Among the first objects that arrest the attention and powerfully excite the curiosity of the visitor in Rome are the Egyptian obelisks. They remind him impressively that the oldest things in this city of ages are but as of yesterday in comparison with these imperishable relics of the earliest civilisation. At one time it is said that there were no less than forty-eight obelisks erected in Rome,—six of the largest size and forty-two of the smaller,—all conveyed at enormous cost and with almost incredible labour from the banks of the Nile to the banks of the Tiber. Upwards of thirty of them have perished without leaving any trace behind. They are doubtless buried deep under the ruins of ancient Rome, but the chance of their disinterment is very problematical. One obelisk, indeed, was exposed a hundred and forty years ago in the square of the principal church of the Jesuits, near the Pantheon; but being found to be broken, and also to underlie a corner of the church and the greater part of an adjoining palace, so that it could not be extracted without seriously injuring these buildings, it was covered up again, and was thus lost to the world. As it is, we find in Rome the largest collection of obelisks that exists at the present day in the world, and the best field for studying them.

Obelisks were dedicated to the sun, which was the central object of worship, and occupied the most conspicuous position in the religious system of the oldest nations. Sun-worship, that which waited upon some hill-top to catch the first beams of the morning that created a new day, is the oldest and the most natural of all kinds of worship. He was adored as the source of all the life and motion and force in the world by the most primitive people; and we find numerous traces of this ancient sun-worship in the rude stone monuments, with their cup-shaped symbols, that have survived on our moors, in many of the old customs which still linger in our Christianity, and in the name by which the most sacred day of the week is commonly known among us. All the benefits conferred upon our world by the sun must have been strikingly apparent to the ancient Egyptians, dwelling in a land exposed to the sun's vertical rays, and clothed with almost tropical beauty and luxuriance. When they watched the ebbing of the overflowing waters of the Nile, and saw the moist earth on which the sun's rays fell, quickened at once into a marvellous profusion of plant and animal life, they naturally regarded the sun as the Creator, and so deified him in that capacity. The origin of all life, vegetable and animal, to those who stood, as it were, by its cradle, when the world was young and haunted by heaven, seemed a greater mystery and wonder than it is to us in these later faithless ages. Long familiarity with it in its full-grown proportions has made it commonplace to us.

Both the obelisk and the pyramid were solar symbols, the obelisk being the symbol of the rising sun, and the pyramid of the setting. The fundamental idea of the obelisk was that of creation by light; that of the pyramid, death through the extinction of light. And this symbolical difference between the two objects was practically expressed by the different situations in which they were placed; the obelisks being all located on the eastern side of the Nile, that being the region of the rising sun, and of the dawn of life; while the pyramids are all found on the western bank of the river, the region of the sunset, with its awfully sterile hills and silent untravelled desert of sand from which no tidings had ever come to living man, where the dead were buried under the shades of night, in their rock-cut cemeteries. It might thus seem, that by placing obelisks in our churchyards in association with the dead, we were violating their original significance, and guilty of adding another to the many incongruities which have arisen from adopting pagan symbols in Christian burying-places. But in reality we find a deeper reason for the association. In some of the oldest sculptures in Egypt, an obelisk is represented as standing on the top of a pyramid; and by this combination it was meant to signify the power of life triumphing over death. And hence the obelisk is the most suitable of all forms to indicate in our cemeteries the glorious truth of the resurrection, life rising victorious out of the transitory condition of death.

And how admirably did the obelisk lend itself to its symbolical purposes! There was a most wonderful harmony between the idea and the object which expressed it. Being composed of the most durable of all materials, the hard indestructible granite, the eternal sun was thus fittingly represented by an object that lifts its stern finger in unchangeable defiance of the vicissitudes of the seasons and the ages. Its highly polished surface and rich rosy red colour, its sharply defined lines and narrow proportions, combined with its immense height, suggested the brilliancy and hue and form of a pencil of light. Its tall red column flashing in the strong morning radiance, like a tongue of flame mounting up to its source in the solar fire, or like a ray of the halo that rises up on the low horizon of the Libyan desert, when the dawn has crimsoned all the eastern heavens, might thus well be selected as the most suitable object to bring the invisible sun-god within the ken of human vision and the range of human worship. The poetical imagination may detect a significance even in the difference between the material used in the construction of the obelisk, and that used in the construction of the pyramid, though this may not have been designed by the makers. The obelisks are all formed of granite, the foundation-stone of the globe, belonging to the oldest azoic formation, which laid down the first basis for the appearing of life. The pyramids were nearly all made of nummulitic limestone composed of the remains of organic life; a material which belonged to the latest geologic ages, when whole generations and different platforms of life had come and gone. Thus significantly does the obelisk of granite suggest by its material as by its form the origin of life, as the pyramid suggests by its material and form the extinction of life.

But not only was the obelisk raised in connection with the worship of the sun,—it was also intended to honour the reigning monarch who erected it, and whose name and titles were engraved upon it along with the name of the sun. For it was a fundamental idea of the Egyptian religion that the king was not only the son of the solar god, but also the visible human representative of his glory. This was a favourite conception of the ancients. The Incas of Peru regarded themselves as direct descendants of the sun; and the monarchs of the burning Asiatic lands, where the sun rules and dominates everything, assume the name and title of his sons, and clothe themselves with his splendour. The obelisks were thus the symbols of the two great correlative conceptions of the sun in the heavens, and his satellite and representative on the earth—god and the king. This Egyptian faith, as attested by the obelisks, the oldest of all the creeds, antecedent to the theologies of India, Greece, and Rome, ceased not to be venerated till the advent of Christianity swept all material worship away. It awed, as Mr. Cooper has well observed, the mixed multitude in Alexandria under the Cæsars, as it had done the primitive Egyptians under the oldest Pharaohs. It extended over a space of more than three thousand years. During all that long period the obelisk was "the emblem at once of the vivifying power of the sun and of the divine nature of the king, a witness for the divine claim of the sun to be worshipped, and of the right divine of the king to rule." Where is there in all the world, in its most ancient cities, in its loneliest deserts, any class of objects which has been held continuously sacred for so long a time? The description of the sun itself by Ossian applies almost equally well to his worship as thus represented.

