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surrounded by a crowd of feathered the future opulence of the sleeping attendants whom it far outshone in boysplendour of plumage, took its flight
“ They don't wear out their time in sleeping and to Heliopolis, the city of the sun." The Roman historian does us the fa- But gather up corn in a sunshiny day, vour to inform us that “when its time
And for winter they lay up their stores :
They manage their work in such regular forms, of death approaches, the phenix con- One would think they foresaw all the frosts and structs a nest in its native country,
the storms, which it inundates with a generative
And so brought their food within doors." principle. From this nest springs a Bees clustered round the cradle of new phenix, which, on attaining ma- the sleeping Plato, alighted on his turity, takes diligent care to perform lips, and intimated that the wisdom, of the funeral rites of its deceased parent, which bees are an emblem, should one and exhibits extraordinary sagacity in day issue from his eloquent lips. Seraccomplishing its pious task. It carries
pents climb up and lock the infant bundles of myrrh from great distances, Roscius in their folds; and, in the to accustom itself to bear burdens, and, great pitched battles of the Roman when strong enough in the wing, takes armies, eagles are seen hovering in the its deceased parent on its back, and sky, as heralds of victory. bears it through the air to the altar of Mysteries to which men are blind the sun, where, laying the body down, are clearly perspicuous to birds; and it burns it with spices."
this, owing to their elevation over Believed by the people, and bla- terrestrial things, the great length of zoned by poetry, and recorded by his- their vision, the purity of their aerial tory, religion also lent its sanction to element, the innocency of their lives, these fables, while painting and sculp- and their power of ascending into the ture gave them universal currency. heavens. The debates in the councils The humbler animals, not sufficiently of the gods are audible to birds ; inelevated when placed merely on a level deed augury takes its name from them, with mortals, were advanced to the augur and augurium being, according dignity of internuncios between gods to Varro, derived from avium garritus, and human beings; they were oracles the chattering of the feathered race. of the future, and revealed the Divine As polytheism was altogether a reliwill. The most momentous affairs, the gion of ceremony, negligent of morals armies and the colonies of the ancients, and void of dogma, it consecrated all were, in all dangerous and foreign ex- these dreams, and thus resigned the peditions, guided by birds. The management of most magnificient emdripping fugitives who escaped from pires to the meanest animals. the deluge of Deucalion, were guided Rome the consuls and emperors have to safety by a pack of wolves, and, in much less influence," says Pliny, gratitude, their new city was named « than the sacred chickens. The Wolftown. Egypt was indebted to the peckings of domestic fowls are consame animal for its safety from Ethio- templated with awe and solicitude, pian invasion. The sites of the most The proceedings of the magistrates are renowned cities were indicated to their regulated according to the caprices of founders by quadrupeds or birds, as these fowl. As the chickens show an was specially the case in the instance appetite or reluctance to feed, the ma. of Rome, Alba, and Constantinople. gistrates open or shut their houses. The lower animals were the real priests The legions engage the enemy when of ancient prophecy, and in the very the chickens are vivacious; they progdesirable quality of clearness, the lan- nosticate victory, and command the guage of the brutes always surpasses commanders of the world.” that of the oracles. Achilles is told by But it was not merely the Romanshis horse, without a shadow of ambi. the deities of Olympus applied for inguity, that he must die before Troy. formation to birds. Jupiter, the mas, In the midst of the Forum, a patriotic ter of the universe, was at one time ox warns the astonished people, bellows somewhat puzzled to make out the prehis threats, of the dangers which en. cise centre of the earth ; so he engaged viron the republic. Ants are seen two eagles to fly, the one to the east, busily engaged in conveying grains of the other to the west, and proceed corn, and placing them in the mouth of constantly forward till they met. The the infant Midas, thereby intimating eagles obeyed, and the oracle of Del. phi being the spot over which they temples to house quadrupeds, and hol. came together, the ancients be- lowed ponds for the evolutions of finny lieved Delphi to be the umbilical divinities. At Melita a serpent lay point, the superós of the earth ; and coiled within a tower erected excluin grateful memory of the meeting of sively for its preservation, while trains the eagles, the Delphians placed two of priests and servants were seen every golden images of that bird in the tem- day proceeding to lay flowers and hople of Apollo. Delphi was to Greece ney on the altar of this reptile. what Meath was to Ireland, or the The countless multitudes of Egypt Midhyama of the Hindoos, the Midheim sadden at once into the deepest mournof the Scandinavians, the Cuzco of the ing at that (to them) appalling event Peruvians, and the Palestine of the the death of a dog, a cat, an ibis, or Hebrews.
