« AnteriorContinuar »
GROSSI, TOMMASO, an Italian novelist and poet, born at Bellano, on the Lake of Como, January 20, 1791 ; died at Milan, December 10, 1853. After studying law at the University of Pavia, he took up his residence at Milan, where he early began to write stories in verse which became very popular. His "great poem," as the Italians style it, The Lombards in the First Crusade, in fifteen cantos, was pronounced to be the finest poem which Italy had produced since Tasso. His historical novel, Marco Visconti, published in 1835, established his literary reputation. After writing this he married, and devoted himself successfully to the practice of law. Scattered through Marco Visconti are several exquisite lyrics. Other works which met with success are Ildegonda (1820) and G. Maria Visconti, a tragedy. A writer in the Nouvelle Biographie Générale says of Grossi : “ He is full of grace and elegance, and these qualities do not exclude force, passion, and elevation."
THE FAIR PRISONER TO
Pilgrim swallow ! pilgrim swallow !
On my grated window sill,
Quaint and pensive ditties still,
All forgotten, com'st thou hither
Of thy tender spouse forlorn, That we two may grieve together,
Little widow, sorrow-worn ? Grieve then, weep then, in thy lay ! Pilgrim swallow, grieve away!
Yet a lighter woe thou weepest :
Thou at least art free of wing,
May'st make heaven with sorrow ring,
Could I too, that am forbidden
By this low and narrow cell,
Whence thou scarce can'st hear me tell
Ah! September quickly coming
Thou shalt take farewell of me, And, to other Summers roaming,
Other hills and waters seeGreeting them with songs more gay, Pilgrim swallow, far away.
Still with every hopeless morrow,
While I ope my eyes in tears,
Thy dear song shall reach mine ears-
Thou, when thou and Spring together
Here return, a cross shalt seeIn the pleasant evening weather,
Wheel and pipe, here over me! Peace and peace! the coming May, Sing me in thy roundelay !
Translation of W. D. Howells. GROTE, GEORGE, an English historian, born at Clay Hill, near Beckenham, Kent, November 17, 1794 ; died in London, June 18, 1871. He was educated at the Charterhouse School, London, and at the age of fifteen entered the bankinghouse of which his father was the senior partner. He however devoted much of his time to literature and politics. In 1832 he was returned to Parliament for the City of London. The leading feature of his Parliamentary career was his persistent effort to introduce the ballot system into English elections. In 1841 he resigned his seat in Parliament in order to devote himself to his History of Greece, for which he had begun to gather materials as early as 1823. This history comprises twelve volumes, of which Vols. I. and II. appeared in 1846; III. and IV. in 1847; V. and VI. in 1849; VII. and VIII. in 1850; IX. and X. in 1852; XI. in 1853; XII. in 1855. He proposed to supplement the History by an exhaustive work upon Greek Philosophy, of which Plato and the other Companions of Socrates appeared in 1865; this was to be followed by Aristotle, which, however, was never completed. In 1868 he succeeded Lord Brougham as President of the Council of the University of London. A sketch of the Life of Mr. Grote was published in 1873 by his widow. EARLY LEGENDARY HISTORY OF GREECE. To set forth the history of a people by whom the first spark was set to the dormant intellectual capacities of our nature-Hellenic phenomena as illustrative of Hellenic mind and character-is the task which I propose to myself in the present work, not without a painful consciousness how much the deed falls short of the will, and a yet more painful conviction that full success is rendered impossible by an obstacle which no human ability can now remedy: the insufficiency of original evidence. For in spite of the valuable expositions of so many able commentators, our stock of information respecting the ancient world still remains lamentably inadequate to the demands of an enlightened curiosity. We possess only what has drifted ashore from the wreck of a stranded vessel ; and though this includes some of the most precious articles among its once abundant cargo, yet if any man will cast his eyes over the citations in Diogenes Laertius, Athenæus, or Plutarch, or the list of names in Vossius's, de Historicis Græcis, he will see with grief and surprise how much larger is the proportion which-through the enslavement of the Greeks themselves, the decline of the Roman empire, the change of religion, and the irruption of the barbarian conquerors-has been irrecoverably submerged. We are thus reduced to judge of the whole Hellenic world, eminently multiform as it was, from a few compositions ; excellent, indeed, in themselves, but bearing too exclusively the stamp of Athens. Of Thucydides and Aristotle, indeed, both as inquirers into matter of fact and as free from local feeling, it is impossible to speak too highly ; but unfortunately that work of the latter which would have given us the most copious information regarding Grecian political life-his collection and comparison of one hundred and fifty distinct townconstitutions—has not been preserved ; while the brev. ity of Thucydides often gives us but a single word where a sentence would not have been too much, and sentences which we should be glad to see expanded into paragraphs.
Such insufficiency of original and trustworthy materials, as compared with those resources which are thought hardly sufficient for the historian of any modern kingdom, is neither to be concealed nor extenuated, however much we may lament it. I advert to the point here on more grounds than one. For it not only limits the amount of information which an historian of Greece can give to his readers—compelling him to leave much of his picture an absolute blank-but it also greatly spoils the execution of the remainder. The question of credibility is perpetually obtruding itself, and requiring a decision, which, whether favorable or unfavorable, al. ways introduces more or less of controversy ; and gives to those outlines, which the interest of the picture requires to be straight and vigorous, a faint and faltering character. Expressions of qualified and hesitating affirmation are repeated until the reader is sickened ; while the writer himself, to whom this restraint is more painful still, is frequently tempted to break loose from the unseen spell by which a conscientious criticism binds him down ; to screw up the possible and probable into certainty, to suppress counter-balancing considerations, and to substitute a pleasing romance in place of halfknown and perplexing realities. Desiring in the present work to set forth all which can be ascertained, together with such conjectures and inferences as can be reasonably deduced from it, but nothing more, I notice at the outset that faulty state of the original evidence which renders discussion of credibility, and hesitation in the language of the judge, unavoidable. Such discussions
- though the reader may be assured that they will become less frequent as we advance into times better known-are tiresome enough even with the comparatively late period which I adopt as the historical beginning; much more intolerable would they have proved had I thought it my duty to start from the primitive terminus of Deukalion or Inachus, or from the unburied Pelasgi and Leleges, and to subject the heroic ages to a similar scrutiny. I really know nothing so disheartening or unrequited as the elaborate balancing of what is called evidence—the comparison of infinitesimal probabilities and conjectures, all uncertified-in regard to these shadowy times and personages.