Billeder på siden

“ Among them all, the Cyclops, chil of Christendom, cannot be fully compredren of Neptune, offer as a work of art hended without the study of Homer, and by far the most successful and satisfac- is nowhere so vividly or so sincerely extory result. In every point they are hibited as in his works. He has a world placed at the greatest possible distance of his own, into wbich, upon his strong from buman society and its conventions. wing, he carries us. There we find ourMan is small, the Cyclops huge. Man is selves amidst a system of ideas, feelings, weak, the Cyclops powerful. Man is and actions, different from what are to gregarious, the Cyclops is isolated. Man, be found anywhere else, and forming a for Homer, is refined, the Cyclops is a new and distinct standard of humanity. cannibal. Man inquires, searches, de- Many among them seem as if they were signs, constructs, advances, in a word, is then shortly about to be buried under a progressive; the Cyclops simply uses mass of ruins, in order that they might the shelter and the food that nature subsequently reappear, bright and fresh finds for him, and is thoroughly station- for application, among later generations ary. Yet, while man is subject to death, of men. Others of them almost carry the Cyclops lives on, or vegetates at us back to the early morning of our race, least, and transmits the privileges of his the hours of its greater simplicity and race by virtue of its high original. The purity, and more free intercourse with moral element has been entirely dis- God. In much that this Homeric world missed. Polyphemus is a buge mass of exhibits, we see the taint of sin at work, force, seasoned perhaps with cunning, but far, as yet, from its perfect work certainly with falseness. This union of and its riperėss; it stands between Paraa superhuman life with the brutal that dise and the vices of later heathenism, dwells in solitude, and has none of its far from both, from the latter as well as angles rubbed down by the mutual con. the former; and if among all earthly tact between members of a race, produces knowledge the knowledge of man be that a mixed result of extreme ferocity, child which we should chiefly court, and if to ishness, and a kind of horrible glee, be genuine it should be founded upon which, as a work of art, is most striking experience, how is it possible to overand successful.”—P. 318.

value this primitive representative of the

human race in a form complete, distinct, His remarks on many of the chief and separate, with its own religion, characters, both in the Iliad and the ethics, policy, history, arts, manners, Odyssey, are such as display a highly fresh and true to the standard of its cultivated taste, and a refined sym nature, like the form of an infant from pathy with what is noblest or most

the hand of the Creator, yet mature, full, delicate in such characters. Achilles, and finished, in its own sense, after its Hector, Nausicaa, are all gracefully sculptor's art ?”—Vol. i. p. 6.

own laws, like some masterpiece of the described; more grace is thrown over them than we should perhaps find in

Some of these studies on Homer, the poet. The whole heroic age in those particularly which occupy the which Homer lived, and which his third volume, are on separate indivipoetry reflects, is dealt with, at times, dual subjects, remote from the lead, in a very indulgent strain. We can- ing. theory which we have been exnot forget certain unmistakable amining ; but we should not now traits of ferocity which Mr Gladstone have space to enter on them. We himself occasionally recalls; we can

have addressed ourselves to what not disguise from ourselves, for a

forms the predominating subject of moment, that Greece made a most the work ; and so much is it the conspicuous progress, in morals as

predominating subject, that we venwell as intellect, in the interval be- ture to say that no one who is distween Homer and Pericles. But still satisfied with Mr Gladstone as an there are certain strong, hardy, spon- interpreter of Greek mythology, will taneous virtues of this heroic


be so far propitiated by any other which it is well to contemplate, and portion of the work as to rise from which do honour to our common

the whole with other feelings than humanity. Such a passage as the those of weariness and disappointfollowing exhibits at least one phase

ment. of this heroic epoch :

