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useless to speak of the beauty of Egyptian architecture and sculpture to those who, not going to Egypt, can form no conception of its main condition ;-its appropriateness. I need not add that I think it worse than useless to adopt Egyptian forms and decorations in countries where there is no Nile and no Desert, and where decorations are not, as in Egypt, fraught with meaning -pictured language---messages to the gazer. But I must speak more of this hereafter. Suffice it now that in the bills, angular at their summits, with angular mounds at their bases, and angular caves in their strata, we could not but at once see the originals of temples, pyramids, and tombs. Indeed, the pyramids look like an eternal fixing down of the shifting sand-bills which are here the main features of the Desert. If we consider further what facility the Desert has afforded for scientific observation-how it was the field for the meteorological studies of the Egyptians, and how its permanent pyramidal forms served them, whether originally or by derivation, with instruments of measurement and caleulation for astronomical purposes ; we shall see that, or another, the Desert has been a great benefactor to the Egyptians of all time, however fairly regarded, in some senses, as an enemy. The sand may, as I said before, have a fair side to its character, if it has taken a leading part in determining the ideas, the feelings, the worship, the occupation, the habits, and the arts of the people of the Nile valley, for many thousand years.
Colton. (Tue following is an extract from “ Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words," --a work originally published in 1820, and which attained a high popularity. The author was the Rev. C. C. Colton, who also wrote some satirical poems. His career, it is understood, was unfortunate; but he was a man of great ability and varied acquirements.]
forest : but there are pillared aisles at El Karnac and Medeenet Haboo, which were constructed in a country which had no woods, and before the forests of northern Europe are discernible in the dim picture of ancient history.
What is earthly happiness ? that phantom of which we hear so much and see so little; whose promises are constantly given and constantly broken, but as constantly believed ; that cheats us with the sound instead of the substance, and with the blossom instead of the fruit. Like Juno, she is a goddess in pursuit, but a cloud in possession, deified by those who cannot enjoy her, and despised by those who can. Anticipation is her herald, but disappointment is her companion ; the first addresses itself to our _imagination, that would believe, but the latter to our experience, that must. Happiness, that great mistress of the ceremonies in the dance of life, impels us through all its mazes and meanderings, but leads none of us by the same route. Aristippus pursued her in pleasure, Socrates in wisdom, and Epicurus in both; she received the attentions of each, but bestowed her endearments on neither, although, like some other gallants, they all boasted of more favors than they had received. Warned by their failure, the stoic adopted a most paradoxical mode of preferring his suit ; he thought, by slandering, to woo her; by shunning, to win her; and proudly presumed that, by fleeing her, she would turn and follow him. She is deceitful as the calm that precedes the hurricane, smooth as the water on the verge of a cataract, and beautiful as the rainbow, that smiling daughter of the storm ; but, like the mirage in the desert, she tantalizes us with a delusion that distance creates, and that contiguity destroys. Yet, when unsought, she is often found, and, when unexpected, often obtained; while those who seek for her the most diligently fail the most, because they seek her where she is not. Anthony sought her in love ; Brutus in glory ; Cæsar in dominion; the first found dis grace, the second disgust, the last ingratitude, and each destruction. To some she is more kind, but not less cruel; she hands them her cup, and they drink even to stupefaction, until they doubt whether they are men with Philip, or dream that they are gods with Alexander. On some she smiles as on Napoleon, with an aspect more bewitching than an Italian sun; but it is only to make her frown the more terrible, and by one short caress to embitter the pangs of separation. Yet is she, by universal homage and consent, a queen ; and the passions are the vassal lords that crowd her court, await her mandate, and move at her control. But, like other mighty sovereigns, she is so surrounded by her envoys, her officers, and her ministers of state, that it is extremely difficult to be admitted to her presence chamber, or to have any immediate communication with herself. Ambition, avarice, love, revenge, all these seek her, and her alone; alas ! they are neither presented to her, nor will she come to them. She despatches, however, her envoys unto them-mean and poor representatives of their queen.
