Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

a

teniber ie not the month to visit Greece, late and waste the land still is! An but I could not well time it differently; indolent Greek peasant prefers to tie up yet had to pay the forfeit the next day a few wild straggling vines, and dig a from over-exertion, in the fierce heat little trench around au olive-tree which of that treacherous climate, and per- he had no hand in planting, and then haps from exposure in sleeping without to spend the rest of the day in smoking shelter in the open air.

and swaggering around in a bright It is strange that there should be so new jacket, rather than to “put his few architectural ruins at Corinth, and hand to the plough,” turn the streams that absolutely the only remaining ruin into his field, enrich its pulverized soil, of any note of that splendid city, the and thus procure a crop over and above birth-place of the last and richest form his own scanty necessities. of Greek architecture, should be a The three gray, tottering columns of nameless temple of the simplest and the temple of Jupiter at Nemea rise oldest Doric style. It is thought to be in the midst of a solitary plain, with actually the oldest temple in Greece. Mt. Apesas keeping watch over it

The wall of the temple of Neptune, about as lonely and solemn a spot as near Kalamarki, the site of the Isth- one would wish to see. At the base of mian games, as well as some clearer the columns there is a great heap of outline of the Stadium itself, can be stone blocks, fragments of other pillars still made out, but they are almost un- and portions of the edifice. It was distinguishable ruins. The Isthmus in originally a Doric temple of simple its narrowest part is a beautiful level rather than elegant architecture, and plain, admirably fitted for athletic and its material was a coarse-grained stone. martial exercises.

I noticed how the lower section of a The next morning we started for column is always worn away first, just Nemea. The first part of the way was as one would naturally suppose, thus along an oleander-fringed stream, which finally bringing it down. runs, I believe, from the plain of Nemea I saw, on our route to Argos, the to the Gulf of Corinth. These little cave of the Nemean lion in the mounGreek rivers are sometimes full of water tains, but, as I had Hercules himself and sometimes completely dry. Two along with me, felt no apprehension. Englishmen, whom I met afterwards in My guide Andreas must have stood Athens, asked me about a river, which, some six feet three in his stockings. forking into two streams, runs through He claimed, as all the older guides of the plain of Argos—if I had crossed Greece do, or did at that time, to have such a river, or either of these streams? been, when a youth, in the employ of I had no recollection of doing so, as I Lord Byron. had probably crossed a dry torrent bed; All along this narrow pass or gorge although I heard afterwards that one leading from Nemea into the plain of of these Englishmen had come very Argos, was the scene of desperate fightnear being drowned in fording that same ing between the Greeks and Turks in stream. The last part of the way to the war of the Revolution, the latter Nemea was over a barren and uninter- trying to force their way to the sea. esting country, with no sign of human I spent some time exploring the redwelling, or hardly of any kind of life. markable ruins of Mycenæ, situated on Greece is a country, like Palestine, a height overlooking the plain of Argos, capable of high cultivation, but, when and between two desolate pyramidal deserted by the hand of labor and mountains forming the nortbeastern culture, it very soon becomes a wilder- boundary of the plain, ness, almost a desert.

No place in Greece interested mo of late years agriculture, especially more intensely, from the fact that these that of the vine, olive-tree, and currant, are undoubted remains of the heroic has greatly revived; but yet how deso- period, and belong imperishably to the

VOL. II.-21

a

[ocr errors]

era'of the Iliad. As Alba Longa illus- Athens afterwards said probably saved trates the Æneid, and the towers of old me from a fatal malarious fever. The Florence the Divina Comedia, so the steamer touching at Nauplia at the end gray walls of Mycenæ, do Homer's song. of three days, I went on to Athens, and The colossal Cyclopean masonry of the lay there quite sick for some time; and Acropolis, still comprehending a large although managing, contrary to orders, area, shows grcat mechanical skill, and to ride to Eleusis, and even to Mara-so scientific men say-considerable thon, the pleasure and profit of the rest knowledge of the art of fortification. of my Greek tour were greatly dimin

