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guages of Greece and Rome. The accumulated wisdom of ages, the productions of the human mind for many successive centuries, are locked up for ever in those tongues. We say locked up for ever, for we believe it impossible to translate the mind of a writer into a foreign language. Works of genius are, by an irrevocable necessity, sealed up in the vernacular tongue of their authors. He who would commune with the spirits of antiquity must master the language in which they thought.

But let us inquire in what particular departments of knowledge we may derive pleasure and instruction from the writings of the ancients.


1. In respect to physical science, it cannot, indeed, be denied that the moderns, who, in the very outset of their inquiries, could avail themselves of all the ancients knew, have, by that advantage, been able to make greater advances, and to obtain more numerous and important results, than the latter. But it should not be forgotten to what extent modern science, in its infancy, was dependent on that literature which some of its votaries now scruple not to decry. It has been justly remarked that "the fate of science is inseparable from that of letters; which, as they gave it birth, so do they continue to afford it nourishment." And it is found that, even at this day, the works of ancient naturalists are far from being destitute of interest and of value to scientific men. "The Greeks," says Professor Moore, were acute observers; and when they conducted their inquiries in the true method of experiment, their writings, even on subjects of natural science, still maintain the highest value. Buffon and Cuvier bear testimony to the accuracy, the perspicuity, and order of Aristotle's History of Animals: the former declaring that it is perhaps to this time the best work in its kind that we possess ; that it appears this ancient knew the animal creation better, and under more general views than it is known to us at the present day; that none other than a genius like his own could have comprehended such an infinite variety of facts within such narrow compass, and treated a subject so little susceptible of precision with so much perspicuity and order; that if science be the history of facts, his work is the most scientific abridgment that ever yet was made."

2. In grammar, rhetoric, and philology, in all that relates to the philosophy of language, the ancient critics, those of Greece in particular, were unsurpassed in profound, original, and, in general, accurate views. To this branch of science, indeed, more attention was paid among the ancients, and greater proficiency appears to have been made in it, than at any subsequent period. The study of language was cultivated with the utmost care and attention in the earliest days of literature and science, while it has declined among the moderns, and been suffered to fall into comparative neglect. "Few writers of ability have turned their thoughts to the subject, and but little has been added, either in respect of matter, or of system, to what the ancients have left us." Since the days of Aristotle who has rivaled him in subtilty of invention and power of analysis? If his theory of logic, after swaying the public mind for a long succession of ages, at length gave place to a more enlightened system; yet his rhetoric and poetics, as well as his politics and ethics, have lost none of their credit, but have continued to rise in the estimation of scholars. Since the time of Longinus, what writer can be said to have surpassed him in learned and philosophical criticism? And

who since the age of Quintilian has treated the subjects embraced in his Institutes with greater soundness of judgment and purity of taste? There is not a man living, however conversant with these branches and distinguished for general scholarship, who would not, if yet unacquainted with these authors, derive much valuable instruction from the study of them.

3. In the matter of civil history the productions of the ancients are to be viewed, not only as the almost exclusive, and therefore invaluable sources of information relating to the times of which they treat, but as illustrating the customs, institutions, and opinions of mankind during a long period of the progress of civil culture and of the development of national character. The great importance of the subjects embraced in so long a succession of ages is fully equalled by the character of the writers who have treated of them. In all the traits essential to a good historian, the ancient models are, most of them, justly regarded as holding the first rank.

In a production distinguished alike for the beauty of its style and the importance of its subject-matter, the "father of profane history" has bequeathed to mankind "a work including the history of many centuries, and comprehending the greatest kingdoms and empires of the ancient world. This extensive subject is handled with order and dignity. The episodes are ingeniously interwoven with the principal action. The various parts of the narrative are so skilfully combined that they mutually reflect light on each other. Geography, manners, religion, laws, and arts enter into the plan of the work; and it is remarkable that the earliest of historians agrees more nearly, as to the design and form of his undertaking, with the enlightened writers of the present century than any historical author in the long series of intervening ages."*

From the pen of Thucydides we have the annals of twenty-one years of the Peloponnesian war. The accuracy, impartiality, and fidelity of that author, as well as the "force of imagination, vigor of language, depth of reasoning, and clearness of conception," which Cicero ascribes to him are acknowledged and praised by critics ancient and modern. The record which he has left of one of the most interesting eras of antiquity possesses a value and importance that can scarcely be overrated.

