Imagini ale paginilor

(the learned Egyptian historian) nor Sanconiathon, and still less to Herodotus and his followers in profane history; we may at once refer to the Holy Bible, —merely remarking, as a necessary clue, that all the sounder chronologists of the present day arrive at the conclusion, that the most ancient of the Egyptian monuments are undoubtedly those of Lower Egypt. Here, then, are salient points in the misty past ; for these structures shew geologically, that even in those remote times the Delta was fit for agriculture.

It is difficult to enter upon the probable period of these vestiges, without becoming entangled in the deductions of Archbishop Usher; for Champollion and Biot have both arrived at the extraordinary conclusion, that the use of a calendar, founded on astronomical calculations, was known at Thebes so far back as B.C. 3285. From admirable approximations, the epoch of “Menei," or Menes, is placed at about eight hundred years before the visit of Abraham to Egypt; first, by Professor Renwick's astronomical reduction of Herodotus, it was B.C. 2890 ; by Rosellini's reduction of Syncellus, B.C. 2776; by Champollion Figeac (Fréret's calculation), B.C. 2782; and by Gliddon’s reduction of Manetho, 2715. Considering the difficulties which beset the inquirer, these results are comparatively unanimous; and Mr. Gliddon's adoption of B.C. 2750, as a well-sifted average afforded by a long historiographical investigation, is probably close to the truth.

Conjecture has rioted most fantastically as to the object and uses of the Pyramids, but the subject remains a mystery. The name Suphis (Cheops) has been found in the great pyramid by Colonel Howard Vyse, which, with some other indications, strengthen the generally received supposition that these edifices were constructed for interment; and some late explorers have assumed credit for pronouncing the mounds on the adjacent ground to be tumuli, and sepulchral remains. But Dr. Lee had long before shewn me the views and plans he had made of these “tombs" nearly forty years ago : and the celebrated Orientalist, Von IIammer-Purgstall, reviewing Colonel Vyse's work in the Jahrbücher der Literatur, for July 1843, makes this reclamation : “ The greatest merit of the Colonel consists in his having made drawings of all the tombs which surround the great pyramid, which are added to the plan of its situation at the beginning of the first volume. Yet the first honour of making such remarks and plans does not belong to the Colonel, but to his countryman, Mr. John Fiott (Lee), Travelling Fellow of the University of Cambridge, who communicated a sketch of the town of tombs around the great pyramid to the writer more than a quarter of a century ago; by whom it was made known in the 81st volume of this Journal.” *

It is acknowledged that Pharoah was a title common to the Kings of Egypt, and dignified by its great antiquity; being originally Phrà, the Sun. From the earliest mention of the one

one who reigned in Abraham's time, B.C. 1921, to the slaying of the last King Psammikeritis, by Cambyses, a period of fourteen hundred years, a regal succession continued unbroken : and, if Josephus is here to be implicitly relied on, the antiquity of their

, sovereigns is actually traceable as far back as two thousand three hundred years before our era commenced. Now among a primitive people, the word king may allude to any barbarian who happens to be the elder, the mere

, head of a clan, or an expert man-slayer—as with the host of sovereigns along the coast of Guinca : but the Pharoahs were incontestibly rich, powerful, and munificent. In the inimitable history of Joseph-Genesis xxxix. to L.there is a most accurate description of the splendour and character of a royal court three thousand five hundred and sixty years ago; together with the reception of Joseph's family and kindred, and the largesses bestowed

The circumstance and pathos with which the introduction of Joseph's father into Pharoah's presence is told, together with the death and burial of the aged patriarch, all tend to shew the signal advancement and

upon them.


“ Das grösste Verdienst des Obersten besteht wohl in der genauen Aufnahme aller die grossen Pyramiden umgebenden Gräber, welche auf dem Situations plane gleich Anfangs des ersten Bandes aufgezeichnet sind; iibrigens gebührt die erste Ehre solcher Bemerkung und Situations zeichnung nicht dem Obersten, sondern seinem Landsmanne, Hrn. John Fiott, Travelling Fellow of the University of Cambridge, welcher eine Skizze dieser um der grossen Pyramiden angelegten Gräberstadt dem Prec. vor mehr als einem Viertel Jahrhundert mitgetheilt und dieser im Lxxxi. Bande dieser Jahrbücher bekannt gemacht hat."

refinement of the government of Egypt at that period. In accounting for the mental endowments of Moses, ages afterwards, we are told in the Bible, that he was versed in all the wisdom of that country; and the learning of Solomon is similarly mentioned.

Respecting the riches of Egypt, the Sacred writings are confirmed by the statements of all the earliest historians: and imagination is left to guess at the ages requisite for a nation to arrive at such an acme of opulence, science, and civilization. When Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, invaded Egypt about B.C. 525, he caused all the temples of Thebes, which in that great city were very numerous, to be pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground.