Obelisks as symbols of the sun and of the creative power of nature, were not confined to Egypt. They belonged to the mythology of all ancient nations. There are modifications of them in India, in prehistoric America, and among the archæological remains of our own country. They were common objects in connection with the Assyrian, Persian and Phoenician religions. And it has been conjectured with much plausibility that the image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth six, the usual proportions of an obelisk, which Nebuchadnezzar set up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon, and commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to adore, was in reality an obelisk after the Egyptian pattern. Such an obelisk was often gilded, and was associated with the worship of the king as its material purpose, and with the creation and origin of life as its symbolic meaning. And if this was the case, there was an unusual aggravation in this idolatry; for the Egyptian obelisks themselves were never worshipped, but were always regarded as the signs of the higher powers whose glory they expressed.

The question is naturally asked, Where were the obelisks originally placed? At the present day we find those of them that remain in Egypt, solitary objects without anything near them, and those that have been carried to other lands have been set up in great open squares, or on river embankments in the heart of the largest cities. Fortunately, there is no doubt at all on this point. They stood in pairs at the doors of the great temples, one on each side, where they served the same purpose which the campanile of the Italian church or the spire of a cathedral serves at the present day. Indeed, architects are of opinion that church towers and steeples are mere survivals of the old Egyptian obelisks, which furnished the original conception. The tower corresponded to the shaft of the obelisk, and the steeple to the sharp pyramidal part in which the summit of the obelisk terminated. And though there is usually only one spire or tower now in connection with our churches, there used to be two, as many old examples still extant testify, one standing on each side of the principal entrance after the manner of the Egyptian obelisks. The slender round towers of Brechin and Abernethy, and of Devenish and other places in Ireland, capped by a conical stone roof terminating in a single stone, which were for a long time a puzzle to the antiquary, are now ascertained to be simply steeples connected with Christian churches of the tenth and eleventh centuries. And just as these towers are now left isolated and solitary without a trace of the buildings with which they were associated, so the Egyptian temples have passed away, and the obelisks are left alone in the desert. But we can reconstruct in imagination the massive and lofty buildings in front of which they stood, and where they showed to the greatest advantage. Instead of being dwarfed by the enormous masses of the propylons, their height gained by the near comparison. The obelisks in our squares and vast open spaces have their effect destroyed by the buildings being at a distance from them. There is no scale near at hand to assist the eye in estimating the height; consequently they seem much smaller than they really are. But when seen in the narrow precincts of a temple court, from whose floor they shot up into the blue sky overhead, surrounded by great columns and lofty gates, breaking the monotony of the heavy masses of masonry of which the Egyptian temples were composed, and acting the part which campanili and spires perform in modern churches, a standard of comparison was thus furnished which greatly enhanced their magnitude.

Nothing could be grander than the objects associated with the obelisks where they stood. The temple was approached by an avenue of huge sphinxes, in some cases a mile and a half long. Drawing nearer, the worshipper saw two lofty obelisks towering up a hundred feet in height, on the right and left. Behind these he would observe with awe four or six gigantic statues seated with their hands on their knees. And at the back of the statues he would gaze with astonishment upon two massive towers or pylons, broader at the base than at the summit, two hundred feet wide and a hundred and twenty feet high, crowned by a gigantic cornice, with their whole surface covered with coloured sculptures, representing one of the great dramas in the reign of a victorious monarch. Above them would rise the tall masts of coloured cedar-wood, inserted in sinkings chased into the wall, surmounted by the expanded banners of the king, or the heraldic bearings of the temple floating in the breeze. Between the huge propylons opened up the great gateway of the temple, sixty feet high, which led into a vast court, surrounded by columns and open to the sky. Beyond were walls whose roofs were supported by a forest of enormous pillars, which seemed to have been raised by giants. Each hall diminished in size, but increased in sacredness, until the inmost sanctuary was reached; small, dark, and awful in its obscurity. Here was the holy shrine in the shape of a boat or ark, having in it a kind of chest partially veiled, in which was hid the mystic symbol of the god. Like the tabernacle of Israel, the common people were not allowed to go farther than the outer court beyond the obelisks; only kings and priests being permitted to penetrate into the interior recesses, there to observe the ritual ceremonies of the mysterious Egyptian worship. On the plan of the Egyptian temple were modelled the sacred buildings of the Jews; and the famous pillars of burnished brass, wonderful for their workmanship and their costly material, which Solomon erected in the court of his temple, called Jachin and Boaz, had their prototypes in the obelisks of the Nile.

The obelisk belongs essentially to a level country; and there is no habitable region in the world so uniformly flat and unbroken by any elevations or depressions of surface as the valley of the Nile. There it produces its greatest effect; its size is not dwarfed by surrounding heights, and comes out by contrast with the small objects that diversify the plain. It forms a conspicuous landmark, a salient point on which the eye may rest with relief as it takes in the wide featureless horizon. In an artificial landscape, where there is no wild unmixed nature, where every inch of ground is cultivated, it is the appropriate culmination of that triumph of human art which is visible everywhere. It was a sense of this harmony of relation that induced the builders of the great cathedrals and temples of the world to place them, not amid varied and rugged scenery, where they might be brought into comparison with nature's work, but uniformly on level expanses of land. There they form the crowning symbol of man's loving care and painstaking endeavour, and give to the artificial landscape, which man has entirely subdued for his own uses, the finishing touch of power.

Obelisks are the most enduring monuments of antiquity, and yet no class of objects has undergone such extraordinary vicissitudes. The history of the changes to which they have been subjected reads like a romance. At a remote age, not long after they were erected, most of them were cast down during some political catastrophe, which shook the whole country to its foundations. Under a subsequent dynasty the obelisks seem to have been lifted up to their former places, and regarded with the old veneration. After the lapse of nearly a thousand years, the land was again convulsed by a terrible revolution, the nature of which is still wrapped up in almost impenetrable mystery. A warlike migratory race came from the north-east, and subdued the whole country. This is known as the Hyksos invasion, or the invasion of the Shepherd Kings, and produced the same effects in Egypt as the Norman invasion produced in England. Previous to this period the horse seemed to have been altogether unknown; but after this date it uniformly appears in Egyptian paintings and sculptures. The Hyksos must therefore have been a pastoral race, in all likelihood belonging to the plains of Tartary; and, mounted on horses, they would find little difficulty in overcoming the foot soldiery of Egypt. When they had obtained possession of the country, they burnt down the cities, demolished the temples, and overthrew the obelisks. This disaster, the most dreadful which Egypt had ever known, followed suddenly upon a period of extraordinary prosperity, when new cities were built, and old cities enlarged; works of great public utility were constructed, a mercantile intercourse established with the surrounding nations, and the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, favoured by the long peace and the abundant resources of the country, reached their highest excellence. The reversal of all these signs of prosperity was so overwhelming, that the Egyptians of subsequent ages looked back upon this period of subjection under a foreign yoke which lay upon them for five hundred years, with bitter resentment. When the hated dynasty was at an end, the Egyptians obliterated, as far as they could, every sign of its supremacy, chiselled out the names of its kings on their monuments, and destroyed their records, so that few traces of this revolution remain to dispel the strange mystery in which it is involved. They could never bear to hear the detested names of the Shepherd Kings; and this circumstance throws light upon the passage in Genesis which says that the occupation of a shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians. Under the patronage of the new dynasty the arts which had been destroyed were again restored, the monuments of the suppressed religion were freed from their indignities, and once more reinstated with the old honours, and the whole country was reconstructed. But, while the temples were re-erected, and the old worship established with even greater splendour, there can be no doubt that many of the earlier obelisks, owing to their smaller size, as compared with the other gigantic monuments of Egypt, had been destroyed past all reconstruction; and some of them remain in the land at the present day on the sites where, and in the exact manner in which, they were overturned by the Shepherd Kings.

