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The history of Rome will remain, and that the study of physical science to the latest age of the world, the most should supersede
that of the Greek or attractive, the most useful, and the Roman authors. Experience, the great most elevating subject of human con- detector of error, is perpetually retemplation. It must ever form the calling to our minds the inestimable basis of a liberal and enlightened edu. importance of Roman history. The cation; it must ever present the most more that our institutions become liimportant object to the contemplation beralised, the more rapid the strides of the statesman ; it must ever exhibit which democracy makes amongst us, the most heart-stirring record to the the more closely do we cling to the heart of the soldier. Modern civili- annals of a state which underwent sation, the arts and the arms, the exactly the same changes, and suffered freedom and the institutions of Europe the consequences of the same convularound us are the bequest of the Ro- sions; and the more that we expeman legions. The roads which we rience the insecurity, the selfishness, travel are, in many places, those which and the rapacity of democratic ambia these indomitable pioneers of civilisation tion, the more highly do we come to first cleared through the wilderness of appreciate the condensed wisdom with nature ; the language which we speak which the great historians of antiquity, is more than half derived from Roman by a word or an epithet, stamped its words; the laws by which we are pro- character, or revealed its tendency. tected have found their purest foun. There is something solemn, and tains in the treasures of Roman juris. evidently providential, in the unbroken prudence; the ideas in which we advance and ultimate boundless do. glory are to be found traced out in the minion of Rome. The history of other fire of young conception in the Ro. nations corresponds nearly to the vi, man writers. In vain does the su- cissitudes of prosperity and disaster, of perficial acquirement, or shallow va- good and evil fortune, which we obriety, of modern liberalism seek to serve in the nations of the world at throw off the weight of obligation to this time. The brilliant meteor of the grandeur or virtue of antiquity; Athenian greatness disappeared from in vain are we told that useful know the world almost as soon as the bloody ledge is alone worthy of cultivation, phantasmagoria of the French Revothat ancient fables have gone past, lution. In half-a-century after they
History of Rome. By Thomas Arnold, D.D., Head Master of Rugby School ; late Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford; and Member of the Archæological Society of Rome. London: B. Fellowes. 1838.
VOL. XLIY, NO. CCLXXIV,
arose nought remained of either but their dignity, their importance, or their the works of genius they had produced, intimate connexion with modern insti. and the deeds of glory they had done. tutions. The pictured pages and The wonders of Napoleon's reign fa. matchless descriptions of Livy, indeed, ded as rapidly as the triumphs of the will, to the end of the world, fascinate Macedonian Conqueror ; and the dis- the imagination and subdue the hearts tant lustre of Babylon and Nineveli is of men ; but it is a fragment only of faintly recalled by the ephemeral dy- his great work which has descended to nasties which have arisen, under the our times; and even when complete, pressure of Arabian, or Mogul con- it came down only to the time of Auquest, in the regions of the East in gustus, and broke off' exactly at the modern times. "But, in the Roman period when nations, arrived at the annals, a different and mightier sys- stage of existence to which we have tem developes itself. From the in- grown, are most interested in its confancy of the republic, from the days tinuance. The condensed wisdom, even of the kings, and the fabulous energetic expressions, and practical reigns of Romulus and Numa, an un. experience of Sallust and Tacitus, apbroken progress is exhibited, which ply only to detached periods of the never experienced a permanent reverse later annals; and, though not a page till the eagles of the Republic had of their immortal works can be read crossed the Euphrates, and all the ci- without suggesting reflections on the vilised world, from the wall of Anto.. extraordinary political sagacity which ninus to the foot of Mount Atlas, was they had acquired from experience, or subjected to their arms. Their re
received from nature, yet we shall look verses, equally with their triumphs- in vain, in the fragments of this work their defeats, equally with their victo, which have survived the wreck of ries--their infant struggles with the time, for a connected detail even of cities of Latium, not less than their the later periods of Roman story. later contests with Carthage and Mi. The moderns appear to have been thridates --contributed to develope deterred, by the exquisite beauty of their strength, and may be regarded as these fragments of ancient history, from the direct causes of their dominion, adventuring at all on the same field. It was in the long wars with the Ferguson's is considered by the English, Etruscan and Samnite communities and admitted by the Germans, to be that the discipline and tactics were the best connected history of the Reslowly and painfully acquired, which public which exists; but not only does enabled them to face the banded it embrace merely, with adequate fulstrength of the Carthaginian confede- ness, the period from the rise of the racy,--and in the desperate struggle Gracchi to the ascent of the throne by with Hannibal that the resolution and Augustus, but it does not contain the skill were drawn forth which so soon, views, nor is it dictated by the practi. on its termination, gave them the em- cal acquaintance with human affairs, pire of the world. The durability of which is necessary for a real history of the fabric was in proportion to the tar- Roman policy. The Scotch professor diness of its growth, and the solidity bas, with much ability, illustrated the of its materials. The twelve vultures contests of Sylla and Marius, of Cæsar which Romulus beheld on the Pala. and Pompey'; but he lived in a pacific tine Hill were emblematic of the twelve age, amidst the unbroken seclusion of centuries which beheld the existence an academical life, and, consequently, of the empire of the West; and it could not possibly attain those clear required a thousand years more of cor- and decisive views of the tendency and ruption and decline to extinguish in springs of action, in civil contests, the East this brilliant empire, which, which are brought home to the minds regenerated by the genius of Constan- of the most illiterate by the starms and tine, found, in the riches and match crimes of a revolution. less situation of Byzantium, a counter,
Niebuhr is universally allowed to poise to all the effeminacy of Oriental have opened a new era in the early manners, and all the ferocity of the history of the Republic. Before his Scythian tribes.
