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of outline to the harmonious forms of the foreground; while, in the coalstrata of the extreme distance, methinks I can descry the faint impress of ferns and other vegetable deposits. Note the fossil tooth of the mastodon in the centre as particularly precious, finely relieved as it is against the leathery texture of the wing of the pterodactyle. These superb combinations of the dædal forms of the earth are clothed in lavish magnificence with all known and possible specimens of herbaceous life, from the stupendous Wellingtonia to the small celandine of our native fields; while over all are set the sentinel stars, Orion and the Pleiades, which shed over the dawn of creation the same sweet influences that still gild its decline. The naturalist may study this picture with profit, only second to that derivable from a knowledge of the works of the late J. M. W. Turner, as expounded by myself. Still there are some natural features not to be found in European landscape, of which I lament the absence. I should therefore recommend the artist to spend the summer on the top of the Peter Bott Mountain, while he may get a suitable foreground in the rich autumnal splendours of the trackless South American forests; and may, on his return, paint in the less important
details from the Botanical Gardens in the Regent's Park. I wish him a pleasant trip, a stout heart, walkingstick, and pair of shoes.
"Red-deer," by Landseer.-I have already told Mademoiselle Rosa Bonheur, that as she has not yet satisfactorily proved to me that she can paint a man's face, it is a delusion to suppose that she paints horses they are merely trotting bodies of horses; so I tell Landseer, that as he has never (that I am aware of) painted a porcupine, it is a popular fallacy to suppose that he can paint red-deer. He merely paints their horns, hoofs, and hides.
I have now given the public all that it is necessary for them to know, and more than they can appreciate, of my decisions on the Art of this year. The above pictures are all that I have had leisure to look at. Still, the mere fact of my not having seen them, would not prevent me from criticising all the rest, if it were expedient or necessary. On the whole, I consider the works of this year decidedly in advance of those of the last, as that was of its predecessor, which I attribute to my annual critiques; and I doubt not that, after diligent study of this little brochure, considerable progress will be manifested next summer.
Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.
A LONG work from the pen of Mr Gladstone would contain, we might confidently predict, many ingenious and many excellent observations, and be distinguished by much admirable writing, rising at times into eloquence; but we might almost as confidently predict, from our perusal of his former works, and from the demands made upon him by his parliamentary career, that such a work would betray many signs of haste and imperfect study, that the ingenious observation would not always carry conviction with it, that an air of plausibility would be sometimes thrown around a theory or statement which would not bear examination, and that the fluent pen of one on whom the "winged words," as Homer might say, wait so obediently, would be tempted into too rapid and too voluminous exercise of its power. The reader of Mr Gladstone's Homer will find both these predictions realised, and if he is of the same opinion as ourselves, he will regret to say that the imperfections he expected are more signal and more numerous than the merits and excellencies he was equally prepared to recognise. There is very much of loose and hasty reasoning in these volumes. There is great want of condensation, of clear and explicit statement. A
fertile thinker, and a rapid writer,
Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age. By the Right Hon. W. E. GLADSTONE, D.C.L. VOL. LXXXIV.-NO. DXIV.
fare and party strifes, and in all the passing topics and urgent interests of the current year, to give himself with the necessary concentration to any great literary task. We do not demand impossibilities from any man. We might perhaps fairly complain of those who attempt impossibilities.
