« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
"No nation which enjoyed ascendency in the ancient world conferred such benefits on the rest of mankind, and at the same time inflicted upon it so little injury, as Phoenicia. Its settlements were usually peaceful; it rarely aimed at conquest, and it diffused from the East to the farthest West the knowledge of letters and the advantages of commerce."
Doubtless they were not free from the vices to which their peculiar form of civilisation exposed them, and which the Hebrew prophets, from their higher and at the same time narrower point of view, have denounced with such unsparing severity. But their riches and luxury were regarded with envy by their poorer neighbours; and this feeling, mingling with dislike of their pride, their sensuality, and their selfish grasping spirit, disposed less prosperous communities to view their humiliation with satisfaction, and to anticipate their downfall with joy; and we must allow for its influence in the descriptions transmitted to us of their corruption and wickedness.
Mr. Kenrick has an interesting chapter on the religion of the Phoenicians, which he has treated with his usual clearness and discrimination. Male and female deities were worshipped in the temples of Phoenicia. Under various titles and forms, they seem to have been expressions more or less direct of the great creative and restorative energies of nature, supposed to reside specially in the sun and the moon. Baal and Astarte, or Ashtaroth, are the names most familiar to us from the Old Testament, as the principal objects of Phoenician adoration. In the Phoenician, as in other ancient religions, deity lay within the limits of the physical universe, and was subject to its ultimate laws in that of the Hebrews, God was above the world, and independent of it; "in the beginning He created the heavens and the earth;" and He had direct access by his Spirit to the soul of man. The distinction is a vital one, and of immense effect in the operation of the two religious systems on the moral condition of the human race. Each of the cities of the Phoenician confederation had its tutelary god. Melcarth,—one of the many personifications of the sun, and the counterpart of Hercules among the Greeks, hence often called the Tyrian Hercules, was the special deity of Tyre, and had his temples in the various settlements of the Phoenicians to the far west. In addition to his other attributes, he presided over navigation, and was the god of trade and war. For some reason which lies hid in the remote obscurity of the subject, but which has operated with remarkable uniformity, human sacrifices have been constantly associated with a sun and planet worship; and we find traces of their existence among the Phoenicians. Mr. Kenrick is of opinion that they were not so frequent as has been asserted;
and it is not impossible, that with the growth of arts and refinement, and under the humanising influence of commerce, the religion may gradually have relaxed, except under the stimulus of occasional excitement, the more repulsive features of its original ferocity. With some of the temples, especially of the female deities, licentious rites were associated; though in the Phoenician form of worship this voluptuous character was less prominently expressed than in the Babylonian. Still its horrors and impurities were sufficiently odious, and fearfully tenacious of life; such as only the severe energy of the Hebraic monotheism was effectual to check, and the refined anthropomorphism of the Greeks, if it could not altogether abolish, endeavoured partially to soften and idealise. Diodorus Siculus's description of the sacrifice of infants to Saturn or Moloch-another form of the sun- at Carthage, is one of the most fearful pictures on record of a frenzied aberration of the religious sentiment:
"Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum."
It is creditable to the Greeks and Romans, that they made. efforts at various times to put a stop to this inhuman practice, though it endured in spite of them to a remote age. It had struck a deep root, and was difficult to exterminate. Plutarch says, that Gelon made its cessation an article in his treaty of peace with the Carthaginians after the battle of Himera;* while it was Tiberius, according to Tertullian, who finally abolished it, and hung the priests on the trees of their sacred grove. The latter tendencies of the old civilisation were gradually preparing the way for the ascendency of a more benignant religion.
The subject of which Mr. Kenrick has treated in the present volume, the thorough and sometimes the minute criticism with which he has investigated its several points, and the calm, equable, unimpassioned character of his style, will probably prevent his work from becoming popular with that numerous class who read for amusement rather than for instruction, who seek excitement above all things in literature, and are ever in pursuit of paradox or novelty. But those who have a healthier mental appetite, and find knowledge delightful for its own sake, will be attracted to pages that are filled with the most interesting matter drawn from the best sources, selected and compressed with admirable judg
* De Serâ Numinis Vindictâ, vi. In a passage in his treatise De Superstitione (quoted by Wyttenbach, Animadvers. in loc.), Plutarch has described to the life the horrors of these human sacrifices. The childless rich bought children of the poor, "like lambs or doves," for the occasion.
Τῷ Κρόνῳαὐτοὶ τὰ αὑτῶν τέκνα καθιέρευον, οἱ δὲ ἄτεκνοι παρὰ τῶν πενήτων ὠνούμενοι παιδία κατέσφαζον καθάπερ ἄρνας ἢ νεοσσούς παρειστήκει δὲ ἡ μητὴρ ἄτεγκα τος καὶ ἀστένακτος· εἰ δὲ στενάξαιεν ἢ δακρύσειεν, ἔδει τῆς τιμῆς στέρεσθαι, τὸ δὲ παιδίον οὐδὲν ἧττον ἐθύετο κρότου δὲ κατεπίμπλατο πάντα πρὸ τοῦ ἀγάλματος, ἐπαυλούντων καὶ τυμπανιζόντων, ἕνεκα τοῦ μὴ γενέσθαι τὴν βοὴν τῶν θρήνων ἐξάκουστον.