time historians were content with It is remarkable that time has not adopting, without examination, the leyet produced a history of this wonder- gends which, in the Roman annals, ful people commensurate either to passed for the narrative of real events, and, despairing of adding any thing to power of execution which at that early their beauty, simply presented their period liad distinguished the Roman readers with a translation of Livy and people. Two thousand five hundred Dionysius. Dissatisfied with such a years have elapsed since this stupen, mode of recording the progress of so dous work was executed, to drain the celebrated a people, Ferguson rejected waters of the Forum and adjacent holthe early legends altogether, and pass- lows to the Tiber; and there it stands ing, in the most cursory manner, over the at this day, without a stone displaced, first five hundred years of Roman story, still performing its destined service! Do professed himself unable to discover any of the edifices of Paris or London firm historic ground till he came down promise an equal duration? From the to the second Punic War. But neither moment that we beheld that magnifiof these methods of treating the sub- cent structure, formed of the actual jeet suited the searching eye
and inqui- stone of the eternal city, all doubts as sitive mind of the German historian. to the authenticity of Roman annals, Possessed of extraordinary learning, so far, at least, as they portray a and a matchless faculty of drawing, with powerful flourishing kingdom anterior intuitive sagacity, important historical to the Republic, vanished from our and political conclusions from detach- minds. If nothing else remained to ed and, to ordinary observers, unmean- attest the greatness of the kings at ing details of subordinate historians, this period but the Cloaca Maxima and he has contrived to rear up from com- the treaty with Carthage in the first paratively authentic data, a veracious year of the Republic, it would be suflipicture of the early Roman annals. cient to demonstrate that the basis of Instead of rejecting in despair the whole the early history of the kings was to bistory prior to the invasion of the be found in real events. And this Gauls as a mass of fables, erected by Niebuhr, after the most minute and the vanity of Patrician families, and critical examination, has declared to be adopted by the credulity of an unin- his conviction. formed people, he has succeeded in Doubtless, the same historic evidence supporting a large portion of those an- does not exist for the romantic and nals by unquestionable evidence; and captivating part of early Roman history, stripping it only, in some parts, of those We cannot assert that we have good colours which the eloquence of Livy evidence that Romulus fought, or that has rendered immortal, for the improve. Numa prayed ; that Ancus conquered, ment and delight of mankind. It is a or that Tarquin oppressed; that the common reproach against this great brethren of the Horatii saved their antiquary, that he has overthrown the country, or Curtius leaped headlong whole early history of Rome; but no into the gulf in the Forum, The reproach was ever more unfounded, exquisite story of Lucretia ; the heartIn truth, as Dr Arnold lias justly ob. stirring legend of Corioli; the invasion served, it must be evident to every one of Porsenna, the virtue of Cincinnatus, acquainted with the subject, that he the siege of Veiæ, the deliverance of has built up much more than he has Camillus, are probably all founded destroyed, and fixed on firmer historic in some degree on real events, but grounds a vast deal which the inquisi- have come down to our times glowing live eye of modern scepticism was in- with the genius of the ancient historiclined to lay aside as entirely fictitious, ans, and gilded by the colours which No stronger proof of this can be desir- matchless eloquence has communicated ed than is to be found in the fact, that, to the additions with which the fondwhile Ferguson began his history as ness of national or family vanity had authentie only with the exploits of clothed the artless narrative of early Hannibal, Niebuhr has deemed it cer- times. Simplicity is the invariable tain that historical truth is to be found characteristic of the infancy of the not only under the kings, but so early world. Homer and Job are often in as Æneas Martius.
