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translation, which, like the statue of Prometheus, however elegant, is a lifeless statue. It is Pope, not Homer, who is admired. Homer's fire was kindled in Greece, and burns only in Greek; and Homer's soul is to be found only in Homer's Iliad.
Milton was a lion who spurned kidling beauties; but Homer polished pebbles with so much skill, they have continued to sparkle for three thousand years; and, to compare small things with small, they are like those firedrops emitted from rockets, after their explosion, high in air, which appear so perfectly pure, and of such crystalline transparency. Homer could embellish his poem, in consequence of the ignorance of early ages, only with the surface of the earth, with plant, fruit or flower;' whereas Milton, aided by the chemist, entered earth's very centre; and, after ransacking her laboratory, brought up gems and gold. Homer painted nature newly dressed from her Creator's hand, tinged with rainbow hues; but Milton, beside the storehouse of nature, which art in England had improved, had recourse to those repositories of knowledge, which have been accumulating for twenty seven hundred years; and, as astronomy among other sciences, had wonderfully improved, Milton could spangle his poem, with more constellations, and richer clusters of stars than Homer.-Homer had no music to enliven his poem; but finer than the notes of Orpheus are the tones of Milton. Those drew earth's created things, rocks, waters, woods;' but, at the song of Milton's spirits, the constellations, a moment, forgot to wheel their courses.
If Homer was the Nile, fertilizing the countries, through which he passed; Milton was the ocean, surrounding the earth, and receiving the Nile, a tributary to his bosom. If Homer seized the pencil of the muses, Milton has surely stolen the pen of the angels. Both were indeed the high-priests of nature, admitted to her inmost recesses, and taught her most sacred mysteries.- Homer lit his torch at her lamp; but Milton seized her lamp, and then carried off her lyre.
Well might seven cities dispute the honour of Homer's birth, and Alexander weep at the tomb of his hero! Well might his footsteps be followed by the Grecian youth while he lived; and his grave be covered with lilies and roses, by the same hands when he died.—But Milton's birth-place is fixed; and it is a melancholy pleasure to know, where his grave was dug. At the turf, which pillowed his head,' were seen, not the youth of Greece nor Alexander of Macedon; but the Muses themselves hovered around his grave, and strewed the flowers of paradise over his tomb.-Well might the islands of Greece see altars rise to Homer's memory, and sacrifices offered him, as to an Immortal. Our religion forbids us to offer sacrifices, and to build altars to man; but let us thank God for the gift of Milton.
The first one of the following Letters was inserted in this Journal about a year
ago, but is repeated for the sake of presenting the whole in an unbroken connexion. The rest have never before been in print.
Skinner Street, February 12, 1818. MY DEAR SIR.-I inclose to you the letter I proposed to write to you. Having written it, (such is the whimsical result of the habits and self importance of an author) I cannot be satisfied that it should be your property alone. I shall print it in some form or other. I hope you will forgive me for this. I pay you the same compliment, (to compare small things with great) that Mr. Burke paid to M. Dupont, to whom his Reflections on the Revolution in France were originally addressed. I will therefore request you not to give copies, or suffer copies to be made, of my letter on this side the Atlantic, the consequence of which might be to take the power of printing it in my own way out of my hands.
It appears from yours of the 18th ult. that your plans are still to a considerable degree unfixed for the next two years, after which you propose to return to-I hope, whatever they may be, they will not exclude from the remainder of you European excursion another residence in London, when I shall expect the pleasure of knowing you more fully and more intimately than I have hitherto done.
Make my kindest remembrances to Mr. - tell him I will write to him soon.—Believe me to be your very sincere friend,
William Godwin, Letter of advice from Mr. Godwin to a young American on the
course of studies it might be most advantageous for him to pursue.
