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spend their days in gallantry, or in lounging at a casino, and never read any thing but a music-book. When we recollect that this was the land of Livy, and the mother of modern republics, Venice offers a melancholy and a monitory spectacle.
IV. Etruria. The three last-mentioned provinces fill up the whole of Northern Italy. Shortly below the western beginning of its Peninsular shape, the Roman province of Etruria stretched along the sea from Luna to the Tiber, and was bounded on its other sides by Liguria, Cisalpine Gaul, Umbria, the Sabines, and Latium. It thus comprehended what is now the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and the patri. mony of St. Peter. The former territory fell into the power of the Goths at the dissolution of the Roman Empire. The Lombard Alboin made it a fief of his crown, and Charlemagne made it a county of his empire. In process of time the Tuscan cities asserted their municipalities, and assisted the Pope against the Empire. Pisa, Sienna, and Florence, were the most important of these Republics; their chiefs bore the title of Gonfalonier. In the fourteenth century they were grown rich by commerce, but the stronger began to oppress the weaker. Florence seized upon Pisa, but soon after lost her own liberty by permitting the power of the Medici to become hereditary. After the extinction of that family, in 1737, the Grand Duchy passed to the Duke of Lorrain. His house was dispossessed of it by Napoleon, who gave it to his sister Eliza. At last, in 1814, the ancient Archduke re-entered its government.
The ancient Etrurians-by the Greeks first called Tyrseni, then Tyrrheni—by the Romans Etrusci and Tusci-and by themselves Rasena, or Raseni-are, of all the nations that preceded the Romans in Italy, the most worthy of attention. Before the existence of Rome they had arts, arms, commerce, and political institutions, the memory of which Theophrastus and Aristotle thought worthy of preservation. The discoveries of their national monuments point out Etruria to have been their main and original Italian abode ; but their colonies were at one time far spread over Italy, till want of union made them a prey Lo the Gaul, the Samnite, and the Roman; when their broidered carpets, their silver plate, and their richly-dressed and beautiful slaves, became a booty to soldiers.
Though their general greatness is known, their particular history has fallen into great obscurity. If I may louch on so thorny a subject as their origin, I would say that Mannert's theory on this subject appears to me the most simple and satisfactory. Niebuhr may be more original, but he has yet to learn Mannert's art of making his opinions intelligible. According to Mannert, the Etrurian breed was a mixture of early Pelasgi, who came by sea, and overpowered, or incorporated with the aboriginal Umbri; and of a second tribe of Pelasgic origin, who came from a settlement in Lydia. This mixture of Pelasgic comers made the nation maritime, which the Umbri had never been. It also gave a difference to the Etruscan language from that of the surrounding Italians, and a mode of writing from right to left that bespeaks an eastern source. Etruria had not only a language, but a literature of her own. Poems of different kinds, and tragedies, which were probably translated from the Greek, may be supposed to have been played in her gigantic theatre at Fæsulæ. The music of the Romans was derived from Etruria, so were the songs of their scenic stage, the badges of
their magistracy, and the ensigns of their army. Rules for interpreting the will of Heaven by lightning and otherwise, reached the Etruscans through the kindness of Tages, a wise subterraneous dwarf; and from Etruria they came to Rome. The Romans originally obeyed them as laws, and rather relaxed their ties than cast them aside.
Yet after all it is exceedingly probable that the intellectual character of the Etruscans has been exaggerated. The government of their confederated, but ill-united cantons, was aristocratic, defective in popular spirit, and enslaved by superstition. Their gigantic architecture itself, it is to be feared, could not have been produced without bondsmen and task-masters, and by this constitution Etruria fell.
Etrurian greatness had reached its summit in the third century of Rome. In the next the Campanian cities were lost beyond the Apennines, Veia, and Capena. The fifth century passed in an irresolute struggle with the prevailing star of Rome. After that time the Etrurians enjoyed a long repose, until their last but ineffectual resistance to Sylla.
