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our way by the light of presumptive evidence deduced from particular facts and local circumstances. The grand and universal defect of the ancient historians is their neglectful omission of every thing that relates to the domestio state of the grand mass of the people, as if the actions of statesmen and sol. diers were the only affairs worthy of commemoration. We have Guides to London, Guides to Paris, Pictures of London, Pictures of Paris, Piotures of Petersburgh, &e. if we had similar descriptions of Nineveh, Babylon, Thebes, Memphis, Carthage, and Alexandria, what noble acquisitions would they not be to history. But our best descriptions, even of ancient Athens and Rome, are from the pens of modern writers.
Of the extent of Babylon and Nineveh we may form a tolerably just idea. Historians are not agreed concerning the dimensions of Babylon, some of them have asserted that its circuit was 60 miles; but the most accredited writers of antiquity, and particularly Herodotus, state it at 48 miles ; and as all agree that its form was a square, its area may easily be calculated. Of Nineveh scarcely any account can be found in prophane history: that large and ancient city having been laid in ruins some ages before the Greeks had any knowledge of the country in which it was seated ; and no literary remains of the Assyrians, Babylonians, or Persians, have been transmitted to modern times. The only account that we have of Nineveh, is to be found in three passages of the sacred scriptures. From the first of these, in the 1lth verse of the 10th chap. of Genesis, it appears, that Nineveh was. founded not very long after Babylon : in the second, which is met with in the 3d verse of the 3d chap. of the prophecy of Jonah, we are informed, that it was an exceeding great city of three days journey;" which must be understood as applying to its circuit; and in the last verse of the same chap ter, there is an expression which conveys some idea of its population. It is there said, that Nineveh contained more than six score thousand persons, who could not distinguish between the right hand and the left, an expression which can only be understood of idiots and young children, who could scarcely compose above one-fifth of the inhabitants. From these data we may not, perhaps, diverge much from the truth in estimating its population at six or seven hundred thousand. If its form was square like that of Babylon, each of its sides must have been, at least, 221 miles, and its area 5064 miles, a space sufficient for near thirty times the population of London, had Nineveh been built in the same manner as the British metropolis.
But notwithstanding the want of positive documents it may be safely pre sumed that Nineveh was built on an open plain like Babylon, from which it was scarcely 250 miles distant, and that it resembled a thickly-peopled province more than a city. No documents remain to convey any idea of its commerce, which was undoubtedly insignificant considering its extent and population, although it was watered by the Tigris. But if we estimate the number of its families at 120,000, and its area at 506 square miles, each family might have nearly three acres of land contiguous to its dwelling, which in that fertile soil might nearly suffice for its maintenance, as we must not suppose that the lower orders of the inhabitants of Nineveh kept so plentiful tables as the same class of people in London, or any other English city. From these considerations, we may reasonably conclude, that whatever might be the magnificence and opulence of the grandees, the mass of the
people was chiefly composed of husbandmen, gardeners, and common me chanics, ; and that Nineveh must have had the appearance of an extensive plain, thickly strewed with scattered cottages, interspersed here and there with temples and palaces of gaudy but rude architecture.
In regard to Babylon, history affords a variety of documents to enable us to form a tolerable judgment of its size. Ancient authors vary considerably in their statements of its dimensions ; all agree that its form was a square; but while some assign the vast extent of 15 miles to each of its sides, others, and particularly Herodotus, limit their estimate to the more probable length of 12 miles. But that judicious investigator of ancient geography, Major Rennel, after carefully comparing those writers who have treated the subject and examined the measures used in their descriptions, comes to the conclusion, that 8.485, or nearly 81 miles is the most moderate estimate that can be made of each of the sides, and consequently that the area of Babylon could not be less than about 72 miles. As he estimates the area of London at only 15, square miles, he also concludes, that if Babylon had been built in the same manner as the British metropolis, it might have contained four millions of inhabitants. But he appears to have rated both the extent and population of London too low: the latter he estimated at only 800,000; but the late returns prove that it amounts to nearly a million.
It is difficult to make a just estimate of the area of a city of so irregular a form as London; but perhaps we should not greatly err in assigning to it 18 square miles. This however does not affect the state of the comparison. The only difference is, that according to Major Rennel's compatation, the ancient capital of Chaldea contained nearly five times the area, and might have contained five times the population of London, while the latter caloulation allows to Babylon only four times the area of the British metropolis, with the possibilty of containing four times the number of its inhabitants, supposing the population of both cities to have been equally crowded.
Major Rennel then proceeds to state the various circumstances which may have affected the population of Babylon, and kept it greatly below the number which its ample extent was calculated to accommodate.
