Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

If we examine the probabilities of the case, Jbrary, however, could scarcely escape uninwe shall find them all militating against Abul-jured. farage's account, and the existence of the library It is well known what devastations Caracalla's in the days of Omar and Amrou. The books of evil spirit led him to commit in hapless Alexthe ancients were written either on parchment or andria. The museum was pulled down. on leaves of papyrus. Those of the Alexandrian Under Aurelian, the whole of the Bruchion library, in particular, must have been principally was demolished. This emperor afterwards took of the latter species, the papyrus being an Egyp- possession of the city, and gave it up to be piltian plant. Now these leaves of the papyrus laged by his soldiers.

were very liable to fall to pieces or to be de- Then came the long train of feuds occasioned o stroyed by insects, especially in the hot, damp by Arianism. To atmosphere of Alexandria ; it was, therefore, ne- And lastly, Theodosius the Great, in compli

cessary frequently to renew such copies. Now ance with the exhortations of Theophilus, caused is it to be imagined that all the pains necessary the Serapeum to be reduced to ashes, A.D. 391. It for the preservation of such a library would have is certain that all the edifices adjoining the temple

been conscientiously taken after the dynasty of became this time a prey to the flames. This loss olet the Ptolemies had ceased to reign, and in the must, therefore, be laid at the door of the Chris13 midst of the war and revolts that followed, dur- tians, and, unfortunately, it is scarcely a matter

ing which all taste for learning and science, as of doubt that the blind zeal of the primitive ages

it is well known, was completely obliterated ? | induced the unenlightened intellects of those ak: The parchment manuscripts, which were proba- times to seek the destruction of books and monutu u bly not numerous, might resist somewhat long. ments, or any thing that seemed likely to recall ging er; but all the rest, after two or three centuries, or perpetuate the worship of idols. had doubtless become food for the worms.

If any remains of the library escaped from Abulfarage does not affix any number to the the general conflagration, it is probable that the stre books which, according to him, were burned; second Theodosius, quite as great a bibliopolist eins but he informs us that they served during six as the Ptolemies, would have taken possession of

months to heat the baths of the town. We them himself. know that there were 4000 baths-only think of Now, if any such remains existed in Alex

books serving as fuel to heat 4000 baths during andria, what became of them during the civil have

six months ! If we take into consideration that wars that were carried on within its walls between

the volumes, or rolls, of the ancients could Cyrillus and Orestes, and during the revolts that biss scarcely be compared in bulk to our folios, and took place under the emperor Marianus? In

that the number of volumes, at the very highest all probability, they were broken up and discomputation, could scarcely amount to more tributed in various directions. The monks obthan 300,000 or 400,000, it must be confessed tained some for their convents, and the emperors that the daily portion of each bath establishment of the East had some brought to Constantinople must have been slender indeed. And what ma- and other towns, where they established schools. terials to serve for heating boilers! Old parch. It is beyond a doubt that towards the beginning ment manuscripts and rolls of papyrus! Of a of the fourth century a great quantity of ancient verity, there must have resulted from such fuel books were disseminated over Egypt. Leo Afthe most Sabæan odors, for the benefit of the ricanus relates that the Caliph Mahmoud des. 4000 baths and the whole city! We can believe patched several persons to Syria, Armenia, and that these ingredients might serve to make a Egypt, with orders to colleci and purchase anmost insupportable smoke; but notwithstanding ient books, and that they returned loaded with the proverb that affirms, "where there is smoke. inestimable treasures. there is fire,” we doubt their powers of heating Lastly, be it remembered that, under Herawater! This latter piece of absurdity, is, per- clius. the Persians took and pillaged Alexandria, haps, not one of the least valid reasons against which they abandoned shorily aster. Then folthe authenticity of Abulfarage's account. lowed the Arabians, who, as we see, could not

have met with the ancient library, unless, indeed, IV.-CONJECTURES ON THE ULTIMATE FATE OF its preservation had been effected by one of

those miracles, of which, unfortunately, no exIf it be true, as we have every reason to think ample has ever been met with in the annals of that in 640, at the taking of Alexandria by Am- literature. rou, the celebrated library no longer existed, we may inquire in what manner it had been dis persed and destroyed since 415, when Oroses

ONE? affirms that he saw it?