The “Gate of Lions" is composed of ished. three stones, the upper one, or impost, It is a six or seven hours' ride on horsebeing fifteen feet long and nearly seven back from Athens to Marathon, over a feet high in the middle. The sculptured lonely region, across the barren spurs lions have been justly remarked to be of Mt. Pentelicus. After passing through of extraordinary strength and vigor of the immediate environs of Athens, we execution, rude and archaic as they are. met nothing on our way but shepherds Under this gateway of fabulous antiqui- and their flocks of sheep and goats. ty rolled the chariot-wheels of the kings The first view of the plain where was " of Pelops' line,” and within the in- fought the Gettysburg of Greece, burst closure of these massive walls the dark upon us from the brow of a mountain ; storm of the passions and woes of broad and smooth it lay beneath, surOrestes burst. Here the signal-fires of rounded by the solemn mountains. The Clytemnestra came flaming from the chain of mountdins which bounds it on Saronic Gulf, and Arachne, and Argos, the north stretches out into the sea, and swooping down on Agamemnon's making a curved arm, which forms the roof. The scene of the opening act of bay of Marathon. The only conspicuthe “Electra was laid at the entrance ous object on the whole surface of the of this very “ Gate of Lions."

plain, is the sandy tumulus raised near But while I was exploring the ruins, the seashore by the Athenians over the and the circular subterranean chambers bodies of their slain fellow-citizens. where these Homeric kings and heroes Having reached the foot of the mounwere doubtless buried with their treas- tain, we galloped fast toward the ures, and filling my mind with new mound. From the mountains to the convictions of the simplicity and essen- tumulus is nearly two miles, while the tial historic truth upon which the Iliad plain extends along the seacoast for rests, I was seized with the first dizzy about six miles. It was slightly cultisymptoms of a fever, which compelled vated, and I observed here and there me to leave at once, and go down into thin crops of cotton and grain, and a few the plain to a little village about half- droves of cows and horses; otherwise way to Argos. There, for many hours, all was as still and unfrequented as the I lay unconscious of what was going grave. From the summit of the little on outside, but with all the griefs of conical tumulus, now somewhat worn Orestes within the brain ; nevertheless, away by the rain and more by the I was nursed very carefully and tender- antiquarian mole, one can see all the ly by my guide, of whom heretofore I features of the landscape, and how the have not spoken in the most flattering fight went on, on that immortal day. terms. We at last rode on at a snail's One can distinguish on cach extremipace into Argos, where, procuring a ty of the plain the places of the mo. vehicle which was probably a relic of rasses which so embarrassed the move the Trojan wars, we drove on to Nau- ments of the Persian cavalry. These plia, starting once more the echoes of were at the time dry, but after a rainy ancient Tiryns with the sound of char- autumn (and at this season the battle jot-wlicels. At Nauplia I was bled by was fought) they are filled with water,

Greek barber, which the physician in Sir John Hobhouse thinks that the

on

battle was begun toward the northwest mented by a delicate frieze, some of the of the plain, and that the barbarians carvings, of which are visible. The were gradually driven toward the sea, Ionic temple of Minerva Polias, and the and the general rout took place in the portico of Bacchus supported by Caryaneighborhood of the Athenian mound. tides, are the best preserved group of With their faces turned westward, the buildings on the Acropolis ; they are beams of the setting sun streamed into strikingly contrasted in their feminine the eyes of the Persians, blinding them, Ionic gracefulness with the Doric severiand completing their discomfiture. Thus ty of the Parthenon. That, in masculine Nature—thus God fought for Miltiades, force and condensation, is a counterpart As I crawled about Athens, of course of Demosthenes' 66 Oration

