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plex characters of which it consists, we seem to have the relics of that emblematic or picture-language, which I have thus endeavoured to prove has laid a foundation for alphabetic writing in every part of the world. With a few trifling variations this correct and elegant alphabet extends from the Persian Gulf to China; but it has no pretensions to rival the antiquity of the Phoenician. It is unborrowed, but of later origin.
Such is a brief history of the noblest art that has ever been invented by the unassisted efforts of human understanding; an art that gives stability to thought, forms a cabinet for our ideas, and presents, in imperishable colours, a speaking portraiture of the soul. Without this, hard indeed would be the separation of friends; and the traveller would become an exile from his native home,-vainly languishing for the consolatory information that his wife, his children, his kinsmen, his country, were in a state of health and prosperity, and himself still embalmed in their affections. Without this, what to us would be the wisdom of past ages, or the history of former states? The chain of nature would be broken through all its links, and every generation become an isolated and individual world, equally cut off, as by an irremediable abyss, from its ancestors and from posterity. While the language of the lips is fleeting as the breath itself, and confined to a single spot as well as to a single moment, the language of the pen enjoys, in many instances, an adamantine existence, and will only perish amidst the ruins of the globe. Before its mighty touch time and space become annihilated; it joins epoch to epoch, and pole to pole; it gives unity to the works of creation and Providence, and enables us to trace from the beginning of things to the end. It is the great sun of the moral world, that warms, and stimulates, and vivifies, and irradiates, and developes, and matures the best virtues of the heart, and the best faculties of the intellect. But for this, every thing would be doubt, and darkness, and death-shade; all knowledge would be traditionary, and all experience local; civilized life would relapse into barbarism, and man would have to run through his little, and comparatively insignificant, round of existence, the perpetual sport of ignorance and error, uninstructed by science, unregulated by laws, and unconsoled by Revelation. Have I not, then, justly characterized it as the noblest art that has ever been invented by the unassisted efforts of human understanding?
ON THE LITERARY EDUCATION OF FORMER TIMES; AND ESPECIALLY THAT OF GREECE AND ROME.
WE have taken a brief survey of the nature of oral language, and of the means devised in different ages and parts of the world to render the transitory ideas it communicates permanent, by means of picturesque or symbolical signs; so that what is once spoken may conveniently be copied or written down, and treasured up for future ages.
It yet remains for us to take some notice of the chief methods that have been adopted in different eras to turn this accumulating treasure or bank of intellectual knowledge to the best account; or, in other words,
to develope the mode of education adopted among those nations that have been most celebrated for literary and scientific acquirements, especially in Greece and Rome; and to compare them with the means possessed in our own day, and the general and laudable desire of improvement manifested in every quarter, and prospective of no small addition to the best sort of wealth and prosperity with which a nation can ever be enriched.
We have already traced whatever degree of art or science inay have descended from the antediluvian to the postdiluvian race, through the narrow link of human beings preserved in the ark, or whatever the earliest generations of the postdiluvians may have been able to strike out for themseives, to the plains of Babylon as their centre; and observed that, in their radiations from this central point, they have been peculiarly influenced by the political character of the people who cultivated them, and that of the country and the climate in which they took up their abode.
When, in the prosecution of the present subject, we shall come hereafter to examine more particularly into the furniture and faculties with which the mind is endowed, we shall have to show that its chief trains, as well of feelings as of ideas, of passions and rational pursuits, have derived a strong tinge from these circumstances.
Of the birth or first growth of the Grecian states we know little or nothing, though we are made acquainted with the region from which they sprang. The exquisite beauty of the country in which they had the good fortune to fix themselves; its rich and picturesque variety of hill and dale, the spontaneous fertility of its soil, the sweetness of its temperature, the almost unbroken serenity of its skies, and the smooth and glassy sea that surrounded and deeply indented its coasts, harmonized all the ruder passions, and called forth the noblest and finest feelings of the soul. They soon began enamoured of the graceful and the beautiful; their language was melody, and they were led by nature to delight in music, poetry, and painting, from the first. Hence these are the eldest employments we find them cultivating; the earliest historians were their rhapsodists, Homer, Hesiod, and the writers whose works constituted the very valuable EPIC CYCLE of Greece; a work, unhappily, long lost to the world, and from which Statius is supposed to have drawn the materials of his Thebaid.* Their earliest artists were their musicians; as Orpheus, and the priests of Cybele, and others of like power; the first of whom is represented not only as having harmonized the passions of men, but broken the ferocity of the beasts of the forest, and even tranquillized the tortures of the infernal regions. And of their early knowledge of colours and the art of designing we have a sufficient proof in various passages of the Cyclic poets that have reached us; while in Homer we have occasional references to their being applied, and by ladies, through the medium of tapestry, to the most important subjects of history. Thus Iris, in the third book of the Iliad, finds Helen occupied in representing in tapestry the evils which the Greeks and Trojans had suffered on her account in their battles; and when Andromache first heard the melancholy tidings of the death of Hector, she was engaged in a similar occupation. These, indeed, were employments of Trojan ladies, but what was common to them must have been common, also, to their neighbours of Greece.
