Imatges de pàgina
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laid on musical entertainments alone, in Plato's republic. Nor did the statesman Cicero, in his laws, think Plato's an idle notion. Quamobrem ille quidem fapientiffimus Graeciae vir, longeque doétiffimus, valde banc labem veretur : negat enim mutari posle musicas leges fine immutatione legum publicarum. Ego autem nec tam valde id timendum, nec plane contemnendum puto. Matters of these concernments are now left to the management of our women of fashion: and even our poets, whose end is profit and delight, are exceeding cautious how they incur the censure of these fair umpires and critics. Hence what we call honour, love, and gallantry, make up the chief parts of modern tragedies; and our Wicherlys and Congreves, well knowing their audience, took the furest way to please them.

2 Cicero de Leg. II, 15. Plato's words are, Elde graine KAINON [lego, ΚΟΙΝΩΝ] μωσικής μεθαβάλλειν ευλαβητέρν, ως ir ön xırduréuerta. Ovde paz yang xomilano le oreñas ngóton áreu πολιτικών νόμων των μεγίσων, ως φησί τε Δάμων, και εγω wilonan. De 'Repub. L. IV. P. 424. Edit. Steph. To the fame purpose the philologist Dio, Orat. 33. p. 411. Παρα δε τοίς "Ελλησι πρότερον δεινών έδόκει το μετακινείν την μεσικήν, και καλεβόων πανες των ρυθμών εισαγόνων έτερον, και τα μέλη ποικιλώτερα σοιέων, ως διαφθειρομένης της Ελλάδαεν τούς θεάτρους. Ούτω σφόδρα τα ώτα έφύλαττον, και τηλικαύτην ηγελο δύναμιν την ακοήν έχειν, ώςεθηλύνει την διάνοιαν, και αδικείσθαι τα της σωφροσύνης, ει παρα μικρών ενδώνη το της αρμονίας. .

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A corruption of taft easily makes way for a corruption of morals and manners ; and these once depraved soon fit us for the groffest servițude both of body and mind. They who can read history somewhat beyond the common chronologer's and antiquarian's observation, and can trace the progress of national manners, are very sensible of the reciprocal dependence and mutual connexion between civil liberty and polite literature. However half-seeing critics may extol the golden age of Augustus, yet all that blaze of wit was kindled during the struggle for liberty : 'twas then indeed they had leisure to exert their faculties, when their country had a little respite from civil commotions. But this was the last effort of expiring politeness and literature. Barbarism, with gigantic strides, began to advance; and to check its progress there was but one effectual way; and that was, to alter the whole constitution of affairs. Thus they went on from bad to worse, 'till the finishing stroke was given by St. Gregory the Great, who in a pious fury set fire to the Palatine library. In the eastern empire, by the influence

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3 Sapientiffimus ille Gregorius non modo mathefin jufit ab aula recedere, fed ut traditur à majoribus incendio dedit probatæ lectionis

Scripta,

of the 4 Greek fathers of the church, all reading of the Attic writers was not only discouraged, but the originals were burnt and destroyed. If any survived this religious massacre, , ’twas partly owing to some particular attachment to a favourite author, and partly to meer accidental causes. About the same time the northern nations dismantled the empire, and at length left it an easy prey to the Turk.

If we turn our eyes to our own country, we cannot go farther than the invasion of Julius

Scripta, Palatinus quæcunque tenebat Apollo. Joannes Saresberiensis de nugis curial. 1. 2. c. 26. Fertur tamen beatus Gregorius bibliothecam combusfile gentilem, quo divine pagine gratior effet locus, et major autoritas, et diligentia ftudiofior. Idem 1. 8. c. 19.

4 Audiebam etiam puer ex Demetrio Chalcondyla Graecarum rerum peritissimo, sacerdotes Graecos tanta floruisse auctoritate apud Caesares Byzantinos, ut integra ( illorum gratia) complura de veteribus Graecis poemata combuferint, inprimisque ea ubi amores, turpes lusus et nequitiae amantium continebantur, atque ita Menandri, Diphili, Apollodori, Philemonis, Alexis fabellas, et Sapphus, Erinnae, Anacreontis, Minermimi, [Mimnermi] Bionis, Alcmanis, Alcaei carmina intercidisse, tum pro his substituta Nazianzeni noftri poemata ; quae, etfi excitant animos noftrorum hominum ad flagrantiorem religionis cultum, non tamen verborum Atticorum proprietatem et Graecae linguae elegantiam edocent. Turpiter quidem facerdotes ifti in veteres Graecos malevoli fuerunt, sed integritatis, probitatis et religionis maximum dedere teftimonium. Petrus Alcyonius de Exil. p. 29. edit. Bafil.

Caesar,

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Caefar, without being immerged in legends and romances.

But even in that late period of arts and sciences, our British barbarity was so very notorious, that our s inhospitality to strangers, our poverty and meanness, and our ignorance of every polite art, made us as contemptible to the Romans, as the lowest of the Indian clans can possibly at this day appear to us. And even when we were beaten into a better behaviour, and taught by our conquerors a little more civility, yet. we always relish'd the Gothic, more than the Roman manners. Our reading, if we could read at all, was such as the Monks were pleased

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Horace, Lib. III. Ode 4. Vifam Britannos hospitibus feros. See Caesar's defcription of Britain (if 'tis Caesar's, and not inserted by a later hand) de bello Gallic. V, 12. &c. Cicero ad Attic. Epist. IV, 16. Illud jam cognitum eft, neque argenti scrupulum esse ullum in illa insula, neque ullam Spem praedae, nisi ex mancipiis. If Cæsar did not thoroughly conquer us, the reason was, because we were not worth conquering. He had other designs than spending his time in such a miserable country ; which Rome soon began to be sensible of.

6 « In our forefathers time, when papistry, as a standing “ pool, covered and overflowed all England, few books.

were read in our tongue, faving certain books of chival“ ry, as they said for pastime and pleasure ; which, as • some fay, were made in monasteries by idle Monks or "wanten Canons." Ascham's Scholemaster, p. 86.

to

to allow us, either pious tales of their own forging, or lying histories of adventurous knighterrants. Our heroes were of a piece with our learning, farmed from the Gothic and Moorish models.

A pleafant picture of our ancient chivalry may be seen in Shakespeare's K. Richard II. where Bolingbroke, fon to John of Gaunt, appeals the duke of Norfolk, on an accusation of high treason. He would have been thought a most irreligious person, who should have dared to question the immediate interposition of heaven in defending the right cause. The judge therefore allowing the appeal, the accused person threw down his gage, whether glove or gauntlet, which was taken up formally by the accuser ; and both were taken into safe custody till battle was to decide the truth. The champions arms being ceremoniously blessed, each took an oath, that he used no charmed weapons, ? Macbeth, according to the law of arms, tells Macduff,

I bear a charmed life, which must not yield

To one of womon born.
To this Posthumus alludes in Cymbeline, Act. V.

1, in my own woe charm'd
Could not find death.
7 Macbeth, Ad v.

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