Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

there confirmeth the welcome of friends.' The situation, in a broken, wooded country, under the heights of Exmoor, is delightful, and the large park is finely wooded. Evergreens of great size and age flourish in the grounds; and the hall bears witness to the neighbourhood of the old royal forest—the only corner of England in which the red deer remain in a perfectly wild state. Many a noble pair of antlers is here preserved, with the date and particulars of the chase duly recorded at the base.

a

ART. II. - The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeos. By

R. C. JEBB, M.A., Fellow and late Tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Greek in the University

of Glasgow. London : 1876. THE THE profound irritation which the catechetical method of

Socrates caused at Athens is generally taken as proof that the men whose failings he laid bare deserved in every case the exposure to which his merciless logic doomed them. But there is at least room for the suspicion that he was attempting to introduce the rigidity of system where it would chill rather than foster life and energy.

When in the crusade which was to cast down the idols of pretended knowledge he attacked the poets, and showed their complete inability to analyse their own compositions, he was speaking in a city and country where poetry in its lyric, epic, and tragic forms had achieved its highest triumphs and had charmed the world with harmonies. of thought and sound never to this day surpassed. In the lays recited by Homeric rhapsodists eloquence the most persuasive and the most impetuous had flowed from the lips of chiefs and heroes. In the great dramas which every year intranced the Athenians in the magnificent Dionysian festival they had witnessed the most stirring conflicts of oratory, in which all the elements of pathos or of sarcasm, of the gentleness which charms, and of the fiercer passion which terrifies or appals, had been used with consummate skill, or, if we please so to term it, with a faultless instinct. In the dramatic dialogues, which brought out the deepest emotions of the human heart and went far down into the most momentous questions of morality and law, they had not merely an intellectual combat such as they might witness in the parliament of the Athenian citizens, but models of oratory which they might study whether for the Ekklesia, for the law courts, or for popular solemnities.

a

ous.

It was the purpose of Socrates to prove that the claim to knowledge without the reality was fatal to real growth of the mind; and he found some proof of this fact in the inability of the poets to explain the laws under which their compositions had been brought into being. But we may note that when he came to deal with the artisans, he found that their sin or fault lay not in ignorance of their own special craft, for this they really knew well, but in their pretended acquaintance with other matters of which they were wholly ignorant.

The contrast between the poet (who is also the orator) and the ironworker or the shoemaker may perhaps justify the suspicion that rigid rules and minute analysis may not be everywhere indispensable, or that their place may sometimes be supplied by a power or force which demands greater freedom of action. It is not only in the philosophy or the practical life of Athens in his own day that the Socratic theory of knowledge might be sometimes inapplicable or even mischiev

When Socrates sought to prove that no man could be truthful, or just, or generous, unless he could accurately define the terms truthfulness, justice, and generosity, he was unwittingly but really laying or the necks of men an intolerable burden. Myriads of Christians whose lives have displayed the purest unselfishness, the highest sense of responsibility to Divine law, and the most earnest love of God, have been wholly unable to analyse any state of feeling or define any abstract quality. There are vast numbers whom we should unhesitatingly describe as habitual doers of just and unselfish actions, who would be altogether repelled by the suggestion that their whole life must be a sham, unless they can take its -framework to pieces, assign to each part its proper name, and discourse exactly about being and substance. Yet it is a truism to say that accurate definition and analysis are necessary conditions for the completeness of intellectual growth, and that for some minds such inquiries possess a special charm.

These two states of thought or feeling are sufficiently marked even in the world of educated thinkers; and a work which

professes to analyse with scientific precision some of the most perfect productions of human art may in certain portions repel one class of readers almost as much as it will attract others. Mr. Jebb’s volumes on the Attic Orators from Antiphon to Iscæus* are an attempt to trace the characteristics of Athe

* In the course of our re ks on these volumes we shall have to express our dissent from some opinions held by the author; but we feel ourselves bound, in the interests of criticism generally, to protest nian eloquence from an age in which it may be said that Prose had scarcely separated itself from its parent Poetry to a time when the greatest of ancient and modern orators was preparing for his heroic career of fearless self-sacrifice. The whole period stretches over little more than half a century, and the marvellous rapidity of growth which it displays in the fields of deliberative, judicial, and epideictic oratory presents a striking parallel to the astonishing development of art generally amongst the same gifted people. The inducement to compare the one with the other may naturally be strongly felt; but not a few may think that the comparison may be, and in this case has been made with overmuch minuteness, or has been allowed to lead the thinker in a wrong direction. In an elaborate introduction Mr. Jebb draws out the points of contrast and likeness between the several forms or phases of Greek art, his conclusion being that between Greek oratory and Greek

[ocr errors]