Among the Greek states, however, that of Athens was by far the most
*For the particulars of this celebrated work, see note in vol. ii. pp. 262, 263. of the author's Translation of Lucretius.
renowned for its love of letters and science; and amidst the different eras which the Athenian history comprises, that of Pericles may be selected as affording the fairest specimen of the manner in which education was conducted, general learning and a knowledge of the arts acquired and disseminated, philosophy taught, and society cultivated and polished. This era may be regarded as contemporary with the reign of Artaxerxes the First of Persia, and Alexander the Second of Macedon, the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem under Nehemiah, and the establishment of the decemvirs at Rome: and, if we extend its range through an entire century, as, for example, from the middle of the fourth to the middle of the third century before the birth of our Saviour, it will just reach from Herodotus to Demosthenes, and will, besides these celebrated characters, include the existence of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, among the poets; Thucydides, Xenophon, and Marsyas, among the historians; Lycias, Isæus, Isocrates, and Æschines, among the orators and rhetoricians; Socrates, Timæus Ocellus, Aristippus, Diogenes, Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus, among the philosophers; Eudoxus, among the astronomers; and Apelles, among the painters.
The elementary branches of education were acquired among the Athenians, as among ourselves, sometimes by private instruction, but more generally by public schools; many of which, at the period I am now adverting to, had attained a very high degree of reputation, and were crowded with youths from other Grecian states, and even from foreign countries. For the first five or six years, however, not the smallest effort was made to improve the mind; the whole of this period of time being devoted, agreeably to the advice of Plato, and even of many earlier sages, to sports and pastimes, for the purpose of giving strength to the body; exercises which were even afterwards continued with the greatest punctuality, under particular regulations, and constituted a very important branch of Athenian education. In this respect they seem to have imitated the example of the Persians, who never commenced training their children till they were five or six years old, not even those of royal birth. At the age of five or six, the rising generation of Persia were placed under the care of their magi, or men of letters, and combined a course of gymnastics with a course of moral science: the former consisting in learning to ride, to shoot with the bow, and to fight on horseback; the latter embraced and inculcated the valuable habits of honesty and speaking the truth, patience, sobriety, reverence to parents, and the practice of every other virtue. With them literature was subservient to morals.
The general circle of study among the Greeks is well known to have comprised the seven liberal arts of grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. Of these the two first, or grammar and rhetoric, were commenced earliest, and occupied by far the greatest attention of the scholar: for poetry and declamation were now the most fashionable pursuits, and the Greek language was criticised with an accuracy amounting even to fastidiousness, for new niceties and turns of expression, both in prose and verse; the sense itself being often sacrificed to the sound, as a matter of subordinate consideration. Nor was the time of the student allowed to be infringed upon by the acquisition of any other language; the vanity of the Greeks inducing them to regard almost all other nations as barbarians; and only a few of their philosophers thinking it worth while to make any sort of inquiry into the literature of remote countries.
Next to a critical initiation into their native language under the most
celebrated grammarians, the chief object of Athenian education was, as I have just observed, to strengthen the body and give pliancy to the muscles by athletic exercises; for which purpose three magnificent establishments were instituted and supported at the public expense, consisting of an extensive range of buildings surrounding gardens that were defended by groves, porticos, and shady walks, from the rays of the mid-day sun, and still further cooled and embellished by sheets of limpid water. These schools were called gymnasia, and comprised the Lycæum, the Cynosarges, and the Academy. Here the Athenian youth were instructed in the arts of wrestling, leaping, boxing, tennis, and foot-racing. In different parts of the buildings, large and commodious halls, duly provided with seats, were allotted to the philosophers, rhetoricians, and sophists; and in these halls. the students were completed in the higher branches of instruction. At the age of eighteen the young Athenian had his name formally enrolled in the register of that division of the curia or militia of which his father was a member, and at twenty was admitted to all the rights and privileges of citizenship, and might plunge as soon as he chose into a contest for its honours and emoluments; or, if he were able, set up a magnificent establishment, and endeavour to distinguish himself at the chariot and horse-races.
