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The Spirit of Athens. Being a Political and Philosophical Invess · tigation of the History of that Republic. By William Young, · Esa; 8vo. gs. Robson.
« Multum legendum esse, non multa, is," as this writer observes, “ an adage of antiquity replete with a deep and excellent sense; -it means that much reading implies not much knowledge, and that study leadeth not necessarily to wisdom ;-it teaches that to profit of our application, whilft we peruse one book, we should think another; and instead of being librorutri helluones give the mind exercise and time wherewith to digeft a inoderate and wholesome fare;-it inculcates, that to run over many authors, may to the language of pedantry gain the title of learning; but that attentively to penetrate the sense of a few, is the way to science.” It is observed, however, with equal propriety that “ all men have not equal acuteness to develope, equal affiduity to pursue, or equal memory to retain the subject-matter of a book.” It is for the benefit of readers, therefore, of inferior capacity, in these respe&ts, that the present performance appears to be calculated. But the author's design and manner, as well as motives for writing, are, perhaps, best displayed in his own words. Co My design is from the annals of men and things to extract the spirit of charačter and event, with the narrative to interweave the moral, and to give at once the history and its comment; and in this, iny book may be of some use to the young, or to the superficial student;-it may teach him that the ancient Greek history is fraught with something more than apophthegmand anecdote, - that to know the names of Marathon and Salamis, of Codrus or of Cimon (to pursue a metaphor of Mr. Burke's), is merely to know the land-marks of history, and not the country, that to a fagacious traveller the country is the object, its abrupt breaks, its gentler declivities, its culture, and its produce: he must not expect to meet with his acquaintance from the Pantheon ; the heroes of fable have found no admittance in this work ;-well were it, if nothing of more importance to the history was omitted !- In my course many a flower have I disregardled, that others have stayed to pluck, and perchance, foinetiines a limple hare I culled, which ano. ther hath neglected; what I have idly rejected, and what, perhaps, as idly chosen, may equally subject me to censure;--I humbly submit to it, nur will I prolong this preface to deprecate its severity,--nor, in the language of deference, to hint pretensions, nor to jingle a quaint antithesis to public amusement, and to public urility ;-to say I wrote for either, were vain as it is falle ;-- wiote the following book to beguile an idle time, and I know no better realon for publishing, than becaule - have wrote, it."
Having thus frankly declared his views in composing this work, its author proceeds to defend the importance of ancient and even fabulous history in the following introductory refections.
" The 3
.: The wildest narratives of remote antiquity, hörever little to be depended on for veracity, are not wholly to be regarded as the sports of roving fantastic genius, or as useful merely as fables bearing a deep and beautiful moral: they are still more striking as types of the spirit and pursuits of the age they relate to. The mind of man unrutored in philosophical truths recurs naturally to the marvellous; blind to the in. herent wonders of every the minutest part of the creation, he himself imagines new miracles for the deity of his soul;each god, each demigod, each hero, is thus aggrandized by the fertile enchufalin of his adherents, who unwilling to allow the confoiled superiority to a being noways effentially ditfering froin themselves, inveit him with fuch powers, and attribute to him fuch actions, as their wanton zeal may suggeit, or wild credulity patronize.-Srill, however, the virtues held up to admiration, are the virtues or the age that adm res: 'the prejus dices and pursuits of the fabulitt enter into the delineation of the creature of his fancy, however perfect he may delign him, and as out poet or other writer is a member of, and writes but for his community we may pronounce that his embelliihonenis, though but an airy superstructure, are yet raised on a known and yood founilarion, and that his recital is at least confonant to the amuse..ient and taite of his contem: poraries.
“ Thus the memoirs of chivalry or stories of more ancient heroisiti inforın, as well as delight; the age of gallane knighthood is perhaps betier deicribed, in Amadis, than by Mezeray; Woden and his tol: lowers are better known from a Rupic song, rhan from a monkish hittorian; and in the tales of Hercules and the Argonauts, the spirit of those remote times is better traced than it could be in the book of any Itrict conformer to truth and fact: we thus get acquainted with the prior ages by fables, as with fucceeding from records, nor is the fludy ihereof to be slighted, as long as the improreability of man is thouyht worthy to hold a place in his speculations; and the progreis and various iteps and changes of the human mind are deemed proper objects of its enquiry. In fuch philofophical pursuit the reading of fabulous history has its peculiar use, but further is not to be expected from it; the intancy of human nature can no more serve as example to man in an inproved ftare, than the child's whims to one in years, in whose deeper thoughts and studies they may yet profitabiy find a place.
