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Herculaneum Manuscripts.

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prayer, which is supposed to be re- was soon found to be a task which no peated as many times as the plate is one could hope fully to accomplish. made to revolve. Furnished with this To unrol these sheets, no effort that conveniency, the traveller is able, with ingenuity could suggest, has been left out stopping, merely by twirling the untried, and no expense has been plate with his fingers, to send up even spared. more prayers to the divinity than the But it is only in a partial manner, ecclesiastical law compels him to offer. that all the skill and laborious patience

hitherto employed, have been crowned with success.

The sheets unrolled, HERCULANEUM MANUSCRIPTS.

contain writing in the Greek language, There is scarcely an article of anti- but nothing of importance has thus far quity in the world, which has furnished been presented to the literary world. mankind with a greater fund of enter- of these ancient manuscripts, many tainment, than the ruins of Hercula- are at Madrid; but a great number

Dionysius Halicarnassensis remain at Portici, a village not far conjectures, that this city began to from the spot beneath which the ruins exist about sixty years before the war of Herculaneum lie. On these, adof Troy, or about 1342 years prior to ditional experiments are repeatedly the Christian era. It continued to making; and from some recent efforts flourish about 1400 years, and was of our celebrated countryman, Sir finally overwhelmed by an eruption of Humphrey Davy, the hopes of the Mount Vesuvius, in the first year of learned have been greatly revivthe empire of Titus, A. D. 79. ed. Of the opinion entertained by

Although it was well known that this this scientific gentleman, respecting city had existed, its exact situation the Herculaneum manuscripts, his remained a secret, from the time of chemical experiments to unrol them, its destruction, until the year 1713, his successes and hopes, an interesting when it was accidentally discovered account was published in No. XIII. by some labourers, who, in digging of the Quarterly Journal of Science. a well, struck upon a statue, on the From this account we have taken the benches of a theatre, into which they following extracts, which contain the had entered. The depth at which this essence of his observations. city now lies, beneath the present sur- Report of Sir Humphrey Davy. face of the earth, varies from 70 to 112 Having witnessed Dr. Sichler's feet. The incumbent mass of matter attempts to unrol some of the Hercubears undeniable marks of six differ- laneum MSS., it occurred to me, that ent volcanic eruptions, the strata of a chemical examination of the nature lava or burnt matter having distinct of the MSS., and of the changes that veins of vegetable soil between them. they had undergone, might offer some

From this subterraneous city, many data as to the best methods to be articles of great curiosity have been attempted for separating the leaves taken up; and there is no doubt that from each other, and rendering the many more still remain. Such as have characters legible. been secured, are now scattered over “My experiments soon convinced Europe, and either lodged in public me, that the nature of these MSS. had museums, or preserved in the cabinets been generally misunderstood ; that of the curious. But, in addition to they had not, as is usually supposed, the busts, altars, paintings, vases, been carbonized by the operation of kitchen utensils, and appendages of fire, and that they were in a state analopulence and luxury, many ancient agous to peat, or Bovey coal, the leaves manuscripts were discovered among the being generally cemented into one ruins. When these were first brought mass by a peculiar substance which to light, great hopes were entertain- had formed during the fermentation ed, that original works of the classic and chemical change of the vegetable writers would be recovered, and that matter composing them, in a long the world would be enriched with some course of ages. The nature of this long lost literary treasures. But the substance being known, the destrucsheets containing these manuscripts tion of it became a subject of obvious being rolled together, adhered so firm-chemical investigation; and I was forly, that the difficulty of separating tunate enough to find means of accomthem, without destroying the writing, plishing this without injuring the cha

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racters or destroying the texture of | fragment of the ceiling of one of the the MSS.

rooms, containing lines of gold leaf After the chemical operation, the and vermilion in an unaltered state ; leaves of most of the fragments per- which could not have happened if they fectly separated from each other, and had been acted upon by any temperathe Greek characters were in a high ture sufficient to convert vegetable degree distinct: but two fragments matter into charcoal. were found in peculiar states; the The state of the MSS. exactly leaves of one easily separated, but the coincides with this view: they were characters were found wholly defaced probably on shelves of wood, which on the exterior folds, and partially de- were broken down when the roofs of faced on the interior. In the other, the houses yielded to the weight of the the characters were legible on such superincumbent mass; hence many of leaves as separated; but an earthy them were crushed and folded in a matter, or a species of tufa, prevented moist state, and the leaves of some the separation in some of the parts : pressed together in a perpendicular and both these circumstances were direction, and all of them mixed in clearly the results of agencies to which two confused heaps: in these heaps, the MSS. had been exposed, during the exterior MSS. and the exterior or after the volcanic eruption by which parts of the MSS. must have been actthey had been covered.

