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course of which he has introduced fuch paffages from ancient authors, as may ferve to illuftrate the Roman methods of building, or give an idea of the magnificence of the Romans in public, and of their elegant refinements in private life.
Mr. Cameron takes occafion to remark, that there is no part of polite literature, which has more strongly engaged the attention, or raifed the curiofity of mankind, than that which has for its object the fate and revolutions of great and mighty nations.' We cannot help, fays he, being ftruck with the grandeur of the city of Athens, and the fumptuous edifices which Pericles raised there, as well as with the exalted notions of liberty and independence which he infufed into the Athenians, fuch as we find them reprefented in the works of cotemporary writers.' But, he adds, what idea of their noble anceftors can a people afford us, whofe manners and customs are totally changed, whofe laws and forms of government are obliterated, whofe language is almoft loft, by a mixture with that of the moft illiterate barbarians? Such is the fituation of this once flourishing country; and the information we should receive by the moft diligent enquiry into the prefent state of it, would be proportionably small, were it not for those magnificent productions of the age we are fpeaking of, which still exift, and prove the best and most fubftantial comment on the words of the hiftorian. Hence we collect into one point of view, the fucceffion of empire and the progrefs of the arts; hence it is, that public monuments and infcriptions are fought for with carneftnefs, as not being liable, like uncertain traditions or manufcripts, to be altered or corrupted.'
The fituation of Rome, at prefent, (our Author continues) is little better than that of Athens; we must have recourse to the fame evidence for materials, and even this, if proper care is not taken, will fail us: in a fhort period, perhaps, we may look in vain for thefe means, which have hitherto withstood the fury of civil and religious rage. Even in the fixteenth century, when Rome once more became the feat of learning, and her princes the patrons of the arts, is it not to be lamented that many old buildings, the baths more efpecially, were disfigured! their ornaments, which the fuperftition of the firft Chriftians rejected as prophane, and which the ignorance of fucceeding ages difregarded as ufelefs, were now ftripped off to fupport private luxury, or deftined to perpetuate the memory of princes, who were not afhamed of obliterating the works of those emperors, which they defpaired of being able to equal. In this manner were thofe remains of antiquity treated, which, through a long fucceffion of time, had ftood regarded by the Romans, as venerable monuments of the grandeur and magnificence of their anceflors!'
Our Author notices one great impediment to the advancement of the arts in the time just spoken of, and which we are afraid is ftill, and univerfally, a prevailing one, viz. the love of novelty for artifts, as he obferves, have often a furer recommendation to the favour of the public, by following the caprice of their own imagination, than by adhering to thofe pure and genuine models from whence they profefs to derive their skill. But Mr. Cameron juftly adds, The truth is, those who firft obtruded upon the world this falle tafte, were men of real merit and genius, who having defervedly acquired the greatest praife in the arts of painting or fculpture, obtained, for their novelties in architecture, that implicit respect and obedience, which a fuperiority of understanding over the reft of their countrymen, taught them to expect. Hence thofe wild and fantaftic inventions which are to be met with, in the greatest number, in those places where the arts have flourished moft: hence that tribe of imitators, who, ftruck by the praifes, unmerited in this point at least, which their mafters had acquired, reduced architecture to fo confufed and corrupt a ftate, as hardly to be exceeded by that Gothic barbarifm, which they themselves held in the utmoft contempt.'
There were not wanting, however, (he concludes) men. of difcernment, who, though captivated at firft, were not fo entirely milled, as to prefer this fpecious appearance of excellence to the real and fubftantial beauty of the Grecian and Roman architecture, when introduced to them in its proper form; and who have re-established the old and true method of building, by unanimously giving to Palladio the first place among the modern architects.'
In tracing the rife and progress of the polite arts among the Romans, our Author obferves, that this warlike people feem not to have been incited by any natural taste or genius to the improvement of the arts; but to have received them, at firft, rather as a neceffary attendant on their conquefts, than as an acquifition worthy of being fought after.
This remark is poffibly fuperfluous. In the early ages and rude state of any nation, the people will fhew but little regard for the arts of elegance. In the infancy of a fociety, individuals will be folicitous only with refpect to the neceffaries and common conveniencies of life, and the magiftrate will be chiefly attentive to their grand concern, the prefervation of the ftate from foreign invafion. This was certainly the fituation of the Romans, till they began to grow firft fecure, and then ambitious of conqueft. Their increase of dominion producing affluence, this foon made them fenfible of the charms of luxury; and with luxury, of courfe, came her infeparable companions, elegance and tafte; who frequent only thofe places, Cc 3
where property and riches have previously taken up their abode. Under fuch circumftances, every people, we apprehend, will manifeft a taste and genius for the cultivation of the arts of refinement, unless prevented, as at this day, (under certain peculiar forms of government) by a religion unfavourable to the growth of every thing but ignorance and fuperftition.
Qur ingenious Author next remarks, that many of the greateft men among the Romans, faw with concern, that the introduction of the fine arts into a country which had never yet experienced their irrefiftible influence, muft deprive them of that manly courage, by which they had been, for so many ages, enabled to refift the utmost efforts of the neighbouring ftates; and at length prove fatal to their liberty. Nor did they, fays he, confine themfelves to arguments alone; many edicts were paffed, and many perfons were feverely fined, who tranfgreffed the laws made to prohibit the introduction of foreign manners and cuftoms. Thefe remedies, which were prudently applied at the very beginning of the evil, would perhaps have effectually stopped its progrefs, had they not in themselves tended to hinder the aggrandizing the state; that ruling paffion, which feemed the very foul of the republic, and animated every individual in its fupport.'
