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the noblest view that man ever wrote ; written to inspire his pupil with a love of the country he was to govern, by shewing him, that to govern by those admirable laws, would make him a far greater prince than the most unlimited despotism."
This he does not only prove by a detail of particular laws, but by an accurate comparison between the state of England and France, one of which he makes a land of liberty, the other of servitude. His thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth chapters upon this subject are invaluable, and should be read by every Englishman, who honours that name.
Through these and the other chapters, we perceive an interesting truth, which is, that the capital parts of our constitution, the trial by juries, the abhorrence of tortures, the sovereignty of parliament as well in the granting of money as in the making and repealing of laws; I say, that all these, and many other inestimable privileges, existed then, as they do now; were not new projects of the day, but sacred forms, to which ages had given a venerable sanction.
As for the literature of this great man, (which is more immediately to our purpose,) he appears to have been a reader of Aristotle, Diodorus Siculus, Cicero, Quinctilian, Seneca, Vegetius, Boethius, and many other ancients; to have been not uninformed in the authors and history of later ages; to have been deeply knowing, not only in the laws of his own country, (where he attained the highest dignity they could bestow,) but in the Roman, or civil law, which he holds to be far inferior; we must add to this, a masterly insight into the state and policy of the neighbouring nations.
Perhaps a person of rank, even at present, need not wish to be better instituted, if he had an ambition to soar above the fashionable polish.
We must not conclude without observing, that the taste for gothic architecture seems never to have been so elegant as during this period : witness that exquisite structure, built by Henry the Sixth; I mean, the chapel of King's college in Cambridge.
lished and enriched with additional notes For trial by juries, see of this author by Mr. Gregor. A new edition was given chap. XX. xxi. xxii. For his abhorrence of ann. 1775, and the Latin text subjoined. torture, see chap. xxiii. For the sovereignty
See of Fortescue's work, chap. ix. and of parliament, see chap. ix. xiii. xviii. xxxvi. xiii. and, above all, chap. xiv. where he particularly p. 118 of the English version. tells us, the possibility of doing amiss (which For the high antiquity of our laws and is the only privilege an absolute prince constitution, see chap. xvii. enjoys above a limited one) can be called • The inferiority of the Roman law to an addition of power, no other, than we so our own, is a doctrine he strongly inculcates. call a possibility to decay, or to die. See See, above all, chap. ix. xix, &c., also chap. p. 41 of the English version.
xxxiv, where he nobly reprobates, as he It is worth observing that Fortescne, in had done before in chap. ix, that infamous his dialogue, gives these fine sentiments maxim, Quod principi placuit, legis habet to the young prince, after he has heard vigorem ; a maxim well becoming an much and due reasoning upon the excellence Oriental caliph, but hardly decent even in a of our constitution. See chap. xxxiv. p. 119. degenerate Roman lawgiver.
CONCERNING NATURAL BEAUTY-ITS IDEA THE SAME IN ALL TIMES
THESSALIAN TEMPLE-TASTE OF VIRGIL AND HORACE OF MILTON, IN DESCRIBING PARADISE-EXHIBITED OF LATE YEARS FIRST IN
WANTING TO THE ENLIGHTENED FEW OF THE MIDDLE AGE-PROVED IN LELAND, PETRARCH, AND SANNAZARIUS-COMPARISON BETWEEN THE YOUNGER CYRUS AND PHILIP LE BEL OF FRANCE.
But let us pass for a moment from the elegant works of art to the more elegant works of nature. The two subjects are so nearly allied, that the same taste usually relishes them both.
Now there is nothing more certain, than that the face of inanimate nature has been at all times captivating. The vulgar, indeed, look no further than to the scenes of culture, because all their views merely terminate in utility. They only remark, that it is fine barley; that it is rich clover; as an ox or an ass, if they could speak, would inform us. But the liberal have nobler views; and though they give to culture its due praise, they can be delighted with natural beauties, where culture was never known.
Ages ago they have celebrated, with enthusiastic rapture," a deep retired vale, with a river rushing through it; a vale having its sides formed by two immense and opposite mountains, and those sides diversified by woods, precipices, rocks, and romantic caverns. Such was the scene produced by the river Penēus, as it ran between the mountains Olympus and Ossa, in that well-known vale, the Thessalian Tempe.“
Virgil and Horace, the first for taste among the Romans, appear to have been enamoured with beauties of this character. Horace prayed for a villa where there was a garden, a rivulet, and above these a little grove.
Hortus ubi, et tecto vicinus jugis aquæ fons,
Et paulum silvæ super his foret. Virgil wished to enjoy rivers, and woods, and to be hid under immense shade in the cool valleys of Mount Hæmus :
0! qui me gelidis in vallibus Hæmi
Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra ? Georg. ii. 486. The great elements of this species of beauty, according to
Sat. vi. 2.
"Est nemus Hæmoniæ, prærupta quod Dejectuque gravi, &c.-Ovid. Met. i. 568. undique claudit
A fuller and more ample account of this Silva : vocant Tempe. Per quæ Penëus beautiful spot may be found in the first ab imo
chapter of the third book of Ælian's Various Effusus Pindo spumosis volvitur undis, History.
these principles, were water, wood, and uneven ground ; to which may be added a fourth, that is to say, lawn. It is the happy mixture of these four that produces every scene of natural beauty, as it is a more mysterious mixture of other elements (perhaps as simple, and not more in number) that produces a world or universe.
