Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

which it consists having displayed, when opened, the remains of two towers, one round, the other square.*

We have already adverted to the contents of the Regulini Galassi tomb at Cære or Agylla, as deposited in the Gregorian Museum; but we are unwilling to omit the description which, on her visit to Cære, Mrs. Gray gives of that part of this interesting monument, which was devoted to a female occupant. After due notice of the first chamber, in which reposed the lucumo proprietor of the famous inkstand, she proceeds :

“After this grave had been despoiled, the door leading into the other beyond it was broken down, and here was found a sight, if possible, still more wonderful, and yet, I am led to believe, by no means new to the people of Cervetri, though hitherto unrecorded. Here were vases of bronze still hanging on the wall by nails, a tripod, containing a vase for perfumes, and in a sort of a recess at the end were two large stones, about five feet from each other, on which had been placed the head and feet of the body buried here. Upon the stone next the end wall lay the extraordinary gold ornament I have described as shown at General Galassi's, consisting of two disks with animals carved upon them, and two gold fillets; and sunk deep below the stone, or half leaning on it, was the superb golden breastplate, which I have also mentioned. On each side, where the wrists had once depended, lay broad golden bracelets, richly worked in relievo. Above or below the breastplate lay a clasp, composed of three spheres of gold; and at various distances between the stones were the little lumps of the same precious metal, which had been woven into the grand ceremonial dress of departed royalty. Now comes the wonder. This had been a woman! Whether a warrior-queen or priestess none can tell; but my belief is the former. Greatly honoured, and sovereign in power, she had certainly been; and her name was Larthia, which, as Lars means sovereign, or greatly-cxalted man, probably means sovereign or greatlyexalted woman. .... It is the opinion of Canina, the learned architect, that this tomb was constructed many years previous to the Trojan war; and Troy fell 1187 years before the Christian era. We therefore read the language, and scanned the dress and furniture, and saw the very dust of men who were contemporary with Jephtha, and the older Judges of Israel, long before the times of Saul and of David.' p. 334,

We cannot quit the subject of this monument without observing that its architecture is as curious as its contents, and that, in some of the features of its construction, it resembles the so-called treasury of Atreus at Mycene, and, in others, exhibits the pecus liarities of the style attributed to Thessaly and Lydia.

** Many of the old towns upon the sea,' says Mrs. Gray, p. 288, where Italians go to shoot the wild boar, must offer a rich field to an antiquary, if it is true, as I have heard, that columns, and the heads, and legs, and arms of statues, are sometimes seen sticking out into the water, or above it.'

We We have now followed the steps of our fair yet learned and eloquent cicerone over one or two of the principal scenes of her tour of exploration. We are unable to pursue her further course to Perugia, Chiusi, and other places of equal interest. Even from our partial notice it will appear that the line of study and research which her pages suggest may be prosecuted to good purpose by persons less active and persevering than herself. The museums of Rome, Tuscany, and Naples are open to those whose energies are unequal to cross-roads and trattorias. Veii is but two miles from the main road; Perugia is on it, Chiusi accessible. Other objects of Mrs. Gray's journeys are to be attained at the expense of various degrees of fatigue and inconvenience. To an active, and, in Homeric phrase, well-girt enthusiast, we should be inclined to recommend Castel d'Asso—rather, indeed, as a place for study and for sketching than for scavo speculation; for it would appear that most of its rock-hewn sepulchres have been long since plundered. We should argue, however, from Mrs. Gray's account, that it had been less carefully explored and described by recent travellers than the other principal seats of Etruscan magnificence; and it is certainly the Petra, or Jehosophat of Etruria. The artists who disseminate for the good of their fellow-creatures the knowledge of Hunt and Warren's blacking are little aware that they are plagiarists of the epitaphwriters of ancient Etruria. Speaking of this valley of tombs, Mrs. Gray says,

• About a quarter of a mile from where we had first detected the hand of art we began to perceive deep regular lines of inscription in the rocks. The letters were a foot high, and sometimes chiselled two inches deep in the stone; they were all in the oldest Etruscan character, and evidently intended to be read at a distance, perhaps even from the other side of the valley.'—p. 395.

The sepulchres of Etruria afford evidence, not only of the power and virtues of the race they inhume, but they occasionally, also, with equal fidelity, bear witness to its frailties and its crimes. The deep reverence of this people for the dead, and the solemn sentiment of many of their sepulchral devices, are sufficient to show that the tradition of eternal truth, whether flowing through Egyptian or other channels, had reached them. That they were warlike, and could deal hard blows, we know from history. It is, however, scarcely probable that the sterner martial virtues attributed by all authorities to the Sabine race were equally character. istic of the Etruscan. Without adopting at once the theory of their Lydian origin, we still perceive the Asiatic impress in their addiction to the feast, the dance, and the other good things of this world, which militates, perhaps, as strongly as any other

argument argument against Niebuhr's hypothesis of their descent from the Rhætian Alps. They were evidently a joyous race,-loved the ornaments of dress, and the pleasures of sight and sound. They feasted, wrestled, beat one another with fists, and, according to Aristotle, whipped their slaves to the sound of the Lydian double flute. The lucumo reclined on a gorgeous and embroidered couch, a cushion doubled behind his shoulders, and gazed, as might a modern pasha or rajah, on the voluptuous motions of the dancing girl. We pass no ascetic censure on these delectations,—if sack and sugar be a sin, God help the wicked,—and the symposia of our own and other northern nations would probably suffer by comparison with Etruscan refinement. The skill of their artists, however, was sometimes degraded, as male collectors know, to the office of perpetuating the record of their graver sensual vices.* We are sorry, also, to be compelled to state that, in the sarcophagus of one Velthuri, a man of family and rank in the Etruscan army, amid a large assortment of articles which indicate that he was a collector of rococo, a pair of loaded dice were discovered. These instruments, it is said, are not unfrequently found in the tombs. We would fain hope the indiscretions, indicated by their appearance in this instance, were all the defunct had to answer for towards the dark and buskined genius who wields his retributive hammer on the paintings of Tarquinia. On each side, however, of the same sarcophagus is a distinct representation of a human sacrifice.

