« PreviousContinue »
knightly acquaintance of the Sword, Polar Star, and Seraphim—Sir Herman of Lastholm, K. P. S., Sir Charles Frederick von Breda, K. V., Sir Charles Axel Lindroth, K. P.S. &c.-it does not therefore follow that he is inclined to treat the nobility of Sweden' with insolence and contempt;' nor can any proof be brought of such a feeling on his part.
In spite of Mr. Brown's long dissertation on the merits and performances of Sergell, we are not inclined to entertain any very exalted opinion of his taste in the fine arts, or of his acquaintance with their professors. That Sweden should not be able to boast of painters equal to the highest walks of the art, and that Sergell should not rival Phidias, is by no means surprizing. Whatever may have been the progress of the other arts and sciences in the civilized world, in painting and statuary a falling off has unquestionably taken place; and this, we conceive, is the only implication' which Mr. James intended when, speaking of the professors of the arts in Sweden, he wound up the sentence on Sergell with the 'morceau' so offensive to Mr. Brown. Of the general merits of the artists of Sweden, Mr. James always thought with respect and spoke with liberality.
Falcrantz as a painter of landscapes,' he says, 'stands the first in reputation, and, indeed, may fairly be ranked among the best artists of the present day.'—p. 122.
Again. There is no country in Europe which, in proportion to her numbers, has contributed so largely to the advancement of science as Sweden, and none in which it is still more steadily and successfully pursued.'-p. 125.
From the display made by Mr. Brown of his knowledge of the Swedish language, and his perpetual blunders in every other, we suspect that his studies, like his travels, have not been very excurUnder such an alias as that by which she is described, we have had some difficulty in recognizing a well known statue twice mentioned by Mr. Brown under different titles- Venus du belle fesses,' and Venus de belles fesses.' We would venture also to hint to him, that Tu Marcellus erit' can never be Thou shalt be Marcellus.' The strictures upon Mr. James and Dr. Thomson, the one for mispelling the town Abo,' and the other for designating the stream which flows into the sea at Gottenburgh as 'the River Gotha,' appear to be pedantic and absurd. Obo is spelled as it is pronounced, and although the Gotha in its course goes by two other names, we shall continue to follow Mr. Coxe and Mr. James in giving it that title until it shall be proved that the Thames should be styled the Isis or the Tame. The stream which is called Clara before it merges in the Wenern Lake, on quitting it takes the name of the province through which it flows, and becomes the Gotha.But we must have done with Mr. Brown.
ART. VIII. Observations relating to some of the Antiquities of Egypt, from the Papers of the late Mr. Davison. Published in Walpole's Memoirs. 1817.
F some of our consuls have merited the reproach of having made their public station subservient to their private interests, and of wholly neglecting those researches into objects of literature or science which their situation might have brought fairly within their reach, the names of Bruce, Davison and Salt may safely be mentioned as honourable exceptions from it. Mr. Bruce has nobly rescued his own name from any inattention to objects of scientific research; so has Mr. Salt, as we shall presently see:-and to Mr. Walpole the literary world is now indebted for bringing forward a small part of the discoveries and observations of Mr. Davison in Egypt, which had been hitherto known only to a few of his friends.
In the year 1763, Mr. Davison, then consul at Algiers, accompanied Wortley Montague to Egypt. He resided (Mr. Walpole informs us) eighteen months at Cairo; made frequent visits to the pyramids of Gizeh, Saccara and Dashour, and several excursions in the vicinity of Alexandria with the Duke de Chaulnes, with whom he afterwards embarked for Europe. While performing quarantine in the Lazaretto at Leghorn, the duke contrived, by means of a false key, to get possession, and to take copies, of Mr. Davison's papers and drawings. On coming to London, a few years afterwards, he advertised a publication of his own researches, with drawings by Mr. Davison, whom he had the impudence to designate as his secretary. Whether he knew that Mr. Davison was still alive does not appear; but on the very day (Sept. 9th, 1783) which he had appointed for an engraver to wait on him, he received a written remonstrance, on the part of that gentleman, which obliged him to relinquish his design. He had then the effrontery to propose a joint publication, which Mr. Davison indignantly declined. Mr. Walpole adds, that there are two plates in Sonnini's travels, from drawings of Mr. Davison, which could only have been communicated by the Duke de Chaulnes.
The papers now first published, from the journals of Mr. Davison, consist of his measurements of the pyramid of Cheops, by taking that of each individual step or altar from the base to the summit, and subsequently with the theodolite-an account of his descent into the Well,' (as it is usually called,) which is mentioned by Pliny as being eighty-six cubits in depth-of his discovery of a room over the chamber containing the sarcophagus, which had escaped Maillet, though he had been forty times within the pyramid; which Niebuhr could not find, though told of it by Mr. Meynard, who accompanied Mr. Davison; and which had not
€ C 3
been visited by any other traveller until last year. There is, besides, a correspondence between him and Professor White, on the subject of Abdallatif's account of the pyramids; and a description of the catacombs of Alexandria, of which very little seems then to have been known, as they scarcely appear to have been noticed by preceding travellers. The only portion of these Papers which it is our intention to examine, is the account of the Well and the new chamber in the great pyramid, as preliminary to some recent and unpublished discoveries, which we are about to lay before our readers.
In a short but comprehensive letter addressed to M. Varsy, the author observes that, as he conceived the supposed Well to be of vast depth, he provided himself with a large quantity of rope, which turned out to be no useless precaution-for though he found a sort of steps or holes in the rock, yet the lower part of them were so worn away, as to risk a fall and consequent destruction by trusting to them alone. To avoid so calamitous an event, Mr. Davison tied a rope round his middle; and previously to his descent, let down a lantern attached to the end of a small cord, which, on finding it soon to stop, he prepared to follow. With much persuasion he prevailed on two of his servants and three Arabs to hold the rope ;the Arabs assured him there were ghosts below, and that he never could hope to return. Mr. Davison laughed at their timidity; and taking with him a few sheets of paper, a compass, a measure, and another lighted candle, commenced the descent, and soon reached the bottom of the first well or shaft. Here he found, on the south side, at the distance of about eight feet from the first shaft, a second opening which descended perpendicularly, to the depth of five feet only; and at four feet ten inches from the bottom of this, a third shaft, the mouth of which was nearly choaked up with a large stone, leaving only a small opening, barely sufficient to allow a man to pass. Here he thought it prudent to let down his lantern, not only to discover to what depth he was about to proceed, but also to ascertain if the air was pernicious. The shaft, however, was so tortuous that the candle soon became invisible; but Mr. Davison was not to be discouraged-nothing less than a journey to the bottom would satisfy his eager curiosity: the difficulty was how to prevail on the Arabs to come down and hold the rope. To all his entreaties they only answered, that, a few years before, a Frank having got to the place where he then was, let down a rope to discover the depth, when the devil caught hold of it, and plucked it out of his hands. 'I was well aware,' says Mr. Davison, to whom they were indebted for this story-the Dutch consul swore that the thing happened to himself.' After many prayers, and threats, and
promises of money, and of all the treasure that might be discovered at the bottom of the well, the avarice of one man got the better, in some degree, of his terrors, and he ventured to descend; on reaching the bottom,' says Mr. Davison,' he stared about him, pale and trembling, appearing more like a spectre than a human being.'
Our enterprizing adventurer now hastened on his journey, with the rope round his body; and the sight of the lantern, which he had let down, convinced him that this well was somewhat deeper than the first. Having proceeded a little farther than half-way down to the spot where the candle rested, as it afterwards appeared, he came to a grotto, about fifteen feet long, four or five wide, and about the height of a man: from this place the third shaft or well was sloping, and by throwing down a stone he ascertained it to be of much greater depth than the others: pushing the lantern a little before him, he set out afresh on his journey; and calling to the Arab to loosen the rope gently, with the help of the little holes made in the rock, he gradually proceeded, without the least appearance of reaching his journey's end. At length the shaft beginning to incline a little more to the perpendicular, brought him speedily to the bottom, where he ascertained it to be completely closed by sand and rubbish.
