Abbildungen der Seite
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

OMER sometimes takes us away from

the camp; and the frequent oblique allusions to rural life in the Iliad are

very pleasant. It is most refreshing to quit the dusty tents of the Greeks for the breakers through which Thetis dives with her nymphs; or the quiet nooks upon distant Ida, where husbandmen tend their vines, and look down year after year, with a patient wonder, upon the belated city of the plain. And the pastoral allusions of the Iliad affect us perhaps more directly, because they are unexpected and incidental—subordinate to the main and central purpose of the epic-like the sudden pathos of Thackeray. The Greek understood better than most men how necessary the occasional presence of the sea and the stars, the mountain and the forest, is to the health of our intellectual life; and so the light played through the leaves of his columns, the sky arched his temples, and the


flying clouds drifted across the theatre. Homer was a true Greek, and Homer did likewise.

And such a culture is to the northmen-however neglected it may be by those who in their legislation take no count of the idiosyncrasies of nations—perhaps even more necessary than to the Greek. For the Greeks in all things manifested an exquisite moderation. Field sports were not neglected among them, but they followed them with the chaste and simple decorum which characterized all their pursuits. The passionate appetite of the Goth for hunting and hawking, and the other amusements of the chase, was a very different feeling. Its greater eagerness and impetuosity may probably be ascribed in some degree to the severity of a northern climate, which requires for thorough enjoyment more strenuous exertion than is possible under the summer-haunted sky of the Ægean. A brief, breathless chase in the short daylight, and then the barbarian returned to his familya word to him of infinite import, and by the blazing logs defied the cold and the darkness. He yielded himself up for the time more entirely to the fascination. “The mysteries of woods and rivers" appealed to his imagination as powerfully as the mysteries of his sombre superstition, with which indeed they were intimately allied. The love of nature, which to the Greeks was a moderate and subordinate passion, is, from his constitution, a more predominant and engrossing instinct with the Saxon, and his rulers in consequence, wanting the politic solicitude of the Athenian, take every opportunity to shut it out from him as entirely as

« ZurückWeiter »