by the sudden rise in temperature at dawn. The transition from comparative chilliness to sensible warmth is often very rapid in those climes, the sun on clear mornings diffusing a penetrating glow almost the moment he has topped the horizon, and speedily exhausting the dews or vapours of the night. Under these circumstances, a physical change of a somewhat marked description in the substances affected is not surprising, and much more when, as in this case, the particular substance affected was a siliceous conglomerate peculiarly lacking in homogeneity of composition, and with its natural coherence still further impaired by numerous accidental cracks and fissures. Such an object would be extremely susceptible of thermometric variations, and might be compared to a stringed instrument the chords of which were over-tautly stretched.

Nor is this hypothesis left to stand alone, for it is supported by other well-attested instances in which sounds of musical quality have been known to emanate from stones or rocks at sunrise. One of the most frequently quoted is the phenomenon described by Baron von Humboldt on the banks of the Orinoko, where tones as of an organ were heard to proceed at that hour from some granite rocks permeated with deep and narrow crevices. The sonorous properties of the sandstone rocks of El Nakous in the Arabian peninsula, near Mount Sinai, and of the Maladetta mountain in the Pyrenees, which have also been quoted in the same context, are probably to be referred to other causes, and cannot be accepted as analogous in character. But the members of the French scientific commission sent by Napoleon I. in the wake of his marauding column up the Nile (and who, having anticipated Sir G. Wilkinson in his wholesale scepticism about the Memnon, may be claimed as unbiassed witnesses) have left on record that on two occasions-once in the granite quarries of Syene, and again in one of the temples of Karnak-they heard at sunrise the same strange cracking sound, reminding them of the simile employed by Pausanias-viz. of a snapping chord. Dr. Brugsch also testifies to having heard a similar note in 1851 among the ruins of Karnak. These parallel cases are invaluable, both as proofs that the vocal Memnon was not a unique portent, and as buttresses to the theory of natural causation.

Whilst, however, the miracle has been generally attributed by this school of scientific exegesis to the action of the sun's

rays upon the chilled stone, different and inconsistent explanations of the precise physical origin of the sound have been advanced by various writers. Some have believed it to be due to the passage of quick currents of air set in motion by the sudden change of temperature through the crevices of the shattered monolith. But in that case we are tempted to ask why the same result should not have been produced by other and still more favourable atmospheric conditions, such, for instance, as the prevalence of a high wind. Others have imagined that under the influence of the sudden heat small fragments of the stone, which was without doubt extremely elastic in nature, splintered and broke off with a ringing noise. But, were that so, the phenomenon should have been visible as well as audible, and there can be no reason why it should not be repeated to this hour. Others, again, and these are the majority, laying stress upon the heterogeneous ingredients of the stone, have supposed a slight superficial rupture between its component particles, resulting in a sharp vibration. If, however, the integral quality of the stone were alone concerned, the southern statue, which was hewn from the same quarries, ought to have been no less amenable to caloric influence, and should have divided with Memnon the prerogative of speech. In our opinion the phenomenon can only be satisfactorily explained by bearing in mind and correlating two separate factors of the case-viz. (1) the composition of the stone, already described, and (2) the abnormal condition of the statue during the period of vocality, consequent upon the damage wrought by the earthquake. By this convulsion Memnon was not only severed in twain, but shaken to his foundations, deflected from his original level, and scarred by innumerable seams and rents, one of which, as we have seen, almost bisected his still surviving half. To account for the production of the sound we must believe that in one or other of these cracks there occurred, under the waxing heat of the solar rays, a sudden displacement of some moveable portion of the figure, an instantaneous shifting or rubbing of one face of stone upon another-in short, a disturbance of physical continuity sufficiently violent in its operation to communicate a sonorous shock to the atmospheric medium, through which it reached the ear of the listener outside. The phenomenon would then be analogous to the commonplace incident of the cracking of an iron bar in a grate under the growing heat of a powerful fire, or to the spasmodic ringing of a newly ignited stove. Whether this be the true inter

pretation or not-and the opportunity of scientific proof can unfortunately never be obtained *-we are convinced that in this direction lies the only possibility of successfully prosecuting the inquiry. Human agency, we claim at least to have shown, was utterly unconcerned in the manifestation; and if Nature, the great Thaumaturgus, has in the Vocal Memnon propounded an enigma of which it is beyond the scope of existing knowledge to supply more than a hypothetically correct solution-if she whispered to those two centuries of a bygone world a secret to which no Prometheus has yet revealed the key-we are content to recognise in the mystery an additional tribute to the manifold dispensations of her genius.

