Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
exquisitely told story of Dido?  There is no extraordinary merit in the “Carmen Secculare” as we have it, the only production of Horace which challenges comparison with Pindar; although we are not among those who deem Pindar one of the brightest stars in the Greek heaven.  But from whom are the greater part of Horace’s Carmina borrowed (they should never be termed Odes), any more than those of Burns or Beranger, the analogous authors in modern times? and by what Greek minor poems are they surpassed?  We say nothing of Catullus, whom some competent judges prefer to Horace.  Does the lyric, then, or even the epic poetry of the Romans, deserve no better title than that of “a hot-house plant, which, in return for assiduous and skilful culture, yielded only scanty and sickly fruits?” The complete originality and eminent merit of their satiric poetry, Mr. Macaulay himself acknowledges.  As for prose, we give up Cicero as compared with Demosthenes, but with no one else; and is Livy less original, or less admirable, than Herodotus?  Tacitus may have imitated, even to affectation, the condensation of Thucydides, as Milton imitated the Greek and Hebrew poets; but was the mind of the one as essentially original as that of the other?  Is the Roman less an unapprochable master, in his peculiar line, that of sentimental history, than the Grecian in his? and what Greek historian has written anything similar or comparable to the sublime peroration of the Life of Agricola?  The Latin genius lay not in speculation, and the Romans did undoubtedly borrow all their philosophical principles from the Greeks.  Their originality there, as is well said by a remarkable writer in the most remarkable of his works,[1] consisted in taking these principles au serieux.  They did what the others talked about.  Zeno, indeed, was not a Roman; but Poetus Thrasea and Marcus Antoninus were.

[1] Mr. Maurice, in the essay on the history of moral speculation and
    culture, which forms the article “Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy”
    in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana.


[From London and Westminster Review October, 1839]

All countries at all times require, and England perhaps at the present not less than others, men having a faith at once distinct and large, the expression of what is best in their times, and having also the courage to proclaim it, and take their stand upon it....

But in our day such visionaries are less and less possible.  The spread of shallow but clear knowledge, like the cold snow-water issuing from the glaciers, daily chills and disenchants the hearts of millions once credulous.  Daily, therefore, does it become more probable that millions will follow in the track of those who are called their betters.  Thus will they find in the world nothing but an epicurean stye, to be managed, with less dirt and better food, by patent steam-machinery; but still a place for swine, though the swine may be washed, and their victuals more equally divided.

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