But greater changes still happened to the Egyptian obelisks after this. Previously they had been devastated and overturned on their own soil. But now they excited the cupidity of the foreign invaders of Egypt, and were carried away to distant lands as trophies of their victories. The first obelisks that were removed in this way were two of the principal ones that adorned one of the temples of Thebes. After the capture of Thebes by Assurbanipal, the Assyrian king, the famous Sardanapalus of the Greeks, they were transported to the conqueror's palace at Nineveh, and were afterwards lost for ever in the destruction of that city, about sixty years later, or about six hundred years before Christ. The transportation of these enormous masses of stone across the country to the seashore, down the Red Sea, over the Indian Ocean, up the Persian Gulf, and the river Tigris, to their destination in the palace of Nineveh, nearly two thousand miles, must have been a feat of engineering skill at that early period of the world's history, far more wonderful in regard to the difficulties overcome, without any precedent to guide, and considering the rudeness of the means of transport, than anything that has ever been attempted since in the same line. The example of the Assyrian tyrant was followed, after a long interval, by the Romans, who sought to magnify and commemorate their conquests in Egypt by spoiling the land of its characteristic monuments. The Cæsars, one after another, for more than a hundred years, took advantage of their victories and the ruin of the unhappy land of Egypt to convey its beautiful obelisks to their own capital to permanently adorn one or other of the various places of public resort. They seem to have set almost the same high value upon these singular monuments which their inventors did. Pliny and Suetonius describe the almost incredible magnitude of the vessels in which these gigantic masses of stone were conveyed to Ostia, the harbour town, and from thence up the Tiber to Rome. The huge triremes were propelled by the force of hundreds of rowers across the waters of the Mediterranean. From the quay at Rome they were dragged and pushed, by the brute force of thousands in the old Egyptian manner, on low carts supported on rollers instead of wheels, to their destination, where they were set upright by a complicated machinery of ropes and huge upright beams.

How many obelisks of Egyptian origin existed at one time in the world we do not know. They were undoubtedly very numerous; but many of them were broken up for building materials. The famous column called Pompey's Pillar stands upon a fragment of an ancient obelisk; and tradition asserts that there are many similar fragments of greater or less antiquity under the ruins of the older houses of Alexandria. At present forty-two obelisks are known to be in existence in different parts of the world. Of these, seventeen remain in Egypt on their original sites, of which no less than eleven are prostrate on the ground, having been overturned by some political or religious revolution, by the force of an earthquake, or by the slow undermining of the infiltrated waters of the Nile. No less than twelve of the oldest and grandest are still to be seen standing erect in Rome, where they constitute by far the most striking and memorable monuments. The others are distributed in various places wide apart. One is in Paris, two are in Constantinople, a fourth, the famous Cleopatra's Needle, is on the Thames Embankment, in the heart of London; a fifth, its old companion in Alexandria, is now in one of the public squares of New York. And there are several diminutive ones, from eight feet in height downwards, in the British Museum, in the Florentine Museum in Florence, in Benevento in Italy, and in the town of Alnwick in Northumberland.

The oldest of all the obelisks is the beautiful one of rosy granite which stands alone among the green fields on the banks of the Nile not far from Cairo. It is the gravestone of a great ancient city which has vanished and left only this relic behind. That city was the Bethshemesh of Scripture, the famous On, which is memorable to all Bible readers as the residence of the priest Potipherah whose daughter Asenath Joseph married. The Greeks called it Heliopolis, the city of the sun, because there the worship of the sun had its chief centre and its most sacred shrines. It was the seat of the most ancient university in the world, to which youthful students came from all parts of the world, to learn the occult wisdom which the priests of On alone could teach. Thales, Solon, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, and Plato, all studied there, perhaps Moses too. It was also the birthplace of the sacred literature of Egypt, where were written on papyrus leaves the original chapters of the oldest book in the world, generally known as the "Book of the Dead," giving a most striking account of the conflicts and triumphs of the life after death; a whole copy or fragment of which every Egyptian, rich or poor, wished to have buried with him in his coffin, and portions of which are found inscribed on every mummy case and on the walls of every tomb. In front of one of the principal temples of the sun, in this magnificent city, stood along with a companion, long since destroyed, the solitary obelisk which we now behold on the spot. It alone, as I have said, has survived the wreck of all the glory of the place, as if to assure us that what is given to God, however ignorantly and superstitiously, endures, while all the other works of man perish. It was constructed by Usirtesen I., who is supposed to have reigned two thousand eight hundred years before Christ, and has outlasted all the dynastic changes of the land, and still stands where it originally stood nearly forty-seven centuries ago. What appears of its shaft above ground is sixty-eight feet in height, but its base is buried in the mud of the Nile; and year after year the inundation of the river deposits its film of soil around its foot, and buries it still deeper in its sacred grave. Down the centre of each of its four faces runs a line of deeply-cut hieroglyphics, in whose cavities the wild mason-bees construct their mud-cells and store their honey. Nothing can exceed the beauty and distinctness of these carvings. The pictures of birds and beasts, chiselled in the hard polished granite, have a purity of form and line, a directness of expression and intention, which is most impressive. Its top is somewhat damaged, having been originally protected, as was the case with many of the obelisks which were not finely finished to a point, with a capping of gilded bronze that remained intact till the thirteen century. The inscription on its sides contains nothing of historic value. It is simply a dedication to Usirtesen, who constructed it, under the title of Horus, or the rising sun, which was borne, as I have said, by the kings of Egypt on account of their supposed origin as an incarnation of the sun.

