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Tearing sceptre and robe from the selfish adventurer who has stolen, through flattery, deception, perjury, and slaughter, to an imperial diadem, it would pluck off his brilliant mask, triply woven of talent, energy, and usefulness, drag him to the bar of trial, and show him in the full deformity of his crime. For unquestionably a host of deep-dyed traitors have escaped the name simply because they were successful in their treachery, muffled the mouths of discerning censors with bribes or with penalties, and afterwards by their wise policy caused their wickedness to be overlooked, and gradually forgotten. So proud is the world of a striking executive genius, so fond of relentless tenacity of purpose, so subservient in presence of an impressive victory, that where these are found combined it easily pardons, and soon forgets, the gravest defects and offences, especially when the faults are subsequently disguised in benefits to itself.
One more lesson must be noted before we leave the subject. Traitors show themselves and play their part in many different spheres of life. Their principal historic representatives are martial, have ranged themselves with the foreign enemies, or engaged in violent internal conspiracies against the government of their country. When the word treason or traitor is used, we instinctively think of war, of leaders or soldiers betraying fortresses, surrendering armies, communicating secret plans. But this comparative confinement of the term to the relations of warfare must not deceive us. The thing appears as really, and often more odiously, in times of peace, in the manifold civic, professional, and private relations of society. In war, the passions, particularly the various modifications of ambition, rivalry, and jealousy, are stirred into unprecedented activity. The exposures and exigencies incurred, the disgraces inflicted, and the honors bestowed, are multiplied and intensified as at no other period. Hence a threefold cause operates to make visible traitors more numerous, conspicuous, and memorable in the relations of war than in those of peace; namely, the more aggravated excitement of the ground passions of our nature, the more kindling bribes held out to them, and the more eager attention paid in such a crisis by the highly wrought public mind to whatever then happens.
Guarding ourselves against these sophistical influences, we shall perceive that there are in the various walks of civil life enactors of treachery tenfold baser in themselves, and tenfold more corrupting in their examples, than any malecontent, deserter, or betrayer of the camp. There may be an alleviating consideration for the military traitor in the effervescence of hot-hearted provocations, or in some revulsion of despair. But the creature, compacted in equal parts of falsehood, fawning, and malignity, who in the even ways of peace, in the household confidences of society, is deliberately untrue to the trusts of business, of friendship, of office in state or church, his unprovoked treachery as cold as the poison of the bloodless spider, is a renegade so unrelieved by tint of light or shade of excuse as to mock comparison. Surely he who consciously admits into his breast lying thoughts, malicious desires, and felonious purposes, hoisting the flag of the Devil over that stronghold of the mind where he was placed in charge to keep God's banner floating unsullied, is a more arrant traitor than he who lets the emissaries or legions of the foe into any material citadel.
ART. VII. THE GREEKS.
1. History of Greece under Foreign Domination. By GEORGE FINLAY, LL. D. In Five Volumes. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. 1857.
2. History of the Greek Revolution. By GEORGE FINLAY, LL. D. In Two Volumes. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. 1861.7.
In all the long annals of our race, so little encouraging sometimes, and often so unintelligible, there will hardly be found a more remarkable subject for contemplation than the history of Greece under foreign domination. One hundred and forty-six years before Christ, the Achæan League defeated and Corinth sacked by the Roman Consul Mummius, Greece became a Roman province. Nineteen hundred and eighty
nine years afterwards, the people of Athens assembled before the white palace of their Bavarian king, and demanded a constitution, by which, at last, liberty was restored to the Greeks. In that vast interval the face of the world had changed. New religions had arisen in the East, and through the North and West a new civilization had spread. In the city of the Cæsars was installed another language and a different empire. Yet, amidst these ceaseless changes, while empires rose and fell, while religions and races decayed and passed away, the Parthenon still towered serene and beautiful above the Acropolis, centre, as it were, and symbol of the undying unity of the Greeks.
