Abbildungen der Seite

berty did not here forfake them; they took part in the conteft with the two patriot Romans, and erected their ftatues near their own ancient deliverers, Harmodius and Ariftogiton, who had flain Hipparchus. But they were ftill unhappy, for their enemies triumphed.

They made their peace however with Auguftus; and, having met afterwards, with different treatment under different emperors, fometimes favourable, fometimes harfh, and never more fevere than under Vefpafian, their oppreffions were at length relieved by the virtuous Nerva and Trajan.

Mankind, during the interval which began from Nerva, and which extended to the death of that beft of emperors, Marcus Antoninus, felt a refpite from those evils which they had fo feverely felt before, and which they felt fo feverely revived under Commodus, and his wretched fucceffors.

Athens, during the above golden period, enjoyed more than all others the general felicity, for the found in Adrian fo generous a benefactor, that her citizens could hardly help efteeming him a second founder. He reftored their old privileges, gave them new; repaired their ancient buildings, and added others of his own. Marcus Antoninus, although he did not do fo much, ftill continued to thew them his benevolent attention.

If from this period we turn our eyes back, we shall find, for centuries before, that Athens was the place of education, not only for Greeks, but for Romans. 'Twas hither that Horace was fent by his father; twas here that Cicero put his fon Marcus under Cratippus, one of the ableft philofophers then belonging to that city.

The fects of philofophers which we have already defcribed, were ftill exifting when St. Paul came thither. We cannot enough admire the fuperior eloquence of that apostle, in his manner of addreffing fo intelligent an audience. We cannot enough admire the fublimity of his exordium; the propriety of his mentioning an altar which he had found there; and his quotation from Aratus, one of their well-known poets. Acts xvii. 22.

Nor was Athens only celebrated for the refidence of philofophers, and the inftitution of youth: Men of rank and fortune found pleasure in a retreat which contributed fo much to their liberal enjoyment.

The friend and correfpondent of Cicero, T. Pomponius, from his long attach

ment to this city and country, had attained fuch a perfection in its arts and language,that he acquired to himself the additional name of Atticus. This great man may be faid to have lived during times of the worft and cruelleft factions. His youth was spent under Sylla and Marius; the middle of his life during all the fanguinary fcenes that followed; and when he was old, he faw the profcriptions of Antony and Octavius. Yet though Cicero and a multitude more of the beft men perished, he had the good fortune to furvive everydanger. Nor did he feek a fafety for himself alone: his virtue fo recommended him to the leaders of every fide, that he was able to fave not himself alone, but the lives and fortunes of many of his friends.

When we look to this amiable character, we may well fuppofe, that it was not merely for amufement that he chofe to live at Áthens; but rather that, by refiding there, he might fo far realize philofophy, as to employ it for the conduct of life, and not merely for oftentation.

Another perfon, during a better period (that I mean between Nerva and Marcus Antoninus) was equally celebrated for his affection to this city. By this perfon I mean Herodes Atticus, who acquired the last name from the fame reasons for which it had formerly been given to Pomponius.

We have remarked already, that vicifitudes befal both men and cities, and changes too often happen from profperous to adverfe. Such was the ftate of Athens, under the fucceffors of Alexander, and fo on from Sylla down to the time of Auguftus. It fhared the fame hard fate with the Roman empire in general, upon the acceffion of Commodus.

At length, after a certain period, the Barbarians of the North began to pour into the South. Rome was taken by Alaric, and Athens was besieged by the fame. Yet here we are informed (at least we learn fo from hiftory) that it was miraculously faved by Minerva and Achilles. The goddefs, it feems, and the hero, both of them appeared, compelling the invader to raise the fiege.


$210. The Account given by SYNESIUS of ATHENS, and its fubfequent Hiftory.

Synefius, who lived in the fifth century, vifited Athens, and gives, in his epiftles, an account of his vifit. Its luftre appears at that time to have been greatly diminished.