At Luxor, a single obelisk, the property of the English, still maintains its ancient position. It is very beautiful, formed of red granite, and covered with elegantly carved inscriptions, running up each of the four faces. The hieroglyphics are cut to an unusual depth, and are remarkably clear and well-formed, indicating that the monument was raised in honour of Rameses the Great, the most illustrious of all the Egyptian monarchs, and the most magnificent and prolific architect the world has ever seen. The top of the obelisk was originally left in a rough unfinished state, the roughness having been concealed by a capping of bronze; but this having been removed long ago, the surface has become very much eroded by exposure, which somewhat detracts from the elegance of the shaft. It has also the peculiarity that its two inner faces are sensibly curved—a peculiarity which it is supposed was designed to make the sunlight fall with softer effect, so as to make the shadows less crude, and the angles less sharp. The shaft, which is eighty-two feet high by eight feet in diameter at the base, is elevated upon a pedestal, which is adorned by statues in high relief of dog-headed monkeys standing in an attitude of adoration at the corners worshipping the sun, and also by standing figures of the god of the Nile presenting offerings, incised in the stone like the hieroglyphics of the shaft. The surroundings of this obelisk are far grander than those of any other obelisk in the world. At present the extent and dimensions of the ruins of Thebes produce an overwhelming effect upon the visitor. But it is almost impossible for us to imagine its magnificence when its temples and obelisks were in their full perfection, and the great Rameses was carried on the shoulders of his officers through the ranks of adoring slaves to behold the completion of the works which had been designed to perpetuate his glory. The ancient city, divided in the middle by the Nile, as London is by the Thames or Glasgow by the Clyde, covered the vast plain, with great houses in the outskirts standing in richly cultivated gardens, each temple surrounded by its own little sacred lake, over which the bodies of the dead were carried by the priests before burial, and the beautiful Mokattam Hills bounding the view, wearing the soft lilac hue of distance. Only two or three places on earth can rival the overwhelming interest which the city possesses. But the colossal associated temples of Karnac and Luxor are absolutely unique. There is nothing on earth to equal them. They are man's greatest achievements in religious architecture. Long rows of stupendous pillars, covered from base to top with coloured pictures and hieroglyphics, containing a whole library of actually written and pictured history and religion, look "like a Brobdingnagian forest turned into stone," in the midst of which the visitor feels himself an insignificant insect. A sense of superhuman awfulness, of personal nothingness and irresistible power, is what these stupendous structures inspire in even the most callous spectator. A confused mass of broken columns and heaps of huge sculptured stones present an appearance as if the old giants had been at war on the spot, hurling rocks at each other. Between Luxor and Karnac extended an avenue of sphinxes, two miles long, numbering more than four thousand pieces of sculpture, now represented by mutilated formless blocks of stone. We see in these vast temples, which were raised by a people inspired with the sentiment that they were the greatest of all nations, to be the chief shrines of the religion of the country, the fruits of the plunder and the tribute of Asia and Africa. The funds necessary to build them had been procured by robbing other nations; and most of the work was done by captives taken in war. Many a fair province had been desolated of its inhabitants, many a splendid city spoiled of its riches, in order to construct these awful halls. Unfortunately, the annual overflow of the inundation of the Nile covers the ground to the depth of a foot or two, staining and eating away the bases of the columns, and overthrowing their enormous drums and architraves. The destruction cannot be prevented, for the water infiltrates through the soil; and some day, ere long, the remaining columns will be hurled down, and the pride of Karnac will lie prone in the dust.

Passing westward to Rome, the largest obelisk not only in the Eternal City but in the whole world is that which now adorns the square of St. John Lateran. It is, as usual, of red granite much darkened and corroded by time, and stands with its pedestal and cross one hundred and forty-one feet high; the shaft alone being one hundred and eight feet seven inches in height, with faces about nine feet and a half wide at the base; the whole mass weighing upwards of four hundred and sixty tons. It was found among the ruins of the Circus Maximus broken into three pieces, and was dug up by order of Pope Sixtus V., conveyed to its present site, and re-erected by the celebrated architect Fontana in 1588. The lower end had been so much injured by its fall, that in order to enable it to stand, it was found necessary to cut off about two feet and a half to obtain a level base. On the top of it Fontana added by way of ornament four bronze lions, surmounted by three mountain peaks, out of which sprung the cross, as the armorial bearings of the Popes. Thus crowned with the cross, and consecrated to the honour of Christianity, this noble relic of antiquity acquires an additional interest from its nearness to the great Basilica of the Lateran, which is the representative cathedral of the Papacy and the mother church of Christendom, and to the Lateran Palace, for a thousand years the residence of the Popes of Rome.

The history of the Lateran obelisk is unusually varied. It was originally constructed by Thothmes III., and set up by him before the great temple of Amen at Heliopolis. But being an old man at the time, he left his successor to complete it by adding most of the hieroglyphics. It took thirty-six years to carve these sculptures; the four sides from top to bottom being covered with inscriptions in the purest style of Egyptian art. From one of these inscriptions we learn that the obelisk was thrown down in Egypt probably during the invasion of the Shepherd Kings, and was re-erected by the great Rameses, who did not, contrary to the usual custom, arrogate to himself the honours of his predecessor. These sculptures tell us of monarchs who had reigned, and conquered, and died long before the mythic times, when the "pious Æneas," as Virgil tells us, landed on the Italian shore, and Romulus ploughed his significant furrow round the Palatine Hill. A thousand years before the foundation of Rome, and two thousand years before the Christian era, it had been excavated from the quarries of Syene and worshipped at Heliopolis. It was as old to the Cæsars as the days of the Cæsars are to us. Pliny tells us that the work of quarrying, conveying, and setting it up employed twenty thousand men; and there is a dim tradition that so anxious was the king for its safety, when it was erected, that in order to ensure this he bound his own son to the top of it. A close examination of the hieroglyphics reveals the curious fact that the name of the god Amen wherever it occurs, is more deeply carved than the other figures, in order to obliterate the name of some other deity which had previously occupied its place. It is supposed that this circumstance indicates a theological revolution which happened in the history of Egypt when Amenhotep III., the Memnon of the Greek historian, married an Arabian wife of the name of Taia, who introduced her own religion into her adopted country, as Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, introduced the worship of Baal into Israel. When this dynasty was overthrown, in the course of about fifty years, the old faith was restored, and the names of the old gods substituted for those which had usurped their place on the religious monuments. It is supposed that the Lateran obelisk was the one before which Cambyses, the great Persian conqueror, stood lost in admiration, arrested in his semi-religious course of destroying the popular monuments of Egypt. Augustus intended to have removed it to Rome, but was deterred by the difficulty of the undertaking, and also by superstitious scruples, because it had been specially dedicated to the sun, and fixed immovably in his temple. Constantine the Great had no such scruples, believing, as he said, that "he did no injury to religion if he removed a wonder from one temple, and again consecrated it in Rome, the temple of the whole world." He died, however, before he had completed his design, having succeeded only in transporting the obelisk to Alexandria, from whence his son and successor Constantius transferred it to Rome, and placed it on the Spina of the Great Circus. So clumsily, however, was it erected in this place, that several deep holes had to be drilled in the upper part of it, in order that ropes for hauling it up might be put through them; a defect in engineering skill which has disfigured the obelisk, and contrasts strikingly with the resources of the ancient Egyptians, who were able to raise the stone to its position without such a device. The obelisk is thus an enduring monument of three great rulers—Thothmes, who first constructed it in Heliopolis; Constantine, who removed it to Rome; and Pope Sixtus V., who conveyed it from the Circus Maximus, and re-erected it where it now stands.

