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arrangement and clearness of expression; and among the Egyptian treasures of the British Museum, is a papyrus with a poem in the hieratic character, which commemorates the exploits of Rameses the Third, B. C. circ. one thousand five hundred and fifty years, or three thousand four hundred years ago! Unhappily, the same pages that bear evidence of man's power and glory, yield also astonishing instances of his cruelty and degradation : for example, the miserable Kushites have been persecuted as a perverse race, and the enslaved of all nations.
As Egypt appeared to be the only remaining one of the ancient kingdoms which has been handed down to posterity with landmarks too distinctly defined for doubt, and with monuments too enduring for decay, it seemed as if the country of the Pharoahs had been preserved for inscrutable purposes ; whilst the early and co-eval states were considered to have passed away for ever. The enterprise and research of the present day, however, with the consequent indomitable energy of their conjunction, have opened a wider field for contemplative admiration, by extending our knowledge in Chaldea, Babylonia, and Assyria ; and, though Egypt still takes the lead in antiquity, the collateral information respecting the existence of other mighty kingdoms of which the name only remained, is of wonderful interest. The exertions of Mr. Layard at Nineveh need hardly be instanced, since so large a portion of the fruits of his excavations are open to public scrutiny in the British Museum; but I may mention, what I trust will be no news when the present page
is ushered forth, that Major Rawlinson * has recently informed me that matters of still greater interest are at hand. He shewed me some truly important letters from his friend Mr. Layard, with whom he had laboured in Babylonia, which labours will be fraught with results of the deepest consequence to history, and
* I cannot allude to this intelligent officer without recording the singular gratification which I received some years ago, by his extraordinary exertions in first taking copies of the rock inscriptions of Bizitûn (Bagistan of Diodorus ), in Persia; and afterwards breaking through the supposed impenetrable mist of the arrow-headed, or cuneatic, characters which covered the faces of the cliffs. From these efforts we have obtained the life of Darius, written by himself, as it were; and this wonderful record gives another of the many instances, in which an accession of accurate knowledge displays the general integrity of Herodotus, as the historian of the early ages,
even ethnology; at all events it is probable that we shall soon have a better account of what the religion, jurisprudence, and philosophy of the Assyrians were, thirteen centuries before the Christian era, than we have of Greece or Rome during any part of their history. In excavating underneath the great pyramid of Nimrod, both the tomb of Sardanapalus and a statue of him were found in a vaulted chamber, which chamber was entirely lined with inscriptions, probably containing records of his reign. Many other slabs and cylinders had been disinterred, which are also covered with seemingly historical writings; but the most important of all was opening the “ IIouse of Records, ” where Mr. Layard had penetrated into a chamber containing an enormous number of terra-cotta tablets, piled up from the floor to the ceiling, and apparently representing the archives of the empire during a long historical succession. The Assyrian mode of writing, presents various knotty difficulties as yet; but there are Rawlinson, Renouard, Hincks, and other able philologists in the field. This inscriptive character is said to differ from that of the Hebrew and other Semitic languages ; but it agrees with the Egyptian in being in a measure ideographic. Some words consist entirely of ideographs; others are written partly phonetically, but have ideographs united with the phonetic portion. When all the turns shall have been taken out of the coil, among other advantageous results that must follow, there will finally be the additional and strong lights thrown upon the collateral story of Egypt.
In further insisting upon the vast antiquity and marvellous civilization of the Egyptians, I must again refer, even at the risk of repetition, to those recent happy discoveries which have converted into unerring fingers of history, the stupendous monuments which so long merely excited wonderment. From the talent now applied, the public career of that remarkable people is directly pointed out by sculptured wars, victories, triumphs, and tributes ; division of labour in official employment is seen in the several offices, occupations, mechanical contrivances, and the various weights and measures ; while the pursuits and refinements of private life, even to their very gymnastics, feasts, and amusements, have been brought to light in the actual pictures which they themselves had painted. Niebuhr, indeed, has laboured to undermine the ingenuous confession of IIerodotus, which attributes to Egyptian colonists the first introduction of the arts of civilized life into Greece; and he paradoxically seems to assume that the Pharaonic race were “no great shakes.” But Niebuhr could have hardly studied his subject sufficiently : for of the height and perfection to which they must have attained in the mechanical powers-even without the application of steam-we have abundant proof in the wonderful works they have left behind; works placing their great command of ingenuity, skill, and construction beyond dispute. Herodotus was right: and specimens of the so-called Doric architecture, models of vases usually denominated Etruscan, and letter-characters to transmit history-all of transcendant date in the Valley of the Nile-give stubborn and unequivocal proofs that the Greeks, to modify an expression of Bentley's, have been “riding to us on the back of the Egyptians.”
