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Tu regere imperio populos, Roinane, memento,
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. From considering the Romans, let us pass to the Greeks. The Grecian commonwealths, while they maintained their liberty, were the most heroic confederacy that ever existed. They were the politest, the bravest, and the wisest of men. In the short
of little more than a century, they became such statesmen, warriors, orators, historians, physicians, poets, critics, painters, sculptors, architects, and (last of all) philosophers, that one can hardly help considering that golden period as a providential event in honour of human nature, to shew to what perfection the species might ascend.“ and the two emperors Marcus Antoninus when once these fears were over, a general and Julian ; but as these preferred the use security soon ensued, and instead of attendof the Greek tongue to their own, they can ing to the arts of defence and self-prehardly be considered among the number of servation, they began to cultivate those of Latin writers.
elegance and pleasure. Now as these naAnd so much (by way of sketch) for the turally produced a kind of wanton insolence, Latin authors of philosophy ; a small num- (not unlike the vicious temper of bigh-fed ber for so vast an empire, if we consider animals,) so by this the bands of union them as all the product of near six suc- were insensibly dissolved. Hence, then, cessive centuries.
among the Greeks, that fatal Peloponnesian * If we except Homer, Hesiod, and the war, which, together with other wars, its lyric poets, we hear of few Grecian writers immediate consequence, broke the confebefore the expedition of Xerxes. After that deracy of their commonwealths, wasted monarch had been defeated, and the dread their strength, made them jealous of each of the Persian power was at an end, the other, and thus paved a way for the coneffulgence of Grecian genius (if I may use temptible kingdom of Macedon to enslave the expression) broke forth, and shone till them all, and ascend in a few years to unithe tiine of Alexander the Macedonian, versal monarchy. after whom it disappeared, and never rose A like luxuriance of prosperity sowed ilgain. This is that golden period spoken discord among the Romans, raised those of above. I do not mean that Greece had unhappy contests between the senate and not many writers of great merit subsequent the Gracchi, between Sylla and Marius, to that period, and especially of the philo between Pompey and Cæsar ; till at length, sophic kind; but the great, the striking, after the last struggle for liberty by those the sublime, (call it as you please,) attained brave patriots Brutus and Cassius at Phiat that time to a height to which it never lippi, and the subsequent defeat of Anthony could ascend in any after age.
at Actium, the Romanis became subject to The same kind of fortune befell the people the dominion of a fellow-citizen. of Rome. When the Punic wars were It must indeed be confessed, that after ended, and Carthage, their dreaded rival, was Alexander and Octavius had established no more, then (as Horace informs us) they their monarchies, there were many bright began to cultivate the politer arts. It was geniuses, who were eminent under their soon after this, their great orators and government. Aristotle maintained a friendhistorians and poets arose, and Rome, like ship and epistolary correspondence with Greece, had her golden period, which lasted Alexander. In the time of the same to the death of Octavius Cæsar.
monarch lived Theophrastus, and the cynic, I call these two periods, from the two Diogenes. Then also Demosthenes and greatest geniuses that flourished in cach, Æschines spoke their two celebrated oraone the Socratic period, the other the Ci- tions. So likewise in the time of Octavius, ceronian.
Virgil wrote his Æneid ; and with Horace, There are still further analogies subsist- Varius, and many other fine writers, paring between them. Neither period com- took of the protection and royal munificence. menced, as long as solicitude for the common But then it must be remembered, that these welfare engaged men's attentions, and such men were bred and educated in the prinwars impended as threatened their destruc- ciples of a free government. It was hence tion by foreigners and barbarians. But they derived that high and manly spirit, which made them the admiration of after- της προς αλλήλους έριδος, και της περί τα ages. The successors and forms of govern- Apwreia Piotipias : "" It is liberty that is ment left by Alexander and Octavius, soon formed to nurse the sentiments of great stopped the growth of any thing further in geniuses ; to inspire them with hope ; to the kind. So true is that noble saying of push forward the propensity of contest one Longinus: Opétal te ydp ikavn tà opový- with another, and the generous emulation ματα των μεγαλοφρόνων η ελευθέρια, και of being the first in rank," De Subl. επελπίσαι, και άμα διωθεϊν το πρόθυμον sect. 44.