V. The Province of Umbria lay between Etruria, on the west ; Gallia Togata on the north, the Sabini on the south, the Adriatic on the east, and Picenum on the south-east. On the modern map it is represented by the Duchies of Spoleto and Urbino.
The Umbri were confessedly the most ancient inhabitants of Italy. After the arrival of the Pelasgi Tyrrheni, and the rise of Etruria, the Umbrian nation began to decline. Originally, their limits had been much wider than those marked out for them when they became a province; but the Tuscans, we are told, took from them three hundred towns, and dislodged them from the north of Italy. Both the Etrurians and Umbri, however, had soon to contend with the Gauls, who drove the latter froin the Adriatic shores to their central mountains. On the ebb of Gallic power, that of Rome flowed fast upwards in Italy, and the Umbri seem to have offered but little resistance to the Romans, to whom they submitted in the fifth century of the city.
This part of Italy belongs at present to the Roman see, and the inhabitants still take a pride in believing themselves descended from the Romans. The people of Spoleto glory in showing the gate and its ancient inscription, at which their ancestors repulsed Hannibal, when advancing, flushed with confidence as he was after his victory at Thrasymenus. Such ancient monuments seem to annihilate the antiquity of our own. Yet the pride of Umbria can only be said to exist in memory. Her blue skies, and her classic mountains, still remain to her; the breed of her snow-white heifers, that supplied victims of sacrifice in the time of Virgil, are still as spotless and fine as ever; and the identity of many of her olive-grounds that may have been planted by classical Roman hands, can be traced back for ten centuries. But man has degenerated here. Beggars in the day-time escort the traveller in large congregations; and on the road to Terni Terni that gave birth to Tacitus the historian, and to the Emperors Florian and Tacitus—there is an encire village surrounded with walls, the whole inhabitants of which are mendicants, and nothing but mendicants unless they be robbers.t
In my next Letter I shall conclude this general sketch of Italian Antiquities, preparatory to entering on my more express subject of Roman Literature.
* Another name for Gallia Cisalpina.
LAN DOR'S IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS. We are not among those who look upon the present race of authors as a set of ill-used gentlemen; on the contrary, we are of opinion, that at no other period of our literary annals have they, generally speaking, met with so nearly the just measure of their deserts, at the hands both of the critics and the public. We do not believe that a single striking instance can be pointed out, among living writers, of a reputation built up without foundation, or of a solid foundation remaining long without an answerable superstructure above it. We do not mean that false pretensions are not frequently puffed into a momentary popularity; for in this, as in all other cases, money and favour will have their way, and perhaps ought to have it. If there were not a great deal of falsehood put forth to the world in connexion with matters of this nature, there would be a proportionate lack of truth. And on the other hand, nothing is so easy as to keep down a reputation for a time, where those who take upon themselves to state the case, and examine the evidence, happen to “ have the ear of the court," and are at the same time gifted with much malice and a little wit, joined to and set in motion by envy or personal pique. But these results, however skilfully brought about, are in both cases equally brief. In fact, a grossly mistaken notion of literary merit cannot long and generally prevail in the present day. Time was with us, when it required a hundred or so of years to make known to English readers the merits of “Paradise Lost.” Now, as many days would suffice to spread the fame of such a work over the civilized world. And though the “Triumphs of Temper” might, even in our own day, have been passed off as the Triumphs of Poetry, for a week or a month, the next would have found them just where they are.
We have been led into these observations by the peculiar circumstances under which we find the work, the title of which stands at the head of our paper. The two first volumes of it have now been before the world for three or four years; and we will venture to assert that during that period, no one other work has come forward, presenting more deep, serious, and interesting claims upon public attention.
It is our intention, in the present article, to do our poor endeavour towards extending the reputation of a work, in the composition of which, the author, relying on his own talent and originality, seems to have rejected the elements of popularity which other writers have employed.
