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the attainment of unbroken felicity, and of a high, wise, allaccomplishing activity, — this was the constant aim. Without the natural fervor, the fiery, flaming enthusiasm of Giordano Bruno, he had all of his unshrinking devotion, indomitable courage, and quenchless fortitude. During his later years he seems never to have been tempted to any impatience or restiveness of spirit by the attacks of his enemies, numerous, wanton, and intensely irritating as they were. He bore all calmly, well willing to wait the sure issues of time. Life-long he suffered virtual martyrdom ; he sacrificed reputation, friendships, and all social privilege ; he was in privations and harsh exposures; his life was many times in imminent peril. Yet he never for this permitted any depression, any bitterness or sorrow, but kept a whole heart and good cheer to the end. Much, very much he must have suffered in the disease that wasted and cut down his life prematurely; but none knew of it by any word that escaped him. His principal writings lay long in manuscript, finding no opportunity to appear; the Ethica, his chief work, remained unprinted to the day of his death ; but he indulged no impatience, anxiety, or regret. He had done. what he could, and he rested content to leave all in the Supreme keeping. His last hours were solitary, marked as all his life had been by desertion, and made more oppressed by discomforts and attendant sufferings that friendly hands might have done much to soften or relieve; yet he wared kindly his farewell, and departed unsorrowing. · The thought of this lonely thinker could not remain inert or hidden. Already before his death the effect was large, and in those winter days of 1677 more eyes were turned and looking with anxious interest towards that humble cot in the Hague than the philosopher knew or dreamed. In this same year the Ethica, the Letters, and other writings of Spinoza appeared, and the opportunity for acquaintance with him was much increased. The doctrine had such elevation, withal such boldness and exclusiveness, was coupled, too, with such sweetness, serenity, and bravery of living, that it could not fail to awaken attention, and in numerous cases impress and quicken. Of course the first man, of the earth, earthy, could make nothing of this celestial food. But the men of contemplation and deep
religious feeling, to whom the thought and the felt is the real, who dwell in greater or less measure in the ideal, have found here congenial fellowship and rich repast.
Spinoza did not discover the infinite, nor was he the first who essayed to solve the deep questions of the spirit. He felt deeply, looked intently, saw clearly, and wrought out according to ability his result. It is, as all must be, but an approximate solution ; nevertheless, it has truth and perennial worth. But to each man, as to each generation, comes this problem with the day's dawn fresh and new, impossible yet imperative and vital, and each must work out such best result as he may for himself. Never, while eternities overshadow, and ideals haunt, and the spirit yearns, and hope lifts, shall it become obsolete, or lose for men its vital and deep significance.
Art. II. — THE NEW HOMERIC QUESTION. 1. The Iliad of Homer, faithfully translated into unrhymed English
Metre. By F. W. NEWMAN. London: Walton and Maberly.
1856. 2. The Odyssey of HOMER, translated into English Verse in the Spen
serian Stanza. By Philip STANHOPE WORSLEY. Edinburgh :
W. Blackwood and Sons. 1862. 3. On Translating Homer. Three Lectures. Also, Last Words sin
answer to Professor Newman's “ Reply "], a Lecture, given at Oxford. By MATTHEW ARNOLD. London: Longmans. 1862.
Few things in the world of letters have been more charming to us than the healthy appetite and the trained executive skill with which English scholars have taken up and carried out, in their own fashion, the processes of Continental learning. For a whole generation, and till within the last fifteen years, it was the scandal of the insular schools, that they kept timidly to the ancient methods; and spoke of the theories that were revoluVOL. LXXIV. — 5TH S. VOL. XII. NO. III.
tionizing the outside world of erudition * only with a vague and far-away contempt, as shocking heresies, as infidelities which were hardly to be so much as named among them. So far as a common reader could judge, no sufficient reason was offered for this lofty scorn. Questions of learning in the schools, like questions of faith in the Church, were settled by sentiment and whim. From the standard classic reviews of England about all the information that leaked out as to the vivid suggestions of Vico, or the erudite critique of Wolf, or the constructive hypotheses of their successors, on the structure and authorship of the Homeric poems, was that they contained views abhorrent to the sense and conscience of every true Briton, — views altogether “ tolerable, and not to be endured.” Nay, Blackwood, as we remember, put their heresies in the category of sacrilege, and held that to deny the authenticity of the Iliad was as if one should question the genuineness of the Pentateuch itself.