the highest degree both pathetic and It is inconceivable, indeed, how it sublime; but they are so just because ever could have been seriously believed they are utterly unconscious of any that the annals of the kings were en. such merits, and aimed only at the re. tirely fictitious, when the Cloaca Maxi- cital of real events. The glowing pages ma still exists, a durable monument and beautiful episodes of Livy are aş both of the grandeur of conception and evidently subsequent additions as the
pomp and majesty of Ossian are to the feelings then prevalent amongst a nameagre ballads of Caledonia.
tion called to such exalted destinies ; But it is of no moment either to the and without being embued with a simigreat objects of historical enquiry or the lar spirit, we may safely assert no other future improvement and elevation of people will ever either emulate their the species, whether the Roman le. fame, or approach to their achievegends can or cannot be supported by ments. historical evidence. It is sufficient Notwithstanding the high place that they exist, to render them to the which we have assigned to Niebuhrin end of the world the most delightful the elucidation and confirmation of subject of study for youth, not the least early Roman history, nothing can be useful matter for contemplation in ma- more apparent than that his work never turer years. They may not be strictly will take its place as a popular history historical, but rely upon it they are of the Republic, and never rival in founded in the main upon a correct general estimation the fascinating picture of the manners and ideas of the pages of Livy. No one can read it time. Amadis of Gaul is not a true for half an hour without being satisstory, but it conveys, nevertheless, a fied of that fact. Invaluable to the faithful though exaggerated picture of scholar, the antiquary, the philolothe ideas and manners of the chivalrous gist, it has no charms for the great ages. There is, probably, the same mass of readers, and conveys no sort truth in the Roman legends that there of idea to the unlearned student of the is in Achilles and Agamemnon-in consecutive event, among the very Front de Bæuf, Richard Ceur de people whose history it professes to Lion, and Ivanhoe. We will not find
portray: In this respect it labours in Roman story a real Lucretia or Vir- under the same fault which is, in a less ginia, any more than in British history degree, conspicuous in the philosophic a genuine Rebecca or Jeanie Deans; pages of Sir James Mackintosh's Engbut the characters are not the less lish history; that it pre-supposes an founded in the actual manners and spi. intimate acquaintance with the subrit of the times. It is of little moment ject in the reader, and is to all, not to us whether Romulus watched the nearly as well versed in it as himself, twelve emblematic vultures on the Pa- either in great part unintelligible, or latine Hill, or Numa consulted Egeria intolerably dull. Heeren, whose lain the shades of the Campagna, or bours have thrown such a flood of Veiæ was stormed through the mine light on the Persian, Egyptian, and sprung in the Temple of Juno, or the Carthaginian states, has justly remarkRoman ambassador thrust his hand into ed that Niebuhr, with all his acutethe fire before Porsenna, or Lucretia, ness, is to be regarded rather as an though guiltless in intent, plunged the essayist on history, than an actual hisdagger in her bosom rather than sur. torian. He has elucidated with exvive the honour of her house. It is traordinary learning and skill sevesufficient that a people have existed, to ral of the most obscure subjects in whom the patriotic devotion, the indivi- Roman annals; and on many, espedual heroism, the high resolves, the un- cially the vital subjects of the Agradaunted resolution portrayed in these rian law, struck out new lights, which, immortal episodes, were so familiar, if known at all to the later writers of that they had blended with real events, the empire, had been entirely lost durand formed part of their traditional an, ing the change of manners and ideas nals. No other people ever possessed consequent on the Gothic conquests. early legends of the same noble heart. But his work is in many places so obstirring kind as the Romans, because
scure, and so much overloaded with none other were stamped with the cha
names, and subjects, and disquisitions, racter destined to win, and worthy to in great part unknown to readers, even hold, the empire of the world. To the of fair classical attainments and exlatest times the history of infant Rome, tensive general knowledge, that it with all its attendant legends, must, never can take its place among the therefore, form the most elevating and standard histories of the world. He useful subject for the instruction of is totally destitute of two qualities inyouth, as affording a faithful picture, if dispensable to a great historian, and not of the actual events of that inter; particularly conspicuous in the faresting period, at least of the ideas and famed annalists of antiquity-powers