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We would willingly add to this quotation, did our limits permit us, the whole of the first Scene of the fifth Act, which in our judgment displays the author's talent in a still more favourable light. But we should only injure its effect by making partial extracts; and must therefore conclude with an earnest request to Mr Browning, to try his own work by comparison with better standards than those which he appears to have proposed to himself, and to remember that without correctness of taste no writing can be permanently popular. He has sacrificed far too much to the seductions of theatrical clap-trap: a better and a manlier tone might win him fewer plaudits from green-room critics, but it would in the end secure him more solid triumphs. Let him remember Dryden's apologies for his own desertion of the standard of good taste to accommodate himself to the perverted relish of the town. 'I remember some

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' verses of my Maximin,' says he in the preface to the 'Spanish Fryar,' 'which cry vengeance upon me for their extravagance. All I can say for those passages, which are, I hope, not many, 'is, that I knew they were bad when I wrote them. But I re'pent of them amongst my sins; and, if any of their fellows intrude by chance into my present writings, I draw a stroke over 'all those Dalilahs of the theatre, and am resolved I will settle myself no reputation by the applause of fools. 'Tis not that I am mortified to all ambition; but I scorn as much to take it 'from half-written judges, as I should to raise an estate by cheating of bubbles.' Dryden should have divided a little more fairly the sin and the scandal between his half-witted 'judges,' and such authors as himself, who pampered and pandered to their perverse inclinations. It would be more erroneous to suppose, that the mixed audience of a theatre is unsusceptible. of more refined and purer perceptions. On the contrary, although the less critical multitude is generally slow in acquiring correctness of taste, it is also the last to abandon the cause of good taste, when once acquired, and to follow the more mercurial leaders of

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Act IV. Scene II.

the fashion into corrupt extravagance. The plays of the severely classical Alfieri afford at this day, if we may believe M. de Sismondi, the favourite amusement of the Tuscan peasantry, of whom but few can read or write. Racine and Voltaire still continue to be, or were until very lately, the delight of the French populace, though the intellectual classes' had gone wandering after the idolatries of the romantic school. The highest of all rewards, therefore, awaits those who may succeed in improving the theatrical spirit of their age, in the prospect of a permanency of fashion and fame. Those, on the contrary, who contribute to depreciate it, or who merely copy the bad models which it holds out to them for imitation, will soon see their own evanescent popularity eclipsed by that of successors as unworthy as themselves.

ART. V.—Athens, its Rise and Fall; with Views of the Literature, Philosophy, and Social Life of the Athenian People. By EDWARD LYTTON BULWER, Esq., M.P. 2 vols. 8vo. don: 1837.


The indications of extracts from the work, refer to Baudry's edition, printed in Paris, the 2 vols. comprised in one.


THIS book has taken us somewhat by surprise. The Rise and Fall of Athens, from the pen of Mr Edward Bulwer, would present us, we expected, with a series of elaborate and brilliant scenes, chosen out from the Attic annals, concentrating on a few memorable points the interest of that unparalleled story, and finished with such minute attention to character, costume, colouring, and grouping, as the author of Rienzi' and' Pompeii' knows so well how to bestow. The light of his quick and vivid intellect would rather seek, we thought, to touch and gild the most commanding heights, than to diffuse itself over a multiplicity of objects, scattered along a more uniform surface. And, with his work before us, we still believe, both that this plan would have been the most judicious in its design, and that the peculiar powers of Mr Bulwer would have appeared to the greatest advantage in its execution. What a theatre for scenes of this description does Athens offer! what themes for the graphic narrator! and how strongly marked are the pauses and transitions in the action he is invited to record!

More pains might

The curtain would rise on the PELASGIANS. be taken with the picture of that extraordinary race—the most illustrious branch of the great Japhetic family-than any of our historical writers has yet vouchsafed; and the results would amply recompense a diligent enquirer. Barbarians they were not, in any sense, classical or vulgar, of that indefinite term. One honest tradition, admitted even into the pages of Plato, contradicts the poetical theory of aboriginal savage life, and attests the existence of a primitive Greek civilisation. The Pelasgians of Greece, like the earliest inhabitants of many other lands, accommodated themselves to the varying features of the country. According to that patriarchal division of pursuits, dictated and maintained by the very aspect of the earth we dwell on, some were 'keepers of sheep,' and some were 'tillers of the ground.' They had the eye of the grazier for healthful pastures. They had the instinct of the farmer for rich plains. They had the political tact-as in the case of the settlers in Attica-sometimes to prefer those situations wherein local defects held forth a promise of unmolested possession, to regions of greater fertility, but therefore of greater insecurity;-the 'dinner of herbs' with peace, to the stalled ox' with danger. Their polygonal architecture was ingenious in its characteristic device, and has chronicled its own tale in traces that are still legible. They practised the art of navigation. They founded ancient thrones, and here and there, if probable inferences may be drawn from words of Aristotle's,-struck out the rudiments of the representative system. Their language, involving in its structure the chief germs of the Hellenic and Latin tongues, exhibited those beautiful principles taught by the philosophy of nature, from which the best forms of modern speech have more or less degenerated. The charms of Song were not unknown to them: nor unknown were either the mystic rites of the oracular shrine, or the cheerful ceremonies of the religious festival. Strangers, it is true, at last are seen to mix with the Pelasgic population; but their figures must be kept to the back-ground of the stage. Even on the Athenian faith, and works of art, are stamped some traits of the Egyptian physiognomy. But slight-demonstrably slight--as was the impression made by foreigners on the Greek vocabulary, it was no deeper on the Greek manners. They might plant the olive on the soil of Attica; but assuredly they did not associate her previous inhabitants in agriculture: they might extend the catalogue of gods and goddesses, but they did not teach the morality of marriage, or the worship of a deity.

