« AnteriorContinuar »
tered a passage (18) which runs in the same inclination as that before-mentioned, and at 47 feet 6 inches from the niche it is filled up with some large blocks of stone (19) put there to close the entrance which issues out precisely at the base of the pyramid. According to the measurements, it is to be observed that all the works below the base are cut into the living rock, as well as part of the passages and chambers before-mentioned. Before I conclude I have to mention that I caused a range of steps to be built, from the upper part of the perpendicular (x) to the passage below, for the accommodation of visitors.
• It may be mentioned, that at the time I excavated on the north side of the pyramid, I caused the ground to be removed to the eastward between the pyramid and the remaining portico which lies nearly on a line with the pyramid and the sphinx. I opened the ground in several places, and, in particular, at the base of the pyramid ; and in a few days I came to the foundation and walls of an extensive temple, which stood before the pyramid at the distance of only 40 feet. The whole of this space is covered with a fine platform which no doubt runs all round the pyramid. The pavement of this temple, where I uncovered it, consists of fine blocks of calcareous stone, some of which are beautifully cut and in fine preservation; the blocks of stone that form the foundation are of an immense size. I measured one of 21 feet long, 10 feet high, and 8 in breadth (120 tons weight each); there are some others above ground in the porticoes, which measured 24 feet in length, but not so broad nor so thick.' Thus far Belzoni.
By the opening of this pyramid, and the discovery of human bones within the sarcophagus buried in the central chamber, (which were wanting in that found in the first pyramid,) the question as to the original design of those stupendous fabrics is, we should suppose, completely set at rest. It is quite certain, as M. Pauw has observed, that if they were intended for gnomons or sun-dials, as some have thought, the authors of them, had they studied how to make a bad sun-dial, could not well have contrived a worse than a pyramid; a stile of this form, placed in the latitude of Lower Egypt, must, for a great part of the year, and the greater part of the day, devour its own shadow, which, falling on its side and within its base, would consequently be useless. As little probability is there that they were intended to fix a permanent meridian, or to ascertain if the poles of the earth changed their place. As well might some future antiquarian of a new race of people conjecture, from observing the four sides of our church steeples to face the four cardinal points of the compass, that they had been built under the direction of mathematicians and astronomers, and that the whole nation was therefore particularly addicted to those sciences. It might
happen with regard to the builders of the pyramids, as with European churches, that some superstitious notions, connected with the east and the rising sun, may have determined the position of their faces, but that this position had any connection with science is a modern conjecture which has served at least to exercise the ingenuity of the learned. If any reasonable doubt could ever hava been entertained of their original purpose, we think there are now sufficient grounds to pronounce them the mere nionuments of posthumous vanity; a more civilized and artificial modification of the rude tumulus or cairn, to preserve in security, or perhaps to mark the spot where, the remains of some despot have been deposited, for which purpose they were prepared in his lifetime, ormay have been raised to the memory of some favourite chief, after his death, by his faithful followers. The history of the pyramids of Egypt, obscure as it is, is in favour of the former supposition. The extraordinary care that was taken in the preservation of the body after death from violence and corruption, was quite consistent with the opinion of the Egyptians, that the soul never deserted the body while the latter continued in a perfect state. To secure this union, Cheops is said to have employed three hundred and sisty thousand of his subjects for twenty years * in raising over the. augusta domus,' destined to hold his remains, a pile of stone equal in weight to six millions of tons, which is just three times that which the vast Breakwater, thrown across Plymouth Sound, will be when completed; and to render his precious dust still more secure, the narrow chamber was made accessible only by small, intricate passages, obstructed by stones of an enormous weight, and so carefully closed esternally as not to be perceptible.—Yet how vain are all the precautions of man! Not a bone was left of Cheops either in the stone coffin or in the vault when Shaw entered the gloomy chamber; a circunstance which led him to conclude, hastily enough, that the pyramids were never intended for sepulcbral monuments; and the learned Bryant, having settled them to be temples consecrated to the Deity, had no difficulty in transforming the sarcophagus into a water-trough to hold the sacred element drawn up from the Nilea conception about as felicitous as that which would have converted the supposed sarcophagus of Alexander into a bathing-tub; a proof of which was in the holes in the bottom to let out the water! Belzoni however has gone far to prove that Strabo and Diodorus Siculus knew better, and that these ancient authors had good grounds for asserting the Egyptian pyramids to be sepulchral monuments.
The discovery now made of the Saracens having opened the second pyramid is, we believe, perfectly new.
We do not suppose that Mr. Belzoni is a man of much education or deep science; but he certainly possesses considerable talent for research, and unwearied perseverance ; the very requisites which are calculated to explore and bring to light the hidden treasures of antiquity. From the exertions of such a man, the British Museum is likely to become the first repository in the world for Egyptian art and antiquities; and we trust that every possible encouragement will be given to those exertions by rewarding him liberally for what he has done, and by promises of future rewards proportioned to the value of his discoveries ; for if we are rightly informed, he is not in circumstances to incur expense without the chance of remuneration.