This strange story of so many ages of tumult and persecution, of corruption and devastation, of exile and despair,—yet of vitality so inextinguishable, of faith and heroism so persistent and marvellous, has at length been fitly told by Mr. Finlay. Among the great historical works in which this age has been so fruitful, we do not, on the whole, know a greater. For others may be claimed a more flowing style, or a more dramatic subject; but as an historical thinker, Mr. Finlay is not surpassed. He does not paint scenes; he seeks for causes. He has to do, not with individuals, but with a race, -not with one civilization, or one religion, but with several. There is nothing of the rhetorician in him; he does not aim to entertain, but to instruct. To the conciseness of Tacitus he adds the political observation of Polybius. If he is often severe, it is because he loves the truth; and if we may not always agree with his conclusions, we appreciate always their honesty, as the mature convictions of many years of study and of thought. In all respects an original writer, his merits and defects are his own. From the first page to the last, through seven solid volumes, you recognize always an earnest, decided mind, a transparent truthfulness, even a certain austerity of virtue.
It was in 1823 that Mr. Finlay first went to Greece, to take part in the effort which the Greeks had already begun to make to throw off the Turkish yoke. From that time, Greece has been his home: he has grown up with it; its language is his language, its hopes are his hopes. When the task of deliver
ance was accomplished, he applied himself to the study and exposition of the long period of its subjugation. The History of the Greek Revolution recently published brings his work now to a close; and if there be anything in the memory of a well-ordered and fruitful life to brighten and console the declining years, it belongs in full measure to Mr. Finlay. The aims with which the friends of Greece were inspired a generation ago may not have been all achieved. Untoward circumstances, a feeble and bigoted king, a selfish and frivolous court, may have checked the progress they reasonably anticipated among a people so eager to be redeemed. Yet it is something to have added a new kingdom to the civilized states of Europe, something to have given character and stimulus to the Greek element in the East, something to have prepared the way for the gradual enlightenment of regions so long lying under the withering shadow of the Othoman rule. To have shared in that gracious work was no little honor; to have recorded and illustrated with such abundant learning and such philosophic insight the vast historic development of which it was a part, will not be esteemed a less honor, or an inferior service.
The subjects of Mr. Finlay's volumes may be thus briefly indicated.
The first treats of Greece under the Romans, from B. C. 146 to A. D. 716. The second and third comprise the history of the Byzantine and Greek empires, from A. D. 716 to A. D. 1553. The fourth contains the history of Greece from its conquest by the Crusaders to its conquest by the Turks, and of the empire of Trebizond, 1204-1461. The fifth is the history of Greece under Othoman and Venetian domination. The two concluding volumes explore the causes and narrate the events of the Greek Revolution, and continue the history of the Greek kingdom down to 1843.*
Although much of the period covered by Mr. Finlay's work has been treated of by others, a large portion, indeed, by Gibbon, he nowhere comes into collision with other writers,
*It should be stated that the first, the second and third, the fourth, and the fifth volumes respectively are published as separate works. The History of the Greek Revolution in two volumes is also a separate work.
English or German. From the beginning to the end, he has followed his own method, and done his own thinking. With all the valuable qualities of the great historian, he lacks only the gift of style. Some writer has said that there are but three historians, Thucydides, Tacitus, and Gibbon, a severe estimate, and to a great extent an artistic one, which should not make us unjust to eminent worth. There has been but one Homer, there will be but one Tennyson; yet in all ages there have been numberless poets, and many good ones. So that rare combination of qualities which is needed to produce a classic historian may be found but once in a thousand years, yet meanwhile we shall have many good histories. In the profound estimate of causes, in the subtle appreciation of truth, others may surpass Gibbon, though they may not be able to clothe the results of their research and their analysis in a style like his. Others, too, may emulate the vigor of Tacitus, and the passionless justice of Thucydides; and though they may not be models of style, they may be something better, perhaps; for they may lead us in the darkness of the primeval ages, or support us through the weary wastes of the centuries, by revealing ever the guiding Hand. History, moreover, is inexhaustible; facts are as you see them, and in every age every thinker has tried to harmonize them for himself. Not till the last days and the last men will the great classic be achieved. Doubt and struggle are the condition of progress; and that, indeed, will be a decaying and despairing age which receives for its own the views of that which preceded it, touching the great questions made for us to solve out of our human annals.
The Greek is the only European race which has survived the destruction of the pagan civilization; its language is the oldest language of civilized men which remains to us a living language. The Greek of Homer, says Mr. Finlay, who has spoken the language for forty years, does not differ more from that of the New Testament than that of the New Testament differs from that of a modern Greek review. An equal permanence indeed, may be claimed for the Arabic, but, like all Eastern languages, its range is less. The Oriental speech, like the Oriental mind, seems never to have been more than half