ed on by water; and as the ancient ink " It appeared probable, from these was composed of finely-divided charfacts, that different MSS. might be in coal, suspended in a solution of glue other states, and that one process or gum, wherever the water percolated might not apply to all of them; but continuously, the characters were more even a partial success was a step gain- or less erased. ed; and my results made me anxious “ Of the MSS. the greater number, to examine in detail the numerous those which probably were least exspecimens preserved in the museum at posed to moisture or air, (for, till the Naples.

tufa consolidated, air must have pene“An examination of the excavations trated through it,) are brown, and still that still remain open at Herculaneum contain some of their volatile subimmediately confirmed the opinion stance, or extractive matter, which which I entertained, that the MSS. occasions the coherence of the leaves ; had not been acted on by fire. These others are almost entirely converted excavations are in a loose tufa, com- into charcoal, and in these, when their posed of volcanic ashes, sand, and form is adapted to the purpose, the fragments of lava, imperfectly cement- layers may be readily separated from ed by ferruginous and calcareous mat- each other by mechanical means. Of ter. The theatre, and the buildings a few, particularly the superficial parts, in the neighbourhood, are encased in and which probably were most exposthis tufa, and, from the manner in ed to air and water, little remains exwhich it is deposited in the galleries of cept the earthy basis, the charcoal of the houses, there can be little doubt the characters, and some of that of the that it was the result of torrents laden vegetable matter, being destroyed; and with sand and volcanic matter, and they are in a condition approaching to descending at the same time with that of the MSS. found at Pompeii

, showers of ashes and stone still more where the air, constantly penetrating copious than those that covered Pom- through the loose ashes, there being no peii. The excavation in the house in barrier against it as in the consoliwhich the MSS. were found, as I was dated tufa of Herculaneum, has eninformed by Monsig. Rosini, has been tirely destroyed all the carbonaceous filled up; but a building, which is said parts of the papyrus, and left nothing by the guides to be this housė, and but earthy matter. Four or five speciwhich, as is evident from the engraved mens that I examined were heavy and plan, must have been close to it, and dense, like the fragment to which I part of the same chain of buildings, referred in the introduction to this offered me the most decided proofs report, a considerable quantity of fothat the parts nearest the surface, and, reign earthy matter being found beà fortiori, those more remote, had tween the leaves and amongst the pores never been exposed to any consider- of the carbonaceous substance of the ablo degree of heat. I found a small / Mss., evidently deposited during the

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Herculaneum Manuscripts.

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operation of the cause which consoli- | with my method, I made two experidated the tufa.

ments before them, one on a brown “The number of MSS., and of frag- fragment of a Greek MS., and the ments originally brought to the mu- other on a similar fragment of a Latin seum, as I was informed by M. Ant. MS., in which the leaves were closely Scotti, amounted to 1,696; of these, adherent: in both instances, the sepa88 have been unrolled, and found in a ration of the layers was complete, and legible state ; 319 more have been ope- the characters appeared to the persons rated upon, and, more or less, unroll- who examined them more perfect than ed, and found not to be legible ; 24 before. have been presented to foreign poten- “I brought with me to Rome some tates.

fragments of Greek MSS., and one of Amongst the 1,265 that remain, a Latin MS.; and experiments that I and which I have examined with atten- have made upon them indulge me to tion, by far the greatest number con- hope, that a modification of the process sists of small fragments, or of muti- just referred to will considerably assist lated or crushed MSS., in which the the separation of the leaves, even when folds are so irregular, as to offer little they are not adherent; and that anhopes of separating them so as to form other modification of it will apply to connected leaves; from 80 to 120 those specimens containing earthy matare in a state which present a great ter, where the letters are not destroyed. probability of success, and of these the Hitherto, there have been no sysgreater number are of the kind in tematic attempts to examine in detail which some volatile vegetable matter all the MSS. which contain characters, remains, and to which the chemical so as to know what is really worth the process, referred to in the beginning labour of unrolling and preserving; of this report, may be applied with the but this clearly is the plan which it greatest hopes of useful results. would be most profitable and useful to