Among other things he informs us, that the celebrated portico or colonnade, the Greek name of which gave name to the fect of Stoics, had, by an oppreffive proconful, been defpoiled of its fine pictures; and that, on this devaftation, it had been for faken by thofe philofophers.

In the thirteenth century, when the Grecian empire was cruelly oppreffed by the crufaders, and all things in confufion, Athens was befieged by one Segurus Leo, who was unable to take it; and, after that, by a Marquis of Montferrat, to whom it furrendered.

Its fortune after this was various; and it was fometimes under the Venetians, fometimes under the Catalonians, till Mahomet the Great made himself master of Conftantinople. This fatal catastrophe (which happened near two thoufand years after the time of Pififtratus) brought Athens, and with it all Greece, into the hands of the Turks, under whofe defpotic yoke it has continued ever fince.

The city from this time has been occafionally visited, and defcriptions of it publifhed by different travellers. Wheeler was there along with Spon, in the time of our Charles the Second, and both of them have published curious and valuable narratives. Others, as well natives of this ifland as foreigners, have been there fince, and fome have given (as Monfr. Le Roy) fpecious publications of what we are to fuppofe they faw. None however have equalled the truth, the accuracy, and the elegance of Mr. Stuart, who after having rended there between three and four years, has given fuch plans and elevations of the capital buildings now ftanding, together with learned comments to elucidate every part, that he seems, as far as was poffible for the power of defcription, to have refiored the city to its ancient fplendour.

He has not only given us the greater outlines and their measures, but separate measures and drawings of the minuter decorations; fo that a British artist may (if he pleafe) follow Phidias, and build in Britain as Phidias did at Athens.

Spon, fpeaking of Attica, fays, that the road near Athens was pleafing, and the very peasants polifhed.' Speaking of the Athenians in general, he fays of them "ils ont une politeffe d'efprit naturelle, & beaucoup d'addreffe dans toutes les affaires, qu'ils entreprenent."

Wheeler, who was Spon's fellow-traveller, fays as follows, when he and his

company approached Athens: "We began now to think ourselves in a more civilized country than we had yet paft: for not a fhepherd that we met, but bid us welcome, and wifhed us a good journey." p. 335. Speaking of the Athenians, he adds, "This muft with great truth be faid of them, their bad fortune hath not been able to take from them what they have by nature, that is, much fubtlety or wit." p. 347. And again, "The Athenians, notwithstanding the long poffeffion that barbarifm hath had of this place, feem to be much more polifhed, in point of manners and converfation, than any other in thefe parts; being civil, and of refpectful behaviour to all, and highly complimental in their difcourfe." p. 356.

Stuart fays of the prefent Athenians, what Spon and Wheeler faid of their forefathers;-he found in them the fame addrefs, the fame natural acuteness, though feverely curbed by their defpotic masters.

One cuftom I cannot omit. He tells me, that frequently at their convivial meetings, one of the company takes what they now call a lyre, though it is rather a fpecies of guitar, and after a fhort prelude on the inftrument, as if he were waiting for infpiration, accompanies his inftrumental mufic with his voice, fuddenly chanting fome extempore verfes, which feldom exceed two or three diftichs; that he then delivers the lyre to his neighbour, who, after he has done the fame, delivers it to another; and that fo the lyre circulates, till it has paft round the table.

Nor can I forget his informing me, that, notwithstanding the various fortune of Athens, as a city, Attica was ftill famous for Olives, and Mount Hymettus for Honey. Human inftitutions perish, but Nature is permanent.


§ 211. Anecdote of the Modern GREEKS,

I fhall quit the Greeks, after I have related a short narrative; a narrative, so far curious, as it helps to prove, that even among the prefent Greeks, in the day of fervitude,the remembrance of their ancient glory is not totally extinct.

