« PreviousContinue »
that was laid with much care to prevent the failure of the joke which was to be erected upon it: they were only sad that they might be merry; grave to be more gay. The strictest gravity was found closely united with the most unrestrained jocularity and mirth; for as every real jest requires for a foundation a 'firm, rigorous, and grave disposition of mind, so moral indifference, and a frivolous temperament, not only destroy the contrast 'between gravity and jest, but annihilate the spirit of both.' How we should rejoice to find in a Palimpsest MS., under an appropriate commentary upon the Lamentations of Jeremiah, one of the Doric comedies of Epicharmus. The dramatic style of this poet is allowed to have been perfect, in its kind, and his views elevated and philosophic, which enabled him to satirize mankind, without disturbing the calmness and tranquillity of his thoughts; while at the same time his scenes of common life were marked with the acute and penetrating genius which characterised the Sicilians. Nor would a specimen of the celebrated Mimes of Sophron be a less welcome accession to the remains of Doric letters. Plato himself admired these works, and found the study of them serviceable in the composition of his dialogues; they were not only distinguished by their faithful imitation of manners, even of the vulgar, for copying exactly the rude dialect of the common people, and for a rich store of proverbial expressions; but they displayed the skill of the author, in seizing the more delicate shades and turns of feeling, and in preserving the unity and consistency of his characters.
Although Pythagoras was a native of the Ionic Samos, Müller maintains that he was a Dorian by descent, and that his system ought to be considered as the Doric philosophy. Whenever this philosopher is introduced into the facetious dialogues of Lucian, his speech is exceedingly and most comically Ionic. We read, on the other hand, that Porphyry, in his life of Pythagoras, mentions certain commentaries of the Pythagoreans, which, whether genuine or spurious, were written in the Doric dialect, of the obscurity of which he complains:-ἔπειτα διὰ τὸ καὶ τὰ γεγραμμένα Δωρίδι γεγράφθαι· ἐχέσης τι καὶ ἀσαφὲς τῆς διαλέκτω. The Pythagorean philosophy is considered as Doric, because, in its political doctrines, it followed Doric principles, and with the Doric religion it was united both externally and internally. The recondite principle of this philosophy always is, that the essence of things lies in their due measure and proportion, their system and regularity; that every thing exists by harmony and symmetry alone; and that the world itself is an union of all these proportions. But we forbear to enquire further at present into the claims of the Dorians to this wonderful personage.
After Anacharsis the Scythian had visited the different states of Greece, and lived among them all, he is reported to have said, that all wanted leisure and tranquillity for wisdom, except the Lacedemonians, for that these were the only persons with whom it was possible to hold a rational conversation. The life of all the other Greeks had, doubtless, appeared to him as a restless and unquiet existence, as a constant struggle and effort, without any object. It is not only to the Greeks that the want of leisure to be wise may be imputed. The severity of the Spartan discipline is apt to inspire a prejudice against them; we are sometimes disposed to consider them as Moravians militant, or a sect of warlike Quakers, if the earth, now languid through old age, could conceive such monsters; nevertheless, besides the love of ease and tranquillity, they had many great and estimable qualities. We will terminate our notice of this remarkable work, by extracting the learned historian's summary of the national character of the Dorians in general:
The first feature in the character of the Dorians which we shall notice, is one that has been pointed out in several places, viz. their endeavour to produce uniformity and unity in a numerous body. Every individual was to remain within those limits which were prescribed by the regulation of the whole body. Thus, in the Doric form of government, no individual was allowed to strive after personal independence, nor any class or order to move from its appointed place. The privileges of the aristocracy, and the subjection of the inferior orders, were maintained with greater strictness than in other tribes; and greater importance was attached to obedience, in whatever form, than to the assertion of individual freedom. The government, the army, and the public education, were managed on a most complicated, but most regular succession and alternation of commanding and obeying. Every one was to obey in his own place. All the smaller associations were also regulated on the same principle: always we find gradation of power, and never independent equality. But it was not sufficient that this system should be complete and perfect within; it was fortified without. The Dorians had little inclination to admit the customs of others, and a strong desire to disconnect themselves with foreigners. Hence, in later times, the blunt and harsh deportment of those Dorians who most scrupulously adhered to their national habits. This independence and seclusion would, however, sometimes be turned into hostility; and hence the military turn of the Dorians, which may also be traced in the developement of the worship of Apollo. A calm and steady courage was the natural quality of the Dorians. As they were not ready to receive, neither were they to communicate, outward impressions; and this, neither as individuals, nor as a body. Hence, both in their poetry and prose, the narrative is often concealed by expressions of the feelings, and tinged with the colour of the mind. They endeavoured always to condense and concentrate their thoughts, which was the cause of the great brevity and obscurity of their lan
guage. Their desire of disconnecting themselves with the things and persons around them, naturally produced a love for past times; and hence their great attachment to the usages and manners of their ancestors, and to existing institutions. The attention of the Doric race was turned to the past rather than to the future. And thus it came to pass, that the Dorians preserved most rigidly, and represented most truly, the customs of the ancient Greeks. Their advances were constant, not sudden; and all their changes imperceptible. With the desire to attain uniformity, their love for measure and proportion was also combined. Their works of art are distinguished by this attention to singleness of effect, and every thing discordant or useless was pruned off with an unsparing hand. Their moral system also prescribed the observance of the proper mean; and it was in this that the temperance, gorun, which so distinguished them consisted. great object of the worship of Apollo, was to maintain the even balance of the mind, and to remove every thing that might disquiet the thoughts, rouse the mind to passion, or dim its purity and brightness. The Doric nature required an equal and regular harmony, and, preserving that character in all its parts, dissonances, even if they combined in harmony, were not suited to the taste of the nation. The national tunes were, doubtless, not of a soft or pleasing melody; the general accent of the language had the character of command or of dictation, not of question or entreaty.
The Dorians were contented with themselves, with the powers to whom they owed their existence and happiness; and therefore they never complained. They looked not to future, but to present existence. To preserve this, and to preserve it in enjoyment, was their highest object. Every thing beyond this boundary was mist and darkness; and every thing dark they supposed the deity to hate. They lived in themselves, and for themselves. Hence man was the chief and almost only object which attracted their attention. The same feelings may also be perceived in their religion, which was always unconnected with the worship of any natural object, and originated from their own reflection and conceptions. And to the same source may, perhaps, be traced their aversion to mechanical and agricultural labour. In short, the whole race bears generally the stamp and character of the male sex; the desire of assistance and connexion, of novelty and of curiosity, the characteristics of the female sex being directly opposed to the nature of the Dorians, which bears the mark of independence and subdued strength.'
Besides the Spartans and the other Dorians of the Peloponnese, including Corinth, were many important colonies;-Crete, into which island the Doric migrations preceded the invasion of the Peloponnese, and the various settlements of the Peloponnesian Dorians, -as Rhodes, Syracuse, Cyrene, Crotona, Tarentum, and Byzantium, a city only less renowned than Rome itself. Müller says, with some malice, that the Syracusans were most like the Athenians in their customs and disposition. The large plenty of Byzantium suffered in almost every age, that the law of the
city, whatever I please,' should prevail; and that the well-fed populace should obey their own will, and that of their demagogues. The Doric character in different states was modified by situation and circumstances; commerce introduced splendour and magnificence, the graces and refinements of luxury, debauchery, vice, and effeminacy: and it seems, that when the serious, regular Dorians ran to seed, they were more dissolute than those who had been brought up with less severe and formal strictness.
This work is illustrated by two excellent maps, which present an exact picture of the face of the country: in a region so mountainous as Greece, this kind of delineation is peculiarly desirable. An appendix contains various disquisitions-on the origin and early history of the Macedonians, on the mythology of Hercules, on the geography of the Peloponnese and of Northern Greece, and on the Doric dialect; a form of speech, which, with our pronunciation, and to our ears, is certainly less agreeable than the Ionic Greek. It comprehends also chronological tables and some other matters. As is common with German works, the index is unfortunately scanty and ill-conditioned; nor have the translators supplied this defect.
With respect to the translation, the two learned and ingenious gentlemen who effected it, had already done good service to the republic of letters, by rendering from the German Boeckh's 'Public Economy of Athens,'-a work of great and curious erudition. In some particulars, their interpretation of the history of the Dorians is not merely a faithful translation, but may claim the authority of an original work. We must lament that, in any instance, any change, however inconsiderable, should have been made; for the principal advantage of literary communications with foreign countries indisputably is, that the different opinions on many important subjects, which are generally prevalent among the one people, should be fully known, and freely ventilated among the other. It is fit, however, that the very intelligent and praiseworthy translators should speak for themselves: At a time when a large part of the present translation had been 'completed, the translators communicated by letter to Professor • Müller, their intentions with regard to his work on the Dorians, ' and requested him to read the MS. of their translation, before it was printed, in case they should have any where committed any errors, or failed to catch the import of his words. To this ' request, Mr Müller, though not personally known by either of the translators, not only acceded, but with an unexpected, ' and indeed unhoped for liberality, expressed his willingness to contribute to our translation all the alterations and additions
which his reading had suggested since the appearance of the 'original work. The MS. was accordingly transmitted and 'carefully revised, corrected, and enlarged by the author. Of the value of these changes, it would, perhaps, be improper that 'we should speak in the terms which they seem to us to deserve: of their number, however, as this can be brought to a certain test, we will venture to assert, that few books undergo so great changes after their first publication; and that the present work 'may be in strictness considered, not only a translation, but a 'new edition of the original. In making these changes, it was also the author's wish to clear up ambiguities or obscurity of 'meaning, either by a change in the expression, or a fuller 'developement of the thought: and we cannot help hoping, that even to a person acquainted with the German, our translation 'will thus be found in many places more explicit and satisfac'tory than the original text.'
After the printing of the whole work (with the exception of the appendix) had been completed, the sheets were sent to Mr. Müller, by which means, not only the translation of the original, but also of the MS. additions, have received the approbation of the author. Any discrepancies, therefore, which may appear between the translation and the original, must be considered as sanctioned by the author. The translators, at the same time, think it right to state, in case Mr Müller should be 'exposed to any misrepresentations in his own country, that in making their translation, they did not consider themselves 'bound to follow the letter of the original, and have sometimes indulged in a free paraphrase; while in some places they suggested more considerable changes, on account of the difference between the opinions on many important subjects which generally prevail in England and Germany.'
ART. VII.-The Siamese Twins. A Satirical Tale of the Times. By the Author of Pelham, &c. 8vo. London: 1831.
W E have two reasons for noticing this poem; first, that though it is the work of one who has greatly distinguished himself as a novelist, it yet seems generally to be considered a failure of a conspicuous kind; and secondly, because, while we see no reason to dispute the verdict of the public in regard to the Twins' themselves, and feel no great inclination to interfere with the course of justice as to them, we must venture a recommendation to mercy on behalf of some of their companions, who have been, we think, somewhat unjustly involved in the