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arose nought remained of either but their dignity, their importance, or their the works of genius they had produced, intimate connexion with modern insti. and the deeds of glory they had done. tutions. The pictured pages and The wonders of Napoleon's reign fa. matchless descriptions of Livy, indeed, ded as rapidly as the triumphs of the will, to the end of the world, fascinate Macedonian Conqueror ; and the dis- the imagination and subdue the hearts tant lustre of Babylon and Nineveh is of men ; but it is a fragment only of faintly recalled by the ephemeral dy. his great work which has descended to nasties which have arisen, under the our times; and even when complete, pressure of Arabian or Mogul con. it came down only to the time of Auquest, in the regions of the East in gustus, and broke off exactly at the modern times. But, in the Roman period when nations, arrived at the annals, a different and mightier sys. stage of existence to which we have tem developes itself. From the in- grown, are most interested in its con. fancy of the republic, from the days tinuance. The condensed wisdom, even of the kings, and the fabulous 'energetic expressions, and practical reigns of Romulus and Numa, an un experience of Sallust and Tacitus, apbroken progress is exhibited, which ply only to detached periods of the never experienced a permanent reverse later annals; and, though not a page till the eagles of the Republic had of their immortal works can be read crossed the Euphrates, and all the ci. without suggesting reflections on the vilised world, from the wall of Anto- extraordinary political sagacity which ninus to the foot of Mount Atlas, was they had acquired from experience, or subjected to their arms. Their re. received from nature, yet we shall look verses, equally with their triumphs- in vain, in the fragments of this work their defeats, equally with their victo. which have survived the wreck of ries-their infant struggles with the time, for a connected detail even of cities of Latium, not less than their the later periods of Roman story. later contests with Carthage and Mi. The moderns appear to have been thridates -- contributed to develope deterred, by the exquisite beauty of their strength, and may be regarded as these fragments of ancient history, from the direct causes of their dominion. adventuring at all on the same field. It was in the long wars with the Ferguson's is considered by the English, Etruscan and Samnite communities and admitted by the Germans, to be that the discipline and tactics were the best connected history of the Re. slowly and painfully acquired, which public which exists; but not only does enabled them to face the banded it embrace merely, with adequate fulstrength of the Carthaginian confede- ness, the period from the rise of the racy,-and in the desperate struggle Graccbi to the ascent of the throne by with Hannibal that the resolution and Augustus, but it does not contain the skill were drawn forth which so soon, views, nor is it dictated by the practi. on its termination, gave them the em cal acquaintance with human affairs, pire of the world. The durability of which is necessary for a real history of the fabric was in proportion to the tar. Roman policy. The Scotch professor diness of its growth, and the solidity has, with much ability, illustrated the of its materials. The twelve vultures contests of Sylla and Marius, of Cæsar which Romulus beheld on the Pala. and Pompey; but he lived in a pacific tine Hill were emblematic of the twelve age, amidst the unbroken seclusion of centuries which beheld the existence an academical life, and, consequently, of the empire of the West; and it could not possibly attain those clear required a thousand years more of cor. and decisive views of the tendency and ruption and decline to extinguish in springs of action, in civil contests, the East this brilliant empire, which, which are brought home to the minds regenerated by the genius of Constan- of the most illiterate by the storms and tine, found, in the riches and match crimes of a revolution. less situation of Byzantium, a counter. Niebuhr is universally allowed to poise to all the effeminacy of Oriental have opened a new era in the early manners, and all the ferocity of the history of the Republic. Before his Scythian tribes,
time historians were content with It is remarkable that time has not adopting, without examination, the leyet produced a history of this wonder- gends which, in the Roman annals, ful people commensurate either to passed for the narrative of real events, and, despairing of adding any thing to power of execution which at that early their beauty, simply presented their period had distinguished the Roman readers with a translation of Livy and people. Two thousand five hundred Dionysius. Dissatisfied with such a years have elapsed since this stupen. mode of recording the progress of so dous work was executed, to drain the celebrated a people, Ferguson rejected waters of the Forum and adjacent hol. the early legends altogether, and pass. lows to the Tiber; and there it stands ing, in the most cursory manner, over the at this day, without a stone displaced, first five hundred