When the late Mr. Anfon (Lord Anson's brother) was upon his travels in the Eaft, he hired a veffel to vifit the ifle of Tenedos. His pilot, an old Greek, as they were failing along, faid with some fatisfaction, "There 'twas our fleet lay." Mr. Anfon demanded, "What fleet?" "What fleet!" replied the old man (a little piqued at the


queftion) "why our Grecian fleet at the defcribed, 'twas natural they fhould paint fiege of Troy. the life and the manners which they faw. Ibid.


$212. On the different Modes of Hiftory.

The modes indeed of history appear to be different. There is a mode which we may call historical declamation; a mode, where the author, dwelling little upon facts, indulges himself in various and copious reflections.

Whatever good (if any) may be derived from this method, it is not likely to give us much knowledge of facts.

Another mode is that which I call general or rather public hiftory; a mode abundant in facts, where treaties and alliances, battles and fieges, marches and retreats, are accurately detailed; together with dates, defcriptions, tables, plans, and all the collateral helps both of chronology and geography.

In this, no doubt, there is utility: yet the fameness of the events resembles not a little the fameness of human bodies. One head, two fhoulders, two legs, &c. feem equally to characterise an European and an African; a native of old Rome, and a native of modern.

A third fpecies of hiftory ftill behind, is that which gives a fample of fentiments and manners.

If the account of these laft be faithful, it cannot fail being inftructive, fince we view through these the interior of human nature. 'Tis by thefe we perceive what fort of animal man is: fo that while not only Europeans are diftinguished from Afiatics, but English from French, French from Italians, and (what is still more) every individual from his neighbour; we view at the fame time one nature, which is common to them all.

Horace informs us that a drama, where the fentiments and manners are well preferved, will please the audience more than a pompous fable, where they are wanting. Perhaps what is true in dramatic compofition, is not lefs true in hiftorical.

Plutarch, among the Greek hiftorians, appears in a peculiar manner to have merited this praife.

Nor ought I to omit (as I fhall foon refer to them) fome of our best Monkish hiftorians, though prone upon occafion to degenerate into the incredible. As they often lived during the times which they

This ftory was told the author, Mr. Harris, by Mr. Anfon himself.

$213. Concerning Natural Beauty; its Idea the fame in all Times.-THESSA



and HORACE of MILTON, in defcribing Paradife exhibited of late years first in Pictures-thence transferred to ENGLISH Gardens-not wanting to the enlightened Few of the middle Age-proved in LELAND, PETRARCH, and SANNAZARIUS.-Comparison between theYounger CYRUS, and PHILIP LE BEL of FRANCE.

Let us pafs for a moment from the clegant works of Art, to the more elegant works of Nature. The two fubjects are fo nearly allied, that the fame tafte ufually relishes them both.

Now there is nothing more certain, than that the face of inanimate nature has been at all times captivating. The vulgar, indeed, look no farther than to fcenes of culture, because all their views merely terminate in utility. They only remark, that 'tis fine barley; that 'tis rich clover; as an ox or an afs, if they could fpeak, would inform us. But the liberal have nobler views; and though they give to culture its due praife, they can be delighted with natural beauties, where culture was never known.

Ages ago they have celebrated with enthufiaftic rapture, "a deep retired vale, "with a river rushing through it; a vale "having its fides formed by two immense "and oppofite mountains, and those fides "diverfified by woods, precipices, rocks, "and romantic caverns." Such was the fcene produced by the river Peneus, as it ran between the mountains Olympus and Offa, in that well-known vale the Theffalian Tempe.

Virgil and Horace, the firft for taste among the Romans, appear to have been enamoured with the beauties of this character. Horace prayed for a villa, where there was a garden, a rivulet, and above thefe a little grove:

Hortus ubi et tecto vicinus jugis aquæ fons,
Et paulùm fylvæ fuper his foret.

Sat. VI. 2.

Virgil wifhed to enjoy rivers and woods, and to be hid under immense shade in the cool valleys of mount Hæmus-

-O! qui me gelidis in vallibus Hæmi
Siftat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ?
Georg. II. 486.


