Anonymous source published in the Cleveland Whig describes papyri before Joseph acquired them.

Mar 25, 1835
News (traditional)

"A Rare Exhibition," Cleveland Whig 1, no. 30 (March 25, 1835): 1

The Cleveland Whig
Reading Public

We accepted the invitation of Mr. Chandler to visit last evening his exhibition, just opened at the Cleveland House, of Four Egyptian Mummies, purporting to have been obtained from Thebes, by the celebrated traveller Lobelo. The announcement of such an exhibition is very apt to bring with it the suspicion of imposition' as much probably from its rarity in this "backwoods country," as from the state of advancement which has been attained in the arts of humbugery and deception. But we have no hestitation in saying, that a very slight examination of these relics, will convince any one that there is no deception about them, and that there are in truth before him the bones and sinews, of not the flesh and blood, of four ancient beings of his own race, whose frames have survived the decay of some two thousand years. The relic forms are those of three males and one female -- of mature age, and two of them at least, evidently far advanced in life at the period of their deaths. The first sight of them produces sensations by no means pleasant -- but those feelings soon give way to others of a different character, and the more you contemplate them the more interested you become. Curiosity immediately becomes excited; a variety of queries rapidly passes through the mind -- which are by no means solved by contemplation. What nation were they of? At what age and where did they live? What were their names? their circumstances? their occupation? Were they slain in battle -- or died they a natural death by the "visitation of God?" What was the leading trait in the character of that old man, whose arms repose in a cross over his breast? Has he not truly what phrenologists call an "intellectual head?" Imagination perhaps is better than science to solve the question. And that female too -- the mother of Agamemnon, for aught that appears -- her aged head still retains the hair that graced it in youth. -- The peculiar features that distibguish the sex in our day, are distinctly preserved in this withered form. This train of thought becomes richer as it advances; and the visiter before he is aware of it, will become absorbed in meditation and awe. There will be no mirth in that hall -- or if there is, it will be forced and unnatural. An involuntary feeling of solemnity and awe will reign in its stead. We speak from experience.

The exhibitor will relate and illustrate incidents which add much to the interest of the exhibition. There was found deposited in the arms of the old man referred to above, a book of ancient form and construction, which, to us, was by far the most interesting part of the exhibition. Its leaves were of bark, in length some 10 or 12 inches, and 3 or 4 in width. The ends are somewhat decayed, but at the centre the leaves are in a state of perfect preservation. It is the writing of no ordinary penman, probably of the old man near whose heart it was deposited at the embalming. The characters are the Egyptian hieroglyphics; but of what it discourses none can tell. That probably, like the name of the author, and of the figure before you, will never be unfolded. There is also another book, more decayed, and much less neatly written -- its character and import involved in like mystery.

There is no concealment about this exhibition: the spectator is allowed to examine as critically as he pleases; and in this respect it is much more satisfactory than any similar exhibition we ever witnessed. We are not apt to speak favorably of a thousand and one performances and exhibitions with which we are annually afflicted -- which have a tendency to excite the worst passions of youth, and lead many into habits of profligacy. But that of which we have been speaking, we consider an exception to their usual character, and tendency. Mr. Chandler will remain at the Cleveland House a few days; and visitors to his interesting exhibition are taxed the moderate fee of 25 cents.

The following lines, ascribed to the poet Campbell, though not new to all our readers, contain some fine points of poetry and sentiment, and are apposite in this connexion:


In Belzoni's Exhibition, London.

And thou hast walked about, (how strange a story!)

In Thebes' streets, three thousand years ago,

When the Memnonium was in all its glory,

And time had not begun to overthrow

Those temples, palaces, and piles stupendious,

Of which the very ruins are tremendous!

Speak! for thou long enough has acted Dummy;

Thou hast a tongue! come, let us hear its tune;

Thou’rt standing on thy legs above ground, Mummy!

Revisiting the glimpses of the moon,

Not like thin ghosts or disembodied creatures,

But with thy bones and flesh, and limbs and features.

Tell us! for doubtless thou canst recollect,

To whom should we assign the Sphinx’s fame?

Was Cheops or Cephrenes the architect

Of either pyramid that bears his name?

Is Pompey’s pillar really a misnomer?

Had Thebes a hundred gates, as sung by Homer?

Perhaps thou art a mason, and forbidden

By oath to tell the secrets of thy trade:

Then say, what secret melody was hidden

In Memnon’s statue, which at sunrise played?

Perhaps thou wert a Priest. If so my struggles

Are vain -- for priests ne'er owned their juggles.

Perchance that very hand, now pinioned flat,

Has hob-a-nobbed with Pharaoh, glass to glass;

Or dropped a half-penny in Homer’s hat

Or doffed thine own to let Queen Dido pass,

Or held, by Solomon’s own invitation,

A torch at the great Temple’s dedication.

I need not ask thee if that hand, when armed,

Has any Roman soldier mauled and knuckled,

For thou wast dead and buried and embalmed,

Ere Romulus and Remus had been suckled:

Antiquity appears to have begun

Long after thy primeval race was run...

Since first thy form was in this box extended,

We have, above-ground, seen some strange mutations:

The Roman empire has begun and ended,

New worlds have risen; we have lost old nations;

And countless kings have into dust been humbled,

Whilst not a fragment of they flesh has crumbled.

Didst thou not hear the pother o’er thy head,

When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses,

Marched armies o’er thy tomb with thundering tread;

O’erthrew Osiris, Osus, Apis, Isis,

And shook the Pyramids with fear and wonder,

When the gigantic Memnon fell asunder?

If the Tomb’s secrets may not be confessed,

The nature of thy private life unfold.

A heart has throbbed beneath that leathern breast,

And tears adown that dusky cheek have rolled.

Have children climbed those knees, and kissed that face?

What was thy name and station, age and race?

Statue of flesh! immortal of the dead!

Imperishable type of evanescence!

Posthumous man, who quitt’st thy native bed,

And standest undecayed within our presence,

Thou wilt hear nothing till the judgment morning,

When the great trump shall thrill thee with its warning!

Why should this worthless tegument endure,

If its undying guest be lost forever?

Oh let us keep the soul embalmed and pure

In living virtue, that when both must sever,

Although corruption may our frame consume,

The immortal spirit in the skies may bloom.

BHR Staff Commentary

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