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for the residence of the queen, in case she should survive him, and being willing that the palace in which his majesty now resides, called the Queen's House, may be settled for that purpose, recommends to both houses to take the same into consideration, and to make provision for settling the said palace upon her majesty, and for appropriating Somerset House to such uses as shall be found most beneficial to the public.""An act was consequently passed, May 26, 1775, intituled, "An act for settling Buckingham House on the queen, in lieu of Somerset House."
"In 1779, the stately front of the new building, now called by its old name Somerset Place, was completed."
"The royal academy, instituted in December 1768, and first opened January 2, 1769, originally held their meetings in Pall-Mall, where, on the 26th of May, they had their first exhibition of paintings; but in 1779 removed to Somerset House, where they occupy the west wing of the north front, and where they first held their annual exhibition, May 1, 1780. On the groundfloor of this wing is their exhibition room for sculpture, and the hawkers and pedlars office.
"The royal society first held their meeting in Somerset House, Nov. 30, 1780; and the society of antiquaries on Thursday, Jan. 11, 1781. The apartments of these two learned societies occupy the greatest part of the east wing of the north front; on the ground-floor is the library of the society of antiquaries; behind which are the privy seal and signet offices, the lottery office, and the hackney coach office.
"The south front, separated from
the Thames by a noble terrace, is occupied by the navy office and stamp office.
"The west wing contains the navy pay office and victualling office; and at the northern end of this wing, till lately, was the sick and wounded office, which bas very recently been incorporated with the transport office in Dorset-square, and the old office has not yet been appropriated. Behind this wing is a street, bounded to the west by the treasurer of the navy's house, and by houses appropriated to the commissioners. The salt office, formerly in this wing, is now consolidated with the excise office.
"In the east wing is the tax office; the offices of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster; the office of the auditor of imprest; the pipe office; comptroller of the pipe,and clerk of the estreats; behind all which is a street, bounded to the east by ground not yet built on.
"The surveyor also under the surveyor of the board of works has apartments for his residence, but not an office here."
Extract from a Journal, during the late Campaign in Egypt. By Captain C. B. Burr.
[From the Asiatic Researches, Vol. VIII]
About three miles to the westward of Ginnie, on the opposite side of the Nile, are situated the ruins of the ancient temple of Isis, now better known to the Arabs by the name of Dendra; being a corruption of Tentyris, which name was once borne by a city, of which the present temple is all that remains to denote its former splendour. That part which
still exists, is surrounded by such heaps of rubbish, broken walls, and fragments of an Arab village, long since mouldered on its parent ruins, that little is perceptible in approaching, except five clumsy pillars forming part of a detached temple at some distance from the gate, with which it is in a right line, though now separated by a tank, filled by the inundation of the Nile. These colunins are connected at their base by a stone wall in which there appear to have been eight, one at each corner, and one on either side of an entrance in front and rear of the building; which is about forty feet long, and possessing nothing worthy
Beyond this, on the summit, and partly buried in the mound of rub bish, is a gateway much ruined on the side we approached from, but whose internal face is an object of peculiar admiration: its high state of preservation, the excellence of its sculpture, the simplicity of the style, the excellent execution of the figures, chiefly female, the hieroglyphics, and other ornamental parts, excited my surprise beyond what I had expected or thought possible. It is probably rather an advantage to the temple, its being so surrounded with ruins as to be secreted till you approach sufficiently near to receive a more perfect impression of its beauties. The rubbish, however, with which it is choaked up, confines the sight too much, and almost precludes the possibility of viewing the building with so good an effect as would arise from a greater choice of situation, on the part of the spectator. Passing this gateway, the passage through which is also beautifully sculptured, we reached on the right hand a temple, surrounded by
a gallery, still entire, though almost buried; the whole ornamented with a variety of figures, surrounded with hieroglyphics, which doubtless explain the meaning of the various objects, some human, others of a less definite nature; the workmanship is in very great preservation, but the gallery so filled as to prevent our standing erect, though the body of this temple, into which we descended, was near thirty feet in height, covered with large slabs of stone. The entrance to this edifice is through a corridore, supported on pillars, almost buried in the ruins.
