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some one of the many elegant scholars with whom we find, from these very volumes, that he is constantly associated-the party, for instance, in whose company Mr. Griffin dined with him, at Murray's; Moore, Smith, &c! How would he defend the glaring false quantity in
"Quomodo, commemorăt, Atridis adultera conjux" or in
“ Illum Heros auditq, benignēque corpore donat” or the miserable use of segnities, meaning delay, in the lines where Andromache is represented as praying, in her husband's absence, for his safety
• Uxor segnitiem plorat, Divosque fatigat
Continuis precibus ut servent morte maritum.” And all this, after having been informed by the 6 Memoir," that this exercise had been honoured by the optimé, præclaré, præclarissimé of Mr. Griffin's Preceptor, and by correspondent approbation in the Superintendents of the College of NewYork, and, moreover, that it was written in his nineteenth year!
That the learned and accomplished masters of the great schools of Europe, are compelled annually to wade through quires and reams of such trash as this, will be readily admitted; but, then, they know its worthlessness, and they make the buy know it. Their honours are reserved for those who have fairly earned them. The Kuģos of Westminster will generally stick to a young man. It is like the chaplet awarded by Junius to Lord Chatham, (Laus à laudato viro): “ The fabric is solid, and will support the laurels that adorn it." Let the early Latin compositions of Milton, Buchanan, Sir William Jones, Gray, West, Wrangham, Tweddel, (the last educated at a private school) be examined critically ; we shall then see what sort of solidity Junius meant, and how justly its laurels have been bestowed: Wretched indeed must be the state of learning among us, if we suppose for a moment that the crude productions of our young countrymen, in this kind, can bear the slightest comparison with these fruits of a foreign land. And why is this? Quosque tandem? How long is it to be the case? We answer unhesitatingly, so long as the most puerile efforts are to be forced upon the public attention, accompanied by the plaudits of those whose stations require that they should know better. If the native talent of such men as Mr. Griffin, and many others whom we could name, were inferior to that of Englishinen, Scotchmen, Germans, &c. we should be compelled to acquiesce in a superiority for which there would be no remedy. It would be childish and unreasonable to look for that in posse which was not in esse. But we are proud and gratified to deny that any such difference exists. Our commanders, by sea and land, have, in their several spheres, nobly evinced how little cause we have to avoid collision with our European rivals, if we only aiin to equal them in discipline as much as we are tbeir equals in military spirit Discipline has made the stars and stripes of our national banner as illustrious as the proudest of us can desire. Let the same means be applied, and the same intenseness of study be pursued, under adequate directors, and we shall soon have cause to boast of our scholars, as we now justly do of our sailors and our soldiers. But if, in our humble attempts to effect this, we should be made to feel that, in literature, as in almost every thing else, “ Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit,”—if the only “ Iter ad astra," is to be found in herding with sycophants, and concurring in the opinions of uninformed or interested awarders of praise, which, “undeserved, is satire in disguise,”-if such is to be the case, we must hang our heads and acquiesce in silence. Our quarries may be as extensive, and our marble as solid as any in existence; but the patient labour of the statuary, his practised eye, and the fine strokes of his chisel, will be denied. To the most exalled efforts of our (by nature) highly-gifted literary aspirants, something will still be found wanting. The immortality of science will be forbidden to us. In all that concerns th benefits derivable from an adequate knowledge of Greek and Roman literature, desperandum est de Republica ! The variety and copiousness of Homer; the grace and polish of Virgil; the curiosa felicitas of Horace; the energy of Demosthenes; the terseness of Sallust; the concentrated wisdom of Tacitus; the almost superbuman attainments of Cicero-all, all this, and much inore, must be taken for granted, or sought for in imperfect translations, most of which disgrace, and none do justice to, the great originals whom it is the privilege of the Mansfields, the Foxes, the Cannings, and a thousand others in the old world, to appreciate, to understand, and to feel. “Ed lo anche sono Pittore !” exclaimed Corregio; but not till he had studied, to inspiration, the stupenduous productions of his immortal prototype.
ART. III.—Harper's Family Library, No. XXI. Life of Mary
Queen of Scots. By HENRY GLASSFORD BELL, Esq. In 2 vols. 12mo. New-York. 1831.
Of history it has been remarked by a celebrated writer, in treating of its uses and the great purposes to which it may be applied, that it prepares us for experience and guides us in ita well turned compliment, no doubt, but one which, as we shall have occasion to shew, is very far from being warranted by the real and intrinsic merits of that philosophy which is thus supposed to have the advantage of teaching by example.* Henry the IV. appears to have entertained a proper idea of the true dignity of history, as well as of biography, when he observed to Mathieu (whom he had selected as his historian, and who, one morning reading to Henry a portion of the work, spoke of the king's partiality for women) " What necessity can there be, to make known my weaknesses.” A sense of the importance of history, however of the obligation of adhering to the truth in historical matters-seems so little to bave impressed the minds of our modern annalists, that we should almost be tempted to take part with Bolingbroke in that severe and sweeping denunciation which he has levelled against all history, without exception, from beginning to end, from first to last-did we not think, nay, were we not satisfied that an honourable exeinption from this charge of deliberate and systeinatic lying-so amply made out and well sustained against the whole host of our modern mere fabricators of history might fairly and justly be claimed, in general, in behalf of the historical writers of antiquity. The ground on which this exemption in favour of the ancients will be found to rest, is no other, we apprehend, than that high undeviating moral sense which seems to have entered into all their views upon great questions-all their feelings as pledged to the promotion of the public good-all their hopes and anticipations as connected with that posthumous renown to which the fine minds of Greece and Rome so steadily and studiously directed their efforts. This virtue it is which imparts a charm and gives value to the historical portraits of Plutarch. We peruse them with uniningled satisfaction because we are satisfied of their fidelity. We perceive clearly that the spirit of the rebus natus agendis has lent to them no false colouring; but that, on the contrary, the prejudices of time, and of the time, have been merged in those high and more sacred claims, a due regard for which
Letters on the study of History, Letter ii. p. 25. VOL. VIII.--No. 16.
posterity requires at the hands of all who would secure a permanent and honourable place in its remembrance, Unfortunately for the credit of succeeding ages, the very reverse of this picture is presented for the contemplation of the inquirer into historical truth; and that constant reproduction of works on history which has been going on for the last three or four hundred years, which has won for modern times a distinction by no means honourable or to be envied, which strikes with disinay the mind of the student, and of which there is no prospect of termination or decrease-may justly be ascribed, as we think, to that spirit of party which, if it be not wholly modern in its growth, has, at least, acquired a character and conduced to results in modern times as novel as they have proved pernicious. The ancient world-the republics of Greece and Rome-were uot without their passions and their politics—these raged in the forum and the senate-housebut the moment those master minds withdrew from the tumults and distractions of business, or debate, for the high and sacred purpose of preparing those illustrious records, whether of literary or political history, which they designed to transmit and which they well knew were destined to descend to posterity, they were studious to divest themselves of all undue bias; and with clear heads and right hearts they approached the great task of collecting and exhibiting for the instruction and admiration of future ages their own unrivalled annals—impressed with a grave and solemn sense of the responsibility in which they stood to the nation; and as solicitous to hand down to posterity unimpaired and unspotted the fair fame, as they were careful, always, to consult at home the good of the republic. It may safely be affirmed that the historical writers of antiquity exhibit nothing of that partizan spirit which has stamped itself upon nearly the whole body of the political records of modern times, wbich are thus fairly made to challenge the censure and the doubt conveyed by Sir Walter Raleigh, in the well-known anecdote connected with bis historical labours in the Tower of London.* This circum
* The uncertainty of the law is proverbial, yet is history much more to be relied upon? Speaking of the question as to whetber beretics should be tolerated, which was debated before the Queen Mary of England) by Cardinal Pole and Gardiner, Hume observes (vol. iv. p. 406.) “We shall relate in a few words the topics by which each side supported, or might have supported their favourite scheme of policy.” Of this dubiousness of history we have a signal instance in our own times. After enjoying for twenty years the renown of having slain with his own hand the famous Indian Warrior Tecumseh, it bas recently been discovered that not Col. Johnson, but a' Col. Weatly is entitled to the honour of this distinguished feat! “It is admitted by all," says a Kentucky paper, that Col. Johnson killed an Indian"-a highly satisfactory piece of information, certainly! The question is, who killed Tecumseh-but how shall we ever learn the truth, when Col. Joha. son himself professes an entire iguorance upon the subject?
irit which sed, even up which might
stance it is which distinguishes the severe genius of antiquity from that facile and false spirit which may be said, without exaggeration, to have blurred and debased, even up to this hour, the character and credit of that Christian era which might surely have claimed an honourable exemption from the worst vices-the fanaticism-the exterminating hatred—the York and Lancaster feuds of a semi-barbarous age.
In political history, in the science of government, many of the views entertained by the ancients have been long since exploded ; in certain branches of philosophy, new facts déveloped in the course of ages, and new lights furnished by the improved social and intellectual condition of the civilized world, have in some important respects given a new cast and superior elevation to the minds of the great aggregate mass of men in modern times--but in moral grandeur, in all those ennobling sentiments which dignify and adorn the character of man-a stern sense of justice, a strict regard for truth, and a devoted patriotism, an exalted and uncompromising love of country—it may fairly be questioned whether we have attained or are at all likely to attain to that high and costly standard to which as to a test the great men of ancient times were invariably subjected ; and by which they were willing because prepared always to abide. Nor, in the instance of the Romans, were these exalted virtues divested of the grace of that mental and social refinement which is supposed by many to be the distinguishing feature the exclusive birthright of modern society. The domestic manners of the Romans were in point of true polish and genuine politeness, infinitely superior to those of one half the people of modern times. The very maxim of one of their own incomparable writers,
Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
shews in a few words what were the precious effects of letters and of mental cultivation upon the manners no less than the morals of the truly great men of antiquity.
We scruple not to say that these reflections have been forcibly suggested to us by the perusal of the work whose title stands at the head of this article; nor do we know of any more signal illustration of the remark with which we set out-touching the cause, or causes, which have conduced, in modern times, to that redundancy of works on history, so much to be deplored, so deterring to the student, and absolutely offensive to the polite scholar and reader of taste-than is afforded in the volumes of Mr. Bell. He has himself adverted to the fact, without,