Had Niebuhr properly followed up his inquiry, and treated the matter before him with less prejudice, he must soon have acknowledged the claim of the Mizraimites to inventions and discoveries in almost every branch of art or science, to be eminently just: and this would have proved how very little the Greeks, Romans, and Moderns, can boast of prime originality. Though they seem to have been ignorant of iron, the Egyptians made a profuse use of gold, silver, and brass ; and castings of the latter must have been carried to a high degree of perfection, as evinced in their ornamented war-chariots, swords, quivers, knives, axes, and adzes. In articles of attire they were both laborious and elegant, although the figures depicted are conventionally formal. The textile fabric of which their dress consists is often arranged with singular care: among other features of fashion, we observe gloves; and there are approaches to the high-pointed shoes of the middle ages, with party-coloured twisted laces. As to their weavers, they seem to have distanced in delicacy all the looms of India ; for the ladies often appear in dresses so transparent as to have obtained the designation of “woven air :" and the light fine texture of the Egyptian muslins is alluded to in the
description of Pharaoh's daughter in the xlvth Psalm. That the female toilet was considered an important affair,
an important affair, is abundantly testified ; and the supply of necklaces, rings, and jewels was not
not at all
at all niggardly. The hair was a matter of serious moment to both sexes, and specimens of the head-dresses still preserved in our collections, attest the
care and proficiency of the archaic friseurs. In some of the heads of people of distinction, the hair descends in a lappet on each shoulder, and at the back assumes a singular rounded form, marked with a number of radii, all converging towards a centre at the nape of the neck, where they unite: of this good examples may be seen in Belzoni's Atlas, Rosellini's plates, &c. In the subjoined representations, the first is a head-dress of courtiers and fanbearers of state; the central one is the royal Osirian dulbant; and the third is the high round cap called Teshr, seen to be royal by the sacred asp in its front
What with natural tresses well oiled and plaited and curled and matted, and wigs of a density unknown in these degenerate days, though the Mizraimitish ladies may have thereby guarded themselves against a colpo di sole, they at the same time protected wholesale colonies of the descendants of the third plague, a plague which is not recorded to have been stayed, and which even now exists “ throughout the land of Egypt.” Mr. Joseph Bonomi found the same characteristic head-dress still in use among the women of the upper country; and he thus represents, adversa, the ancient Egyptian and the modern Nubian
moreover, as the elaborate character of the tresses in both demand the same care to avoid derangement, the same necessity existed for similar means of supporting the head during the hours of rest. Annexed is the figure of an ancient wooden pillow, or head-stool, of which there are two or three at Hartwell, and by its side is the modern Nubian one. The use of the contrivance is obvious; the neck of the sleeping beauty rests on this support, which, passing below the hanging locks, allows them to fall unpressed and uninjured. It is called ulz, and is still found in Abyssinia and other parts of Africa; nor is it altogether unlike the bamboo substitute for a pillow now used in China.
From such peculiarities, it was not easy to demonstrate how the fashionables of Egypt became the arbitri elegantiarum of the tasteful Greeks; for albeit the Mizraimitish paintings are rich in colour, and tolerably faithful in outline, we search in vain for that beauty of form, grace in drapery, and sublimity of expression, which immortalize Hellenic talent. It is certain, however, that the Greeks did not travel from Memphis to Meroe and find that all was barren; for recent discoveries have shewn that they gleaned a tolerable harvest of useful hints in the industrial arts, many of which they afterwards brought to the highest perfection. So with the head-dress of the fair sex: for some time Europe had indulged in the notion, that the Egyptian ladies sported only the sort of sphynx-fashioned front, with ringlets and