At the entrance to the temple of Medinet-Abu, near the small groups of palms and the few brown houses, often have I turned and looked back across the plain before entering through the first beautiful doorway, to see the patient backs and right sides of the Colossi, the far-off, dreamy mountains beyond Karnak and the Nile. And again, when I have entered and walked a little distance, I have looked back at the almost magical picture framed in the doorway; at the bottom of the picture a layer of brown earth, then a strip of sharp green - the cultivated ground - then a blur of pale yellow, then a darkness of trees, and just the hint of a hill far, very far away. And always, in looking, I have thought of the "Sposalizio" of Raphael in the Brera at Milan, of the tiny dream of blue country framed by the temple doorway beyond the Virgin and Saint Joseph. The doorways of the temples of Egypt are very noble, and nowhere have I been more struck by their nobility than in Medinet-Abu. Set in huge walls of massive masonry, which rise slightly above them on each side, with a projecting cornice, in their simplicity they look extraordinarily classical, in their sobriety mysterious, and in their great solidity quite wonderfully elegant. And they always suggest to me that they are giving access to courts and chambers which still, even in our times, are dedicated to secret cults - to the cults of Isis, of Hathor, and of Osiris.

Close to the right of the front of Medinet-Abu there are trees covered with yellow flowers; beyond are fields of doura. Behind the temple is a sterility which makes one think of metal. A great calm enfolds the place. The buildings are of the same color as the Colossi. When I speak of the buildings, I include the great temple, the pavilion of Rameses III., and the little temple, which together may be said to form Medinet-Abu. Whereas the temple of Luxor seems to open its arms to life, and the great fascination of the Ramesseum comes partly from its invasion by every traveling air and happy sun-ray, its openness and freedom, Medinet-Abu impresses by its colossal air of secrecy, by its fortress-like seclusion. Its walls are immensely thick, and are covered with figures the same color as the walls, some of them very tall. Thick-set, massive, heavy, almost warlike it is. Two seated statues within, statues with animals' faces, steel-colored, or perhaps a little darker than that, look like savage warders ready to repel intrusion.

Passing between them, delicately as Agag, one enters an open space with ruins, upon the right of which is a low, small temple, grey in hue, and covered with inscriptions, which looks almost bowed under its tremendous weight of years. From this dignified, though tiny, veteran there comes a perpetual sound of birds. The birds in Egypt have no reverence for age. Never have I seen them more restless, more gay, or more impertinent, than in the immemorial ruins of the ancient land. Beyond is an enormous portal, on the lofty ceiling of which still linger traces of faded red and blue, which gives access to a great hall with rows of mighty columns, those on the left hand round, those on the right square, and almost terribly massive. There is in these no grace, as in the giant lotus columns of Karnak. Prodigious, heavy, barbaric, they are like a hymn in stone to Strength. There is something brutal in their aspect, which again makes one think of war, of assaults repelled, hordes beaten back like waves by a sea-wall. And still another great hall, with more gigantic columns, lies in the sun beyond, and a doorway through which seems to stare fiercely the edge of a hard and fiery mountain. Although one is roofed by the sky, there is something oppressive here; an imprisoned feeling comes over one. I could never be fond of Medinet-Abu, as I am fond of Luxor, of parts of Karnak, of the whole of delicious, poetical Philae. The big pylons, with their great walls sloping inward, sand-colored, and glowing with very pale yellow in the sun, the resistant walls, the brutal columns, the huge and almost savage scale of everything, always remind me of the violence in men, and also - I scarcely know why - make me think of the North, of sullen Northern castles by the sea, in places where skies are grey, and the white of foam and snow is married in angry nights.

And yet in Medinet-Abu there reigns a splendid calm - a calm that sometimes seems massive, resistant, as the columns and the walls. Peace is certainly inclosed by the stones that call up thoughts of war, as if, perhaps, their purpose had been achieved many centuries ago, and they were quit of enemies for ever. Rameses III. is connected with Medinet-Abu. He was one of the greatest of the Egyptian kings, and has been called the "last of the great sovereigns of Egypt." He ruled for thirty-one years, and when, after a first visit to Medinet- Abu, I looked into his records, I was interested to find that his conquests and his wars had "a character essentially defensive." This defensive spirit is incarnated in the stones of these ruins. One reads in them something of the soul of this king who lived twelve hundred years before Christ, and who desired, "in remembrance of his Syrian victories," to give to his memorial temple an outward military aspect. I noticed a military aspect at once inside this temple; but if you circle the buildings outside it is more unmistakable. For the east front has a battlemented wall, and the battlements are shield-shaped. This fortress, or migdol, a name which the ancient Egyptians borrowed from the nomadic tribes of Syria, is called the "Pavilion of Rameses III.," and his principal battles are represented upon its walls. The monarch does not hesitate to speak of himself in terms of praise, suggesting that he was like the God Mentu, who was the Egyptian war god, and whose cult at Thebes was at one period more important even than was the cult of Amun, and also plainly hinting that he was a brave fellow. "I, Rameses the King," he murmurs, "behaved as a hero who knows his worth." If hieroglyphs are to be trusted, various Egyptian kings of ancient times seem to have had some vague suspicion of their own value, and the walls of Medinet-Abu are, to speak sincerely, one mighty boast. In his later years the king lived in peace and luxury, surrounded by a vicious and intriguing Court, haunted by magicians, hags, and mystery-mongers. Dealers in magic may still be found on the other side of the river, in happy Luxor. I made the acquaintance of two when I was there, one of whom offered for a couple of pounds to provide me with a preservative against all such dangers as beset the traveller in wild places. In order to prove its efficacy he asked me to come to his house by night, bringing a dog and my revolver with me. He would hang the charm about the dog's neck, and I was then to put six shots into the animal's body. He positively assured me that the dog would be uninjured. I half-promised to come and, when night began to fall, looked vaguely about for a dog. At last I found one, but it howled so dismally when I asked Ibrahim Ayyad to take possession of it for experimental purposes, that I weakly gave up the project, and left the magician clamoring for his hundred and ninety-five piastres.

Its warlike aspect gives a special personality to Medinet-Abu. The shield-shaped battlements; the courtyards, with their brutal columns, narrowing as they recede towards the mountains; the heavy gateways, with superimposed chambers; the towers; quadrangular bastion to protect, inclined basement to resist the attacks of sappers and cause projectiles to rebound - all these things contribute to this very definite effect.

I have heard travelers on the Nile speak piteously of the confusion wakened in their minds by a hurried survey of many temples, statues, monuments, and tombs. But if one stays long enough this confusion fades happily away, and one differentiates between the antique personalities of Ancient Egypt almost as easily as one differentiates between the personalities of one's familiar friends. Among these personalities Medinet-Abu is the warrior, standing like Mentu, with the solar disk, and the two plumes erect above his head of a hawk, firmly planted at the foot of the Theban mountains, ready to repel all enemies, to beat back all assaults, strong and determined, powerful and brutally serene.