The great elements of this fpecies of beauty, according to these principles, were water, wood, and uneven ground; to which may be added a fourth, that is to fay, lawn. 'Tis the happy mixture of thefe four that produces every scene of natural beauty, as 'tis a more mysterious mixture of other elements (perhaps as fimple, and not more in number) that produces a world or universe.

Virgil and Horace having been quoted, we may quote, with equal truth, our great Countryman, Milton. Speaking of the flowers of Paradise, he calls them flowers,

--which not nice Art

In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon Pours forth profufe on hill, and dale, and plain. P. L. IV. 245.

Soon after this he fubjoins

this was the place,

A happy rural feat, of various view.

He explains this variety, by recounting the lawns, the flocks, the hillocks, the valleys, the grots, the waterfalls, the lakes, &c. &c. And in another book, defcribing the approach of Raphael, he informs us, that this divine meffenger past

through groves of myrrh,

And flow'ring odors, caffia, nard, and balm, A wilderness of fweets; for nature here Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet, Wild above rule or art, enormous blifs !

IV. 292.

The painters in the preceding century feem to have felt the power of these elements, and to have transferred them into their landscapes with fuch amazing force, that they appear not fo much to have followed as to have emulated nature. Claude de Lorraine, the Pouffins, Salvator Rofa, and a few more, may be called fuperior artists in this exquifite tafte.

Our gardens in the mean time were taftelefs and infipid. Those who made them thought the farther they wandered from nature, the nearer they approached the fublime. Unfortunately, where they travelled, no fublime was to be found; and the farther they went, the farther they left it behind.

But perfection, alas! was not the work of a day. Many prejudices were to be removed; many gradual afcents to be made; afcents from bad to good, and from good to better, before the delicious amenities of a Claude or a Pouffin could be rivalled in a Stour-head, a Hagley, or a Stow; or the tremendous charms of a Salvator Rofa

be equalled in the fcenes of a Piercefield, or a Mount Edgecumb.

Not however to forget the fubject of our inquiry.-Though it was not before the prefent century, that we established a chafter tafte; though our neighbours at this inftant are but learning it from us; and though to the vulgar every where it is totally incomprehenfible (be they vulgar in rank, or vulgar in capacity): yet, even in the darkeit periods we have been treating, periods when tafte is often thought to have been loft, we shall still discover an enlightened few, who were by no means infenfible to the power of these beautics.

How warmly does Leland defcribe Guy's Cliff; Sannazarius, his villa of Mergilline; and Petrarch, his favourite Vauclufe!

Take Guy's Cliff from Leland in his own old English, mixt with Latin-" It is a "place meet for the Mufes; there is fy"lence; a praty wood; antra in vivo faxo (grottos in the living rock); the river

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

rolling over the ftones with a praty "noyse." His Latin is more elegant"Nemufculum ibidem opacum, fontes li

[ocr errors]

quidi et gemmei, prata, florida, antra "mufcofa, rivi levis et per faxa decurfus, "nec non folitudo et quies Mufis amicif"fima."-Vol. iv. p. 66.

Mergilline, the villa of Sannazarius, near Naples, is thus sketched in different parts of his poems:

Excifo in fcopulo, fluctus unde aurea canos
Defpiciens, celfo fe culmine Mergilline
Attollit, nautifque procul venientibus offert.
Sannaz. De partu Virgin. I. 25.

Rupis O! facræ, pelagique cuftos,
Villa, Nympharum cuftos et propinquæ

Tu mihi folos nemorum receffus
Das, et hærentes per opaca lauros
Saxa: Tu, fontes, Aganippedumque

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


what they mean, collectively-" that the

[ocr errors]

villa of Mergillina had folitary woods; "had groves of laurel and citron; had grottos in the rock, with rivulets and fprings; and that from its lofty fituation "it looked down upon the fea, and com"manded an extenfive profpect.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is no wonder that fuch a villa fhould
enamour fuch an owner.
his affection for it, that when, during the
So strong was
fubfequent wars in Italy, it was demolished
by the imperial troops, this unfortunate
event was fuppofed to have haftened his