The grand temple, retired from the gateway about fifty yards, presents a front of one hundred and forty feet at the base; at least what is now the terreplain: and about sixty feet in height, the rest being invisible. This part is in the most perfect state; the fillet, torus, and almost every ornamental part, save what the bigotry of the Arabs has induced them to deface, being in excellent preservation. In the centre, an entrance of nineteen feet leads into a peristyle, divided by three rows of columns on either side of twenty-two and a half feet circumference, the front row connected to each other, at their bases, by a wall; which, from a part that has been cleared away by the Savans to ascertain the elevation of the building, exceeds ten feet in height; from the top of this to the entablature of the columns, the space is left open; within are nine pillars to the right and left (tallying in size and design with those in front), that support the roof of the peristyle; which is ornamented in the most beautiful style, with a vast variety of figures, and representations of aquatic scenes. Many groupes of men and beasts are 3L 3
here represented; some perfectly of a terrestrial and familiar nature, others allegorical, amongst which is a fine figure of a bull butting at the new moon. The dresses, the utensils, canoes, and many of the articles of the domestic economy of the ancient Egyptians, are herein represented in the most minute and pleasing manner; and the entire state of these figures, not only in shape, but colouring, conveys the most perfect idea of the habits of the times. A vast resemblance exists in the dresses with those at present worn in India; the cholie of the women, the moond, and many others, claiming a direct comparison. It has often struck me, and never more forcibly than in contemplating this temple and its sculptures, that there must have existed a much greater affinity in the customs of, and of course a more friendly intercourse amongst, the nations of the East formerly, when they pursued one system of worship, than since the introduction of Christianity and Mahometanism; which, by generating the most rooted and inveterate prejudices, have estranged the affections of mankind from those, whom no political difference could ever have affected. Of this we had an example even amongst the present inhabitants, who, regarding us as in fidels, hate us, though we came as friends. Their dislike, however, they found it prudent to conceal; but they were not equally reserved with respect to the Hindoos, whom they often expressed their abhorrence of. This detestation of Paganism has induced them, and doubtless been their sole motive for taking so much pains, to mutilate every figure of Isis, whose features are chisseled out; and many of the other figures, whose situations were not so elevated as to preserve
them from the destructive contact of the Arab, have suffered almost perfect annihilation. All beyond it, however, are extremely perfect, and the whole ceiling, with one or two trifling exceptions, is entire; the capitals of the pillars are square, each face having had a representation of Isis's head, on it, which, though so roughly handled, the turban has in no iustance been destroyed; and the colouring of it, the bandeaus, and other decorations, are still in the greatest perfection. The stone of which the temple is built is a kind of freestone. As this would not receive either polish or paint, figures and hieroglyphics, with which every part of the peristyle, both internally and externally, is covered, have, in the interior, been plastered over with a fine cement, which has not only received a polish that has stood the test of ages, but has retained the brilliancy of the tints, particularly the blue, in a manner almost incredible. The mystic symbol of the winged orb, of which reiterated representations decorate the ceiling of the central division of the peristyle, extending entirely across, bears the brightest hues; the same mysterious type adorns the entablature over the entrance, and the interior face of the same part of the gateway; the walls are covered with various sculptures, representing different parts of the history of Isis, one or two of the principal figures in each being evidently the same, though each compartment into which the wall is divided, represents some separate event: but above the head of Isis, on each of the sides of each column, the two central front ones excepted, is the Deity's birth, without variation, all most elegantly executed, and exact counterparts of each other. The
interior length of this peristyle is one hundred and twenty-three feet, and sixty-four deep; the walls at either end, near nine feet thick, decreasing externally as they ascend; the slabs of stone forming the roofs, are over the centre columns, twenty-five feet long, about six broad, and extremely thick.
