Edinburgh Review,  1 (1802–03), 281–87.

Art. II. [Review of Travels in Greece and Turkey, by Charles S Sonnini]

[Alexander Hamilton] *



Publications reviewed:

Sonnini 1801


Travel, Ancient Authorities, Climatology, Agriculture, Ethnology, Race, Degeneration, Geology, Naturalists

    Quotes Charles N S Sonnini De Manoncourt's description of Egypt as 'the cradle of the arts and sciences and from which the Greeks derived part of their knowledge' while Greece was the 'cradle of graces and good taste' (282). The extract discusses the differences in agricultural cultivation and climate between Egypt and Greece and the effect of this on their respective national characteristics. Sonnini describes the 'Copt, or native of Egypt' as 'lazy and slovenly, clownish and ignorant, unfeeling and superstitious, he has no longer any remembrance, nor even any trace remaining, of the greatness of his ancestors. What a difference between this nation, entirely degenerated, and that which still inhabits the beautiful countries of Greece !' (282–83). The reviewer recounts the 'only two geological speculations in which the author has indulged; only remarking, that neither of them is new' (284). Quotes Sonnini's observation on the eastern Mediterranean: 'we cannot help thinking that this extent of sea, thickly strewn with a multitude of islands has formed a continent in times the most remote; and that a sudden irruption of the waters of the Black sea, earthquakes, and the violent action of volcanoes, have inundated this ancient country of Greece, and torn it into innumerable shreds. [...] Who knows even whether it be not this part of the Mediterranean, rather than in the ocean, that we must look for the famous Atlantis of Plato? [...] The islands of the Ægean sea are the summits of mountains, which belong to a country whose plains have been submerged by a sudden intteruption of the waters of the Black sea' (285). Compares Sonnini's views with Olivier 1801, stating: 'they are both naturalists; and, in this department, much pleasing information is afforded in each' (287)

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