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probably the crater of a volcano not very active, Though not extinct.
There is one mountain that claims our notice on account of the remarkable substance which it produces. This substance is called mummy.
F. Mummy! Has it anything to do with mummies like those that come from Egypt?
U.O. Oh, no! The name which we give the substance “ mummy," is corrupted from the Persian word múm-i-ayi. Mum means “ wax," and Ayi is the name of a village near the mountain. So the name signifies nothing more than " the wax of Ayi.” The mountain which produces it is situated about twenty miles west of Dareb, in the province of Laristan. Its appearance is not at all remarkable; and it owes its fame entirely to the mummy which oozes in small quantities from the rock in the form of a blackish pitchy matter, which hardens to a wax-like substance on exposure to the air. The Persians tell the most marvellous things of the virtues of mummy. They believe that it joins broken bones together again in a few minutes; that it heals bruises and cuts almost immediately; and that when taken inwardly it iz a most sovereign remedy in many diseases.
H. But is all this true, sir? · U.O. Certainly not. It may possibly be good in some cases; but it is impossible that it should have the marvellous effects which the people attribute to it. I have often argued the point with them. I told them that I had applied some of it to the broken leg of my dog, and that it had done no good.
H. But did you do so ?
0.0. Certainly, certainly, Master Henry! Of course I did not tell them that I had done what I had not done. I applied it to the leg of poor Rover, not because I supposed it would mend the broken bone, but that when I spoke to the Persians on the subject, I might have a proof to bring forward to show that they were mistaken.
F. Well, sir, what did they say ?
U. O. Oh, they said that dogs were unclean animals, and that the mummy could not be expected to do them any good. This silenced me for the time; but one day my servant, Peter, broke one of his fingers in helping to load a mule that carried my luggage. The Persians had persuaded him to believe nearly as much as they did about mummy; so he begged me to apply some of it to his finger. I did so; but it
did not set the bone. When I afterwards mentioned this to the Persians they had an answer quite ready. They said that as Peter was not a true believer, that is, a Mohammedan, and being, moreover, a Frank or European, he was as unclean as a dog, which was the reason that the mummy would not relieve him. Again I was silenced; but I made up my mind to apply some of the drug to any clean animal which might be so unfortunate as to break a bone. I had soon an opportunity; for a few days after this one of our hawks had its right leg broken in attempting to seize a hare*. I immediately applied the mummy with as bad success as before.
F. How confused the Persians must have been!
U. O. Not they, indeed! They told me that as mummy was rare and costly, a great deal of stuff not worth a farthing was palmed off upon inexperienced persons for the true drug; and as my mummy had not mended the poor bird's broken limb, it was quite clear that I had been imposed upon by the person who sold it to me. I never in my life knew a Persian to be at a loss * See the chapter on Birds towards the end of this volume.
for an excuse; and after this I left them to their own opinions about mummy. They were perfectly right in saying that much inferior and spurious stuff is sold for the true mummy; but I had every reason to believe that mine was the best which it was possible to procure.
H. But is the mummy so costly and rare as the men said ?
U. O. Quite so. Even princes, in the East, consider a very small quantity a valuable present. I have read of an ounce of it being sent in a gold box as a present from the King of Persia to the Empress Catherine of Russia; and, more lately, a Persian Ambassador brought a small quantity to this country for the late Queen Charlotte. I have been asked so much as eight guineas for a little bit of this substance which might have been contained in the shell of a walnut. The mummy produced at this mountain belongs to the king. The quantity obtained is exceedingly small. It is collected with great care every year by properly authorized persons, by whom it is, with equal care, forwarded to the royal treasury.
About twenty miles to the south of the town of Tabreez, in the north of Persia, there is a
mountain called Shibili, which is chiefly remarkable for its extraordinary cavern, called by the natives the Cave of Iscandriah, or the Cave of Alexander, as they consider it to have been excavated by the orders of that conqueror when he was in Persia. It is evidently, however, at least in part, the work of nature. The approach to the cave is through a fissure, from twenty-five to thirty yards wide, in the mountain, and is strewed with large fragments of rock. The cavern consists of two apartments. The first is nearly thirty-six paces square, and on the eastern side of it there is a rude entrance (bearing, however, some marks of the chisel) to a second cavern, which descends to a considerable depth and distance towards the south. What the depth and distance is I cannot tell; for it is impossible to explore it, as it is full of a vapour which is fatal to animal life. I had sufficient proof of this; for within and about the entrance the ground was strewed with feathers, bones, and carcases, which were the remains of birds, beasts, and reptiles that had ventured too far in, and perished. The men, however, who had guided me to the cave came prepared to prove still further the effects of the vapour. Before I was