Art. VII.- Endymion: A Poetic Romance. By John Keats. London. 1818. pp. 207.
of works which they affected to criticise. On the present occasion we shall anticipate the author's complaint, and honestly confess that we have not read his work. Not that we have been wanting in our duty-far from it-indeed, we have made efforts almost as superhuman as the story itself appears to be, to get through it; but with the fullest stretch of our perseverance, we are forced to confess that we have not been able to struggle beyond the first of the four books of which this Poetic Romance consists. We should extremely lament this want of energy, or whatever it may be, on our parts, were it not for one consolation—namely, that we are no better acquainted with the meaning of the book through which we have so painfully toiled, than we are with that of the three which we have not looked into.
It is not that Mr. Keats, (if that be his real name, for we almost doubt that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody,) it is not, we say, that the author has not powers of language, rays of fancy, and gleams of genius—he has all these; but he is unhappily a disciple of the new school of what has been somewhere called Cockney poetry; which may be defined to consist of the most incongruous ideas in the most uncouth language.
Of this school, Mr. Leigh Hunt, as we observed in a former Number, aspires to be the hierophant. Our readers will recollect the pleasant recipes for harmonious and sublime poetry which he gave us in his preface to Rimini,' and the still more facetious instances of his harmony and sublimity in the verses themselves; and they will recollect above all the contempt of Pope, Johnson, and such like poetasters and pseudo-critics, which so forcibly contrasted itself with Mr. Leigh Hunt's self-complacent approbation of
• all the things itself had wrote,
Of special merit though of little note.' This author is a copyist of Mr. Hunt; but he is more unintelligible, almost as rugged, twice as diffuse, and ten times more tiresome and absurd than his prototype, who, though he impudently presumed to seat himself in the chair of criticism, and to measure his own poetry by his own standard, yet generally had a meaning. But Mr. Keats had advanced no dogmas which he was bound to support by examples; bis nonsense therefore is quite gratuitous; he writes it for its own sake, and, being bitten by Mr. Leigh Hunt's insane criticism, more than rivals the insanity of his poetry.
Mr. Keats's preface hints that his poem was produced under peculiar circumstances.
* Knowing within myself (he says) the manner in which this Poem bas been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public. -What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. —Preface, p. vii.
We humbly beg his pardon, but this does not appear to us to be quite so clear-we really do not know what he means—but the next passage is more intelligible.
· The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press.'— Preface,
Thus the two first books' are, even in his own judgment, unfit to appear, and the two last are, it seems, in the same conditionand as two and two make four, and as that is the whole number of books, we have a clear and, we believe, a very just estimate of the entire work.
Mr. Keats, however, deprecates criticism on this immature and feverish work’ in terms which are themselves sufficiently feverish; and we confess that we should have abstained from inflicting upon him any of the tortures of the fierce hell' of criticism, which terrify his imagination, if he had not begged to be spared in order that he might write more; if we had not observed in him a certain degree of talent which deserves to be put in the right way, or which, at least, ought to be warned of the wrong; and if, finally, he had not told us that he is of an age and temper which imperiously require mental discipline.
Of the story we have been able to make out but little; it seems to be mythological, and probably relates to the loves of Diana and Endymion; but of this, as the scope of the work has altogether escaped us, we cannot speak with any degree of certainty; and must therefore content ourselves with giving some instances of its diction and versification :—and here again we are perplexed and puzzled. -At first it appeared to us, that Mr. Keats had been amusing him
self and wearying his readers with an immeasurable game at boutsrimés; but, if we recollect rightly, it is an indispensable condition at this play, that the rhymes when filled up shall have a meaning; and our author, as we have already hinted, bas no meaning. He seems to us to write a line at random, and then he follows not the thought excited by this line, but that suggested by the rhyme with which it concludes. There is hardly a complete couplet inclosing a complete idea in the whole book. He wanders from one subject to another, from the association, not of ideas but of sounds, and the work is composed of hemistichs which, it is quite evident, have forced themselves upon the author by the mere force of the catchwords on which they turn.
We shall select, not as the most striking instance, but as that least liable to suspicion, a passage from the opening of the poem.
• Such the sun,
We have imagined for the mighty dead; &c. &c.'-pp. 3, 4. Here it is clear that the word, and not the idea, moon produces the simple sheep and their shady boon, and that the dooms of the mighty dead would never have intruded themselves but for the fair musk-rose bloomis.' Again.
• For 'twas the morn: Apollo's upward fire
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.'—p. 8. Here Apollo's fire produces a pyre, a silvery pyre of clouds, wherein a spirit might win oblivion and melt his essence fine, and scented eglantine gives sweets to the sun, and cold springs had run into the grass, and then the pulse of the mass pulsed tenfold to feel the glories old of the new-born day, &c. One example more.