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stood long enough. After tea, if there interval of some weeks of holiday and was news from the seat of war, I other work! called in my maids, who brought down We think all this worth mentioning, the great atlas and studied the chances because it is an illustration of what is of the campaign with me. Then there a highly important maxim; namely, was an hour or two for Montaigne, that it is a great mistake to expend or Bacon, or Shakespeare, or Tennyson, more time and labour on a piece of or some dear old biography.”
composition than is enough to make it The only productions of this time serve the purpose in hand. The imworth mentioning are the History of measurable moment and far-reachingthe Thirty Years' Peace (1849) and the ness of the very highest kinds of condensed version of Comte's Positive literature are apt to make men who Philosophy (1853), both of them meri- play at being students forget that torious and useful pieces of work, and there are many other kinds of literaboth of them undertaken, as nearly all ture, which are not in the least imMiss Martineau's work was, not from measurably far-reaching, but which, merely literary motives, but because for all that, are extremely useful in she thought that they would be meri- their own day and generation. Those torious and useful, and because nothing highly fastidious and indolent people, more useful came into her head or who sometimes live at Oxford and under her hand at the moment. The Cambridge, with whom indeed for the condensation of Comte is easy and most part their high fastidiousness is rapid, and it is said by those who only a fine name for impotence and have looked very closely into it, to lack of will, forget that the less imbe hardly free from some too hasty mortal kinds of literature are the only renderings. It must, however, on kinds within their own reach. Literathe whole be pronounced a singularly ture is no doubt a fine art, the finest intelligent and able performance. The of the arts, but it is also a practical pace at which Comte was able to com- art, and it is deplorable to think how pose is a standing marvel to all who much stout, instructive work might have pondered the great and difficult art and ought to be done by people who, of composition. It must be admitted in dreaming of ideals in prose or verse that the author of the English version beyond their attainment, end, like the of him was in this respect no unworthy poor Casaubon of fiction, in a little match for her original. Miss Mar- pamphlet on a particle, or else in tineau tells us that she despatched the mediocre poetry, or else in nothing. last three volumes, which number over By insisting on rearing nothing short 1,800 pages, in some five months. She of a great monument more durable thought the rendering of thirty pages than brass, they are cutting themof Comte a fair morning's work. If selves off from building the useful we consider the abstract and difficult little mud-hut, or some of the other nature of the matter, this must be modest performances, by which only pronounced something of a feat. We they are capable of serving their have not space to describe her method, age. It is only one volume in a but any reader who happens to be million that is not meant to perish, interested in the mechanism of literary and to perish soon, as flowers, sunproductions, will find the passage in beams, and all the other brightnesses vol. ii. p. 391. The History of the Thirty of the earth are meant to perish. Years' Peace is no less astonishing an There are some forms of composition example of rapid industry. From the in which perfection is not only good first opening of the books to study for but indispensable. But the most are the history, to the depositing of the designed for the purpose of a day, and MS. of the first volume at press, if they have the degree of elaboration, was exactly six months. The second accuracy, grasp, and faithfulness that volume took six months to do, with an suffice for the given purpose, then we may say that it is enough. There is vigilant for the great affairs of the literature proper, for which only two world. In 1852 she began to write or three men and women in a genera- leading articles for the Daily News, tion have the true gift. This cannot and in this department her industry be too good. But besides this there is and her aptitude were such that at a mass of honest and needful work to times she wrote as many as six leadbe done with the pen, to which literary ing articles in a week. When she died, form is only accidental, and in which it was computed that she had written consummate literary finish or depth sixteen hundred. They are now all is a sheer work of supererogation. dead enough, as they were meant to If Miss Martineau had given twice die, but they made an impression that as many years as she gave months to is still alive in its consequences upon the condensation of Comte, the book some of the most important social, would not have been a whit more political, and economical matters of useful in any possible respect—indeed, five and twenty important years. In over-elaboration might easily have what was by far the greatest of all made it much less so—and the world the issues of those years, the Civil War would have lost many other excellent in the United States, Harriet Marif not dazzling or stupendous services. tineau's influence was of the most
“Her original power,” she wrote of inestimable value in keeping public herself in that manly and outspoken opinion right against the strong tide obituary notice to which we have of ignorant Southern sympathies in already referred, “was nothing more this country. If she may seem to than was due to earnestness and intel- some to have been less right in her lectual clearness within a certain range. views of the Crimean War, we must With small imaginative and sugges- admit that the issues were very comtive powers, and therefore nothing plex, and that complete assurance on approaching to genius, she could see that struggle is not easy even at this clearly what she did see, and give a distance of time. clear expression to what she had to To this period belong the Biographic say. In short, she could popularise, Sketches which she contributed to a while she could neither discover nor London newspaper. They have since invent. ... She could obtain and been collected in a single volume, now keep a firm grasp of her own views, in its fourth edition. They are masterand moreover she could make them pieces in the style of the vignette. understood. The function of her life Their conciseness, their clearnessin fact, was to do this, and in as far as it was their definiteness in judgment, and done diligently and honestly, her life above all the rightly-graduated imwas of use." All this is precisely pression of the writer's own pertrue, and her life was of great use; sonality in the background, make and that makes what she says not them perfect in their kind. There is only true, but an example worth much no fretting away of the portrait in weighing by many of those who meddle over-multiplicity of lines and strokes. with literature.