The education of Athenian females was for the most part very limited. Those of the middle ranks of life were seldom taught any thing more than to read, write, sew, prepare wool for clothing, and superintend domestic concerns; while even the higher ranks, or those who were educated with more refinement, independently of this general knowledge, were only instructed how to take some part in the public festivals and other religious ceremonies of the country: such as that of carrying the sacred baskets on their heads, or of joining in the hymns and sacred dances. Upon this point, however, no expense was deemed too costly, that could endow them with the requisite arts of modulating their voices and measuring their steps; no pains or sacrifice too extravagant that could bestow upon them elegance of shape and gracefulness of motion. Nor is this to be wondered at, since, excepting on such occasions, Athenian females, above the lower classes, seldom appeared abroad, and perhaps never without having their faces veiled. The married women, indeed, were allowed to receive and return visits among themselves, but even these were never permitted to be present at their husbands' parties, though the latter occasionally joined them at their own houses, and had the liberty of introducing their more intimate friends and companions. So that, among the female sex, none but those of acknowledged licentious manners had even an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the general literature, or literary characters, of their own times; whence, with a singular subversion of the very principles of their system of ethics, such persons were often noticed and even visited by philosophers and moralists.
Education, therefore, among the Athenians appears rather to have been directed to purposes of elegance and accomplishment than to the acquisition of useful knowledge. To possess the first dignities of the state; to be applauded in the assemblies of the people, or at the bar; to bear away the prize tripods at the palestræ, or public places for games of exercise among men, as the gymnasia were for youths, or the prize-crowns at the theatre, were the chief objects of ambition among the more active. While the great body of citizens idled away almost the whole of their leisure hours by sauntering on the pleasant banks of the Ilissus, or in the agora, or great square of the city, frequenting every shop in succession, and especially those
of the perfumers, in quest of news, for which they had an insatiable thirst; indulging their well-known vein of wit and keen satire upon passers and passing events, or listening to the declamations of sophists, and other noisy disputants.
A few clubs of wits are occasionally to be met with in the present epoch of the history of this people; and a few select assemblies for polite literature and elegant conversation: of which last the most remarkable, perhaps, was that held at the house of the celebrated Aspasia; since it was attended by Socrates and Alcibiades, as well as by almost every other scholar or philosopher of reputation, and by all the most renowned artists of the day. But we meet with no public establishment for a general course of science like that of the universities, or the Institutions (as they are called) of our own times, excepting their schools, nor with any public library of much note, except that of Pisistratus, which was carried away by Xerxes into Persia before the epoch, to which our attention is now directed, commenced.
Private libraries, however, were not uncommon, though seldom extensive. Those of Aristotle, of Theophrastus, and of Euclid, the founder of the school of Megara, were perhaps the largest and most valuable. The art of printing being unknown, books were rare, and copied with great difficulty and expense; sometimes by individuals for their own benefit; but more generally by professional transcribers, who formed a distinct trade. The great mass of Athenians, moreover, though of exquisite taste and elegance, and certainly wealthier than most of the other Grecian states, seldom displayed those splendid fortunes which were so common in Persia. A freehold of the value of fifteen, or twenty talents, (about four or five thousand pounds sterling) raised a man considerably above the middle ranks of life. The father of Demosthenes was esteemed rich, the whole of whose property on his death amounted to not more than fourteen talents, 31507. sterling. Plato appears to have given a hundred minæ, or 3751. for three small treatises by Philolaus.* But this was a costly purchase: for Aristotle bought the whole library of Speusippus, small indeed, but select, for three talents, or 6751.†
Hence the trade of bookselling at Athens was generally upon a limited scale, and usually engaged in by persons of but little property, whose stock consisted mostly of books of mere amusement; a part of which however was often sent to the adjacent countries, and sometimes as far as to the Greek colonies on the coast of the Euxine.‡
In respect to books, and the possession of public libraries, ROME was far more fortunate than Athens; and I shall now hasten to a brief survey of its literary and scientific character in what may be regarded as its most classical and cultivated era; not the Augustan age, which has usually been contemplated as such, but that which immediately preceded it, reaching from the dictatorship of Sylla to the establishment of Augustus, and of course terminating a few years before the birth of our Saviour.
The Romans, who had hitherto devoted themselves altogether to arms and agriculture, and who had even despised eloquence, and paid no attention to the improvement of their native tongue, became attached to literature all of a sudden. The Achæans were accused by the Roman
*Diog. Laert. in Plat. lib. iii. sec. 9. viii.
† Diog. Laert. in Speus. lib. iv. sec. 5. Aul. Gell. iii. 17.
I Xenoph. Exped. * Cyr. lib. vii. p. 412.
Travels of Anacharsis (Engl. vers.) iii. 130.