"Pharaoh's Bed," which stands alone close to the Nile on the eastern side of the island, is not one of those rugged, majestic buildings, full of grandeur and splendor, which can bear, can "carry off," as it were, a cruelly imposed ugliness without being affected as a whole. It is, on the contrary, a small, almost an airy, and a femininely perfect thing, in which a singular loveliness of form was combined with a singular loveliness of color. The spell it threw over you was not so much a spell woven of details as a spell woven of divine uniformity. To put it in very practical language, "Pharaoh's Bed" was "all of a piece." The form was married to the color. The color seemed to melt into the form. It was indeed a bed in which the soul that worships beauty could rest happily entranced. Nothing jarred. Antiquaries say that apparently this building was left unfinished. That may be so. But for all that it was one of the most finished things in Egypt, essentially a thing to inspire within one the "perfect calm that is Greek." The blighting touch of the Nile, which has changed the beautiful pale yellow of the stone of the lower part of the building to a hideous and dreary grey - which made me think of a steel knife on which liquid has been spilt and allowed to run - has destroyed the uniformity, the balance, the faultless melody lifted up by form and color. And so it is with the temple. It is, as it were, cut in two by the intrusion into it of this hideous, mottled complexion left by the receded water. Everywhere one sees disease on the walls and columns, almost blotting out bas-reliefs, giving to their active figures a morbid, a sickly look. The effect is specially distressing in the open court that precedes the temple dedicated to the Lady of Philae. In this court, which is at the southern end of the island, the Nile at certain seasons is now forced to rise very nearly as high as the capitals of many of the columns. The consequence of this is that here the disease seems making rapid strides. One feels it is drawing near to the heart, and that the poor, doomed invalid may collapse at any moment.

Yes, there is much to make one sad at Philae. But how much of pure beauty there is left - of beauty that merely protests against any further outrage!

As there is something epic in the grandeur of the Lotus Hall at Karnak, so there is something lyrical in the soft charm of the Philae temple. Certain things or places, certain things in certain places, always suggest to my mind certain people in whose genius I take delight - who have won me, and moved me by their art. Whenever I go to Philae, the name of Shelley comes to me. I scarcely could tell why. I have no special reason to connect Shelley with Philae. But when I see that almost airy loveliness of stone, so simply elegant, so, somehow, spring-like in its pale-colored beauty, its happy, daffodil charm, with its touch of the Greek - the sensitive hand from Attica stretched out over Nubia - I always think of Shelley. I think of Shelley the youth who dived down into the pool so deep that it seemed he was lost for ever to the sun. I think of Shelley the poet, full of a lyric ecstasy, who was himself like an embodied

"Longing for something afar From the sphere of our sorrow."

Lyrical Philae is like a temple of dreams, and of all poets Shelley might have dreamed the dream and have told it to the world in a song.

For all its solidity, there are a strange lightness and grace in the temple of Philae; there is an elegance you will not find in the other temples of Egypt. But it is an elegance quite undefiled by weakness, by any sentimentality. (Even a building, like a love-lorn maid, can be sentimental.) Edward FitzGerald once defined taste as the feminine of genius. Taste prevails in Philae, a certain delicious femininity that seduces the eyes and the heart of man. Shall we call it the spirit of Isis?

I have heard a clever critic and antiquarian declare that he is not very fond of Philae; that he feels a certain "spuriousness" in the temple due to the mingling of Greek with Egyptian influences. He may be right. I am no antiquarian, and, as a mere lover of beauty, I do not feel this "spuriousness." I can see neither two quarrelling strengths nor any weakness caused by division. I suppose I see only the beauty, as I might see only the beauty of a women bred of a handsome father and mother of different races, and who, not typical of either, combined in her features and figure distinguishing merits of both. It is true that there is a particular pleasure which is roused in us only by the absolutely typical - the completely thoroughbred person or thing. It may be a pleasure not caused by beauty, and it may be very keen, nevertheless. When it is combined with the joy roused in us by all beauty, it is a very pure emotion of exceptional delight. Philae does not, perhaps, give this emotion. But it certainly has a lovableness that attaches the heart in a quite singular degree. The Philae-lover is the most faithful of lovers. The hold of his mistress upon him, once it has been felt, is never relaxed. And in his affection for Philae there is, I think, nearly always a rainbow strain of romance.

