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Willis. As the one can reconstruct an extinct animal from a single bone, and the other a destroyed building from a fragment of architectural detail, so Colonel Mure can set before us the full proportions, intellectual and moral, of an extinct poet, out of a few lines which have hitherto afforded matter only for grammatical or philological inquiry. And in all three, alike in the zoologist, the antiquary, and the critic, we can admire the operation of combined tact, experience, and good sense. In all three cases the results are of a nature which few but their authors would have previously looked for, and which yet, when once stated, command immediate assent, and are never rejected as fanciful or untrustworthy. To these poets Colonel Mure has rendered every service but one. It is wonderful that, with his knowledge of the language, his fine taste and acuteness, his appreciation of the minutest characteristics of the several authors, he still remains altogether incapable or unwilling to translate a piece of Greek verse or prose into appropriate, or even into accurate English.*
We shall hereafter come across some examples of this strange deficiency as regards the authors with whom we are at present more immediately concerned. But lest our words should seem too strong, we cannot forbear quoting an instance from an earlier part of Colonel Mure's work. In vol. iii. p. 251, he quotes a lovely fragment of Stesichoros, to the beauty of which he yields all the admiration it deserves:
Αέλιος δ ̓ Ὑπεριονίδας δέπας ἐςκατέβαινε
ποτὶ ματέρα, κουριδίαν τ ̓ ἄλοχον,
παϊδάς τε φίλους· ὁ δ ̓ ἐς ἄλσος ἔβα
ποσσὶ πάϊς Διός.
This Colonel Mure renders:
Hyperion now his lofty car ascends,
And o'er the trackless wave of Ocean bends
His radiant course, to where night's sacred shades
Now, first of all, in this version the beautiful simplicity of the original is altogether lost. Stesichoros says nothing about “the trackless wave of Ŏcean," about radiant course," or about "heaven's light" being "absorbed" by "night's sacred shades." Moreover, the last line is entirely Colonel Mure's own composition. But these are comparatively light matters. First, 'Aéxios Trepiovídas is no more to be translated Hyperion," than Пŋλŋïadéw ’Axıλños is to be translated "Peleus." Then déwas does not mean a "car," and èskaтaßaívw does not mean to "ascend;" nor is the matter mended by putting in a note that “the author, for the sake of his own verse, has taken the liberty of substituting car for cup.” In fact, Stesichoros' "fantastic allegory relative to the sun's evening course in the heaven," entirely disappears in Colonel Mure's version. Then again, the last clause, which introduces a second character on the scene, vanishes under the translator's hands. Colonel Mure makes "Hyperion" go to the laurel glades in a “car." In Stesichoros the person who goes there goes neither in a cup nor in a car, but on foot (Togo). Moreover, the person who goes in either fashion is neither Hyperion
In the present volume, which is devoted to the Attic historians, that is, mainly Thucydides and Xenophon, Colonel Mure necessarily invades Mr. Grote's domain more frequently and more extensively than in the earlier parts of his work. He is here considerably less in his element than when dealing with Homer or Archilochos. His own forte, as we have implied, lies in strictly literary criticism; hence, in dealing with the poets, where manner is at least as important as matter, he is thoroughly at home. But a criticism purely literary would be a very inadequate way of dealing with a great historian, above all with Thucydides, the great father of historical and political science. Colonel Mure is necessarily driven to deal at some length with political and historical matters, and though even on these points he gives us much that is valuable, we can discern a marked inferiority alike to Mr. Grote's treatment of the same themes, and to his own treatment of more congenial subjects. It is in his thorough grasp of all political matters that Mr. Grote's greatness is preeminent. In Colonel Mure there is a sort of looseness and carelessness of thought and expression upon such subjects, which shows itself in more ways than one.* Both Mr. Grote and Colonel Mure are most honourably distinguished for the combination of profound learning with the character of practical men of the world. But the immediate world of each of the two men is by no means the same. Mr. Grote's true sphere, the source of illustration to which his thoughts habitually turn, is political life in its various forms. Colonel Mure has studied life with no less acuteness, but not so much in its political as in its social aspect. From this latter source he has drawn
nor a son of Hyperion, but a son of Zeus (máïs Aiós), no other, in short, than Herakles himself. Colonel Mure has altogether eliminated not only the fiction of the golden cup in which the sun-god floated back from west to east after his day's toil, but also the fact that Herakles was introduced in the poem at all. See Keightley's Mythology, p. 54, who gives a version, less elegant doubtless, but considerably more accurate, than that of Colonel Mure:
Into the golden cup went down;
That, having through the Ocean passed,
He to the depths of sacred gloomy night might come,
Unto his mother and his wedded wife,
And his dear children: but the grove with laurel shaded
The son of Zeus went into."
