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visitor through an iron grating.
The Bachano were the
(47) Among the causes of Egypt's wealth we must mention the distinction of its industrious classes into castes, which, whether upheld for economical or religious reasons, was the adoption of that well-known principle the division of labour. Not only were the priests, the soldiers, and artizans habitually separated, but every particular Plato, trade and manufacture was carried on by its own craftsmen, and none changed from one trade to another or carried on several. This gave them a skill in manufactures and trade that was quite unknown to the neighbouring nations. The names which Egypt has given us for the native products of the soil, such as ammonia from the Oasis of Ammon, syenite from the city of Syene, natron and nitre from Mount Nitria, and alabaster from the city of Alabastron, topaz and sapphire stones from the islands of Topazion and Sapirene in the Red Sea, emerald from Mount Smaragdus, prove not so much the native richness of the country as that the people were the first who had skill enough to discover and make use of these products.
(48) They made use of the cubit measure divided into six hand-breadths, or twenty-four fingers; and also of Egypt: the royal cubit, which consisted of this lesser cubit 2nd Series. and a hand-breadth over. The royal cubit contained twenty English inches and two-thirds. The Jews Ezekiel, made use of the same measures for length of a cubit and a hand-breadth. Longer distances the Egyptians Herodotus, measured by the. schoenus of about six miles in length. Land was measured by the aroura or half acre, which, if square, measured a hundred cubits on each side. That measures nearly the same were in use from the earliest times we learn from the size of the pyra
Vyse's mids. Exactly such was the cubit used in making the five smaller pyramids of Gezeh; while in the four largest it was about half an inch longer. The side of the base in the pyramid of Chofo measures four hundred royal cubits; in that of Nef-Chofo, the largest pyramid, it measures five hundred lesser cubits. In the others also the side of the base is always of an even number of royal cubits;
and the three small pyramids near that of Nef-Chofo each stand upon an aroura of land, measuring one hundred royal cubits on each side.
(49) The land of the whole country was divided into three unequal portions. One belonged in name to the king, and was held by tenants of the crown, who paid a rent or land-tax of one fifth of the crop. A second ch. xlvii. portion belonged to the hereditary priesthood, who held it free of rent for their own maintenance and for the expenses of the temples and of the religious services. The third portion was held by the military lib. ii. 168. order, on the tenure of serving three years in the army when called out, which was probably to be only once in each man's life. In this way two millions and a half of acres, or a quarter of the cultivated land of the country, was held by four hundred and ten thousand soldiers, at twelve arouræ, or six acres, a man. The whole cultivated land of Egypt may have been about eleven millions of acres, or perhaps a fourth part of that of England and Wales, of which part was watered by the natural overflow of the river, and part by means of canals and ditches. But from the climate and habits and vegetable diet of the people, life was supported more easily in Egypt than on most spots of the globe; and, at a time when the drachm of silver would purchase about a bushel of wheat, the maintenance of a child who could run about without shoes or clothes, did not cost his father twenty drachms in all from his birth till he was his own master; hence we need not be startled at the population being stated at various times at three and at seven millions. Indeed, an actual standing army of forty thousand native soldiers and forty thousand mercenaries, which we meet with a few years later, could hardly be supported by less than five millions of people. For purposes of government the kingdom was divided into nomes, which varied in number from thirty to forty, each of which was governed by its chief city; and again into smaller districts, which were called villages, but were less than our parishes, and varied from eighteen thousand to thirty thousand. Thus a village would be a space of about two hundred and forty acres, or forty such farms as were allotted to each registered soldier. But
Lib. i. 31.
lib. i. 80.
we have no Egyptian Domesday-book remaining to correct the blunders we may have fallen into in thus attempting to explain the tenure of the soil.
(50) The Egyptians gave full employment to the sculptor; and the sculptor's art in its highest branch, when portraying the human form in statues or on the wall, betrays as clearly as does that of the poet or historian the rise or fall of good taste and civilisation in a nation. Egypt had led the way in this art, but after a time ceased to improve. The statues were made, as it would seem, without the help of clay or soft models, by which alone ease and grace can be given to the figure. Indeed, the mud of the Nile will not answer for the purpose of clay. They were cut at once on the hard stone from measurements, or at best from small drawings. Hence arose their stiffness, the straightness of their lines, and hence also the correctness of the proportions in the larger parts, and the want of finish in the smaller parts. The nation's respect for a dead body forbad their studying anatomy; as at the embalmment they only cut so far as was necessary to take out the bowels and softer parts. Hence the bones and muscles are but slightly marked, and the veins not at all. The faces show very few marks of youth or age or of aim at likeness. The hieroglyphics show a style of art at Memphis was very different from that of Thebes, and not nearly so good. Of the statues made at Memphis we can form no opinion, as the smalle ones may have been moved from place to place; and the colossus of the Theban king, forty-five feet high, was of course made under the direction of a Theban artist. The Theban school produced its best statues as early as the reign of Amunothph III., whose sitting colossal figures are a model of quiet and noble grandeur (see Fig. 173). It continued to flourish without much loss of simplicity till after the reign of Rameses II., and we may distinguish as many as four schools to which it gave birth. These were the
Ethiopic, the Assyrian, the Greek, and the later Egyptian under the kings of Sais. Of these four one only, namely, the Greek, carried art forward to a higher degree of excellence. They were all children of the same rude but healthy mother but the other three turned aside from the true path, as they were misled by false taste of one kind or another. Their works are of value to the antiquary and historian; but they can only help the artist, when by a comparison with those of early Egypt and Greece they teach him what temptations of ornament he has to fear, and what faults of exaggeration or weakness he has to shun. They offer also the same help to the critic when unable to find words wherewith to describe
the merits of the better works. He makes use of these as examples, in order to point out the faults from which others are free.
(51) The Ethiopian artist did not keep to the true proportion of the human figure. He made it too broad and thick (see Fig. 174). He mistook stoutness for grandeur, and strength of limb for dignity. The colossal figures of King Rameses II. at Abou Simbel are only six heads high. Though
certainly if ever such a fault could be excused, it is at the front of this temple, where four of these broad-limbed giants sit with their backs against the rock, as though to support it. But we must remember they were not meant for figures of Hercules or Atlas, but for the portraits of a king of a highly cultivated people.
(52) The comparison of the Assyrian sculpture (see Fig. 175) with the early Egyptian sculpture is yet more favourable for the Egyptians. The Egyptian artist, while every step was new to him, attempted very little action in his figures, and wisely placed them at rest, and more often seated. They are correctly balanced, and their limbs are suited to the weight that they have to bear. He did not give his chief attention to the less important, and overlook that which is more so. The proportions of the whole are always more correct than the proportions of the parts. He added no trifling ornaments, nor variety of folds in hair and drapery to cover the want of grace and beauty. From these faults the Assyrian sculptor is by no means free.
(53) The later Egyptian school, under the kings of Sais, bears the usual marks of a declining state of the art (see Fig. 176). The artist has more science and less judgment;
more eagerness to display his knowledge of anatomy and less fear of displaying his ignorance. In particular, when aiming at grace and beauty, his muscles are puffed with an