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durst then scare from his grounds. During this continued festival debts were forborne or forgiven, and bond-servants, who had served a certain number of years, might demand their manumission. It has been conjectured that the chief object of this singular law was not only to teach the Hebrews that their land was the Lord's property, but to promote the accumulation of corn in stores, and thus guard against a famine, the importance of which precaution Moses must have known from the history of Joseph, and the practice of Egypt. The liberated bond-servants, whose masters were bound by the benevolent injunctions of Moses to present then, among other things, with one or two sheep, were enabled also, during this year of release, not only to procure a maintenance for themselves, but to find pasturage for their cattle, and to lay the foundation of a little flock. How a nation of husbandmen could find occupation without tillage or avoid the pernicious effects of a whole year's idle. ness, we have no means of judging. Their games and amusements, whatever was their nature, must have been called into active exercise.
But the greatest, most general, and most glorious festival ever recorded in history, or practised by any people, was the demi-centennial jubilee, at the commencement of which the glad sound of trumpets and of rams' horns proclaimed liberty throughout the whole land ; whatever debt the Hebrews owed to one another was to be wholly remitted ; hired as well as bond-servants were set free ; and the inheritances that had been alienated reverted to their original proprietors. During this whole period, as in the sabbatical year, no servile work was to be performed, the land was to remain untilled, and its spontaneous produce belonged to the poor and needy.
By this law Moses probably intended to bring back the nation to its original state, to preserve equality among the people, and to prevent that tendency to accumulation which rapidly divides a community into a few rich and a numerous body of poor. But it soon fell into desuetude, and indeed it is not easy to conceive how it could long remain in operation ; for as the men of property would naturally become the most influential in legislative enactments, they were pretty sure to abrogate a law which would confiscate their newly acquired estates every fifty years. This insti.
tution, therefore, as well as that of the sabbatical year, if not formally rescinded, appears to have been very soon neglected. Both are important, not from their earlier or later discontinuance, but as showing the intentions of Moses, than whom a more benevolent legislator never existed, so far as the comforts of his own people were con cerned ; though in the intensity of his national selfishness, he had no toleration whatever towards the Canaanites, and not much for the other gentil, s. It is worthy uf remark that the government he established, the only one immediately claiming a Divine author, was founded on the most democratical and even levelling principles. It was a theocratical commonwealth, having the Deity himself for its king. Agriculture was the basis of the Mosaic polity; all the husbandmen were on a footing of perfect equality ; riches conferred no permanent pre-eminence; there were neither peasantry nor nobility, unless the Levites might be considered a sort of priestly aristocracy, for they were entitled by their birth to certain privileges.—But this is foreign to our purpose. The most distinguishing features of the government were the vigilant, the anxious provision made for the interests, enjoyments, and festivals of the nation, and that enlarged wisdom and profound knowledge of human nature which led the inspired founder of the Hebrew commonwealth to exalt and sanctify the pleasures of the people by uniting them with religion, while he confirmed and endeared religion by combining it with all the popular gratifications.
Festivals, Games, and Amusements of the Ancient Greeks. “ Fas mihi Graiorum sacrata resolvere jura."