, We may judge of the richness of those fanes by the valuables saved from the flames, which amounted to the sum of three hundred talents of gold, and two thousand three hundred of silver, amounting together-taking the silver talent at one hundred and ninety-three pounds fifteen shillings, and the gold at sixteen times its weight of silver—to nearly one million and a half sterling He likewise carried away the famous circle of gold that encompassed the surpassingly magnificent tomb of King Osymandyas, reported to have been three hundred and sixty-five cubits in circumference, and one in thickness (about one hundred and eighty-two English feet in diameter), and on which were represented the motions of the constellations and planets for every day in the year.

From the time of this memorable conquest, the most refined of the Greeks were in the practice of travelling into Egypt for instruction in philosophy; and there is scarcely a sage or lawgiver of any note among the Hellenists, who had not visited the land then taking the highest rank for wisdom and learning, as so strongly instanced in Homer, Lycurgus, Solon, Pythagoras, and Plato; while Herodotus declared that it claimed their admiration beyond all other countries. This they have ingenuously acknowledged; but we can now trace home to them that they also borrowed largely from the architecture, arts, and elegancies of life of the Mizraimites. The Romans also followed on the same side. Tacitus (Ann. ï. ann. 772) informs us, how “ Germanicus went into Egypt to search for antiquities ; that he went to see the great remains of old Thebes, where there were still extant, in some remaining structures, Egyptian letters, indicating its former wealth : and that when one of the elder priests was commanded to interpret them from their own language, he declared they told him of there having once been seven hundred thousand men in that country, of an age fit for war; and that with such an army their King Rameses conquered Lybia, Ethiopia, Media, Persia, Bactriana, and Scythia, and those countries which the Syrians, Armenians, and Cappadocians inhabit. He read also the tributes that were imposed on the nations; the weight of gold and silver; the number of arms and horses; the quantity of ivory and sweet aromatics for the temples; with the quantity of corn, and other necessaries, which every nation furnished; and this not inferior to what the Parthians or the Romans required from the vassals in their own time.”

The letters here alluded to by Tacitus, constitute the principal value of Mizraimitic vestigia ; and therefore they merit a moment of our time. It is a natural inference, that mankind in their primeval state aimed at fixing the fleeting expressions of speech, and still more circumstantial events, by permanent realized images, as well as they could form and describe relations and actions. Hence picture-writing among the Egyptians; an art by which their imperishable records even now fill us with astonishment at the nature of the institutions, the extent of learning, and the perfection of arts, attained by them at so early a period. The hieroglyphical language is of a triple character : it is chiefly phonetical or alphabetical; next figurative or typical ; and thirdly symbolical, or meaning something more than expressed, —which last division, the most difficult to be ascertained, forms fortunately the least portion of the language. Unless this be admitted, the neophyte, instead of systematic symbolic metaphors, will only perceive incongruous representations of human bodies, beasts, birds, reptiles, implements, and other characteristic objects: but so far had refinement in language advanced, that every object had a proper name.

And that a latent meaning was concealed therein, has for many ages been conceded, but it was reserved for the nineteenth century to seize the guiding clue: and he who wishes to see how the learned managed these matters a couple of centuries ago, need only look at the risible absurdities of the painstaking Kircher. On the other hand, Diodorus Siculus is among the earliest who gave instruction on this point, assuring us that the hawk was typical of velocity; the crocodile of everything that was evil; the human eye was the symbol of watchfulness, justice, and Divine Providence :--an open right-hand, with the fingers extended, signifies the supply of human life, while the left-hand closed denotes toilsome care. Such remarks shew that attention was drawn to the Land of Mizraim; though, from further observations, Diodorus evidently required an ulterior drilling.

There are also three kinds of writing found upon the papyri frequently met with in mummies : these are the hieroglyphic, the hieratic, and the enchorial.

Of these, the two first-named are exclusively confined to sacred subjects, and the third is the vulgar character of the Valley of the Nile. Now full two thousand two hundred and sixty years ago, the father of history, good old Herodotus, intimated that the theologic theorems expressive of the abstruse nature of the invisible Spirit, were written in the holy and secret letters; that the Egyptians had two sorts of writing, one called the sacred, the other the demotic or civil; and that common letters, and reckoning with counters,* were by the elementary or alphabetic method, written from the right hand to the left, a circumstance not predicable of sculptures or pictures. It is now held, that the enchorial was only a more cursive and rapid mode of writing the hieratic character; and that the hieratic was only a descent from the hieroglyphic; the which may therefore be regarded as the fullest type of the language itself. From the radiant light they throw upon each other, the advanced progress which the human mind had made at that remote period is unfolded most unequivocally; the indications of thought are exhibited with designed

* Among Dr. Lee's smaller Egyptian relics, is an arithmetical tablet of ivory-two inches and three-quarters long by three-eighths of an inch square--marked with small discs in groups.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »