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particulars in any other nation of antiquity. These details have already served to elucidate such fragments of their history as are contained in the imperfect accounts of the Greek writers; and we trust they will be found also to confirm and elucidate the more accurate accounts that we have, in the sacred writings, of another and not less interesting people.
In inspecting the specimens of sculpture and painting presented in the remains of ancient Egypt, one is forcibly struck with the manifold defects to be found generally, alike in the design and execution; and these are the more surprising, when occasionally some specimen is met with confessedly of high merit, as exhibiting practised artistic skill. It is observable also, that these better specimens are delineations of something other than the human figure. Perhaps a reason for this may, to a certain extent, be found in a consideration of the purpose to which the Egyptians applied the arts of design. The effort was not with them, as with the Greeks, (from whom moder n art is derived,) to speak through the eye to the imagination; theirs was the more matter-of-fact business of addressing the understanding. They were not seeking the beautiful, but the useful merely. Clement of Alexandria says truly that an Egyptian temple was fQtiufta, "a writing;" and grace was not the prime object of the manuscript. The painting and sculpture of Egypt were meant, then, simply to convey facts, or what it was intended should be considered facts. The characters by which they sought to do it were but visible and often rude imitations of sensible objects; the heavenly bodies, men, brutes, birds, fishes, dress, furniture, &c.
In fulfilling their design, therefore, it was more important to convey the idea correctly and avoid mistakes, than it was to produce a finished work of art. Hence the representation of the human figure seldom affords proof of elaboration in its execution; a very rude sketch was sufficient to show that nothing but man could be meant by it; commonly the face and lower limbs are in profile, while the body is presented with its full front; proportion also is sometimes utterly neglected. In fact, the rough drawing served but to spell the word man, while the hieroglyphics above it, informed him who could read them, who or what the man was. But in the very same picture, perhaps, containing a rough sketch of the human figure, birds, or other objects would be represented, drawn with great spirit, and colored with a minute attention to nature. Accuracy of delineation was resorted to when such accuracy was necessary to guard against mistakes, and it was therefore required to show the species of the bird represented. All that the artist sought was to convey an idea with precision, and in doing this he could call in the aid of hieroglyphics, both symbolic and phonetic. It was perhaps strange that he did not think of using either painting or hieroglyphics separately, to accomplish his object; but so it was that, using both, he could effect his purpose, and he consequently made no effort at improvement. It must not, however, be supposed that there was entire absence of artistic skill in the Egyptians, when they found an occasion for its exercise. There are not wanting statues executed by them, in which the anatomical proportions of the human figure are carefully represented; they unquestionably, also, were sufficiently minute and accurate in their work to produce portraits when necessary. It was, therefore, not want of capacity entirely that caused the productions of Egyptian art to fall so far short of the polished works of the Grecian chisel; their defects were purposed.
There was, however, one department of drawing, in which all the specimens yet seen, would justify the conclusion that they were entirely ignorant. They knew nothing of perspective, and some of their devices to remedy defects arising from this cause, are clumsy in the extreme. Thus, if it became necessary to depict three sides of an apartment, (as may be seen in the pictures of some of the granaries,) a separate elevation of each wall was made, and the distant end of the room was placed, in the drawing, above the elevation of the sides, as an entirely separate feature. From these and other causes, it requires some little practice and familiarity with the representations in Egyptian paintings and reliefs, to understand them. They present, at first, an indistinctness and confusion that make their comprehension difficult.
There was another particular in which, as artists, they were deficient. They seem to have known little or nothing of the application, in their coloring, of light and shade; nor is there now remembered among all the specimens yet seen, a solitary attempt at what is termed by artists, foreshortening. In their ignorance of perspective, and light and shade, it is perhaps worthy of note that they find, at this day, an exact resemblance in one of the most ancient civilized nations of the world, the Chinese.
It may, perhaps, aid the reader, if before entering upon the work of a comparison of the Bible with the existing Egyptian remains, we detain him long enough for the accomplishment of an imaginary voyage up the Nile from Cairo, touching only at certain prominent points, with the view of fixing in the mind localities. Near Cairo, at the distance of about two hours' journey, is Heliopolis or On, now known as Matareeh. "Its site is marked by low mounds, inclosing a