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The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879

Asserting that in the year 2170 B



[43] It seems to me not improbable that the level was determined by simply flooding (though to a very small depth only, of course) the entire area to be levelled--not only the pavement level, but higher levels as the pyramid was raised layer by layer. By completing the outside of each layer first, an enclosed space capable of receiving the water would be formed (the flooding being required once only for each layer), and when the level had been taken the water could be allowed to run off by the interior passages to the well which Piazzi Smyth considers to be symbolical of the bottomless pit.

[44] The irregular descending passage long known as the well, which communicates between the ascending passage and the underground chamber, enables us to ascertain how high the rock rises into the pyramid at this particular part of the base. We thus learn that the rock rises in this place, at any rate, thirty or forty feet above the basal plane.

[45] There is a statement perfectly startling in its inaccuracy, in a chapter of Blake's "Astronomical Myths," derived from Mr. Haliburton's researches, asserting that in the year 2170 B.C. the Pleiades were "_exactly at that height that they could be seen in the direction of the Southward-pointing passage of the pyramid_." The italics are not mine. As this passage pointed 33-2/3 deg.,

or thereabouts, below (that is south of) the equator, and the Pleiades were then some 3-2/3 deg. north of the equator, the passage certainly did not then point to the Pleiades. Nor has there been any time since the world began when the Pleiades were anywhere near the direction of the southward pointing passage. In fact they have never been more than 20 deg. south of the equator. The statement follows immediately after another to the surprising effect that in the year 2170 B.C. "the Pleiades _really_ commenced the spring by their midnight culmination." The only comment an astronomer can make on this startling assertion is to repeat with emphasis the word italicized by Mr. Haliburton (or Mr. Blake?). The Pleiades being then in conjunction with what is now called the first point of Aries, culminated at noon, not at midnight, at the time of the vernal equinox.

[46] This date is sometimes given earlier, but when account is taken of the proper motion of these stars we get about the date above mentioned. I cannot understand how Dr. Ball, Astronomer Royal for Ireland, has obtained the date 2248 B.C., unless he has taken the proper motion of Alcyone the wrong way. The proper motion of this star during the last 4000 years has been such as to increase the star's distance from the equinoctial colure; and therefore, of course, the actual interval of time since the star was on the colure is less than it would be calculated to be if the proper motion were neglected.



Much astonishment has been expressed of late, by those who are too apt to forget the main facts even of contemporary history, that under "so benevolent a prince as Alexander II." the most fearful conspiracies should have become rife. This view of the situation shows a misconception of the whole system of government in Russia, and more especially of the character of the ruling Autocrat, as it has been formed by his education and by the ever-worsening course of his reign. For the proper understanding of what has occurred within the last twelve years or so, we must consequently go back for a moment to Alexander's early training and antecedents. No despotic system can be judged without a knowledge of personal facts relating to its bearer. A sketch of the character of Alexander II. and of his strange acts of "benevolence," will make it clear to the commonest comprehension why his antagonists should at last have met him by wild deeds of conspiracy.

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