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THE STATE OF MAN IN SOCIETY.
Society, in all its gradations of human character, spread over the surface of the globe, as a mass, is the same many-headed monster' it was thousands of years ago, to the uttermost stretch of oral tradition and the most distant records of time. No change, as a whole, has intuitively taken place. The same natural causes have produced the same natural effects. The same natural impulses, passions, feelings and affections give identity to the human character now, as they did in the remotest period of man's existence. In his aboriginal state he sinks lower than the beast, as he gorges his degenerate appetite on the mangled carcass of his species. In his state of refined voluptuousness he rises above his fellow animals to the highest progress of epicurean gluttony, equally at a distance with the savage from the boundary line' of natural appetite necessary to the preservation and continuance of his species.
What a field for the contemplation of man is man! In the inexplicable range of his powers he rises from the abyss of his degeneracy to the apex of his pride. Within this natural order of organized beings, from the projectile point of man’s transitory career to the mouldering return of his constituent elements beneath the silent sod, or in monumental fanes, are all the nations of the world involved! Whence then comes this mighty mass of good and evil; this general flux and reflux in the tide of human existence; entailing in its consequences precarious portions of pleasure and pain through the chequered scenery of his little season, redolent with the brilliant flowers of hope and fallacious anticipations, till death puffs out the little lamp of life, and precipitates him to the dark abyss of the grave; where the elements of vitality become decomposed, and are again destined to contribute materials for the production of future generations; while the refined functions of the mind, which distinguish him from the brute, furnish metaphysical dogmas for the pulpit, maxims for the moralist, and matter of research to the philosopher; the three great masters in the school of human intellect!
Hence the natural philosopher closes his research; the anatomist drops his knife, the moralist his pen, and the mathematician bis corollary, when they attempt to penetrate beyond the boundary of physical phenomena, and seek in the mysterious problem of entity and its properties, or form abstract from matter, a consciousness of existence, which religion alone, in its multifarious forms, furnishes to its millions of zealous votaries. “Sic transit gloria mundi !' Pope says :
"ALL discord's harmony ill understood,
All partial evils universal good.' Pope's natural philosophy thus indicates that the alternations of good and evil in human life result in the approximate solution, experimentally established, that evil is either simple, concomitant, or involved as a consequence; never an ultimate end. J. CHADWICK.
BACCHUS AND A R I A D N E.
FROM THE FIRST DOOX OF OPID'S ARS AMATORIA.
*GNOSIS in ignotis amens errabat arenis
On Dia's sandy islet the ocean billows beat;
She plained to the deaf waters of Theseus' cruelty;
Her soft, soft breasts still beating with open hands, she cried,
With terror fell she prostrate and stammered like the dying:
And lo! the drunk SILENUS his seat can scarce retain;
Down from the long-eared creature he tumbles on his head!
His chariot top Iacchus with vines hath wreathed about ;
Nor blush, nor speak, nor even think of Theseus now she may,
• Behold a love more constant in me!' IACCHUS cried, • Fear not; thou, Cretan woman, shalt be Iacchus' bride : The heaven shall be thy dowry! a star for all to see, Thou oft shall guide from heaven, my bride, the ship tost doubtfully."
He said and from his car, lest the tigers her should fright,
THE AGAMEMNON OF ÆSCHYLUS, with Notes, by C.C. FELTON, A. M., ELIOT Professor of Greek
Literature in the University at Cambridge. In one volumo. pp. 189. Boston: JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY, 1817.
The Bostonians are proud of themselves, and justly so, on many accounts. Their high standard of morality is undoubted; equally undoubted are their social virtues; their enterprise is most commendable, and few would be disposed to deny them a large amount of general information and much learning, of the Society-for-theDiffusion-of-Useful-knowledge' sort. Unfortunately, the best of men often fall into strange delusions. The inhabitants of the American Athens,' setting up for universal geniuses, have, among other things, assumed to be the classical instructors of the whole American community; while it is notorious that there is not a man among them who can write three pages upon any subject involving real scholarship without exposing himself egregiously. And not only do they claim to be the classics of this continent, but the only classics; affecting to despise New-York scholarship, which is really very respectable, as far as it goes, and not altogether contemned on the other side of the water; Professor Anthon's books being extensively read and republished in England and Scotland. And all this they profess to do, quite cv trapcoyo. Here, for instance, is Mr. Felton, who, we have no doubt, from all that has been told us of him, is a very excellent citizen and agreeable man; a nice, pleasant gentleman, who knows a little of every thing, including a little Greek; took the Greek Professorship at Harvard because it happened to be vacant, and could have filled any other chair with at least equal success. Last autumn a dark rumor reached us that, emboldened by previous impunity, he was about to lay pen upon Æschylus; and happening to be in Boston soon after, we took pains to inquire whether such a fato was actually impending over the venerable poet. But the knowing ones waxed mysterious and uncommunicative ; finally it was hinted that the Professor's editorial labors were suspended indefinitely, by reason of a happy event that was speedily to take place; whereat we were glad, for the Professor's sake- and still more glad for that of ÆSCHYLUS. So Felton's Agamemnon lay in abeyance till last month, when it burst out upon us in all its brilliancy. Truly, it would have been well for the Eliot Professor's reputation, and for the reputation of American scholarship generally, could Joe Duggins's good time that's coming have been so far anticipated as to allow him to marry half-a-dozen times over, provided it had in each instance insured a half-year's postponement of this Æschylean and Herculean publication.
Not that we are at all disappointed with the book. On the contrary, we find it better, or to speak more accurately, less bad, than Mr. Felton's previous editorial performances had led us to expect. There are no very outrageous grammatical blunders; nothing, for examplo, like Tayler Lewis's constituting state for Kabcsta KULU ?£15. The Agamemnon is better off for commentators than Plato's Laws, and the American editor who wishes to present this magnificent play in a popular and generally accessible form is not called on for many original hypotheses or emendatory speculations ; his task is chiefly one of discrimination and selection. But this is the very task for which Mr. FELTON is not qualified; for discrimination requires accuracy, and he is as inaccurate as a man can be. Hence we have abundance of annotation in the Ruperti style ; i. e., a number of worthless and valuable interpretations thrown down together, without any hint of their respective merit; many difficulties and niceties of construction passed over without a word of explanation; and numerous desperate attempts at word-for-word translation, which invariably expose the editor's loose ideas of syntax, or the superficial extent of his etymological researches. Nor is his want of precision such as arises from a limited knowledge of Greek merely ; it seems to spring from an inaccurate frame of mind, and manisests itself in matters quite independent of scholarship; in his geography, for instance, as we shall see.
Mr. Felton's favorite commentator is KLAUSEN ; an ingenious editor, certainly, but one given to ex cathedra dogmatisms, and utterly unsafe to depend upon.* PEILE the Elior Professor seems to have half read, and not quite half understood : in some places he has apparently grown lazy over him, where he might have escaped various unfortunate slips by simply reading the notes which were straight before him. And while attaching great weight to SCHNEIDER, indubitably the worst editor of Æschylus extant, and notorious as such throughout England and Germany, he seems absolutely ignorant of the existence of such men as Paley, a keen and accu. rato scholar, who has made Eschylus his specialité, and DONALDSON, of whom it is not too much to affirm that no one who has not read his emendations (new Craty. lus passim,) can safely say that he understands Æschylus, much less that he is competent to edit him.
Having thus given our general impression of the book, we proceed to verify it by an examination in detail ; not pretending to notice all Mr. Felton's mistakes and inaccuracies, but only the more obvious and glaring ones.
• The opening scene represents the palace of AGAMEMNON, at Argos.'
Mycena, Mr. Professor, Mycena! Mycene!! This error, which we have no. ticed as a common one among tyros and dilettanti, arises from confounding the territory of Argos with the city of that name.
2. kotucópevos: • Keeping watch by night.' This is LINwood's translation, (borrowed without acknowledgement,) but it is a bad one for all that. Reposing is the best word.
* For instance, on équapuéva, v. 848, he says: 'Observandum est gensu fati diviui nusquam legi hoac vocem apud Æschylum.' On which PALEY naïvely observes: 'Credo, cum semel tantum ea usus est poeta.' And we well remember how, some five years ago, this authoritative dictum set us hunting all over Æschylus (with the assistance of our learned friend Mr. PUNCH, then a private tutor at the University,) to find out other instances of čipapuévas. The fact is, that, as PALEY SAFA the word only occurs in this one place, and KLAUSEN's flourish about its peculiar Æschylean sense is merely diwdúylos olvapia, or, as the commentators say, when they wish to be peculiarly civil to ench other: Mire hallucinatur.' See also V, 949, where one of KLAUSEN's clumsinesses has led FELTON into an alınost incredible mis-translation.