Page images

lection an indispensable portion of the historical library. But it must also contain all the several works from which the Recueil is formed. The student must possess both; he must have Dom Bouquet, and all Dom Bouquet's materials besides. These must be consulted whenever the fearful asterisks shine upon a hiatus. If we seek to pass beyond the letter into the spirit, the unmutilated text must be opened; and, if the reader be unwilling to perform this labour, he will incur the perpetual risk of losing some important passage, or, what is much worse, of missing the sense, strength, and bearing of the materials which he employs. Let it be recollected that the editors, who, by adopting this artificial but erroneous plan, have so signally failed, were not half-read and half-witted fastidious literati ;-men who would sneer at a legend-take offence at a barbarismsneak away from a difficulty-or shrink from toil. No; they were hard-headed, faithful, learned-broken into the calling, and imbued with reverence for the past. If they failed in the execution of the task, who can be expected to succeed?

The process, indeed, of mutilation, amputation, and excision, as projected by Dom Bouquet, would require not merely an unattainable delicacy in taste, but a superhuman prescience in the hand of the operator. Historical science is advancing as fast as all other branches of human knowledge. No editor, however much tact or cleverness he may possess, can possibly tell what precious metal may be hereafter extracted, by new methods of analysis, from the ore which he casts away. The indications by which the existence of the municipal government of the Romans is traced through the middle ages, have only become apparent since Savigny, led by Dubos, recovered the true theory of medieval history. The traditions, wild and romantic, which mark the origin and migrations of the different races, are now only beginning to be deciphered. We are just discovering the key; and a curious example may be given of the manner in which such knowledge now avails us. Lord Lyttelton plainly and accurately follows his original, in describing the arms given to Geoffrey Plantagenet, when he received the order of knighthood : they brought him a lance

of ash armed with the steel of Poitou, and a sword from the royal treasury, where it had been laid up from old times, being the workmanship of Galan, the most excellent of all sword'smiths, who had exerted in forging it his utmost art and labour. • A skilful swordsmith was then so necessary to a warrior, that • it is no wonder the name of one who excelled in his profession should be thus recorded in history, and a sword of his making deposited in the treasury of a king."* In his comment, this

[ocr errors]

* Lord LYTTELTON's Life of Henry II., vol. ii. p. 159.

careful and accurate writer displays all the knowledge which the world then possessed; but where the peer only read the praise of Galan, an able workman, we now recognise the magic skill of the cunning smith, Vellent, and hear the voices of the Teutonic heroes soaring in the earliest cycles of their mythic history. We may be called upon to reprobate the miracles, ' because, as some would express themselves, in addition to their almost constitutional absurdity, they are frequently devoid of all interest; merely relating in a multitude of words the supposed miraculous cures of sickness or infirmities, unattended by any peculiar or characteristic circumstance. Such reasoning exhibits a very clear and correct apprehension of one side of the question, and nothing more. The name of a · Mansus' or Pagus' occurring in some legend, which the editor suppresses on account of its puerility, may furnish the geographical landmark of a kingdom. The medieval medical writers will give you ample quotations from Hippocrates and Avicenna ;-much upon complexions and temperaments, plenteous instructions for phlebotomy, and copious receipts for gargarisms and electuaries; but the patient never appears. For the history of diseases, they are valueless. But if this important, and as yet imperfectly attempted enquiry, be prosecuted, the cases are to be sought in the narratives of the hagiographist. The miracles which the careful critical editor would reject, are the medieval annals of medicine. The reader may not appreciate or acknowledge the sanctity of the enshrined relic; but the Saint must be accepted as the only professor or practitioner who can give you a clinical lecturewho can lead you to the bedside, open the ward of the hospital. Grant even that the whole be a delusion, a fancy, a dream; still the historical worth of the biographies of individuals, who possessed such power over the opinions of society, is not impaired. They are contributions to the morbid anatomy of the human mind.

ch, then, is the mode by which the excerpting plan of editorship reduces history to a caput mortuum. Under pretence of assisting the judgment, it deprives you of the means of forming a judgment. Connected, as this plan is, by Dom Bouquet, with the system of cutting up the materials into fagots, and distributing these fagots into periods, it does not even fulfil the promise of so condensing the matter as to afford any real convenience to the reader. In the Recueil, the materials for the reigns of Philip I., Louis VI., and Louis VII., constitute one period, and fill five huge folio volumes, xii., xiii., xiv., xv., and xvi., in which the sections, segments, and excerpts are disposed. Vol. xii. contains excerpts from one hundred and twenty-four different writers; xiii. from sixty-four; xiv. from one hundred and eighty, some not filling more than half a page. All these volumes must be opened and consulted consecutively, with quite as much labour as if the materials had continued unmutilated, and been arranged in their natural order; but to read the contents with interest or profit, (except in the case of Abbot Suger, who, by a lucky oversight, has escaped mutilation,) is entirely out of the question. Dates may be verified and facts ascertained; but no powers of attention can grasp the continuity of the narrative in the spirit of the writer. It is a landscape seen in a broken mirror, lost and frittered away. There is no mental pleasure in receiving the information collected from such scraps and tatters, and consequently no mental pleasure in imparting it. That which is learned as a task is repeated as a drudgery; and the weariness of the writer exhales from the page, and infects the reader with its contagion.

