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of instruction, used their influence to exclude all others, long after the rational part of mankind had pronounced that more was necessary. Thus much we can assert, without laying claim to the title of prophets; but it may be, and we would put it to those who direct the public schools, whether it is not worth taking into consideration, that their historian shall have to finish by saying, that while previously acquired reputation was supporting them in their quiescent obstruction of all improvement, a gradual change took place in the public mind on the subject of education, which they, occupied as they were in constructing elegant Greek and Latin verses, were among the last to perceive,-that when, at a late period, they became willing to alter their system for the better, the time had past, and the recollections of former obstinacy rendered their demonstrations of improvement of no effect; that they sunk in estimation from that time, and finally became an object of interest to the antiquary only, for the remains of Gothic architecture which they left behind.




Introductions to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets. Designed principally for the use of Young Persons at School and College. By Henry Nelson Coleridge, Esq., M.A., late Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Part I. Containing-1. General Introduction; 2. Homer. London. John Murray, Albemarle-street. 1830. 8vo. pp. 239. THIS work is the first of a series, which is to consist of introductions to the study of the Greek poets, and it is designed principally for the use of young persons at school and college. My wish is,' says the author, to enable the youthful student to form a more just and liberal judgment of the character and merits of the Greek poets than he has commonly an opportunity of doing at school; and for that purpose to habituate his mind to sound principles of literary criticism.' But the work attempts and performs much more than would be understood from these words, at least in the sense commonly attached to them. It contains, besides the disquisitions on the poetical merits of the Homeric poems, remarks on many questions of literary interest connected with them; and the writer's purpose manifestly is, not only to awaken and guide the taste of the reader, but generally to stimulate his curiosity and direct his inquiries on the points which ought to be objects of research to a scholar who is studying Homer.


We think that no one who has attended to the results of the classical studies of young persons at school and college,' can deny that something of the sort is wanted. There is, somewhere or other, a vice in the plans on which the writers of Greece and Rome are studied in this country. seldom that, either at school, or at college, or among mature scholars, the true spirit of antiquity is even a matter of investigation. The language is often accurately studied; the geography is not neglected; beautiful imitations of the poets often appear; but, with all this, the philosophy of classical literature seems to be entirely passed over. We may go farther, and ask how many works, showing a just sense of even what is required in classical investigations, have appeared in Great Britain. If we look to the exertions of scholars in

Germany, we see them, whether successfully or not, endeavouring to discover and familiarize to themselves the associations and feelings of those whose writings they are to discuss in this country, how seldom do we see the attempt made! It is impossible to forget the coldness, and even disgust, with which the most wonderful work ever produced by a modern scholar was received here. Even now, when the name of Niebuhr is mentioned in the literary circles' of this metropolis, the probability is that he is spoken of as a visionary who has impugned the veracity of the early history of Rome, and has offered almost nothing in its place. How little interest was felt in the subject of his inquiries, how little admiration of his genius and knowledge, how little gratitude for the light which he poured in upon so many departments of ancient learning! To any one whose notion of a literary public was derived only from what exists in England, the opening of the preface to Wachsmuth's Roman History would appear to be mere rant.

In fact, the history of classical learning in this country somewhat resembles that of mathematical science. We produced Newton; and about twenty years ago we found that we were nearly where Newton left us, and that we must look to the mathematicians of the continent for our science. We produced Bentley; and now we are discovering that we must turn to Germany for classical knowledge. This state of things is very remarkable, and not the less so from the circumstance that a certain amount of scholarship is probably a more common possession in this country than in any other part of the world. We are inclined to think that there is no nation in which the number of those who can read Demosthenes or Aristophanes with tolerable ease bears so high a proportion to the whole population. And this, beyond all question, is an important result. But why is it that scholarship of a really philosophical character is so rare among us? Much of the fault must lie in our system of early education, though we admit that the political and social circumstances of the country will account for much also. But of the latter it is not now our province or purpose to speak.