a jackal. The mourning nation em. To place animals in temples and so- balms them with pious solicitude, lemnly consecrate them was not enough weeps over their inanimate forms, for Polytheism. It raised them to conveys them with solemn pomp into Olympus, where it associated them the sepulchres of royalty, and tenderwith gods. The eagle, bearing thun ly places them beside the “buried maderbolts in its pounces, was alike the jesty" of Egypt: The insanity of instrument of the pleasures and of the Egypt having deified the brutes, went vengeance of Jupiter. Standing by
a step farther
an awful step : men his throne, it was ever ready to sweep pale and trembling in ligatures were forward with the
of wrath or dragged to their shrines and solemnly the pledges of his affection. Polythe. murdered before the unintelligent eyes isın twisted serpents round the cadu- of these “monster gods," fully justifyceus of Mercury, placed an owl on the ing the remark of the Stagyrite, man helm of Minerva, fed the horses of is in many instances more stupid and Olympus with ambrosia, endowed meaner than the beasts.” “Oh! how them with immortality, and extolled vile must man be,” exclaims Pascal, them as more rapid than the very gods. “ when he subjects himself to quadru.
It was not enough for Polytheism, peds, and adores brutes as deities !” which a father of the Church terms “the The vileness which Pascal laments, madness of mankind" to blend brutes originates in an ignorance which he indiscrimately with deities ; it raised could not remedy. To buman inves. them from the humility of associates tigation the intellect of brutes presents to the dignity, of gods themselves. the most puzzling enigma in the visi
Thus Rome instituted the worship of ble creation, and what man cannot the locust, and celebrated its festival understand, he naturally, if not inevi. on the eighth of the kalends of Decem. tably, reverences. Man, unenlighten. ber, the object being to prevail on ed by revelation, could not answer the those creatures to forbear destroying query of the poetthe harvests of Italy. Fetishism seemed pushed to its utmost extravagance by
“Who taught the nations of the field and flood
To shun their poison and to choose their food ? the Babylonians and Canaanites, but Prescient, the tides or tempest to withstand, Egypt really perfected the superstition.
Who made the spider parallels design, The animal kingdom furnished the country of the sphynx with nearly all Who bade the stork, Columbus-like, explore its religious emblems. Birds, quad
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before ?
Who calls the council states the certain day? rupeds, and reptiles swarmed in its Who fornas the phalanx and who points the way ?" temples, and were deified by its priests. Not satisfied with this, Egyptian ima- The question was first clearly stated gination furnished the devotees of by Montaigne and Pereira, philosoEgypt with what may be termed phers who laid the foundation of the “monster-gods." It dignified or de. two distinct schools which divide the graded Anubis with the head of a dog, philosophic world at this moment into and set off Isis with the head of a cow, hostile camps. One of these schools, while Osiris was made to look cunning which may easily trace its origin to and ridiculous with the head of a Pereira, refuses intelligence, or even hawk. Jupiter Ammon looks foolish feeling, to lower animals, while feeling, through the head of a ram, and Sa- and intelligence, and even soul, are turn grins portentously with the long conceded to the brutes by the disciples snout of a crocodile. Paganism built of Montaigne. The foremost cham
Build on the wave or arch beneath the sand ?
Sure as Demoirre, without rule or line ?
pions of the spirituality of the human sitates to admit the superiority of our soul may be found among those who species. He declares that some men, make the souls of brutes material ; and no doubt himself among the numwhile, on the other hand, those philo- ber, are decidedly superior to brutes, sophers who are most liberal in en- while the difference between certain dowing brutes with spiritual intelli- stupid men and certain intelligent gences, are very niggardly and stingy quadrupeds is so small, that he doubts in allowing menany souls at all. if any difference really exists, or adBrutes are considered by Pereira as mitting its existence, that the advaninsensible puppets, which some veiled tage is on the human side. He argues hand jerks this way and that ; and for the immortality of the souls of though they utter cries of joy or brutes, and sorrow, without being sensible of either sorrow or joy; and though they " Thinks, admitted to an equal sky, eat they are not hungry, though they
His faithful dog shall bear him company." drink they are not thirsty. According to these philosophers, animals do not
But brutes must be gifted with conact from anything resembling human
science, knowledge, and responsibility knowledge, but solely from the dispo
before they can be admitted to the sition of their organs. Descartes ad
dignity of another life ; and accordingmits, what it would be very difficult ly, these attributes are freely given to deny, that brutes possess life ; but
them by the naturalist Bonnet. while he allows them feeling he refuses
Cuvier, Buffon, Locke, and Voltaire, them intelligence. He illustrates his
and all the writers who have endea. argument by comparing brutes to
voured to penetrate the mystery of watches, which though made exclu
existence through the medium of me. sively of insensible machinery, wheels
taphysical inquiry, or the study of and springs, can, nevertheless, count animal organisation, have devoted meminutes and measure time more accu
ditation and investigation to what some rately than men." The Being who
term the intellect, and some the automade them,” says Malebranche, “in
matism, of the lower animals. Their order to preserve them, endowed brutes
contradictions are innumerable. But with an organisation which mechani- the medium between the preposterous cally avoids destruction and danger ;
extravagance of refusing sensation to but in reality they fear nothing and the very organs of the senses, and the desire nothing." The automatism of
no less ridiculous theory which lodges animals was the fashionable philosophy
an immortal spirit in a flea, is to be of the Cartesians and Jansenists, and found in what is termed instinct. was at one time all the rage in France.
