« AnteriorContinuar »
While our grateful voices chime,
• Happy season! blessed time !! The length to which our reniarks have run, prevents us from enlarging upon several minor topics, which might be drawn from the perusal of these comedies; such as the state in which Aristophanes found the drama, the improvements which he made in it, &c. We should have wished also to 'shew a little more at length this poet's manner of mixing with bis audience, and connecting them with the business on the stage. That species of humour too, by which he guards against pleasantries at his own manner of writing, would not have been undeserving of attention, nor the freedom of reinark which he exhibits upon the religion of his country, and the toleration which his sarcasms on that point experienced from his audience. Enough, however, has been done to shew that Aristophanes was not merely a punster, as Plutarch would have it, nor, what Voltaire, with at least as much ignorance as wit, describes him, a Greek comic poet, who was deficient in comedy, and had no notion of poetry.
The nation which possesses a Molière or a Sheridan, may be content to do without an Aristophanes : but still the latter is no contemptible genius. He stands alone; he is a writer sui generis: he can be judged by no modern tribunals: the laws of the drama, under which he wrote, were different from ours; the audience to whom his plays were addressed, was different; the manners, and the customs, and the ideas, and the purposes for which they are written, were different. Human nature, however, does not so entirely differ, but that enough is still left for us to understand, to relish and to imitate. His pictures are highly curious and entertaining, and, as fac-similes of the times, are more valuable than more general delineations; possessing much the saine degree of point and faithfulness, we should imagine, as the one-act comedies of the Spaniards, mentioned by the noble author of the Life of Lopez de Vega. If the general detinition of wit be true, that it is the imexpected combination of distant resemblances, nothing can more deserve the name, than the dialogue of Aristophanes. He finds allusions in things seemingly the most incongruous, and in scenes apparently least susceptible of them, and we can easily conceive the roar of laughter which accompanied their application, and the surprise and confusion with which they must have covered the objects of them. His characters are rather sketches than portraits ; but they discover the hand of a master, and they are written us painters write their numes at Co.
His knowledge of human nature is strong, though not diversified. It is almost all embodied in that one aggregate idea, which he had formed of his master, the people; and he appears to value his acquisitions merely, as they aid him to soothe the vanity, awaken the
versification will bear but a faint comparison with the richness,
na and deformity, into spirit, symmetry and loveliness. But are desophanes must be read through: no extract will give a correct
jika of his versatility, his side-stroke satire, his curvettings, and
be so eminently excels, whether of passages from the poets, or the dere proceedings of their political assemblies, cannot be well relished
without a knowledge of the originals to which they refer, and on
We agree with M.
. Breaks which produce the finest effect, and pauses more varied than those which enrich the Comus of Milton, or its esquisite prototype, the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, occur for pes together. The gaiety of his measures is most delightful. The ese dances amid anapæsts, and all
the light and airy varieties of Greek metre. It is music absolutely painted to the eye
; and we can conceive that to the susceptible ears of the Athenians, the lanFuage alone of Aristophanes, heightened by those modulations and infiesions which are lost upon us, must have created a fascination that was perfectly irresistible. The most varied metres of English bears his name, we should have hailed him as a mighty master in bie art, and considered him as deserving the encomiums which the
koown to have bestowed
TOL. IX. NO. XVII.
Art. X. Travels in various Countries of Europe, Asia, and
Africa. By Edward Daniel Clarke, LL.D. Part the Second. Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, Section the First. 4to.
Cadell and Davies. London. 1812. ONCE more, like Xanthias in the ancient comedy, we resume our
critical burthen in the suite of the lively and interesting traveller whose active curiosity we have already extolled, and the bitterness of whose prejudices we have sometimes had occasion to blame with an impartiality which should render our praises of greater value. But we recommence our task with better spirits, and with a fairer prospect of agreement with our author during the future stages of his narrative. We no longer follow him through the hard measure he met with from the Russian government, and the still harder names which he dealt to both government and people in return;
we pant not now after his rapid wheels through the regions of filth and fraud, -the wretched country
-Eute Copbopos Taxus
TOTW xiija Evob Ει τον ΞΕΝΟΝ τις ηδικησε πωποτε.The frogs of the Kuban are passéd, as well as the surly Æacus who kept, during the reign of Paul, the Russian frontier; Dionusus is at length arrived in those fields, which have, in every age, been the Elysium of the scholar and the antiquary ;--and we may hope, under his guidance, to be introduced to the pageants of ancient mythology, and the ghosts of poets and philosophers.
