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far chiefly occupied us is connected with the second volume, the extracts which we make will be taken from the more general matter of the first.
The Dialects and the different styles of composition to which they were suited, form the subject of the first extract:
“A language restricted to one definite classical standard, can hardly be well adapted to every class of composition. The same musical softness which favours the flow of poetical numbers, must, in a proportional degree, be prejudicial to the gravity of historical narratives and philosophical disquisition, or to the terseness of forensic eloquence : had Demosthenes possessed no other medium for giving vent to his Philippics but the Ionic of Homer, or Plato composed his Republics in the Æolic of Sappho, their works, whatever their intrinsic excellence, must have sacrificed a portion of their external charms, to the comparatively inappropriate dress in which they would have appeared. This may be further illustrated by the example of modern nations distinguished for talent in every department of letters. The French tongue has produced a comic writer equal, to say the least, to the chiefs of the Attic humorous drama; but in the higher walks of poetry, neither genius nor art can overcome the obstacles to a corresponding degree of excellence, interposed by the sound and structure of that language. The finest conceptions, couched in harsh or discordant accents, can no more constitute perfection in poetry, than in music the sublimest airs sung by a weak and tuneless voice. The same general remark applies more or less to all the other European tongues, that in proportion as they may be adapted to one style of composition, they are unfavourable to another. But in the cultivated Greek dialects, we to the avenged Manes of Patroclus, and who is so unwilling to die) to himself and his own fate, and the fate likewise of Patroclus—beginning :
« Ουκ οραας οιος καγω καλος τε, μεγας τε,” and going on * Κατθανε Πατροκλας σεο
πολλoνα μεινων.” While referring to this passage, we are reminded by its termination of a remark, which we cannot understand, in Bishop Thirlwall's History of Greece, in which he says, in reference to the time of Homer,—“Their name was not yet given to portions of the day; these the poet usually describes by the civil occupations belonging to them; as, the morning, by the filling of the marketplace; the noon, as the time when the woodcutter rests from his toil, and takes his repast; the evening, as the unyoking of the oxen, or as the time when the judge quits the seat of justice.” The last line of the passage here alluded to distinctly names (unless, writing where we cannot verify our recollection, we be mistaken) the three parts of the day, at any of which death might strike its victim, as morning, evening, n Megov ruap. Does he mean that the hours were not distinguished ?
possess the masterpieces of several languages rather than of one. It were difficult to imagine a vehicle of expression better suitedto the varied powers of the Epic Muse than the old Homeric; to the tenderness of amatory complaint, than the Lesbian Æolic; to the mingled gravity and impetuosity of the triumphal lyre, than the Doric of Pindar; or to the precision and energy of dialogue, prose narratives and oratory, than the Attic of Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Demosthenes.
“The above remarks apply chiefly to the flourishing ages of Greece, when a spirit of independance” (independence) “animated the institution of every state, and the breast of every citizen. With the decisions of the national character, the establishment of a dominant influence in the political commonwealth was attended, as in other ages and countries, by a corresponding effect in the republic of letters. The preponderance of Attic genius had procured a certain ascendancy to the Attic tongue, even prior to the subjection of Greece to the Macedonians. One great object of this semi-barbarous power, from its first rise into importance, was to establish a claim to the pure Hellenic character, and, by consequence, to promote Hellenic habits and associations among its subjects. As the most effectual means of attaining this end, they adopted the Attic as the court dialect, took the literature and science of Athens under their especial patronage, and established them as models in the new schools founded under their own auspices. Alexandria thus became the metropolis of arts and letters, and the Attic, as it prevailed in that court, slightly modified by provincial peculiarities the classical dialect of the whole Hellenic world.”— Vol. I. 124-h.
Our author, like many hearty admirers, is also a hearty hater—and as, among theologians, the nearer the schools, the greater the hate, so in this case it is the ancient Epic and Epic Poet, coming nearest to the Iliad and to Homer, which most move his disapprobation; but indeed, from the point of view at which he takes the Poem, with very good reason. The incompletenesses and disproportions of the Æneid are truly great. But it is hard always to overlook the fact that Virgil had not finished the Poem, and did not publish it.
THE MORALE OF THE ÆXEID. “ This excellence of Homer will appear the more remarkable, as contrasted with the striking inferiority of his most distinguished successor, in regard to the same important feature, amid the full light of ethic science and philosophy. The hero of the Æneid is held up by its author as a model of piety and virtue. But how sadly do we miss that harmony between the dramatic and the descriptive elements of the poem, so beautifully maintained in the Iliad! In all the principal transactions in which Æneas is engaged, his real character and conduct are in open conflict with Virgil's description. In bis connection with Dido, if he be supposed to have no ulterior object in view, he must be condemned as a heartless sensualist. If, as the poet implies, that connection was formed under the faith of a virtual marriage, he becomes a perjured adulterer, while his cold, solemn indifference to the misery caused by his cruel and ungrateful treatment of an amiable and confiding female is odious in the last degree. His invasion of Italy is an act of open usurpation and outrage. His arrival on the coast spreads discord and bloodshed among the previously happy tribes of that country. A father forces his daughter to violate her plighted troth, a mother is driven to suicide by the evils accumulated on her family and nation. All our partialities ought to be on the side, not of the hero whose cause we are called on to espouse, and which is crowned with success, but on that of his adversary.