This is perfectly literal, except that Mr. Keightley also seems scandalised at a son of Zeus going "on foot." Herakles, even by his own pillars, was not a Spanish hidalgo.
* A thoroughly accurate thinker on Greek politics would hardly, as Colonel Mure constantly does, apply the words "confederation," "federal," &c. to the state of things existing between the several Grecian cities; he would not repeatedly speak of the "council" at Athens, when he means, not the senate, but the public assembly: perhaps he would not forestall ideas of a later age by speaking of the Persian "emperor."
much to illustrate the attributes of our common human nature as displayed among Greek philosophers and poets.* Colonel Mure, in short, has studied the Greek writers in the character of an accomplished gentleman, Mr. Grote in that of a professed politician. Few members of either class make so full and practical a use of their studies; but the diversity of the quarter from which each has commenced them is manifest throughout their writings.
Our readers will therefore not be surprised to learn that Colonel Mure's account of Thucydides is by no means one of the most successful portions of his work. Herodotus, of whom he treated in his preceding volume, is far more in his line; for Herodotus, though he wrote in prose, was a great poet. Of the two chief Attic historians, Colonel Mure is far more successful with Xenophon than with Thucydides. In fact, it is no disrespect to say that Thucydides is too much for him. Much may be learned from various portions of Colonel Mure's criticisms; wherever tact and acuteness are enough, he is still the Colonel Mure of the Homeric controversy. But the real greatness of the Tμa ès deí, one of the most astonishing of all the productions of the human intellect, can hardly be fully grasped by one who is obliged to regard it primarily from a purely literary point of view.
It is, indeed, a marvellous thought, that Herodotus and Thucydides were contemporary writers, perhaps not so widely removed in age as is commonly the case between father and As Colonel Mure himself observes, an interval of centuries would seem to have elapsed between them. The question of their comparative merit can hardly arise; the two are totally different in kind. It would be about as easy to compare an old Greek, a writer of the middle ages, and a writer of our own time. Herodotus is a Greek of the fifth century B. C. His archaic tastes, indeed, make him rather a Greek of a century
* Some of Colonel Mure's remarks drawn from this source are singularly acute and appropriate. Take, for instance, his comments on the excessive, apparently almost pharisaical, denunciations of contemporary vice by the historian Theopompos (vol. v. pp. 514, 515). "His vituperative attacks were chiefly directed against the luxury, sensuality, and social profligacy of the times, and of his more remarkable contemporaries, whose excesses he denounced with a vehemence, and described with a minuteness of detail, to which, even as exemplified in his remains, it would be difficult to find a parallel in any existing work of Greek manners. This very excess of virtuous irritation, and fondness for its display, may perhaps suggest a doubt how far it is to be taken as a manifestation of unmixed horror for the conduct stigmatised. In dealing with one who dealt so severely with others, it may not be uncharitable to surmise, that his zeal may be made up, in part at least, of a certain spirit of negative morality, or even of morbid sympathy with the conduct described; the same which in unconstrained social intercourse, often leads men to converse freely, and in a spirit of levity, on scenes at which they would feel ashamed of being present, and practices in which they are themselves incapable of participating."