Next in point of height to the Lateran obelisk is the one that stands in the great square of St. Peter's, between two beautiful fountains that are continually showering high in the air their radiant sunlit spray. It is meant to serve as the gnomon of a gigantic dial, traced in lines of white marble in the pavement of the square. Its rosy surface glistening in the rays of the sun, and its long shadow cast before it on the ground, make it a very impressive object. Its origin is involved in mystery, for there is no inscription on it to tell who erected it, or where it came from. This absence of hieroglyphics points to its having been an unfinished work—something having prevented its constructor from recording on it the purpose of its erection, as was usually the case. But as the vacant shadow of the dial and the blank empty lines of the spectrum are more suggestive than any sunlit spaces, so the blank unwritten sides of this obelisk give rise to more speculations than if they had been carved from head to foot with hieroglyphics. On account of this peculiarity, some authors have not hesitated to consider it a mere imitation obelisk, constructed by the Romans at a comparatively late period. This idea, however, is refuted by the evidence of Pliny, who regarded it as a genuine Egyptian relic, and tells us that it was cut from the quarry of Syene, and dedicated to the sun by the son of Sesores, in obedience to an oracle, after his recovery from blindness. It is generally believed that it first stood before one of the temples of Heliopolis, was then removed to Alexandria, and finally transported to Rome by Caligula. This emperor constructed a special vessel for the purpose, of greater dimensions than had ever been seen before; and after it had brought the obelisk to the banks of the Tiber, he commanded it to be filled with stones, and sunk as a caisson in the harbour of Ostia, which he was constructing at the time. On arriving at Rome the obelisk was set up on the Spina of the Circus of Nero, which is now occupied by the sacristy of St. Peter's Church. For fifteen centuries the obelisk remained undisturbed on its site, the only one in the city that escaped being overthrown. At last its foundation giving way, so that it leaned dangerously towards the old Basilica of St. Peter's, Sixtus V. formed the design of removing it to where it now stands, a very short distance from the original spot. The record of its re-erection, the first in papal Rome, by Fontana—a work of extreme difficulty and imposing ceremonial magnificence, which was richly rewarded by the grateful Pope—is exceedingly interesting. A curious legend is usually related in connection with it. A papal edict was proclaimed threatening death to any one who should utter a loud word while the operation of lifting and settling the obelisk was going on. As the "huge crystallisation of Egyptian sweat" rose on its basis there was a sudden stoppage, the hempen cables refused to do their work, and the hanging mass of stone threatened to fall and destroy itself. Suddenly from out the breathless crowd rose a loud, clear voice, "Wet the ropes." There was inspiration in the suggestion; the architect acted upon it, and the obelisk at once took its stand on its base, where it has firmly remained ever since. Not only was the sailor Bresca pardoned for transgressing the papal command, but he was rewarded, and the district of Bordighera, from which he came, received the privilege of supplying the palm leaves for the use of Rome on Palm Sunday—a privilege which it still possesses, and which forms the principal trade of the place.

To me the most familiar and interesting of all the Roman obelisks is that which stands in the centre of the Piazza del Popolo, the finest and largest square in Rome. It is about eighty feet high, carved with hieroglyphics, with four marble Egyptian lions, one at each corner of the platform on which it stands, pouring from their mouths copious streams of water into large basins, with a refreshing sound. Lions in Egypt were regarded as symbols of the sun when passing through the zodiacal sign of Leo, the time when the annual inundation of the Nile occurred. They had thus a deep significance in connection with water. The obelisk was originally erected in front of the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, by the great Rameses, the Sesostris of the Greeks, whose personal character and wide conquests fill a larger space in the history of ancient Egypt than those of any other monarch. From Heliopolis it was removed to Rome, after the battle of Actium, by Augustus, and placed on the Spina of the Circus Maximus, the sports of which were under the special protection of Apollo, the sun-god, by whose favour it was supposed that the Egyptian victory had been achieved. For four hundred years it acted as a gnomon, regulating by the length and direction of its shadow the hours of the public games of the circus; and then it was overturned during those troublous days in which the empire was rent asunder. Twelve centuries of decay and wreck had buried it from the eyes of men, until it was dug up and placed where it now stands, in 1587, by Pope Sixtus V., to whom modern Rome is indebted for the restoration of many of her ancient monuments, and the construction of many of her public buildings and streets. With the cross planted on its summit, this noble monument was long the first object which met the traveller's eye as he entered Rome from the north by the old Flaminian way. Brought to commemorate the overthrow of the land from whence it came, it has witnessed the overthrow of the conquerors in turn; and now re-erected in the modern capital, it will endure when its glory too has passed away. And out of the ruins of the city of the Popes, as out of the ruins of the city of the Cæsars, some future architect will dig it up to grace the triumph of a brighter and freer resuscitation of the Eternal City than the world has yet seen.

