Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I.
fripiers de l’Europe[Footnote:  The slop-sellers of Europe].  The Greek remains here have still an air of youthful elegance about them, which strikes one very forcibly where so good opportunity offers of comparing them with the fabrics formed by their destructive successors, the Goths; who have left some fine old black-looking monuments (which look as if they had stood in our coal smoke for centuries) to the memory of the Scaligers; and surely the great critic of that name could not have taken a more certain method of proving his descent from these his barbarous ancestors, than that which his relationship to them naturally, I suppose, inspired him with—­the avowed preference of birth to talents, of long-drawn genealogy to hardly-acquired literature.  We will however grow less prejudiced ourselves; and since there are still whole nations of people existing, who consider the counting up many generations back as a felicity not to be exchanged for any other without manifest loss, we may possibly reconcile the opinion to common sense, by reflecting that one preconception of the sovereign good is, that it should certainly be indeprivable and except birth, what is there earthly after all that may not drop, or else be torn from its possessor by accident, folly, force, or malice?

James Harris says, that virtue answers to the character of indeprivability, but one is left only to wish that his position were true; the continuance of virtue depends on the continuance of reason, from which a blow on the head, a sudden fit of terror, or twenty other accidents may separate us in a moment.  Nothing can make us not one’s father’s child however, and the advantages of blood, such as they are, may surely be deemed indeprivable.

Gothic and Grecian architecture resembles Gothic and Grecian manners, which naturally do give their colour to such arts as are naturally the result of them.  Tyranny and gloomy suspicion are the characteristics of the one, openness and sociability strongly mark the other—­when to the gay portico succeeded the sullen drawbridge, and to the lively corridor, a secret passage and a winding staircase.

It is difficult, if not impossible however, to withhold one’s respect from those barbarians who could thus change the face of art, almost of nature; who could overwhelm courage and counteract learning; who not only devoured the works of wisdom and the labours of strength, but left behind them too a settled system of feudatorial life and aristocratic power, still undestroyed in Europe, though hourly attacked, battered by commerce, and sapped by civilization.

When Smeathman told us about twelve years ago, how an immense body of African ants, which appeared, as they moved forwards, like the whole earth in agitation—­covered and suddenly arrested a solemn elephant, as he grazed unsuspiciously on the plain; he told us too that in eight hours time no trace was left either of the devasters or devasted, excepting the skeleton of the noble creature neatly picked; a standing proof of the power of numbers against single force.

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Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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