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the authors of the city's civilization, was he ungrateful to the instruments of her prosperity. His trees extended their cool, umbrageous branches over the merchants who assembled in the Agora, for many generations.
Those merchants certainly had deserved that act of bounty; for all the while their ships had been carrying forth the intellectual fame of Athens to the western world. Then commenced what may be called her University existence. Pericles, who succeeded Cimon, both in the Government and in the patronage of art, is said by Plutarch to have entertained the idea of making Athens the capital of federated Greece; in this he failed; but his encouragement of such men as Phidias and Anaxagoras led the way to her acquiring a far more lasting sovereignty over a far wider empire. Little understanding the sources of her own greatness, Athens would go to war; peace is the interest of a seat of commerce and the arts; but to war she went : yet to her, whether peace or war, it mattered not. The political power of Athens waned and disappeared; kingdoms rose and fell; centuries rolled away, they did but bring fresh triumphs to the city of the poet and the sage. There at length the swarthy Moor and Spaniard were seen to meet the blue-eyed Gaul; and the Cappadocian, late subject of Mithridates, gazed without alarm at the haughty conquering Roman. Revolution after revolution passed over the face of Europe, as well as of Greece, but still she was there, Athens, the city of the mind, as radiant, as splendid, as delicate, as young, as ever she had been.
Many a more fruitful coast or isle is washed by the blue Ægean, many a spot is there more beautiful or sublime to see, many a territory more ample; but there was one charm in Attica, which in the same perfection was nowhere else. The deep pastures of Arcadia, the plain of Argos, the Thessalian vale, these had not the gift; Boeotia which lay
to its immediate north was notorious for the very want of it. The heavy atmosphere of that Boeotia might be good for vegetation, but it was associated in popular belief with the dullness of the Boeotian intellect; on the contrary, the special purity, elasticity, clearness, and salubrity of the air of Attica, fit concomitant and emblem of its genius, did that for it which earth did not;-it brought out every bright line and tender shade of the landscape over which it was spread, and would have illuminated the face even of a more barren and rugged country.
A confined triangle, perhaps fifty miles its greatest length, and thirty its greatest breadth; two elevated rocky barriers meeting at an angle; three prominent mountains, commanding the plain,-Parnes, Pentelicus, and Hymettus; an unsatisfactory soil; some streams, not always full;— such is about the report which the agent of a London company would have made of Attica. He would report that the climate was mild, the hills were limestone; there was plenty of good marble; more pasture land than at first survey might have been expected, sufficient certainly for sheep and goats; fisheries productive; silver mines once, but long since worked out; figs fair; oil first-rate; olives in profusion. But what he would not think of noting down was, that that olive tree was so choice in nature and so noble in shape, that it excited a religious veneration, and that it took so kindly to the light soil, as to expand into woods upon the open plain, and to climb up and fringe the hills. He would not think of writing word to his employer, how that clear air, of which I have spoken, brought out, yet blended and subdued, the colours on the marble, till they had a softness and harmony, for all their richness, which in a picture looks exaggerated, yet is after all within the truth. He would not tell how that same delicate and brilliant atmosphere freshened up the pale olive, until the
olive forgot its monotony, and its cheek glowed like the arbutus or beech of the Umbrian hills. He would say nothing of the thyme and thousand fragrant herbs which carpeted Hymettus; he would hear nothing of the hum of its bees, nor take much account of the rare flavour of its honey, since Sozo and Minorca were sufficient for the English demand. He would look over the Ægean from the height he had ascended; he would follow with his eye the chain of islands, which, starting from the Sunian headland, seemed to offer the fabled divinities of Attica, when they would visit their Ionian cousins, a sort of viaduct thereto across the sea; but that fancy would not occur to him, nor any admiration of the dark violet billows with their white edges down below; nor of those graceful, fanlike jets of silver upon the rocks, which slowly rise aloft like water spirits from the deep, then shiver and break, and spread, and shroud themselves, and' disappear, in a soft mist of foam; nor of the gentle, incessant heaving and panting of the whole liquid plain; nor of the long waves, keeping steady time, like a line of soldiery, as they resound upon the hollow shore-he would not deign to notice that restless living element at all, except to bless his stars that he was not upon it. Nor the distinct detail, nor the refined colouring, nor the graceful outline and roseate golden line of the jutting crags, nor the bold shadows cast from Otus or Laurium by the declining sun-our agent of a mercantile firm would not value these matters even at a low figure. Rather we must turn for the sympathy we seek to yon pilgrim student, come from a semi-barbarous land to that small corner of the earth, as to a shrine, where he might take his fill of gazing on those emblems and coruscations of invisible, unoriginate perfection. It was the stranger from a remote province, from Britain or from Mauritania, who in a scene so different from that of his
chilly, woody swamps, or of his fiery, choking sands, learned at once what a real University must be, by coming to understand the sort of country which was its suitable home.
Nor was this all that a University required and found in Athens. No one, not even there, could live on poetry. If the students at that famous place had nothing better than bright hues and soothing sounds they would not have been able or disposed to turn their residence there to much account. Of course they must have the means of living, nay, in a certain sense, of enjoyment, if Athens was to be an alma mater at the time, or to remain afterwards a pleasant thought in their memory. And so they had: be it recollected Athens was a port and a mart of trade, perhaps the first in Greece, and strangers were ever flocking to it, whose combat was to be with intellectual, not physical difficulties, and who claimed to have their bodily wants supplied that they might be at leisure to set about furnishing their minds. Now barren as was the soil of Attica, and bare the face of the country, yet it had only too many resources for an elegant, nay, luxurious abode there. So abundant were the imports of the place, that it was a common saying, that the productions which were found singly elsewhere were brought altogether in Athens. Corn and wine, the staple of existence in such a climate, came from the islands of the Ægean; fine wool and carpeting from Asia Minor; slaves, as now, from the Euxine; and timber too, and iron and brass, from the coasts of the Mediterranean. The Athenian did not condescend to manufactures himself, but encouraged them in others, and a population of foreigners caught at the lucrative occupation, both for home consumption and for exportation. Their cloth and other textures for dress and furniture, and their hardware-for instance, armour-were in great re
quest. Labour was cheap; stone and marble in plenty; and the taste and skill, which at first were devoted to public buildings, as temples and porticos, were in course of time applied to the mansions of public men. If nature did much for Athens, it is undeniable that art did much ("Hist. Sketches," vol. III. p. 18.)
ALAS! for centuries past that city has lost its prime honour and boast as a servant and soldier of the truth. Once named the second school of the Church, second only to Paris, the foster-mother of St. Edmund, St. Richard, St. Thomas Cantilupe; the theatre of great intellects; of Scotus the subtle doctor, of Hales the irrefragable, of Occam the special, of Bacon the admirable, of Middleton the solid, and of Bradwardine the profound, Oxford has now lapsed to the level of mere human loveliness, which, in its highest perfection, we admire in Athens. Nor would it have a place, now or hereafter, in these pages, nor would it occur to me to speak its name, except that—even in its sorrowful deprivation—it still retains so much of that outward lustre which, like the brightness on the prophet's face, ought to be a ray from an illumination within, as to afford me an illustration of the point on which I am engaged, viz. what should be the material dwelling-place and appearance, the local circumstances and the secular concomitants, of a great University. Pictures are drawn in tales of romance of spirits seemingly too beautiful in their fall to be really fallen; and the holy Pope at Rome,