Gibhon replies in the negative. He regrets, In the first place, we must observe that Oroses he says, infinitely more the Roman libraries only mentions some presses which he saw in the which must have perished at the invasion of the temples. It was not, therefore, the library of the northern barbarians. We have only fragments Ptolemies as it once existed in the Serapeum. of three great Roman historians, while we may

Let us call to mind, moreover, that ever since sily be surprised at the number of pieces of the first Roman emperors, Egypt had been the Greek literature that have floated down to us on theatre of incessant civil warfare, and we shall he surface of the vast stream of devastation that be surprised that any traces of the library could werrun so many countries. We possess its still exist in later times,

classical works, and these chefs d'aurre of geUnder Commodus, the Serapeum caught firenius. 10 which' the opinions of antiquity have but without being entirely destroyed; the li unanimously assigned the first rank. Aristotle,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE LIBRARY.

[ocr errors]

V.-IS THE

LOSS TO SCIENCE AN IMPORTANT

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Galen, and Pliny, had read, compared, and made his sterile portion in the earth is theirs,use of the writings of their predecessors, and The desert's loneliness, and drought, and fear;they give us no good reason to imagine that any Sons of the free woman !--Bestow your prayers :great and important truth, or any useful dis

“ KYRIE ELEISON !-Lord of Mercy-hear!" covery, that might excite modern curiosity, has been lost. With regard to the literature of the Yours are the flocks, the herds, the fertile fields, barbarians, it is to be presumed that the exclu- The pleasant pastures by their fathers trod; sive pride of Greek literature would have forbid The corn, and wine, and oil, their birthright yields, any Ethiopian, Indian, Chaldean, or Phænician The hallow'd hearths,- the temples of their

Gop! books to enter this library. And it is doubtful whether such exclusion was any real loss to Theirs, the savanna by the mountain-side,

Mocking their labors with its threats of dearth; philosophy.

No traces of their fathers' steps to guide Without entirely siding against Gibbon on

Their , trembling children o'er that trackless this subject, we cannot doubt but that our liter

earth. ary riches would have been increased were the library of the Serapeum still in existence. When from the floating ark of refuge driven Whatever cause may have destroyed it, whe

The pilot dove flew forth across the main, ther worms or fire, carelessness or fanaticism, At evening-ride, free as the winds of Heaven, certain it is that it would have offered us a com

The weary wanderer sought its home again. plete and correct Aristotle, who might then, per. But these go forth, and must return no more, haps, be entirely intelligible; a Menander, all No homeward path across the opposing wave! the lost portions of Æschylus and Euripides, there where their anchor bites the dreary shore, the poems of Empedocles and Stesichoros, a There, is their savage dwelling,-there, their multitude of philosophical writings by Theo- grave! phrastes and Epicurus, and a hundred others, and a quantity of historical works, which every Talk not of splintering masts or raging skies,thing leads us to believe are lost to us for ever. The troubled ocean of a tropic clime; Surely this is sufficient to excite the regret of all Within the port a direr peril lies, friends to science or the Muses.

Where war the maddening waves of want and We admit, however, that while deploring the crime, loss of the great library of the Serapeum, we Loud roars the storm on yon wild shore afar, may remain indifferent as to what Amrou burn

Man against man incensed in hungry strife; ed, if indeed he burned any thing, which we are

Oh! worse than all the elements at war,

The fierce contentions of a lawless life! induced to believe he did not. It is sufficiently proved that in his time the collection of the Ptolemies no longer existed; but we know that, Bright the effulgence of a southern sky, during the two or three centuries preceding the

Beauteous the blossoms with its verdure blent; invasion of the Mussulmans, there had appeared Strange birds on starry wings glance radiant by,

New stars adorn the Antarctic firmament. a frightful quantity of polemical writings, the But on no kindred thing descends the ray,offspring of Gnosticism, Arianism, Monophysit

No hearts they love those fragrant wonders ism, M noteletism, &c., all of which sects in

bless, fested the empire, and especially Alexandria. “Kyrie Eleison !-Lord of Mercy !-may In all probability, the house of the patriarch and Thy hand be with them in the wilderness !” the churches were full of these writings; and, if these served to light fires to warm the baths, The pristine curse still blights that hateful spot ! it must be confessed that for once, at least, they No Jegends consecrate its joyless home,were turned to some useful account.

Traditionary links that bind our lot

With ages past, and ages yet to come! -
Tree, rock, or stream--what memories endear?-

No tyrant perish'd there,--no hero bled !--
Mite is the olden time whose voice might cheer,

The daily struggle for their bitter bread!

Climb they the mountain !--From the vale beneath

No hum of men,--nor village chime ascends ;

O'er Nature's breathless form,--how fair in deathTHE EMIGRANTS OF SAN TON MASO.