The association of fountains at its base with this obelisk seems at first sight as incongruous as the crowning of its apex with a metal cross, for the Christian emblem can never alter the nature of the pagan monument. There is no natural harmony in the association, for there are no fountains or streams of running water in the desert. The obelisk belongs essentially to the dry and parched east; the fountain is the birth of the happier west, bright with the sparkle and musical with the sound of many waters. The obelisk relieves the monotony of immeasurable plains over which a sky of serene unstained blue arches itself in infinite altitude, the image of eternal purity, and the sun rises day after day with the same unsullied brilliance, and sets with the same unmitigable glory. The fountain, on the other hand, is the child of lands whose mountains kiss the clouds and gleam with the purity of everlasting snows, and where each day brings out new beauties, and each season reveals a fresh and ever-varying charm. But although there is no geographical reason why these two objects should be associated, there is a poetical fitness. The obelisk is the symbol of the perpetual past, holding in its changeless unity, as on its carved sides, the memories of former ages; the fountain is the symbol of the perpetual present, ever changing, ever new. The one speaks to us of a petrified old age; the other of an immortal youth. And thus it is in life, each passing moment flowing on with all its changes beside the stern, hard, enduring monument of the irrevocable past on which what is written is changelessly written. How different too are the bright sparkling fountains that leap with ever-varying beauty at the foot of the Flaminian obelisk now, from the dull, sleepy monotonous river that, like a Lethe flood, flowed past it in the old days at Heliopolis! Are they not both symbolical of the new and the old world, of the Christian faith, with its progressive thought and varied expanding life, and the stagnant pagan creed, which impressed the soul with the sense of human helplessness in the face of an unchangeable iron order alike of nature and of society?

Another of the great obelisks of Rome is that which stands on Monte Citorio, in front of the present Parliament House. It was brought to Rome by Augustus, who dedicated it anew to the sun, and placed it as the gnomon of a meridian in the midst of the Campus Martius. Originally it had been erected at Heliopolis in honour of Psammeticus I., who reigned about seven hundred years before Christ. This monarch lived during a time when the national religion had become corrupted, and the whole land had come under the influence of Greek thought and Greek customs. But the obelisk which he erected is worthy of the best period of Egyptian art. It is universally admired for the remarkable beauty of its hieroglyphics. The anonymous pilgrim of Einsiedlen mentions that this obelisk was still erect when he visited Rome about the beginning of the ninth century. It seems, however, to have fallen and to have been broken in pieces, nearly three hundred years later, during the terrible conflagration caused by the Norman troops of Robert Guiscard. Several fragments of it were dug up, one after another, during the sixteenth century. The principal part of the shaft was discovered in 1748, among the ruins beneath the choir of the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. These portions were damaged in such a way as to show clearly the action of fire, proving that the obelisk had been destroyed in the great fire of 1084. Pope Pius VI. gathered together the fragments, and with the aid of granite pieces taken from the ruined column of Antoninus Pius, which stood in the neighbourhood, he formed of these a whole shaft, which represents, as nearly as possible, the original obelisk. It is seventy-two feet high, and is surmounted by a globe and a small pyramid of bronze, which, along with its pedestal, increases its height to one hundred and thirty-four feet. A portion of the lines of the celebrated sun-dial, whose gnomon it formed, was brought to light under the sacristy of San Lorenzo in Lucina in 1463.

All the other obelisks in Rome belong to comparatively recent periods, to the decadence of Egypt. None of them are of any great significance to the student of archæology. Several of them were executed in Egypt by order of the Roman emperors, and are therefore not genuine but imitation obelisks. Of this kind may be mentioned the Esquiline and Quirinal obelisks, which were brought to Rome by the emperor Claudius, and placed in the old Egyptian manner, one on each side of the entrance to the great mausoleum of Augustus in the Campus Martius. They are both destitute of hieroglyphics and are broken into several pieces. One now stands on Monte Cavallo, in front of the great Quirinal Palace, betwixt the two well-known gigantic groups of men and horses, statues of Greek origin, supposed to be those of Castor and Pollux, executed by Pheidias and Praxiteles; and the other in the large open space in front of the great Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Another of these bastard obelisks occupies a commanding position at the top of the Spanish Stairs, in front of the Church of Trinita dei Monti. It stood originally on the spina of the circus of Sallust, in his gardens, and is covered with hieroglyphics of the rudest workmanship, which sufficiently proclaim their origin, as a Roman forgery probably of the period of the Antonine emperors. In the midst of the public gardens, on the Pincian Hill, there is another Roman obelisk about thirty feet high, excavated from the quarries of Syene, and set up by Hadrian originally at Antinopolis in Egypt in front of a temple dedicated to the deified Antinous, the lamented favourite of the emperor. It was afterwards transferred to the imperial villa at Tivoli, near Rome, and subsequently to the grounds of the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, from whence it was finally taken to its present site. This obelisk has a special interest because it commemorates one of the most beautiful and touching examples of self-sacrifice which the annals of paganism afford. We are apt to judge of Antinous from the languid beauty of the statue of him in the Roman galleries, as simply the pampered sycophant of a court. But behind his sensual beauty and softness there was an unselfish devotion which the caresses of royalty and the favours of fortune could not spoil. When the oracle declared that the happiness of Hadrian, who was afflicted with a profound melancholy, could only be secured by the sacrifice of what was most dear to him, Antinous went at once and drowned himself in the Nile, and thus gave his life for his imperial friend, who, instead of being made better by the sacrifice, was left altogether inconsolable. The magnificent city founded to perpetuate his memory is now a heap of ruined mounds, and the obelisk that bore his name in Egypt now stands far away in Rome; but time cannot quench the glow of sympathy that kindles in the heart of every one who remembers his story of noble self-sacrificing love.

There are three or four obelisks that mark the introduction of the Egyptian worship of Isis into the imperial city of the later emperors. At one time everything Egyptian was fashionable in Rome, and the goddess of Egypt was domesticated in the Roman Pantheon, and temples in her honour were erected in several parts of the city and throughout the empire. Obelisks, fashioned in Egypt by command of the Romans, were often placed in front of the temples. But these spurious obelisks have little dignity or significance, and suffer wofully when brought into comparison with specimens of the genuine work of old Egypt. The largest and most imposing of these monuments of the new faith of the city is the one that now stands in the Piazza Navona, formerly called the Pamphilian Obelisk, in honour of the family name of Pope Innocent X., who placed it there. It is forty feet high, of red granite, broken into five pieces, and covered with hieroglyphics, the whole style and execution of which are so inferior that Winkelman long ago, although he knew nothing of their import, detected the fact of the obelisk being a mere imitation. It was cut and engraved at Syene by order of the emperor Domitian, who designed it to adorn his villa on the Lake of Albano. From thence it was removed by the usurper Maxentius to the circus on the Appian Way, founded by him, and named after his son Romulus. It is now on the site of the old Circus Agonalis, whose form and boundaries are marked out by the houses of the Piazza Navona. Surmounted by the Pope's device of a dove with an olive branch, a vain substitute of heraldry for sacred symbolism, and standing on an artificial rock-work about forty feet high, composed of figures of Tritons and nymphs, disporting themselves amid plashing fountains and marble foliage, the whole subject is incongruous and utterly opposed to the simplicity and majesty of the ancient monuments.