“One method only has been adopt- pursue. The name of the author has ed in the museum at Naples for unroll- generally been found in the last leaf ing the MSS., that invented in the unrolled; but two or three of the first comiddle of the last century; it is lumns would enable a scholar to judge extremely simple, and consists in at- of the nature the work; and, by untaching small pieces of gold-beater's rolling a single fold, it might be ascerskin to the exterior of the MSS., by tained whether it was prose or verse, or means of a solution of isinglass, suf- historical, or physical, or ethical. By fering the solution to dry, and then employing, according to this view, an raising, by means of thread moved by enlightened Greek scholar to direct wooden screws, the gold-beater's skin, the undertaking, one person to superand the layer adhering to it, from the intend the chemical part of the operabody of the MS.: this method of un- tion, and from fifteen to twenty perrolling has the advantage of being sons for the purpose of performing the extremely safe; but is, likewise, very mechanical labour of unrolling and slow, three or four days being required copying, there is every reason to beto develop a single column of a MS. lieve, that in less than twelve months, It applies, likewise, only to such MSS. and at an expense not exceeding as have no adhesive matter between £2,500 or £3,000, every thing worth the leaves; and it has almost entirely preserving in the collection would be failed in its application to the class of known, and the extent of the expecMSS. which are found to have Roman tations that ought to be formed, fully characters, and where the texture of ascertained. the leaf is much thicker. It requires, “ It cannot be doubted, that the 407 likewise, a certain regularity of sur- papyri, which have been more or less face in the MSS.

unrolled, were selected as the best fitThe persons charged with the busi- ted for attempts, and were, probably, ness of unrolling the MSS. in the the most perfect; so that, amongst museum, informed me, that many che- the 100, or 120, which remain in a fit mical experiments had been performed state for trials, even allowing a supeupon the MSS. at different times, which riority of method, it is not reasonable assisted the separation of the leaves, to expect, that a much larger proporbut always destroyed the characters. tion will be legible. Of the 88 MSS. To prove that this was not the case containing characters, with the excep

tion of a few fragments, in which there afforded of success in unrolling some lines of Latin poetry have been the manuscripts, must also be disapfound, the great body consists of pointed at the manner in which Sir Á. works of Greek philosophers or so- | Davy expresses himself. He is of phists; nine are of Epicurus, thirty- opinion, that they are of an inferior two bear the name of Philodemus, description, consisting chiefly of Grethree of Demetrius, and one of each cian Sophists. Were this fully ascerof these authors, Colotes, Polystra- tained, all interest would quickly subtus, Carniades, and Chrysippus. The side : but his reasonings on this head subjects of these works, and the works appear to me very inconclusive. Few of which the names of the authors are will coincide with him in this opinion, unknown, are either natural or moral when it is known, that Herculaneum philosophy, medicine, criticism, and was a large town, and that the manugeneral observations on the arts, life, scripts at first amounted to upwards of and manners.

1600. And if we may judge from their “ It is possible that some of the size and number, of the respectability celebrated long-lost works of antiquity of their owners, we cannot suppose may still be buried in this collection; they would have been destitute of the but the probability is, that it consists best authors, when the Romans of entirely of the works of the Greek that day were notorious collectors. sophists, and of Roman poets, who However, if Sir H. D. should succeed were their admirers. When it is recol- in unrolling them, he will deserve the lected, however, that Lucretius was thanks of the civilized world, and add an Epicurean, a hope must arise with fresh laurels to his wreath of immorregard to the Latin works; but, unfor- tality. Of their importance, we hope tunately, the wretched and mutilated ere long that we shall be enabled to appearance which they exhibit, (they judge from ocular demonstration. The are in a much worse condition than library of St. Ambrose, at Milan, has the Greek works,) renders this hope been examined by its learned libraextremely feeble: for no powers of rian, the Abbe Majo, and a most chemistry can supply lost characters, extraordinary discovery has been or restore what is mechanically de- made. It seems that the ancient stroyed.”

parchments, for want of other materials, had been cut up and interlined

for missals by the monks, during the Qbservations on the Herculaneum Manu- middle ages. Some of these

recovered scripts.

treasures, viz. six orations of Cicero, are already advertised in this country.