years of Roman story, still performing its destined service! Do professed himself unable to discover any of the edifices of Paris or London firm historic ground till he came down promise an equal duration ? From the to the second Punic War. But neither moment that we beheld that magnifi. of these methods of treating the sub cent structure, formed of the actual ject suited the searching eye and inqui- stone of the eternal city, all doubts as sitive mind of the German historian. to the authenticity of Roman annals, Possessed of extraordinary learning, so far, at least, as they portray a and a matchless faculty of drawing, with powerful flourishing kingdom anterior intuitive sagacity, important historical to the Republic, vanished from our and political conclusions from detach- minds. If nothing else remained to ed and, to ordinary observers, unmean. attest the greatness of the kings at ing details of subordinate historians, this period but the Cloaca Maxima and he has contrived to rear up from com- the treaty with Carthage in the first paratively authentic data, a veracious year of the Republic, it would be suttipicture of the early Roman annals cient to demonstrate that the basis of Instead of rejecting in despair the whole the early history of the kings was to history prior to the invasion of the be found in real events. And this Gauls as a mass of fables, erected by Niebuhr, after the most minute and the vanity of Patrician families, and critical examination, has declared to be adopted by the credulity of an unin- his conviction. formed people, he has succeeded in Doubtless, the same historic evidence supporting a large portion of those an- does not exist for the romantic and nals by unquestionable evidence; and captivating part of early Roman history, stripping it only, in some parts, of those We cannot assert that we have good colours which the eloquence of Livy evidence that Romulus fought, or that has rendered immortal, for the improve. Numa prayed ; that Ancus conquered, ment and delight of mankind. It is a or that Tarquin oppressed ; that the common reproach against this great brethren of the Horatii saved their antiquary, that he has overthrown the country, or Curtius leaped headlong whole early history of Rome; but no into the gulf in the Forum. The reproach was ever more unfounded. exquisite story of Lucretia ; the heartIn truth, as Dr Arnold has justly ob. stirring legend of Corioli; the invasion served, it must be evident to every one of Porsenna, the virtue of Cincinnatus, acquainted with the subject, that he the siege of Veiæ, the deliverance of has built up much more than he has Camillus, are probably all founded destroyed, and fixed on firmer historic in some degree on real events, but grounds a vast deal which the inquisi- have come down to our times glowing live eye of modern scepticism was in- with the genius of the ancient historiclined to lay aside as entirely fictitious. ans, and gilded by the colours which No stronger proof of this can be desire matchless eloquence has communicated ed than is to be found in the fact, that, to the additions with which the fondwhile Ferguson began his history as ness of national or family vanity had authentic only with the exploits of clothed the artless narrative of early Hannibal, Niebuhr has deemed it cer- times. Simplicity is the invariable tain that historical truth is to be found characteristic of the infancy of the not only under the kings, but so early world. Homer and Job are often in as Æneas Martius.
the highest degree both pathetic and It is inconceivable, indeed, how it sublime; but they are so just because ever could have been seriously believed they are utterly unconscious of any that the annals of the kings were en such merits, and aimed only at the re. tirely fictitious, when the Cloaca Maxi- cital of real events. The glowing pages ma still exists, a durable monument and beautiful episodes of Livy are as both of the grandeur of conception and evidently subsequent additions as the
pomp and majesty of Ossian are to the feelings then prevalent amongst a nameagre ballads of Caledonia.
tion called to such exalted destinies; But it is of no moment either to the and without being embued with a simi. great objects of historical enquiry or the lar spirit, we may safely assert no other future improvement and elevation of people will ever either emulate their the species, whether the Roman le. fame, or approach to their achievegends can or cannot be supported by ments. historical evidence. It is sufficient Notwithstanding the high place that they exist, to render them to the which we have assigned to Niebuhr in end of the world the most delightful the elucidation and confirmation of subject of study for youth, not the least early Roman history, nothing can be useful matter for contemplation in ma- more apparent than that his work never turer years. They may not be strictly will take its place as a popular history historical, but rely upon it they are of the Republic, and never rival in founded in the main upon a correct general estimation the fascinating picture of the manners and ideas of the pages of Livy. No one can read it time. Amadis of Gaul is not a true for half an hour without being satisstory, but