It does not, indeed, as Mrs. Gray observes, necessarily follow that this delineation alludes to any passage in the life of Velthuri himself, as the sculptures of a sarcophagus have often no relation to the actions of its tenant. Other evidences, however, exist, which leave little doubt that human sacrifice was not unknown to the Etruscans; though there is no reason to believe that the practice was frequent. In one instance, of a vase now at Berlin, the painting, which was long supposed to convey proof that cannibalism was one of their indulgences, has turned out to be nothing more than a curious delineation of the process of moulding statues of terru cotta in separate pieces. The discovery of the moulds themselves has confirmed this interpretation. It would be hard on Sir F. Chantrey to be handed down to posterity as anthropophagous because some admiring disciple had sketched him in the act of fashioning the separate limbs of a Canning or a Munro.

Among the materials used by Etruscan artists ivory must be reckoned, but the specimens now extant are rare. The figure of

* Niebuhr positively denies this. We are sorry to differ from him on such a point; but though the Etruscans, like Shakspeare, may have been purer than their neighbours, we have seen but too much evidence of the assertion in the text.

the

the elephant appears in some of their paintings. In bronze their skill was doubtless great, and if we can adopt Mrs. Gray's estimate of the quality of some relievos in Campanari's possession, they rivalled the best Greek artists of the best time in this material; for she gives these objects the preference over the ornaments of the breast-plate supposed to be that of Pyrrhus, now in the British Museum. On the subject of the staple commodity of Etruria, vases and tazze, Mrs. Gray's volume contains some judicious remarks. The materials for this branch of Etruscan study are so numerous, and several distinctive peculiarities of the ancient manufacture at once so well ascertained and so inimitable, that the connoisseur is no longer in danger of fraud, and has hardly occasion to resort to the infallible tests with which chemistry provides him. The eye, indeed, must be well trained which could detect the modern portion of some repaired vases, but the sense of touch will discover a difference in the surface. All who have seen the Museo Borbonico must admit, that the more legitimate art of putting together the true fragments of ancient vases has attained in modern hands the acme of perfection, for some of the very finest of that collection have been recomposed of more than an hundred pieces. Such reconstructed vessels retain very justly in the market the full value due to their merit in respect of shape and design. A curious instance of a collector's good fortune is mentioned in the following passage (p. 218): –

Cavalier Kestner has two most valuable vases, the first of which, consisting of sixteen pieces, he purchased from a peasant at Tuscania, and when it came to be put together it was perfect except one piece. This the minister did not choose to supply, choosing rather to keep his vase imperfect; but a year after he purchased another basketful of fragments from another peasant, who had found them at Monte Fiascone. I forget how many pieces he found, but I think thirty-seven; of these thirty-six made another beautiful vase, and the thirty-seventh exactly supplied the vacant place of the vase he had purchased the preceding year.'

The ring of Polycrates is the only instance with which we can match this story; we trust that in the modern case no compensating misfortune has occurred.

Reversing the practice deprecated by Horace, we will conclude our remarks instead of beginning them, ab oco. Describing her visit to Campanari in his antiquarian domain of Tuscania, Mrs. Gray says (p. 301),—

"As I was leaving the room, I perceived in one corner a basket of eggs, which I naturally concluded that Signor Campanari had just sent

out

out to procure for our supper; when, to our astonishment, he informed us that these eggs had contributed to a funeral feast some two thousand years ago, as he had found them in the tomb he had been that day excavating. I think it has been remarked, in the description of the pictured walls of Tarquinia, that many of the guests on the triclinia had eggs in their hands, and that they were the ordinary commencement of au Etruscan banquet.'

We have made our extracts without compunction, for the volume is not one of those which can suffer by this process, or be distilled into an essence which will leave the original mass vapid and tasteless. Mrs. Gray's sepulchral picture gallery has no intervals of daub or vacancy. She has won an honourable place in the large assembly of modern female writers, and at her death (sero adveniat) deserves a monumental vault adorned with relievos by Mr. Westmacott, and paintings by Mr. Eastlake.

Art. IV.- De l'Instruction Publique en France, Guide des

Familles. Edition populaire, tirée à 10,000 exemplaire s. Par Emile de Girardin. Paris, 1840. THE subject of this small volume, published in the cheapest I form (the edition is said to be of 10,000 copies) for general distribution, is of vital interest, not to France alone, nor to Europe, but to the whole world. Europe, with the exception of two of its least civilised provinces, Spain and the Turkish empire, has now enjoyed a peace of twenty-five years ;-a longer period of repose from the crimes and miseries of war than has blessed mankind, since that which has been called the happiest epoch in historythe period between the death of Trajan and the accession of the younger Antoninus. Nor has peace failed to fulfil its sacred mission. It is difficult to estimate the immense advancement in population, in wealth, in comfort, in commerce, in internal and international communication throughout every part of the continent -in education in most countries-almost everywhere in the general, social, and intellectual condition of the people, in national self-respect, and respect for the rights and independence of other nations. It would be impossible to imagine a stronger contrast than the actual condition of Europe and its state at the close of the war, with its desolated fields and bombarded cities, with its commerce annihilated, its agriculture impoverished, its population thinned by conflicts of unexampled magnitude, the people weighed down by insupportable taxation, and galled by remorseless conscription, and with all the national antipathies and jea

lousies

« НазадПродовжити »