Here more than anywhere else, Miss Miss Martineau was never tired of Martineau shows the true quality of trying to be useful in directing and the writer, the true mark of literature, improving opinion. She did not dis- the sense of proportion, the modulated dain the poor neighbours at her gates. sentence, the compact and suggestive She got them to establish a Building phrase. There is a happy precision, a Society, she set them an example of pithy brevity, a condensed argumenthrifty and profitable management by tativeness. And this literary skill is her little farm of two acres, and she made more telling by the writer's own gave them interesting and cheerful evident interest and sincerity about courses of lectures in the winter the real lives and characters of the evenings. All this time her eye was various conspicuous people with whom
she deals. It may be said that she Massachusetts in autumn, or the has no subtle insight into the com- flowery swamps of Louisiana, or the plexities of human nature, and that forests of Georgia in spring, or the her philosophy of character is rather Illinois prairie in summer ; or the too little analytical, too downright, too blue Nile, or the brown Sinai, or the content with averages of motive, and gorgeous Petra, or the view of Damastoo external. This is so in a general cus from the Salahiey; or the Grand way, but it does not spoil the charm Canal under a Venetian sunset, or the of these sketches, because the person Black Forest in twilight, or Malta in ages concerned, though all of them the glare of noon, or the broad desert conspicuous, were for the most part stretching away under the stars, or the commonplace in motive, though more Red Sea tossing its superb shells on than commonplace in strength of shore in the pale dawn. That is one faculty. Subtle analysis is wholly world, all comprehended within my unreasonable in the case of Miss terrace wall, and coming up into the Martineau herself, and she would pro- light at my call. The other and finer bably have been unable to use that scenery is of that world, only begindifficult instrument in criticising cha- ning to be explored, of Science. .... racters less downright and objective It is truly an exquisite pleasure to than her own.
dream, after the toil of study, on the The moment of the Crimean War sublime abstractions of mathematics; marked an alarming event in her own the transcendent scenery unrolled by life. The doctors warned her that she astronomy; the mysterious, invisible had a heart disease which would end forces dimly hinted to us by physics ; her days suddenly and soon. Miss the new conception of the constitution Martineau at once set her affairs in of matter originated by chemistry; order, and sat down to write her and then, the inestimable glimpses Autobiography. She had the manu- opened to us, in regard to the nature script put into type, and the sheets and destiny of man, by the researches finally printed off, just as we now into vegetable and animal organisapossess them. But the hour was not tion, which are at length perceived to yet. The doctors had exaggerated the be the right path of inquiry into the peril, and the strong woman lived for highest subjects of thought. . ... twenty years after she had been given Wondrous beyond the comprehension up. She used up the stuff of her life of any one mind is the mass of glorious to the very end, and left no dreary facts and the series of mighty concepremnant normorbid waste of days. tions laid open; but the shadow of the She was like herself to the last-Eng- surrounding darkness rests upon it all. lish, practical, positive. Yet she had The unknown always engrosses the thoughts and visions which were more greater part of the field of vision, than this. We like to think of this and the awe of infinity sanctifies both faithful woman and veteran worker in the study and the dream." good causes, in the stroll which she It would be a pity if difference always took on her terrace before of opinion upon subjects of profound retiring to rest for the night :
difficulty, remoteness, and manifold “ On my terrace there were two perplexity, were to prevent any one worlds extended bright before me, from recognising in such words and even when the midnight darkness hid such moods as these what was, in from my bodily eyes all but the out- spite of some infirmities, a character lines of the solemn mountains that of many large thoughts and much surround our valley on three sides, generous purpose. And with this and the clear opening to the lake on feeling we may part from her. the south. In the one of those worlds I saw now the magnificent coast of
OLD GREEK ATHLETICS.