6

at the outset against the spirit and character of the remarks which this work has called forth at the hands of Mr. Mahaffy in the columns of the Academy, April 1, 1876. To those remarks Mr. Jebb has published an answer, of which it is enough to say that it completely refutes every one of the charges brought against him, while it exhibits throughout that courtesy and moderation of language the lack of which in his critic is emphatically deplorable. Mr. Mahaffy had denounced him as plagiarising on a large scale from the German works of Dr. Blass. Mr. Jebb publishes a letter in which Dr. Blass says that he has not found a single instance in which Mr. Jebb has adopted a conjecture of his without expressly mentioning him, that his obligations have been on particular points only, and that with regard to 'Lykurgos, *Hypereides, Aschines, and Deinosthenes,' Mr. Jebb's treatment must necessarily be independent, as Dr. Blass's volume on those orators has not been published. With the charge of plagiarism Mr. Mahaffy combines that of inaccuracy, citing a number of political dates, with some others which belong to art history, as being altogether wrong. For the most part the inexactness scems to lie in Mr. Jebb's declining to follow Curtius, and retaining the dates adopted by Clinton, Grote, Cox, and Rawlinson. The examination of the art-history dates shows not only Mr. Jebb's exactness but the scanty knowledge on the strength of which Mr. Mahaffy took him to task. It is more important, however, to mark that not one of those disputed dates is connected with the central and essential part of Mr. Jebb's annals, i.e. with the orators and their works; and even were the objections established, it is hard to find an excuse for the cold and grudging criticism which can fasten on flaws instead of dealing with the main points of a work. We do not envy the mind of a critic whose chief anxiety is to spy out blemishes, and then to exaggerate the mole-heap into a mountain. In Mr. Jebb's work the blemishes pointed out by Mr. Mahaffy do not exist.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

sculpture there is an intimate and inseparable connexion, not to be found between these arts and Greek music or painting. The argument by which he seeks to prove this position involves some statements which seem to be questionable in fact, and others to which it is not easy to attach any very definite meaning. That Greek thought differed widely from Eastern thought no one will deny or doubt; that the growth of the Greek in art of every kind was the result of emotions which may be traced to the single impulse that made him obedient and truthful to nature, few will be disposed to question. But we scarcely know what is meant by saying tható architecture 'corresponds with the phase when man's thoughts about him

self are still indistinct; the building may hint, but it cannot express, the artist's personality; Egyptian art has been called 'a Memnon waiting for the day' (1. xcvii). Are we justified in regarding the reference to Egyptian art as relevant? In what sense, again, can an art which belongs to all ages be said to correspond to an intellectual phase which marks the infancy only of the human mind? The architect of the Erechthæum might himself be the artist who fashioned the image of the god within it; and unless his edifice expressed his thoughts not only about himself but about nature generally, how could it have a claim to be regarded as a work of that art which by its very name is mistress and queen of all arts, pressing all alike into its service ? How, yet more, may we trust a comparison which infers a closer likeness between Greek oratory and sculpture than between these and Greek music or painting, when of the two latter we know so little, and when we have many indications that for the Greeks sculpture had not the prominence which this comparison would assign to it? know, indeed, how much even the greatest works of Greek sculptors depended for their effect on accessories of colour; and we know too that what Mr. Jebb says of the emotions excited by a speech in the Athenian Ekklesia or an Athenian law court may be said of all great works in modern music and perhaps also of the music of the old Greek world. Thus the types which Mr. Jebb regards as the special characteristics of Athenian oratory and sculpture are found to pervade all Athenian art, while the circumstances of the orator, bound as he is to suit himself to changing conditions and to keep his mind fixed not on ideal but on practical issues, seem to show that there must be something strained in any comparison of his work with that of the sculptor which goes beyond the general spirit of Greek art in all its forms. We do not say that long disquisitions on this general spirit are necessary in a history of Athenian eloquence; but we gladly admit that when Mr. Jebb gets away from his favourite parallel, his remarks have the full force of truthfulness and originality. There can be no question that the condition of Greek thought with regard to the natural world determined the condition of Greek art in that wonderful age which stands alone in history. Nothing can be more delightful than the pages in which Mr. Jebb dwells on the glories of Athenian workmanship so long as, in his own phrase, the life of society and of the state ran in the same channel, and on the decay which passed over it so soon as the streams diverged (ii. 242). For the Oriental mind the thought of the human body brought up directly the sense of shame; to the Greek the human form was the model of all beauty, the crown of all perfection; to the Christian of the Middle Ages it was a fabric which had been marred, a prisonhouse from which he longed to be set free. For the Greek no such curse had fallen either upon his own body or on the natural world. Bright and joyous, beautiful himself and dwelling among a people whose loveliness, in the words of the Delian hymn, migħt tempt the beholder to think that death could never touch them, he grew up under influences which all tended in the one direction of freedom and truthfulness. Every Athenian citizen was a judge of what was beautiful and true. From the great tribunal thus formed none could escape; but this subjection, far from carrying with it any feeling of restraint, only gave a greater impulse to the natural powers of the Greek, while it trained his sense of beauty into a taste absolutely faultless, and left no room for those blots of grotesque caprice which have marred the art of so many ages and countries. It is indisputably true that mannerism and * exaggeration may be made the fashion of a clique, but, where public opinion is really free, they will never be popular. The Greek artist who, in rivalry with brother-artists, sought for * the approbation of his fellow-citizens gathered in the theatre, or going about their daily work amid gracious forms of marble or living shapes still more beautiful, in the clear air of Athens ' and close to the foam and freshness of the sea, knew that

no refinements of the study could save him if he was false to * nature, and knew, also, that his loyalty to nature would be

recognised just in proportion as he brought out, not the trivial 'or transient things, not such things as depend for their in* terest on an artificial situation, but those lineaments of nature ' which have the divine simplicity of permanence' (ii. 436). The picture thus drawn by Mr. Jebb may have for us the charm which the Siren's song had for the ears of Ulysses,

a

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

6

« EdellinenJatka »