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The Vestibule of most superb temple at DI.
The mafiy columns forty feet high half sculptures. In the extenfive summit of the ter
ctperspective view of the inis ELEPHANTA, und of the
VDARA, the ancient TENTARA in Upper Egypt.
uried in the sands and charged with hicroglyphic mple the ARABIANShare cremet a confiderable Town.
ide of the wrand cavern-papoila if
conspicuous mythologic SCULPTURES the wall of that pagoda
with the various animals asserted by the antients to have received divine homage in the different cities of Egypt.
Before most of these are buman figures, delineated in postures of profound adoration. This valuable, relic of antient art, on the plunder of Rome by the army of Charles the Fifth, about the year 1527, became the property of a common artificer, * and was sold by him to Cardinal Bembo, by whose name it has since been frequently distinguished. At the death of that cardinal, the TABLE OF Isis came into the possession of the Duke of Mantua, in whose family it was preserved as an inestimable rarity, till the palace of Mantua was plundered of its immense treasure of curiosities by the imperial general in 1630, since which period the original has not been heard of; though, owing to the zeal of those profound antiquaries, Pignorius and Mountfaucon, the literary world is in the possession of two exact copies of it, with some curious strictures by each of those writers. The figures of the
gods, or deified mortals, in the middle of · this table, might possibly be intended for a
representation of those sculptures that adorned
* Vide Pignorii MENSÆ ISICÆ Expositio, p. 12. Amst. 1669.
the body of the mystic temple, in the same manner as the Indian deities, or god-rajahs, are arranged along the centre part of the walls of Elephanta; while the animals peculiar toEgypt, pourtrayed on the surrounding border, might, like those peculiar to India on the cornices of the same temple-pagoda, be symbols of the various constellations, and the kneeling figures emblematical of the worship paid to them.
After considering the form and some of the decorations, let us attend to the mysterious rites celebrated, and the doctrines themselves propagated, in these sacred recesses. I offer it, with diffidence, as my humble opinion, that the grand basis of all the theological dogmas inculcated, at least in those of India, was the Meter Wuxwois, or transmigration of the human soul, and I am so fortunate as to be able to support that opinion by the express declaration of Porphyry, that the Metempsychosis was one of the first doctrines taught εν τοις τε Μιθρε μυςηριοις, in the mystic rites of Mithra, which is only the Asiatic appellation of the African Osiris. Now, the Metempsychosis was a doctrine, invented, by the philosophers of the antient world, for the direct
purpose of vindicating the mysterious ways of Providence and removing all im
pious doubts concerning the moral attributes of the Deity; which, if permitted to take root, they knew must have been attended with the most baneful effects in society. But the doctrine of the existence of the human soul in a prior state naturally induced the supposition of its existence in a future sphere of action ; and, while those diligent observers of mankind beheld the unequal distribution of human happiness and misery, while they beheld virTUE frequently groaning under the bondage of oppression, and VILLAINY as frequently clothed in regal purple, they were not only confirmed themselves in that judgement, but endeavoured to impress the awful truth upon the minds of others. If this argument should not hold good in regard to all the philosophers of Greece and Rome, as in the case of certain bold sceptics and presumptuous sophists among them, the little knowledge I have acquired of the theologic sentiments, of the inflexible virtue, and severe penances, of the Hindoo philosophers, has convinced me, that to them it is perfectly applicable. The professed design, then, both of the Indian, the Egyptian, and Eleusinian, mysteries, was to restore the fallen soul to its pristine state of purity and perfection; and the INITIATED in those mysteries were instructed in the sublime P2