Now that the old Greeks are begin- for prizes, they failed miserably, and ning again to be properly appreciated, produced no impression on the Greek and researches are being made into public; for though all the great conthe secrets of their art, and the tests were crown contests (otedavitai), lessons of their politics, it may be it is to the honour of the Greeks, worth while to turn our attention to who were otherwise fond enough of a feature in which the modern English lucre, that the distinction of a parsley, strongly resemble them-I mean in fir, or bay crown should have (in the feature of athletics. This word theory at least) been the only reward is said to be very new in English, for long and arduous labour. and only to have come into use with The establishment of these games, the fashion of those prize meetings especially of those at Olympia, was which are every year rising in im- assigned by the poets to mythical ages, portance, and which are already and not only is there a book of the seriously interfering with the music of Iliad devoted to funeral games, but in our education, as the Greeks would Pindar's 11th Olympic Ode their estabhave called it. From this side it is lishment is made coeval with the worth noticing that the term atheltic labours of Herakles. Whether this eviwas used by the Greeks for that pro- dence is indeed conclusive may fairly fessional development which they re- be doubted. The 23rd book of the prehended as the exaggeration of the Iliad shows traces of being a later elder gymnastic, with its accompani- portion of the poem, and the mythical ment of public games (agonistic) at founders enumerated by Pausanias which the contests were amateur (v. 7) are so various and inconsistent performances, and which were for that we can see how obscure the quescenturies the glory and the pride of tion appeared to Greek archæologists, Greece. Thus athletic was rather a even did we not find at the end of the low thing among the Greeks, who enumeration the following significant looked upon “running for the pot” hint:—“But after Oxylus-for Oxylus, with a highbred contempt which is too, established the contest-after his not so common nowadays. When reign it fell out of use till the Olympiad the wise priests of Delphi determined of Iphitus;" that is to say, till the to establish (Ol. 48) a public com- first Ol., which is dated 776 B.C., petition in imitation of the great Oxylus being the companion of the Olympic games, they offered money Herakleidæ who obtained Elis for his prizes the first year, but (as I believe) portion. Pausanias adds that when as soon as they saw that the thing Iphitus renewed the contest, men had was to be a success, they abolished forgotten the old arrangements, and their money prizes, and gave a mere only gradually came to remember crown of laurel. There were indeed them, and whenever they recollected ample rewards at home for the vic- any special competition, they added it tors when they returned, so much so to the games. This is the excellent that it was almost a provision for life man's theory to account for the gradual to have won at Olympia; but direct addition of long races, of wrestling, money prizes were quite beneath the discus throwing, boxing, and chariot dignity of these games; and when the racing, to the original sprint race of people of Sybaris attempted to establish about 125 yards, which was at first opposition games, with golden crowns the only known competition,
The facts seem to me rather to real turning-point in the Greek estipoint to the late growth of games in mate of athletics, and the fact that Greece, which probably first began at the great odes of Pindar sing the Olympia in the eighth century, but glories of no Spartan, and only twice, which only rose to importance during very briefly, those of Athenians, seems the reign of the despots throughout to indicate that even then men began Greece, when the aristocrats were pre- to think of more serious rivalries, vented from murdering one another, and more exciting spectacles, than the and compelled to adopt more peaceful festive meetings at Olympia. In the pursuits. It was in the end of the very next generation the poets had seventh and opening of the sixth drifted away from them, and Euripides centuries that the Pythian, Nemean, despises rather than admires them. and Isthmian games show by their The historians take little note of them. successive establishments the rapid Two circumstances only tended spread of the fashion, and a vast strongly to keep them up. In the number of local contests diffused first place musical competitions (which through every district in Greece the had always been part of the Pythian) taste and the training for such com- and poetical rivalries were added to petitions. These games lasted all the sports, which were also made the through classical Greek history, the occasion of mercantile business, of Olympian even down to later times, social meetings, and not seldom of for it was not abolished till nearly political agitation. The wise responses 1,200 years (01. 291) had elapsed since of the Delphic oracle were not a little the historical foundation. But the day indebted to the information gathered of their real greatness was gone long from all parts of the Hellenic world before. Cicero indignantly repudiates at the games, some important celebrathe report that he had gone to see such tion of which, whether at Nemea, games, just as Lord Shaftesbury, within the Isthmus, or the greater meetings, our memory, repudiated the report occurred every year. that he had attended the match be- Secondly, if the art of poetry soon tween Sayers and Heenan. The good devoted itself to the higher objects of generals of earlier centuries, such as tragedy, and created for itself the conAlexander the Great and Philopamen, flict which it celebrated, the art of set their faces against athletics as sculpture became so closely connected bad training for soldiers. Nay, even with athletics, as to give them an earlier, the Spartans, though they æsthetic importance of the highest kind could contend with success in the all through Greek history. The ancient pentathlon, when they chose, did not habit of setting up ideal statues of countenance the fiercer competitions, victors, which were made special likeas engendering bad feeling between nesses if the subject was specially disrivals, and, what was worse, compel- tinguished, supplied the Greeks with a ling a man to declare himself van- series of historical monuments, and a quished, and feel disgraced. The series of physical types not elsewhere Athenians also, as soon as the sophists to be matched, and thus perhaps the reformed education, began to rate in most interesting part of Pausanias' tellectual wrestling as far superior invaluable guide book to Greece is his to any bodily exercise. Thus the collection of notes (lib. vi., 1-20) on supremacy of Athens and Sparta over various statues set up in this way at the other Greek cities in the fifth Olympia, of which he mentions about century marked, in my opinion, the two hundred, though he only professes
to make a selection, and though several 1 The fact that some of these public meetings are associated with the fall of tyrants
of the finest had already been carried does not, I think, disprove what is here
off by Roman emperors. advanced.
These things kept alive the athletic