Imágenes de páginas

It might have been supposed ibat all the true lovers of arts in Europe, and even, if there were any such, among the native inhabitants of Athens, would agree that he was in the right; and regret that he could not carry off ten times more, unless there had been any cause to hope for a rescue from some other quarter. Certain of our polished neighbours, however, would have been better pleased, we have no doubt, that the last of the works of Phidias should bave been reduced to mortar for another Turkish fort, than preserved for perpetuity in the possession and almost idolatrous reverence of the English. And indeed it seems to have been with no small difficulty that Lord Elgin was enabled to put any of them out of the reach of this former destiny ; for all the interest which he possessed with the Turkish government as Ambassador of England, was but just enough, when exerted to the utmost, to obtain the fragments which he wished to bring away ;whether it was that, perceiving him extremely intent on his object, they wished to make a great inerit of conceding it, or that they too must pretend some partiality for these fine works, and, knowing no use of them but to make lime, would be understood as setting a peculiarly high price on their exemption from that use.

Between this Turkish mode of amateurship, and the intriguing hostility of the French, it appears a piece of wonderful good fortune that so many got fairly out of the country; and though a portion of them were lost in a shipwreck off the island of Cerigo, we are glad to find that the number finally secured is so considerable.

• Lord Elgin made use of all his means, and ultimately with such suc. cess, that he has brought to England, from the ruined temples at Athens, from the modern walls and fortifications, in which many fragments had been used as so many blocks of stone, and from excavations made on purpose, a greater quantity of original Athenian sculpture, in statues, alti and bassi relievi, capitals, cornices, frizes, and columns, than exists in any other part of Europe.' p. 10.

He is in possession of several of the original metopes from the temple of Minerva, representing the battles between the Centaurs and Lapithæ, at the nuptials of Perithous. The figures are in such high relief as to seem groupes of statues, and they are in general finished with as much attention behind as before. Some sculptures in low relief appear to have been obtained from the frize, which was carried along the top of the walls of the cell,' and represented, in a continual series of six hundred feet in length, the whole of the solemn procession to the temple of Minerva during the Panathenaic festival.' By digging in the site of a Janizary's house, which he purchased and deinolished for this purpose, he obtained parts of the statues of Victory and Minerva, and of other figuresi which had been placed over the grand entrance from the west. From the dilapidated tympanum over the opposite portico he took several colossal figures; a figure denominated the Theseus, which is universally admitted,' he says, “to be superior to any piece of statuary ever brought into England ;' and 'a horse's head, which far surpasses any thing of the kind, both in the truth and spirit of the execution : the nostrils are distended, the ears erect, the veins swollen, one might also say throbbing: his mouth is open, and he seems to neigh with the conscious pride of belonging to the Ruler of the Waves. He brought away, besides, specimens of all the parts of the architecture, so that the practical architect may examine into every detail of the building. Specimens were also obtained from the Propylæa, from the temples dedicated to Neptune and Erectheus, Minerva Polias, and the nymph Pandrosos, and from the remains of a temple of Venus between Athens and Eleusis. Moulds were taken from the most beautiful of the ornaments.


2. H

• The architects have also made a ground plan of the Acropolis, in which they have not only inserted all the existing monuments, but have likewise added those, the position of which could be ascertained from traces of their foundations. The ancient walls of the city, as they existed in the Peloponnesian war, have been traced in their whole extent, The gates, mentioned in ancient authors, have been ascertained, and every public monument, that could be recognised, has been inserted in a general map, as well as detailed plans given of each. Extensive excavations were necessary for this purpose, particularly at the great theatre of Baco chus, and at the Pnyx, where the assemblies of the people were held, when Pericles, Alcibiades, Demosthenes, and Æschines, delivered their orations.'

The opening of various Tumuli has supplied a complete collection of Greek vases. The spoils of one, which Lord E. conjectures to have perhaps been the tomb of Aspasia, were peculiarly rich. He obtained the very ancient sun-dial, which existed at the theatre of Bacchus during the time of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.' Many ancient bas reliefs and inscriptions were obtained in the churches and convents of Athens, which Lord E. obtained the archbishop's permission to examine. "The peasants of Athens generally put into a niche over the door of their cottages, any fragment they discover in plougbing the fields.' Out of these were selected and purchased many various antique votive tablets, with sculpture and inscriptions.'-The collection of inscriptions 'comprehends specimens of every remarkable peculiarity in the variations of the Greek alphabet, throughout the most interesting period of Grecian history.'

Having completed this rich assemblage, Lord Elgin became anxious to determine on some plan for rendering it the most effectually serviceable to the arts. The one adopted has been, in the first place, the formation, in London, of a museum, in which the whole of the most valuable acquisitions are to be exhibited to the inspection of the public. And, as far as appears, it is intended, by the aid of a fund expected to arise from this exhibition, to publish engravings, executed in the most perfect style, of the drawings in the architectural department, at a rate of expense not above the means of professional men. These drawings are completely prepared. It does not appear whether it is intended to publish engravings of the statues and bas reliefs. It is decided there shall be no attempt to restore the mutilations. This had at first been intended; and Lord E. went to Rome to engage the celebrated Canova in the undertaking; but, after examining some specimens, and informing himself of the general quality of the collection, that artist declared it would be sacrilege in him, or any man, to presume to touch them with a chisel.