“ But what is instinct ?” asks Vol. During the last century a swarm of
taire. “It is a substantial power, books was published on the subject,
it is a plastic energy.'" C'est je ne which instead of elucidating the mat
sais quoi, c'est de l'instinct. The nad
ture of instinct has been often caniter, only rendered it more obscure. The most unfeigned astonishment is
vassed subsequently to this writer, but expressed by many of these writers at
the discussion has invariably termithe marvels of instinct, but these are
nated in some unsatisfactory definition, the very writers who are most em- proving the invincible ignorance of phatic in declaring animals mere ma
man on this subject, and thatchines.
"Well hast thou said, Athena's wisest son, The followers of Descartes, who All that we know is, little can be known." maintained that the animals were inferior to machines, were opposed by the
It is one of those mysteries the solufollowers of Pereira, who maintained
tion of which is concealed in the mind that they were superior to men. The
of the Godhead. The unaided intelanimals are endowed by these philoso
lect of man will never pierce it. phers with freewill and foresight; the
“ What is this mighty breath, ye sages say, brutes speak, laugh, and reflect as we That in a powerful language, felt, not heard, do. Leibnitz, after carefully balancing
Instructs the fowls of heaven? What but God,
Inspiring God, who, boundless Spirit, all the attributes of men and brutes, he- Adjusts, sustains, and agitates the whole."
ITALIAN LITERATURE DURING THE TERCENTO.
It is an observation, as trite as it is true, that the arts and sciences which ennoble and civilise mankind, can take root or flourish in the soil of liberty alone. It is as trite, though certainly not so true, a remark, that the atmos. phere of peace is as essential to the growth of the arts and sciences as is the soil of liberty to their existence. History, the great test of truth, while she has ever affirmed the former position, has shown that the latter is a sopbism. It is indeed quite true, that the beaux arts may grow with an increase more luxuriant and more rapid beneath the shade and the shelter of repose ; but we may learn, too, from the past, that the storm which agitates the atmosphere purifies it also, and that the fitful sunshine, the fresh breeze, the shower, and the flood, sti. mulate a healthy growth, induce a robust vitality, make the roots strike deeper, the branches spread wider, and fling the seeds far abroad-if, indeed, the plant be fixed in the soil necessary for its sustentation. The want of repose may distract men's minds from a sedulous worship of the Muses, though even then they may have a hardy, though not possibly a luxuriant growth. The want of liberty crushes the intellect it withdraws all the attractions to learning-it renders the pursuit of knowledge not only difficult but full of peril — it paralyses genius, makes thought a pain, and mental exertion laborious, because hopeless. Thus where there is no li. berty, there cannot be civilisation, Her brightest illumination in the states and times of antiquity has, with the departure of liberty, given place to the profoundest gloom of barbarism, while the return of liberty bas ever been the herald of the returning dawn of arts and sciences.
The truth of the positions which we have just advanced is strikingly exemplified by the revival of literature in Italy during the latter portion of the thirteenth and the fourteenth century. 'The classical literature of Greece and Italy, long decaying, may be said to have perished with the subjugation of the Roman Empire in the West in the
fifth century. Boethius, in the succeeding age, alone reflected like twi. light the sunset of learning. 6 The swan-like tones of his dying eloquence," to use the language of Hallam, issued from his prison-tower at Pavia; and then came a night of silence long and deep — a night illumined faintly now and then by some solitary star rising from our own land - a silence broken by the voices of Bede and of Erigena. While the rest of Europe, still prostrate beneath the tyranny of feudal institutions, had scarce emerged from barbarism, the republics of Italy had been, for over two centuries, in the possession of a large share of that liberty which the genius of their free institutions conferred, and which the peace of Constance, in 1183, consummated and secured ; and with that li. berty came the enjoyment of intellectual existence, stimulating individual minds to raise themselves to eminence, and to attain those honours and that influence which, in a free state, intellect is ever able to achieve. And yet during this very period, when literature began to revive, and in the regions where her light again dawned, civil wars and internal dissensions raged almost without intermission. Frederick II., the great patron of literature, was involved in unceasing broils during his life, and at his death he left Italy as much convulsed as when he ascended the Imperial throne. The feuds, too, of the Guelphs and the Ghibelines raged throughout the country, and nowhere with more animosity than in the state in which the illustrious Dante arose, to be at once its glory and its disgrace.
