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Of all the monuments of antiquity, the Sphinx is perhaps that which bas most generally excited the admiration of the lovers of art, notwithstanding its mutilated condition. The contemplative turn of the eye,' (it is an artist who speaks,) the mild expression of the mouth, and the beautiful disposition of the drapery at the angle of the forehead, sufficiently attest the admirable skill of the artist in its execution. Yet there is no attention paid to those proportions we are accustomed to admire, nor does the pleasing impression which it produces result from any known rule adopted in its execution; it may rather be attributed to the unstudied simplicity in the conception of the breadth, yet high finish, of the several parts, and the stupendous magnitude of the whole.' Denon's description of this mysterious colossus is equally strong. 'L'expression de la tête est douce, grâcieuse et tranquille, le caractère en est Africain; mais la bouche, dont les lèvres sont épaisses, a une mollesse dans le mouvement et une finesse d'exécution vraiment admirables; c'est de la chair et de la vie.'
Such are the sentiments which a repeated view of this colossal piece of sculpture is capable of inspiring into the minds of artists.
I confess,' says Mr. Salt,“ that I felt, like many other travellers, that the praises lavished by Norden, Denon, and others, were greatly exaggerated; but the more I studied it at different hours of the day, and under different effects of light and shade, the more I became satisfied that they had barely done justice to its real merits. It must be allowed, however, that the drawings, by both the gentlemen abovementioned, but faintly accord with their encomiums, being two very wretched perfornrances—but after having repeatedly attempted a likeness of it myself with little success, I compelled to admit that the difficulties which attend the undertaking are sufficient to baffle any one not professionally dedicated to the arts.'
Mr. Salt had the great advantage of contemplating at his leisure this grand object of art, when laid open in front to its very base; with the fragments of its enormous beard resting beneath its chin; its huge paws stretched out fifty feet in advance from the body, which is in a cumbent posture; with all the appendages of a temple, granite tablet, and altar, spread out on a regular platform immediately in its front: and he admits that these interesting objects, which had for ages been buried deep in the sand, undoubtedly tended to exalt the main figure in his estimation.
We cannot dismiss the subject of this wonderful piece of sculpture hewn out of the living rock, without noticing an assertion of Dr. Clarke, which is calculated to convey very false impressions as to the real nature of one of the most extraordinary works of ancient art now in existence. Speaking of the Sphinx, he says, ' The French
have uncovered all the pedestal of this statue, and all the cumbent or leonine parts of the figure; these were before entirely concealed by sand. Instead, however, of answering the expectations raised concerning the work upon which it was supposed to rest, the pedestal proves to be a wretched substructure of brick-work, and small pieces of stone, put together like the most insignificant piece of modern masonry, and wholly out of character, both with respect to the prodigious labour bestowed upon the statue itself, and the gigantic appearance of the surrounding objects. Now all this must either be the workings of the Doctor's imagination, like the splashing of the great stone' in the dry Well of the pyramid; or, he must have listened to some such idle story from the Arabs as that which they told to Mr. Caviglia,—that the French had discovered a door in the breast of the Sphinx, which opened into its body, and passed through it into the second pyramid. The French never uncovered more than the back of the Sphinx; they never saw the pedestal—they never pretended that they saw it—there is, in fact, no pedestal, no brick-work in any way connected with the statue of the Sphinx. M. Denon saw nothing but the head and neck; and M. Gobert, who was constantly stationed at the pyramids, says in his memoir, 'I succeeded in uncovering its back sufficient to determine its measurement;' and he affirms it to be cut out of a salient angle of the mountain, and to be, what it really is, one single piece of rock. It is true that the paws, which are thrown out fifty feet in advance, are constructed of masonry,' but neither insignificant, nor in the least resembling' modern;' this however could not have been known either to the French or to Dr. Clarke.
We have now taken a rapid view of the labours and discoveries of Mr. Caviglia. This enterprizing man, after the most persevering exertions for ten months, in consequence of exposing himself too much to the sun, was unfortunately seized with an attack of ophthalmia, which compelled him to suspend bis labours; and shortly after he returned to his ship at Alexandria. The expense incurred by all these operations amounted to about 18,000 piastres, a share of which was contributed by Mr. Salt and two or three other gentlemen, who liberally engaged that the disposal of whatever might be discovered should be left wholly to Mr. Caviglia ; and he, on his part, generously requested that every thing might be sent to the British Museum, as a testimony of his attachment to that country, under the protection of whose flag he had for many years navigated the ocean. Mr. Salt very justly observes, that the unexampled circumstance that these operations were carried on by a single individual, attended occasionally only by one soldier, without the slightest molestation being offered, or unpleasant circumstance occurring, notwithstanding that numerous parties of idle soldiers went
every day to inspect his labours, and thousands of Arabs during part of the time were encamped in the neighbourhood, presents the most unequivocal proof of the tranquillity now reigning in Egypt, and does honour at the same time to the liberality of Mahomed Ali Pashaw, who, on this occasion, as on many others, exerted himself to facilitate the researches carried on by Europeans connected with science.'
Recent travellers have had the strongest proof of this. Lord Belmore and his family, in their visit to Nubia as far as the second cataract of the Nile, met with every possible attention and assistance, in every part of their tour, from the agas and other officers in command; and we are glad to find that his lordship’s brother, Captain Corry, of the navy, had with him an excellent sextant, and availed himself of the opportunity of determining with accuracy the latitudes of every place at which they halted : this was a desideratum in Nubian geography, as no actual observation had before been made beyond Syene, the latitude of which, as determined by M. Nouet, he found to be correct to a second; whereas the record which the French savans left engraved on the Propylon at Carnac makes it different full three miles: the same or greater errors prevail in all the latitudes which they have registered at this place.
And here we cannot avoid reverting* to M. Jomard, who would appropriate to the French nation, or rather to the savans of the French Institute, all the antiquities of Egypt which either have been or may be discovered, as their legitimate patrimony. We shall know soon on what grounds these extravagant pretensions are founded. Meanwhile, M. Jomard would not, perhaps, do very unwisely to be somewhat more tender of his censures on an unprotected individual, or one whom he considered as such, since blunders of no common kind (as we shall presently shew) have crept even into that colossal work on Egypt compiled under the auspices of · Napoléon le Grand ;' nay, under the signature of 'Jomard,' as a voucher for their accuracy.
The plate, No. 83, is supposed to represent the judgment of souls after death. Osiris is seen sitting on throne, before whom stands a person with a pair of scales, who is meant no doubt to personate Justice. Several human figures are marching up the steps of the throne to receive their final doom for the deeds they have committed in this life. On the right, a little above, is a boat with a pig in it, driven away by a monkey and preceded by another. M. Jomard is not sure whether the pig be a pig or a river-horse, but either animal will suit his speculations on the scene, which he thus deciphers. The monkey is Mercury under the figure of a cy
* See our last Number, p. 193. VOL. XIX. NO. XXXVIII.
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 pictures 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, aud, 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 confessed, 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 engrafted 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
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 versa: 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 magniticent and unrivalled monument of literary vanity, have 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 E E 2