Abbildungen der Seite

rail-carriages are now propelled ; and this, too, at a price not amounting to that which we inhabitants of London pay for the same commodity!

The Duke of Wellington, in alluding on a late occasion to the invidious interpretations put by some among us on the plans and designs of Russia, said, in his usual spirit of fairness, that he saw no reason for doubting that her official language had been, and was, in unison with her intentions. We are sure it has been in unison with her most essential interests. The mart which Great Britain affords to this ally of three hundred years' standing for her grain, timber, tallow, and flax, is no trifle; and every puff of smoke from a steamer on the Neva must remind her of the old friend who now furnishes her with that material, without which she must cease to advance in manufactures and naval enterprise. Mr. Bremner confesses openly that, having entered the country imbued with prejudices, he left it with a high respect for the people, and with changed views regarding their government: we did not carry with us the prepossessions of which he got rid—but we heartily concur in his closing hope, that Russia and England may long continue united by a friendship which has hitherto stood firm under many rude assaults, and which is alike honourable and advantageous to the two greatest empires in the world.'

Art. III.---Tour to the Sepulchres of Etruria in 1839. By

Mrs. Hamilton Gray. London. 1840. SUCH UCH is the modest, though accurate, title of a work replete

with information on a subject, abstruse indeed and mysterious, but which, unlike many mysteries, attains a higher degree of interest in proportion as partial success rewards its investigation. Partial at best indeed can be the triumph of him, or her, who ventures on the field of Etruscan research; and the impossibility of detecting the unknown quantities of the problem is the more galling, because the stock of ascertained facts is copious. Races perhaps as numerous, dominations as extensive, the Pelasgic for instance, have passed away, and left no material evidence of their existence behind save a few fragments of rude and massive architecture; no record but the dim tradition of an inherited curse which urged them on their migrations, haunted them in their power, and was only exhausted by their accomplished destruction. Virere fortes, – but they flourished at periods too remote for contact with any other nation whose language and literature might have embalmed for our use their institutions, and conveyed to us the story of their wanderings, their conquests, and their fall. Pelasgian and Umbrian grapes are sour, and hang too far from our reach to stimulate hope or produce disappointment. The case of the Sabine tribes is somewhat different; they occupied, perhaps, at the one period or the other, as wide a territorial space in Italy as the Etruscan, and the era of their prosperity comes down to even a later date : their martial virtues demand respect, and have obtained honourable mention: they have left, however, few monumental records: their holds were strong from natural position rather than from constructive art or labour. Like the wild birds of their native Apennine, they built their nests in its cliffs, and it was only when, like other conquerors, they borrowed the arts of the people they had subdued, that they dealt in those fictile processes which attained such perfection in Etruria. We do not turn up Sabine vases at a stroke of the spade. If we seek for a remnant of the usages of the Marsi, such may indeed be detected in the practices of the modern juggler, who still descends from the neighbourhood of the Lago Celano to charm serpents and spell fortunes in the streets of Rome and Naples. Niebuhr asserts, that in Samnium Proper no remnant exists of architecture anterior to Rome, and that no specimen of purely Samnite manufacture has been found in glass or clay.* Every one in England has heard at least of Etruscan vases; Etruscan patterns have been long worked by those who ply the needle, and Mr. Wedgewood has made all classes familiar with the leading peculiarities of the manufacture which he so happily imitated. It may be questioned indeed, whether to many an English ear, the term Etruscan suggests any other idea than that of a vase of singular and graceful shape, with certain black figures upon a red ground, or vice versa. To those who are disposed to enlarge this extent of knowledge, and without plunging into folios of disquisition, or spending money on expensively illustrated works, to acquire some general notions of the variety and value of the specimens of Etruscan art still extant, we warmly recommend Mrs. Hamilton Gray's volume. It is our duty at the same time to warn them of their danger. Perhaps none should touch it who cannot afford time for more than a hurried trip to Italy, or whose banker's book does not leave a margin for the freaks of a collector.


It is seriously our opinion that if this little volume do not add to the number of the annual tourists to Italy, it will materially affect the route and proceedings of many in that country. The price of provisions and every other vendible commodity, will shortly rise in many a secluded spot hitherto known only to such adventurous explorers as Gell, Buntzen, and Kustner; as in all * Roman History, vol. i. p. 107. Berlin edition, 1827.


emigrations the fate and fortunes of the parties will probably be various as their characters, aptitudes, and acquirements. Some (like Frost and Bolam) will make their fortunes, others will return sulky and dissatisfied. Enterprise is slow in Italy; inns, bells, and waiters are not the growth of a day, and such products are preceded by various minor vices which usually spring up contemporaneously with the advent of the English in all varieties of soil and climate. All who follow Mrs. Gray's steps will be jolted on cross roads, some only to be starved, cheated, and fleabitten: others will return, as she has returned, from the sepulchres of Etruria, with a stock of information and recollections which may be available not only for their own use, but for that of their reading fellow creatures.

The singular attainments in art of this extinct people are the principal source of that curiosity as to their history, which we cannot now gratify; but what most embitters the regret we feel on this score is the reflection that, at the period of their highest power, they were not only co-existent, but intimately connected with a neighbour who, in adopting their institutions, might have preserved their annals. The Etruscan confederation did not die out of internal exhaustion; it fell before Rome, weakened indeed by dissensions, but fell fighting, and in the maturity of its civilisation. Their language, and probably polished literature, were at the disposal of their conquerors, and it was the will of those selfish victors not to preserve but to obliterate.* Their fate was that of Mexico and Peru. In time curiosity revived, but it was too late. It is a poor consolation to us to think that, little as we know, we know something more than men, who, curious as we, compared to us were all but contemporary with the subjects of our purblind and groping investigations. In the tiine of Polybius the former greatness of the Etruscans was disputed, pronounced a fable and a dream. If Polybius were to rise from the dead, we would brain him, not with a lady's fan, but with Mrs. Gray's octavo. Livy twaddled about their origin; and in our times a diplomatist from Germany explores truer sources of information, and Livy stands corrected.