Another place, where it was thought SIR,

Greek authors might be met with, was The ancient Classics have been uni- the Sultan's library at Constantinople, versally admired for their beautiful which was supposed to include that of and genuine simplicity, the elegance the Greek Emperors; but Dr. Clarke, of their language, and the correct in his Travels, has declared that none ness of their descriptions, which are are to be found there. I trust that no still the models of succeeding ages. apology is necessary for bringing this But if we are so charmed with what subject to the notice of your readers : we possess, are not our expectations it is an important one ; and all inforawakened, when we have a chance of mation on it is highly interesting. Perobtaining many more of these delight- mit me, therefore, to express a hope, ful works? Those which we have, that some one, thoroughly acquainted mention a number of others, distin- with the state of these valuable reguished for equal if not for superior searches, will furnish a detailed acexcellence; and from the ancient li- count of them, and also, from time to brary discovered in Herculaneum, the time, publish a report of the progress literary world have long looked for a made, through the medium of your exconsiderable addition to their stores. cellent Magazine, which has begun so

Every one who has read the letter of well, and of which, no doubt, we shall Sir H. Davy, in the Quarterly Journal soon be enabled to say, “ Vires acquiof Science, Literature, and Art, forrit eundo.” April, 1819, and who has been highly

PHILOPALÆUS. gratified with the hopes which are Penzance, May 14th, 1819.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE IMPERIAL

MAGAZINE.

369

Review.- Letters of William Thompson.

370

pp. 160,

Review.-Letters of William Thomp: Latin, keeping at the same time an

in 1811 he turned his attention to the son, lately deceased ; with a Sketch of evening

school

, that he might be enhis Life:

Third Edition, with additions and corrections.

abled to purchase books, and prosmall octavo, boards, price 25. Harsecute his studies. His visits at this

time to Warrington becoming frequent, vey and Co. London.

he was introduced to a new circle of The little volume before us contains acquaintance; and, after some time, much more than the title-page ex- his pecuniary circumstances and atpresses. It exhibits a young man, in tachment to reading being known, a the sequestered walks of humble life, share was purchased for him, through possessed of strong intellectual powers, the persevering exertions of a benevowhich, while suffering severely from lent individual, in the Warrington bodily afflictions, and struggling with library, which gave him free access adversity, he cultivated in a high de- to about 1800 volumes. In 1812 gree; surmounting the local impedi- his health was so much impaired, ments of his situation, and rising that he was compelled, early in 1813, above what has generally been deno- to abandon his labour; but, while minated the frowns of fortune; and, confined to his house, being visited what is superior to all, cherishing, by the clergyman of Winwick, he through the vicissitudes of his pro- received from this gentleman much gress, a spirit of exalted piety, and encouragement to prosecute his stuholding communion with God, in the dies of the classics. enjoyment of which he lived and died. Being unable to return to his former

We learn from his memoir, that he employment, his friends suggested the was born in Macclesfield in 1794, and idea of his commencing a school at that his father was a joiner. His edu- Penketh, near Warrington. In this cation began when he was about four he engaged; and continued to disyears of age, and continued in several charge the duties of schoolmaster, schools until he was thirteen ; but his until sickness dictated their suspenlearning consisted only of reading, sion, and death put a final period to writing, and arithmetic. On leaving his earthly career. Prior, however, school, he was placed in a cotton ma- to his entering on this new mode of nufactory, where he continued several life, he turned his attention to mensuyears: but the confinement so injured ration, algebra, and the mathematics, his health, that it has been considered as branches of qualification for his as the foundation of that disease which office; and, for the further improvebrought him to an early grave. While ment of his own mind, he began to at school, he had acquired a taste for study the Greek and Hebrew lanreading, and a strong desire to obtain guages. In 1814 and 1815, his time useful knowledge; which rather in- was chiefly devoted to his school, and creased than diminished as he advan- to reading; but bodily infirmities reced in years. But his serious deport- tarded his progress in studies which ment, and steady resolution to seize chiefly regarded himself. In 1816 his every opportunity for the improvement indisposition became alarming, maniof his mind, compelling him, while in festing strong symptoms of a conthe manufactory, to withdraw from his sumption; and, towards the close of youthful companions, exposed him to the year, he was obliged to relinquish the ridicule and contempt of nearly all. his school. He languished until the On becoming acquainted with some 9th of February, 1817, when he demembers of the Methodist connection, parted this life, being a few days more he regularly attended their meetings for than twenty-three years of age. a season; but finding, after some time, In the course of his studies, he had a stronger attachment to the Quakers, perused about 400 volumes, of which he finally joined himself to their soci- he had kept a distinct account. Conety, and ended his days in communion nected with their titles, he had occawith them.

sionally recorded an analysis of their In the year 1810, although compelled contents ; extracting such passages to earn his bread by manual labour, as appeared remarkable, sometimes he determined to acquire some know- in English, and sometimes in French. ledge of the French language ; and, hav- Some of these he had accompanied ing made a considerable proficiency, I with short criticisms, on the meritNo. 4.- VOL. I.

2 B

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