While the literature of Spain which, preceding that of Italy, had yet been languishing for years - produced nothing superior to the barbarous rhythm and rude style of " the Cid," or the monkish poems of Gonzalez de Berceo and Lorenza Segurawhile the English language was in the process of evolving itself from the Anglo-Saxon, and could exbibit no. thing less rude than the compositions of Layamon and the rhyming chronicles of Robert of Gloucester while France was occupied with scho. lastic thcology and metaphysics, propounded in her colleges and monasteries through the medium of Latin, and leaving the laity in gross barbarism and ignorance — the language of Italy bad acquired considerable polish, and was advancing rapidly towards perfection. The courts and schools of Palermo, Naples, and Salerno were thanks to the encouragement of Frederick and his sons—the rendezvous of poets, orators, and men of genius. Already Pier del Vigne composed with much elegance of thought, purity of style, and harmony of language ; and Ricordano Malaspina wrote his History of Florence in a style so pure and perfect, that, as M. Sismondi truly remarks, it may be pronounced a masterpiece at the present day. Foremost amongst the followers of the new and beautiful language which had its birth in Sicily-extricated from the corruption of the Latin, and tinctured with the spirit and taste of the Arabians and Provençals — foremost of these in Italy were Guido Guinicelli, whom Dante bas honoured with high eulogy, Fabrizio, and Onesto, natives of Bologna; while Florence produced, ere the close of the century, amongst others, Guittone d'Arezzo, Brunetti Latini, the tutor, and Guido Cavalcanti, the friend of Dante. Thus the light of a new language and a new literature had arisen in Italy before the commencement of the fourteenth century.
I'he “ Tercento,” as it is denomi. nated in Italy, or, as we would call it, the fourteenth century, is regarded by Italians with a justifiable pride. It stands prominently out not only in the history of the literature of their own land, but in that of the world. There is assuredly none to transcend it. The Augustan age of Rome produced its Horace and its Ovid, its Virgil and its Sallust, Tibullus and Propertius; but the genius of Dante towers above them all-poet, historian, philosopher, and statesman. One epoch there is - the epoch of England's Elizabeth—which can alone compare with it; the age which produced a wondrous galaxy of genius, the poet of all times and of all lands, the “ minister et interpres naturæ," the immortal Sbakspeare, and the stellæ minores, which would have blazed as stars of the first magnitude, were he not above the horizon - Ben
Jonson, and Beaumont, and Fletcher, and Spenser. Had John Milton lived a century before his time, he would place the Elizabethan age of England even above the “Tercento" of the Italians.
To estimate fairly the position which the “ Tercento" occupies in the annals of literary achievement, we must not only regard the three great writers of that age according to their intrinsic excellence as writers, but we must consider, likewise, what they, and through them, the age in which they flourished achieved for literature independent of what they actually wrote- not only as conferring the highest and last polish upon a language but just before emerged from rudeness and barbarism, but also as giving a tone and impetus to the literature of other countries, by which they, indeed, continued to profit when Italy herself, during an entire century, failed to display any progress; and further still, as the sedulous revivors and cultivators of all that was instructive and elegant in the philosophy and literature of the Latins and the Greeks, when that of the former was buried in monasteries, and that of the latter almost forgotten in western Europe.
Previous to the appearance of "the great master,” the Italian poets of the age had contented themselves with such vehicles of thought and feeling as the madrigal, the sonnet, or the canzone afforded, and with such themes for their muse as the fables of ancient mythology, the achievements of chivalry, the incidents of romance, or, more frequently than any others, the charms of their mistresses, and the gallantries of the times. But the capacious and accomplished mind, the profoundly contemplative and imaginative spirit of Dante, sought after higher food to satisfy its cravings. With reviving literature a spirit of scholastic theology had come in, and the mysteries of the unseen world, and the speculations of faith, occupied more than heretofore the minds of
Availing bimself of this, the master-mind of Dante built up from the materials around him a poem, the sublimest in conception, the most magnificent in imagery, the profoundest in thought, the boldest in plan, the most masterly in execution, the most vi. gorous, the most lifelike that the world has ever seen. A poem justly esteemed