Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

before them in former Numbers (vol. lxxv. p. 290; and especially vol. lxxvi. p. 276). We assure them, with all the sincerity of men who can have no temptation to mislead, and with whatever authority may be due to a long life, chiefly employed in the consideration of these questions, that our first object in this advice is not merely the welfare but the very existence of the Protestant Church and the Protestant population of Ireland. They have all our sympathies--they are, in truth, our chiefest anxiety and care, and we are most deeply and painfully convinced that in the circumstances to which a complication of follies, crimes, and misfortunes have brought us, the means that we propose

afford not merely the most probable, but, we fear, the only possible chance —and every year's delay has made that chance worse and worse for their present safety, and the early tranquillity of Ireland. If this last measure of prudence, justice, and mercy should be tried and should fail-on their heads, and not on our consciences, be the result: having prodigally exhausted our whole store of conciliation and concession, it would not be our fault if we were driven to the extreme and terrible, but not, we boldly say, very difficult remedy, of reconquering and resettling that country.

Far, we pray, may be from us such an afflicting trial—and farwe are as firmly convinced as we can be of any unsolved problem -it would be, if the Government, even the present Government, were boldly to proclaim and pledge themselves to a determination to exert the whole force of the empire, to extinguish by whatever severity this Reign of Terror—to protect landlords and the rights of property as by law now established to teach the people to feed themselves, by encouraging instead of disheartening domestic industry, and especially agriculture and the growth of corn—to put down with a strong hand, if necessary,

the silly but treasonable farce of Repeal—to provide (to be taken or left, as they themselves should elect) an adequate alimentary provision for the Roman Catholic clergy—and finally to conclude such a diplomatic arrangement with the Pope as one independent sovereignty should have with another—if, we say, the Government would adopt and stake its existence on these measures, we have no doubt that they would be supported by a large majority of both Houses of Parliament, and of the population of Scotland and England, and we really almost believe of Ireland itself—at least in their secret wishes; and we ourselves have the highest degree of hope and confidence that those measures, so supported, would speedily, rapidly relieve us from the most serious danger that ever menaced, and the deepest disgrace that ever afflicted, the British Empire !

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

Art. 1.Publications of
1. The Cymmrodorion Society. 1762, &c.
2. The Society of Antiquaries. 1770, &c. (Layamon, edited

for the Society of Antiquaries by Sir F. Madden. 3 vols.

1847, 8vo.) 3. The Commissioners on the Public Records of the Kingdom.

1802, &c. 4. The Roxburghe Club. 1819. &c. 5. The Surtees Society. 1837, &c. 6. The English Historical Society. 1838, &c. 7. The Camden Society. 1838, &c. 8. The Cambridge Camden Society. 1841, &c. 9. The Percy Society. 1841, &c. 10. The Welsh MSS. Society. 1840, &c. II. The Chetham Society. 1844, &c. 12. The British Archæological Association. 1845, &c. T has been a frequent subject of complaint with the laudatores

temporis acti that the present utilitarian age cares for nothing not immediately subservient to its own wants or enjoyments; that even knowledge is not sought after for its own sake, but only with a view of getting something by it. The titles at the head of the present article seem, however, to manifest a tolerably prevalent eagerness-real or affected to learn something of what time has forgotten, without reference to the honour or profit to be derived from the study. We feel no disposition to quarrel with this spirit in any of its shapes. The information elicited is often interesting-even useful; and the speculations arising out of it, though frequently visionary, are harmless enough, when they do not lead to fierce disputes de umbra asini. We wish plenty of game and good success to the whole fraternity of archæologists, from the explorers of barrows to the excavators of Nineveh. Objects of little value in themselves may be of great importance in the hands of those who know how to make use of them. The coins of Ariana Antiqua' have enabled Prinsep, Lassen, and Wilson to retrieve whole dynasties of Bactrian sovereigns; and, in our own country, the arrow-head of flint, the VOL. LXXXII. NO. CLXIV.

brazen

Y

brazen celt, the steel spear-head, and the chased helmet tell their respective stories of different states of civilization, and furnish their quota to the philosophic historian. Even what is simply curious is not to be despised on that account. We like to learn the shape and size of an Assyrian shield, even if we learn nothing else relating to it; and we notice, by no means with indifference, the resemblance between the head-gear of the Sacian chief on the monument of Behistan and a modern Astrachan cap.

We nevertheless confess that there is one branch of antiquarian research which we regard as far superior to the rest.

Had the most skilful draughtsman furnished us with the most accurate delineation of the last-mentioned relic of by-gone ages, we should have felt that his merit was but small compared with that of the officer who has removed the veil of more than twenty centuries from the inscriptions, thus enabling us not only to identify the personal representation of Darius, but to trace the stirring events of his reign, and, still more, to discern the impress of his mind. We need not as yet give another lecture on this discovery; but we may be just allowed to remark that the philological and ethnological results of it are not the least interesting. here a full confirmation of a point only imperfectly known before, namely, that the Achæmenian sovereigns spoke a language closely resembling the Vedic Sanscrit, both in words and organization; and, consequently, were perhaps as nearly connected in race with the Brahminic conquerors of India as the Icelanders are with the South Germans.

A similar discovery of considerable interest, although the interest is of a somewhat different nature, was made not long ago in our own country. The stone cross at Ruthwell had excited and baffled the curiosity of whole generations of antiquaries. All could see that it was of ecclesiastic origin, and of a period anterior to the Norman invasion ; but the Runic inscription, being mistaken for Scandinavian, served to obscure the matter instead of clearing it up. It was not till after repeated failures by the best foreign scholars that the sagacity of Mr. J. Kemble* placed the matter in its true light. He showed clearly that the verses are not Scandinavian, but Anglo-Saxon—the language that of the age and province of Bedemand the inscription itself a portion of a spirited poem on the Crucifixion and Passion of our Lord. By a singular combination

quod optanti divům promittere nemo Auderet

* Vide Archæologia, vol. xxviii. pp. 327—372; and vol. xxx. pp. 31–46.

the

the whole poem is discovered in a MS. long buried in a Vercelli library, the corresponding passages of which only differ in dialect from the lines engraved on the cross. Half-a-dozen ingenious explanations have been given of the beautiful design on the Portland vase, each perhaps possible in itself, but not one productive of conviction. The artistic merit of the monument is of course unaffected by our ignorance; but who does not feel that a single Greek or Latin distich, connecting it with a favourite classical subject, might have given it an interest far beyond what it now possesses ? Such things are in themselves mere words; but, like the Spanish licentiate's epitaph, they are the clue to the soul that lies buried; and he who digs for it judiciously will, like the sagacious student, not fail of his reward. Thus we trust that Major Rawlinson will, ere long, evoke Nebuchadnezzar and Sennacherib as successfully as he has produced Darius.

It will be said, perhaps, that all this has little relevancy to those who must confine their explorations within our own four seas. The chapter of ancient British inscriptions is an absolute blank, and the scanty amount of Roman and Runic Saxon is at length exhausted. What, therefore, remains but earth-work, stone-work, and the auld nick-nackets' of Captain Grose? We answer—a great deal on paper and parchment. There is, perhaps, no nation in Europe that can compete with us in the number and value of our vernacular literary monuments from the eighth to the fourteenth century: some of which—for example, the code of Anglo-Saxon laws, the poem of Beowulf, various pieces in the Vercelli and Exeter books, &c. &c.—are unique of their kind. The Icelandic Sagas, though superior as compositions, are of considerably later date; and the German literature prior to the twelfth century has little originality to boast of. Yet so incurious were we of our riches, that, till within a very recent period, the number of Anglo-Saxon works published averaged about three in a century, and of Middle-English ones in their genuine form scarcely so many. It is well that something has been done of late to redeem us from this reproach ; but still a great deal remains undone. We do not hesitate to say that there are valuable materials for the elucidation of national theology, bagiology, popular opinions, and particularly the origin and progress of our native language, which have not perhaps been seen by ten persons now living, and whose very existence is unknown to the great mass of our literary public.

The adventurers in this field may be classed something in the same way as our money-dealers-individual discounters, private firms of a few partners, and joint-stock associations on a large scale. Some of the second division appear to have acted on the

principle

Y 2

principle that curious and recondite information, like money-profits, is too good a thing to be diffused among the multitude, and ought to be strictly confined to their own fraternity. We are quite willing that family documents, which not more than twenty people are likely to care about, should be hoarded as cabinet curiosities; neither do we quarrel with those who have restricted to five-and-twenty copies re-impressions of uniques, of which there was already one too many. But the case is different with works possessing, not merely a British, but an European interest. For example, take the Chronicle of Mailros, brought forth for the first time in an accurate and complete form, by one of the very few editors competent to such a task, under the auspices of a Scottish Society. It is not so generally known as it ought to be that this work is of the first importance for the ethnological and civil history of our border counties, completely refuting the crude theories propagated by Pinkerton and his disciples, which have met with too much acceptance both in Great Britain and on the continent. But how are the majority of the literary world to know better? A foreigner or a provincial student who inquires for the Bannatyne book is told that it is not to be had for money; and his only resource is to take an expensive journey, or give an extravagant price for an inaccurate and defective edition in a voluminous collection of Scriptores.' We must say that we more admire the system of certain English Societies, who place a reasonable number of copies within reach of the public, both to the satisfaction of the literary world, and to the benefit of their own funds. We should be less inclined to complain of the close Clubs if they left a more free course of action to other parties ; but in more instances than one they have shown themselves not a little sensitive about any apparent invasion of their supposed monopoly. It was notorious that a new and enlarged edition of

Havelok the Dane' was greatly wanted, and, as a matter of courtesy, the Club under whose auspices the work came forth were requested to allow of its re-impression, under the superintendence of the gentleman who is every way the best entitled to the office. This simple request was positively refused ! and was only at length conceded with an indifferent grace, on discovering that the execution was likely to get into the hands of another party, little qualified to do justice to the subject. Surely this is not the way to diffuse a taste for our early language and literature! On another occasion some influential members of the Roxburghe were told that more than half their publications were wanting in our great national repository. The reply was—We are glad to hear it!' Doubtless a society has a right to be thus exclusive; and so has a Duke to build a wall twenty feet high round his

park.

« ZurückWeiter »