The natural tendency of luxury to enervate the minds and deprave the manners of a people, which is a point often infifted on by philofophical and political writers, feems to militate against all the arts of refinement in general, as having, in fome degree, the fame tendency.-We fhould, therefore, be glad to ice this argument (complicated as it is with our commercial interefts) thoroughly investigated and determined by fome able hand; that fo we might be rightly inftructed how far we ought, as true friends to our country, to countenance the progrefs which the arts are daily making among us, in what is tiled this age of improvement,-But to return.
If luxury, fays our Author, had fhewn itself at first, [among the Romans] by increafing the fuperfluities or even the conveniences of life, the people might eafily have been brought to reject what they were unaccustomed to, and what their frugal way of living rendered unneceffary; but they could not bear with indifference to fee what they confidered as an increafe of real power and glory, circumfcribed by philofophic reafonings, for which their minds were not formed; on the contrary, they faw their dominion on every fide extending itfelf, and they looked with pleasure for the triumphant return of their leaders, which was generally marked by a profufion of gold and filver, brought from diftant countries: thefe triumphs, which were the rewards of valour, and the only recompence which the ftate allowed the moft fuccessful general,
had been conftantly kept up with all the pomp and magnificence that the times would admit of, and had increased that love for fhew and novelty, now become fo agreeable to the Ro
The combats of the gladiators fuited extremely the warlike difpofition of the people, and now began to be exhibited, as well as the entertainments of the theatre, with the utmost expence. The tranfition from hence to that inundation of wealth and luxury, which overfpread the empire was not perceived; the public magnificence foon became very confpicuous; marble temples, were now firft erected; bafilicas (which were great halls furrounded with porticos, used for the adminiftration of juftice) were not known till this period; the whole attention of the ftate feemed turned to the advancing and embellishing the city of Rome; and the falling in with the prevailing tafte of the age, was the fureft means of fecuring the popular applaufe."
Our fenfible Remarker goes on to fhew the gradual progress of luxury among the Romans, till it grew to its higheft pitch in the time of Auguftus; which he justly terms a period, fatal indeed to the liberties of Rome, but productive of confequences favourable to the progress of the arts." Thofe rigid ftoics, he adds, who by their maxims of philofophy had been taught to confider every branch of polite literature as an innovation upon their natural freedom, had now no voice in oppofition to that univerfal eagernefs which prevailed among all ranks of people, to bring about the changes in the conftitution of the ftate which then happened. The time was come when men were glad to feek for eafe and plenty under the dominion of an abfolute prince, and to give up thofe high notions of liberty and independence, which their ancestors had in vain laboured to preferve, through a feries of civil difcord and confufion.'
The following remarks on the peculiar genius of the Auguftan age, will afford us a very agreeable fpecimen of this Writer's abilities, with refpect to an investigation fo curious, and fo interelting to the claffical reader.
The Abbe du Bos, he obferves, fpeaking of the age of Auguftus, has remarked "that the men who were the most confpicuous for learning at that time, were already formed when he attained the fupreme power in the republic; and that under the fucceeding emperors, though many of them were protectors of the arts, they gradually declined:" from hence he takes occafion to obferve, that neither peace and tranquillity in the ftate, nor power and inclination in the fovereign, will contribute much to the advancement of polite literature, when other causes, though feemingly of a different tendency, do not co operate." It is certain that the greatest men of the Cc4 age
age we are speaking of, orators as well as poets, flourished during the rage of the civil wars: neither Cato nor Tully, Lucretius, Plautus, nor Terence, lived to fee Auguftus fole emperor; and of those who were then alive, as Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Tibullus, many were far advanced in years. Lucan, Statius, Juvenal, and the two Plinys, but faintly kept up the reputation of their predeceffors: Claudian and Silius Italicus immediately followed; and after them came others, whose names are fcarce remembered; till at length the polite arts funk into obfcurity.
• Were we to examine into the reason of this effect, so apparently oppofite to the caufe which produced it, we need but to obferve how repugnant it was to the principles of defpotiím, to fuffer men to give a loose to their thoughts and genius, on points of fpeculation, which in their progrefs might tend to cenfure the maxims of government as then established. In the time of the republic, the ftudy of oratory was the fureft means of gaining the popular applaufe, and the practice of it led to the attainment of the highest pofts of honour; but when the difpofal of thofe places was taken out of the hands of the people, the fame incitements no longer remained, and the study itfelf was of courfe neglected. This train of thought may perhaps lead us to account for the decline of poetry; but those very caufes which obftructed the progrefs of arts that depended purely on the operations of the mind, did not extend to fuch as were more mechanical: the downfal of philofophy and poetry contributed to the improvement of architecture and fculpture. To this point, therefore, muft our obfervations tend, if we would confider the reign of Auguftus in its most shining light. We fee that thofe writers who have praised him in the highest terms, fpeak of the fplendor and greatnefs of the buildings which he erected; of his magnificence in public, and his modefty in private life. He completed thofe ftructures which, by the neceffity of the times, had been left unfinished. Of thefe the most remarkable were the Theatre and Portico of Pompey, the Bafilica of P. Æmilius, and Cafar's Forum. To these many were added by him, which for beauty and grandeur of defign, and elegance and fimplicity of ornament, have been efteemed among the most perfect models of antiquity. The example of the emperor raised a spirit of emulation in the great men of his age, which contributed much to perfecting the plan he had formed for embellifhing the city. In a fhort fpace of time, the fame fenate, which had cenfured Pompey for promoting luxury and public diffipation, by erecting a permanent theatre, faw no lefs than three very large ones in ufe, thofe of Pompey, Marcellus and Balbus; the Circus Maximus greatly enlarged; an amphitheatre erected at the charge of S. Taurus; porticos, baths,