* The only palliation which can be suggested for these moral blemishes of the Æneid, the divine authority under which the hero acts, tends, if rightly estimated, but to aggravate the offence, by exhibiting not only weak humanity, but the Deity himself, as the patron of injustice and oppression.”—Vol. I. 294.
The following passage is one of many descriptions with which Colonel Mure's quick eye and careful hand enrich these pleasant volumes :
OLD PRIAM'S VISIT TO ACHILLES. It is, however, in the closing scenes of the Iliad that the brighter side of Priam's character is most prominently brought forward. All sense of his vices or follies is here absorbed by compassion for the calamities in which they have involved him, and admiration for his heroism in braving the dangers of a hostile camp, and the wrath of Achilles, to rescue the remains of a beloved son from mutilation and disgrace. But, even here, the poet, still true to nature, never loses sight of the less favourable traits of the portrait, which, as now reproduced under a change of fortune, impart a new variety to the whole composition. Hitherto Priam had been contemplated in a comparative state of prosperity, and distinguished even in his displays of weakness, by a decorum and placidity of deportment becoming his royal state. Now, at the moment when his energies are intent on the fulfilment of the noblest duties, his temper, under the accumulated excitement of the crisis, breaks through all the restraints of courtly diguity into ebullitions of senile petulance and irritation, as characteristic of the genius of the man, as inconsistent with the greatness of his conduct. The scene in the palace, previous to his journey, is one of the finest in the Iliad. Priam, his family, and the entire city, are plunged in the deepest affliction; their favourite prince and bravest champion slain; his body daily insulted in their sight by his ferocious conqueror. The mode in which the national grief finds vent, exhibits a fine combination of oriental and patriarchal manners. The old king enveloped in his mantle, is seated in the centre of the palace court in a state of gloomy stupor, indifferent to all that is passing. His sons are weeping and his daughters wailing around him; the halls and porches thronged with citizens, flocking with sympathetic curiosity to the centre of the common woe. At this moment Iris, invisible to all but Priam himself, breathes her message from Jove in his ear. The first symptom of response to the divine intimation is a tremor pervading his frame. On a sudden, morbid despair gives place to unwonted vigour ; he rises and declares his resolution forthwith to visit in person the Myrmidon camp, and ransom the body of his son. He is assailed by the remonstrances of his wife against the madness of his project, but in vain. On turning to give the requisite orders for his journey, he finds everything in confusion; his palace is crowded with importunate idlers; his sons are bewildered by this sudden change from listlessness to temerity, and the promptness of their obedience falls short of the eagerness of his commands. His temper then gives way, and he breaks forth into invectives, first against the busybodies who encumber his hall, and whom he drives with his sceptre into the street; next against the sluggish apathy of his sons, tauntingly contrasting it with the devoted zeal of their deceased brother. The petulance of these sallies is tempered by the most touching expressions of grief and patriotism. Every word and act is admirably suited to the character and the occasion.
“The sequel of this adventure supplies the more delicate finish to the portrait both of Priam and Achilles. The ardent zeal, senile importunity, and pious resignation of the venerable suppliant, are beautifully contrasted with the generous sympathy and haughty impetuosity of the terrible Myrmidon. The old king returns to the city with his precious freight, greeted by crowds of admiring citizens, and the ensuing rites in honour of the slain champion, afford an impressive conclusion to the great drama. Upon the whole, perhaps, the character of Priam is, next to that of Achilles, the most delicately conceived and finely drawn in the poem. The parallel which it offers to that of Shakspeare's Lear cannot fail to suggest itself to the critical student.”—Vol. I. 345-7.
ART. IV.-PHASES OF FAITH.
Phases of Faith : or Passages from the History of my Creed.
By Francis William Newman, formerly Fellow of
This book is a necessary Appendix to the author's former Treatise on the Soul. In that work he presented a scheme of positive Religion, founded essentially on psychological experience, and asking for no data beyond the mind's own consciousness in the exercise of its highest affections. Its object and method were constructive : and in evolving an adequate faith from the inner life of the human spirit, he could spare only an incidental notice for doctrines and modes of procedure at variance with his own. He there unfolded the truths which respect our spiritual relations according to the order in which, as he conceives, they ought to be thought out. This, however, is not the order in which he himself has actually reached them; still less does it agree with the ordinary path of approach to them. All Christians conceive themselves indebted to an historical revelation, concurrently with the intimations of their own nature, for their most inspiring convictions: and with Mr. Newman himself, they are not a fresh acquisition won by his present mode of thought, but a residue left uncancelled by the mental changes through which he has passed, and provided, by an after-thought, with their new title to continued possession. The present publication describes the processes by which the author, from a commencement in Calvinism, reached at length the religion of “ The Soul.” It contains his apology for dispensing entirely with all external aids, miracle or prophecy, Bible or Church,-in the establishment of a Faith ; and for limiting himself to sources purely subjective. It defends his isolated position by Tracing the involuntary encroachments of scepticism, as reflection and knowledge increased and imparted a freer action to his mind; till the ever-narrowing circumference of his ecclesiastical and scriptural belief, drove him at last upon his own centre, and left him as a point alone amid the infinitude of God. As the course of change was ex