For a continuation of that record, embracing the remaining history of the Peloponnesian war, we are indebted to the labors of Xenophon. The ornate and graceful style, the philosophic spirit, and the instructive morality, which distinguish his productions, rank him also in the first class of historians. "The soldier has always admired his talents in conducting, and the scholar in describing, the retreat of the ten thousand; and the philosopher and statesman have alike been delighted with his charming work denominated the Cyropedia."+

Among the Romans the names of Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus have contributed, perhaps, in an equal degree, to the beauty, dignity, and value of their national literature. The first named author, from his numerous and just reflections, has by some been considered the father of philosophic history. The subjects of which he has treated form two of the most important and prominent topics in the history of Rome, and in his manner of treating them he has done justice to

* Gillie's History of Greece. + Dr. Robertson.

their importance. The portion of Livy's voluminous history which the moderns have been so fortunate as to recover from oblivion, as well as the ably written annals of Tacitus, is distinguished for purity of style, dignity of sentiment, and depth of reflection, and derive still greater value from the important character of the times and events which they describe.

These and other productions of nearly equal merit that have survived the desolation of the middle ages, are so many monuments of the wisdom and ability of the ancients; and, what is of more consequence, they are so many records of events and transactions the knowledge of which can be gleaned from no other sources.

4. In poetry the works of antiquity are still pre-eminent. If it be contended by some that the names of Shakspeare and Milton, of Dante and Tasso, and a few others, have redeemed the verse of modern times from the reproach of inferiority to the ancient standard, it may still be urged, and cannot be denied, that the average merit of ancient genius excels that of any subsequent period; that the proportion of genuine poetry to the whole mass of metrical productions was far greater in the infancy of literature than it has ever been since. We are disposed, however, to regard some of the individual poets of antiquity as superior to any of a later age. Who has yet succeeded in bearing away from Homer the palm of invention, from Virgil the praise of judgment? Who, if we except but a single name, can compare with an Eschylus, a Sophocles, or a Euripides in the walks of tragic verse? In the department of lyric poetry the name of Horace is associated with the nearest approach to perfection ever yet made. "Of all the writers of odes, ancient or modern, there is none that in point of correctness, harmony, and happy expression, can vie with Horace. He has descended from the Pindaric rapture to a more moderate degree of elevation; and joins connected thought and good sense with the highest beauties of poetry."

5. In eloquence the ancient models are admitted to be yet unrivaled. The specimens that remain to us, judging both from their intrinsic merit and from the effects ascribed to them by contemporaneous history, must be allowed to possess more of the essential qualities of perfect oratory than any subsequent productions of a similar kind. There are, indeed, many illustrious names recorded in the history of modern eloquence; many who are justly distinguished for having attained the first rank among their contemporaries, and we are very far from denying or depreciating their merit; yet the brightness of their fame is dimmed by the intense splendor of those greater names, those master-spirits, of Grecian and Roman oratory, Demosthenes and Cicero. Let him who would attain to a high standard of oratorical excellence make himself familiar with the ancient masters. This is the more necessary in these days, when public speakers have become so numerous that a higher degree of cultivation is required to raise one above the level of mediocrity. "Native talent, it is true, aided by a moderate degree of cultivation, and improved by much exercise, may make a fluent, nay, perhaps a forcible and persuasive speaker; but the truly great orator, who shall be able not only to instruct and charm his hearers, conciliate their affections, inform their minds, and influence their * Dr. Blair.

wills, but to pour along an impetuous flood of argument and passion, that shall rise far above mere persuasion, and by its resistless force bear away all that would oppose it: the orator who, by the vivid flashes of his eloquence, shall dazzle and confound his adversaries; by the ingenuity and force of his argument wrest to his purpose the inclinations of his hearers; by the strength and truth of his emotion, and all the combined powers of his art, rouse at pleasure or allay the passions of an assembled people, and sway with potent speech the world:' such an orator, in fine, as was Demosthenes never will again exist, unless he shall be formed upon the ancient models."