MY DEAR SIR.-I have thought, at least twenty times, since you left London of the promise I made you, and was at first inclined to consider it as you appear to have done, as wholly unconditional, and to be performed out of hand. And I should perhaps have proceeded in that way; but that my situation often draws me with an imperious summons in a thousand diilerent directions, and thus the first heat of my engagement subsided. I then altered my mind, and made a resolution that you should never have the thing you asked for, unless you wrote to remind me of my promise. I thought within myself, that if the thing was not worth that, it was not worth my trouble in performing. ***************
And, now that you have discharged your part of the condition I secretly prescribed, I am very apprehensive that you have formed an exaggerated idea of what I can do for you in this respect. I am a man of very limited observation and inquiry, and know little but of those things which lie within those limits. If I wished to form an universal library, I should feel myself in conscience obliged to resort to those persons, who know more in one and another
class of literature than I did, and to lay their knowledge in
whatever they understood best, under contribution. But this I do not mean to undertake for you; I will reason but of what I know; shall leave you to learn of the Professors themselves, as to the thing to which I have never dedicated myself.
You will find many of my ideas of the studies to be pursued, and the books to be read, by young persons, in the Enquirer, and more to the same purpose in the Preface to a small book for chil. dren, entitled, 'Scripture Histories given in the words of the Bible, in two volumes, 24mo.
It is my opinion, that the imagination is to be cultivated in education, more than the dry accumulation of science and natural facts. The noblest part of man is his moral nature; and I hold morality principally to depend, agreeably to the admirable maxim of Jesus, upon our putting ourselves in the place of another, feeling feelings, and apprehending his desires; in a word, doing to others, as we would wish were we they, to be done unto.
Another thing that is a great and most essential aid to our cultivating moral sentiments, will consist in our studying the best models, and figuring to ourselves the most excellent things of which human nature is capable. To this purpose there is nothing so valuable as the histories of Greece and Rome. There are certain coldblooded reasons that say, that the ancients were in nothing better than ourselves, that their stature of mind was no taller, and their feelings in nothing more elevated, and that human nature in all ages
and countries is the same. I do not myself believe this, But if it is so, certainly ancient history is the bravest and sublimest fiction that it ever entered into the mind of man to create. No poets, or romance-writers, or story-tellers, have ever been able to feign such models of an erect and generous and public spirited and self-postponing mind, as are to be found in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. If the story be a falsehood, the emotions, and in many readers, the never-to-be-destroyed impressions it produces, are real: and I am firmly of opinion, that the man that has not been imbued with these tales in his earliest youth, can never be so noble a creature, as the man with whom they have made a part of his education stands a chance to be.
To study the Greek and Roman history it were undoubtedly best to read it in their own historians. To do this, we must have a competent mastery of the Greek and Latin languages. But it would be a dangerous delusion to put off the study long, under the idea that a few years hence, we will read these things in the originals. You will find the story told with a decent portion of congenial feeling in Rollin's Ancient History, and Vertot's Revolutions of Rome. You should also read Plutarch's Lives, and a translation into English or French of Dionysius' Antiquities; Milford for the History of Greece, and Hooke for that of Rome, are writers of some degree of critical judgment; but Hooke has a baleful scepticism about, and a pernicious lust to dispute, the virtues of illustrious men, and Milford is almost frantic with the love of despotism and oppression. Middleton's Life of Cicero, and Blackwell's Court of Augustus are books written in the right spirit. And if you do not soon read Thucydides in the original, you will soon feel yourself disposed to read Sallust, and Livy, and perhaps Tacitus, in the genuine language in which these glorious men have clothed their thoughts.