it conveys, nevertheless, a fied of that fact. Invaluable to the faithful though exaggerated picture of scholar, the antiquary, the philolothe ideas and manners of the chivalrous gist, it has no charms for the great ages. There is, probably, the same mass of readers, and conveys no sort truth in the Roman legends that there of idea to the unlearned student of the is in Achilles and Agamemnon-in consecutive event, among the very Front de Bæuf, Richard Cour de people whose history it professes to Lion, and Ivanhoe. We will not find portray. In this respect it labours in Roman story a real Lucretia or Vir- under the same fault which is, in a less ginia, any more than in British history degree, conspicuous in the philosophic a genuine Rebecca or Jeanie Deans; pages of Sir James Mackintosh's Engbut the characters are not the less Iish history ; that it pre-supposes an founded in the actual manners and spi. intimate acquaintance with the subrit of the times. It is of little moment ject in the reader, and is to all, not to us whether Romulus watched the nearly as well versed in it as himself, twelve emblematic vultures on the Pa- either in great part unintelligible, or latine Hill, or Numa consulted Egeria intolerably dull. Heeren, whose lain the shades of the Campagna, or bours have thrown such a flood of Veiæ was stormed through the mine light on the Persian, Egyptian, and sprung in the Temple of Juno, or the Carthaginian states, has justly remarkRoman ambassador thrust his hand into ed that Niebuhr, with all his acutethe fire before Porsenna, or Lucretia, ness, is to be regarded rather as an though guiltless in intent, plunged the essayist on history, than an actual hisdagger in her bosom rather than sur torian. He has elucidated with exvive the honour of her house. It is traordinary learning and skill seve. sufficient that a people have existed, to ral of the most obscure subjects in whom the patriotic devotion, the indivi. Roman annals; and on many, espedual heroism, the high resolves, the un- cially the vital subjects of the Agradaunted resolution portrayed in these rian law, struck out new lights, which, immortal episodes, were so familiar, if known at all to the later writers of that they had blended with real events,
the empire, had been entirely lost durand formed part of their traditional an
ing the change of manners and ideas nals. No other people ever possessed consequent on the Gothic conquests. early legends of the same noble heart. But his work is in many places so obstirring kind as the Romans, because scure, and so much overloaded with none other were stamped with the cha- names, and subjects, and disquisitions, racter destined to win, and worthy to in great part unknown to readers, even hold, the empire of the world. To the of fair classical attainments and exlatest times the history of infant Rome, tensive general knowledge, that it with all its attendant legends, must,
never can take its place among the therefore, form the most elevating and
standard histories of the world. He useful subject for the instruction of is totally destitute of two qualities inyouth, as affording a faithful picture, if dispensable to a great historian, and not of the actual events of that inter estiog period, at least of the ideas and famed annalists of antiquity-powers
at inter; particularly conspicuous in the far
of description, and the discriminating when the empire had already attained eye, which, touching on every subject, to its highest elevation; he dismisses brings those prominently forward on in a few pages the conquests of Trajan, ly which, from their intrinsic import. the wisdom of Nerva, the beneficence ance, should attract the attention of of Marcus Aurelius, and enters into the reader. He works out every thing detail for the first time when the blind with equal care and minuteness, and, partiality of Marcus Antoninus, and in consequence, the impression pro the guilt of his empress, had prepared, duced on the mind of an ordinary reas in the accession and vices of Comder is so confused, as to amount almost modus, the commencement of that to nothing. Like Pevele or Waterloo, long series of depraved emperors who in the imitation of nature (and land brought about the ruin of the empire. scape painting, and historical descrip What do we know of the conquests of tion in this particular are governed by Trajan, the wars of Severus, the victhe same principles), he works out the tories of Aurelian? Would that the details of each individual object with pencil of the author of the Decline admirable skill; but there is no breadth and Fall had thrown over them the or general effect on his canvass, and he brilliant light which it has shed over wants the general shade and subdued the disasters of Julian, the storming tones, which in Claude, amidst an in- of Constantinople, the conquests of finity of details, not less faithfully Mahomet, or the obstinate wars of the portrayed, rivet the eye of the spec. Byzantine emperors with the Parthian tator on a few brilliant spots, and princes. But his history embraces so produce on the mind even of the most vast a range of objects, that it could unskilled the charm of a single emo- not satisfy our curiosity on the annals tion.