6. The philosophers of antiquity, though considered for many subsequent ages as little less than divine, and though still admitted to have been (many of them at least) men of splendid intellect and surpassing genius, are nevertheless regarded with but little favor by the present generation. The claim which their works possess to the merit of practical utility is considered extremely slight; and this deficiency is the ground of their condemnation. Yet we venture to assert that the study of the ancient philosophers, if properly engaged in, would be attended, in nearly every point of view, with most decided advantage. The object proposed by those teachers of wisdom was indeed a noble one. It was to discover truth, to ascertain and settle the distinctions between right and wrong, to elaborate from the resources of their own minds a correct system of ethics, to lay down principles of conduct, and trace the path of duty for their less enlightened contemporaries; and, in fine, to elevate, strengthen, and dignify the moral and intellectual character of their species: "To observe by what means they who have been engaged in the pursuit and propagation of knowledge have accomplished their design; what obstacles they have overcome; in what instances and from what causes they have been imposed upon by the semblance of truth, and have embraced the shadow for the substance; into what mistakes they have fallen through prejudice, precipitation, or vanity; what inconveniences they have suffered from their misconceptions and errors; and what advantages they have derived from their wisdom, with other circumstances of a similar nature, cannot fail to suggest hints and reflections which may be of great use in the prosecution of science." The history of philosophy is the history of the human understanding, and it must be in the highest degree interesting and instructive to study the workings of the mind during the earlier stages of its development, and to contemplate the splendid achievements of genius during the period of its youthful vigor. What is there in the history of the intellect to compare with its efforts to search out the character of the Deity without divine aid? When, in the history of the world, has reason without revelation done as much to improve and refine the nature of man as when Socrates taught moral truth, and Plato was revered as the oracle of more than human wisdom?

In every department, then, of valuable knowledge the cultivated mind will find much that is pleasing and instructive in the productions of antiquity. If the history of man in all his various relations, and the history of mind in the successive stages of its development, if the progress of society, and the influences under which it passes * Dr. Moore. + Enfield's Hist. Phil.

from barbarism to refinement, are profitable subjects of contemplation-if they are sources of useful knowledge, then are the works of the ancients fountains of wisdom. If the truest delineations of character, and the most faithful portraiture of the passions; if the inmost workings of the mind, the loftiest conceptions of the imagination, and the noblest efforts of unaided reason, are fitted to instruct and improve mankind, then indeed are the bequests of a Homer, a Sophocles, an Aristotle, and a Plato, in an eminent degree instructive and useful. It is impossible to survey the extensive field of ancient letters, in all its length, and breadth, and beauty, and to contemplate the character of its intellectual vegetation, without a strong sense of admiration and a strong conviction that the claims of that literature are not overrated, even by its most ardent votaries. "For all that belongs to original genius, to spirited, masterly, and high execution," says Dr. Blair, "our best and most happy ideas are, generally speaking, drawn from the ancients. In epic poetry, for instance, Homer and Virgil, to this day, stand not within many degrees of any rival. Orators such as Cicero and Demosthenes we have none. In history, notwithstanding some defects, it may be safely asserted, that we have no such historical narration, so elegant, so picturesque, so animated and interesting, as that of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Livy, Tacitus, and Sallust. Although the conduct of the drama may be admitted to have received some improvements, yet for poetry and sentiment we have nothing to equal Sophocles and Euripides; nor any dialogue in comedy that comes up to the correct, graceful, and elegant simplicity of Terence. We have no such elegies as those of Tibullus; no such pastorals as those of Theocritus; and for lyric poetry Horace stands quite unrivaled.





"To all such, then, as wish to form their taste and nourish their genius, let me warmly recommend the assiduous study of the ancient classics, both Greek and Roman."

Studies that are so strongly recommended by every consideration that can give them value, and by the most respectable scholars and authors of every age, cannot, and we feel assured will not, be long treated with neglect. Indeed, notwithstanding the slow progress of classical learning among us, and the backward state in which it still continues, it is yet in a more flourishing condition than might be expected under the circumstances of the case. When we consider the obstacles with which it has had to contend, and the causes that have operated to retard and depress it, we have reason to be encouraged with its present aspect, and with the degree of attention and respect it has succeeded in winning from "an age so devoted to the pursuit of gain that it regards with little favor what has not a tendency to promote some pecuniary end." The fact of its having struggled against popular prejudice, ignorance, and envy, and against other influences still more hostile, speaks much in behalf of its intrinsic merit. In truth, the advancement of sound learning, of deep and thorough intellectual culture, (of which classical literature forms an essential part,) cannot be permanently checked by any causes less powerful than such as would arrest the progress of knowledge, and stay the march of the human mind. In proportion as the mass of the people in this country shall become thoroughly enlightened, as the stream of knowledge shall grow deeper, as the literary taste of

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