ment, and made intelligible to every one by the singular clearness and precision with which it is presented. For scholars who can appreciate the depth and accuracy of learning which it displays, this work will possess a peculiar value, as bringing before them in a form at once brief and comprehensive the collective results of a thorough critical examination of all our existing sources of information respecting one of the most curious and important peoples of the ancient world. Some, who may not possess the author's great attainments, will venture probably to differ from him on insulated points, in the exercise of that modest and manly freedom of judgment of which his own writings afford so fine an example; indeed, it is one of their excellences, that from the thorough honesty of their execution they furnish a man who thinks as he reads with the means of justifying a dissent from their conclusions. In closing this volume, we look back on it with more than ordinary satisfaction as a specimen of sterling English scholarship. Thoroughness is the character stamped on every page. The learning is all original, worked out by the writer himself from the primitive source, and carefully passed, ere it deposit its results on paper, through the sifting and refining process of his own clear judgment and searching analysis. It is not got up hastily at second-hand from the labours of others, and invested with an array of authorities which it has not the merit of having searched and tested; but it presents us with the ripened fruit of the study and thought of years. Its display of learning is unobtrusive and needful, simply illustrative or confirmatory of statements in the text; and so much of it as appears is but a sample of the richer treasures that are implied. It is dispensed with a quiet consciousness of reserved strength and solid opulence-with a certain dryness and almost indifference of manner that are in striking contrast with the fidgety bustle and pretence of the quacks of literature. Works of such a character are not very abundant in our age, nor are they adequately appreciated when they appear; but we should cordially welcome them when they do come, as satisfactory indications, amidst the increasing tendency to superficiality and the rage for popularising every thing, that there are men yet among us who comprehend the functions of genuine scholarship, and well understand that knowledge deserving the name is not to be snatched by handfuls and then scattered forthwith among the crowd, but must be drawn from the primal fountains that lie remote among the heights and solitudes of literature, must be appropriated and assimilated, and wrought into its own nature, by the action of the mind itself, must be animated by principle, and enlightened by theory, and reduced to harmonious self-consistency; and that only after the study and meditation of years, should its essence and its extract
be given forth in appropriate forms for the nourishment of the general mind. All literature need not, indeed, and cannot be of this description; but it is indispensable to the maintenance of our rank among civilised nations, that due encouragement should be given to the production of a certain number of works bearing this high character of scholarship. They help to balance the opposite scale, which gravitates downwards. They keep up the standard of excellence, and check the tendency to a continual depression towards the level of the ever-widening area of popular instruction. Let not this area be contracted at a single point; let it expand more and more; but let the surface occupied by the many be continually raised towards the height of the few, not the eminence of the few brought down to the level of the many.
Mr. Kenrick is one of those who have attained to first-rate scholarship, and rendered the highest services to learning acknowledged beyond the limits of his own country, outside all the privileges and independent of all the honours and encouragements that are conferred by our great ecclesiastical establishment and the two noble universities so intimately associated with it and so deeply imbued with its spirit. His example shows that the love of truth may be as powerful an incentive to industry as the prospect of a bishopric, and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake yield as full a recompense as the richest benefice which the premier could bestow. There always have been, there still are, and we trust there ever will be, a few such men in all the divisions of the wide field of enlightened and conscientious nonconformity. We honour them from our heart. Taking our stand on the characteristic principles of this Review, apart from all sectarian engagement and prepossession, and looking out on the future of our country with the broad vision and unbiassed sympathies of a truly national heart, we cannot but see in the preservation of such men amongst us, in the encouragement of their learning, and in the extension of their mental and social influence, an indispensable guarantee for the maintenance of the best interests of Christian truth and rational liberty. A free learning, spiritualised and ennobled by a free religion, is one of the most urgent requirements of our time; but it is imperilled between opposite dangers-sacerdotal hollowness and formalism on one hand, and the rude anarchy of unlettered fanaticism or coarse unbelief on the other. Till the old universities are more thoroughly purged from the ecclesiastical element which so powerfully leavens them, they cannot become suitable places either for the training or for the working of the kind of men whom our age imperiously demands; and the highest interests of those universities themselves and their associated church will be best promoted, not by the annihilation of all noble and effectual rivalry, but by the constant presence of a competition
which they cannot but respect, and which must rouse them to the utmost development of their internal resources of self-renovation. Nothing remains, therefore, in the actual state of things, but to sustain with unabated energy and zeal all those institutions which base the encouragement of the highest learning on the recognition of equal religious liberty, and to guard with the utmost jealousy, and nurse into the healthiest activity, the two principles whose union they have consecrated. We tremble lest either of them should be sacrificed by worldly indifference on the part of those who ought to be their protectors. Should priestly influence undermine their strength and absorb their vitality, learning may still retain its name and exercise its function, but it will lose the noble front and manly bearing of a free servant of truth, and become a slave in the mill of a compelled conformity. Should the other alternative prevail, and free religion be abandoned to the charge of an ignorant and unlettered multitude, there would be nothing to mediate between vicious extremes; nothing to confront the pretensions of an established priesthood, enjoying in that case an undisputed monopoly of the forms and materials of learning; nothing to control and guide by the influence of well-disciplined intellect and solid attainment, the wild impulses of religious fervour, mistaking license for liberty, confounding violence with strength, and conferring on passionate prejudice the sanctity of reverent conviction.
ART. VII.-W. M. THACKERAY, ARTIST AND MORALIST.
The Newcomes. By the Author of "Vanity Fair," &c.
WE are not among those who believe that the "goad of contemporary criticism" has much influence either in "abating the pride" or stimulating the imagination of authors. The human system assimilates praise, and rejects censure, the latter sometimes very spasmodically. A writer or labourer of any sort rarely profits by criticism on his productions; here and there a very candid man may gather a hint; but for the most part criticism is only used by an author as a test of the good taste of his judge. It is a fiction, in fact, long religiously maintained in the forms of our reviews, that we write for the benefit of the reviewee. In most cases, and at any rate in that of a mature and established author, this didactic figment would be as well put aside. A new work, a body of writings, by a man who has attained a wide audience and