It is, indeed, not the least of the evils of such a mode of publication, that it helps to support and countenance a mischievous error of our times—the notion that authorities upon any given subject are to be used as books of reference. He who dips into a book will never dive into the healthy stream; and it is not one reading, no, nor half a dozen, which will enable the student to enter into the feeling of the most meagre annalist. . Those who have departed into another state of existence, and whom we know through their history, are now to us even as a living foreign people. It is not by slight occasional visits, by morning calls or evening parties, that a stranger can in the least come to a true understanding of the opinions, nay, even of the conversational language-the hits, the hints, the allusions, of such .a people: he must dwell amongst them to do so. He must os cultivate the friendship of those with whom he converses_he must adopt their feelings, become as one of themselves. Unsettled reading, reading for quotations, reading for curiosities, reading for quaintnesses, reading for anecdotes, reading for insulated points, is strongly opposed to the development of human intellect, and the advance of knowledge. Such a course may afford materials for what, in the ordinary but degrading phrase, is termed literary labour. A supply for the demand of the periodical, the club, or the circulating library, may be be thus derived ; but there is a higher object in literature than the product; there is the cultivation of the mind in producing and receiving it—a cultivation which bookmaking destroys. Here we must pause, and reserve for a future occasion our remarks upon the school of historical research, founded by the eminent statesman now at the head of affairs in France, and who has given such a practical application of the wisdom of the past to the exigencies of the present day.

Art. VI-Tour to the Sepulchres of Etruria in 1839. By

Mrs HAMILTON GRAY. London: 1840.


E do not know whether there are any among our readers

who will acknowledge, in common with ourselves, the consciousness of a kind of reluctance to admit the evidence of the grandeur and civilization of those extinct nations which flourished before Grecian art or Roman arms began to culminate. Accustomed from childhood to fix our regards exclusively on the two classical nations, we are vaguely impressed with the feeling that they arose, as it were, out of nothing; and that their annals portray at once the cradle and the grave of ancient great

We admit, it is true, some ill-defined notions of the majesty of Egypt and Assyria, because this is attested by the classical writers themselves, as well as by the most ancient of written monuments, the Jewish Scriptures. But we suspect that the zealous classical student seldom realizes even these ideas; while the existence of mighty empires and commonwealths, wealthy in arts, arms, commerce, and literature, altogether foreign to Greece and Rome, and liable to be classed as barbarian,' is almost neglected. And those who have generally passed for the ablest men and acutest enquirers, have, for the most part, piqued themselves on their incredulity respecting the highHown speculations of more enthusiastic thinkers as to the mysteries of remote antiquity. Sceptical believers, such as Johnson, or sceptical infidels, such as Voltaire, placed their pride in rejecting, with equal contempt, the tales of travellers and the theories of antiquarians. Yet if their criticism has, here and there, been justified by the result, in how many instances have faith and enthusiasm proved, in the long run, the safer guides ! How often have the discoveries of after times verified the boldest conjectures in which constructive fancy could indulge! A century ago, probably none of the doctissimi and illustrissimi of the day conceived, that any thing beyond baseless fable and tradition remained of those ages which had elapsed before Fortune took her station on the immovable rock of the Capitol. Few, probably, attached any definite meaning, or vouchsafed any belief to the significant expressions of Cicero and St Augustine, that Romulus did not flourish in a barbarous age, but in one of intelligence and civilization, jam inveteratis literis. These expressions are now borne out by irrefragable evidence. A buried empire has been revealed to us, the shadow of that which once existed above ground—the empire of a people whose palmiest days were contemporaneous with the foundation of Rome—who flourished for ages before Rome was in existence—and whose origin is faintly traceable in the very earliest dawn and twilight of antiquity.

By the very uncertain light which history affords, we discover the Etruscans occupying, from an unknown period, the tract now called Tuscany, and great part of the modern Papal states; a region extending from the Apennines north of Florence to the Tiber- the finest part of Italy-from which tradition reported them to have expelled a still older nation, the Umbrians. We find that they sent out conquering colonies, which spread over the plains of Lombardy as far as Mantua and Adria, (for the site of Venice was as yet open sea ;) and even into the defiles of the Rhætian mountains ; while in the south they subdued and colonized the beautiful region of Campania. Conflicting notions prevailed among the ancients as to the country of their origin; but common opinion regarded it as oriental; while the most definite tradition was that which represented them as descendants of the Syrians of Asia Minor. Among the moderns, some, with their fellow-citizen Micali, call them « indigenous ;' which means, that they cannot be traced to any seats earlier than those which they held in Italy. Others maintain the oriental theory of the ancients; some derive them from Greece through the enigmatical Pelasgians; others, adopting the adventurous conjecture of Niebuhr, bring one race from the north through the passes of the Alps, to meet with another from the east on the shores of the Tyrrhene Sea, and form, by their amalgamation, the Etruscan people.

They were early expelled from their conquests, both in the north and south of Italy; but they maintained their ration in the central part of the peninsula, or Etruria Proper, for many ages more; until it fell at last under the arms of Rome, having been weakened by long civil dissensions, and by the devastations of the Gauls. In this, their earliest and principal seat, they attained to a degree of power and proficiency in all the mechanical branches of civilization which no ancient people ever surpassed. Twelve principal cities, the original number of the commonwealth, occupied each its eminence-heaped in solid masses on the summit-precisely according to the picturesque description of Virgil

• Congesta manu præruptis oppida saxis.' Veii, the rival of Rome; Cære, the ancient Agylla, the seat of a people even older than the Etruscans, and whom they dispossessed; Tarquinii, the religious and political metropolis of the federation ;-these were among the principal cities of the league;

great fede

« EelmineJätka »