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follow the very same trade as his father; at all events, whether allowed in the beginning of his career to choose for himself or no, he was forced to continue in the one he first belonged to; and each vied with his neighbour in improving his own branch.
According to Diodorus, "no tradesman was permitted to meddle in political affairs, or to hold any civil office in the state, lest his thoughts should be distracted by the inconsistency of his pursuits, or by the jealousy and displeasure of the master in whose business he was employed. They feared that, without such a law, constant interruptions would take place, in consequence of the necessity, or the desire, of becoming conspicuous in a public station; that their proper occupations would be neglected; and that many would be led, by vanity and self-sufficiency, to interfere in matters out of their sphere. They also considered that to follow more than one occupation would be detrimental to their own interests, and to those of the community; and that when men, from a motive of avarice, are induced to engage in numerous branches of art, the result generally is that they are unable to excel in any. Such," he adds, "is the case in some countries, where artizans engage in agricultural pursuits, or in commercial speculations, and frequently in two or three different arts at once. Many, again, in those communities which are governed on democratic principles, are in the habit of frequenting popular assemblies, and dreaming only of their own interests, receive bribes from the leaders of parties, and do incredible mischief to the state. But with the Egyptians, if any artizan meddled with political affairs, or engaged in any other employment than the one to which he had been brought up, a severe punishment was instantly inflicted upon him; and it was with this view that the regulations respecting their public and private occupations were instituted by the early legislators of Egypt."
Many arts and inventions were in common use in Egypt for centuries before they are generally supposed to have been known; and we are now and then as much surprised to find that certain things were old 3000 years ago, as the Egyptians would be if they could hear us talk of them as late discoveries. One of them
is the use of glass, with which they were acquainted, at least, as early as the reign of the first Osirtasen, more than 3800 years ago; and the process of glass-blowing is represented, during his reign, in the paintings of Beni Hassan, in the same manner as it is on later monuments, in different parts of Egypt, to the time of the Persian conquest.
The glass at the end of the blowpipe b b is coloured green.
The form of the bottle and the use of the blow-pipe are unequivocally indicated in those subjects; and the green hue of the fused material, taken from the fire at the point of the pipe, sufficiently proves the intention of the artist. But, even if we had not this evidence of the use of glass, it would be shown by those well-known images of glazed pottery, which were common at the same period; the vitrified substance that covers them being of the same quality as glass, and containing the same in
And besides the many
gredients fused in the same manner. glass ornaments known to be of an earlier period is a bead, found at Thebes, bearing the name of a Pharaoh who lived about 1450 B.C., the specific gravity of which, 25° 23', is precisely the same as of crown glass, now manufactured in England.
378. Figs. 1, 2. Glass bottles represented in the sculptures of Thebes.
4. The hieroglyphics on the bead, containing the name of Amun-m-het,
Glass bottles, similar to those in the above woodcut (figs. 1, 2), are even met with on monuments of the 4th dynasty, dating long before the Osirtasens, or more than 4000 years ago; the transparent substance shows the red wine they contained; and this kind of bottle is represented in the same manner among the offerings to the gods, and at the fêtes of individuals, wherever wine was introduced, from the earliest to the latest times. Bottles, and other objects of glass, are commonly found in the tombs; and though they have no kings' names or dates in
scribed upon them (glass being seldom used for such a purpose), no doubt exists of their great antiquity; and we may consider it a fortunate chance that has preserved one bead with the name of a sovereign of the 18th dynasty. Nor is it necessary to point out how illogical is the inference that, because other kinds of glass have not been found bearing a king's name, they were not made in Egypt, at, or even before, the same early period.
Pliny ascribes the discovery of glass to some Phoenician sailors accidentally lighting a fire on the sea-shore; but if an effect of chance, the secret is more likely to have been arrived at in Egypt, where natron (or subcarbonate of soda) abounded, than by the sea side; and if the Phoenicians really were the first to discover it on the Syrian coast, this would prove their migration from the Persian Gulf to have happened at a very remote period. Glass was certainly one of the great exports of the Phoenicians; who traded in beads, bottles, and other objects of that material, as well as various manufactures, made either in their own or in other countries; but Egypt was always famed for its manufacture; a peculiar kind of earth was found near Alexandria, without which, Strabo says, "it was impossible to make certain kinds of glass of many colours, and of a brilliant quality;" and some vases, presented by an Egyptian priest to the Emperor Hadrian, were considered so curious and valuable that they were only used on grand occasions.
Glass bottles, of various colours, were eagerly bought from Egypt, and exported into other countries; and the manufacture, as well as the patterns of many of those found in Greece, Etruria, and Rome, show that they were of Egyptian work; and though imitated in Italy and Greece, the original art was borrowed from the workmen of the Nile.
Such, too, was their skill in making glass, and in the mode of staining it of various hues, that they counterfeited with success the emerald, the amethyst, and other precious stones; and even arrived at an excellence in the art of introducing numerous colours into the same vase, to which our European workmen, in spite of their improvements in many branches of this manufac
ture, are still unable to attain. A few years ago the glassmakers of Venice made several attempts to imitate the variety of colours found in antique cups; but as the component parts were of different densities, they did not all cool, or set, at the same rapidity, and the vase was unsound. And it is only by making an inner foundation of one colour, to which those of the outer surface are afterwards added, that they have been able to produce their many-coloured vases; some of which were sent to the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Not so the Egyptians; who combined all the colours they required in the same cup, without the interior lining: those which had it being of inferior and cheaper quality. They had even the secret of introducing gold between two surfaces of glass; and in their bottles, a gold band alternates within a set of blue, green, and other colours. Another curious process was also common in Egypt in early times, more than 3000 years ago, which has only just been attempted at Venice; whereby the pattern on the surface was made to pass in right lines directly through the substance; so that if any number of horizontal sections were made through it, each one would have the same device on its upper and under surface. It is in fact a Mosaic in glass; made by fusing together as many delicate rods of an opaque glass, of the colour required for the picture; in the same manner as the woods in Tunbridge-ware are glued together, to form a larger and coarser pattern. The skill required in this exquisite work is not only shown by the art itself, but the fineness of the design; for some of the feathers of birds, and other details, are only to be made out with a lens; which means of magnifying was evidently used in Egypt, when this Mosaic glass was manufactured. Indeed the discovery of a lens of crystal by Mr. Layard, at Nimroud, satisfactorily proves its use at an early period in Assyria; and we may conclude that it was neither a recent discovery there, nor confined to that country.
Winckelmann is of opinion that "the ancients carried the art of glassmaking to a higher degree of perfection than ourselves, though it may appear a paradox to those who have not seen