The instruction of Ptah-Hotep: and Ke'gemni (1918) PDF ebook

The instruction of Ptah-Hotep: and, The instruction of Ke'gemni

The instruction of Ptah-Hotep:
The instruction of Ptah-Hotep: and Ke'gemni


The object of the editors of this series is a very definite one. They desire above all things that, in their humble way, these books shall be the ambassadors of goodwill and understanding between East and West, the old world of Thought, and the new of Action. In this endeavour, and in their own sphere, they are but followers of the highest example in the land. 

They are confident that a deeper knowledge of the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought may help to a revival of that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations of another creed and colour.

Excerpt from the introduction:

Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, Which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; Neither shall there be any remembrance Of things that are to come With those that shall come after. 

In these days, when all things and memories of the past are at length become not only subservient to but submerged by, the matters and needs of the immediate present, those paths of knowledge that lead into regions seemingly remote from such needs are somewhat discredited, and the aims of those that follow them whither they lead are regarded as quite out of touch with the real interests of life. 

Very greatly is this so with archaeology, and the study of ancient and curious tongues, and searchings into old thoughts on high and ever-insistent questions; a public which has hardly time to read more than its daily newspaper and its weekly novel has denounced — almost dismissed — them, with many other noble and wonderful things, as unpractical,' whatever that vague and hollow word may mean. 

As to those matters which lie very far back, concerning the lands of several thousand years ago, it is very generally held that they are the proper and peculiar province of specialists, dry-as-dusts, and persons with an irreducible minimum of human nature. It is thought that knowledge concerning them, not the blank ignorance regarding them that almost everywhere obtains, is a thing of which to be rather ashamed, a detrimental possession; in a word, that the subject is not only unprofitable (a grave offence), but also uninteresting, and therefore contemptible. 

This is a true estimate of general opinion, although there are those who will, for their own sakes, gainsay it. When, therefore, I state that one of the writings herein translated has an age of nearly six thousand years and that another is but five hundred years younger, it is likely that many will find this sufficient reason against further perusal, deeming it impossible that such things can possess attraction for one, not an enthusiast.

Yet so few are the voices across so great a span of years that those among them having anything to tell us should be welcome exceedingly; whereas, for the most part, they have cried in the wilderness of neglect hitherto, or fallen on ears filled with the clamour of more instant things. I could show if this were a fitting place, that Archaeology is not at all divorced from life, nor even devoid of emotion as subtle and strange, as swift and moving, like that experienced by those who love and follow Art. She, 

7Archaeology, is, for those who know her, full of such emotion; garbed in an imperishable glamour, she is raised far above the turmoil of the present on the wings of Imagination. Her eyes are sombre with the memory of the wisdom driven from her scattered sanctuaries; and at her lips, wonderful things strive for utterance. 

In her are gathered together the longings and the laughter, the fears and failures, the sins and splendours and achievements of innumerable generations of men; and by her, we are shown all the elemental and terrible passions of the unchanging soul of man, to which all cultures and philosophies are but garments to hide its nakedness; and thus in her, as in Art, some of us may realise ourselves. Withal she is heavy-hearted, making continual lamentation for the glory that has withered and old hopes without fulfilment; and all her habitations are laid waste. As for the true lover of all old and forgotten things, it may justly be said of him, as of the poet, Nascitur, non-fit. 

For the dreams and the wonder are with him from the beginning; and in early childhood, knowing as yet hardly the names of ancient peoples, he is conscious of, and yearns instinctively toward an immense and ever-receding past. 

With the one, as with the other, the unaccountable passion is so knitted into his soul that it will never, among a thousand distractions and adverse influences, entirely for- sake him; nor can such a one by willing cause it to come or to depart.

 He will live much in imagination, therein treading fair places now enwrapped in their inevitable shroud of windblown sand; building anew temples whose stones hardly remain one upon the other, consecrate to gods dead as their multitudes of worshippers; holding converse with the sages who, with all their lore, could not escape the ultimate oblivion: a spectator of splendid pageants, a ministrant at strange rites, a witness to vast tragedies, he also has admittance to the magical kingdom, to which is added the freedom of the city of Remembrance

Translator: Battiscombe George Gunn
Editor: L. CRANMER-BYNG. and  S. A. KAPADIA
Publication Date:1918


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