Hence, by a large portal of elegant architecture, we entered the vestibule, the roof of which, considerably lower than that of the peristyle, is supported by six pillars, three on either side; their decora tions much mutilated: the little that is visible shews them to be fluted. This room is about half the length and breadth of the outer one, but being nearly filled with rubbish, we passed through another large door, into a room of the same length and height, but narrow enough to admit of large slabs reaching across with out the intervention of pillars. Apertures are cut in the ceiling to admit air and light; and a passage or door, to the right and left, leads to other parts of the temple. Facing the door where we had entered, is another, which led into a third room, rather larger, and lighted in like manner from above; from these there are four doors leading to different parts of the building, to the right and left; and a portal facing that by which we had entered, which led us into a dark recess about thirty feet long, and twenty-five broad, whose roof in like manner consisted of transversal slabs. This probably was the great sanctuary, at the further extremity of which was a hole, through which we were enabled to descend into a vault, which, like the rest of the apartments, is nearly filled with earth. We, however, ascertained by our lights, that the floor
above was formed of numerous small slabs of stone cemented to each other, and destitute of any other support than what they derived from the judicious manner in which they were united. Returning hence, after visiting some rooms to our right, we went through a passage to the left that led to an apartment, where we in vain endeavoured to maintain our ground against a host of bats, that finally obliged us to resume the course of this passage, which led by many steps of easy ascent, and many windings round the centre, to the summit of the temple; in approaching which it branches off to the right and left, the latter opening to a corridore, within which was a sanctuary, through the floor of which a perforation afforded light to a part of the temple which had not fallen under our observation. On the ceiling of this corridore, which is about twenty feet long, and half that breadth, is a curious female figure sculptured in relievo, represented in a bent, extended posture. The limbs, though disproportioned, are particularly beautiful: it is in the highest preservation, and worthy peculiar attention. By some steps projecting from the rear of the peristyle, we ascended to its summit, wheuce we commanded a fine view of the country, Ginnie, our camp, and the meanderings of the river; in our rear was a spacious burial ground; beyond, an extensive desert. The intervening distance to the Nile was covered witha rushes and a thorny weed, which gave the country a verdant appearance, and supplied the place of a luxuriant cultivation. The numerous villages, each shaded by its grove of dates, afforded a faint couception of an Indian scene; but the sterility of the neighbouring deSL 4
serts that bounded the contracted landscape, forbade the indulgence of the pleasing comparison.
On the slabs are cut the names of several French travellers, who visited the place in 1779, and one of a democrat, dated the year eight.
Leaning over the temple, I discovered, on the fillet, a Greek inscription, in a state of great preservation, which I transcribed, and afterwards revised from below; unfortunately the information it conveys is trifling, and the obliteration of a part prevents its being of that utility I had at first anticipated.
Though we had ascended by the stairs, the mound of ruins on one side presented a more ready descent; and industriously profiting of the moment, we lost no time in completing our observations.
The French have been digging round, and within the temple, in different places, to ascertain its dimensions, and we were indebted for our access to many of the rooms, to the pains taken by them to discover their entrances; for which purpose they have removed a great deal of rubbish. The whole exterior of the temple is in perfect preservation, exeept the defacement, which many of the figures within reach have suffered. On the south and west faces are some very elegant spouts for carrying off water, issuing from the mouths of couchant lions, decorated with rams-horns. The whole summit of the temple is disfigured by heaps of rubbish and fragments of walls, as also the mounds which surround it, which probably owe their existence to a colonade, or some range of buildings with which it was enclosed, and which are now buried. To the south-east, at some hundred yards distance, is a ruined gateway,
boasting little beauty; it is situated at the foot of the eminence on which the temple is built, and being almost beyond the range of the present ruins, might have belonged to some other edifice. Some wretched Arabs, who employ themselves in digging amongst the ruins, brought us a few Roman coins, which we purchased.
Though we had been several hours in contemplating the beautiful monument before us, yet we had conceived but an inadequate idea of its varied perfections; so many objects occurred to arrest our attention, each discovering some peculiar attraction, that it would have afforded ample occupation during our remaining stay at Ginnie, to have bestowed on each the consideration they merited; a circumstance which greatly damped the anxiety I had before felt to visit Thebes, where such an infinity of matter presents itself to the inquisitive traveller.
Our Indian followers, who had attended us, beheld the scene before them with a degree of admiration bordering on veneration, arising not only from the affinity they traced in several of the figures to their own deities, but from their conviction of its being the work of some Rácshas, who they conceived had visited the earth to transmit to an admiring posterity a testimony of supernatural talents.
I shall dismiss this subject by observing, that though the contemplation of these surprising monuments of the genius of the ancient Egyp tians creates a high idea of their civilization, and respect for their antiquity and progress in arts, it is obvious they are greatly indebted to a beneficent Providence, which, by placing them in a temperature, where the frequent and sudden transitions of