Thus we have secured the possession of a small specinien of the very utmost that human ability could ever accomplish in this department; and really we should think we could not well do it greater injustice in the estimate, than to entertain any šuch expectation as Lord Elgin most unaccountably avows in his concluding sentence,—that "sculpture may soon be raised in England to rival the ablest productions of the best times of Greece.'

There are added to this tract two letters from Mr. West, Notes on Phidias and his School, and a Description, (from a French author) of a bas relief from the Parthenon, now in the Musée Napoleon. There are three small engravings in outline, one representing a very beautiful bas relief of a quadriga.

Art. IV. Organic Remains of a former World. An Examination of the

mineralized Remains of the Vegetables and Animals of the Antedilu. vian World ; generally termed Extraneous Fossils. By James Park

inson, Vol. III. WE have already had occasion to mention the two former

volumes of this valuable work with considerable approbation;* and the present concluding volume does great credit to the author's assiduity to deserve the favourable reception which they received from the public. His intimacy with the subject has become greater, his acquaintance with its objects

* Ecl. Rey. Vol. I. p. 44--47, and Vol. V. p. 708-719.

more extensive; and the collateral assistance which he has obtained from the works of preceding and conteinporary writers, more varied and important. During the years which have elapsed since Mr. P. published his first volume, the science to which it relates has been rapidly gaining interest and strength; and while he deserves gratitude for having contributed to excite and animate the spirit of inquiry, he merits no inferior degree of praise, for having availed himself of the discoveries which have daily unfolded, and kept pace with the improvements which have in consequence been made. The volume before us proves him to have been a diligent and a judicious observer of the progress of our knowledge of extraneous fossils, and presents an useful, correct, and satisfactory general view of that part on which it is employed. If we have any material cause of complaint, it is that in endeavouring to put the public soon in possession of the conclusion of his work, Mr. P. has compressed many parts, so as to render them much less complete than we could have wished to see them, and has thrown together his excellent and valuable materials in a manner which occasionally too evidently betrays haste and slovenliness. To have done justice, indeed, to the numerous subjects treated of in this volume, would have required extending it to at least twice its present size. We shall, according to our plan with the former volume, endeavour to give our readers a general idea of its contents; from which they will be able to form an estimate of the nature and importance of the information which it communicates.

It opens with the remainder of the Linnæan class of verMEs, with a part of which the whole second volume had been occupied. The first family is the Linnæan genus usterias; but as this name has been already applied to the single joints of the vertebral column of the pentacrinites, Mr. P. is obliged to distinguish them by the appellation of stelle marinæ, to which, however, objections may be raised. At best it can only be admitted to distinguish a family; such a generic name being quite contrary to the accepted rules of scientific nomenclature. Mr. P. niakes use of Linck's names pentagonaster, pentaceros, astropecten, &c. for the different genera; but, as the remains are of very rare occurrence, (owing to the inability of the covering of the animals to resist decomposition long enough to permit the surrounding mass to assume sufficient consistency to preserve their figure,) it would perhaps have been preferable to retain them under a single appellation.

The next Linnæan genus, echinus, is very properly made distinctive of a separate family; and its contents are arranged under the genera established by Leske. The mineralized remains of these animals afford some of our most beautiful fos


sils, whose value is only apparently diminished on account of several of them being tolerably abundant. Their striking figure has from the earliest times attracted the attention of the curious, and exercised the imaginations of the fanciful, who have given them the names of ombria, ceraunii lapides, brontia, and ova anguina. Nor have our philosophical chalk diggers, who often meet with them, been deficient in adding to the list of synonymes. All the echini seem to be furnished with two openings, one for the admission of food and water, the other to eject the refuse; on the different relative situation of which, the division of the family into anocysti, catocysti, and pleurocysti depends. These are again subdivided into several ge:

In the recent animal the surface is generally covered with spiculæ of very varied configuration; these are also often found mineralized, but being naturally attached to the crustaceous covering of the animal by a merely membranous ligament, seļdom adhere to the petrifaction of the body. A few instances have occurred, which indicate the connexion belween certain' kinds of spines and their respective echini. Owing to their great variety and number, it has, however, been found necessary, in order to distinguish them, to arrange them as independent of the bodies to which they belong; and in doing this Mr. P. has favoured us with some ingenious observations relative to the difference between these substances and Belemnites. Klein had already suspected, that the distinction from the internal spathose, or radicated, texture was insufficient; and Mr. P. has been fortunate enough to discover indubitable spines of echini, with the internal formation and colour of Belemnites. We are therefore deprived of the means of separating them, unless the alveola in one extremity prove them to belong to the latter; or an articulating terinination, and peculiar surface refer them to the former. These bodies are termed chalk bottles, files, &c. by the workmen, and frequently exhibit the utmost elegance of form and surface.

The immense family of SHELLS, Mr. P. has arranged ac, cording to the method of Lamark in his Systême des Animaux sans Vertebres. The Linnæan genera were indeed quite insufficient for the varieties of form discovered among these fossils. There were some to which none of his characters would apply; others seemed intermediate, partaking of the characteristics of two different genera; and others again combined distinct genera, by possessing the characteristics of both. Lamark, in the work alluded to, besides introducing a new arrangement of the whole Linnæan classes of Vermes and Insecta, has, in his new class, Molusca, shewn equal assiduity. and skill in bringing into order the vast number of species,

« AnteriorContinuar »