To ambition, she sends power; to avarice, . wealth ; to love, jealousy ; to revenge, remorse ; alas ! what are these, but so many other names for vexation or disappointment. Neither is she to be won by flattery or by bribes; she is to be gained by waging war against her enemies, much sooner than by paying any particular court to herself. Those that conquer her adversaries, will find that they need not go to her, for she will come unto them. None bid so high for her as kings; few are more willing, none more able, to purchase her alliance at the fullest price. But she has no more respect for kings than for their subjects; she mocks them, indeed, with the empty show of a visit, by sending to their palaces all her equipage, her pomp, and her train, but she comes not herself. What detains her? She is travelling incognita to keep a private assignation with contentment, and to partake of a tête-à-tête and a dinner of herbs in a cottage. Hear, then, mighty queen! what sovereigns seldom hear, the words of soberness and truth. I neither despise thee too little, nor desire thee too much ; for thou wieldest an earthly sceptre, and thy gifts cannot exceed thy dominion. Like other potentates, thou also art a creature of circumstances, and an Ephemeris of time. Like other potentates, thou also, when stripped of thy auxiliaries, art no longer competent to thine own subsistence; nay, thou canst not even stand by thyself. Unsupported by content on the one hand, and by health on the other, thou fallest an unwieldly and bloated fragment to the ground.
279.—THE DEATH OF AGRIPPINA, THE MOTHER OF
Tacitus, Annals, xiv. 3—9.
GEORGE LONG. (Caius Cornelius Tacitus, a great Roman historian, and one of the most remarkable writers of antiquity, is supposed to have been born in the reign of Nero. The following specimen of a translation of his “ Annals," will give some notion of his unequalled condensation of thought, and his power of vigorous narration in the fewest words.)
Nero now began to shun all private interviews with his mother : whenever she withdrew to her gardens, or her villa at Tusculum, or to the neighborhood of Antium, he would commend her for seeking retirement. At last, feeling her existence a heavy burden to him wherever she might be, he resolved to put her to death, the only matter of deliberation with him being whether he should get rid of her by poison, by the dagger, or by some other violent means. His first resolve was to take her off by poison. But, if poison should be given to her at the emperor's table, it could not be imputed to accident, for Britannicus had already perished by the same means; to tamper with the attendants of Agrippina appeared hazardous, for her experience in crime had made her vigilant against treachery, and she had fortified herself against poisons by the habit of taking antidotes. If the dagger was employed, nobody could suggest how the murder should be concealed ; and Nero feared that, whoever was selected to commit so great a crime, he might refuse to obey the emperor's commands.
Anicetus, a freedman, offered the resources of his invention. He was the commander of the fleet at Misenum, had been engaged in the education of Nero, and he and Agrippina haled one another. He told Nero that a vessel might be so constructed, that part of it could be detached when the vessel was afloat, and Agrippina thrown into the water before she was aware of it; that nothing gave so many chances of accident as the sea; and if Agrippina should perish in the wreck, who could be so unreasonable as to impute to crime what was the fault of the wind and waves ? that, when Agrippina was dead, the emperor could build a temple and erect altars to her memory, and make other demonstrations of filial affection. The device was approved, and it was favored the time, for Agrippina was in the habit of attending the festival of the Quinquatrus at Baia. To that place Nero lured his mother, often declaring “ that sons ought to bear with the angry passions of their parents and try to pacify them,” in order that he might give rise to reports of a reconciliation, and that Agrippina might believe it, for women are easily disposed to credit anything that pleases them. On her arrival, he went to meet her on the shore, for she came from Antium; he took her by the hand, embraced her, and conducted her to Bauli. That was the name of a villa, which was situated between the promontory Misenum and the lake of Baiæ, and washed by the waves of the sea, which there forms a kind of bay.
Among the rest of the vessels one more highly ornamented than the others was lying there, as if this also were designed to do honor to his mother, for she had been accustomed to sail in a trireme and have a body of rowers belonging to the fleet. She was also invited to a banquet, that advantage might be taken of the night to conceal the crime. It is well ascertained that some one betrayed the treacherous design of Nero; and Agrippina being informed of it, and doubtful whether to give credit to it or not, was carried to Baiæ in a litter. The blandishments of her son removed her fears. She was kindly received, and had a place at table assigned to her above Nero. Sometimes adopting the ordinary familiarity of youth, and then assuming a more seri. ous air, as if his purpose was to mingle business and pleasure, Nero prolonged the entertainment by varied conversation; and, when Agrippina rose to go away, he accompanied her to the seashore, keeping his eyes steadily fixed upon her, and pressing to her bosom, either to fill up the measure of his simulation, or it may be that the last sight of a mother who was going to her death absorbed all the thoughts of his mind, brutal though he was.
The gods had given a starlight night and a tranquil sea, as if to furnish evidence of the crime. The ship had not advanced far,