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of Egypt; and, above all, to the Pyramids-those stupendous monuments, which seem to have been executed by a race of giants, and left standing as if in scorn of the weakness and degeneracy of all succeeding generations.*
* It is in vain to think of describing the tithe of the wonders of Egypt, for it is indeed the land of wonders. Take as an example the ancient Thebes, which Homer characterized as the city with a hundred gates.t The ruins of this city are of such immense extent, as to convince the spectator that fame has not magnified its size; for the diameter of the valley of the Nile not being sufficient to contain it, its monuments rest on the opposite chains of mountains, while its tombs occupy the valleys to the west, far into the desert.
The most ancient remains now existing at Thebes, according to Wilkinson, are unquestionably the great temple of Karnak, the largest and ‹most splendid ruin, perhaps, of which either ancient or modern times can boast, being the work of a number of successive monarchs, each anxious to surpass his predecessor, by increasing the dimensions and proportions of the part he added. Of the hundred columns of the portico alone, the smallest are seven feet and a half in diameter, and the largest twelve. The avenue leading to Luxor, a space nearly half a league in extent, consists of a constant succession of sphynxes, and other chimerical figures to the right and left, together with fragments of walls, columns, and statues. Denon says, that to be enabled to form an idea of so much magnificence, one ought to fancy what is before him to be a dream, as he who views the objects themselves, rubs his eyes to know whether he is awake.
The village of Luxor is built on the site of the ruins of another temple, not so large, but in better preservation. The most colossal parts consist of fourteen columns nearly eleven feet in diameter, and of two statues of granite buried up to the middle of the arms, and having in front of them the two largest and best preserved obelisks known. They are of rose-coloured granite — are still seventy feet above ground, and, including what is covered by the sand, must be at least one hundred in the entire height. Their preservation, Denon says, "is perfect; and the hieroglyphics with which they are covered being cut deep, and in relief at bottom, shew the bold hand of a master, and a beautiful finish. The gravers which could touch such hard materials must have been of ✈ an admirable temper; and the machines to draw such enormous blocks from the quarries, to transport them thither, and to set them upright, together with the time required for the labour, surpass all conception." The stupendous syenite statue of Ramesis II. in the area of the palace temple at Old Quorneh, is perhaps one of the most astonishing remains
"Thebe portarum centum nobilis fama."-Pliny. B. 5. c. 9.
The pyramids have been so often described, that we understand their appearance almost as well as if we had seen them. Nothing so simple was ever so sublime. †
of ancient art in the world. To say that this the largest statue in Egypt, will convey no idea of the gigantic size or enormous weight of a mass, which, from an approximate calculation, exceeded, when entire, nearly three times the solid contents of the great obelisk of Karnak, and weighed about eight hundred and eighty-seven tons, five and a half hundred weight.
The portico of the temple of Esneh, the ancient Latopolis, is considered one of the most perfect monuments of ancient architecture in existence. It is well preserved, and possesses great richness of sculpture. It is composed of eighteen noble and elegant columns, with broad capitals, and the hieroglyphics with which it is covered within and without, have been executed with great care. The capitals, which are all different, have a very fine effect; and as a proof that the Egyptians did not borrow from other nations, it may be remarked, that all their ornaments have been taken from the productions of their own country, such as the lotus, the palm tree, or the vine.
* Wilkinson observes, that in antiquity the pyramids of Egypt surpass every other monument existing in this or any country; but they do not, of course, from the nature of their construction, at all vie with the magnificence of the ruins of Karnak.
"With what amazement," says Dr Clarke, speaking of the great pyramid, "did we survey the vast surface presented to us, when we arrived at this stupendous monument, which seemed to reach the clouds. Here and there appeared some Arab guides upon the immense masses above us, like so many pigmies, waiting to shew the way up to the summit." " Already some of the party had begun the ascent, and were pausing at the tremendous depth they saw below. The rest of us, more accustomed to the business of climbing heights, with many a halt for respiration, and many an exclamation of wonder, pursued our way to the summit."
Of the passage to the principal chamber in the interior, Dr Clarke observes, "The workmanship, from its perfection, and its immense proportions, is truly astonishing. All about the spectator, as he proceeds, is full of majesty, and mystery, and wonder. Presently we entered that 'glorious roome,' as it is justly called by Greaves, where, as within some consecrated oratory, art may seem to have contended with nature. The floor, the sides, the roof of it, are all made of vast and exquisite tables of Theban marble. So nicely are these masses fitted to each other upon the sides of the chamber, that having no cement between them, it is really impossible to force the blade of a knife within the joints," &c.
