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It is scarcely necessary to say that such the stadium, yet enjoyed far greater genera. speeches could never have been delivered. vigour and health than either. It is the same They are perhaps among the most difficult pas- with the mind. The superiority in technical sages in the Greek larguage, and would pro- skill is often more than compensated by the bably have been scarcely more intelligible to inferiority in general intelligence. And this is an Athenian auditor than to a modern reader. peculiarly the case in politics. States have Their obscurity was acknowledged by Cicero, always been best governed by men who have who was as intimate with the literature and taken a wide view of public affairs, and who language of Greece as the most accomplished have rather a general acquaintance with many of its natives, and who seems to have held a sciences than a perfect mastery of one. The respectable rank among the Greek authors. union of the political and military departments The difficulty to a modern reader lies, not in in Greece contributed not a little to the splenthe words, but in the reasoning. A dictionary dour of its early history. After their separais of far less use in studying them, than a clear tion more skilful generals and greater speakers head and a close attention to the context. They appeared;—but the breed of statesmen dwindled are valuable to the scholar, as displaying, be- and became almost extinct. Themistocles or yond almost any other compositions, the powers Pericles would have been no match for Deof the finest languages :-they are valuable to mosthenes in the assembly, or Iphicrates in the the philosopher, as illustrating the morals and field. But surely they were incomparably manners of a most interesting age ;-they better fitted than either for the supreme direcabound in just thought and energetic expres- tion of affairs. sion. But they do not enable us to form any There is indeed a remarkable coincidence accurate opinion on the merits of the early between the progress of the art of war, and Greek orators.
that of the art of oratory, among the Greeks. Though it cannot be doubted, that, before the They both advanced to perfection by contemPersian wars, Athens had produced eminent poraneous steps, and from similar causes. The speakers, yet the period during which elo- early speakers, like the early warriors of Greece, quence most flourished among her citizens was were merely a militia. It was found, that in by no means that of her greatest power and both employments, practice and discipline gave Flory. It commenced at the close of the Pelo- superiority.* Each pursuit, therefore, became ponnesian war. In fact, the steps by which first an art, and then a trade. In proportion as Athenian oratory approached to its finished the professors of each became more expert in excellence, seem to have been almost contem- eir particular craft, they became less respect. poraneous with those by which the Athenian able in their general character. Their skill character and the Athenian empire sunk lo de had been obtained at too great expense to be gradation. At the time when the little com- employed only from disinterested views. Thus, monwealth achieved those victories which the soldiers forgot that they were citizens, and twenty-five eventual centuries have left un- the orators that they were statesmen. I know equalled, eloquence was in its infancy. The not to what Demosthenes and his famous con. deliverers of Greece became its plunderers and ten poraries can be so justly compared as to oppressors. Unmeasured exaction, atrocious those mercenary troops, who, in their time, vengeance, the madness of the multitude, the overran Greece; or those who, from similar tyranny of the great, filled the Cyclades with causes, were some centuries ago the scourge tears, and blood, and mourning. The sword of the Italian republics,-perfectly acquainted unpeopled whole islands in a day. The plough with every part of their profession, irresistible passed over the ruins of famous cities. The in the field, powerful to defend or to destroy, imperial republic sent forth her children by but defending without love, and destroying thousands to pine in the quarries of Syracuse, without hatred. We may despise 'he characor to feed the vultures of Ægospotami. She was at length reduced by famine and slaughter to humble herself before her enemies, and to * It has often occurred to me, that to the circum
stances mentioned in the text, is to be referred one of purchase existence by the sacrifice of her em
the most remarkable events in Grecian history, I mean pire and her laws. During these disastrous the silent but rapid downfall of the Lacedumonian and gloomy years, oratory was advancing power. Soon after the termination of the Peloponnesian towards its highest excellence. And it was military discipline, its social institutions were the same.
war, the strength of Lacedæmon began to decline. Ils when the moral, the political, the military cha- Agesilaus, during whose reign the change took place, racter of the people was most utterly degraded; was the ablest of its kings." Yet the Spartan armies it was when the viceroy of a Macedonian so
were frequently defeated in hed battles, an oc
currence considered impossible in the earlier ages of vereign gave law to Greece, that the courts of Greece. They are allowed to have fought most bravely, Aihens witnessed the most splendid contest of yet they were no longer attended by the success to which eloquence that the world has ever known.
