« PreviousContinue »
His discussion upon the second epoch of obelisks is introduced by the position, that, after the capture of Egypt by Cambyses, the usage of erecting them ceased. The Lagidæ, however, decorated Alexandria with the obelisks of ancient kings. That of Nectebis was transferred by Ptolemy Philadelphus to the temple of Arsinoë; two others, cut out by Mestires, were set up in ihe temple of Cæsar at the port, perhaps carried thither by the last Cleopatra; and in the acropolis two more were erected by the Ptolemies near Pompey's pillar. To this section are added various references concerning it, as a note to the description of the sophist Aphthonius.' Happily, however, from the vestiges of the dedication to Diocletian, discovered upon it by three meritorious young officers, the sagacity of Dr. Raine has ascertained the Pompey to whom it owes its origin.
The obelisks of Axuma, an Egyptian colony in Ethiopia, M. Zoega is inclined, with Bruce, to suppose were erected by Ptolemy Euergetes ; but a doubt raised by the largest of them, from the plate of it in Bruce's Travels, induces him rather to ascribe them to the Axumite kings, who were connected with the Byzantine by friendship and commerce, the style of their execution according better with the sixth century of the vulgar æra, than with the workmanship of the Greeks.
The third epoch calls our author's attention to the two obelisks which Augustus, on the capture of Egypt, carried from Heliopolis to Rome, and placed, ten years before the vulgar æra, in the Circus Maximus: one, as a commemorative ornament, and the other, for a gnomon in the Campus Martius, dedicating each to the Sun. Observations are introduced concerning the ship which brought them, and the ball on the tops; and it is shown that the obelisk of the Campus Martius was intended not as an hour-dial, but to mark the meridian. The basis of each is particularly adverted to. The third obelisk, brought from Egypt by Caius Cæfar, was dedicated to Augustus and Tiberius, in the circus of the Vatican. Observations also follow on its base, and the vessel which brought it. The notes under this section conceru the journey of Strabo to Egypt; the effect of an earthquake ou the Campanian obelisk, and the globe on the obelisk of the Vatican.
The most considerable in bulk of all the obelisks conveyed from Egypt, was that placed in the Circus Maximus, by the emperor Constantius in the year of the Christian epoch 357. This, Constantine, his father, had removed from Thebes to Alexandria, for the purpose of being sent to Rome. The mode of erecting it, and its base, are also remarked on.
Among the other obelisks carried to Rome, are particularly mentioned those which appear to have been erected in the Mausoleum by the Flavian family, and that in the Sallustian gardens, which was sculptured at Rome, about the time of
the CircleChristiana Thebes the
Commodus and Gallienus. The imitation of Egyptian pictures is stated to have been brought into Italy, along with the worship of the divinities of Alexandria : and the Roman Iseum to have been adorned with works of this sort, among which the Minervean obelisk is reckoned. Hadrian, however, at.. tempted to introduce into the arts a new style of ornament in preference to the ancient Egyptian. The opinion of Kircher, in relation to the Sallustian and Minervean obelisks, is offered in the notes.
Having particularised the Arelatensian obelisk, transferred by Constantine the Great, and the Constantinopolitan by Theodosius the Elder, our author proceeds to the ruin of the Roman obelisks; and, after pointing out that in the Vatican as the only one which kept its standing, observes that the overthrow of the rest is to be ascribed, rather to the intestine wars which raged in the city, than to the ravages of barbarians; there being no proof of their dejection by Totila, and the subversion of the Campensian obelisk is assigned to the time when the city was burned by Robert Guischard in 1084.
The fourth and last cpoch includes the dates and circumstances of the re-erection of obelisks, and specifies that of the Vatican, transferred to the area of St. Peter by Sixtus V, in1586, who also restored the Esquiline in the following year, and the Lateran in 1588. In 1589 the Pamphilian was erected by Innocent X; the Minervean in 1667 by Alexander VII; the. Mahutean by Clement Xl in 1711; the obelisk dug from the ruins of the mausoleum of Augustus, by order of Pius VI, was placed in the Quirinal area 1786, between the colossal statues of the Castors; as was also the Sallustian on the Pincian hill 1789. The obelisk of the Campus Martius, discovered under Julius II, was dug up by Benedict XIV, and restored on the Monte Citatorio in 1792.
The notes closing this section have a retrospect to John Antenorius the architect, and the Barberini obelisk that still lies prostrate.
The chapter which closes the work is occupied with a chronological synopsis of obelisks, according to Mercati, Kircher, and the author ; followed by several pages of corrections and additions.
After the view we have now presented of this extensive rea search, it would give us much pleasure to examine many of its discussions; but from this we are unavoidably precluded. Against some of them we have much to object: most of them we highly approve; yet, on the whole, must lament, that, notwithstanding the labour and learning bestowed on the subject, we are, in respect to hieroglyphics, just where we set out.
The work however, on many accounts, does honour to the author; and, though he may have failed in the main object, App. Vol. 38.
he has succeeded in many others, and certainly deserves the thanks and gratitude of scholars.
From his publication of the Coptic MSS. of cardinal BORGIA, which may shortly be looked for, we have reason to anticipate the completion of his success.
ART. IX. — Voyage en Italie, par Frederic Jean Laurent
Neyer, LL.D. &c. 8vo. Paris. Tour to Italy. By Frederic John Lawrence Meyer, LL. D.
MEYER was bred at the feet of Gamaliel : having been instructed in ancient literature, in antiquity, and the fine arts, under the guidance of Heyne, he employed his leisure time in gratifying the desires which these instructions excited, and visited different countries.
