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political vaticinations were at least as sadly untrue ; such as the promise to Florence of an age of unexampled prosperity after her tribulations. The star of the Medici was in the ascendant, , as baleful to the Church of Rome as to Florence. Leo X., the boy cardinal, who fled before Savonarola's face, during his
papacy, , witnessed or rather caused the rise of Luther. The bastard Medici, Clement VII., witnessed, or caused the revolt of Henry VIII., the emancipation of the English Church, and the sack of Rome. Catherine de' Medici is inseparably connected with the day of St. Bartholomew. Tuscany, Florence, fell to the Grand Dukes of the House of Medici, than whom no more odious or crafty tyrants ever trampled on the liberties, or outraged the moral sense of man.
Art, II.- A History of Greece. By George Grote, Esq. London.
12 vols. 8vo. 1846-1856. MR.
R. GROTE'S History of Greece is the most important
contribution to historical literature in modern times. Whether viewed as a special history of the Hellenic race, or as an exhibition of the true method of historical criticism, it is alike adınirable. There is hardly a single subject connected with Hellenic antiquity upon which this work has not thrown new and unexpected light; and it is surprising to find, after the labour that has been bestowed upon Grecian history by many of the most learned scholars in Europe, how much remained to be done ; how much we had both to learn and to unlearn. Errors the most inveterate, that have been handed down without misgiving from generation to generation, have been for the first time corrected by Mr. Grote; facts the most familiar have been presented in new aspects and relations ; things dimly seen, and only partially apprehended previously, have now assumed their true proportions and real significance; while numerous traits of Grecian character and new veins of Grecian thought and feeling have been revealed to the eyes of scholars by Mr. Grote's searching criticism, like new forms of animated nature by the microscope. The completion of such a work is a subject of congratulation not only for Mr. Grote himself but for our national literature. We have during its progress directed attention to separate portions of it;* but we now propose
* Quarterly Review, vol. lxxviii. p. 113, seq. ; vol. Ixxxvi p. 384, seq. ; vol. lxxxviii. p. 41, seq.
to view it as a whole; to point out its most striking features, and to give a few of its most important conclusions. We are aware that we shall be traversing ground familiar to scholars; but we believe that a large class of our readers will not be unwilling to have presented to their notice the chief characteristics of so eminent an historian, and a brief account of some of the principal improvements which Mr. Grote has effected in the current views of Grecian history.
Among the many qualifications which Mr. Grote possesses for writing a history of the free commonwealths of Greece we may first mention his practical knowledge of political life. It is this, among other things, which gives him a decided advantage over the ablest of his predecessors; and the want of which disqualifies the most learned Germans from fully apprehending and adequately expressing the manifold phenomena of Grecian history. As one of the great bankers of the city of London, and an active member of the Commons' House of Parliament, Mr. Grote has had abundant opportunities of studying life and character under its various phases, of observing the struggles of political parties, and of tracing the progress of constitutional changes : and if Gibbon could write that the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers had not been useless to the historian of the Roman empire,' with much greater force might Mr. Grote declare that the advocate of the ballot in Parliament had not been useless to the historian of the Grecian commonwealths. This practical experience has not been purchased at the expense of scholarship. Mr. Grote's learning is profound, extensive and minute; not only does he exhibit a familiar acquaintance with all the ancient authorities, even the most outlying and remote, but he has made careful and constant use of the almost innumerable works which the industry of German scholars has produced upon every portion of Grecian antiquity. This union of the practical knowledge of the English gentleman and the British statesman with the erudition of a German professor gives a peculiar charm and value to his history. In Germany there is unfortunately an almost complete severance between the practical and the speculative life; and there the statesman and man of the world are content to leave to the professor the knowledge and elucidation of a previous age. In this country it is fortunately different; and we have a second instance of the combination in the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, though constantly occupied for many years in administrative and political offices, has found time to produce a series of works, combining the sagacity of the statesman with the most extensive erudition, the latest of which
is destined, we believe, to effect before long a complete revolution in the treatment of early Roman history.*
Rare as these qualifications are, Mr. Grote possesses two others which are rarer still. First, he has conceived Hellenic antiquity as a living whole. Previous writers on Grecian history, with the exception of Dr. Thirlwall, have more or less judged the Greeks by their own standards of religion, morals, and politics, and have not endeavoured to understand or account for the feelings by which the Greeks themselves were actuated. Mr. Grote, on the contrary, divesting himself, as far as possible, of modern notions, transports himself into Hellenic society, and endeavours to view the events of Grecian history with the eyes of a contemporary, and to realise to his own mind the various phenomena of Grecian thought and feeling. He has spared neither time nor pains for the purpose of understanding this wonderful people; the whole map of Grecian history was unrolled for many years before his eyes; and this long-continued study enabled him to take a comprehensive view of the entire subject before he gave any portion of it to the world. Hence he frequently, throws light upon the history of one period by that of another ; and by contrasting the two he brings out the distinctive features of each.
By endeavouring to think and feel as the Greeks thought and felt, and by regarding events from a Grecian point of view, Mr. Grote is able to explain numerous occurrences which were formerly regarded as incomprehensible or absurd. Under a monarchical form of government, combined with representative institutions, we enjoy such complete protection of life and pro. perty, and so much freedom and happiness, that it is difficult for us to understand the rooted antipathy in Greece to a permanent hereditary ruler-an antipathy in which the few and the many equally concurred, and which led the philosophers as well as the people to regard the tyrannus or despot as the greatest of criminals.
