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The old men, hoar with age, assembled stood
They glutted to the heart
ELTON, with Alterations. We have given the substance of the Homeric parallel before, and it is well known. The two passages have never been surpassed in their
way: upon their relative merits it is easy to believe that there will be a difference of opinion, Picturesqueness, variety, proportion, and force, as in him they mark almost everything, mark Homer's,-pathos and terror reign in Hesiod's. There is a just censure in the Treatise on the Sublime, of a hemistich in the description of Achlys; but the whole figure is most powerfully conceived and drawn, and the picture of the three sisters ranging the battle-field, and fighting for the dead and the dying, is inexpressibly awful ; and, though partially borrowed from the correspondent passage in the Iliad, is, as a whole, unique in the Greek poetry. No one can, we think, read this wonderful effort without feeling the mystery and the gloom of northern rhyme come over his soul, and recurring, in imagination, to the Fatal Sisters, the Chusers of the Slain of the Gothic mythology.
We have remarked before, that a taste of unerring purity reigns throughout the Homeric description: the same cannot be said of that by the Hesiodic poet. The Shield of Achilles is bordered by
the ocean, flowing in simple majesty around it; so the Shield of Hercules is bounded by the ocean, but swans swimming on the waves, and shoals of fish playing under water, are added by way of variation or embellishment. That Virgil, whose Shield of Aneas lays no claim to graphic beauty, and is, in fact, little more than a spirited epitome of the Roman history in compliment to Augustus, should have been induced to imitate this wretched prettiness of the later poet, must shake, in some degree, the foundations of the general opinion entertained of his accurate judgment, or lead us to see more clearly what is indeed the truth,—that the principles on which the Æneid is constructed were of an origin and a tendency entirely different from those, which we do not say regulated the composition of the Iliad, but were involved in the circumstances of time, place, and manner, amid which that miracle of human genius was produced. The same image, we have seen, with some difference of exhibition, formed the external circle of both these shields; but in the centre of the shield of Achilles was pictured the firmament of heaven in the centre of that of Hercules a monstrous dragon. More striking symbols of the characters of each work, respectively, could not have been imagined; for in the first reigns beauty in the last terror. The predominant impression made by the one would have been admiration, if not delight; whilst that of the other would have been fear, not unaccompanied by disgust.
One word on the language of the Works and Days, and we have done. It is written in Ionian or heroic Greek, with a slight intermixture of Æolic usages. Hesiod, it will be recollected, was himself of Æolian extraction. We need not say that the Ionic Greek, in which Hesiod sang, is not the distinct and elaborately dissolved dialect in which Herodotus, who was by birth a Dorian, thought it proper, four hundred years afterwards, to compose his great historical Epic,-a wonderful work, which is unique in its kind, and is not so much a history, in the sense which Thucydides has taught the world to attach to that term, as the link—the transitional phenomenon-between the old heroic poetry and the chronological narrative in prose.
The mention of this fact of the adoption, by Herodotus, of the Ionic dialect, as a vehicle for his work, leads us to notice that very remarkable peculiarity of the Greek literature—the rigid appropriation of particular dialects to particular species of composition. · Heroic poetry-indeed the hexameter on all but pastoral subjects was invariably written in that Ionian or Homeric Greek, of which the Iliad and the Odyssey were the canon and the example; and this sonorous and flexile form seems so essential to Greek neroic verse, that it is difficult by any effort of mind to realize
a conception a conception of those two great poems in any other dress. Homer was the model of Herodotus; and in composing his grand narrative in prose, he adopted, as a matter of course, the dialect of lonia, although, by the lapse of four or five centuries, that dialect had greatly changed from the Homeric language. In fact, it had become a dialect in that technical sense in which the term is inapplicable to the diction of the Iliad and Odyssey. Hippocrates, the father of scientific medicine, a Dorian also, adopted the Ionic form of Greek, with nearly the same feelings that seem to have actuated the father of profane history. But after Thucydides had conceived and first executed the plan of a pragmatic history, and had, with instinctive discernment, employed the Attic dialect in his immortal specimen, that latter form became thenceforth, with varying intensity of Atticism, the only classical language of history to the latest ages of Greek literature. In the same way the lyric poetry of Greece is entirely embodied in the Eolic and Doric forms; and this distinction was so religiously observed, that even in the chorusses of the Attic drama, the Dorian inflections were in great ineasure retained. So the drama was Attic,-Elegy, Ionic, *—Pastoral Poetry, Doric. There was nothing arbitrary in this selection and appropriation of the several dialects; they seem constructed expressly to sustain the peculiar kinds of composition with which we always find them associated. Conceive for a moment, if it be possible, the Iliad and the Edipus Tyrannus in Doric, or Pindar and Theocritus in Attic, and a lively sense will arise, in this respect, of the miraculous riches of the Greek language, and of the subtile and unerring taste of the Greek people ;-both of which, as compared with modern languages and modern nations, may justly move our profoundest wonder and reverence,