In this investigation, he computes the whole extent of the country from which that city could be supplied with provisions, by the inland navigation of the Euphrates and Tigris, with their subordinate canals, to be much less than half of the area of England. From this view of the case, it is evident that Babylon could not receive its supplies with the same facility as London ; and the same mode of reasoning is equally applicable to Nineveh. On this circumstance Major Rennel lays great stress, and observes, that whenever the supplies are procured from very distant sources, and with great difficulty, the expense of carriage, &c. so greatly enhances the prices of the commodities, as to place them out of the reach of the common people, who, consequently, cannot subsist in any great numbers in snch situations.
This mode of reasoning is in one respect perfectly just. But the cireumstance chiefly to be considered is not how, or at what expense the inhabitants of a oity are to be supplied with provisions, but from what resources of trade and industry they can procure the means of purchasing them.
If a million, or several millions of people were collected together, and every one of theix
sufficiently rich, there could be no doubt of their being supplied with provisions, either from near or distant countries : distance, difficulty, and
expense of carriage, would be no object if the consumers could afford to pay the price. Holland, and some other countries, do not produce a sufficiency of grain and other provisions for the subsistence of their population; but an ex: tensive commerce, and active industry, enable them to procure abundant supplies from abroad.
There did not, therefore, exist any physical impossibility that Babylon could have procured supplies of the necessaries of life, even had its vast extent been crowded with a population as dense as that of London. If the whole territory of Challea and Mesopotamia had been inadequate to the purpose, the other dominions of the Babylonian empire, and the various kingdoms over which its influence was extended, might certainly have supplied the deficiency, especially as it is extremely probable that the inhabitants of Babylon, in proportion to their numbers, consumed a far less quantity of provisions, and were maintaiņed at a much less expense than those of an English city. But it is certain that Babylon did not possess the huzdredth part, and probably not even the thousandth part of the trade of London, and that employment could not be found for so numerous a population as its wide extent was capable of containing: The imperfect state of commerce at that time when civilization and studied refinement had not, as in modern times, multiplied human wants almost to infinity, authorises this supposition; and it is probable that the making of brick, the building of the walls, the cutting of the ditches as well as of the canals for inland navigation and drainage, with the erection of their vast public edifices, works which were carried on not only for years but for ages, constituted one of the prin: cipal sources of employment to the labouring poor of Babylon.
The city was, according to the descriptions left of it by the most accredited writers, laid out on an open plan. Long and broad streets running from one opposite side to the other, and crossing one another at right angles, divided the whole area into a number of squares of garden and arable ground, situated behind the houses, which were not contiguous like those of European ci. ties. It is not to be doubted that these inclosed gardens or fields greatly contributed to the support of the inhabitants, many of whom, in all probability, derived from that source their whole employment and maintenance. This loose and open plan contributed also in no small degree to the strength and security of the city, as in case of a siege or blockade, it was rendered less dependant on distant supplies.
But it seems that the original plan was never completed, and the buildings did not on any side extend to the walls. Major Rennel after bestowing great pains in his different calculations, and in estimating the quantity of ground occupied by houses, concludes, that the population might probably amount to about 1,200,000. This however seems to be too high an estimate, and it might with great probability be reduced to less than a million. Babylon had the appearance of an inclosed and thickly peopled district, rather than of a city such as we now see in Europe. Although enriched by the conquest and pillage of several countries, it was certainly very far inferior to London in wealth. And when all circumstances are fairly considered, we can scarcely
suppose that the state of society and trade in Babylon was such as could furnish employment and subsistence to so numerous a population as that of the British metropolis.