Having reached this point, Mr. Davison now began to reflect on two circumstances which had not before occurred to him, and neither of which was very consoling. The first was, that the multitude of bats which he had disturbed might put out his candle; and the second, that the immense stone in the mouth of the shaft might slip down and close the passage for ever. On looking about the bottom, he found a rope ladder, which, though it had lain there sixteen years, was as fresh and strong as if perfectly new. been used, as it seems, by Mr. Wood (who published an account of the ruins of Balbec and Palmyra) to aid his descent; but he had stopped short at the grotto. When Mr. Davison, on his return, had reached the bottom of the first shaft, the candles fell and went out; then,' says he, the poor Arab thought himself lost. He laid hold of the rope as I was about to ascend, declaring that he would rather have his brains blown out than be left aloné there with the devil, I therefore permitted him to go before, and though it was much more difficult to ascend than to descend, I know not how it was, but he scrambled up a hundred times more quickly than he had come down.'
The depth of the first shaft was 22 feet; of the second 29; and of the third 99; if the five feet between the first and second shaft be added, the whole depth will be found to be 155 feet.
Of his discovery of a second chamber in the great pyramid, Mr. Davison gives the following account.
• The chief reason of my returning now to the pyramid was to endeavour, if possible, to mount up to the hole I had discovered at the top of the gallery the last time I was there. For this purpose I had made seven short ladders in such a manner as to fasten one to another by means of four wooden pins, the whole together, when joined, being about twenty-six feet long. As soon as the rubbish was cleared from the straight passage at the bottom, I caused the ladders to be brought in by two carpenters who accompanied me. When they had conveyed them to the platform at the top of the gallery, tying two long canes together, I placed a candle at one end, and gave it to a servant to hold near the hole in question. The platform being very small there was no thinking of fixing the ladders on the ground, as it would have been very difficult, not to say impossible to raise them. We took the only method which seemed practicable; namely, that of placing the first ladder against the wall; two men raising it up, a third placed another below it, and having fastened them together by the wooden pins, the two together were raised from the ground, and the rest in the same manner fixed one after another. The ladder entered enough into the hole, when all parts were joined together, to prevent it from sliding on the side of the gallery. I then instantly mounted, and found a passage two feet four inches square, which turned immediately to the right. I entered a little way, with my face on the ground, but was obliged to retire, on account of the passage being in a great measure choaked with dust, and bats' dung, which, in some places, was near a foot deep. I first thought of clearing it by throwing the dirt down into the gallery, but foreseeing that this would be a work of some time, besides the inconvenience of filling the gallery with rubbish, and perhaps rendering the descent more difficult, I determined to make another effort to enter, which was accompanied with more success than the first. I was enabled to creep in, though with much difficulty, not only on account of the lowness of the passage, but likewise the quantity of dust which I raised. When I had advanced a little way, I discovered what I supposed to be the end of the passage. My surprize was great, when I reached it, to find to the right a straight entrance into a long, broad, but low place, which I knew, as well by the length as the direction of the passage I had entered at, to be immediately above the large room. The stones of granite, which are at the top of the latter, form the bottom of this, but are uneven, being of unequal thickness. This room is four feet longer than the one below; in the latter, you see only seven stones, and a half of one, on each side of them; but in that above, the nine are entire, the two halves resting on the wall at each end. The breadth is equal with that of the room below. The covering of this, as of the other, is of beautiful granite; but it is composed of eight stones instead of nine, the number in the room below. One of the carpenters entered with me, and Mr. Meynard came into the passage, near the door, but being a good deal troubled with the dust, and want of air, he retired.