Near the Pantheon there is a pair of obelisks which were brought from the East, and stood together before the temple of Isis and Serapis, which is supposed to have been situated on the site of the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. They were found when digging the foundations of the church in 1667, along with an altar of Isis, now in the Capitoline Museum. One of these obelisks was erected by Clement XI. in 1711, in front of the Pantheon, in the midst of the fountain of the Piazza. Its height is only about seventeen feet, and the hieroglyphics on it indicate that it was constructed by Psammeticus II., the supposed Hophra of Hebrew history. This same monarch also constructed its twin-fellow which now stands in the Piazza Minerva in the near neighbourhood. The celebrated sculptor Bernini, when re-erecting it at the command of Pope Alexander VII. in 1660, had the exceedingly bad taste to balance it on the back of a marble elephant, the work of his pupil Ferrata; on account of which absurd incongruity Bernini received from the satirical Roman populace the nickname of "The Elephant." Only one obelisk in Rome was not restored or re-erected by any Pope, viz. that which stands in the beautiful grounds of the Villa Mattei in the Coelian Hill. It was found near the Capitol on the site of an ancient temple of Isis, and was presented by the magistrates to the owner of the villa, a great collector of antiquities. It is said that when it was raised in 1563, on its red granite pedestal, the mason who superintended the work incautiously rested his hand on the block, when the shaft suddenly slid down and crushed it, the bones of the imprisoned member being still held between the two stones.

The foregoing were the last obelisks erected in Rome by the emperors. After them no more were constructed either in the imperial city or in their native land of Egypt. The language inscribed upon them had come to be superseded by the universal use of the Greek tongue; there was no use therefore in making monuments for the reception of hieroglyphic records which nobody could understand or interpret. The sudden craze for the Egyptian idolatry passed away as suddenly as it sprang up, and Christianity established itself as the religion of the civilised world. The temples in Egypt and Rome were closed, the altars overthrown, and the objects connected with the material symbolism of paganism were destroyed, and objects connected with the spiritual symbolism of Christianity set up in their place. And thus the obelisk, the oldest of all religious symbols, which was constructed at the very dawn of human existence, to mark the worship of the material luminary, fell into disuse and oblivion, when "the Sun of Righteousness" rose above the horizon of the world, with healing in His wings, dispelling all the mists and delusions of error. The art of constructing obelisks followed the usual stages in the history of all human art. Its best period was that which indicated the greatest faith; its worst that which marked the decay of faith. The oldest specimens are invariably the most perfect and beautiful; the most recent exhibit too marked signs of the decrepitude of skill that had come over their makers. Between the oldest specimens and their surroundings there was a harmony and an appropriateness which solemnised the scene and excited feelings of adoration and awe. Between the latest specimens and their surroundings there was an incongruity which proved them to be aliens and strangers on the scene, and was fatal to all reverence; an incongruity which the modern Romans have only intensified by raising them on pedestals of most uncongenial forms, and crowning them with hideous masses of metal, representing the insignia of popes or other objects equally unsuitable. We see in the oldest obelisks a wonderful ease and an exquisite finish of execution, a maturity of thought and skill which none of the later obelisks reached, and which indicate the high-water mark of man's achievement in that line. There is also "a bloom of youth and of the earth's morning" about them which is quite indescribable, and which doubtless came to them because of the power and reality of faith. They were the fresh natural originals in which a deep primitive spontaneous adoration that dominated the whole nature of man expressed itself; while the specimens that were executed afterwards were slavish imitations, expressing a worship and a creed which had become fixed and formal.

One of the most valuable results of the expedition of the great Napoleon to Egypt, ostensibly for scientific and antiquarian purposes, but really for military glory, was the acquisition of the Rosetta stone now in the British Museum—which afforded the key to the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphics—and of the obelisk of Luxor which now adorns the noble Place de la Concord in Paris. The history of the engineering difficulties overcome in bringing this obelisk to France is extremely interesting. Indeed, the story of the transportation of the obelisks from their native home, from time to time, to other lands, is no less romantic and worthy of study than the artistic, religious, or antiquarian phases of the subject. It forms a special literature of its own to which Commander Gorringe of the United States Navy, in his elaborate and magnificent work on Egyptian obelisks, has done the amplest justice. It cost upwards of £100,000 to bring the Luxor Obelisk to Paris, owing to the inexperience of the engineers and the imperfection of their method. But it was worthy of this vast expenditure of toil and money; for standing in an open circus unimpeded by narrow streets, and unspoiled by the tawdry ornaments which disfigure the Roman obelisks, it adds to the magnificent modern city the charm of antique majesty. It stands seventy-six feet and a half in height, with its apex left rough and unfinished, destitute of the gilded cap which formerly completed and protected it. Each of its four sides contains three vertical lines of well-executed hieroglyphics, which show that it was raised in honour of Rameses II., to adorn the stupendous temple of Luxor at Thebes which he constructed. When it lay on its original site, previous to its being transported, it was found to have been cracked at the time of its first erection, and repaired by means of two dove-tailed wedges of wood which had perished long ago. But this defect is not now noticeable. The companion of this obelisk is still standing at Luxor, and has already been described. Both of them show a peculiarity in their lines, which could only be noticed effectually when the pair stood together. This peculiarity is a convexity, or entasis, as it is called, on the inner faces. Even to the untrained eye its sides seem not of equal dimensions; and actual measurement shows the irregularity more clearly. This is said, however, to be exceptional to the general rule, and to be foreign to the design of an obelisk in the best period of the Pharaonic art. Still, several magnificent specimens, such as the Luxor and Flaminian obelisks, exhibit it. And they are an illustration of what was a marked characteristic of all classic architecture, which shows a slight curvature or entasis in its long lines.