The last section of the work-with the

exception of two articles which “ The Greek mind, which became one are reprinted from the Quarterly Re. of the main factors of the civilised life view on Homer and his Successors,"


being a general review of epic poetry apprehension ; and this being done, and the epic poets of Europe-bears the impression would hardly be inthe title of Aoidos, and treats on creased by adding the sum total of various points in the

poetry of Homer, these lesser numbers. We, however, his Plot, his sense of Beauty, his Per- think it very probable that, above a ception, and Use of Number and of certain point, Homer would have Colour. Throughout this section the found it very difficult to make an reader will find many observations of accurate arithmetical calculation. It an acute and interesting character; the art of writing was not known, but they are observations which he the art of ciphering must have been will have to test and weigh for him- generally very little cultivated. self. Mr Gladstone has the inveterate On Homer's appreciation of colour, habit of drawing large conclusions as separable from brightness, we have from very narrow premises; or rather, here some curious speculations. Very having embraced some conclusion, hé few are the colours that he specifies; hastily constructs ingenious argu- and when he describes objects whose ments for its defence. But the criti- colour we very well know, the terms cal remarks of Mr Gladstone, if they he uses are to us quite inexplicable. require, are always worthy of exa- If we lay the defect here upon his mination. There is much that de- language, we have still to ask, how serves attention in his little treatise came the language to be imperfect ? on Homer's Perception, and Use of Men find or coin words when they Number and Colour. We can have have perceptions to express. Mr no doubt that Homer uses the names Gladstone limits Homer's range to of high numbers, hundreds and thou- white, black, yellow, red, violet, and sands, merely to convey the general indigo. Thus orange, green, and light impression of multitude—he has not blue* would remain without

disthe least idea of giving accurate sta- tinct expression. Orange might be tistics. Most early writers, and poets well embraced under red or yellow; of all periods, use nouns of number but green and blue-the colour of in this vague manner. A hecatomb the trees, the colour of the sky !-it doubtless meant, as our author sug- is impossible to think that Homer gests, merely a large sacrifice, a had not words for these. And our group of oxen, not absolutely a hun- lexicons used to give them. The dred. The thousand watchfires that Homeric words for green and blue the Trojans light mean some num- may also have other meanings, and ber larger than a hundred, not yet mean, sometimes, green and blue. precisely ten hundred. Mr Glad- One sees that the idea of green, shades stone doubts whether Homer's arith- into that of pallor ; and also, because metic would have enabled him to it is the colour of spring, the same give us more precise statistics, even word may come to signify, freshness. if this had been his object; he Let chloros signify both paleness and doubts whether Homer knew any freshness, it may also signify green; rule in arithmetic beyond addition, and glaukos may be both bright and whether that more rapid mode of blue. Mr Gladstone thinks that our addition which we call multiplication “blue-eyed Minerva" ought to have was known to him. Homer avoids, been translated bright-eyed Minerhe observes, giving us the sum total, va." Perhaps he is right; but there even where he has supplied us with are other occasions on which the the several items. This may result epithet blue may stand its ground. only from the general manner with Nor should it be driven from the sea which, as a poet, he would deal with (glauke thalassa) simply because the numbers. His object being to con, sea may be both bright and blue. vey the sense of multitude, he would We have some good reasons given do this most effectually by enumerat- us, however, why Homer should not ing the lesser numbers, which can be have had his eye so well trained and brought more distinctly within the cultivated to the perception of colour

* There is some error of the press in the original : violet is put down amongst the culours that are, and are not, distinctly expressed.

as a more modern poet. The art of as is not unfrequently the case with dyeing, so we are told, had not been Mr Gladstone's observations—someinvented, or was very little practised. what dissipated this conviction. He Paints, and all artificial colouring, finds that Homer is not sufficiently were but little known; the yellow of studied in a philosophical and hisgold and brass, and the ruddy hue of torical point of view. A boy at our copper, were perhaps the brightest public schools reads him for his colours known in dress or household battles, for the resounding line, for decoration, and it is not easy to say the poetry of the old Grecian-if he how much of our ready and apt dis- reads him for anything else than to tinctions between colours is due to construe and translate ; whilst at the teaching the eye receives from our universities Homer is passed near and artificial objects-objects over for Æschylus and Sophocles, that can be easily embraced and com- and the Greek language and Greek pared in the field of vision.

thought are studied in later writers. There is a noticeable superiority in Homer seems thus deprived of his the modern over the classic poet, and legitimate share of attention. But of times later than Homer, in this love when

we reflect for a moment on the and appreciation of colour, which is kind of study of Homer which Mr well worth inquiring into. Here, as Gladstone finds neglected, we are elsewhere, Mr Gladstone is hasty in led to ask ourselves whether this is his deductions. He lays consider- a study which youths at the univerable stress on the “remarkable verse sity are expected to be engaged in, of Albinovanus, an Augustan poet, or can, with any profit, be engaged which applied the epithet 'purpu- in. “There is," says our author, reus' to snow

an inner Homeric world, of which * Brachia purpurea candidiora nive.'

