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storehouse of materials. Dr. Robertson has two very valuable notes on the subject in the first volume of his History of Charles V. See also Hallam's Middle Ages; Brodie's British Empire; the first volume of Lingard's History of England; Turner's Anglo-Saxons; Dunham's Germanic Empire; Sismondi's Italian Republics; Montesquieu; Blackstone's Commentaries; Grotius de Jure Belli et Pacis, etc.
In the United States, the question of classical education has often been discussed, and its utility sometimes vehemently denied. In the mean time, the study of the Greek and Roman authors, and the taste for ancient art, have been making constant progress, both in schools and colleges. Many of the choicest works of the classical writers have been carefully and learnedly edited by American scholars. Professor Woolsey's selection of the Attic Tragedies has been welcomed with applause, both at home and abroad; and his recent edition of the Gorgias of Plato is the best edition of that admirable dialogue, for practical use, that has ever yet appeared. Other works, prepared on similar principles, have been published from time to time; and, at present, the classical course, in several of our colleges, instead of being limited to a volume or two of extracts, embraces a series of entire works in all the leading departments
* This Essay was published in 1849, as an Introduction to the volume entitled "Classical Studies," edited by Professors Sears, Felton, and Edwards.
of ancient literature. The mode of studying antiquity has also been materially changed and improved within a few years. History, the arts, the domestic life, the private and public usages, the mythology, and the education of the ancients, have been carefully investigated, and their scattered lights concentrated upon the literary remains of antiq uity. Thus classical scholarship in America is beginning to breathe the same spirit which animates it in the Old World; it is beginning to be something higher and better than the dry study of words and grammatical forms; it is becoming a liberal and elegant pursuit, a comprehensive appreciation of the greatest works in history, poetry, and the arts, that the genius of man has ever produced.
Amidst the din of practical interests, the rivalries of commerce, and the general enterprises of the age, classical studies are gaining ground in public estimation. It must always be so with the advance of civilization. We must, however, confess with shame, that in American legislative assemblies, where we naturally look to find the highest courtesy of manners and the graces of literature, little proof of advancing culture, of any kind, is given. Scenes of brutality, to the disgrace and sorrow of the nation, are often enacted in the Congress of the United States, that seem to show that the night of barbarism is settling over the land. Many of the speeches delivered there exhibit a coarseness and vulgarity of sentiment, a disregard or ignorance of the proprieties of speech, an utter insensibility to the elegances of letters, and to the humanizing influences of the arts, which must be bitterly deplored. When a work of art was lately received in Washington, a work on which the great American sculptor had lavished all the resources of his genius, and spent several years in the flower of his life, —
it was assailed by an honorable member, in a strain of ribaldry which a gentleman cannot even quote.
But the prospects of American education and refinement are more encouraging, if we turn from public to private life. It is a much more common thing for young men to continue their classical studies beyond the time of the college education, than it has been in former days. The orators and dramatists of Greece and Rome are frequently made the companions of the writers on law and divinity, though classical pursuits are sometimes represented as on the decline all over the world. Modern literature, throbbing with present life, — impassioned poetry, which the strong and exciting character of the age kindles into fiery expression,- take hold of all hearts, stir up all minds, and leave but little time for the severer pursuits of the classical scholar. But this is a wrong view of the subject, at least in the extent to which it is sometimes carried. The excitements of modern literature lend additional ardor to classical studies. The young blood of modern literature has put new life into the literature of the dead languages. That exquisitely beautiful poem, Goethe's Iphigenia at Tauris, has inseparably connected the name of the great German with him whom Aristotle calls the most tragic of poets, and who was Milton's most cherished bard. The comparison between the German and the Greek gives a fresh charm to the works of both. This point is admirably illustrated in Hermann's eloquent preface to his edition of the Iphigenia Taurica of Euripides. That most delicate and harmonious tragic drama, the Ion of Mr. Talfourd, whose composition shed a delight and a charın over many years of intense professional labor, has led many a scholar back to the beautiful antique, from which the title and the general subject were taken; and the ap12
plause with which this masterly reproduction of the classical spirit and almost the antique form was welcomed, a few years ago, was a pleasant indication of the still existing love of antique beauty. The majestic simplicity of Milton's Samson Agonistes, and its Dorian choruses, forcibly bring to mind the Prometheus of Eschylus, and suggest very instructive comparisons between the lofty characters of the two poets. And who does not feel that he can better understand, and more profoundly appreciate, the glorious, but terrible imagination of the poet of Agamemnon, when he has once been moved and agitated by the awful power of Macbeth; when the myriad-minded poet of England, in whom the genius of man took its sublimest flights, has once entered into and taken possession of his soul.
But the Greek and Roman classics stand at the beginning and at the source of European culture. Nothing can displace them. Homer is the fountain-head of all European poetry and art. There he stands, venerable with nearly thirty centuries, touching his heroic harp to strains of unsurpassed, nay, unapproachable excellence and grandeur. All the features of a great heroic age, the chivalry of the classical world, — from which European civilization dates, and political and domestic order take their rise,-stand forth in living reality, in his immortal pictures. There he stands, radiant with the beams of the early Grecian morning, as "jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountaintop." Who is to drive him from his station there? And how, then, is Homer to pass from the memory and the hearts of men? Impossible. It is not a question to be decided by a few petty and short-sighted utilitarian views. Homer's reign is firmly established over the literary world, and if any nation should ever become so barbarous as to