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will spend fifteen minä on the chase. And when a poor rower falls overboard, little is laughter restrained at him, “salsos removentem pectore fluctus.”
A controversy has arisen concerning the claims of the three great Tragic bards.
It is settled that the compositions of Æschylus may be compared to Cyclopean Architecture, ponderous, wild, and typic: that those of Sophocles resemble a Temple, perfected in solemn proportions and filled with awful cries : while those of Euripides remind us of a Home sacred as Penates can make it, yet wanting no tenderness that wife and child can gather round its hearth.
The flowing goblets once more go round, and having drunk to the nine Muses in three times three, they invoke the glory of the next Olympiad, and entreat a happy reunion then!
Where is Olympia now?
There still blows the olive, Cronion still lifts its heap: but the very olive is stunted, and instead of the mountain there is a mound. The name is forgotten, and Antilalla only heard. The Carbon creeps where once Alpheus flowed. All is drearily still where nations shouted ! All is well-nigh depopulated where kingdoms threw forth their swarms! Where is the revel-cheerfulness, the high-souled valour, now? It was life in its most compressed energy and intensity,—it is death in its deepest, coldest, gloom. The real barbarian has been there, rifling earth's fairest portion, destroying man's noblest race. We have little to regret that the Olympics survive but as a tale of wonder and romance. Better institutions have risen, though not there : nobler feelings are enkindled. Well may we rejoice that such things are now regarded as the sports of that childhood which has grown in wisdom and stature up to the present age. Let us hope that a country so lovely may not be abandoned to perpetual desolations : let us more than hope that a people who erst filled such an orb of fame may complete more glorious destinies.
civilization, and sounder philosophy, and purer religion, may elevate them not only to the standard of the line
“ Such as the Doric mothers bore;"
may foster not only our belief,
“ That there perchance some seed is sown,
as brave, as free, as refined as the Grecian Heraldry,-but must rank them transcendently more wise, and virtuous, and happy! And while this Retrospect of a Marvellous Institute, based on the solidity of ages, -elaborated by the arts of sculpture, eloquence, and poesy,—the school of glory,—the centre of intelligence,—the apex and paragon of fame,— while this retrospect has opened upon us,-let us,—thinking of our higher duties and graver responsibilities and incomparably more precious advantages,-learn from this Course of agonistic strife and struggle to fulfil our nobler, better, Course! There was One who had seen the first, or who was fully informed concerning it,- and it may be well, - at least cannot be harmful,- to listen to his “conclusion of the whole matter.” He seems to have in imagination the throng of spectators,—the debated course, -the contested rivalry,—the gymnastic curriculum,-he transfers it all to a grander combat and a sublimer speed, -—“ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily entangle, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us!" “Know ye not that they which in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize ? So run, that
“ If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” “Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but,-We an Incorruptible !"
ye may obtain."
Aspice, venturo lætentur ut omnia sæclo !"
VIRGIL.-Ecloga iv. 52.
“One consolation, however, offers itself amid this general wreck of man, of his works and of his inventions; it is, that new political associations arise from the dissolution of kingdoms and empires, and call forth with increased vigour and interest the energies and virtues of the human heart ; that new combinations of sound spring from the decay of fading languages, affording fresh expressions to the understanding, and opening other fields to the imagination; and that thus all the shifting scenery and the ceaseless vicissitudes of the external world, tend only to develope the powers of the mind, and finally to promote the gradual perfection of the intellectual system."
“ This is an art, Which does mend nature,-change it rather; but The art itself is nature."
THE HISTORY AND PROSPECTS OF THE HUMAN
IN RELATION TO INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL IMPROVEMENT.
It is, perhaps, seldom remembered, that a portion of history is evidently unfounded. That which is most elaborate cannot fail to interest and amuse us, but it is at the expense of scrupulous authority and severe truth. Were this department of writing rigidly conducted, how many a scene must be obliterated, how large a measure of attraction must be sacrificed, how naked an outline would remain ! Of the most common incident contradictory representations are daily given : witnesses who have possessed an equal opportunity of judging respecting it are found to differ very widely in their accounts: and a probability is the only alternative we can assign to parallel scales. Even in perusing that class of historians whose veracity is best established, and whose fidelity is most unquestionably authenticated, we must naturally wonder and may legitimately enquire, from what sources could their knowledge be derived ? The narrative is regularly sustained and consistently evolved: curiosity is anticipated and cavil refuted. Now though nothing could be more ridiculous than a sweeping scepticism of history, nothing more irrational than a sullen distrust of its general testimonies,-yet what mind can receive its minute and highly-wrought details without suspicion ? who can assent to the correctness of its finished pictures without hesitation ? A glance of attentive thought will convince us that the bias of the historian must be too partial for a strict estimate, his sphere too circumscribed for an accurate investigation, his intellect too fallible for a generalising grasp, of those varied and numerous occurrences he records.
History is not to be depreciated, however, as uniformly uncertain. Through the ages which are still receding from us, she is our only guide. But she is soon opposed by darkness she is not able to dissipate, and stopped by regions she is not permitted to explore. It had been happy did she pause when the first vapour rises at her feet: but resolute as well as curious, she plunges into shadows which cruelly disturb her august form and for ever arrest her adventurous progress!
But if the descriptions of history are sometimes too vivid, and its pretensions to antiquity sometimes too arrogant,—what many would most keenly regret is, that it does not sufficiently exhibit the peculiarities of man. The expressions of the human character are not preserved. The workings of passion are not developed. The sources of habit are not laid open. There is an absence of correct and delicate analysis. We look in vain for traits of conduct and delineations of sentiment : for those touches and pencillings in the portrait by which the artist and the original are at once declared. We look in vain for the hidden springs which have impelled man through such rugged paths and in such opposite directions. And yet if this be alleged against the historian, scarcely any complaint can be more unjust : for it may be disputed, whether any such task be committed to him : whether it would not be an impertinent and undignified violation of his neutrality: whether he would not as egregiously mistake his province in indulging the philosophic reflection of Tacitus as in emulating the graphic interest of Livy. The fact is, that the historian has to conduct before us certain personages who have powerfully influenced the fate of nations: and to sketch events which, from their prominence and bearings, ought not to perish with the remembrance of ordinary transactions. He is hurried on by the march of his heroes, by the tide in the affairs of men. He cannot dissect the heart of a conqueror when millions are affected by the issue of the fight : nor linger to inspect a train of events while their effects are spreading through a continent or a world. And therefore history, as generally composed, is but an imperfect chronicle of man. It enrols occurrences most interesting to