A parliamentary reputation, and a reputation in any of the higher departments of literature, are two very different things, are won by very different qualities of mind, and by a training or mental discipline of an almost opposite character. Mr Gladstone, as an orator of the House of Commons, stands, by general consent, pre-eminent. Mr Gladstone, as a writer of books, is by no means pre-eminent. It is not that he cannot write almost as well as he speaks; there is at all events no deficiency to be complained of in the style, so far as this can be separated from the thought it is that the thinking which is quite profound and accurate enough for a listening assembly, whose attention is gained by the energy of the speaker, and secured by their own interest in the success of the debate, and who are at all times more struck with the readiness and tact and the skilful fencing that keeps a position once taken up, than by the graver processes of reasoning which justify, and should precede, the taking up of any position at all -it is that the thinking which is close and searching enough for the orator, is too careless, hasty, and fragmentary for the author, and will not supply solid material for a book which is to be held in the hand, and turned backwards and forwards, and perused a second time, and read in the silence and the leisure of the study. A facility of theorising, of inventing arguments, detecting analogies, a skill to put forward and conceal facts according to the exigencies of the moment-all these we have in the works of Mr Gladstone; but we miss the honest, searching, candid inquiry after truth. Even
when we agree with him on the premises he has assumed, we do not find that our faith in them has been strengthened he has done nothing to confirm us in the citadel we are anxious to hold against, perhaps,
vigorous assailants. Very often those premises from which he starts-tripping on with light ingenious alacrity
form the very key of the position, are the very matters on which his intelligent contemporaries are inquiring and discussing. He perhaps passes over with quiet, grave assumption, the real question over which doubt and difficulty are hanging, and then proceeds along his free current of ingenious, inventive argument; playing dexterously with the facts of his case, disposing them in light and shadow as will best suit the purpose of the moment; placing his hand over the picture, and revealing just so much of it at a time as it is desirable that his gentle and tractable reader should see. Very gentle and very tractable must that reader be who continues satisfied with Mr Gladstone as an expositor of truth, whether he is dealing with the Church of England or with the gods of Olympus.
We could select many passages from this work, and we hope we shall be able to find room in our pages for some of them, which contain separable observations both true and admirably expressed; but we are compelled to report that the philosophical and historical criticism which forms the substance of the book is of a very slight, unstable character-much of it fanciful and visionary. We do not say that a painstaking student of Homer will have gained nothing from a perusal of these three volumes; but we do think that, in the course of his scholarly reading, he will rarely have encountered three such bulky volumes from which he has gained so little. He presses his hand, and the more tightly he grasps the less he retains. So much escapes in mere froth, mere fancy, vague and unaccredited assertion. There is, too, a great deal of repetition; time has not been taken to condense, and so to arrange the material as to avoid this repetition. "Excuse the length of my letter, I had not time to make it shorter," writes the venerable John Wesley. The excuse is permissible in a letter: is it equally permissible in a book!
Mr Gladstone, in his first volume, escapes altogether from the question
of the authorship of the Homeric poems (as we must all of us at least call them), of the Iliad and the Odyssey-flies from it, as one wearied with the din of unprofitable controversy. We can quite participate in this feeling, and we have no desire to enter into a debate which our author has felt himself at liberty to decline. And yet the controversy has most assuredly been brought to no satisfactory conclusion- to no such result that a writer in the position of Mr Gladstone can fold his arms and retain the old faith in Homer, and quietly assume that all the Iliad and all the Odyssey was the composition of the same great poet-assume this for the purpose of drawing subsequent deductions of an historical character. He can waive the discussion, if he pleases, as we should be disposed to waive it, on the frank plea that we have nothing new to say he can waive it as a controversy which is apparently exhausted without being determined; but matters are unfortunately not in such a condition that he can avoid the discussion, and yet assume that one party is right, and adopt that old faith in Homer which existed before the controversy was stirred. That the great poet Homer really lived, and that we have many of his verses, is doubted by few; but there are almost as few who now hold what a hundred years ago was the unshaken creed of all the scholars of Europe. In the days of Pope and Addison there was no English scholar who did not believe that the Iliad and the Odyssey were as indisputably the works of Homer as the Paradise Lost and the Paradise Regained were the works of Milton. In our days there is scarcely an English scholar who has the same unhesitating faith. Perhaps he assigns the Iliad to one poet and the Odyssey to another; and this becomes an important conclusion to the historian, if the critic adds (as he generally does) that the Odyssey was a later production than the Iliad. Perhaps he makes a distinction between the several books of the Iliad itself, and finds in it a combination of two or more poems originally distinct. Whatever theory he rests in, he
never gets back to the early undisturbed faith of his ancestors, or of his own school-days.
