Puslapio vaizdai

of large intermixtures of matter, modifications in the arrangement and other features, which now appear far more filed and perfect, than the much later Æneid in its unquestioned authenticity can boast of. But the whole of our scepticism is awake and active immediately on any modern writer pretending to set his finger on the specific passages, phrases or arrangements which are un-Homeric. The sleepy passages, which used to be thought unworthy of the special genius of the principal Bard, and were therefore attributed to some inferior hand in the Homeric club, Colonel Mure, on the old principle of Horace, vindicates, as especially and artistically Homeric. For he reminds us how a great Poet understands the necessity of mixing level land with hill and dale, and to allow the reader to recover his nerves from the last, and prepare them for the next, excitement of emotion and admiration.*

Neither would we be understood to extend our conservatism to the facts, even the main facts, of the Homeric Poems. That some Asiatic city was besieged by the Greeks, on the tradition of which siege were built these beautiful fictions, we believe. But this is nearly all that we should

When the Pandorean box of ingenuities, in its passage over Europe from Constantinople, let out its contents on Germany, one solitary subtlety remained, till it got to England. It then escaped, and lighted at Catherine Hall, Cambridge, on the head of Dr. Kenrick Prescott, the principal. That worthy scholar, being afflicted with the gout, or other disease contingent upon learning, and being thus disabled from the more active duties of his station, addressed a series of letters to his "men," through several of which he applies himself in a very clever and amusing effort to call in question the probability of Horace's famous, though good-natured, reproach of "quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus," being meant for the Ionic, or, according to our author, Æolic, Homer at all. The letters, though commenced as a jeu d'esprit, wax so serious in their progress, as at length, we think, to throw more than a little doubt upon the correctness of the general assumption, and to raise a suspicion that it may really have been, as these letters suppose, a Roman Homer-to whom Horace was alluding-no other than the Poet Ennius. The fact that Horace is criticizing Latin poetry, and illustrating it by Latin authors-that Ennius called himself Homer-and the quiz contained in the dormitat, when referring to a man who dreamt of interviews with Homer, and maintained that in the metempsychosis, it was a Peacock which had been the associative link between himself and the great Grecian Poet-added to Horace's own express declaration of the absolute perfection and faultlessness of the Grecian Homer --when he is really speaking of him-weigh, with other presumptions, we must confess with us a little in favour of the Prescott theory-quite as much, at least, and we are sure with as much reason, as any of Wolf's or his followers' arguments in favour of there being no Homer at all. To those who have not met with them, these Letters of Dr. Prescott's will afford a few hours of very amusing reading.

particularly like to pledge ourselves to. That there were three periods of precisely ten years each, connected with this event-that ten years were spent in preparing for the war, ten years in carrying it on, and ten years in getting home gain, by some at least of the warriors-is not among the articles of our faith. Nor do we believe that all the Greeks (which is throughout the consistent fancy of the Poems), young men and elderly gentlemen, were all inspired to amass this prodigious amount of effort, to leave their homes, and kingdoms, and wives and children, to recover a runaway lady, now some thirty or forty years of age. That such persons as Achilles, or Ulysses, or Hector, or such a gift as the Trojan Horse, ever existed at all, is more than we should like to have to prove. If the Greeks made such a war in Asia, whatever the pretext may have been (and such a one as this is not impossible), they had more solid political reasons for their expedition. It may have been the first of those awkward relations between the Asiatic and European sides of the Egean, which more than once, in the history of the Greeks, made it necessary in them to anticipate the honour of a visit, or to repent of the visit being first paid to them. We regard the two Poems as constituting two utter, gorgeous, unrivalled fictions-the creation of one gigantic mind-endowed with that truly God-like power, the power of creation. There, in the glittering caverns of that wonderful bosom, did all the forms that throng the Iliad and the Odyssey start into life and motion. There first rose the beautiful fabric of those Poems-faint and fair, like the hues of an incipient rainbow, but gathering in its grace, deepening and brightening in its colours, till by the laborious pencil of that genius which first originated the conception, the satisfying structure rose, wonderful and glorious, imperishable itself, peopled with imperishable beings. O tell us not of the Poets who sung the siege before Homer, any more than of the Dramatists who took their scenes and stories from Rome, and Italy, and Old England, before Shakespeare. Doubtless there were many such, alas, too many! Some stupid barbarian named Achilles very likely lived in several forms before the angry, proud, pathetic, affectionate, heroic creature, now called Achilles, sprung from the hand of Homer, and blotted the other out of the consciousness or knowledge of the human


Apollo's in abundance, we doubt not, stood and stared, till "The Beautiful to look upon" appeared, like the morning, and dazzled men out of the power of seeing any of his predecessors. The Circean caves, the gardens of Phoacia, the den of Polypheme, the sounding Trojan horse, a Helen and a Priam, a Penelope and a Nestor, had, it may be, all been sung before-what matters it now, whether they had been or not? Probably they could scarce be said to have lived before, certainly they first became immortal on the canvas of that unequalled maker, who, if the critics think proper, shall be without a name-we are content, for he scarcely can be named. We are heartily glad that Colonel Mure is not content to be one of those flies, to whom we have referred, as crawling over the pedestal of this great Statue. He writes like a feeling, understanding man about Homer. So anxious is he to impress the images he desires to create or to revive in the minds of his readers, that he does not scruple to analyse at length the material, to quote in full (a great virtue and accommodation) the passages-instead of trusting the too-often untrustworthy activity of his reader, and satisfying himself with a reference to book and line in a foot-note. We do not know any one work which presents the reader with so much that is at once instructive and interesting on Homer-in which critical labour and hearty æsthetic appreciation are so satisfactorily combined. Without any positive originality, and perhaps without much that is decidedly new in the work itself, it yet comes upon its readers with an air of freshness, from the happy union of what are so often, to the great disadvantage of classical exegetics, separated-a scholarlike attention to details of style and language and criticism, with an enthusiastic love of the ideas and pictures of the Poet. The descriptions of the characters are excellently done, and the selection of passages very happy.*

As we have not yet given our readers the opportunity of judging of Colonel Mure's style of writing, we now propose to subjoin a few extracts, indicating the more popular merits of these volumes; and as the subject which has so

How is it, that in so large an induction of these, one is omitted, in which Achilles, in a wonderful outburst of mingled ferocity and tenderness, challenges the attention of the young Trojan (whom he is about to sacrifice

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 ex

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"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 οράας οιος κάγω καλος τε, μέγας τε,”

and going on

* Κατθανε Πατροκλας σεο .... πολλονα 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, ʼn μeσov hμap. 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. 124-6.

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 Eneid are truly great. But it is hard always to overlook the fact that Virgil had not finished the Poem, and did not publish it.


"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

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