“ By many, and indeed most of the learned; it hath been deemed difficult to draw the line in ancient history between the fabulous and the authentic; but here the word fabulous bears another fense, and the oppofition of terms may simply be conftrưed into true and fallë : The ten first books of Livy have been ftigmatized with the term fabulous, meaning folely that the facts therein represented are fingular, doubrful, and in many cases itated as such, by the very author; but yet are they not to be clafled with the tales of poetry: their leflon is deep, and they bear a strong and pointed charact. 1, whether afier the life or not, the picture hath a phyfioznomy most interesting, and so well elucidated by the maiterly touches of the painter, that equal profit and plealure result from the niceit confideration of it. It is enough that the politic Machiavel hath dedicated the most sterling labours of his pen to reflections on this theme: Let the antiquary bring his medals, or the VOL. V. Iii
book-learned his books to the controversy—the pedant would cleanie the root, and filth is his portion; whilft the Florentine bee pitched on the lively flower is sucking the sweetest honey from each petal! Little doch it matter I think where the record is ot' fo old a date, and affects not any right or property, and gives no authority to any system, and brings no weight of favour or oppofirion to the opinions of the day; little doch it matter, whether the history is composed of absolute facts, so long as it bears the characteristics of truth and nature. The Venus of Zeuxis furely might be pronounced equally estimable, whether the ftory of the five beauties of Agrigentum was true or false.
Lord Bolingbroke, looking over the general prospect of history ancient and modern, and considering its tendency merely as to the knowledge of men and manners, says-he would chearfully exchange the books of Livy we have, for those we have not; he enumerates the advantages Livy had in his latter books of painting characters he knew, and those too of the greatest; of describing events he was concerned in, facts he had from the imunediate acturs,-quæque ipfe miserrima pidit.
u But surely a contemporary historian of such turbulent times might be too apt to exaggerate through adulation or conceal through fear; to give the precepts not of the philosopher, but partizan; and colour hacts into harmony with his own system of patriotism or friendship. Cucina in his letter to Cicero says *--' much have I been neceffitated “ to refrain, many things have I been obliged to pass over lightly, “ many to curtail, and very many abfolutely to omit-thus circum “ fcribed, restricted, and broken, as it is, what pleasure or what use. $6 ful information can be expected from the recital ?" So wrote the hiltorian Cæcina, and fo probably did Livy write; but this apart-have we not sufficient pages blotted with the follies and vices of great men Have we no annals to refer to for the consequences of luxury, the progress of verality and corruption, and liberty undermined? Or are we yet to learn that one and the fame is the downfall of virtue and of free. dom, and that with equal pace individuals become vicious, and a community enslaved? Writings enough exist tracing the corruption of men and states through every mode and degree ;-the period of antiquity characterised by a wild and impetuous generofity, by an enthusiastic patriotism and daring love of freedom,--that age wherein the virtues were indebted to the passions for more, than ever since the boaked aid of reason could afford them, has been delineated but by few great malters; and for the honour of humanity not a line thereof should be effaced. I would not barter one page of the early accounts of the republics of Athens or of Rome for the most accurate acquaintance with all that Auguftus ever did or thought."
Our philosophical historian proceeds to give a regular narration of the rise and progress of the Athenians, occasionally intermixed with such political reflections as naturally result from
* --Sed tamen me sustinui, multa minui, multa sustuli, complura ne pofui quidem ;-fic tot malis cum vinctuin tum fractum ftudium fcribendi, quid dignum auribus, aut probabile poteft atferri? Ciceron, Ep. fam. Lib. 6. Epist. 7.:
the subject. We shall select from the latter the following pa. ragraph on Civil Liberty and Colonies.
« Civil Liberty consists in the secure poffeffion of a particular station and property, not to be affected but by tke diffolution of the state which ascertains and ensures them: when a form of government circumscribes the latitude of concession.to its Tubjects of equal rights and participation,-civil liberty is confined; when its policy and laws are inadequate to regular adıninistration,-civil liberty is insecure: the pretensions of a juft and wise legislation are so to modulate its force and its security, and so to provide for general ease and happiness, as to leave as little controal for the free-spirited, and as little licentiousness for the man of a quiet and homely turn, to make the subject of anxiety, -as are compatible with each other, and as absolute necessity requires,
6 Men of an improved genius and capacity will get sometimes push their idea of polity to a refinement, calculated to disgust them with any inftitution they may be born subject to; and men too in the extremities of an hot and active, or of a peaceable and domestic spirit, will find wherewithal to colour their situation with diicontent, and deprecate the controul of government or licentiousness of the people, respectively as they are fitted for enterprize or quiet,-fer the forum of Rome, or farna at Tibur.