Virg. An. 3. 550. Who would ever have imagined that the vivacious, intellectual, and handsome Athenians derived their origin from the gloomy, priestridden, negro-faced people of Egypt, a colony from which country was conducted to Attica by
Cecrops, about the time of Moses? We know that man. ners are changeable, that they receive their character from climate, soil, localities, population, religion, forin of government, facility of communication with strangers, and various collateral circumstances ; but we cannot understand how that great physical metamorphosis was accomplished which converted an ugly race into the most graceful and finelyformed nation upon the face of the earth. Nor have we any records on which to hang a conjecture ; for at this period, as Plutarch says, when regretting his inability to furnish its early history, Attica was “all monstrous and tragical land, occupied only by poets and fabulists.” Seven hundred years after the foundation of Athens, the writings of Homer afford many illustrations of manners among the Greeks, which still exhibited barbarous traits of defective government and unimproved society. From the notion that the souls of deceased warriors delighted in human blood, the funeral games and ceremonies were of the most cruel description. Achilles slew twelve of the young Trojan nobility at the pile of Patroclus ; an act of atrocity which is of itself sufficient to stamp the character of barbarism upon the age in which it occurred. Half-naked savages, indeed, with a club and lion's skin, no longer wandered about the world, offering their services for the destruction of wild beasts; but the times were characterized by that licentiousness, hospitality, violence, utter disregard of human life, and union of dignified station with mean employments to which the manners of the Scottish Highlanders, till within a century, retained so marked a resemblance. Such will ever be the features of society where the law is ineffectual for personal security. “ In such cases bodily strength and courage must decide most contests; while on the other hand, craft, cunning, and surprise are the legitimate wea pons of the weak against the strong. We accordingly find that both the ancient and the modern history of the East is a continued scene of bloodshed and treachery."*
In the time of Homer, when murders were so common that they scarcely left a stain upon the character of the perpetrator, and human sacrices were still offered to the gods, and to the manes of the dea:i, we cannot expect to
discover any thing refined, still less intellectual, in the amusements or recreations. These were grovelling and sensual, while the public games, being simply calculated to exercise and strengthen the bodily powers, were but personal struggles, scarcely amicable in their nature, and evidently intended as preparations for war. Several hundred years later, when the Athenians had attained their palmiest state, both as to power and literary pre-eminence, we have abundant materials for appreciating Grecian manners in general, which then present to us, so far as amusements are concerned, a decided predominance of the intellectual over the corporeal, of refinement over vulgar sensuality. Let us indulge in an imaginary walk into Athens at this period, that we may judge for ourselves, taking our first station on the road to Thria, to the north-west of the city. Behold! the sun is now gleaming upon the waters of the Cephisus, burnishing the tops of the trees in the garden of the Academy, just revealing beyond them the pediment of the temple of Theseus, and illuminating one side of the glorious Parthenon, perched aloft upon the rocky Acropolis. We will stand aside for a moment, not only to avoid the dust of the market-people flocking into the city, but that
? may listen to the ancient ballads they are singing, an amusement which implies something of a civilized and literary taste, even in these rude peasants. They have passed, they have crossed the bridge over the Cephisus, and we may now follow them, diverging, however, from the high road into the shady walks on either side that constitute the grove of Academus. It was here that Plato, the pupil of Socrates, instructed his disciples, maintaining the immortality of the soul, while he placed the sovereign felicity in studying the beautiful, the true, the good ; in contemplating the supreme celestial intelligence, and in endeavouring to conciliate his love, by imitating his benevolence, so far as human infirmities allowed.
Such have been the sublime doctrines taught by the academicians and philosophers who since his time have delivered lessons of wisdom within these shady precincts; and such are the discourses to which the volatile population of Athens have eagerly crowded for amusement and recreation. What an immeasurable stride must the public mind have taken since the Homeric ages, when all enjoyments had
reference to the body and the senses! but that we may the better appreciate the character of the citizens, let us ascend this little eminence, and survey the public buildings which, exclusively of the religious edifices, are expressly dedicated to the pleasures of the mind. See! we have now reached the altar of the Muses, whose votaries may in some degree he said to hallow literature with a divine sanction. Yonder to the east, near the Marathon road, is the Cynosarges, or school of the cynic philosophers ; beyond it is the Lycæum, where Aristotle instructed his disciples while he walked about and founded the sect of the peripatetic philosophers; near the gate of the Piræus is the Museum, a building dedicated to the liberal arts, and to the goddesses whose name it bears; the superh structure to the left of it is the Odeum, appropriated to the performance of concerts, to musical trials of skill, and to the rehearsal of the theatrical choruses; and the semicircular building on this side of it is the Great Theatre, to which the Athenians flock to weep at the tragedies of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, to be convulsed with laughter at the farcical satires of Aristophanes, or to be delighted with the polished wit of the chaste and elegant Menander. Is not such a recapitulation sufficient to prove that in this classic seat of the muses the pleasures of the mind have largely triumphed over those of the body, and that the inhabitants of Athens are the most intellectual people whom the world has yet produced, or whom it is perhaps hereafter destined to see, even in a much more advanced state of its existence?
That all their diversions are of this exalted character it would be too much to expect; but we will pursue our walk, and make our observations as we proceed. Here we are at the gate Dipylon, in the shade of which some idlers of the lower class are reclining, while they play at dice upon the pavement, and by their animated gestures and the anxious expression of their countenances are evidently contending for a stake of some importance. Strange! that the love of deep play should be equally found among the most savage and the most civilized people, as if gambling were an inherent propensity of human nature! So addicted to dice were the Gernians and other barbarians of the north, that, according to Tacitus, after having lost every thing else, they would frequently stake their freedom upon the hazard of a die, and