Mr. Coleridge's design is excellent. A series of introductions to the Greek poets, pointing out the proper sources of information on the subjects which ought to be brought before the attention of the student, and containing sound instruction on the times, characters, and countries of the several poets, would certainly do much towards creating a more manly and inquisitive spirit at an early stage of classical education. To

the execution of the work Mr. Coleridge has brought much elegant scholarship*, a passionate fondness for his subject, a lively imagination, and a discriminating taste. We have no hesitation, therefore, in strongly recommending his essay to teachers and learners. Having done so, it is our duty to point out where our views differ from his; and we are sorry that our general admiration must be so shortly expressed, while our objections necessarily must require some detail, and must form the larger part of the present article. We must also apologize to our readers for the want of connexion which must appear in our remarks. Our wish is to point out where we differ from the author; and this will be done most conveniently by following his different topics in the order in which they are presented in his essay, omitting the notice of those as to which we have no disagreement to express.

The early pages of the work contain some general remarks on the study of the classics. Mr. Coleridge complains that, though the principles of criticism are universal, it is common to find just and ingenious comments on modern authors coupled with the most shallow remarks on the ancients. There can be no doubt,' he continues, 'that this imperfection and obliquity of judgment in literary matters is chiefly occasioned by the exclusive study of the ancient and modern writers in succession only, and rarely or never together, and with light reciprocally reflected. Our youth is as usually absorbed in Greek and Latin as the rest of our lives is by English, Italian, or French.' We admit the existence of the evil, but we do not believe that it is to be remedied by uniting the study of the ancient and modern authors. The principles of criticism are universal, no doubt, but the associations by which human feelings, intrinsically the same, are nursed, and the channels at which they find vent, differ as widely as climates, governments, manners, national traditions, languages, in short all external circumstances, differ. The shallowness and ignorance, of which Mr. Coleridge justly complains, are, we think, mainly to be traced to want of familiarity with these associations, rather than to ignorance of the fundamental principles. What is the remedy, then? Surely it lies in the identification of our own associations with those of the people among whom the poet lived. For this reason, it has been well said that no one should presume to judge of the work of a time or country different from his own, who has not made himself well acquainted with the

* We will take this opportunity of remarking that the word converse is, on two occasions, used inaccurately, pp. 26, 28.

other literature of the same age and nation. We are so far from believing in the safety, or at any rate the sufficiency, of a general cosmopolitan criticism, (unless it be one conversant merely with questions of the utmost generality,) that we would rather assert the most important requisite for a sound and fair appreciation of the works of another nation to be faith; by which we mean, a readiness to yield to and adopt the associations which are found in the works, not brought to them by the reader. We will endeavour to illustrate our meaning still further. The absurdity of modern dramas, like the Iphigénie or the Frères Ennemis, arises, in a great measure, from the gross incongruity and intrinsic impossibility of the relations there exhibited. We cannot come into the belief of the domination of the Great Curse in the family of Edipus, nor adopt the legend of the Father's Sacrifice, unless we can almost implicitly abandon ourselves to the feelings and associations of the ages in which such conceptions had their birth. But we find these traditions placed in juxtaposition with language and manners appropriated to a generation differing in every conceivable circumstance from that in which the legends were originally received, and the inconsistency shocks and disgusts us. Increduli odimus: we feel that these things are incredible in a sense in which the existence of Ariel and Caliban is not incredible, in a sense in which the fables themselves are not incredible. Now, in these and similar instances, is it not plain that the thing wanted is sympathy with the age and nation to which the fable belongs? Again, to quit mythology, let us see how the question stands as to imagery. Let us take, for instance, the 133rd psalm. For one who has not imbibed a strong sympathy with Hebrew associations the second verse of this beautiful ode is absolutely ludicrous; yet it presented an image of force and dignity to the minds of those to whom it was addressed, and we may be sure that a reader of the present age who does not so feel it, is far from a true understanding of the Hebrew poetry *.

The practical inference from these reflections is easily drawn. We cannot live among the contemporaries of the ancient poets; but we can, for a time, give ourselves up to the exclusive study of what they have bequeathed to us; this

* We will add one more illustration, with which Mr. Coleridge must be familiar. It is the amusing story told in the Biographia Literaria, vol. ii. p. 127. We are inclined to account for the event there narrated, not-as the author seems to account for it-by any physical incapacity for religion or poetry in the French nation, but by a want of that spirit in the individuals, the existence of which we have asserted to be essential to the perception of the true meaning of an author.

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