" It is certain that no dissatisfation with the constitution of his country, can authorise an individual to plot an innovation, ever pregnant with danger to the whole community; and that the necellity mukt be very obvious and pressing, -and the authority of very niany muft assent, to make any plea for commotion good and adequate.
" But happiness, it will be said, is the great end of all political ordonnance or arrangement.;--that states may not be of the best insti. tution, that even those of the best may have deviated from their firft principle; and surely it is equally hard for a polished and wise man to be aggrieved by the errors of a lavage ancestor.; or to stand with his bead under a ruin, because in a better ftate it had been a comfortable habitation to his forefathers. This reasoning will have weight in every country which permits not a free egress froin its dominion ; where such migration is restricted, the canon is unjust, and agrees not with the great axiom-“ Lex eft fumma ratio"-for reason favours the contentment and good of each, when it interferes not with thar of any.
" That a body of men may leave their native country, and that ia doing they withdraw themselves from the parent state, its prote iion and its powers, I think queftions fo inteparable, that had not a contrary mode of reasoning been of late inich and oiten enforced, I should suppose the argument too obvious to neceffitate the detail; alsuredly thoie who depart on a condi'ional expedition, as thev are bene.fited, lo are they obligated by the conditions thereot; but the voluntary exile who leeks retuge in the storms of the ocean, and rufts his body to foreign climates and exotic diet ; who forgots. the delights of habit, and sweets of long connexion, whosies from sommy attachmnents to so much danger,--flies not from diilike to his paternal yieve or private sociality,--it is from iuppufed or real grievance of fubjection that he escapes, and if the imperious rule is to pursue him to his reIreat, the permission to quit the fore is at best trivial and intuling.
* The “ The Colony embarking for a region of fixed and regulated fo. ciety, of course mult acquiesce in the previous compact ; but landing on a yet unappropriáted fpot, have surely as just a right to adopt the System of afluciation, their prejudices or wisdom may luggest.
“ This was the reasoning of old, and was supported by the demeanor of the ancient republics towards the various fer:leirenis formed in dif. tant parts by their disgusted or necesitous citizens; for necelfity, or from over-population, or from cther casualties incident to society, might often and perhaps molt frequently occafion many to seek other fortunes and another country. On the motives ot quitting the original people, depended iheir successive favour and partial protection (tor that partiality may actuate and artach very large and removed focieties, this, and in contutation of Dr. Price every hi tory will evince)--and the Colony had a conditionally respected plea for che tender and gratuitous interference of he mother country, in all cases of exigency and danger."
Of our author's stile of narration let it suffice to say, that it is concile, nervous, and spirited; we wish we could add that his language in general is equally correct and elegant.
Archaeologia : or Miscellaneous Trails relating to Antiquity, pub· lijhed by the Society of Antiquaries of London. 4to. Vol. IV.
il, is. in Sheets. Sold at the House of the Society in Chancery-Lane, and by the Booksellers.
(Continued from Page 331.) Article the IVth contains the Illustration of a gold enamelled Ring, supposed to have been the Property of Alhitan, Bishop of Sherurne; with some Account of the State and Condition of the Saxon Jewelry in the more early Ages. By the Res. Mr. leggc.
V. An dccount of Human Fones filled with Lead. In a Letter from Mr. Worth, lare of Diss, F. A. S. to Edward King, Etquire. With Observations thereon, by Dr. Hunter.
VII. Remarks on the Antiquity and the different Modes of Prick and Stone Buildings in England. By Mr. James Eflex of Cambridge.
VIII. Obfervations on Kit's Cotty House, in Kent. In a Letter to the Honourable Daines Barrington, from the Rev. Mr. Peoge.
IX, dccount of a singular Discovery of Bones in Christ. Church Priory, Hampshire. By Guftavus Brand.r, Esquire. In a Letter to ihe President.
X. An Account of the Great Seal' of Ranulph Earl of! Chciler; and of two ancient Inscriptions found in the Ruins of
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