The solemn pall of Solitude extends.
Or, higher yet, when from the topmost bound

Illimitable space their eyes survey,
Written while waiting the solemnization of a High Mass,
performed for the Belgian Emigrants, previous to Embarkation | Still--still--that vast horizon circleth round
for America.

But coiling serpents and the beast of prey !
BY MRS. GORE.

Ye disinherited of earth and sea !

High in your Heaven of Heavens, a better land From the New Monthly Magazine.

May yet be yours,--where no contentions be,

No trampling foot of pride,--no grasping hand. Give them your parting prayers !—not much to Raise, raise your hopes unto that brighter sphere, grant

Expand your sails, and seek that happier home To brethren banish'd from their native shore, “ KYRIE ELEISON !--Lord of Mercy, hear Desp'rate with penury,--subdued by want,- The sufferers' fervent prayer,--Thy KINGDOM

Cast forth like Ishmael from the patriarch's door. COME!"

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

A SUMMER HOUR IN POPE'S GARDEN AT Bolingbroke.-You speak the truth. Every TWICKENHAM.

shadowy branch of that lime-tree preaches a

sermon. There is no state of positive repose POPE, BOLINGBROKE, ARBUTHNOT, AND SWIFT.

in the world. The earth itself is in motion;

little things and great things obey the same From Fraser's Magazine.

law; and this smooth grass-plot in this vilcommunicated to you just as they pass through my hain or just trending down the daisies, is revolving round

“My thoughts, in what order soever they flow, shall be lage of Twickenham, on which we are now other subject; when we sauntered alone, or as we have often the sun not less rapidly than the mighty foramong the multiplied scenes of your little garden.”—Lord Bo? est-world of America. As it is in the natulingbroke to Pope.

ral, so it is in the political calendar. The Bolingbroke.—You see me once more be- evening and the morning compose the day taking myself to the green enclosures of of empire and the day of nature.

They Twickenham, relinquishing the note of the shine, and they grow dark. Look at monarsyren Pleasure, for the sweeter tune of that chies, -objects, one would think, that destiblackbird which scatters the dew from the ny might stand and stare at, but not shake. trembling bough upon this trim border of Consider the smallest bodies upon earth, yours; and instead of following the shadow objects, one would suppose, too slight for of ambition along the path of political enter

destiny to observe or discern. And yet des

if prise, delighting my eye with the pursuit of tiny, if we speak to the Atheist, or God, my own shadow over the grass, where the we speak to the Christian, is no more trouQueen of Faery might have pitched her tent. bled, as I remember to have read in one of Here I am once more, —

the Elizabethan preachers, to make a monar

chy ruinous, than to make a hair gray. In “Fond to forget the statesman in the friend.”

the elements around us we recognize the

same principle of fluidity and change; air Swift.-But the shadows of ambition and condensed becomes water,-air rarefied beyourself are alike in this,—that, however ear- comes fire. So it is in the elements of socienestly you may follow them, you will never ty. A merchant with all his speculations overtake either.

condensed into gold, becomes a lord, -or, Pope.- As statesman, or as friend, you with all his treasures blown into air, disapare always welcome; and now, especially at pears in fire and smoke. And, after all, it this time, I am rejoiced to talk with you in may be a consolation to us to remember, if my garden. You are acquainted with my there were any thing permanent--any thing simple, and, to speak in character, my Arca- released from the obedience to this principle dian manners.

I have some time ago resolv- of motion, that we, after all, should gain noed to dine at two o'clock, and I not only make thing by it, because, though our possessions but keep my resolution. If I comply after- might endure, we could not live to enjoy wards with the importunate kindness of my them; and if our goods were not among friends, it is in attending, not in partaking movables, we ourselves are, and, even though their dinners. So, you see, by this sort of they might continue with us, we could not amicable compromise between my comfort stay with them. and my interest, I may contrive to retain Pope.--In this circular motion of all things, some of the advantages which Dr. Young and in this universal fluidity and change, was enumerating to me the other day; when which you have brought forward with a gravihe said that a dinner with a certain famous ty that even Atterbury himself would envy, lawyer has procured him invitations for a you might have excepted the philosophic mind whole week beside, and that a single airing from the operations of this new law of graviin a nobleman's chariot has supplied him tation. As you have led us to Paul's Cross, with a citizen's coach on every future occa- I may endeavor to illustrate my remark by sion.