even of the people who formed the Niebuhr's history, however, with all centre of the far-extended group, and its inerits and defects, comes only it is rather a picture of the progress of down to the commencement of the the nations who overthrew Rome, than most important era in the annals of of Rome itself. the Republic. It is in the empire There is ample room, therefore, for that the great want of continued an- a great historical work, as voluminous nals is felt. Literally speaking, there and as eloquent as Gibbon, on the is nothing, either in ancient or modern Rise and Progress of Roman greatliterature, which deserves the name of ness; and it embraces topics of far a history of the whole period of the more importance, in the present age of Emperors. Tillemont has, with unthe world, than the succession of disaswearied industry and admirable ac. ters and fierce barbarian inroads which curacy, collected all that the inimi. long shook, and at last overturned the table fragments of Tacitus, and de- enduring fabric of the empire. Extached lights of Seutonius, Florus, and cept as a matter of curiosity, we have the panegyrists have left on this vast little connexion with the progress of subject; and Gibbon has, with incom. the Gothic and Scythian nations. parable talent, thrown, in his first Christianity has turned the rivers of chapters, over the general conditions barbarism by their source ; civilisaof the empire, the light of his genius tion has overspread the wilds of and the colouring of his eloquence. Scythia ; gunpowder and fortified But Tillemont, though a laborious towns have given knowledge a duraand valuable compiler, is no historian; ble superiority over ignorance ; Rusif any one doubts this, let him take sia stands as an impenetrable barrier up one of his elaborate quartos and between Europe and the Tartar horse. try to read it. Gibbon, in his im. But the evils which the Roman insti. mortal work, the greatest monument tutions contained in their own bosom, of historical industry and ability that as well as the deeds of glory and exexists in the world, has given a most tent of dominion to which they led, luminous view of the events which led interest us in the most vital particulars. to the decline and fall of the em. Our institutions more closely resemble pire, and erected, with consummate theirs than those of any other people talent, a bridge across the gulf which recorded in history, and the causes separates ancient from modern story. which have led to the vast extent of But he begins only to narrate events our dominion and durability of our with any minuteness at the period power, are the same which gave them
for centuries the empire of the world. rum, that they deemed it unnecessary The same causes of weakness, also, are to do more than allude to them, as a now assailing us which once destroyed subject on which all were agreed, and them; we, too, have wealth imported with which every one was familiar. from all parts of the world to corrupt Like first principles in our House of our manners, and an overgrown me- Commons, they were universally taken tropolis to spread the seeds of vice for granted, and, therefore, never made and effeminacy, as from a common the theme of serious illustration. It centre, over the length and breadth of is now only that we begin to perceive the land; we, too, have patricians the weighty sense and condensed wisstriving to retain power handed down dom of many expressions which dropto them by their ancestors, and ple. ped seemingly unconsciously from beians burning with the desire of dis- their historical writers, that deartinction, and the passion for political bought experience has taught us that elevation which springs from the pride, insolency, and corrupt prinspread of wealth among the middle ciple are the main sources of popular classes; we, too, have Gracchi ready ambition in our times, as in the days of to hoist the standard of disunion by Catiline; and that the saying of Johnraising the question of the Agrarian son ceases to pass for a witty paradox, law, and_ Syllas and Mariuses to rear that “ Patriotism is the last refuge of their hostile banners at the head of a scoundrel." the aristocratic and democratic fac- Dr Arnold has now fairly set himtions; in the womb of time, is pro- self to work with this noble task, and vided for us as for tbem, the final he is, in many respects, peculiarly filoverthrow of our liberties, under the ted for the undertaking. Long known successful leader of the popular party, to the classical world as an accomand long ages of decline under the plished scholar, and the learned editor despotic rule imposed upon us by the of the best edition of Thucydides exblind ambition and Eastern equality of tant, he is still more familiar to many the people. A fair and philosophic of our readers as the energetic headhistory of Rome, therefore, is a sub- master of Rugby school; and is to ject of incalculable importance to the this hour looked up to with mingled citizens of this, and of every other con- sentiments of awe and affection by stitutional monarchy; in their errors many of the most celebrated characwe may discern the mirror of our ters of the age. The first volume of own -in their misfortunes the pro the great work in which he is en. totypes of those we are likely to gaged alone is published, which brings undergo-in their fate, that which, down the history of the Republic to in all human probability, awaits our- the burning of Rome by the Goths, selves.
but it affords a fair specimen of the Such a history never, in modern spirit and ability with which the retimes, could have been written but at mainder is likely to be carried on. In this period. All subsequent ages, from many respects he has shown himself the days of Cicero, have been practi. admirably calculated for the great but cally ignorant of the very elements of difficult task which he has undertaken. political knowledge requisite for a His classical attainments, both in Greek right understanding or fair discussion and Roman literature, are of the yery of the subject. In vain were the les highest order; his industry is indefasons of political wisdom to be found tigable, and he possesses much of that profusely scattered through the Ro. instinctive glance or natural sagacity man historians—in vain did Sallust which enabled Niebuhr, amidst the and Tacitus point, by a word or an fictions and chaos of ancient annals, epithet, to the important conclusions to fix at once on the outlines of truth deducible from their civil convulsions; and the course of real events. His -the practical experience, the daily powers of description are of no ordiintercourse with Republican institu- nary kind, as our readers will at once tions were awanting, which were ne- perceive from the extracts we are cessary to give the due weight to their about to lay before them; and many reflections. The lessons of political of his reflections prove that he is enwisdom were so constantly brought dowed with that faculty of drawing home to the citizens of antiquity by general conclusions from particular the storms and dissensions of the Fo. events, which, when not pushed too