earlier. Xenophon is a Greek of the succeeding age; a far less favourable specimen, we need hardly add, than Herodotus. But Thucydides belongs to no age or country; he is the historian of our common humanity, the teacher of abstract political wisdom. Herodotus is hardly a political writer at all; his political comments are indeed, when they occur, invariably true and generous; but they are put forth with an amiable simplicity which approaches to the nature of a truism. When he infers from the growth of Athens after the expulsion of her tyrants, that "freedom is a noble thing," the comment reads like that of an intelligent child, or like the reflection of an Oriental awakening to the realities of European life. Xenophon writes from the worst inspiration of local and temporary party-spirit. He writes history, not to record facts or to deduce lessons, but, at whatever cost of truth and fairness, to exalt Agesilaos and to vilify the Thebans. But Thucydides, living in an age when the political life of man had barely occupied two centuries, seems to have derived from that brief period the lessons of whole millenniums. From the narrow field which lay before his eyes he could deduce a political teaching applicable to every age, race, and country. There is scarcely a problem of the science of government which the statesman may not find, if not solved, at any rate handled, in the pages of this universal master. The political experience of Thucydides could have exhibited to him only two sets of phenomena-the small city-commonwealth and the vast barbaric monarchy. But we feel that he would have been equally at home under any other state of things. If we could conceive Herodotus or Xenophon suddenly set down in the feudal France or Germany of a past age, in the constitutional England or the federal America of our own time, every thing would doubtless bear in their eyes the air of an insoluble problem. But we can imagine Thucydides at once detecting real analogy through apparent diversity, and recognising phenomena so different from any thing within his own experience as merely fresh exemplifications of the general principles which he had deduced from another state of things. No truth seems more difficult of acceptance than the doctrine that history is really one whole; that "ancient,” "modern," "mediæval," mark convenient halting-places, and nothing more; that man's political nature is essentially the same under every variety of outward circumstances. But no testimony more overwhelmingly confirms its truth than the fact that the political wisdom of all ages was thus forestalled by the citizen of a small republic living twentythree centuries ago.
Neither Herodotus nor Thucydides were men of their own age. * ἡ ἰσηγορίη ὡς ἔστι χρῆμα σπουδαῖον. Herod. v. 78.
The mind of Herodotus evidently lived in past times. The stern truth of chronology tells us that he was contemporary with Perikles, perhaps with Alkibiades. But no one realises the fact while reading his enchanting chronicle. While so engaged, we fully believe him to have been an eye-witness of Marathon and Salamis. We are indeed hardly clear whether he may not have looked on at the return of Peisistratos, or even have been invisibly present in the sleeping-chamber of Kandaules. Nothing connects him with his own age, except a few brief, sparing, sometimes doubtful, references to events later than his main subject. The genial traveller of Halikarnassos loved to gather together, to set in dramatic order, to garnish with an occasional religious or moral sentiment, the antiquities and legends of every age and country except the Greece of the Peloponnesian war. His own age, we may believe, he laboured to forget; a more dignified form of affection for the past than that which displays itself in querulous longings after what is gone, and petulant sarcasms upon what is present. He is the liberal, well-informed antiquary and scholar, who lives out of his own age; not the disappointed politician, who lives in it only to carp at every thing around or beyond him.
In Xenophon, on the other hand, notwithstanding much that is personally attractive and estimable, we see, as a political writer, only the man of a particular time and place in the smallest and most malignant form of that character. Herodotus lived in the past, Thucydides lived for the future; Xenophon reflects only the petty passions of the moment. He writes not like a historian, whether antiquarian or political, but like a petulant journalist who has to decry the troublesome greatness of an opposite party. Yet even his writings may indirectly guide to the same lesson as those of Thucydides. One teaches us that much of our modern wisdom might be reached by a powerful intellect while human thought was yet in its infancy. The other shows that if old Greece could forestall modern political science, it could also forestall the pettiest forms of modern political animosity. Thucydides, without Xenophon, might make us place the ideal Greek historian at a superhuman height above us. Xenophon, without Thucydides, might lead us to degrade him to the level of a very inferior modern pamphleteer. But the two combined unite to teach the same lesson, that man is essentially the same every where; that an old Greek was a being of like passions with a modern Englishman, each being alike capable of exhibiting, under the necessary modifications, the highest and the lowest phases of our common nature.
In fact, no one can thoroughly appreciate Thucydides who does not make use of Xenophon as a foil. Without comparing