Vauclufe (Vallis Claufa) the favourite retreat of Petrarch, was a romantic fcene, not far from Avignon.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"It is a valley, having on each hand, as you enter, immenfe cliffs, but clofed up at one of its ends by a femicircular ridge of them; from which incident it derives its name. pendous of these cliffs ftands in the front One of the most ftuof the femicircle, and has at its foot an opening into an immenfe cavern. Within the most retired and gloomy part of "this cavern is a large oval bafon, the production of nature, filled with pellucid and "unfathomable water; and from this refervoir iffues a river of refpectable mag"nitude, dividing, as it runs, the meadows beneath, and winding through the precipices that impend from above."

This is an imperfect sketch of that fpot. where Petrarch fpent his time with fo much delight, as to fay that this alone was life to him, the reft but a ftate of punishment.

In the two preceding narratives I feem to fee an anticipation of that tafte for natural beauty, which now appears to flourish through Great Britain in fuch perfection. It is not to be doubted that the owner of Mergillina would have been charmed with Mount Edgecumb; and the owner of Vauclufe have been delighted with Piercefield.

When we read in Xenophon, that the younger Cyrus had with his own hand planted trees for beauty, we are not furprifed, though pleafed with the story, as the age was polifhed, and Cyrus an accomplished prince. But when we read, that in the beginning of the 14th century, a king of France (Philip le Bel) should make it penal to cut down a tree, qui a este gardè pour fa beautè, which had been preferved for its beauty;' though we praife the law, we cannot help being furprised, that the prince fhould at fuch a period have been fo far enlightened. Harris.

§ 214. Superior Literature and Knowledge both of the Greek and Latin Clergy, rubence.-Barbarity and Ignorance of the Laity, whence.-Samples of Lay Manners, in a Story from Anna Comnena's Hiftory. -Church Authority ingenuously employed t check Barbarity-the fame Authority em ployed for other good Purpofes-to fave the poor Jews to flop Trials by Battle.More fuggefted concerning Lay Manners.➡ Ferocity of the Northern Laymen, whence -different Caufes affigned.-Inventions during the dark Ages-great, though the Inventors often unknown.-Inference arif ing from theje Inventions.

two or three obfervations on the Europeans Before I quit the Latins, I fhall fubjoin in general.

here enumerated, whether in the Western
The fuperior characters for literature
tendom only we are now fpeaking) were
or Eastern Christendom (for it is of Chrif-
by far the greatest part of them ecclefia-

among the Greeks the patriarch of Con-
In this number we have felected from
ftantinople, Photius; Michael Pfellus;
pal dignity; Planudes; Cardinal Beffario
Euftathius and Euftratius, both of epifco-

from among the Latins, venerable Bede;
Gerbertus, afterwards Pope Silvefter the
Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours; Peter
Second; Ingulphus, Abbot of Croyland;
Abelard; John of Salisbury, Bishop of
Chartres; Roger Bacon; Francis Petrarch;
afterwards Pope Pius the Second, &c.
many Monkith hiftorians; Eneas Sylvius,

cerning each of these, and other ecclefiaf-
tics. At prefent we fhall only remark,
Something has been already faid con-
feffion, that they fhould read and write;
that it was neceflary, from their very pro-
accomplishments at that time ufually con-
fined to themselves,

liged to acquire fome knowledge of Latin;
Those of the Western Church were ob-
and for Greek, to thofe of the Eaftern
Church it was ftill (with a few corruptions)
their native language.

mode of life, which, being attended mostly
with a decent competence, gave them im-
If we add to thefe preparations their
menfe leifure; it was not wonderful that,
among fuch a multitude, the more merito-
rious thould emerge and foar, by dint of
genius, above the common herd. Similar
effects proceed from fimilar caufes. The
learning of Egypt was poffeft by their


« ZurückWeiter »