The controversy is interminable, because each party will and must rely, in great measure, upon a certain critical appreciation for which he cannot altogether render a reason to another. He feels that there is a different workmanship, a different tone of thought, in one part of a great poem from the rest. It is impossible to argue him out of this feeling, and he finds it almost as impossible to communicate to another the grounds of his own conviction. Thus the two disputants are in a hopeless state of antagonism. It happens, too, that the controversy is implicated with another controversy, on which very different opinions are likely to be retained. At what time was the use of writing introduced into Greece? and what are the inferences we are to draw, if it is decided that the use of writing was not introduced till after the composition of the Homeric poems? The first of these questions may admit of a tolerably decisive answer; it is at least generally concluded that the poems were in existence before the art of writing was known or practised in Greece. But the second question-what are we to conclude therefrom of the original state in which these poems existed, or of the manner of their growth into the form in which they have descended to us? is not so readily answered-is answered in a very different manner by different persons. It is, in fact, a matter for conjecture. To some of us it seems highly improbable that, where poems are composed only to be recited, a poet would have any motive for entering on a composition longer than could be recited on one occasion; and almost as improbable that, without the aid of writing materials, he should have the ability to design and execute so long a work as the Iliad or the Odyssey. But if one or several poets had written many pieces on the same great subject, as the siege of Troy or the adventures of Ulysses, then it is easily explicable how such separate poems should afterwards have become amalgamated into one. Thus the Iliad and the Odyssey may both
have grown into very nearly the form in which we now have them before the art of writing was introduced, although in the absence of that art it is almost impossible to suppose them to be designed and executed by one man in their present entireness. This reasoning fails to produce its effect on other minds, who, impressed with the internal evidence of unity in the composition, will not yield to what they assert is a mere conjecture as to the motives or the ability of a bard in the heroic times.
Though in the first volume Mr Gladstone passes over the controversy, and refers us to the works of others, yet in the third volume he so far returns to it as to enter into some discussion with Mr Grote, and dispute the view which that historian had taken of the authorship of the Homeric poems. Mr Grote perceives strong evidence of unity of design in the Odyssey, and attributes the whole poem to one author; but he judges differently of the Iliad. "The Iliad," he says, "presents the appearance of a house built upon a plan comparatively narrow, and subsequently enlarged by successive additions. The first book, together with the eighth, and the books from the eleventh to the twenty-second inclusive, seem to form the primary organisation of the poem, then properly an Achilleis. The twenty-third and twenty-fourth books are additions at the tail of this primitive poem, which still leave it nothing more than an enlarged Achilleis; but the books from the second to the seventh inclusive, together with the tenth, are of a wider and more comprehensive character, and convert the poem from an Achilleis into an Iliad," Mr Grote does not say that these last-mentioned parts are of inferior merit, or of an appreciably later date. K. O. Müller, in his History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, had drawn attention to a distinction between the two parts of the poem, an original part having chief reference to Achilles and the Greeks, and the superinduced part having reference to the entire war. Mr Grote has drawn this distinction with more definiteness, and justified it by several remarks which
appeared to us to carry much weight with them. From the second to the seventh book Achilles is scarcely alluded to " and moreover," adds Mr Grote, "the Greeks do perfectly well without him. . . . Diomedes is in fact exalted to a pitch of glory in regard to contests with the gods which even Achilles himself never obtains afterwards; and Helenus the Trojan puts him above Achilles in terrific prowess."
These and other reasons for such division of the Iliad Mr Gladstone combats, and is disposed to regard them as "wild suppositions." He sees the same marks of unity of design in the Iliad that Mr Grote had recognised in the Odyssey. The reasons pro and con for this theory of an original Achilleis we should not have space to enter on, and after all, every reader of Homer must be left to his own critical feeling and discrimination. We will content ourselves with this very modest observation. It is one thing to contend for such a discrepancy or inequality in the parts, as absolutely forbids the belief that the Iliad and Odyssey were written originally as entire poems, and by the same poet, and another thing to show such discrepancies, or such redundancies, as would permit us to adopt the theory of their growth from shorter poems, presuming that other considerations favoured such a theory. Great poets are very unequal, the best poems have faults in their structure, strange oversights are committed by the shrewdest of authors, and in ancient works the text may have been corrupted. The evidence must be very stringent, therefore, that would absolutely prove of any work that it could not have been designed and executed by one man. But it is a much less degree of evidence we require to permit us to believe that it may have grown up in the manner we have already stated, if the absence of the art of writing, and the fact that poets composed for recitation, point to such a mode of growth. If there is an antecedent probability that several separate, or perhaps serial, poems have been interwoven or welded together, we rather look for some manifestations where the join may