an image which I read long ago in the black Arbuthnot. The allurement must, indeed, folio of some divine of the seventeenth centube very powerful which could draw one from ry, like all his brethren of those days, rich in such a scene upon such an evening. The con

onceits, controversy, and Greek. As a watch, nobleman's chariot and the citizen's coach he says, though altogether it may be tossed would carry you into no spectacle of life so up and down with the agitation of him who full of beauty and interest. To you, espe- carries it, yet does not on that account suffer cially, it is alive with eloquence and wisdom; any perturbation in the frame, or any disorevery leaf writes a moral upon the grass, as der in the working of the spring and wheels the wind scatters the reflection which the within, so the true heart of philosophic dig. light had thrown.

nity, though it may be agitated by the tossings and joltings which it meets with in the public of letters simply because he was alpress and tumult of busy life, yet undergoes ways called the Just; but I am confident that no derangement in the beautiful adjustment we shall not esteem the charm and the virand regular action of its machinery; not atues of his mind and understanding the less wheel is impeded or stopped. I dwell with because they were shaded by the faults and a peculiar interest upon every tribute to the infirunities of hunanity. Shakspeare lived charms of philosophy and reflection, since, in a corrupt atmosphere of thought, and his as I once wrote to Atterbury, contemplative poetical complexion exhibits some signs of life is not only my scene, but my habit. With the influence of that atmosphere upon the regard to ambition, as exemplified in worldly constitution of his mind. We ought to redistinction and celebrity, it has always seem- joice that the vigorous health of his faculties ed to me rather stopping than climbing. enabled him to throw off so much of that

Swift.-It is certainly very pleasing to live pernicious and enervating influence, and to in a garden, and hear blackbirds, and talk retain so much of beauty, and purity, and about philosophy. I have a garden of my grace. own in Ireland.

Bolingbroke.-How happy I should be in Arbuthnot.—Which you never walk in if the belief that the commentating upon Shaksyou can find one with English flowers in it. peare, or any other book, may at some future

Swift.-A man who encloses himself in period warm you into the enthusiasm of trachis own domain to the exclusion of the com- ing, from its commencement in our literature, mon pursuits and interests of society, resem- the history of that noble art in which you so bles a person who always lives with his wife eminently excel. and children, and never sees company; or a Pope. I have often entertained the idea boy who constantly walks out with his sisters, of composing, not a grave and elaborate bisand is therefore always feminine. Then tory of English poetry-which would demand again, a man's thoughts are stunted in their more antiquarian research than I shall ever growth by the confinement: to imitate your possess the opportunity of making-but of rural language, the glasses are too small for painting a series of portraits of my elder the Aowers, and if they shut out the wind brethren,-of presenting to the student a galand dust, they shut out also the rain and the lery of pictures of some of the most famous

Did you ever know an editor of an au- contributors to our poetical literature; or, in thor a fair judge of his merits or his defects ? other words, to pass before his eyes a succesLike a husband who has sat opposite to his sion of sketches of the far-spreading, landwife during twenty years, the physiognomy of scape of imagination, as it darkened and the author has become so natural to him that, brightened in the light and shade of a setting however plain may be his features, he thinks or a rising civilization. I wish that some them attractive.

one of taste and diligence would take up the Pope I have myself experienced some of thread I have thrown out. According to that the feeling you mention in translating Homer plan, he would be obliged to pass over unreand commentating Shakspeare. I think that corded many names dear to the memory and every writer is bound to guard against the dear to the heart. Let me illustrate my seduction of indulging that unmitigated ad- thought. Follow the traveller to the hill-top miration for the author whom he illustrates, in the rich glow of a summer evening; he which is the common failing of editorship. does not gaze upon the little valleys of verNo infection spreads more rapidly than an dant stillness, or the cottage-gardens sweet epideinic of praise. No poet, or historian, with the hum of bees, or the glimmering or philosopher, who ever lived since poetry, paths overarched by interlacing boughs; but and history, and philosophy, were studied runs his eye over the distant scene, lingerand known, deserves a panegyric without a ing only upon the gray tower of the hamlet shade. There should be some discord in the church, or the shadowy ramparts of the mossharmony. It is the peculiar characteristic grown castle, or the gilded pinnacles of the of the brightest genius to have its lustre dark- remote metropolis. And if you watch that ened. “The moon and stars shine with un- traveller, you behold an emblem of the critic sullied radiance, the sun alone exhibits spots I have delineated. He passes over many on its disk.” He would be no real friend to green paths of sequestered meditation, many the memory of Shakspeare who should pro- little gardens of fancy enriched with soft and claim his transcendent excellences to the ex- delicate thoughts, that he may survey the clusion of his transcendent defects. He had wide and magnificent landscape of imaginaboth in excess, and was a giant in error as he tion, and the mightier structures of intellecwas a giant in merit. I would not seek to tual art, built up by the magicians of a former banish an intellectual Aristides from the re-l age, and still piercing the mist and cloud of

sun.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

time, with their gates of glory and their pin- the surrounding beds. This flower—thus nacles of gold.