Virgil and Horace having been quoted, we may quote, with equal truth, our great countryman, Milton. Speaking of the flowers of Paradise, he calls them flowers
Which not nice art
Pours forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain. Par. Lost, iv. 245. Soon after this he subjoins,
This was the place A happy rural seat, of various view. He explains this variety, by recounting the lawns, the flocks, the hillocks, the valleys, the grots, the waterfalls, the lakes, &c.; and in another book, describing the approach of Raphael, he informs us, that this divine messenger passed
Through groves of myrrh,
Par. Lost, v. 292. The painters in the preceding century seem to have felt the power of these elements, and to have transferred them into their landscapes with such amazing force, that they appear not so much to have followed, as to have emulated nature. Claude de Lorraine, the Poussins, Salvator Rosa, and a few more, may be called superior artists in this exquisite taste.
Our gardens in the mean time were tasteless and insipid. Those who made them, thought the further they wandered from nature, the nearer they approached the sublime. Unfortunately, where they travelled, no sublime was to be found; and the further they went, the further they left it behind.
But perfection, alas ! was not the work of a day. Many prejudices were to be removed ; many gradual ascents to be made; ascents from bad to good, and from good to better, before the delicious amenities of a Claude or a Poussin could be rivalled in a Stour-head, a Hagley, or a Stow; or the tremendous charms of a Salvator Rosa be equalled in the scenes of a Piercefield or a Mount Edgecumb.
Not however to forget the subject of our inquiry. Though it was not before the present century that we established a chaster taste; though our neighbours at this instant are but learning it from us; and though to the vulgar everywhere it is totally incomprehensible, (be they rulgar in rank, or vulgar in capacity ;)
yet even in the darkest periods we have been treating, periods when taste is often thought to have been lost, we shall still discover an enlightened few, who were by no means insensible to the power of these beauties.
How warmly does Leland describe Guy's Cliff; Sannazarius, his villa of Mergilline; and Petrarch, his favourite Vaucluse?
Take Guy's Cliff from Leland in his own old English, mixed with Latin: “It is a place meet for the Muses; there is sylence; a praty wood; antra in vivo saxo, (grottos in the living rock ;) the river roling over the stones with a praty noyse." His Latin is more elegant: Nemusculum ibidem opacum, fontes liquidi et gemmei, prata florida, antra muscosa, rivi levis et per saxa decursus, nec non solitudo et quies Musis amicissima.*
Mergilline, the villa of Sannazarius near Naples, is thus sketched in different parts of his poems.
Exciso in scopulo, fluctus unde aurea canos
Sannaz. De partu Virgin. i. 25.
Ejusd. Epigr. i. 2.
Ejusd. De partu Virgin, iii. sub fin,
Ejusd. Epigr. ii. 36. It would be difficult to translate these elegant morsels; it is sufficient to express what they mean, collectively: “ that the villa of Mergillina had solitary woods; had groves of laurel and citron; had grottos in the rock, with rivulets and springs; and that, from its lofty situation, it looked down upon the sea, and commanded an extensive prospect."
It is no wonder that such a villa should enamour such an owner. So strong was his affection for it, that when, during the subsequent wars in Italy, it was demolished by the imperial troops, this unfortunate event was supposed to have hastened his end.
* See Leland's Itinerary, vol. iv. p. 66. by Grævius, in a small edition of some of
y So we learn from Paulus Jovius, the the Italian poets, at Amsterdam, in the writer of his life, published with his poems year 1695.
Vaucluse (Vallis Clausa) the favourite retreat of Petrarch, was a romantic scene, not far from Avignon.
" It is a valley, having on each hand, as you enter, immense cliffs, but closed up at one of its ends by a semi-circular ridge of them; from which incident it derives its name. One of the most stupendous of these cliffs stands in the front of the semicircle, and has at its foot an opening into an immense cavern. Within the most retired and gloomy part of this cavern is a Jarge oval bason, the production of nature, filled with pellucid and unfathomable water; and from this reservoir issues a river of respectable magnitude, dividing, as it runs, the meadows beneath, and winding through the precipices that impend from above."
This is an imperfect sketch of that spot where Petrarch spent his time with so much delight, as to say, that this alone was life to him, the rest but a state of punishment.
In the two preceding narratives I seem to see an anticipation of that taste for natural beauty which now appears to flourish through Great Britain in such perfection. It is not to be doubted that the owner of Mergillina would have been charmed with Mount Edgecumb; and the owner of Vaucluse have been delighted with Piercefield.
When we read in Xenophon, that the younger Cyrus had with his own hand planted trees for beauty, we are not surprised, though pleased with the story, as the age was polished, and Cyrus an accomplished prince. But when we read that in the beginning of the fourteenth century a king of France (Philip le Bell) should make it penal to cut down a tree, qui a esté gardè pour sa beaultè, “ which had been preserved for its beauty;" though we praise the law, we cannot help being surprised that the prince should at such a period have been so far enlightened.
See Memoires pour la Vie de François tions on the Statutes, chiefly on the ancient, Petrarque, quarto, vol. i. p. 231. 341, 342. &c. p. 7, by the Hon. Mr. Barrington ; a See also Plin. Nat. Hist. I. xxviii. c. 22. work con
ing which it is difficult to dea See the Economics of Xenophon, where cide, whether it be more entertaining, or this fact is related.
more instructive. • See a valuable work, entitled Observa