The title of the work bespeaks its form. It consists of conversations, for the most part between the illustrious dead of former ages; among others, between Lord Brooke and Sir Philip Sidney, Queen Elizabeth and Cecil, Milton and Andrew Marvel, Lord Bacon and Richard Hooker, Washington and Franklin, David Hume and John Home, Johnson and Horne Tooke, &c.; and, among those of antiquity, Eschines and Phocion, Demosthenes and Eubulides, Pericles and Sophocles, Aristoteles and Calisthenes, Cicero and his brother Quinctus, &c. &c. With respect to those particular conversations just enumerated, perhaps the most explanatory notion we can convey of them is, that they are such as the very persons in whose mouths they are put may be supposed to have held in their actual intercourse with one another; such, no less in point of thought and sentiment than of style and manner. In a word, it is no extravagant praise of them to state a belief, that the illustrious persons whose names are borrowed for the occasions respectively, never expressed themselves in a manner and to an effect more worthy of their exalted fame; we mean, so far as each discussion goes. With respect to the subjects discussed, they are of great variety, and include most of the great moral and political questions which have from time to time agitated the highest intellects of the world, and on which the strength and happiness of nations and society, and consequently of every individual form
Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, by W. S. Landor, Esq. 3 vols. Svo.
ing these, depends. There is not a human being, from the highest to the lowest in the scale of existing society, that is not more or less interested in the views sought to be developed in most of these admirable conversations; and there is not one conversation, among those of the kind to which w? are now referring, that does not include either some new moral or poli ical truths, or some new light thrown upon those which were before recognized, or some new mode of setting forth, or enforcing, or illustrating them. But besides these calm discussions of high moral and political questions, there are conversations having for their subjects various other matters, more or less grave, or light, or even humorous; and finally, several which seek to develope character and passion merely, and which should rather have been called dramatic scenes than conversations. Some of the most beautiful and effective portions of the volumes will be found among these latter.
Mr. Landor has shown by this work that he possesses much intellectual acuteness; great clearness and vigour of understanding; a high proportion of that only true wisdom which consists in the ability to judge justly, and to choose, according to that judgment, on general questions of right and wrong ; and withal, a very considerable knowledge of the natural springs and movements of the human heart. But blended with, and occasionally rising above and triumphing over all these except the last, are the poetical qualities of his mind-the sensibilities, the sympathies, and the imagination : and from these it is that spring, together with some of the highest beauties, what will be looked upon as the errors and blemishes of the work before us.
We will proceed to point out those conversations in the two first volumes which strike us as most worthy of attention, and then present the reader with an extract or two from the third volume, which is scarcely yet in the hands of the public. Indeed, a rapid glance at the contents of the whole work may perhaps not be thrown away; since it will show that all classes of readers-not excepting the merely idle and desultory, who seek momentary excitement alone-will find something here to suit their various tastes and habits.
The first volume of the Imaginary Conversations opens with one between Richard Cæur de Lion and the Abbot of Boxley. It is short, and written in parts, with force and spirit; but partakes more of the nature of a scene *from a drama than a formal conversation, and is far from being satisfactory or complete.
The second conversation is entirely to our tastes. It is between Sir Philip Sidney and his friend Lord Brooke,,he who caused himself to be described on his tomb as “the friend of Sir Philip Sidney.” It is full, to overflowing, of beauty—of that highest and rarest class of beauty which results from the willing union of poetry with philosophy. The friends sit together beneath a spreading oak in the Park at Penshurst, and talk in strains of calm, pure, and unaffected wisdom, worthy of themselves and of the place. Their talk is desultory,—as such talk, uttered in the presence of such scenes, must and should be. But it touches on no subject idly; and leaves none that it touches till it has brightened and beautified it with thoughts and images, no less new than just. We are strongly tempted to give some passages-one in particular, on the nature and causes of happiness, beginning at p. 23. But we must refrain. One paragraph, however, we must give-the concluding one (spoken by Sidney) on this subject-because it is applicable in a very beautiful manner, and might be offered as a sort of motto, to all the finer portions of Mr. Landor's labours.