And here, well satisfied if in the above remarks we have removed any prevalent misapprehensions or diffused a more accurate knowledge about this interesting statue-one of the most interesting that ever left the sculptor's chisel-we take leave of the Colossal Pair still seated on the Theban plain in sublime unconsciousness of the varying sentiments which they have excited in the breasts of so many successive generations. There they sit, the two giant brethren, scorched by the suns of three thousand summers. By their side Stonehenge is a plaything, the work of pigmies. They are first even among the prodigies of Egypt; more solemn than the Pyramids, more sad than the Sphinx, more amazing than the pillared avenues of Karnak, more tremendous than the rock idols of Aboo-Simbel. There they sit, patient and pathetic, their grim obliterated faces staring out into vacancy, their ponderous limbs sunk in a perpetual repose, indifferent alike to man and to nature, steadfast while empires have crumbled and dynasties decayed, serene amid all the tides of war and rapine and conquest that have ebbed and flowed from Alexandria to Assouan. There they sit and doubtless will sit till the end of all things-sedent æternumque sedebunt'-a wonder and a witness to men.

Unless, indeed, the upper half were again dismantled and the statue restored to its mutilated condition-an experiment which we should like to recommend could we be certain that the base had not been tampered with, and its vocal capacities irremediably destroyed by the repairs of Septimius Severus.

ART. XI.-1. Address of the Right Hon. William Ewart Gladstone to the Electors of Midlothian. June 14, 1886.

2. Address of the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain to the Electors of West Birmingham. June 12, 1886.

3. Address of the Marquis of Hartington to the Electors of Rossendale. June 17, 1886.

4. Speech of the Right Hon. John Bright at Birmingham. Delivered on July 1.

HESE Addresses are the standards and the battle cries of T the scattered and shattered hosts now contending for victory in the political arena. They afford therefore an appropriate heading to the few remarks we can venture to make, whilst the contest is still going on and the result of the battle undecided. The language of Lord Hartington is clear, plain, and searching. He goes at once to the bottom of the question and exhausts in a few expressive lines all the details of it. If the result is to be determined by an appeal to the good sense and deliberate judgement of the nation, we are content to rest our case on that masterly State paper, which raises to a very high point our estimate of the ability and the character of its author. Indeed, it is impossible to overrate the services which Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen have rendered to the Liberal Party by their energetic conduct in the present campaign. They have taught the country with irresistible force of argument that the Irish Bills of the Ministerial Party are a delusion and a danger; and they have also demonstrated that the Liberal Party is not wanting in men capable of carrying on the government in strict conformity with those principles which have never before been abandoned.

The issue presented to the decision of the country is plain enough. It is simply the Union or the Disruption of the United Kingdom. O'Connell's demand for Repeal was less comprehensive than the measure lately proposed by the Queen's Ministers. To assert that the Act of Union can subsist when its fundamental condition is violated by the creation of a second Parliament and Executive in Ireland, or to imagine that union exists at all when the link of legislation is broken, indicates a distortion of language or an aberration of intellect not compatible with honesty, common sense, and reason. The late Bill for the government of Ireland was Repeal' in an unmitigated form. The condi

tions appended to it were simply ridiculous or impossible. But the consequences of the decision on either side are still more intricate and multitudinous, and it is not within the range of ordinary political foresight to calculate the unforeseen results to which they may lead. This much, however, is certain: the Crisis, which we have anticipated for some time past, has arrived. It has arrived in a more acute form than we ventured to prognosticate, in consequence of the sudden upheaval of this Home Rule question with the force of an eruption or an earthquake. But we may remind our readers that we contended twelve months ago that there were elements at work in the Liberal Party which must ere long bring about an open rupture between those who adhered to the old established principles of Liberal statesmanship, and those whose politics consist in a blind allegiance to a leader who has carried their colours into the Irish camp. Great efforts were made during the election which took place last autumn to maintain the semblance of union on the Liberal side. Mr. Gladstone's umbrella was very large. It could shelter everybody who aspired to regain the lost seats of office and who hated the Tories. We are now told by no less an authority than Mr. John Morley, that it is rent and tattered in a hundred places like the mantle of Julius Cæsar.

But in truth the electoral battle of 1885 was fought throughout on sham issues and false pretences. We were told in authorised and unauthorised programmes that the reform of Parliamentary procedure, local boards, free schools, allotments of three acres and a cow, and possibly the disestablishment of the Church, were to be the business of the new Parliament. The Irish question was thrown into the background, and if mentioned at all it was accompanied by protestations of uncompromising hostility to the demands of the Nationalist Party. On the side of the Conservatives the faded banner of Fair Trade' was waved with equal insincerity. It required but little political sagacity to discover that these hollow cries had no meaning in them at all, and that they would vanish like morning mist or dew before the sun, when the real question, urged on by the Irish vote, forced itself upon the House of Commons. So much we ventured to predict at the time, but we did not foresee that the blow which would prove most fatal to the union of the Liberal Party, and most threatening to the peace and welfare of the kingdom, would proceed from the head of that party and the First Minister of the Crown.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »