« ZurückWeiter »
two Tolumes of Napoleon IIL's " Life of Julius Caesar" are announced as nearly ready for publication, and their appearance cannot fail to be the signal for a battle royal, *as few scholars, we presume, will be content to take historical law from an Emperor. The modern muster of forty legions .h ill not be as fortunate as Hadrian in finding philosophers disinclined to question his authority in letters; and he may fare even worse at their hands than he fared at those of Mr. Kinglake. The republic of letters is not to be mastered by a coup d' Oat.
The opponents of Caesarism have not been silent, and it would be neither uninteresting nor unprofitable, did time permit, to show how well they have disposed of most of the arguments of their foes. The question is not the old one, whether the party of Cwsar or that of Pompeius was the better one, for at bottom the two were very much the same, the struggle being for supremacy over the whole Roman dominion; and it is certain that there would have been no essential change of political procedure, had the decision at Pharsalia been reversed. On that field Cifisar was the nominal champion of the liberal faction, and Pompeius was the nominal champion of the ofttimults. Had Caesar lost the day, the plebeian Pompeian house would have furnished an imperial line, instead of that line proceeding from the patrician Julii. Pompeius would have been as little inclined to abandon the fruits of his victory to the aristocrats as Caesar showed himself to set up the rule of the Forum-populace, to whose support he owed so much. It was to free himself from the weight of his equals that Pompeius selected the East for the seat of war, when there were so many strong military reasons why he should have proceeded to the West, to Romanized Spain, where he had veteran legions that might under his lead have been found the equals of Caesar's small, but most efficient army. He wished to get out of the Republican atmosphere, and into a country where "the one-man power" was the recognized idea of rule. He acted as a politician, not as a soldier, when he sailed from Brundisium to the East, and the nobility were not blind to the fact, and were not long in getting their revenge; for it was through their political influence that Pompeius was forced to deliver battle
at Pharsalia, when there were strong military reasons for refusing to fight . That they were involved in their chiefs fall was only in accordance with the nsnal course of things, there being nothing to equal the besotted blindness of faction, as our current history but too clearly proves. As between Caaarand Pompeius, therefore, it is natural and just that modern liberals should sympathize with the former, and contemplate his triumph with pleasure, as he was by far the abler and better man, and did not stain his success by bloodshed and plunder, things which the Pompeians had promised themselves on a scale that would have astonished Marius and Sulla, and which the Triumvirs never thought of equalling. But when we are asked to behold as the result of the Roman Revolution the deliverance of the provincials, and that as of purpose on the part of the victor, we are inclined, in return, to ask of the Caiaarians whether they think mankind are such fools as not to be able to read and to understand the Imperial history. That Ccesar's success was beneficial to Rome's subjects we do not dispute: but that the change he effected was of the sweeping character claimed for it, or that Caesar ever thought of being the reformer that his admirers declare him to have been, are things yet to be proved. The change that came from the substitution of the Imperial polity for the Republican was the result of circumstances, and it was of slow growth. Imperialism was an Octavian, not a Julian creation, as any reader will be able to understand who goe! through the closing chapters of Mr. Merivnle's third volume. The first Cesar's imperial career was too short, and too full of hard military work, to admit of much being done by him of a political character . nor would it have been possible for him, had he been a much younger man, and had he lived for years, to accomplish what was effected by Augustus. The terrible crisis that followed his death, and which lasted until the decision of " the world's debate" at Actium gave a master to the Roman world, prepared the way for the work that was done by his grand-nephew and adopted son. The severe discipline which the Romans went through between the duy of Munda and that of Actium made them more acquiescent in despotism than they would have been found, if Julius Caesar's mild sway bad been continued through that interval. It has been said that the Triumvirate converted Caesar's sword into daggers, and the expression is by no means too strong, aa the world has never witnessed such another reign of terror as followed from the union of Octavius, Antonius, and Lepidus. If that union was formed for the purpose of reconciling men to despotic rule, it must be allowed the merit that belongs to a perfect invention. Without it the Roman Empire might never have had an existence.
Mr. Merivale's work may be considered as forming the text-book of moderate ('»..sarism. An Englishman, he cannot be an advocate of despotism ; but he sees that the time had come for a change, and that under Caesar's direction the change could be better made than under that of Pompeius or his party. This is something very different from blind advocacy of Ccesarism; and we can follow him through his clear and vigorous narrative of the events of the Revolution with general acquiescence in his views. His first and second volumes, which are immediately under consideration, may be said to form the history of the career of Caesar, and to present the best account of that career which has been published in our language. Introductory matter apart, his book opens with the appearance of thi- first Emperor on the political stage, and the second volume closes at the date of his assassination. His various political actions, his achievements in Gaul and Britain, his marvellous exploits in Italy, Spain, Macedonia, Greece, and Africa in the Civil War, and the character of his legislation, are here told and set forth in a manner that comes very near to perfection. There is a vividness in the narrative, and a bringing-out of individual portraits, that make the work read like a history of contemporary events. Nor does the author's just admiration of Caesar's extraordinary intellect and wonderful deeds cause him to be unjust to the eminent men on the other side, though as a rule he deals severely with those Romans whom the world admires, when treating of the effects of their conduct. It has been objected to hi* history, that he speaks with freedom of Cicero's conduct on many occasions, but we think that he has not exceeded the bounds of just criticism when considering the course of the lioman orator; and in his
third volume, when summing up his character, he employs the most generous and lofty language in speaking of him. "After all the severe judgments we are compelled to pass on his conduct," he says, "we must acknowledge that there remains a residue of what is amiable in his character and noble in his teaching beyond all ancient example. Cicero lived and died in faith. He has made converts to the belief in virtue, and had disciples in the wisdom of love. There have been dark periods in the history of man, when the feeble ray of religious instruction paled before the torch of his generous philanthropy. The praise which the great critic pronounced upon his excellence in oratory may be justly extended to the qualities of his heart; and even in our enlightened days it may be held no mean advance in virtue to venerate the master of Roman philosophy" An intelligent admirer of the most iiiustnous victim of the Triumvirate will consider these words something far better than anything that can be found in Middleton's "lying legend in honor of St. Tully." It may be observed that admiration of Cicero and sympathy with the Roman aristocratical party mostly go together; and yet the Roman aristocracy disliked Cicero, and their writers treated him harshly, while he received kind treatment from writers on the other side. Livy, whom Augustus himself called the Pomptian, says of Cicero that "he bore none of his calamities as a man should, except his death "; and "Lucan denounces his perverse impolicy." Mr. Merivale, in a note, observes that it can hardly be accidental that Tacitus, in his historical works, never mentions him, and adds, "The most glowing tribute to Cicero's merits is the well-known passage in Juvenal, and this is written in the spirit of a Marian, or anti-oligarch." Velleius, who is generally spoken of as a sort of literary flunky of the Ciesars, warmly panegyrizes Cicero. Had the I'ompeians triumphed, Cicero would not have found Italy the safe place that it was to him under Ciesar'a rule. He would have fared as badly at their hands aa he did at those of the Clodian rabble, and Pompeius might have been to him what Antonius became after Caesar's death. The portrait which Mr. Merivale has drawn of Cato does not meet with the approval of those persons who admire old Roman virtue, of which Onto was the impersonation; but they would find it difficult to show that he has done that stubborn Stoic any injustice. Cato modelled himself on his great-grandfather, Cato the Censor, a mean fellow, who sold his old slaves in order that they might not become a charge upon him; but, as our author remarks, the character of the Censor had been simple and true to Nature, while that of his descendant was a system of elaborate, though unconscious affectations. Cato behaved as absurdly as an American would behave who should attempt to imitate his greatgrandfather, the old gentleman having died a loyal subject of Georpe IL He was an honest man, according to the Roman standard of honesty, which allowed a great margin for the worst villany, provided it were done for the public good, or what was supposed to be the public good. Like some politicians of our time, he thought, that, when he lu»". _nde it appear that a certain course would be in accordance with ancient precedent, it should be adopted, — making no allowance for the thousand disturbing causes which the practical politician knows must be found on any path that may be selected. Of all the men whose conduct brought about the Civil War, he was the most virtuous, and he had the sagacity to oppose a resort to arms; though how he succeeded in reconciling his aversion to war with his support of a policy that led directly to its existence is one of the mysteries of those days. The Pompcians found him a bore, and, had they been victorious, would hnve saved him the trouble of killing himself, by cutting off his head. Cato was one of the very few persons for whom Caesar felt a strong dislike; but he would not have harmed him, had he got his own consent to live. From Cato he had experienced no such insult as he had met with from M. Marcellus, and Marcellus received permission to return to Rome; but Cato was of an unmalleable nature, and preferred, to an ignoble silence in Italy, the noble silence of the grave. He died "after the high Roman fashion." Suicide might be called the natural death of a Roman leader of that ige, and nothing but the violence of enemies could dispute the title with it. Cato, Brutus. Cassius, Antonius, and others fell by their own hands, or by the hands of persons who acted by their
orders. Caeear, Pompeine, Cicero, and Crassus were murdered. Nothing serves more to show how much Augustus differed from most Romans of his century than the fact that he died in his bed at extreme old age.
That Mr. Merivale's Ctesarism does not prevent him from doing justice to the opponents of Caesar is proved by his portrait of Q. Lutatius Catulus, the best leader of the optimates, and whom he pronounces to have been the most moderate and disinterested of all the great men of his day, — "indeed," he adds, "there is perhaps no character in the history of the Commonwealth which commanded more general esteem, or obtained more blameless distinction in political life." Yet Catulus was one of those men with whom Caesar came earliest in collision, each as the representative of his party on vital points of difference. Our historian's estimate of the life, labors, purposes, and character of Pompoius is singularly correct, when we consider the temptation that he has to underrate the man with whom Cscsar has stood in direct opposition for nineteen centuries. There are few more emphatic passages in the historical literature of our language than the account which is given in Vol. IL ch. 18, of the last days and death of Pompeius, and which is followed by a most judicious summing - up of his history and position as a Roman leader. The historian's mind appears to be strongly affected by the fate of the Pompeinn house, as much so as was the imagination of the Romans, which it seems to have haunted. This is in part due, we presume, to the free use which he h*s made of Lucan's "Pharsalia," a work of great value to those who would understand how the grand contest for supremacy was viewed by the beaten party in after times. That poem is the funeral wail of the Roman aristocracy, and it embodies the ide*s and traditions of the vanquished as they existed far down into the Imperial age. It testifies to the original vitality of the aristocratical faction, when we find a youthful contemporary of Nero dedicating his genius to its service more than a century after the contest had been decided on the battlefield. Whether Lucan was a patriot, or a selfish, but disappointed courtier, we may feel certain that he never could have written in the Pompeian spirit, if that spirit was not still dominant in the minds of a large number of those men and women who formed Die most cultivated portion of Roman society. To a critical historian, such as Mr. Merivale is, his poem must be very useful, though it would be dangerous authority in unskilful hands.
The leading merit of this history is that it supplies a want, and supplies it effectually. Opening about sixty years before the beginning of the Christian era, it terminates with the death of M. Aureliua Antoninus, the point where Gibbon's work begins. We still need a work beginning with the close of the Second Punic War and ending with the death of Sulla, to connect Merivale with Arnold; but Mr. George Long is about to supply the want, at least in part. The first two volumes, as we have said, end at the date of Caesar's death. The third and fourth embrace the long period in which Augustus was the principal character, and when the Roman Empire was formed. The fifth and sixth cover the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, and a portion of the reign of Vespasian. The seventh and last volume is devoted to the first Flavian house,—Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian,—and to those " five good Emperors" — Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines — whose reigns are renowned in the history of monarchy for their excellence. The materials of the work are, for the most part, ample, and they have been well employed by the historian, a man of extensive scholarship and of critical sagacity. Whether we subscribe to his opinions or not, there can be no doubt of his having presented a brilliant picture of the civilized world during about two and a half eventful centuries. His is the only readable work that we have which affords a continuous narrative of the history of Rome from the appearance of Cwsar to the appearance of Commodus. Had it no other claim upon us, this alone would justify us in recommending it to the closest attention of all who desire to become acquainted with the facts that make up the sum of Roman Imperial history. But it has other claims to the consideration of readers. It makes Roman Imperial history thoroughly intelligible, because events are philosophically treated, and their bearing upon each other is rendered clear. It is written with vivacity, force, and elegance. The style
is the style of a gentleman, and the sentiments are those of a Christian scholar. There is not a paragraph in it which we could wish to see omitted, or essentially changed. It has won for its author a place in the list of first-rate English historians, and he is to be ranked with Macaulay, Grote, Hallara, Froude, Kinglake, and others of those great writers who have done so much to illustrate the English name and to advance the cause of humanity. Being familiar with the work from the time that the first and second volumes were published in England, in 1850, we have always desired that it should be placed before the American reading public, confident that here its high merits would secure for it a great and deserved popularity; and it is with a sense of personal gratification that we have seen its publication begun in New York, in a form that pleases the eye and gratifies good taste.
Church Pastorals: Hymns and Tunes for Public and Social Worship. Collected and Arranged by Nehemiah Adams, D. D. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
The Rev. Dr. Bushnell, in August, 1852, delivered an address upon " Religious Music" before the Beethoven Society of Yale College at the opening of their new organ. In the peroration of this address, after remarking upon the great assistance which Christian feeling receives in the praise of God from "things without life giving sound," he goes on to say, — "Let mo suggest, also, in this connection, the very great importance of the cultivation of religious music. Every family should be trained in it; every Sunday or common school should have it as one of its exercises. The Moravians have it as a kind of ordinance of grace for the children: not without reason; for the powers of feeling and imagination, and the sense of spiritual realities, are developed as much by a training of childhood in religious music as by any other means. We complain that choirs and organs take the music to themselves in our churches, and that nothing is left to the people but to hear their undistinguishable piping, which no one else can join or follow or interpret . This must always be the complaint, till the congregations themselves have exercise enough in singing to make the performance theirs. As soon as they are able to throw in masses of sound that are not barbarous, but Christian, and have a right enjoyment of their feeling in it, they will hare the tunes and the style of the exercise in their own way,— not before The more sorrowful is it, that,
in our present defect of culture, there are so many voices which are more incapable of the right distinctions of sound than things without life, and which, when they attempt to sing, contribute more to the feeling of woe than of praise."
These words are as true to-day as when they were uttered twelve years ago. Congregations which do not desire, or cannot afford, to resign the musical portion of their service to professional singers, have something more to do than to complain that the music is bad, or that they do not like paid vocalists to troll out psalmody for them. They must go to work and make their own music,—real music; for in these days unharmonious sounds are almost as much out of place in the worship of God as an uncatholic spirit and an heretical doctrine. The truth of this principle many societies admit, and some, like the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher's, have already put it into practice; the majority, however, wait for help to free themselves from the customs which have kept them listeners when they should be creators of vocal praise. The great obstacle to congregational singing has been that the range of tunes already familiar was very limited, while the providing a whole society with the paraphernalia of music-books involved great expense to small purpose, since a large portion of the tunes contained in these books are unavailable for such use, being prepared with a view to the wants of thoroughly trained singers; besides which, the reference to two books, one for the words and the other for the music, is to many persons perplexing, and to all inconvenient.
"Church Pastorals" is an attempt to overcome this obstacle, and to extend that help which is wanted. Otherattempts have been made before, but we regard this as the most successful, and consider that Dr. Adams has prepared the best hymn-and-tunebook that has yet been issued, as we propose briefly to illustrate by a recapitulation of his plan and his manner of executing it.
The hymns, which are nine hundred and eighty-eight in number, are selected from
the great mass of hymn-writers; although Watts and the Wesleys furnish the foundation, and the materials of the superstructure are largely drawn from Doddridge, Cowper, Toplady, Montgomery, and others of kindred spirit, yet many beautiful things have been added from the later religious poetry, which are no less fervid in feeling, while less pronounced in doctrinal expression. These hymns are arranged in judicious general divisions, which are again analytically separated into special topies placed in logical sequence. After the hymns follow thirty-eight doxologies, the editor having added to the short list of common ones others which are fine enough to become standard at once.
But it is less as a hymn- than as a tunebook that " Church Pastorals " merits the notice of societies and individuals who are truly interested in religious music, and we pass at once to our remarks upon this portion of the work. The compiler, although holding himself personally responsible for every selection, has availed himself of the advice and assistance of persons professionally eminent in sacred music, one of whom placed at his disposal a library which is unique in this country, containing works of which few Americans have owned or seen duplicates, such as rare " Choral-Biicher" of German cathedrals, and curious collections of English ecclesiastical compositions, a partial list of which is included in the volume, for the benefit of those who are curious in such matters, or wish to know how far Dr. Adams's researches have led him. To ascertain how many new melodies of the purest devotional character have been derived from these rich sources a careful examination is necessary, as also to comprehend with what skill the harmony has been preserved or adapted, in order to secure the two desirable results, — absolute freshness and beauty of treatment, and practicability for ordinary use; but a casual inspection will give sufficient indication of the spirit in which the work was undertaken, and of the faithfulness with which it has been completed.
While originality has been properly Bought, the old, futniliar elements have not been neglected, and those simple songs which were upon the lips of our parents and grandparents, and are yet dear to us from association and intrinsic worth, are set in among the newer strains. The first