“O my friend ! is it nothing to think that this hand of mine, over which an insect is creeping, and upon which another more loathsome one ere long will pas. ture, may hold forth to my fellow men, by resolution of heart in me and perseverance, those things which shall outlive the least perishable in the whole domi. nions of mortality ? Creatures, of whom the best and weightiest part are the feathers in their caps, and of whom the lightest are their words and actions, curl their whiskers and their lips in scorn upon similar meditations. Let us indulge in them : they are not weak,--suckled by Wisdom, taught to walk by Virtue.”. (i. 35.)
The third dialogue is between Henry IV. of England and Sir Arnold Savage, an ancestor of the author, who was twice Speaker of the Commons
in that day, and who distinguished himself by that famous speech to the King, in which, in the name of the people, he refused the supplies “ till every cause of public grievance was removed." The dialogue is very short, and is conducted on both sides with a cool and temperate dignity that is very characteristic. It is founded on the speech alluded to, and concludes with the following very kingly proposition, and the noble replication to it, either of which, uttered openly in our own more refined day, would throw a whole court into consternation.
“ Henry. Faith! I could find it in my heart, Sir Arnold, to clip thine eagle's claws, and perch thee somewhere in the peerage.
“ Savage. Measureless is the distance between my liege and me; but I occupy the second rank among men now living, forasmuch as, under the guidance of Almighty God, the most discreet and courageous have appointed me, unworthy as I am, to be the great comprehensive symbol of the English people.”
The fourth conversation is between Southey and Porson; somewhat long, but characteristic. It is almost entirely critical, with the exception of an amusing story (and no doubt a true one) which Porson relates, how he was one evening inveigled, by a young after-dinner acquaintance, into a fashionable rout, thinking he was going to enjoy a comfortable supper of oysters and porter, at the cyder cellar!
The fifth conversation, between Oliver Cromwell and Walter Noble, is excellent. Nothing can be better than the way in which the character of Cromwell is hit off-cold, cruel, sarcastic, and (as Noble is made to say very finely) witty over blood, as other men are over wine. The dialogue consists of a remonstrance by Noble against the proposed death of Charles, and a defence of it by Cromwell.
The sixth conversation is between Eschines and Phocion; and it takes us at once into the heart of antiquity, in a manner and with an effect that we scarcely believed any living writer to be capable of. This, after all, is the forte of Mr. Landor, who, in addition to his natural qualities for the task, is unquestionably one of the most accomplished classical scholars of his day. We do not mean that he could have capped Greek verses with his master, the late Dr. Parr: but we must venture to think that, in regard to all the true uses, and even the applications of scholarship, he is as much superior to that undoubtedly distinguished person, as Raphael, for example, was to his master, Pietro Peruzino ;-and superior to him much in the same manner, namely, by the faculty and the habit of awakening into forms of life and beauty what the other left comparatively dry, spiritless, and dead. Of this fine dialogue, which treats of three or four topics, but chiefly of willmaking, and of eloquence, we shall only say that it is in all respects worthy of the speakers—in style, in sentiment, in argument, in matter, in effect. We must again say of this dialogue, and of several others of a similar kind, it is difficult to believe that the supposed speakers themselves ever uttered, within the same space, finer thoughts in better words.
The seventh conversation is between Queen Elizabeth and Cecil. It is on the subject of Spenser, and his complaint on the delay in the payment of his pension as Poet Laureate; and nothing can be more spirited and royal than the strain in which the Queen chides her counsellor for his narrowthoughted parsimony in that matter.
The eighth conversation is between James I. and Isaac Casaubon. It is full of acute remarks and strong reasoning, but is not one of those on which (we suspect) readers of any class will dwell with much pleasure, unless it be the violent anti-Catholics of our day and country-in whose sight it will perhaps, cover, like charity, some of the multitude of sins (as they will think them) which Mr. Landor has been guilty of in another sort.' It is chiefly occupied in arguments against and vituperations of popery. The spirit of it may be judged of by the following passage :
“ So long as this pest exists on earth, religion will be a prostitutė, civilization'a starveling, and freedom a dishonoured outcast, a maimed beggar.”
The ninth conversation is between the author in his own person, and an