rising, as it were, upon the stem of graceSwift.--You talk of warming him; he is is not only precious for its wonderful meon fire already.

chanism of color, and perfume, but it is prePope.You travel over a rough and mel- cious also for the charm which it works upon ancholy road from the death of Chaucer to the intellectual eyesight. Like the fabled the middle of the reign of Henry VIII. ; it plant of antiquity, it purifies and brightens winds over a succession of barren downs and the vision of the understanding. An eminent perilous swamps. The Muse could find no sculptor confessed that the Medicean Venus green and peaceful spot to pitch her tent enabled him to discover beauties in nature amid the tempestuous elements of rude and which he had never perceived before; and warring societies. The minstrel sang with in the same manner poetry opens a new world the sword flashing in his eyes. Such was the of loveliness to the student. To eyes, sprinstate of literature in England. The sceptre kled and enlightened by this flower, no scene dropped from the iron fingers of the Third is barren, and no tree is leafless; every founEdward into the feeble grasp of his grandson. tain shines with the face of its guardian The usurpation of Bolingbroke, the rebellion Naïad, and every wood is musical with the of Northumberland, and the terrible strife of pipe of its sylvan spirit. the Roses succeeded. The storm cleared Bolingbroke. --- And with the philosophy of away with the rising star of Henry VIII., and poetry would be intimately associated its literature once more appeared with the rain- criticism. The reader of a poem, like the bow of peace about her head. A gulf of visitor to a picture-gallery, requires to be darkness divides the epoch of Henry from taught how to examine works of art. the reign of Elizabeth. You may cross it at Pope.--I think that criticism may be the a leap. Some beams of that rich orb of im- instrument of manifesting genius; and it may agination which had gone down with Chau- effect this manifestation in two ways. (1.) cer, cast a luminous shadow from behind the By removing the obscurity or the false imhills; but it was too weak and too remote to pression which the mist of time, or, (2.) the disperse the vapors that hung heavy and malignity of jealousy, may have imparted to dark over the landscape. At length the air it.

At length the air it. It is not always that the loftiest imagigrew sweet and clear, and Spenser smiled nation possesses the correspondent faculty of upon the desolate gardens of fiction. The jo- language; and then, like the sun in a vacund day of poetry

pory sky, while it kindles masses of cloud “ Stood tiptoe on the misty mountain-top,"

into gorgeous colors and splendor, its unity

and beauty of lustre are not perceived. Critiand Shakspeare kindled the slumbering ele- cism, by scattering these vapors, enables the ments of the drama into life and beauty. intellectual light to shine out; it gives it an

Bolingbroke.--I suppose in such a treatise atmosphere, transparent, pure, adapted to the as you suggest you would dwell upon the weaker eyesight of common understandings. philosophy of your subject; you would show Every antiquated word is a cloud that hides the solemn and august character of poetry; to the vulgar eye the glory of the image; as you would assert its claims to be included in these clouds melt away, the heaven of the imthe essential elements of a true education. agination becomes luminous; and this will

Pope.--I should. Poetry, said Aristotle, probably explain why it is that those authors is something more philosophical and excellent are usually the most popular and admired,than history. “A true poetic style,” is the not who have the noblest conceptions, but remark of a modern writer, “will be gener- who reveal those conceptions in the most ally found to be impregnated with something, lucid medium of words. And thus we may which, under its highest pressure, can cast apply to poetical or philosophical loveliness, out a stronger Aame and a more ethereal Dr. Young's panegyric on feminine beauty :emanation than the most vivid coloring of real life.” The two assertions are converti

“ This, like the sun, irradiates all between ;

The body charms, because the soul is seen." ble propositions in critical geometry-Poetry, being the concentrated richness and bloom Bolingbroke. -Perhaps the false impresof many seeds of thought, gradually growing sion, which the malice of envy or ignorance up into height and beauty, deserves to occu- may have imparted to the production of an py the most prominent place in the garden author, is even more injurious to its reputaof literature. Nor should it be considered tion than the thickest gloom of centuries. merely as an object of curious loveliness, to Our illustrious Newton, whose adventurous be stooped over for a moment by an eye daz- footsteps seemed to strike fire into the remozled and fatigued with the contemplation of test solitude of science, has ascertained that

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »