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present narrative among those to whom we confess a limited obligation, the burden of which he might have rendered much more onerous, had he bestowed a little more of the ability he undoubtedly possesses, in giving us less of the mere journal, and more of those delineations of scenes and characters which are so interesting and instructive. We must confess the more he discloses to us regarding the heroine of his work, the less interest and sympathy we feel towards her. The masculine qualities sit ill upon a woman, and the career of Lady Hester Stanhope will rather furnish a beacon to her sex for the avoidance of similar extravagances, than a temptation to imitate them.
Placed as she was, and supported externally by our diplomatists with money at her command, herself full of energy, almost her only valuable quality, nothing that she did can excite rational wonder except the poverty of her taste displayed in the choice of her society and the coarseness of her habits. Still we must acknowledge our debt to the author for putting in our power the means of forming a judgment to which, when our readers have perused these volumes which we recommend them to dog-we are very sure they will assent.
THE HISTORY OF EGYPT FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TILL THE CONQUEST
BY THE ARABS. By Samuel Sharpe. A New Edition. 8vo. Moxon.
WHILE Greece and Rome, after the revival of learning, dazzled the world with the history of their past greatness, that of Egypt ceased to excite curiosity. The country that was a giant upon the earth for more than a thousand years anterior to the semi-civilised Greeks sitting down before Troy, was only nominally remembered from the capture of Alexandria by Amrou to the expedition of Napoleon. The recital of a solitary traveller now and then awakened a momentary curiosity about its long-remembered site, and prevented the pyramids themselves from being forgotten, but anything novel respecting this nursing mother of learning and the arts no one anticipated. A change has suddenly taken place. The land of Memnon has been raised from the dust of ages. Commerce has again made it the highway to India as it was in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, and all which relates to it is become a matter of considerable interest. This revival, followed by discoveries connected with the antiquities and language of the oldest among the family of nations, seemed to point out the necessity of such a work as the present.
However deficient in materials relating to the history of Upper Egypt Mr. Sharpe might find himself, his task was a most useful one, from its placing all available materials in a connected form ; and he appears to have fulfilled it with laborious diligence and most persevering research. He has rallied every available authority around his purpose, but until the Thebaid fall to the rank of a province, almost all that can be had recourse to for guiding the historian is drawn from Manetho, Diodorus, and one or two other writers, and this period embraces, at the lowest, the space of a thousand years. Mr. Sharpe has recourse also to sacred history for a part of his materials, but these
afford no aid in settling the chronology at this early period, as that of the
The kings of Lower Egypt begin with Shishak, B.c. 990, who conquered the Thebaill and annexo it to his own kingilom as a dependent province. The race of kings of Lower Egypt, governing for four hundred and sixty years, was overthrown by the Persian barbarian Canhyses, and from that time—thanks principally to Herodotus, the history of this interesting country becomes much clearer and more connected; but little or nothing more is gained in knowledge about the Thebaid, or the wonderful city that was spoken of by Homer as that of the hundred gates, through each of which it could send forth two hun<lred men and chariots to battle, but thus evidently spoken of by the blind bard without any precise knowledge of its wonders. Mr. Sharpe follows the history of the Persian dominion to its conclusion. Next he depicts Egypt under its (ireek conquerors, Ptolemy Soter, and the other Ptolemies down to Cleopatra ; then as a Roman province; and, finally its conquest by Amrou and the Mahometans, when Alexandria, which had been the refuge of all the learning of the time, completed the triumph of the barbarians of the crescent, and the last relics of existing wisdom and experience treasured in the library there, were employed for six months to heat the ovens of the city. Thus the pictured mind of the antecedent world may be said to have been consumed, and the connection of our own with it for ever cut off.