Those clouds which, after all our researches, will continue to

rest on certain portions of the Pelasgian epoch, melt away bcneath the glories of the HEROIC TIMES. The Athenian type of those times is Theseus-uniting in himself the two great attributes which have commanded the veneration of true poets from Homer to Scott : ἀμφότερον, βασιλεύς τ ̓ ἀγαθὸς, κρατερὸς τ' αιχμητής.

In council-halls a monarch sage,
A warrior bold in battle's rage.'

Mr Thirlwall calls him the Hercules of Attica: Mr Bulwer calls him the Athenian Alfred. Both are right. He deserved, as a chivalrous adventurer, the throne which he adorned as a politic King. As a knight-errant, he cleared the land of pests, and redeemed it from oppression. As a sovereign, he consolidated the strength of Attica, and confirmed his own title to the auspicious name of Regulator.* The catastrophe of Theseus is melancholy; yet even his usurping successor Menestheus must fill a goodly place on the platform of our second scene,-not as a popular intriguer-not as a notorious encroacher on the tenure and extent of the royal prerogatives-but as leader of the Athenian bands in the war of Troy. Then were that people dwellers in a ‘fairbuilt city' for whose broad streets Minerva was fain to quit the splendours of the island of Alcinous. Then had their munificent devotion already honoured the guardian power and her hero-nursling with a 'sumptuous temple.' Bulls and Rams bled in their yearly sacrifices. Fifty' dark gallies' sailed from their harbour to the 'Asiatic shore. And then, too, their chief, unlike the majority of later demagogues, was one

With whom could cope no mortal wight

To marshal chariots for the fight,

Aud men who bore the shield!'S

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Passing over a list of six succeeding princes, unarrested even by the singular tragedy of Codrus, more of an ancient Roman 'than a Greek'-passing over two centuries of hereditary First Magistrates whose very title suggests the prevalence of a wish to limit the sovereign authority-passing over seventy years of decennial Archons, and other steps whereby aristocratic was gra

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| Erechtheus. Hom. ll. B. 547-551.

§ Τῷ δ ̓ οὔπως τις ὁμοῖος ἐπιχθονίων γένετ ̓ ἀνὴρ

Hom. Od. H. 79.

Κοσμᾶσαι ἵππους τε καὶ ἀνέρας ἀσπιδιώτας. --Hom. Β. 553.

dually substituted for monarchical government-passing over the bloody laws of Draco, a mere attempt on the part of the oligarchy to check the growth of free principles--and the conspiracy of Cylon, which though fruitless to its author, was pregnant with consequences most important to his country,-we behold the central figure of the third great era in SOLON THE ARBITER. In that transcendent function we may be content to merge the character of the soldier and the poet, but not of the man. Honour be to him, especially in contrast with the elder reformer of a rival statehonour to him who esteemed not, like the Spartan Lycurgus, morals as subordinate to policy, but policy as subservient to good morals! Honour to him, who thought it a higher duty of the lawgiver to train his fellow-citizens to live in happiness than to die with constancy! Honour to him who, tempted on the one hand to self-aggrandizement, and goaded on the other by the sight of a tyrannous nobility and a tortured people, yet suffered the moderation of his personal character to dictate his whole code and political system! His constitution, but for the single blot of permitting the continuance of slavery, might be cited as the most felicitous compromise between power and right ever effected by the wisdom of an individual mind. But in what age or country has the course of innovation been stayed at that particular point which individual sagacity would recommend? The nicely balanced constitution of Solon could not long remain in equilibrium. The elective franchise and judicial function of his Popular Assembly provided a legitimate organ for the democratic tendency; and every subsequent event-the usurpation of the Pisistratidæ not excepted-helped on its ulterior developement. 'The next age shifts' into the grand spectacle of the PERSIAN INVASION. At the most terrible crisis of that soul-stirring time, the Athenians,' says Herodotus, were the preservers of 'Greece.' At the same crisis, adds Mr Bulwer, when even 'the deities themselves seemed doubtful, Athens was unshaken.' It was the epoch of her greatest men, and of incidents the most stupendous she was destined to witness. She was at the zenith of her true glory, whilst her buildings lay in ashes, and the vision of her future supremacy was still confined to the brain of Themistocles. From those ashes to the marbles of the Parthenon was only a descent on the scale of moral greatness. And, perhaps, it is not less a descent to pass from the contest of Themistocles and Aristides to that of Cimon and Pericles.



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What a host of recollections gathers round the latter of those names, as the land-mark of the Fifth great period in Attic history! -the private virtues of Pericles, and the public vices of his ad

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