the the one spot unfailing in attraction, and Crown." It is now doubly stern in to which I returned again and again, decay, unsoftened by the spirited sculpwas the area on the Acropolis. This ture with which Phidias adorned the whole oval space, lifted into the pure grave simplicity of the temple ; thus air of the plain of Attica, was originally blending the abstract majesty and sense levelled smooth and paved with marble; of power which there is in architecture, and it is ainazing what an amount of with the feeling and life that sculpture the finest Pentelican and Parian marble, lends. This living spirit of Nature after the lapse of ages and its indis- penetrates and vitalizes the Fhidian criminate use for all kinds of purposes, sculpture and architecture, as it does still strews the whole area of the Acro- the Iliad and the Greek dramas. The polis. One immense block of marble I Greek artist did not work so much by remember near the entrance of the pro- rule as he did by a certain instinctive pylæa, which formerly was part of the feeling of the beautiful; and yet how entablature, is as white as the driven simply! The Parthenon is not a great snow, though the standing walls and idea run to hyperbole, and expressing the pillars of the Parthenon are tinted greatness by size, but rather by proporwith golden and scarlet weather-stains. tion, by the harmony of parts, by the On the broken fragments lying around, pure form, by the thought which lives morsels and stains of iron, and of olive- in it. That thought was doubtless a wood, show how they were originally religious one. It was a reflection of fastened together. The masonry of the natural ideas concerning divine things Parthenon is of unsurpassed perfection in the human mind-of the mind ob-one stone resting upon another with servant of the phenomena of Nature 80 great nicety, that the line of separa- and life, of the solemn uniforinity and tion is hardly noticeable, excepting harmony of Nature, its power and rewhere decay has widened it.

pose. We see the secret of the transThe propylæa is still in a pretty good cendent greatness of Greek art, in that state of preservation, and forms a noble it sprung from the depths of the mind, introduction to the more elaborate and striving after some fit expression of the beautiful though ruined works within. divine; but getting no higher than the On the left hand of the steps of the spirit of Nature, than the enshrining of propylæa, as you enter, is a singular buman nature, its wisdom, power, and sqnare pedestal of bevelled stone, upon beauty. It never gained a glimpse bewhich probably were two equestrian stat yond the expressionless calm of the face ues of the sons of Xenophon. Upon the of Pallas Athena. There is no divine right hand of the steps is the beautiful soul in Greek art, although it was religlittle temple of Victory, built by Cimon, ious. Yet surely it is not possible that and described by Pausanias, and not any less earnest idea of Art than this, many years since discovered under a

any superficial conception which traveshuge mass of Turkish fortification. It ties the religious sentiment, which subconsists of a small square cella, sur- serves the sensual taste, which adds rounded by Ionic columns, and orna- to the adorning of private and public

a

vanity, or which is the fruit of a merely the greatest freedom, freshness, and intellectual and self-conscious system of force, we must go to the Greek models coldly scientific rules, can expect to rival To be educated, it is not enough to the Greek art in its simplicity and beauty. learn the facts of the outer universe;

In Greek literature and philosophy this is but a part, though important there are a few minds who soar above part of education; but it is far more the region of Greek art, which lies after important to understand the inner world all exclusively in Nature, and who seem of mind, and to be developed from withto grasp moral ideas. Such minds as in outward. Here the subtle spirit of Pindar and Pericles, Plato, and he who Plato is still our guide, until a greater has been called “ a plank from the than Plato become our Teacher in spirwreck of Paradise," the almost right- itual truth. That very truth Plato eous Socrates—these show the heights seems almost to have grasped intuitiveof the Greek genius, and its original ly; yet no one knows the precious boon fiery power of thought, unaided by of Christianity until he knows somerevelation, to attain to truth. In these thing of Greek literature, and Greek days when classical education is de- philosophy, by which he sees how much cried, it is well for us to think what the by wisdom the world knew not, and world would be without the educating how far the greatest minds, the brightagency of the Greek mind. Perfection est intellects that were ever created, of language remains with the ancients. failed to come to the knowledge of God, If we wish to express our thoughts with by the way of pure thought.