Niebuhr observes that no department of ancient history has produced so much unprofitable disquisition and rash conjecture as the Etruscan, from the time of Annius of Viterbo to the present. Without undertaking to read the works of that writer, famous-in the Latin sense of the word famosus—for forging histories which

* To this there is a singular exception. We concur with lır and M Gray in lamenting over the loss of the Etruscan annals collected by the Emperor Claudius. We can no more console ourselves for their disappearance by the insignificance of their author, than we could for the loss of Boswell's Johnson on the same ground.


he ascribed to Sanconiathon, Manetho, and Berosus, names dear to the readers of Goldsmith, we are willing to take the ghost's word in this matter. We hope, however, and believe the zeal for discovery which has led to so much recent excavation in Italy, and which, even since the lamented death of Niebuhr, has added much to our store of evidence, is governed by a sounder spirit of criticism than is to be found in the works he censures. The main facts embraced in our actual knowledge of the Etruscans have been recapitulated in a former number of our journal,* but our readers will perhaps forgive us for briefly reverting to the chief of them before we direct their attention to the special subject of this article. The first is the establishment in Italy, for many centuries previous to the foundation of Rome, of a mighty people which has left traces of its civilisation inferior in grandeur perhaps to the monuments of Egypt, in beauty to those of Greece, but, with these exceptions, surpassing in both the relics of any other nation of remote antiquity. Their government was a rigid aristocracy, by what laws of inheritance preserved and regulated we are uncertain, but monopolising to its own ranks, and uniting in the same hands, the functions of the priest, the lawgiver, and the leader of armies. After having given rulers, and imparted to a large extent laws, rites, and usages to Rome, they fell before that power, and though their language long survived their independence and separate existence, as is testified by inscriptions so late as the period of the empire, it finally perished. From the close affinity of its alphabet to the Greek, we are able to read its records still extant, on the portals and interior walls of sepulchres, but the key to its construction and meaning is lost. Beyond proper names and their occasional identification with the Roman version of such, we can deduce little more from the inscriptions of Etruria but strong corroboration of the fact asserted by ancient authors, that their language was entirely distinct from the Greek, and from that portion of Latin at least which we are accustomed to consider as of Greek parentage. It was written in Oriental fashion, from right to left.

Their sepulchral practices have been the principal means of preserving to us the evidences of their advanced state of civilisation. The mode of sepulture varied at different periods and in different parts of their confederation. The corpse was sometimes left entire in a sarcophagus or on a bier; in other instances it was burnt, and the ashes inurned after the manner of the Romans and others. It appears probable that the former was the older and purely national practice, but in both cases the sepulchre of the wealthy or the great was in fact a subterranean museum, a * See Quart. Rev., vol. liv. p. 429, &c.


picture-gallery, a sculpture-room, and place of deposit for innumerable objects illustrative of their usages, social habits, and mythology.

Among the many inferences to be collected from this particular source of information, perhaps the two of highest moral importance are :—that their system of religion was based on a pervading and intense conviction of the immortality of the soul, and its responsibility beyond the grave for the actions done in the flesh;-and that the female sex, if not elevated to the station to which the doctrines of Christianity, the institutions of chivalry, and other minor causes, have raised it in modern Europe, was at least the companion and not the slave of the male, and probably in life, certainly in death, was admitted to the highest honours. They possessed a school of art, remarkable in all its stages for its national peculiarities, and in most for the beauty of its results. In two departments, those of the modeller in clay and the worker in gold, they may be said to have surpassed all nations, for neither in China 'nor at Sevres could some qualities of the Etruscan manufacture in clay be rivalled. Hindoo patience and cheapness of labour may equal the Etruscan gold manufacture in delicacy of texture, but cannot do so in beauty of design. The resemblance of the results is often striking. The limits of the fair and extensive portion of Italy occupied by this race may be laid down with tolerable accuracy, though, out of the sites of the twelve capitals of their confederation, one or two admit of dispute. The subject of their origin and of the quarter from which their civilisation first radiated is still controverted. For a statement of the difference between Niebuhr, who brings them down from the Rhotian Alps, and the Tuscan Micali who stands up for the pretensions of his native soil, we refer our readers to our former article. We are not aware that the researches conducted subsequently to the date of that article have thrown further light on this vexata quæstio, or given us reason to change our leaning, therein indicated, to Micali's view of it. Excavation has indeed multiplied the evidences of connexion and intercourse between Etruria and Egypt, but these later discoveries, principally made at Volci, hardly affect the question of their origin. Mr. Fellowes, one of the most diligent of modern travellers, has already given occupation to the learned by his discoveries of inscriptions, apparently Etruscan, in the territory of ancient Lydia. We have rumours of his further success, and on this and every other ground await the publication of his forthcoming volume with much interest.

Mrs. H. Gray's very agreeable book, like Newton's theory of gravitation, is the result of an accident. Some two years ago Signor Campanari, a proprietor of Etruscan soil, and a success


« ZurückWeiter »