Now the language of these Greeks was truly like themselves, it was conformable to their transcendent and universal genius. Where matter so abounded, words followed of course, and those exquisite in every kind, as the ideas for which they stood. And hence it followed, there was not a subject to be found, which could not with propriety be expressed in Greek.
Here were words and numbers for the humour of an Aristophanes; for the native elegance of a Philemon or Menander; for the amorous strains of a Mimnermus or Sappho ; for the rural lays of a Theocritus or Bion; and for the sublime conceptions of a Sophocles or Homer. The same in prose. Here Isocrates was enabled to display his art, in all the accuracy of periods, and the nice counterpoise of diction. Here Demosthenes found materials for that nervous composition, that manly force of unaffected eloquence, which rushed, like a torrent, too impetuous to be withstood.
Who were more different in exhibiting their philosophy than Xenophon, Plato, and his disciple Aristotle? Different, I say, in their character of composition; for as to their philosophy itself, it was in reality the same. Aristotle, strict, methodic, and orderly ; subtle in thought; sparing in ornament; with little address to the passions or imagination; but exhibiting the whole with such a pregnant brevity, that in every sentence we seem to read a page. How exquisitely is this all performed in Greek? Let those who may imagine it may be done as well in another language, satisfy themselves either by attempting to translate him, or by perusing his translations already made by men of learning. On the contrary, when we read either Xenophon or Plato, nothing of this method or strict order appears. The formal and didactic is wholly dropped. Whatever they may teach, it is without professing to be teachers; a train of dialogue and truly polite address, in which, as in a mirror, we behold human life, adorned in all its colours of sentiment and
And yet, though these differ in this manner from the Stagirite, how different are they likewise in character from each other? Plato, copious, figurative, and majestic ; intermixing at times the facetious and satiric; enriching his works with tales and fables, and the mystic theology of ancient times. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect simplicity ; everywhere smooth, harmonious, and pure; declining the figurative, the marvellous, and
the mystic; ascending but rarely into the sublime; nor then so much trusting to the colours of style, as to the intrinsic dignity of the sentiment itself.
The language, in the meantime, in which he and Plato wrote, appears to suit so accurately with the style of both, that when we read either of the two, we cannot help thinking, that it is he alone who has hit its character, and that it could not have appeared so elegant in any other manner.
And thus is the Greek tongue, from its propriety and universality, made for all that is great, and all that is beautiful, in every subject, and under every form of writing
Graiis ingenium, Graiis dedit ore rotundo
Musa loqui. It were to be wished, that those amongst us who either write or read, with a view to employ their liberal leisure, (for as to such as do either from views more sordid, we leave them, like slaves, to their destined drudgery,) it were to be wished, I say, that the liberal (if they have a relish for letters) would inspect the finished models of Grecian literature; that they would not waste those hours, which they cannot recall, upon the meaner productions of the French and English press; upon that fungous growth of novels and of pamphlets, where, it is to be feared, they rarely find any rational pleasure, and more rarely still, any solid improvement.
To be competently skilled in ancient learning, is by no means a work of such insuperable pains. The very progress itself is attended with delight, and resembles a journey through some pleasant country, where every mile we advance new charms arise. It is certainly as easy to be a scholar, as a gamester, or many other characters equally illiberal and low.
The same application, the same quantity of habit, will fit us for one, as completely as for the other. And as to those who tell us, with an air of seeming wisdom, that it is men, and not books, we must study to become knowing; this I have always remarked, from repeated experience, to be the common consolation and language of dunces. They shelter their ignorance under a few bright examples, whose transcendent abilities, without the common helps, have been sufficient of themselves to great and important ends. But, alas !
Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile. In truth, each man's understanding, when ripened and mature, is a composite of natural capacity, and of super-induced habit. Hence the greatest men will be necessarily those who possess the best capacities, cultivated with the best habits. Hence also moderate capacities, when adorned with valuable science, will far transcend others the most acute by nature, when either
neglected, or applied to low and base purposes. And thus for the honour of culture and good learning, they are able to render a man, if he will take the pains, intrinsically more excellent than his natural superiors.
And so much at present as to general ideas; how we acquire them; whence they are derived; what is their nature; and what their connection with language. So much, likewise, as to the subject of this treatise, Universal Grammar,