* We allude more particularly to Sir G. Cornewall Lewis's works, On the Methods of Observation and Reasoning in Politics,' On the Influence of Authority in Matters of Opinion, and to · An Inquiry into the Credibility of the Early Roman History.'
† The first volume of the History' appeared in 1846, but the work has been the labour of a life-time. As far back as 1827 we find Niebuhr, the historian, writing in the following terms to Professor Lieber, then a political refugee in England :— Endeavour to become acquainted with Mr. Grote, who is engaged on a Greek history ; he, too, will receive you well if you take my regards. If you become better acquainted with him, it is worth your while to obtain the proofsheets of his work, in order to translate it. I expect a great deal from this production, and will get you here a publisher.'-Reminiscences of an Intercourse with G. B. Niebuhr, By Francis Lieber.' London, 1835. P. 34.
Hence, Mr. Mitford, and similar writers, have too often looked upon the Greeks as fools and madmen, whose motives of action it was not worth while to try to understand. Their love of republican institutions has been considered a species of insanity, and the despots who brought them under a monarchical form of government have been praised as the greatest of benefactors. But Mr. Grote shows that there cannot be a more certain way of misinterpreting and distorting Grecian phenomena than to read them in this spirit. The conception wbich the Greeks formed of a king was an irresponsible ruler, who had the right to do what he pleased with the lives and fortunes of the people, and who generally used his power for oppressive purposes. Such a ruler, exercising his sway in a small town, where the citizens had previously been accustomed to regulate their own affairs, naturally excited the utmost abhorrence. The word king conveys to us an entirely different notion from that which it conveyed to a Greek ; and the difficulty which even such a thinker as Aristotle would have experienced in understanding our idea of monarchy, has been expressed by Mr. Grote in a remarkable passage:
The theory of a constitutional king, especially, as it exists in England, would have appeared to him impracticable; to establish a king who will reign without governing-in whose name all government is carried on, yet whose personal will is in practice of little or no effect -exempt from all responsibility, without making use of the exemption -receiving from every one unmeasured demonstrations of homage, which are never translated into act except within the bounds of a known law—surrounded with all the paraphernalia of power, yet acting as a passive instrument in the hands of ministers marked out for his choice by indications which he is not at liberty to resist. This remarkable combination of the fiction of superhuman grandeur and licence with the reality of an invisible straitwaistcoat, is what an Englishman bas in his mind when he speaks of a constitutional king.' ....When the Greeks thought of a man exempt from legal responsibility, they conceived him as really and truly such, in deed as well as in name, with a defenceless community exposed to his oppressions; and their fear and hatred of him was measured by their reverence for a government of equal law and free speech, with the ascendency of which their whole hopes of security were associated, in the democracy of Athens more perhaps than in any other portion of Greece. And this feeling, as it was one of the best in the Greek mind, so it was also one of the most widely-spread, a point of unanimity highly valuable amidst so many points of dissension. We cannot construe or criticise it by reference to the feelings of modern Europe, still less to the very peculiar feelings of England, respecting kingship; and it is the application, sometimes explicit and sometimes tacit, of this unsuitable standard,
which renders Mr. Mitford's appreciation of Greek politics so often incorrect and unfair.'- vol. iii. pp. 17-19.
Modern historians have generally failed to give due prominence to the religious element in the Grecian mind. It is so difficult for us to judge of the religion even of our contemporaries whose creed differs from our own, and so many things seem to us absurd which are to them most sacred, that we need not be surprised that the religious feelings of the ancient Greeks have not been fully understood and appreciated. It is one of the merits of Mr. Grote, that he makes us comprehend that religion was a vital and actuating principle among them, that it entered into all their thoughts, and influenced their actions on all occasions, whether great or small. This would doubtless be admitted in general terms by other writers; but how little do we feel and perceive it in their narrative! Mr. Grote, on the other hand, speaks of the guiding and superintending providence of the gods as a reality to the Greek, which he firmly believed to determine the course of events. Take, for example, the history of Timoleon, whose wonderful success, with smali means against an overwhelming power, was regarded as a striking instance of the unbounded favour of the gods. In Mr. Grote's narrative the Greek point of view is brought forward prominently, and the interposition of the gods is spoken of in terms which might possibly give offence, if it was not understood that he puts himself in the place of the people whose history he records. The voyage of Timoleon, when he set out upon his expedition, was accompanied by manifestations of divine presence and encouragement,' which diffused universal hopefulness through the armament. His first victory under the walls of Adranum was owing to a special providence ; for at the moment when the battle was commencing, the inhabitants of the town had seen the portals of their temple spontaneously burst open, and the god Adranus brandishing his spear, with profuse perspiration on his face. Upon his arrival before Syracuse, his prospects appeared hopeless; but .it was soon seen that the manifestations of the two goddesses and of the god Adranus in his favour, were neither barren nor delusive.' After another unexpected success—thus did the gods again show their favour towards Timoleon by an unusual combination of circumstances, and by smiting the enemy with blindness. These expressions, though they can hardly be appreciated, detached from the context, will nevertheless give some conception of the manner in which Mr. Grote represents the intervention of the gods as a living conviction, instead of weakening it by qualifying phrases,