Of the magnificence of Thebes, the ancient metropolis of Egypt, an idea may be formed from its stupendous remains, which by their number, their colossal magnitude and the extensive space over which they are spread, strike every spectator with astonishment. Pocock, Norden, Denon, Browne, and all other travellers, who have visited the scite of this famous city, and examined its immortal ruins, speak of them in terms of extatic admiration. In order to convey some idea of the extent of this ancient capital of Egypt
, I shall here translate a passage from Denon, the French traveller, who accompanied Bonaparte's expedition to that country. “ The situation of Thebes, (says Denon,) is as fine as can well be imagined; and the vast extent of its ruins convinces the spectator that fame has not magnified its size ; for the breadth of Egypt not being sufficient to contain it, its monuments rest upon
the two chains ofcontiguous mountains, while its tombs occupy the valleys which extend towards the west far into the deserts. Four large hamlets divide amongst them the remains of the ancient monuments of Thebes; while the Nile, by the sinuosity of its course, seems proud of flowing amidst its ruins.” That adventurous and intelligent traveller, Mr. Browne, in his luminous descrip. tion, enables us to form a still more defined idea of the extent of that city: “ The massy and magnificent forms of the ruins that remain of ancient Thebes must,” says he, “ inspire every intelligent spectator with awe and admiration. Diffused on both sides of the Nile, their extent confirms the classical observations ; and Homer's animated description rushes into the memory. These venerable ruins, probably the most ancient in the world, ex• tend about three leagues in length along the Nile. East and west they reach to the mountains, a breadth of about two leagues and a half. The river is here about 300 yards wide. The circumference of the ancient city must have been about 27 miles.” Amongst its stupendous ruins are chiefly noted those of the great temple of Carnac, and the palace of Memnon. The tem ple was built in the form of a parallelogram, with a colonnade at each extremity; and the massy columns and walls covered with hieroglyphics, show it to have been a work of astonishing labour. M. Denon says, that this vast
emple, now in ruins, requires half an hour to walk round from which we may judge of its extent. Of the hundred columns of the portico alone, the smallest are 7 feet in diameter, and the largest 12. There are also numerous avenues bordered by sphinxes, and other ruins on the eastern side of the Nile. On the west side are many colossal statues above 60 feet high, the remains of a spacious temple with excavations in the rock, the magnificent edifice known by the name of the palace of Memnon, the columns and walls covered with hieroglyphics, and the caverns supposed to be the sepulchres of the ancient kings. "If nothing remained of this city so famed in the times of antiquity for its wealth and magnificence, the accounts given of it by ancient writers would appear greatly exaggerated, and even incredible.
But after so long a suceession of ages, its stupendous rains attest, even at this day, its ancient grandeur.
But in reflecting on the extent and magnificence of Thebes, the great dis.
ficulty is to form a probable conjecture concerning the resources which enabled the Egyptians at a period of antiquity beyond all historical memorial to accomplish such stupendous works. That judicious traveller, Mr. Browne, observes, that “ of Thebes, the most ancient of the Egyptian capitals, the history is too remote and obscure to enable us at this day to ascertain the causes that might have led to its foundation, or facilitated its aggrandisement. The quarries in its neighbourhood, supplied easily, and without limitation, the best materials for building. Its situation was well adapted to secure the commerce of Ethiopia, and all the interior of the African continent, as well as of the Arabian Gulph.” But notwithstanding these observations, we must ever remain ignorant of the commerce that was carried on at Thebes, and of the sources of its wealth. It must, however, be observed, that the expense of the magnificent buildings of Thebes consisted almost entirely in the wages of labour: the materials were at hand, and procured without purchase. It may also be presumed that the price of labour was low, and the living of the common people very poor and mean, otherwise it is scarcely possible to conceive in what manner so vast a population, as the ample circuit of Thebes was calculated to contain, was able to procure employment and subsistence; although no documents, except such as are evident exaggerations and unworthy of credit, exist to give us any idea of the number of its inhabitants.
Memphis succeeded Thebes in being the royal residence of the Pharaohs and the capital of Egypt. At what time the seat of government was removed from Thebes to Memphis cannot be ascertained; for until the reign of Pharaoh Psamniticus, which commenced A.A.C. 670, about eighty-two years after the building of Rome, the Egyptian chronology is a mere chaos ; and all the attempts of the learned to elucidate its obscurity have proved ineffectual.
The city of Memphis, as described by ancient writers, was about eighteen miles in circuit. It was seated on the western side of the Nile, and at the distance of scarcely half a mile from that river, from which a canal was cut to the city. On every side it was fortified with ramparts and walls, and encompassed by wide and deep ditches always filled with the waters of the Nile. These ramparts and walls prevented the annual inundations from entering the city, and in conjunction with the ditches, rendered Memphis, if well defended, impregnable against any mode of attack that was known in the system of ancient warfare. The temple of Vulcan appears to have been the chief ornament of Memphis; and its magnificent porticos and colossal statues have been described by the writers of antiquity. Had the ruins of Memphis remained to this time they would, perhaps, have excited as high a degree of admiration as those of Thebes. But not a stone is now left. The largest of the pyramids however stands in its vicinity and points out its situation.
It may here be observed that, in this respect, Thebes has been more fortunate than either Ninevah, Babylon, or Memphis. Its venerable ruins remain to attest its ancient magnificence; while not a stone is left of Memphis; and nothing but heaps of rubbish mark the situation of Ninevah and Babylon.
Late travellers, and particularly C. Y. Rich, Esq. have examined