ORGAN CHANT.

1.

ALONE, with God, alone, we bow before His throne

And crave of Him His pardon for sins of the past day!
Alone, with God, alone, we bow before His throne

And pray that for the love of Christ our sins be washed away.

[ocr errors]

II.
Alone, with God, alone, we bow before His throne !

For the spirit craves a shrine where to worship and to pray.
Alone, with God, alone, rings the mighty anthem-tone,

The vesper-chant of nations at closing of the day.

III.

Alone, with God, alone, sounds the voice of ages flown

As the sun in march sublime keeps upon his onward way.
Alone, with Night, alone! Yet with God upon His throne,

The evening turns to morning! the Night into the Day!

IV.
Alone, with God, alone, we bow before His throne

And crave of Him His pardon for sins of the past day!
Alone, with God, alone! Yet with Christ upon His throne,

We feel that for the love of Him our sins are washed away.

[merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

A MIDXIGHT PERIL.

[ocr errors]

CHATTER XV.

which she could but feel, lifted,-how perfectly happy she should then be!

She returned to her chair, all smiles and The next morning, at breakfast, the excitement, while Lissa's face grew cold family were disposed to rally Lissa on and fixed in its expression. the devotion of the heir to the splen- “I wish my parents to advise me," dors of Rose Villa.

she said, presently. “I have promised an “ It is no jest,” she said, in the midst answer Monday. Of course, I should of their mirth; "Mr. Grizzle has pro- not accept him without their consent posed marriage to me. He caught me, and approbation." yesterılay, where I could not escape, and “But you must act as your own heart had courage enough to declare himself.” dictates." “: What did you say ?”

Again that strange smile came at her It was Milla who asked the question; father's remark. There was more satire her parents remained silent. Lissa look- in it than the poor child was aware of. ed into her sister's eager face. “I have “If you have no serious objections to not decided yet; but I think I shall him or his family, I shall think favoraaccept him."

bly of it." “Oh, dear Lissa, I am so glad. Do They had serious objections. Were you think you will really like him – not ignorance, incompatibility of tastes, he's so good-tempered, and you can serious objections ? But it was true have all you wish.”

that their dear daughter was no longer "Well, yes,” said Elizabeth, calmly; happy at home, and if she decided in “ Sam is good-tempered, and Rose Villa favor of Rose Villa, ought they to disis a gorgeous sort of place. As you suade her ? Such thoughts were in the say, I need not live a life of self-denial. minds of both, when Lissa continued

I
I infer, unless I flatter myself, that Mrs. “ Don't let it spoil the breakfast.
Grizzle is very fond of me. I should Father, your tea is getting cold. I want
have a good home.”

no one's decision to-day. Let the mat-
Milla left her chair to kiss her sister's ter rest."
cheek, which flushed deep-red under her Monday,” repeated Milla, presently.
touch.

" That's the day of the soirée dansante. “I am so glad !” said the younger Papa, do you know, I would like to go, sister again, and the other felt as if a and wear my jewels.” fine knife had stabbed her.

“ How absurd !” her mother was “ You are upsetting my cup,” she about to say ; but, ever careful of the said, with a little mocking laugh. child's feelings, she checked herself,

" I beg your pardon, sister, but I was answering instead, 80 surprised. You will be so near us, “You are too young to wear many of and every thing will look so much them, my dear. You might wear the brighter."

ear-drops, they are small,--and some Milla's face glowed with plcasure. It thing to fasten your sash.” was, indeed, only what she always had • Oh, mamma, but I want them all, believed, that Lissa would soon have at least, to take my choice out of other suitors, and would love again, and them. It is an occasion of very great be happy. It was only herself whose importance to me,-my first evening out life, whose reason, were wrapped up in as a young lady." the devotion to one man! Then, too, “You shall be dressed prettily, Milla; to have all that shadow of remorse but I doubt if Mr. Dassel would ap

[ocr errors]

« IndietroContinua »