his verse is the tabernacle and his

poetic genius the exponent, but which The poet is comparing, we presume, offers in itself a spectacle of the most a woman's arm to snow, and he has profound interest, quite apart from before his imagination the snow with him who introduces us to it, and from that purple or roseate hue upon it the means by which we are so introwhich it receives, not only at sunset, duced. This world of religion and but often at noon. For not unwisely ethics, of civil policy, of history and does our poet Shelley speak of the ethnology, of inanners and arts, so purple noon's transparent light.” widely severed from all following The comparison, as we often meet experience that we may properly call with it in poetry, of a woman's them palæozoic, can hardly be exaneck to snow in its own proper local mined and understood by those who colour, is a very cold affair, and one are taught to approach Homer as a which frequent repetition has never poet only.” Very true ; and beautireconciled us to. We think Albino- fully expressed. But it happens that vanus was very right, and regret there is no book, except it be the that we have so little opportunity of Germania of Tacitus, which has been making better acquaintance with one so industriously explored as the who earned amongst his contempora- Iliad, for the intimations it gives of ries the title of Elegantissimus. an existing state of society; and the

Mr Gladstone opens his whole Greeks of Homer, and the Germans work, commences his Prolegomena, of Tacitus, have not been unfreas it is learnedly called, with some quently compared. What may be general observations on the defective safely gathered of this kind lies study of Homer in our English open to every student, to every inschools and universities. These ob- telligent reader. In every commenservations are expressed with such a tary on Homer, and in every history logical precision, and so grave an air of Greece, in Mitford,


, Grote, of plausibility, that we

a picture of the Homeric age is them with the conviction that some drawn too interesting in itself to reform was urgently called for in escape any but the dullest of readers. our academical studies. But further It cannot be this that is neglected consideration and a second perusal- by our studious youth. This inner world of Homer must mean, in Mr and academies before we venture on Gladstone's apprehension, those it. more subtle and very disputable de- A university education, which ends ductions which he, and the like in- at the age of twenty-one, cannot ungenious men, may still draw from dertake to lead men through all the the verses of the poet. Such subtle high and intricate discussions which matter is not, and cannot be, the may very easily be gathered round subject for academical study.' We the poems of Homer. It can only assign no limit to genius or to learned prepare them for such discussions, labour ; there may be much yet to if they should have the requisite be seen in Homer which the eyes of ability or leisure to pursue them in scholars and historians have not hither their mature years. And that only todetected; but academic institutions which has already obtained some cannot outstrip, or keep pace with measure of general assent is fit for the man of genius. That only which scholastic teaching, If a profeshas stood the test of examination can sorial chair were endowed at Oxford be made the groundwork of scho- to expound this inner and innermost lastic training. The only study of world of Homer, whom should we inHomer which Mr Gladstone, on re- vite to fill it? Whoever filled it, he flection, would find to be defective, would have continually to discuss is that study which must be pur- and contend, rather than to teach. sued by the solitary individual, Certainly, for our part, it is not Mr bringing all the knowledge he has Gladstone himself that we should acquired from other sources, all his invite to occupy such a chair. We philosophy, his theology, his history, much prefer that he should still rehis critical faculty, to bear on the main the learned Member for the poems of Homer. It is the study University of Oxford, than that he of the mature mind, it is the study should transfer those talents which of the author. Along this path render him so eminent in the House we must go one by one. We have of Commons to a chair of philosophy acquired all we can from schools and historical criticism.