The aim of my meditation at this moment is to devise that course of study that shall make him who pursues it independent and generous. For a similar reason, therefore, to that which has induced me to recommend the histories of Greece and Rome, I would next call the attention of my pupil to the age of chivalry. This also is a generous age, though of a very different cast from that of the best period of ancient history. Each has its beauty. Considered in relation to man, as a species of being divided into two sexes, the age of chivalry has greatly the advantage over the purest ages of antiquity. How far their several excellencies may be united and blended together in future time, may be a matter for after consideration. You may begin your acquaintance with the age of chivalry with St. Palaye's Memoires sur l'Ancienne Chevalrie, and Southey's Chronicle of the Cid. Cervantes' admirable romance of Don Quixote, if read with a deep feeling of its contents, and that high veneration for and strong sympathy with its hero, which it is calculated to excite in every ingenuous mind, is one of the noblest records of the principles of chivalry. I am not anxious to recommend a complete cycle of the best writers on any subject. You cannot do better perhaps in that respect, than I have done before you. I always found one writer, in his occasional remembrances and references, leading to another, till I might, if I had chosen it, have collected a complete library of the best books on any given topic, without being obliged to recur to any one living counsellor for his advice.
We can never get at the sort of man that I am contemplating, and that I would, if I could, create, without making him also a reader and lover of poetry. I require from him the glow of intellect and sentiment, as well as the glow of a social being. I would have him have his occasional moods of sublimity, and if I may so call it, literary tenderness, as well as a constant determination of mind to habits of philanthropy. You will find some good ideas on the value of poetry in Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesy, and the last part of Sir William Temple's Miscellanies.
The subject of poetry is intimately connected with the last subject I mentioned, the age of chivalry. It is in the institutions of chivalry that the great distinctive characteristics of modern from ancient poetry originate. The soul of modern poetry, separately considered, lies in the importance which the spirit of chivalry has given to the female sex. The ancients pitted a man against a man, and thought much of his thews and sinews and the graces and energy which nature has given to his corporeal frame. This was the state of things in the time of Homer. `In a more refined age they
added all those excellencies, which grow out of the most fervid and - entire love of country. Antiquity taught her natives to love wo- ;
men, and that not in the purest sense; the age of chivalry taught f her subjects to adore them. I think quite contrary to the vulgar
maxim on the subject, that love is never love in its best spirit but among unequals. The love of parent and child is its best model, and its most permanent effect. It is therefore an excellent invention of modern times, that, while woman by the nature of things must look up to man, teaches us to regard woman, not merely as a convenience to be made use of, but as a being to be treated with courtship and consideration and deference.
Agreeable to the difference between what we call the heroic times, and the times of chivalry, are the characteristic features of ancient and modern poetry. The ancient is simple, and manly, and distinct; full of severe graces and heroic enthusiasm. The modern excels more in tenderness, and the indulgence of a tone of magnificent obscurity. The ancients upon the whole had more energy; we have more of the wantoning of the imagination, and the conjuring up a fairy vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
And play in the plighted clouds. It is not necessary to decide whether the ancient or the modern poetry is best; both are above all price; but it is certain that the excellencies that are all our own, have a magnificence, and a beauty, and a thrilling character that nothing can surpass. The best English poets are Shakspeare and Milton and Chaucer and Spenser,
Ariosto is above all others the poet of chivalry._ The Greek and i
Latin poets it is hardly necessary to enumerate. There is one book of criticism, and perhaps only one, that I would recommend to you, Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Literature. The book is de. formed indeed with a pretty copious sprinkling of German mysticism, but it is fraught with a great multitude of admirable observations.
The mention of criticism leads me to a thought which I will immediately put down. I would advise a young person to be very moderate in his attention to new books. In all the world I think there is scarcely any thing more despicable than the man that confines his reading to the publications of the day; he is next in rank to the boarding-school miss, who devours every novel that is spawned forth from the press of the season. If you look into reviews, let it be principally to wonder at the stolidity of your contemporaries, who regard them as the oracles of learning.
One other course of reading I would earnestly recommend to you; and many persons would vehemently exclaim against me for doing so-Metaphysics. It excels perhaps all other studies in the world, in the character of a practical logic, a disciplining and subtilising of the rational faculties. Metaphysics, we are told, is a mere jargon, where men dispute for ever without gaining a single