The first vigorous and thoroughly independent treatment of this question before the English public, we believe, was in the very able introductory chapters of Mr. Grote's History of Greece. In these chapters, mastery of the argument, as conducted by Continental scholars, is balanced by a sound controlling common-sense; and nothing seems further from mere theorizing than the theory which he upholds against the general belief of his countrymen, namely, that, while the Odyssey is a single work, in our modern sense of that phrase, - a story first conceived as one, and wrought to its present form under the shaping of a single hand, — the Iliad is an aggregate of material, wrought out by a Homeric cycle of poets, and gathered about the original nucleus of an “ Achilleis,” or tale of the deeds of the chief Homeric hero ; also that, while there may have been an invasion of some Asiatic town in the heroic age, as a true historic foundation of the legend, there is nothing in the legend itself, or in the immense accumulation of tradition about it, which need be accepted as evidence that Troy ever had an existence, or the towers of Ilium were ever assailed by Agamemnon, king of men.
* That Homer is a generic, and not an individual name, is assumed by Renan as the common sense of Continental learning. De l'Origine du Langage, p. 21.
From this bold stroke of historical scepticism there was a natural and strong recoil in the British heart. The very able and scholarly History of Greek Literature by Colonel Mure seems to have charmed the British press as much by its vindication of the good old orthodox opinion as to the personality of the poet, the authorship of the heroic song, and the truth of the epic story, as by its other genuine qualities, of ample learning and enthusiasm for Hellenic letters. The fascinating work of Mr. Gladstone - one of the most interesting examples of scholarly tastes and pursuits abiding through the toils and ambitions of statesmanship — not only invests every feature of the story with a personal interest marvellous and vivid, but it enters so heartily into the discussion of all side matters and illustrations, that it seems far more than any other to have caught the very form and pressure of the Homeric time. Of course it does this by dint of immense idealizing. When the dramatic mythology of Homer is made symbolic of truths drawn from the genuine patriarchal traditions of the Holy Land, when Zeus is, not irreverently, allied with the awful name of the Hebrew Jehovah, and Apollo and Athene are made to stand for the broken but genuine hints which the Hellenic world had attained respecting a Divine Word made flesh, and a coming Saviour of the world, we feel that we are outside the range of literary discussion, and are perplexed to find common ground for argument with the author. Still, such hints and reasonings are part of the help he gives us, to grasp what is genuine in his own conception of the subject. His clear and skilful sketch of the Grecian tribes; his admirable analysis of the persons of the tale, its ethical tone, and the type of civilization it portrays; his exposition of the partly patriarchal, partly feudal associations of the phrase ävač kvapôv, “ lord of men”; even the thirty pages of dissertation spent to prove that, when Homer says the north star was “ on the left,” he means, being truly interpreted, “on the right," — all these details leave each its distinct impression of light and help, and combine in making up the grateful sense of its value and beauty, with which we at last take leave of the work.
The new Homeric question, of which we propose to say a
few words to our readers, leaves out all these topics of larger and more learned criticism. It takes up the poems and treats them purely as works of art. A new inquiry is raised, and one which proves to have a singular fascination and interest, namely, How shall the poetic beauty and charm which every scholar feels in Homer be interpreted to the mind of a modern reader? The field of discussion is marked off pretty plainly by a sharp boundary at each end,- the gaunt prose of Buckley's Oxford version, known to school-boys, and that formal paraphrase (we were going to say parody) which, under the auspices and fame of Pope, shed a glimmering of the Homeric ray upon the delighted understanding of our childhood. The space between the two is a pretty wide one. Upon neither of them has the question so much as dawned, which the new translators and their critics have essayed to meet. One is content to say, bluntly, what grammar and dictionary, well plied, will give you of what the author has described ; the other takes it as a groundwork, trims and expounds it, and puts it into rhyme, to fit the cultivated taste of the eighteenth century. The result is sometimes a stilted imitation, sometimes a grave burlesque. One instance lingers in our memory, from the reading of more than twenty-five years back, where Homer says simply of the tears of Achilles, that “the weeping spread throughout the house.” Pope gives it :
“ Th’infectious softness through the heroes ran :
They bore as heroes, but they felt as man.” Ex pede Herculem. Let this suffice for Pope and his school. The absolute failure of Cowper's painstaking version, in blank verse, to command a rank or a popular hearing, excuses us from saying anything as to that. Chapman's Elizabethan version, with all its fire and fancy, most readers will confess to be disappointing in its general effect, aside from its startling departures from the original. We copy (from Mr. Arnold) the two brief samples following; — first, the words of Achilles :
“I know myself it is my fate to fall Thus far from Phthia ; yet that fate shall fail to vent her gall Till mine vent thousands. These words said, he fell to horrid deeds, Gave dreadful signal, and forthright made fly his one-hoofed steeds.”