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shall not say in the history of civilized nations, but even amongst savage hordes. The population of England and Wales differs very little from that of Spain; and during the years 1826 and 1827, there were seventy-four individuals, being at the rate of thirty-seven each year, convicted of murder, and of attempts at murder by stabbing, shooting, poisoning, &c. Hence it results that, for every single individual convicted of these crimes in this part of the British empire, there were eighty-one convicted in Spain! Such are the comparative fruits of good government and of tyranny and misrule. Surely if there be any truth in the remark of Hume, that when human affairs have sunk to a certain point of depression they naturally begin to ascend in an opposite direction, the regeneration of Spain cannot be far distant.
ART. IV.-Collection des Romans Grecs traduits en Français ; avec des notes, par MM. Courier, Larcher, et autres Hellénistes. 14 vols. 16mo. Paris, 1822-1828.*
WHY did not the Greeks, in their classic ages, invent romances? How is it that the fathers of poetry, history, and philosophy-the masters of painting, sculpture, and architecture, were ignorant of the novel? These are questions that have long exercised the ingenuity of the learned. The fact being only too true, that
romantic fiction was unknown in Greece till after the Alexandrian age, it was necessary to investigate and probe to the bottom a circumstance so mysterious, not to say anything worse of it. The history of the people, therefore, their moral character and political institutions, were all eagerly ransacked for pegs to hang a theory upon; and if in the course of conversation, a novice timidly insinuated the counter-question-Is it not equally surprising that the polished Greeks were ignorant of the table-cloth ?—that the country of Archimedes was not the birth-place of the steam-engine? the querist was answered with a shrug, and his speculations went no further. Without meaning to defend for a moment so irreverent a mode of quashing the inquiry, or presuming to set up any system of our own, we must be allowed to say, that the fashionable theories on this subject contain somewhat more of the superficial, the unphilosophical, and the fallacious, than we are accustomed to meet within bounds so narrow. M. Villemain, an able and elegant writer, has, in the very ingenious "Literary Essay" prefixed to the Collection before us, reduced to shape the floating
This Collection is not yet finished; two volumes (the sixth and seventh) remain to be published. It is very neatly got up, and the engravings are respectable.
ideas of the learned, and his dogmas appear to have been received with general acquiescence.
"In a country," says he, " so happily born for the arts, fiction naturally demanded verse, and the people were unwilling to descend from the beautiful fables, so well sung by the poets, to recitations in prose, which could have contained only vulgar lies. Let us remark besides, how busy and how public was everything in the life of the little but glorious nations of Greece, where idleness and solitude were unknown. The state was tasked, so to speak, with the duty of amusing the citizens. All Greece crowded to the Olympic games, to hear Herodotus read his history. At Athens, the funds of the theatre were provided before those of the fleet; and the affairs of the republic, after being settled in assemblies, where every free man took a part in the discussion, were regularly dramatised into a comedy by Aristophanes. Religious festivals, gymnastic sports, political deliberations, meetings of the academy, orators, rhetoricians, philosophers, all followed each other in uninterrupted succession, and kept the citizens always animated, and always in a crowd. Two celebrated writers have reproached the nations of antiquity with knowing nothing of the dreamy or melancholy temperament. True: they were far too busy for that; they spoke and acted in the open air; they enjoyed liberty just as they enjoyed life; and in this vivacious kind of existence there was no languor and no satiety. In other respects this form of society afforded few materials for pictures of private manners, or for romantic fiction. Civilization, although prodigiously polished and corrupt, was more simple than with us. Domestic slavery was one great cause of uniformity; and the public life of the citizens, open to the eyes of all, precluded the probability of any striking singularity in character or fortune. The inferior condition of the women, in fine, and their retired life, weakened the power of that passion which plays so great a part in modern romances."
The substance of the above theory simply is, that the early Greeks did not think of writing romances, because they found no materials for romance in their own manners, character, and fortunes. Shall we be thought too fond of contradiction, if we venture to affirm that no people ever existed in ancient or modern times, more essentially and substantially romantic than the Greeks? Shall we be accused of unbecoming levity, if we hazard a smile at the vulgar idea of the "stern simplicity of republicanism," and endeavour to show that no monarchy in the world ever held forth to the observant romancer, characteristics more striking, more picturesque, more poetical, more romantic, than the democracy of Athens-even of Sparta? Accustomed
to view the early Greeks in their legislative capacities, we forget at length that they were men; their images are enshrined in our minds like marble statues in a temple; they only exist for us as personifications of an abstract idea. We never see them but in the forum or the ranks; we never hear them but in the thunder of eloquence or arms. The word "citizen," when applied to them, is a mere political term; it does not comprehend in its signification the idea of father, and lover, and husband, and brother, and son. We never follow them when the crowd has dispersed; we never trace them to their homes, and families, and occupa tions; we never watch them in their domestic manners, their religious rites, their ceremonies, superstitions, exercises, amusements, quarrels, loves, follies and crimes. The laws of Solon or Lycurgus we know; but although the association would seem to be the most natural in the world, we are never led to consider the irregularities which these were intended to punish and repress.
The tribes of early Greece, inhabiting a rough country, whose ungenial soil was only thinly scattered with oases of fertility, had little inducement to form strong local attachments. A wild and lawless race, they were engaged in perpetual strife, and liable every day to vicissitudes which might sweep them from their habitations. Such occurrences they struggled bravely to avert, but bore with fortitude when they did take place. To the owners of a mere shelter from the weather, which might be procured as easily in any other part of the country, dispossession was of little consequence; and having no furniture either of luxury or convenience, and no lands to leave bearing in their bosoms the sustenance of future months, they abandoned without much regret the sheds which were endeared by no early associations, and which had never been looked on as a continuing city."
