« PreviousContinue »
nocephalous ape; and the pig or hippopotamus is a damned soul which he is driving back to the nether world, to suffer the punishment of being shut up in the body of this filthy animal. In the left corner of the same plate are represented four birds with human heads, like the childish picture of cherubs, in the act of flapping their wings, which M. Jomard very happily conjectures to be so many souls of the blessed joyfully fluttering on their way to their final abode, after having passed the ordeal of the judgment-seat.-All this is very pretty, and might be very probable, if there was any truth in the copy of the original design in the tomb of the kings from which it purports to be taken. But it happens, that a gentleman, on whose accuracy and veracity we can fully rely, visited this tomb, and, unfortunately for M. Jomard's fidelity, these sweet little cherubs,' on being examined with a lighted torch, turned out to be the four heads of goats reversed, (not an unusual representation on the tombs,) the horns of which were mistaken by the French artist for the legs of birds, the ears for their tails, and the neck, where it is separated from the head, for their wings ;-this, it must be consessed, trenches a little on the boasted accuracy of the savans, and, what will grieve them still more, on the beautiful theory which had been so delightfully ingrafted on the basis of this painting, pronounced by M. Jomard to be ‘le dogme de la métempsycose mis en action.
Our information further states, that every thing contained in that work, from the tombs of the kings—and that part only had been compared on the spot-was exceedingly bad, both in the designs and in the colours, but especially in the latter, which, in the few prints that are coloured, are most perversely the direct contrary to what they are in the originals. For instance, in the two large prints of the Harp tomb, which bear the names of Jollois and Devilliers as vouchers for their accuracy, there is not a single tint of colouring as it ought to be. In the upper print the dress of the Harper is black, which ought to be white; the lines running down it, instead of being white, ought to be red. The colours of the harp itself are all wrongly disposed ; and the face of the capped head upon the instrument which is red, should be yellow; the cap, instead of yellow, should be red, and the beard, instead of being red, should be black. The ornament on the cap they have made blue, which ought to be red. The figure of the hero seated, which we are told was drawn on a scale, ought to be at least one-third higher, his head-dress mingling with the line of the blue at top. The figure itself, in the original, is of a black shade throughout, with the eye-brows, nails of the hands, &c. picked out in white: the French thought red a more appropriate colour; and where, in the original the naked black of the arms and legs is exhibited without ornament, M. Jollois and Devilliers have supplied their hero with a fine blue jacket and a pair of pantaloons of the same colour. The yellow body-dress ought to be blue, and the white breeches should have been yellow; the drapery behind the chair, red instead of blue. The side of the chair is not chequered with red, blue, and white squares, as the two 'ingénieurs des ponts et chaussées' have represented it, but ornamented with horizontal stripes of blue and black with a dotted line intervening; and the border at the bottom is as unlike that which the French have made it as black is to white. In fact, there is nothing in all Egypt similar to this imaginary border; neither is there
any such dress in the original as the red close-sleeved waistcoat and close pantaloons which are given in the lower print of the French savans, nor indeed does it appear that any such dress was ever in use among the ancient Egyptians. We also observe, on comparing Major Hayes's sketches of the painting in the ruins of Memnonium, which represents the storming of a fort, with the same subject as treated in the French work, that the men who have a sort of petticoat drapery in the one, are naked in the other, and vice versâ: which of the two is right, and which most perversely wrong, we may be able hereafter to determine ; but from the specimens given above, we can have little doubt on the subject.
Such is the boasted accuracy of that splendid and expensive work which was to supersede all that had been or ever should be written on the ancient arts, the sciences, and the antiquities of Egypt! Without wishing to derogate from its real merits, we venture to assert that there will be found more learning, science, and faithful description in Mr. Hamilton's Egyptiaca,' and more taste, feeling, and accuracy in the unpretending sketches of Major Hayes, which accompany it, than the whole corps of savans, engaged in that magnificent and unrivalled monument of literary vanity, bave yet been able to produce.
The paintings on the king's tomb at Thebes, containing the matchless sarcophagus now on its way to England, and which we stated to have been discovered by M. Belzoni, under the auspices of Mr. Salt, are described by the latter gentleman,who visited the tomb,as exquisitely beautiful. Assisted by Mr. Beechey, the son of the well-known artist of that name, he has, with great labour and a minute attention to outline and colouring, copied several of the paintings, which were coloured within the tomb by torch-light; when these shall be made public, we may be enabled to form a more correct opinion of the real state of ancient painting among the Egyptians, more especially as the freshness of these fresco paintings in this tomb is such, that, Mr. Salt says, there is no necessity to improve or restore:'-on the contrary,with every attention and effort, he found it impossible to equal the originals; which, he adds, as far as colours
go, throw all others completely in the back ground. The following remarks deserve to be recorded.
. The most minute attention and painful labour are not equal to give a faithful idea of the fascinating objects of these designs. The scale of colour in which they are painted is that of using pure vermilion, ochres, and indigo; and yet they are not gaudy, owing to the judicious balance of the colours, and the artful management of the blacks. It is quite obvious that they worked on a regular system, which had for its basis, as Mr. West would say, the colours of the rainbow, as there is not an ornament throughout their dresses where the red, yellow, and blue are not alternately intermingled, which produces a harmony that in some of the designs is really delicious.'
From the brief statement which we have given it will be seen that Mr. Salt has been indefatigable in his own researches, and spared no expense in encouraging those of others; we rejoice to find that, in return, he has possessed himself of a rich harvest of long buried treasures. Among others he has got down to Cairo the famous French stone with eight sculptured figures; another beautiful head of granite, not so large as that named the Young Memnon, but with a finer polish, and quite perfect; a sitting figure as large as life, of marble, and of exquisite workmansbip; several statues of basalt, besides thirty rolls of papyrus, and an innumerable list of smaller articles.
It is an interesting fact, that, on opening one of the tombs at Thebes, two statues of wood, a little larger than life, were discovered as perfect as if newly carved, the only decayed parts being the sockets to receive the eyes, which had been of metal, probably of copper.
We have a few words to add respecting Belzoni, whose death has been announced, prematurely we hope, in the public prints. Every inquiry which we have been able to make leads us to believe that the report is not correct; it was brought from Constantinople, and most probably meant to refer to the lamented Burckhardt: we trust, therefore, that it is not yet time to insert his name in the obituary of those valuable men who have lost their lives in the hazardous career of African enterprise. Our readers may, perhaps, not be displeased to learn a little of the history of this extraordinary man. Belzoni was born, we believe, in the Papal states. Of his youth no particulars have come to our knowledge ; but about nine years ago he was in Edinburgh, where he exhibited feats of strength, experi. ments in hydraulics, musical glasses, and phantasmagoria. He repeated the same course of experiments in Ireland and the Isle of Man ; whence he proceeded to Lisbon. Being then about twentyfive years of age, of the extraordinary height of six feet seven inches, well made and stout in proportion, with an animated and prepos.
sessing countenance, he was at once engaged, by the manager of the theatre of San Carlos, to appear in the play of Valentine and Orson, and again, during Lent, in the sacred drama of Sampson; in both of which, by feats of strength and activity, he gained the highest applause. At Madrid he performed before the king and the court. Leaving Spain he proceeded to Malta, where he fell in with Ismael Gibraltar, the agent of the pashaw of Egypt, who persuaded him to visit Cairo. Here the pashawengaged him to construct a machine for raising water out of the Nile to irrigate his gardens, for which he was to be paid at the rate of 800 piastres per month, besides a considerable reward, provided it should finally be found to answer the purpose. In the course of three months it was putin operation. The pashaw attended ; and three Arabs, with an Irish lad whom Belzoni had brought from Edinburgh, as a servant, were put into the large wheel to walk round and keep it in motion; at the second or third turn the Arabs became giddy and jumped out; the wheel, wanting its counterpoise, flew back, and the Irish servant, in attempting to escape, broke his thigh, and must have been killed, had not Belzoni caught hold of the circumference of the wheel, and, by his extraordinary strength, stopped its motion.
This accident was equivalent to a failure; and Belzoni now determined to try his fortune in search of antiquities in Upper Egypt; but just as he was preparing to depart, Mr. Salt arrived at Cairo. This gentleman, on the representation of Sheik Ibrahim, who had witnessed his extraordinary powers, conceived him at once to be the person most proper to employ in the arduous attempt of bringing down the head of the Young Memnon from Thebes. Belzoni, after some consideration, accordingly relinquished the plan of travelling on his own account, and engaged himself to Mr. Salt and the Sheik, on an enterprise that was by many deemed hopeless, but which, as we formerly stated, he succeeded in accomplishing (after six months of unremitted exertions) by his uncommon dexterity in the management of the Arab peasantry, by whom alone he was assisted. From this time he was regularly employed by Mr. Salt in making discoveries, the result of which we have already communicated.
An instance of his determined perseverance, and of the contidence which he inspires in others, well deserves to be mentioned. In his Nubian journey he was accompanied by Mr. Beechey. The front of the temple of Ipsambul, with its colossal statues just raising their gigantic heads above the mass of sand in which the whole front was nearly buried, was too tempting an object to be left unexplored. He immediately engaged a party of natives to set about uncovering it; they laboured at it a few days, making very little progress, when they stopped, alleging that the feast of Rhamadan had commenced, and that it was unlawful to work : the sheik, or aga, who had permitted him to engage these people, corroborated this statement; and it soon appeared that no argument would prevail on them to continue their labour. Belzoni, therefore, with Mr. Beechey and the Irish servant, determined to set about the laborious operation themselves; but they soon discovered that the aga, to deter them from the further prosecution of the enterprise, had prohibited the supply of provisions of every description, hoping by this measure to induce them to depart, and return the following season to spend more money among his people. Recollecting, however, that they had still remaining in their boat a bag of durrah (millet). the little party determined to persevere in their work, and after twenty-one days of very severe labour, during which they had nothing but durrah and Nile water to live upon, they succeeded in uncovering and penetrating into the interior of the temple of Ipsambul,—which M. Jomard is pleased to say had been previously visited by Mr. Thomas Legh, though Mr. Thomas Legb, when he wrote his book, was as unconscious of its existence, as M. Jomard himself was, until he read the account of it in the letter of Belzoni to M. Visconti.
Art. IX.--Lectures on the English Poets. Delivered at the
Surrey Institution. By William Hazlitt. 8vo. pp. 331.Lon
don. 1818. MR.
R. Hazlitt seems to have bound himself, in imitation of Han
nibal, to wage everlasting war, not, indeed, against Rome, but against accurate reasoning, just observation, and precise or even intelligible language. We have traced him in his two former predatory incursions on taste and common sense. He has now taken the field a third time, and with a more hostile aspect than ever. Had he written on any other subject, we should scarcely have thought of watching his movements. But though his book is dull, his theme is pleasing, and interests in spite of the author. As we read we forget Mr. Hazlitt, to think of those concerning whom he writes. In fact, few works of poetical criticism are so deplorably bad, as not to be perused with some degree of pleasure. The remarks may be trite, or paradoxical, or unintelligible; they may be expressed in a vague and inanimate style: but the mind is occasionally awakened and relieved by the recurrence of extracts, in which the powers of taste and genius are displayed.
This is the case with Mr. Hazlitt's book. We are not aware that it contains a single just observation, which has not been expressed by other writers more briefly, more perspicuously, and more elegantly. The passages which he has quoted are, with one