When we love anything, we love to be able to say of the object of our devotion, "There is nothing like it." Now, in all Egypt, and I suppose in all the world there is nothing just like Philae. There are temples, yes; but where else is there a bouquet of gracious buildings such as these gathered in such a holder as this tiny, raft-like isle? And where else are just such delicate and, as I have said, light and almost feminine elegance and charm set in the midst of such severe sterility? Once, beyond Philae, the great Cataract roared down from the wastes of Nubia into the green fertility of Upper Egypt. It roars no longer. But still the masses of the rocks, and still the amber and the yellow sands, and still the iron-colored hills, keep guard round Philae. And still, despite the vulgar desecration that has turned Shellal into a workmen's suburb and dowered it with a railway-station, there is a mystery in Philae, and the sense of isolation that only an island gives. Even now one can forget in Philae - forget, after a while, and in certain parts of its buildings, the presence of the grey disease; forget the threatening of the altruists, who desire to benefit humanity by clearing as much beauty out of humanity's abiding- place as possible; forget the fact of the railway, except when the shriek of the engine floats over the water to one's ears; forget economic problems, and the destruction that their solving brings upon the silent world of things whose "use," denied, unrecognized, or laughed at, to man is in their holy beauty, whose mission lies not upon the broad highways where tramps the hungry body, but upon the secret, shadowy byways where glides the hungry soul.

Yes, one can forget even now in the hall of the temple of Isis, where the capricious graces of color, where, like old and delicious music in the golden strings of a harp, dwells a something - what is it? A murmur, or a perfume, or a breathing? - of old and vanished years when forsaken gods were worshipped. And one can forget in the chapel of Hathor, on whose wall little Horus is born, and in the grey hounds' chapel beside it. One can forget, for one walks in beauty.

Lovely are the doorways in Philae, enticing are the shallow steps that lead one onward and upward; gracious the yellow towers that seem to smile a quiet welcome. And there is one chamber that is simply a place of magic - the hall of the flowers.

It is this chamber which always makes me think of Philae as a lovely temple of dreams, this silent, retired chamber, where some fabled princess might well have been touched to a long, long sleep of enchantment, and lain for years upon years among the magical flowers - the lotus, and the palm, and the papyrus.

In my youth it made upon me an indelible impression. Through intervening years, filled with many new impressions, many wanderings, many visions of beauty in other lands, that retired, painted chamber had not faded from my mind - or shall I say from my heart? There had seemed to me within it something that was ineffable, as in a lyric of Shelley's there is something that is ineffable, or in certain pictures of Boecklin, such as "The Villa by the Sea." And when at last, almost afraid and hesitating, I came into it once more, I found in it again the strange spell of old enchantment.

It seems as if this chamber had been imagined by a poet, who had set it in the centre of the temple of his dreams. It is such a spontaneous chamber that one can scarcely imagine it more than a day and a night in the building. Yet in detail it is lovely; it is finished and strangely mighty; it is a lyric in stone, the most poetical chamber, perhaps, in the whole of Egypt. For Philae I count in Egypt, though really it is in Nubia.

One who has not seen Philae may perhaps wonder how a tall chamber of solid stone, containing heavy and soaring columns, can be like a lyric of Shelley's, can be exquisitely spontaneous, and yet hold a something of mystery that makes one tread softly in it, and fear to disturb within it some lovely sleeper of Nubia, some Princess of the Nile. He must continue to wonder. To describe this chamber calmly, as I might, for instance, describe the temple of Derr, would be simply to destroy it. For things ineffable cannot be fully explained, or not be fully felt by those the twilight of whose dreams is fitted to mingle with their twilight. They who are meant to love with ardor /se passionnent pour la passion/. And they who are meant to take and to keep the spirit of a dream, whether it be hidden in a poem, or held in the cup of a flower, or enfolded in arms of stone, will surely never miss it, even though they can hear roaring loudly above its elfin voice the cry of directed waters rushing down to Upper Egypt.

How can one disentangle from their tapestry web the different threads of a spell? And even if one could, if one could hold them up, and explain, "The cause of the spell is that this comes in contact with this, and that this, which I show you, blends with, fades into, this," how could it advantage any one? Nothing could be made clearer, nothing be really explained. The ineffable is, and must ever remain, something remote and mysterious.

And so one may say many things of this painted chamber of Philae, and yet never convey, perhaps never really know, the innermost cause of its charm. In it there is obvious beauty of form, and a seizing beauty of color, beauty of sunlight and shadow, of antique association. This turquoise blue is enchanting, and Isis was worshipped here. What has the one to do with the other? Nothing; and yet how much! For is not each of these facts a thread in the tapestry web of the spell? The eyes see the rapture of this very perfect blue. The imagination hears, as if very far off, the solemn chanting of priests and smells the smoke of strange perfumes, and sees the long, aquiline nose and the thin, haughty lips of the goddess. And the color becomes strange to the eyes as well as very lovely, because, perhaps, it was there - it almost certainly was there - when from Constantinople went forth the decree that all Egypt should be Christian; when the priests of the sacred brotherhood of Isis were driven from their temple.