That several and various literary dialects should contemporaneously exist at all, is, beyond a doubt, mainly to be explained by that permanent absence of metropolitan centralization peculiar to ancient Greece. Lacedænion, Athens, Thebes, Syracuse,—so many focal points, but no centres,-could never, in their successive days of predominance, infuse into the differing tribes of Hellenic name a Spartan, an Athenian, a Theban, or a Sicilian spirit; there was no one focus, no court, as in Paris,-no government province, as Castile--nor, which might have been equivalent to this, any artificial compilation of dialects, as in the case of the high or modern German. The Greeks, in fact, at no period of their history, constituted a nation, in the sense in which that word is applicable to the people of England or France. Once or twice there was a common union of Greeks against barbarians; and the annual games and the Amphyctionic Council probably had the effect, which they were intended to have, of occasionally reminding those who were present at the one, and were represented at the other, of their common origin. But the unity created by the pressure of external force was temporary only; the last galley of the Persian was hardly destroyed before that unity was irretrievably dissolved. The games were practically little more than local solemnities in four separate parts of Greece, at which it would be as absurd to suppose that all the nation was present, or even in the smallest reasonable degree represented, as it would be to say, that the English people meet in common assembly four times every year at Epsom, Ascot, Newmarket, and Doncaster: And as to the Amphictyonic Council, the right of sending deputies to it was so very unequally distributed, and during the whole time of its existence it was either so insignificant, or so evidently a mere tool of faction, that it had even less of a centralizing tendency than any one of the great games, which were open, at least, to every one of Hellenic extraction. Yet, when we consider the case of modern Italy, in which the parallel facts of independent states, a common language, and varying dialects have existed, but in which no such appropriation of peculiar forms to separate kinds of composition ever obtained, the instance of the occasional adoption of Venetian and Neapolitan idioms in some Italian comedies and novels being clearly irrelevant-we shall probably, at once, increase our admiration at the uniqueness of the Greek literature in this particular, and be inclined to think that some originating cause of the phenomenon, moral or historical, remains yet to be detected, or at least to be satisfactorily explained.
* The reasons for the only two exceptions the lines in the Andromache and the Lavacrum Palladis of Callimachus, both in Doric-are obvious enough, and almost prove the rule. In fact, the first is a beginning of the chorus, and the dialect of the last was meant as a compliment to the Argians, for whom the elegy was composed.
ART. II.- Domestic Manners of the Americans. By Mrs.
Trollope. 2 vols. 12mo. London, 1832. THIS is exactly the title-page we have long wished to see, and
we rejoice to say that, now the subject has been taken up, it is handled by an English lady of sense and acuteness, who possesses very considerable power of expression, and enjoyed unusually favourable opportunities for observation.
A book of travels in any country, by a person so qualified, might be considered valuable; but assuredly it was most wanted in the case of America, and especially at this moment, when so much trash
and falsehood pass current respecting that' terrestrial paradise of the west.'
We have had, at least, enough of late years of the politics of the United States, and have been sickened over and over again by the preposterous praises of those republican institutions which are to eclipse, in their national consequences, all the glories of Europe
in letters, and in all the graces of life. We should pass over such things with the transient hopeless sort of shrug of the shoulders with which we dismiss the periodical nonsense of a radical newspaper paragraph, were it not that America and her institutions are held up, not only for admiration in this country, but very often for imitation, if not in their whole extent, at least in many particulars, respecting which the two countries are so totally dissimilar, that any political comparison between them—except for the purpose of contrast—is utterly useless. Nothing is so easy as speculating in our closets on the probable effects of any given arrangement of public affairs ; and if the results of such imaginary politics were confined to the Utopias in which their ingenious authors gave them birth, we should have no objection to their theories. But when they are boldly obtruded upon the notice of the country as formulæ for actual practice, we feel it our duty, not to take these speculative conclusions for granted, but to turn the telescope of truth' to the existing facts themselves, and through the medium of an intelligent traveller's optics, ' bring life near in utter nakedness.' In this spirit we have read Mrs. Trollope's book with interest and instruction—we may add, with great amusement; for it is written with much humour, and is eminently graphic throughout, -touching, with singular skill, a vast variety of topics, which, perhaps, only a female eye could correctly appreciate, or a female pen do justice to in description, fynd og
Before giving quotations to substantiate this high praise, we think it may be of use to such of our readers as may not have attended much to the subject of America, if we point out in limine a few of the most remarkable circumstances which contradistinguish the national condition of the Americans from our own and render it impossible, or almost impossible, to draw useful inferences from the state of the one people to the practice of the other. There are, no doubt, some points in the relative situation of America and England which deserve to be placed in juxtaposition, and out of which the statesmen of both might extract valuable lessons; and we hope to find room to advert to one or two of these particulars. In the mean time, our purpose is to call the public attention to differences, not to similarities; and we think that, without nearly exhausting the subject, we can jot down, off-hand, a round dozen of points of distinction,--any two or three of which