All these things are detailed in a lucid manner, and in a style that well becomes the gravity of historical narrative. There is no assumption, no effort at display, nothing florid nor gibberish in touching upon some circumstances that might have afforded the temptation to deviate into such a style. The work is rather characterised by a sober earnestness, carrying a conviction to the reader's mind that the author's heart is in his subject, and that the motives by which he is prompted are such as should characterise an historian. The time it must have occupied in the composition, cannot but have been considerable, and we are dis
posed on every ground to form a high estimate of a history that assumes so becoming an appearance, and has evidently had to contend with no ordinary difficulties.
Among the singularities which mark the connection of the Jews with Egypt, and which have been noticed by travellers, inducing a belief that Moses drew a great deal of his system of polity from his acquaintance with Egyptian learning and customs, Mr. Sharpe says that the Egyptians carved the praises of their gods and heroes upon their buildings, Moses enjoined the Jews to write the words of the law on their door-posts. The Egyptians added wings to gods, to worms, serpents, and even to the sun; the Jews placed cherubs with wings over the mercy-seat. In a procession of Rameses III. an ark is borne after the god Chem, two cubits and a half long and a cubit and a half high, exactly of the size and form of that which the Jews were ordered to make. When the Jews were bitten by serpents, Moses made a brazen serpent and set it on a pole ; among the Egyptian standards the same serpent on a pole is seen. The golden calf made by Aaron was a representation of the animal (Mnevis) they had perhaps seen worshipped at Heliopolis. The coincidence might be extended further of this horrowing from Egypt. On the sarcophagi of the Egyptian kings there is a representation of the conquest of the “ Eternal Serpent,” the great enemy of mankind : how often is the serpent used in this sense among the Jews! Swine were an abomination to both people. The Egyptians had a veiled tabernacle for oracular worship, still seen on their sculptures. The priest-code in Egypt seemed copied in the Levites : many of their accompaniments, even the holy candlesticks and the table of shewbread are found sculptured on Thebes' temples. Such a history as that of Mr. Sharpe's thus possesses a new interest from the connection, far closer than was imagined to exist half a century ago, between the customs and ceremonies of the two nations. We must further accord our approval of that portion of the history in a particular manner, which touches upon the learned men, Christians and others, from the reign of Antoninus to the conclusion in the melancholy end of Alexandria. It contains a good deal of interesting information in a small space, and shows how much the world was indebted to Egypt for the prolongation of learning when Gothic darkness was everywhere else extinguishing its salutary influence. We close our notice of this History with reluctance, but not without a hearty recommendation of it, at a moment when Egypt is again beginning to assume a visible form, we may almost say, among “civilised nations;" and the re-opening of the ancient road to India has taken place under circumstances that must make all relating to its history doubly valuable. There is no history, like that of Egypt for furnishing the reflective mind with materials for thinking, or from which so much is to be gathered tending to trace out the course of human destiny under all its aspects; a History of Egypt is, therefore, in its general utility a valuable present to philosophy.
Leoxrive; or, the Court of Louis the Fifteenth. By MRS. MABERLY,
Juthor of “ Jolanthe," dr 3 vols, 8vo, London: H. Colburn. This is another of those mixtures of excitement and sentimentality that have become. We support, the fashion with the circulating libraries. We cannot think very highly of the intellect of those who patronise them, nor does it say much for the wisdom or sense of the higher classes that such is the pabulum on which their minils delight to feast. Ilereditary prejudices are ming with manners equally hereditary, nor do the writers seem at all out of the regular routine by their style or their descriptions: In all we timid the same stereotype of phrase, the same outline of description : the same faultless regularity of form ;" — the forehead wita prealizeps a little more high ;"—"a vision of such transcendent loveliness ;--- "the voice of the speaker appeared to thrill through the frame of the person she adresseul."—Or, for description, take the following ; ill surely it is to be found in every romance, from Mrs. Raidelities "lilolpho"? 10 the present time, and would induce us to believe, that, having described the extreme of the circle in Sir Walter Scott, we are now 1eturning to the point from whence we started on the novel-writing career:-"Yes, cried the pretended friar, tearing of' his lisguise, and throwing liim-elf at the feet of the Duchess. Yes, it is Richelieu, the Richelieu whom you have corned, the friend whom you have distrusted, the lover whom you have forsken, but who, however scorned, however abandoneil, will never forsake you.