It was early found out that mathematical exactness and beauty were not the same. By making its two sides geometrically equal, the living expression of the most beautiful marble statue is destroyed, and it becomes simply a piece of architecture. It is well known that the two sides of the human face are not precisely the same; the irregularity of the one modifies the irregularity of the other, and thus a higher symmetry and harmony is the result. The two sides of the leaf of the begonia are unequal, and if folded together will not correspond. The same is true of the leaf of the elm and the lime. But when the mass of the foliage is seen together, this irregularity gives an added charm to the whole. Every object in nature has some imperfection, which indicates that it has a relation to some other object, and is but a part of a greater whole. The intentional irregularity of the windows in the Doge's Palace at Venice enhances the effect of the marvellous façade. By comparing the Parthenon at Athens, with its curves and inclinations, with the Madeleine at Paris, we see how far short the copy comes of the original in beauty and expressiveness, because of the exact formality of its right angles. The ancient Egyptians understood this well; and in their architecture they sought to rise to a higher symmetry through irregularity; and we can see in their frequent departure from upright and parallel lines in the construction of their temples, an effort to escape from formal exactness, and a longing for the nobler unity which is realised to the full in the rich variety of the Gothic. We may be sure that "every attempt in art that seeks a theoretical completeness, in so doing sinks from the natural into the artificial, from the living and the divine into the mechanical and commonplace." The Egyptian obelisk is thus but a type of a great law of nature. In this simplest and most primitive specimen of architecture we have an illustration of the principle which gives its expressiveness to the human face, beauty to the flowers of the field, and grandeur to the highest triumphs of human art.

The obelisks that remain to be described are the two which to us are the most interesting; the pair of "Cleopatra's Needles" which so long stood side by side at Alexandria, and are now separated by the Atlantic Ocean; one standing on the Thames Embankment in London, and the other in Central Park, New York. They were both set up in front of the great temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, about fifteen centuries before Christ, by Thothmes III., and engraved by Rameses II., the two mightiest of the kings of Egypt. After standing on their original site for fourteen centuries, witnessing the rise and fall of many native dynasties, and the establishment of the Greek dominion under the Ptolemies, they were, when Egypt became a province of Imperial Rome, transferred by Cæsar Augustus to Alexandria. There they adorned the Cæsareum or palace of the Cæsars, which stood by the side of the harbour, was surrounded with a sacred grove, and was the greatest building in the city. What Thebes and Heliopolis were in the time of the Pharaohs, Alexandria became in the time of the Ptolemies. And though, being a parasitical growth, it could not originate works of genius, like its ancient prototypes, it could appropriate those which Heliopolis and Thebes had created. The tragic death of Cleopatra, the last of the dynasty of the Ptolemies, had taken place seven years before the setting up of these obelisks at Alexandria; so that she had in reality nothing to do with them personally. For about fifteen centuries the two obelisks stood in their new position before the Cæsareum. They saw the gradual overthrow, by time's resistless hand, of the magnificent palace which they adorned; and they themselves felt the slow undermining of the sea as it encroached upon the land, until at last one of them fell to the ground about three hundred years ago, and got partially covered over with sand, leaving the other to stand alone. Then came the French invasion of Egypt, and the victories of Nelson and Abercromby, when Mahomet Ali, the ruler of the land, offered the prostrate obelisk to the British nation as a token of gratitude. The offer, however, was not taken advantage of, for various reasons. At last the patriotism and enterprise of a private individual, the late Sir Erasmus Wilson, came to the rescue, when the stone was about to be broken up into building material by the proprietor of the ground on which it lay. An iron water-tight cylinder was constructed for its transport, in which, with much toil, the obelisk was encased and floated. It was taken in tow by a steam-tug, which encountered a fearful storm in the Bay of Biscay. This led to the abandonment of the pontoon cylinder, which floated about for three days, and was at last picked up by a passing steamer, and towed to the coast of Spain; from whence it was brought to England, and set up where it now stands on the Thames Embankment. Its transport cost altogether about £13,000, and was a work of great anxiety and difficulty. Standing seventy feet high on its present site, it forms one of the noblest and most appropriate monuments of the greatest city in the world; awakening the curiosity of every passer-by regarding the mysteries revealed in its enigmatical sculptures.

The companion obelisk which had been left standing at Alexandria, after having suffered much from neglect, in the midst of its mean and filthy surroundings, was presented to the American Government by the Khedive of Egypt. But that Government acted in the same supine spirit in which our own had acted; and it was left to the ability of Captain Corringe as engineer, and to the liberality of the millionaire Vanderbilt, who paid the expenses incurred, amounting to £20,000, to bring the obelisk in the hold of a chartered steamer across the Atlantic, and set it up in the midst of New York city. And if the one obelisk is a remarkable sight in London, the other is a still more remarkable sight in New York. There, amid the latest inventions of the West, surrounded by the most recent civilisation of the world, rises up serenely, unchanged to heaven, the earliest monument of the East, surrounded by the most ancient civilisation of the world. "Westward the course of empire takes its way;" and as the old obelisk of Heliopolis witnessed the ending of the four first dramas of human history, so shall it close the fifth and last. The sun in the East rose over its birth; the sun in the West shall set over its death.

It is possible that when all the stores of coal and other fuel which form the source of the mechanical power and commercial greatness of northern and western nations shall have been exhausted, a method of directly utilising solar radiation may be discovered. And if so, then the seat of empire will be transferred to parts of the earth that are now burnt up by the intense heat of the sun, but which then will be the most valuable of all possessions. The vast solar radiance now wasted on the furnace-like shores of the Red Sea will be stored up as a source of mechanical power. The commerce of the West will once more return to the East where it began; and the whole region will be repeopled with the life that swarmed there in the best days of old Egypt. But under that new civilisation there will be no return of the old religion of the obelisks; for men will no longer worship the sun as a god, but will use him for the common purposes of life, as a slave.

After having thus passed in review so many noble obelisks, a mere tithe of what once existed, the conviction is deepened in our minds that no nation had ever devoted so much time, treasure, and skill to the service of religion as the Egyptian. While the Jews had only one tabernacle and one temple, every city in Egypt—and no country had so many great cities—had its magnificent temple and its hosts of obelisks. The spoils of the whole world were devoted to their construction; a third of the produce of the whole land of Egypt was spent in their maintenance. The daily life of the people was moulded entirely upon the religion of these temples and obelisks; their art and their literature were inspired by it. It organised their society; it built up their empire; and it was the salt which for more than three thousand years conserved a civilisation which has been the marvel and the mystery of every succeeding age. Surely the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, shone on those who were thus fervently stretching the tendrils of their souls to its dawning in the East, who raised these obelisks as symbols of the glorious and beneficent sunlight of the world.