Isis nursing Horus gave way to the Virgin and the Child. But the cycles spin away down "the ringing grooves of change." From Egypt has passed away that decreed Christianity. Now from the minaret the muezzin cries, and in palm-shaded villages I hear the loud hymns of earnest pilgrims starting on the journey to Mecca. And ever this painted chamber shelters its mystery of poetry, its mystery of charm. And still its marvellous colors are fresh as in the far-off pagan days, and the opening lotus-flowers, and the closed lotus-buds, and the palm and the papyrus, are on the perfect columns. And their intrinsic loveliness, and their freshness, and their age, and the mysteries they have looked on - all these facts are part of the spell that governs us to-day. In Edfu one is enclosed in a wonderful austerity. And one can only worship. In Philae one is wrapped in a radiance of color and one can only dream. For there is coral-pink, and there a wonderful green, "like the green light that lingers in the west," and there is a blue as deep as the blue of a tropical sea; and there are green-blue and lustrous, ardent red. And the odd fantasy in the coloring, is not that like the fantasy in the temple of a dream? For those who painted these capitals for the greater glory of Isis did not fear to depart from nature, and to their patient worship a blue palm perhaps seemed a rarely sacred thing. And that palm is part of the spell, and the reliefs upon the walls and even the Coptic crosses that are cut into the stone.

But at the end, one can only say that this place is indescribable, and not because it is complex or terrifically grand, like Karnak. Go to it on a sunlit morning, or stand in it in late afternoon, and perhaps you will feel that it "suggests" you, and that it carries you away, out of familiar regions into a land of dreams, where among hidden ways the soul is lost in magic. Yes, you are gone.

To the right - for one, alas! cannot live in a dream for ever - is a lovely doorway through which one sees the river. Facing it is another doorway, showing a fragment of the poor, vivisected island, some ruined walls, and still another doorway in which, again, is framed the Nile. Many people have cut their names upon the walls of Philae. Once, as I sat alone there, I felt strongly attracted to look upward to a wall, as if some personality, enshrined within the stone, were watching me, or calling. I looked, and saw written "Balzac."

Philae is the last temple that one visits before he gives himself to the wildness of the solitudes of Nubia. It stands at the very frontier. As one goes up the Nile, it is like a smiling adieu from the Egypt one is leaving. As one comes down, it is like a smiling welcome. In its delicate charm I feel something of the charm of the Egyptian character. There are moments, indeed, when I identify Egypt with Philae. For in Philae one must dream; and on the Nile, too, one must dream. And always the dream is happy, and shot through with radiant light - light that is as radiant as the colors in Philae's temple. The pylons of Ptolemy smile at you as you go up or come down the river. And the people of Egypt smile as they enter into your dream. A suavity, too, is theirs. I think of them often as artists, who know their parts in the dream-play, who know exactly their function, and how to fulfil it rightly. They sing, while you are dreaming, but it is an under-song, like the murmur of an Eastern river far off from any sea. It never disturbs, this music, but it helps you in your dream. And they are softly gay. And in their eyes there is often the gleam of sunshine, for they are the children - but not grown men - of the sun. That, indeed, is one of the many strange things in Egypt - the youthfulness of its age, the childlikeness of its almost terrible antiquity. One goes there to look at the oldest things in the world and to feel perpetually young - young as Philae is young, as a lyric of Shelley's is young, as all of our day-dreams are young, as the people of Egypt are young.

Oh, that Egypt could be kept as it is, even as it is now; that Philae could be preserved even as it is now! The spoilers are there, those blithe modern spirits, so frightfully clever and capable, so industrious, so determined, so unsparing of themselves and - of others! Already they are at work "benefiting Egypt." Tall chimneys begin to vomit smoke along the Nile. A damnable tram-line for little trolleys leads one toward the wonderful colossi of Memnon. Close to Kom Ombos some soul imbued with romance has had the inspiration to set up - a factory! And Philae - is it to go?

Is beauty then of no value in the world? Is it always to be the prey of modern progress? Is nothing to be considered sacred; nothing to be left untouched, unsmirched by the grimy fingers of improvement? I suppose nothing.

Then let those who still care to dream go now to Philae's painted chamber by the long reaches of the Nile; go on, if they will, to the giant forms of Abu-Simbel among the Nubian sands. And perhaps they will think with me, that in some dreams there is a value greater than the value that is entered in any bank-book, and they will say, with me, however uselessly:

"Leave to the world some dreams, some places in which to dream; for if it needs dams to make the grain grow in the stretches of land that were barren, and railways and tram-lines, and factory chimneys that vomit black smoke in the face of the sun, surely it needs also painted chambers of Philae and the silence that comes down from Isis."