The concoction of novels of this kind has become a trick, or, at all events, i traile, and a very poor business it must be i trifling acquaintance with history, a very little knowledge of fashionable moules; a good assortment of set phrases ; an extensiv realing in the romantic fiction of the last thirty years, with a clinch of the previous age; a funciful taste for piquant names; a considerable flow of worils, and ill undaunted disregard of common sense will sit up in hundred such writers.
With respect to clelineation of character, or the capacity to propound any new observations on human atiairs, no one who peruses the present works of fiction need trouble themselves. It is true, indeerd, that the present race of novelists do not indulge in such a vicious display of a disordereil imagination as diil the more antiquated supporters of the Minerva press. The increased common sense of the age will not permit it, and they have been compelled to keep within the hounds of better taste. But their human beings are equally unreal ; and though they do not absolutely draw monsters that the slightest reflection will prove to be impossibilities ; still they manufacture personages that could have no actual existence. Their incongruities are not so startling, but consequently the false notions thus disseminated are the more injurious, precisely because they are more insidious.
We cannot turn to a page of the present novel without being struck by the amount of contagiousness there is in such literature. We find in every sentence the flowers of former novelists carried, unintentionally perhaps, into these pages. There seem to have been thrown into the language a certain amount of phrases that pass like current coin, and
which are seized by each without regard to the originator. “ The haughty and impetuous duke, " the crafty prelate," “this monster in human form, though his foot had trodden on the neck of his enemy; even“ haughty foe,” and “ hurling defiance,” are not yet discarded.
There is, however, a worse evil attending this class of writing than even these errors against taste. A kind of talent, akin to that of the cook in culinary matters, has been generated, which knows how, by a little setting and toning, to sharpen the appetite and nourish the passions. We have descriptions of exciting emotions, the details of I happy and mysterious love," all pointedly and piquantly narrated. Descriptions of“ gorgeous luxuries” are minutely given. Realities are indeed taken as the groundwork, but fancy is so employed in heightening and exaggerating them, that they become more intoxicating than the wildest dreams of oriental romance, We are in no danger of mistaking these latter for delineations of human nature, nor of being betrayed into absurd notions of the real world by their perusal; but many, if not most of the readers of modern romance, imagine themselves instructed in a knowledge of character, and emerge from the library into the world, ready to attach to every man, whose outward characteristics agree with the novelist's description, the properties of a villain or a philanthropist, a Richelieu or a Guesclin. Like all excitement, there can be no doubt this overwrought stuff unfits the reader's mind it catches hold of for the true affections and business of life. There is doubtless some powers of composition required, some talent exercised in the description, and some taste iri occasional passages; but it is highly desirable that these powers should be applied to better purposes than the misleading the weak, stimulating the feverish, and confounding the inquiring:
Mrs. Maberly is not particularly to blame. Judged by its competitors, “ Leontine” may stand with “ Emilia Wyndham,” “The Eventful Epoch,” or any of the sentimental class of fiction it has been of late cur fate to peruse. It is a decaying part of our literature, as those know who are practically engaged in the distribution of books ; and the sooner it is utterly obliterated the better for the mass of undistinguishing readers who support our circulating libraries. A sounder and a healthier literature is gradually superseding it; and it is the duty of all, who have the power, to aid the one and denounce the other. We make no crusade against fiction, believing it to be one of the readiest means of disseminating the most important knowledge—the knowledge of human nature ; but we do think it incumbent to expose the false guide who, while affecting to delineate character, is only indulging his fancy; and who, assuming the garb of the philosopher, turns out to be a common juggler. PROSE FROM THE SOUTH. By John EDMUND READE, Author of “Italy," &c.
In Two Volumes. London: Charles Ollier. On the subject of books of travels an extremely false theory too commonly prevails. It is supposed that the source of novelty lies in the