• After surveying the various parts of Germany, he traveled through Switzerland, France, and Italy. He everywhere examined with accuracy, and preserved that philosophic view of objects which distinguishes the true observer. It is thus, in traversing Italy at a period very nearto that in which it began to feel the shock of our revolution, he was able to preserve the particular features which then distinguished that beautiful country, and to draw a likeness which will, perhaps, be soon effaced from the memory of man. We find the same spirit in his Fragments on Paris, hitherto known by the translation given of them by general Dumourier, which are the result of the second tour Dr. Meyer made in France with his friend Sieveki:g, when the latter was sent to the Directory by the senate of Hamburg. He had before displayed his deep acquisitions by several geographical works of public utility, and in high estimation. The translation of his tour in Italy was executed by Ch. Vanderbourg, under his direction, during his last residence in Paris-a residence always dear to me' (the publisher Henrichs), since it is to that I owe the advantage of having formed a most intimate connexion with so distinguished a man.'
The work was originally published in German, under the title of Darstellungen aus Italien'-- Delineations of Italy.
The author himself informs us that we are not to expect a complete systematic description of Italy.
'I wished only' (he adds) to bring together what I recollected of my tr::vels in that beautiful country. I have chiefly painted the magnificent environs of Rome and Naples, as the great part of my residence in Italy was confined to them. I sketched the pictures in my journal on the spot, and completed
them on my return. I have finished each part with more or less nicety, according to my inclinations at the moment. In fact, the chief aim, in this place, is the impression which these objects made on my mind. I do not pretend to say that the point of view in which I examined them is the best chosen, or that my mode of examining and feeling them was the happiest.
He informs us that the traveller in Italy cannot avoid comparisons of its ancient and present state ; and that, of course, he is led to glance at events long since passed. On these his guides are the ancient classics, and the most approved authors who have treated of Italy. He says little of works of art, particularly of painting; for he thought the enthusiasm of an amateur, and some notions of theory,' not sufficient to enable him to decide on such subjects without copying from others.
Another reason induced me to yield to this prudent restraintit is no longer at Rome, but at Paris, that we now admire the chief productions of ancient and modern art.'— This reminds us of a German work lately published, designed to prove, that, whatever may be the prejudices of mankind, the greatest robbers are not, in reality, the greatest heroes. The work is singular in another view. The author speaks of the hero of one of Defoe's novels as a real person--viz. colonel Jacque. Hart made a similar mistake respecting Gustavus Adolphus, and supposed the fictitious adventures to be true history.
Nothing' (adds the editor) “is altered in this translation, though circumstances are changed;' and, while we feel for the man, he thinks that we may still blame the administration of the pope. The ill-treatment of Pius is, however, attributed to the Directory. The mode of appeasing the irritated manes' of the insulted old man, by ordering solemn obscquies, was reserved for the hero' of France, its saviour, &c. History will tell another tale, if history will deign to record such infamy.
Our author passed the Alps of the Tyrol, where all was winter. He soon, however, met the sun; and the spring smiled more benignantly as he proceeded. He successively passes Veu rona, Vicenza, and Padua.
The most eager of my wishes' (he observes in this part of his work) has always been to see Italy. The idea that I formed of it at least equalled my desires. But how much was my expectation exceeded, when the real objects met my eyes! It is in the road which I pursued that the most exalted imagination feels its own insufficiency. Guided by the most exact descriptions, it seeks in vain to form a conception of the amphitheatre of Verona, or the Olympic theatre of Vicenza, or the magnia ficent palaces of either city. These grand monuments, which it first meets, show him the weakness of his efforts. At the first view of these chef-d'auvres of San Micheli at Verona, and of Palladio at Vicenza, the mean ideas brought from beyond the mountains are dissipated ; and, in a moment, we are elevated by sentiment to conceptions of the beautiful and sublime. All the abstract ideas that we could form in the school of the Esthetie, all ihose of force, of grandeur, of harmony, and unity, that we could collect with labour, respecting the arts of design in general, and architecture in particular, Palladio and Micheli show alive and sensible in their works. Sight embraces, by a glance, objects of whose sublimity theory alone could never raise a conception.
M. Meyer next proceeds to Venice; and we shall select a specimen of his descriptive talents from this part of his work.
At each stroke of the oar, the prospect extends, and astonishment increases. The merchant-vessels, infinitely multiplying, pass and repass, and cross in every direction. The black gondolas glide between them with the rapidity of a bird. The pilots are clamorous; the gondoliers sing; the tumult of the city becomes every moment more noisy. You at last enter into the great canal, on whose banks are the fronts of superb palaces; and every thing then redoubles curiosity, or keeps alive attention.'
« The church of St. Mark, the portico of which is [ze'as) de corated with the four famous antique horses, is situated in the great square of the same name. No one ever passes without a glance of admiration at these spirited animals. To see their untamed ardour, the fire with which they are animated, their noble elasticity, which nothing seems able to check, we can ascertain their original destination. They were doubtless harnessed, in representation, to the carriage of a triumphant general, perhaps to the chariot of the Sun. Who could have foretold how low their dignity would sink, and that, after thou. sands of years, the chef-d'autres of the Greek artist should be condemned to decorate the portal of a Gothic church, to be displayed in the midst of its runerous arches, its little towers, its contemptible columns, and innumerable mouldings ?-singular constrast! The church itself which offers it, and the palace of St. Mark, form another almost as striking, with the superb edifices which front them; the Bank, the library of Sansovino, with the large granite columns of the smaller square which we perceive at its side, and with the island in which the magnificent façade of the church of St. George, built by Palladio, elevates its front.'
« On the first day of my arrival (it was Sunday), I was conducted, without the slightest hint of any extraordinary enter