rose from


Did Harvey discover the circula- ing. Erudite prejudice has done tion of the blood ? To many, the its worst in this direction, and its question will sound like an impertin- worst has only set Harvey's merits ence. To those who have crítically in a clearer light. examined the historical evidence, the Harvey discovered the fact of the question wears another aspect, and circulation ; but he did not discover the answer will run somewhat thus : the course of the circulation, nor the Harvey did, and he did not, make the causes of the circulation. He knew discovery; he made a very great dis- that the blood was carried from the covery, which has given an imperish. heart through the arteries to the tisable glory to his name, but it was not sues, and from the tissues through precisely that which is popularly at- the veins and lungs back again to tributed to him. In endeavouring to the place whence it started. But he mark clearly out that which he dis- knew not how the blood passed from covered, and that which he did not arteries to veins ; he knew not why discover, no attempt will be made the blood thus moved. In our day here to diminish the fame England science is in possession of the exact is justly proud of, by ransacking the course of the circulation, but the archives of science to detect stray exact causes are still under question. passages of meaningless vagueness, We know that the circulating system wherein older authors may have in consists of heart, arteries, capillaries, dicated something like the truths veins, and lymphatics. Harvey knew which Harvey established on the not the capillaries and lymphatics; firm basis of experiment and reason- so that his knowledge of the course

taken by the blood was necessarily story whose episodes extend over not incomplete. To put the reader in less than seventeen centuries; and possession of what is now known on the two centuries that have elapsed this subject, and to enable an esti- since the discovery, have not sufficed mate to be formed of what Harvey entirely to complete it. Seventeen diseovered, we will first take a rapid centuries is a vast span of time for view of the circulation.

the elaboration of the discovery of a The heart, as the great centre, shall fact which, now we know it, seems be our point of departure. It is com- so obvious that our marvel is why it posed of four cavities: two ante- was ever unknown; and the moral of chambers, or auricles, and two the story lies precisely there, teachchambers, or ventricles. Into the ing, as it does, the remarkable serright auricle the blood is poured by vility of the mind in the presence of the veins ; it passes thence into the established opinions, and the diffiright ventricle, and is driven there culty which is felt, even by eminent from, by a strong contraction, along men, in seeing plain facts, so hoodthe pulmonary artery* into the lungs. winked are we by our preconceived Here it comes in contact with the oxy- notions. To those who are unfamiliar gen of the atmosphere, and changes with the practical parts of science, it from venous into arterial blood. It seems singular that men should connow passes along the pulmonary tinue acquiescent in errors so baseless veins into the left auricle of the that they vanish immediately they are heart, thence into the left ventricle, challenged : and to men who have from which it is driven, by a power- never trained themselves in the diffiful contraction, into the arteries. cult and delicate art of Observation, The pulsing torrent rushes through it seems singular that facts, extremethe arteries to the various tissues, ly simple when observed, should conwhere it passes into the network of tinue to be overlooked. But the truth capillary vessels, described in our is, observers are at all times rare, belast Paper. Having served the cause new observation requires singupurposes of Nutrition, the blood con- lar independence of mind; and, untinues its course along these capil- happily, those who never made an laries into the veins. Here the stream observation themselves, are always is joined by that of the lymphatics, ready to dispute the accuracy of new which, like the roots of a plant in observations made by others. the earth, absorb lymph from the In the case now before us, there organs in which they arise. This were three capital errors, which for confluence of streams hurries on till seventeen centuries masked the fact the blood is emptied into the right of circulation; and the reader will auricle, from which it originally probably learn with_surprise what started; and thus is the circuit com- those errors were.

The first error pleted.

was, that the arteries did not conThe story of this discovery is one tain blood. The second error was, of the most interesting and instruc- that the two chambers of the heart tive in the whole range of science, communicated with each other by and it has recently been re-written means of holes in the septum dividing by M. Flourens in a very agreeable them. The third error was, that the style. He declares that before him veins carried the blood to the various no one had accurately narrated it. parts of the body. How was it posIn some sense this is true; but there sible that errors 80 flagrant as these are important omissions in his own could have maintained their ground account; and while availing our- a single day after men began seriously selves of his labours, we shall en- to examine the subject? It was obdeavour to complete them. It is a vious that air did enter the body, and

Although the blood is still venous, this vessel is called an artery; for vessels do not receive their names from the nature of the blood they carry, but from the nature of their distribution. Those which carry blood from the heart are called arteries ; those which carry blood to the heart are called veins.

+ FLOURENS : Histoire de la Découverte de la Circulation du Sang. 1854.

« ForrigeFortsæt »