they had formerly been accustomed. No solution of
these circumstances is offered, as far as I know, by any The causes of this phenomenon it is not, I ancient author. The real cause, I conceive, was this. think, difficult to assign. The division of la- The Lacedæmonians, alone among the Greeks, formed
a permanent standing army. While the citizens of other bour operates on the productions of the orator commonwealths were engaged in agriculture and trade, as it does on those of the mechanic. It was they had no employment whatever but the study of remarked by the ancients, that the Pentathlete, military discipline. Hence, during the Persian and Pe.
loponnesian wars, they had that advantage over their who divided his attention between several exer- neighbours which regular troops always possese over cises, though he could not vie with a boxer in militia. This advantage they lost when other states the use of a cestus, or with one who had con began, at a later period, to employ mercenary forces,
who were probably as superior to them in the art of wa fined his attention to running in the contest of 1 as they had hitherto been to their antagonists.
ters of these political Condottieri, but it is im- | He may ramble as far as he is inclined, and possible to examine the system of their tactics stop as soon as he is tired. No one takes the without being amazed at its perfection. trouble to recollect his contradictory opinions
I had intended to proceed to this examination, or his unredeemed pledges. He may be as and to consider separately the remains of Ly- superficial, as inconsistent, and as careless as sias, of Æschines, of Demosthenes, and of Iso- he chooses. Magazines resemble those little crates, who though, s:rictly speaking, he was angels, who, according to the pretty Rabinical rather a pamphleteer than an orator, deserves, tradition, are generated every morning by the on many accounts, a place in such a disquisi- brook which rolls over the flowers of Paradise, tion. The length of my prolegomena and di
--whose life is a song,—who warble till sunset, gressions compels me to postpone this part of and then sink back without regret into nothingthe subject to another occasion. A magazine ness. Such spirits have nothing to do with the is certainly a delightful invention for a very detecting spear of Ithuriel or the victorious idle or a very busy man. He is not compelled sword of Michael. It is enough for them to to complete his plan or to adhere to his subject. I please and be forgotten.
COMIC DRAMATISTS OF THE RESTORATION.*
[EDINBURGH Review, JANUARY, 1841.)
We have a kindness for Mr. Leigh Hunt. and which illustrates the character of an imWe form our judgment of him, indeed, only portant epoch in letters, politics, and morals, from events of universal notoriety-from his should disappear from the world. If we err in own works, and from the works of other wri- this matter, we err with the gravest men and ters, who have generally abused him in the bodies of men in the empire, and especially most rancorous manner. But, unless we are with the Church of England, and with the greatly mistaken, he is a very clever, a very great schools of learning which are connected honest, and a very good-natured man. We with her. The whole liberal education of our can clearly discern, together with many merits, countrymen is conducted on the principle, that many serious faults, both in his writings and no book which is valuable, either by reason of in his conduct. But we really think that there the excellence of its style, or by reason of the is hardly a man living whose merits have light which it throws on the history, polity, been so grudgingly allowed, and whose faults and manners of nations, should be withheld have been so cruelly expiated.
from the student on account of its impurity. In some respects, Mr. Leigh Hunt is excel. The Athenian Comedies, in which there are lently qualified for the task which he has now scarcely a hundred lines together without undertaken. His style, in spite of its manner- some passage of which Rochester would have ism-nay, partly by reason of its mannerism been ashamed, have been reprinted at the Pitt -is well suited for light, garrulous, desultory Press and the Clarendon Press, under the diana, half critical, half biographical. We do rection of syndics and delegates appointed by not always agree with his literary judgments; the Universities; and have been illustrated but we find in him what is very rare in our with notes by reverend, very reverend, and time—the power of justly appreciating and right reverend commentators. heartily enjoying good things of very different Every year the most distinguished young kinds. He can adore Shakspeare and Spenser men in the kingdom are examined by bishops without denying poetical genius to the author and professors of divinity in the Lysistrata of of “ Alexander's Feast;" or fine observation, Aristophanes and the Sixth Satire of Juvenal. rich fancy, and exquisite humour to him who There is certainly something a little ludicrous imagined “ Will Honeycomb” and “Sir Roger in the idea of a conclave of venerable fathers de Coverley.” He has paid particular atten- of the church rewarding a lad for his intimate tion to the history of the English drama, from acquaintance with writings, compared with the age of Elizabeth down to our own me, which the loosest tale in Prior is modest. and has every right to be heard with respect But for our own part we have no doubt that on that subject.
the great societies which direct the education The plays to which he now acts as intro- of the English gentry have herein judged ducer are, with few exceptions, such as, in the wisely. It is unquestionable that an extensive opinion of many very respectable people, acquaintance with ancient literature enlarges ought not to be reprinted. In this opinion we and enriches the mind. It is unquestionable can by no means concur. We canno: wish that a man whose mind has been thus en. that any work or class of works which has ex-larged and enriched, is jikely to be far more prcised a great influence on the human mind, useful to the state and to the church, than one
who is unskilled, or liule skilled in classical * The Dramatic Works of WYCHERLEY, CONGREVE, cult to believe that, in a world so full of tempta.
learning. On the other hand, we find it diffiVANBRUGH, and FARQUHAR. With Biographical and Critical Nolices. By LEICH HUNT. Svo. London. 1810. I tion as this, any gentleman, whose lise would
have been virtu zus if he had not read Aristo- | various periods been fashionable. phanes and Jurenal, will be made vicious by therefore by no means disposed to condemn reading them. A man who, exposed to all the this publication, though we certainly cannot influences of such a state of society as that in recommend the handsome volume* before us which we live, is yet afraid of exposing himself as an appropriate Christmas present for young to the influences of a few Greek or Lalin verses, ladies. acts, we think, much like the felon who begged We have said that we think the present pubthe sheriffs to let him have an umbrella held lication perfectly justifiable. But we can by over his head from the door of Newgate to the no means agree with Mr. Leigh Hunt, who gallows, because it was a drizzling morning, seems to hold that there is little or no ground and he was apt to take cold.
for the charge of immorality so often brought The virtue which the world wants is a against the literature of the Restoration. We healthful virtue, not a valetudinarian virtue, do not blame him for not bringing to the judga virtue which can expose itself to the risks ment-seat the merciless rigour of Lord Angelo; inseparable from all spirited exertion—not a but we really think that such flagitious and virtue which keeps out of the common air for impudent offenders as those who are now at fear of infection, and eschews the common food the bar, deserved at least the gentle rebuke of as too stimulating. It would be indeed absurd Escalus. Mr. Leigh Hunt treats the whole to attempt to keep men from acquiring those matter a little too much in the easy style of qualifications which fit them to play their part Lucio, and perhaps his exceeding lenity disin life with honour to themselves and advan- poses us to be somewhat too severe. lage to their country, for the sake of preserving And yet it is not easy to be too severe. For, a delicacy which cannot be preserved-a deli- in truth, this part of our literature is a disgrace cacy which a walk from Westminster to the to our language and our national character. Temple is sufficient to destroy.
It is clever, indeed, and very entertaining; but But we should be justly chargeable with it is, in the most emphatic sense of the words, gross inconsistency, if, while we defend the earthly, sensual, devilish.” Its indecency, policy which invites the youth of our country though perpetually such as is condemned, not to study such writers as Theocritus and Catul- less by ihe rules of good taste than by those of lus, we were to set up a cry against a new morality, is not, in our opinion, so disgraceful edition of the “ Country Wife,” or the “ Way a fault as its singularly inhuman spirit. We of the World.” The immoral English writers have here Belial, not as when he inspired Ovid of the seventeenth century are indeed much and Ariosto, “graceful and humane," but with less excusable than those of Greece and Rome. the iron eye and cruel sneer of Mephistopheles. But the worst English writings of the seven- We find ourselves in a world, in which the teenth century are decent, compared with much ladies are like very profligate, impudent and that has been bequeathed to us by Greece and unfeeling men, and in which the men are too Rome. Plato, we have little doubt, was a much bad for any place but Pandæmonium or Norbetter man than Sir George Etherege. But Plato folk Island. We are surrounded by foreheads has written things at which Sir George Etherege of bronze, hearts like the nether millstone, and would have shuddered. Buckhurst and Sed- tongues set on fire of hell. ley, even in those wild orgies at the Cock in Dryden defended or excused his own ofBow Street, for which they were pelted by the fences, and those of his contemporaries, by rabble and fined by the Court of King's Bench, pleading the example of the earlier English would never have dared to hold such discourse dramatists: and Mr. Leigh Hunt seems to as passed between Socrates and Phædrus on think that there is force in the plea. We althai fine summer day, under the plane-tree, together differ from this opinion. The crime while the fountain warbled at their feet, and charged is not mere coarseness of expression. the cicadas chirped overhead. If it be, as we The terms which are delicate in one age bethink it is, desirable that an English gentle come gross in the next. The diction of the man should be well informed touching the English version of the Pentateuch, is somegovernment and the manners of little common- times such as Addison would not have venturwealths, which both in place and time are fared to imitate; and Addison, the standard of removed from us-whose independence has purity in his own age, used many phrases been more than two thousand years extinguish- which are now proscribed. Whether a thing ed, whose language has not been spoken for shall be designated by a plain noun-substanages, and whose ancient magnificence is attest- tive, or by a circumlocution, is mere matter of ed only by a few broken columns and friezes, fashion. Morality is not at all interested in much more must it be desirable that he should the question. But morality is deeply interested be intimately acquainted with the history of in this—that what is immoral shall not be prethe public mind of his own country; and with sented to the imagination of the young and the canses, the nature, and the extent of those susceptible in constant connection with what revolutions of opinion and feeling, which, is attractive. For every person who nas obduring the last two centuries, have alternately served the operation of the law of association raised and depressed the standard of our national morality. And knowledge of this sort is * Mr. Moxon, its publisher, is well entitled to com to be very sparingly gleaned from parliament- mendation and support for having, by a series of corres
ponding Reprints, (comprising the works of the elder ary debates, from state papers, and from the Dramatists, -executed in a compendious but very comeworks of grave historians. It must either not !y form, and accompanied with useful prolegomena--put be acquire at all, or it must be acquired by tion to procure, at a comparatively small cost, the nu
it in the power of any one desirous of such an acquielof the light literature which has ai I blest Dramatic Library in the world
in his own mind, and in the minds of others, Careless with Sir Paul Plyant, or Scandal with knows, that whatever is constantly presented Foresight. In all these cases, and in many to the imagination in connection with what is more which might be named, the dramatist attractive, will commonly itself become at- evidently does his best to make the person tractive. There is undoubtedly a great deal of who commits the injury graceful, sensible and indelicate writing in Fletcher and Massinger; spirited; and the person who suffers it a fool and more than might be wished even in Ben or a tyrant, or both. Jonson and Shakspeare, who are compara- Mr. Charles Lamb, indeed, attempted to set tively pure. But it is impossible to trace in up a defence for this way of writing. The dratheir plays any systematic attempt to associate matists of the latter part of the seventeenth vie vith those things which men value most century are not, according to him, to be tried and desire most, and virtue with every thing by the standard of morality which exists, and ridiculous and degrading. And such a syste- ought to exist in real life. Their world is a matic attempt we find in the whole dramatic conventional world. Their heroes and heliterature of the generation which followed the roines belong, not to England, not to Christenreturn of Charles the Second. We will take, dom, but to an Utopia of gallantry, to a Fairyas an instance of what we mean, a single sub- land, where the Bible and Burns's Justice are ject of the highest importance to the happiness unknown-where a prank, which on this earth of mankind-conjugal fidelity. We can at would be rewarded with the pillory, is merely present hardly call to mind a single English matter for a peal of elfish laughter. A real play, written before the Civil War, in which the Horner, a real Careless would, it is admitted, character of a seducer of married women is be exceedingly bad men. But to predicate represented in a favourable light. We re- morality or immorality of the Horner of Wymember many plays in which such persons cherly, and the Careless of Congreve, is as are baffled, exposed, covered with derision, and absurd as it would be to arraign a sleeper for insulted by triumphant husbands. Such is the his dreams. They belong “ to the regions of fate of Falstaff, with all his wit and knowledge pure comedy, where no cold moral reigns, of the world. Such is the fate of Brisac in when we are amongst them we are amongst a Fletcher's “Elder Brother”-and of Ricardo chaotic people. We are not to judge them by and Ubaldo, in Massinger's “Picture.” Some our usages. No reverend institutions are intimes, as in the “Fatal Dowry,” and “ Love's sulted by their proceedings, for they have none Cruelty," the outraged honour of families is among them. No peace of families is violated, repaired by a bloody revenge. If now and for no family ties exist among them. There then the lover is represented as an accom- is neither right or wrong-gratitude or its op plished man, and the husband as a person of posite-claim or duty-paternity or sonship." weak or odious character, this only makes This is, we believe, a fair summary of Mr. the triumph of female virtue the more signal; Lamb's doctrine. We are sure that we do not as in Jonson's Celia and Mrs. Fitzdottrel, and wish to represent him unfairly. For we adin Fletcher's Maria. In general we will ven- mire his genius; we love the kind nature ture to say, that the dramatists of the age of which appears in all his writings: and we Elizabeth and James the First, either treat the cherish his memory as much as if we had breach of the marriage-vow as a serious crime known him personally. But we mus: plainly -or, if they treat it as a matter for laughter, say that his argument, though ingenious, is turn the laugh against the gallant.
altogether sophistical. On the contrary, during the forty years Of course we perfectly understand that it is which followed the Restoration, the whole body possible for a writer to create a conventional of the dramatists invariably represent adultery world in which things forbidden by the Deca-We do not say as a peccadillo-we do not logue and the Statule Book shall be lawful, say as an error which the violence of passion and yet that the exhibition may be harmless, or may excuse-but as the calling of a fine gen- even edifying. For example, we suppose that tleman-as a grace without which his cha- the most austere critics would not accuse Feracter would be imperfect. It is as essential nelon of impiety and immorality, on account to his breeding and to his place in society that of his Telemachus and his Dialogues of the he should make love to the wives of his neigh- Dead. In Telemachus and the Dialogues of bours, as that he should know French, or that the Dead, we have a false religion, and consehe should have a sword at his side. In all this quently a morality which is in some points there is no passion, and scarcely any thing incorrect, We have a right and a wrong, that can be called preference. The hero in- differing from the right and the wrong of real trigues, just as he wears a wig; because, if life. It is represented as the first duty of men he did not, he would be a queer fellow, a city to pay honour to Jove and Minerva. Philoprig, perhaps a Puritan. All the agreeable cles, who employes his leisure in making qualities are always given to the gallant. All graven images of these deities, is extolled for the contempt and aversion are the portion of his piety in a way which contrasts singularly the unfortunate husband. Take Dryden for with the expressions of Isaiah on the same example; and compare Woodall with Brain- subject. The dead are judged by Minos, and sick, or Lorenzo with Gomez. Take Wycher- rewarded with lasting happiness for actions ley, and compare Horner with Pinch wife. which Fenelon would have been the first to Take Vanbrugh, and compare Constant with pronounce splendid sins. The same may be Sir John Brute. Take Farquhar, and com- said of Mr. Southey's Mohammedan and Hinpare Archer with Squire Sullen. Take Con- doo heroes and heroines. In Thalaba, to speak greve, and compare Belmour with Foudle wife, in derogation of the Arabian Imposter is blas
phemy—to drink wine is a crime-to perform derided, associated with every thing mean and ablutions, and to pay honour to the holy cities, hateful; the unsound morality to be set off 10 are works of merit. In the Curse of Kehama, every advantage, and inculcated by all meKailyal is commended for her devotion to the thods direct and indirect. It is not the faci, statue of Mariataly, the goddess of the poor. that none of the inhabitants of this convenBut certainly no person will accuse Mr. Southey tional world feel reverence for sacred instituof having promoted or intended to promote tions, and family ties. Fondlewife, Pinchwife, either Islamism or Brahminism.
every person in short of narrow understandIt is easy to see why the conventional worlds ing and disgusting manners, expresses tha: of Fenelon and Mr. Southey are unobjectiona- reverence strongly. The heroes and heroines ble. In the first place, they are utterly unlike too, have a moral code of their own, an exthe real world in which we live. The state of ceedingly bad one; but not, as Mr. Charles society, the laws even of the physical world, Lamb seems to think, a code existing only in are so different from those with which we are the imagination of dramatists. It is, on the familiar, that we cannot be shocked at finding contrary, a code actually received, and obeyed the morality also very different. But in truth, by great numbers of people. We need not go the morality of these conventional worlds dif- to Utopia or Fairiland to find them. They are fers from the morality of the real world, only near at hand. Every night some of them play in points where there is no danger that the at the “hells” in the Quadrant, and others pace real worlds will ever go wrong. The gene- the piazza in Covent-garden. Without flying rosity and docility of Telemachus, the forti- to Nephelococcygia, or to the Court of Queen tude, the modesty, the filial tenderness of Kail- Mab, we can meet with sharpers, bullies, hardyal, are virtues of all ages and nations. And hearted impudent debauchees, and women there was very little danger that the Dauphin worthy of such paramours. The morality of would worship Minerva, or that an English the “ Country Wife" and the “Old Bachelor," damsel would dance with a bucket on her head is the morality, not, as Mr. Charles Lamb before the statue of Mariataly.
maintains, of an unreal world, but of a world The case is widely different with what Mr. which is a great deal too real. It is the moCharles Lamb calls the conventional world of rality, not of a chaotic people, but of low Wycherley and Congreve. Here the costume, town-rakes, and of those ladies whom the and manners, the topics of conversation, are newspapers call “dashing Cyprians.” And those of the real town, and of the passing day. the question is simply, whether a man of The hero is in all superficial accomplishments genius, who constantly and systematically enexactly the fine gentleman, whom every youth deavours to make this sort of character attracin the pit would gladly resemble. The heroine tive, by uniting it with beauty, grace, dignity, is the fine lady, whom every youth in the pit spirit, a high social position, popularity, literawould gladly marry. The scene is laid in some ture, wit, taste, knowledge of the world, brilliant place which is as well known to the audience success in every undertaking, does or does not as their own houses, in St. James's Park, or make an ill use of his powers. We own that Hyde Park, or Westminster Hall. The lawyer we are unable to understand how this question bustles about with his bag, between the Com- can be answered in any way but one. mon Pleas and the Exchequer. The Peer calls It must, indeed, be acknowledged, in justice for his carriage to go to the House of Lords on to the writers of whom we have spoken thus a private bill. A hundred little touches are severely, that they were, to a great extent, the employed to make the fictitious world appear creatures of their age. And if it be asked like the actual world. And the immorality is why that age encouraged immorality which no of a sort which never can be out of date, and other age would have tolerated, we have no which all the force of religion, law, and public hesitation in answering that this great depraopinion united can but imperfectly restrain. vation of the national taste was the effect of
In the name of art, as well as in the name the prevalence of Puritanism under the Comof virtue, we protest against the principle that monwealth. the world of pure comedy is one into which no To punish public outrages on inorals and moral enters. If comedy be an imitation, un- religion is unquestionably within the compeder whatever conventions, of real life, how is tence of rulers. But when a government, not it possible that it can have no reference to the content with requiring decency, requires sancgreat rule which directs life, and to feelings tity, it oversteps the bounds which mark its which are called forth by every incident of functions. And it may be laid down as a unilife? If what Mr. Charles Lamb says were versal rule, that a government which attempts correct, the inference would be, that these dra- more than it ought will perform less. A lawmatists did not in the least understand the very giver who, in order to protect distressed borfirst principles of their craft. Pure landscape rowers, limits the rate of interest, either makes painting into which no light or shade enters, it impossible for the objects of his care to bor. pure portrait jainting into which no expres- row at all, or places them at the mercy of the sion enters, are phrases less at variance with worst class of usurers. A lawgiver who, sound criticism than pure comedy into which from tenderness for labouring men, fixes the no moral enters.
hours of their work and the amount of their But it is not the l'act, that the world of these wages, is certain to make them far more dramatists is a world into which no moral wretched than he found them. And so a go enters. Morality constantly enters into that vernment which, not content with repressing world, a sound murality, and an unsound scandalous ercesses, demands from its submorality; the sound inorality to be insulted, jest: fervent and austere rint, "ill soon dis