These monuments are vast in the aggregate―vast in the individual parts,—and the weight of the materials, and the power and science which must have been used in their construction, absolutely oppress the imagination. Supposing we had no historical records at all respecting the greatness of the ancient monarchies, and that we were merely left to infer what we could from the Egyptian remains alone, we certainly could draw no other conclusion, than that these ancient buildings were the work of a great and powerful people, who had not only made the highest attainments in the arts, and in many important branches of science, but had possessed a degree of talent, of taste, and of genius, certainly not surpassed since in any age or country.
It may be alleged, that these monuments only prove the intellectual greatness of the people by whom they were erected, but shew nothing respecting their moral qualities. If, however, intellectual eminence be conceded to them, we are not lightly to presume moral inferiority. And here we are not altogether without some light to shew, that in this respect also the most ancient nations were at least equal to all that succeeded them, down to the promulgation of Christianity. The traditions or histories of all nations bear witness to the comparatively pure morals and simple habits of their ancestors at the rise of each state, and the universal complaint has been, that as wealth and greatness have increased, virtue has disappeared.
"Righteousness," we are told, "exalteth a nation," and the truth of the maxim has been exemplified both in ancient and modern times. The Persians, under Cyrus the Great, appear to have been a simple and virtuous people. The education of their youth is said to have consisted chiefly in their being taught to "speak truth, and to ride on horseback ;" and if we understand
this in its largest acceptation, it must have included all that is necessary to promote the manly virtues of courage and sincerity, the most important part of what is now considered the education of a gentleman. The Greeks, in the earlier part of their history, were a hardy and vigorous race, patient of fatigue, and capable of sustaining the greatest hardships. Unenervated by sloth, uncorrupted by luxury, their very sports and games consisted in exhibitions of personal strength, emulation, energy, and manly daring; while, to excel in these, they were led to cultivate the virtues of temperance and selfdenial to a degree with which modern nations are little conversant. The result of this sort of training appeared in the noble stand which these petty states were able to make against the whole forces of Asia led by Darius and Xerxes; and afterwards, when, by the prudence of Philip, and the fortune of Alexander, they were united under one head, in the astonishing rapidity with which, under the latter, they overran and conquered the great kingdoms of Persia and Egypt, and established an empire, which, though soon rent into four rival monarchies, endured afterwards with little alteration upwards of four.
The beginnings of the Roman state are lost in fable, but at the time it first began to rise to eminence, namely during the second Punic war, we find among them much that, humanly speaking, is virtuous and praiseworthy. The self-devotion of Regulus-the continence of Scipio. -the virtue of Cincinnatus-are only specimens of that firmness, temperance, and patriotic feeling, which in those days were far from being rare qualities. The indomitable spirit shewn by the senate after the repeated victories of Hannibal-their noble vote of thanks to their defeated general for "not despairing of the fortunes of the Republic," evince a combination of great and
generous qualities of which there are few examples, and afford unequivocal proofs of the character of a people fit to obtain the empire of the world.
This being the case in the beginnings of these great states, it may naturally be asked, did they improve in morality as they increased in greatness? Does the principle of progression appear in this, or do we find society, in these large masses, to contain within itself the elements of improvement, which time has evolved and brought to maturity? Is it not notorious, that the very reverse is the case, that virtue and morality are most conspicuous in the earlier history of states, and that from thence the tendency has universally been downwards to vice and corruption?
In support of these conclusions, drawn from history, and the remains of ancient monuments, we are enabled, in the case of the Egyptians, to produce a species of evidence to which Mr Combe, at least, can offer no objection.
In the remarks on the cerebral development of nations, contained in Mr Combe's System of Phrenology,* we find the following passage: -“The ancient Egyptians appear, from the stupendous monuments of art and science left behind them, to have been a highly intelligent and civilized people; and it is a striking fact, that the skulls of ancient mummies are found almost invariably to belong to the same class as those of modern Europeans. In the (Phrenological) Society's collection there are casts of the skulls of five mummies ; and I have seen or obtained accurate descriptions of the skulls of half-a-dozen more; and full size, large development before the ear, and broad coronal surface, characterize them all." It is necessary to mention, that, according.
* Second Edition, p. 475.