The former volume landed Dr. Clarke at Pera, Nov. 6, 1800. That to which it is now our duty to introduce the reader, contains his observations during his first residence in that place, his progress by the coasts of Asia Minor to Egypt, and two short excursions from Alexandria to Cyprus and the Holy Land. It is scarcely too much to say, that we have followed him in his narrative with a pleasure only inferior to that of actually viewing the scenes which he delineates. The characteristic faults of the former volume are still, indeed, discernible. We have still to complain of a reliance on first impressions, which is not altogether compensated by an acuteness of observation undoubtedly more than common : we encounter, not unfrequently, a blindfold hurry of inference, which, had our author been of Milesian origin, would be considered as a national infirmity; that stuinbles on its conclusions as if by accident, and is often right in defiance of its own chain of arguments. Even on his most favourite topics we have sometimes perceived a want of that previous kuowledge, without which, to travel is but to wander, and we have suspected that he has rather read to illustrate his tour, than journeyed to illustrate his reading. We are not yet, perhaps, arrived at that period of his work, where
unfortunate invalid who keeps guard at the beginning of the 21st
trade pronounced on those who expect nothing; and so far from
we may expect any discussion on the moral and political state of
the whole detail of the Sultan's procession to St. Sophia, in vel
spite of our satisfaction in learning that the same ceremonies are
been detailed at large by De La Mottraye and Thevenot,) and have with
curtailed a little, for a few questions as to the present state of Cylue
przs, that bunting after intaglios, which Rousseau somewhere aire
cals the distinctive mark of an English traveller, and which was
ether inquiries, in one of the most interesting and least known arda
ands of the world.
Wsh all these draw-backs Dr. Clarke is a tourist of no common tap. His own discoveries are numerous, and where others have maeded him he has set their information in the clearest point of Tw: he is eminently gifted with that thirsty eye,' as old Tom Corvat calls it, which is perhaps the most important qualification
á a traveller; he has, lastly, a power of selecting objects, and a Cacü
naciness in describing them, which cannot be better described than
, or purely bilious, we know not, which not only soured the
, but jaundiced the visual organs of its victim : which, by a magne more potent than the cup of Circe, transformed some thirty milions of human creatures into two-legged pigs,' and selected, 8: specimen of the brave and hardy followers of Suvorof, the chapter of his former volume. In the present, we have no such bitterness of complaint, no such violence of invective ; nor does the tranny of Djezzar Pasha at Acre, or of the Flea-king at Tiberias disturb the good-humoured pleasantry of the narrator.
The first symptom of this amendment we discovered in his account of Constantinople; the peculiarities of which place, and of its uburbs
, had prepared us for some of that strong encaustic painting which their northern neighbours had been represented; and same gravis thyrsus which had visited Mosco with so much rien Here, however, our traveller experienced the niock beati
Viool , beca
being disappointed, was agreeably surprised to discover that the ancient capital of the Cæsars retained, at the present day, so many traces of its former possessors. It is not, indeed, for us to inquire what literary traveller besides himself ever visited Constantinople with an impression so singular as that which he describes :--- expecting to behold but faint vestiges of the imperial city, and believing that he shall find little or nothing to remind him of “ the everlasting foundations” of the master of the Roman world.' But we feel, it must be owned, considerable curiosity to learn from what course of previous study, what published account of Constantinople or its history, he had arrived at conclusions so unusual, and so contrary to the probability of the case : for, as he himself sensibly remarks, the time which has elapsed since the Turks obtained possession is so comparatively short, that little subsequent change was to be expected, and it is altogether false that the conquerors were occupied in works of destruction, or that they had a pride in defacing the monuments of the race whom they had subdued. Whatever havoc has taken place among the works of ancient art at Constantinople, was begun by the Romans themselves, even so early as the time of Constantine the Great, and renewed at intervals, in consequence of the factions and dissentions of the inhabitants.'
• The city, such as it was, when it came into the possession of the Turks, has been by them preserved, and undergone fewer alterations than took place while it continued in the hands of their predecessors. It does not however appear, that the changes produced, either by the one or the other, have in any degree affected that striking resemblance which it still bears to the ancient cities of the Greeks.'—pp. 8, 9.
It is, however, certainly true, and Dr. Clarke, we think, has the credit of being the first to notice the circumstance, that it is not only in the Hippodrome, in St. Sophia, or in the other more striking vestiges of its former masters that ancient Constantinople is to be sought or found; but that those very circumstances which strike a careless visitor as the effects of Grecian degeneracy, or of Turkish despotism, are often in themselves aboriginal, and afford the best existing studies of the private life of the ancients. Of Greece, we kuow, the splendour consisted in its public buildings only; and the narrow streets, the unglazed shops, the gloomy bazars, and the small and obscure apartinents of modern Constantinople differ, in few respects, from the remains of similar objects in Herculaneum, or from the descriptions furnished by the ancients themselves of Athens or of Corinth. But the Doctor runs riot in his parallel, when he extends it to every particular of manners or of furniture, and when (without fear of the avenging ghost of Winkelman) he identifies the graceful folds of the ancient pallium with the cumbrous