On the sea their mode of living bore the same wild and unsettled character. Piracy was the business of their first navigators, and plunder their lawful spoil. Each tribe considered the rest as its natural enemies, and to destroy their men, and steal their women and goods, were considered actions not more repre hensible than the hunting of a wild animal. Thus Ulysses in the Iliad openly avows his profession of piracy; and inquiring in turn into the fortunes of Eumæus, asks him, as the most natural
suppositions that occurred to him, whether the town in which he lived had been pillaged, or whether, when tending the cattle, he had been slily kidnapped and carried on board the vessels. In the same manner, after Telemachus and his companions had been hospitably entertained by Nestor, the old gentleman did not consider it in the least degree unpolite, to ask his guests whether they were merchants or robbers. Even in the days of Thucydides, the historian tells us, there were some countries in Greece whose inhabitants lived both by sea and land in the barbarous manner of earlier times.*
Emerging, in the natural progress of society, from a state of utter barbarism, the early Greeks at length walled their towns, and learnt from the Phoenician and Egyptian traders the art of making money. The cities of Chalcis, Corinth, and Mycena, rose into opulence, and Pelops with his Asiatic arts and gold carried a halfcivilization into the country, a considerable territory of which received the name of Peloponnesus, or Pelops' Island. In the disorders which followed the Trojan war, owing to the deaths of so many princes, these advantages were painfully maintained. The cities, however, were now worth more blood than heretofore; and the inhabitants, instead of deserting their homes, entrenched themselves more securely within their walls. Battles thus assumed a more important character; the wars were prolonged; piracies, robberies and rapes renewed, and adventurers of all kinds were thrown loose upon the boiling surface of society. On this soil the Greek character grew; in these wars were educated the fathers of the Ten Thousand; the very sterility of the ground conduced to the formation of a fierce and lofty spirit-for as Herodotus tells us," it has not been given by the gods to one and the same country to produce rich crops and warlike men.'
While future legislators were scanning anxiously the troubled aspect of the times, and brooding over the germ of unborn laws, a power of another description went abroad among the nations, to moderate where it could not controul, to direct the energies it could not crush, and to refine and spiritualize the passions of men, Mingling, in that strange form of society, with the cry of the newmade widow, the shout of the avenger, and the shriek of the timid virgin, rising upon the stillness of night, there was heard the voice of the AOIAOE, singing the birth of nature and of man, the attributes of the immortals, the laws of honour and of war, the heroic deeds of the chivalry of Greece. Wandering among the actors on that bloody stage, without joining in the action, following free and unharmed in the track of conquest and defeat,
Thucyd. lib. i.; Strabo, Geograph. 1. xvii; and Plutarch in the Life of Flaminius.
and admitted as a welcome guest into the palace as well as the cot, the bard fully repaid the hospitality, protection, and reverence of his countrymen with his πολλα θελατηρια. But the bards were not merely the authors of "many soothing tales;" they were the inventors, if we may believe Herodotus, of the popular religion. "These were the men," says he, when talking of Hesiod and Homer, "these were the men who made a theogony for the Greeks."* They were therefore the first poets, the first philosophers, the first priests, and the first teachers of morality in one; and Homer, when he sung at the festival of Latona, at Delos, represents the very deities as delighted with his songs. In these stirring times of valorous contention, the Iliad was produced; and the advantages diffused over the nation by poetry seemed to be reflected upon the poet. The muse loves to "ride on the whirlwind;" and the immortal strains of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and our own Milton, were all heard in the midst of moral storms and earthquakes.
What was the condition of the Greek women in the Homeric age, or earlier, and of what account they were held in society, can only be gathered from that poem which is in all probability the most correct, as it certainly is the most extraordinary picture of manners that ever was exhibited. In times of lawless contention, the weaker become the prey of the stronger, and if women do not conquer by their beauty, they have nothing to hope for from their arms. Thus, in the Iliad, we find ladies torn ruthlessly from the embrace of their parents or husbands; and at the division of booty, we see Agamemnon, Achilles, Ajax, and the others, very coolly appropriating the high-born damsels, Astynome, Hippodamia, Tecmissa, and their companions. The captives, however, are not, it is to be supposed, without their revenge on the hearts of their ravishers, and at length become themselves so much reconciled to their fate, that the only chains they wear are those of love. But in spite of this apparent inferiority of the sex, the heroines of the Greek poet are all important and strongly marked characters; and, in fact, the whole story of the Trojan war hinges upon a lady's frailty. Helen is not simply a lovely and bewitching woman; she is adorned with very high qualities of mind as well as person, and in the midst of her guilt exhibits a feeling of
EUTEgan. BC. C: Herodotus says, in the same passage, that these poets were not more than four hundred years earlier than himself.
The hymn alluded to is said by some to be an interpolation of Cynæthus, the Chian rhapsodist, who was the first who sung Homer's works in Sicily. When any one born of the sons of men," says the peot, addressing Latona, Apollo, and Diana, "comes hither, a weary traveller, and inquires--Who is the sweetest of the singers that resort to your festival, and whom you most delight to hear?. then do you make answer and say, It is the blind man who dwells in Chios: his son s excel all that can be sung."