« AnteriorContinuar »
s it was seldom that the capitalists were satisfied with this. “ There was no legal limitation, and consequently no usury " in the eye of the law. It was not uncommon for them to “ take 24, 36 and even 48 per cent. Some usurers doubled “their capital in four days. Money was often lent for com“mercial enterprises at thirty per cent., and as the returns “ were speedy,--there being no other than a coasting trade, " the same funds gave several harvests in the course of the
year. A certain Aristocles, of whom Isæus speaks, must " have been a very moderate man indeed, when he made but
hundred and thirty dollars a year, by loaning, with a capi" tal of seven hundred!
“ The Athenians lived sparingly. Mutton cost in the time " of Solon about fifteen pence; beef half a dollar. A medimnus “ of corn, about six bushels -sold for eighteen sous. The “ price of provisions rose after the time of Solon, but never “ to any great height. The indigent classes consumed a great
quantity of onions, beans and lentils. Plato who had some “ fortune, boasted of living upon olives, and was scandalized " at the more luxurious cheer of Aristippus. In a piece of
Lynceus, a comic poet, an epicure is made to complain of " the Athenian
repasts, and to state that much better fare was " found at Chalcis.
“Some, but not all, of the Greeks ate bread. Hippocrates
prescribes, in that disease of the liver which he calls Hépa“sitis, that bread be given to the patient, if he be in the habit “ of eating it, or maza if that be his ordinary food. Maza
was a kind of barley paste. The Athenians maintained at “the Prytaneum, were, according to the institutions of Solon,
supplied with maza on common days; bread was given to " them on festivals.
“ The Athenians gave entertainments; but it is very doubt"ful whether such a repast, as that of which we read in the “ travels of Anacharsis, was ever given at Athens, even by “ Alcibiades. The simplicity of the Athenian mode of living “ rendered unnecessary the daily service of a cook: when an “ entertainment was given, the cook was hired for the occa“sion, and brought all his utensils with him, as there was no “ regularly organized kitchen in the Athenian dwellings. One “ of the usages of the Athenians in this respect was well cal"culated to promote friendship: it was that of giving enter“tainments, to which each guest brought his dish. They were “ fond of eating in society, and one friend often put his sup
per in his basket, and went to eat it at the house of another. “ Wine was the most expensive article of their repasts; for
“the Greeks had a very strong relish for it. The authors who " have described the manners of the Athenians, speak more “ frequently of parsimonious, than of prodigal men. No lan
guage, perhaps, has so many words as the Greek to desig
nate a miser. If the Athenians had a great many slaves, it “ was not as a matter of luxury, but of profit. The law expressly “ forbade the keeping a supernumerary or idle slave. As it
was customary for the Athenians to travel on foot, they “ took a slave with them to carry their baggage. They could " not take two, without being accused of pride or ostentation.
“ I cannot conclude this summary of the researches of our “ colleague, without being led to reflect upon what constitutes " the true glory and wealth of states; their real prosperity; " both their actual and future renown. The mind proceeds “involuntarily to contrast an existence so penurious and a * wealth so insignificant according to our modern ideas, with “the glorious and admirable achievements of the Athenians; “ with the exquisite models which they have left us in the “ arts of imagination, and in the creations of genius. That “ people must be acknowledged to have been truly rich with< out whose inventions and remains, the most opulent nations « which have ever existed or which now exist, could be only “ qualified as barbarians.”
Preussens altere Geschichte. The celebrated Kotzebue has recently published at Riga, a work in four volumes octavo, intitled “The Ancient History a of Prussia,” which embraces that of the Teutonic Order. This production has excited a very lively interest in Germany, both on account of the merit of the execution, and the nature of the materials. The writer, by a combination of lucky circumstances, obtained access to the secret archives of Kænigsberg, whence he drew a body of authentic documents of a curious character, and of great importance, in their relation to the early history of the north of Europe, and to the career of the Teutonic knights. A French translation of Kotzebue's history has been undertaken in Paris, but he appears to have given great offence to the French critics, by his declamations against oppression, and his philosophical opinions. They pronounce, however, very warm encomiums on the general execution of the work. The following is the decision of the Mercure de Paris, after an elaborate review of its contents.--"We found the physiognomy, as it were, of Kotze
bue the dramatic and the romance writer, imprinted upon “all the opinions, reasonings, and even upon the style of his
history, but still we must acknowledge, that he displays “ more talent than we thought he possessed. He manifests in “this work great powers as a writer; his style is perspicu
ous and animated; his narration brilliant and rapid, and full " of those happy strokes of genius, which place a reader, in the “ midst of the events and personages described. He imbues
every thing that he treats with interest: his lively and fruit“ful imagination fertilizes the deserts of history. When he “has to narrate an important fact, he does it uniformly " with great force of expression, and vivacity of colouring.
Many passages of his work have an extraordinary degree 6 of excellence. His reflections are not often new, but they are “ always admirably well expressed. He clothes them in the most picturesque imagery, and gives them a freshness and bril
liancy of complexion, that serve to conceal their age. The “several parts of his work are well adjusted, and his grada“tions perfectly well managed. The effect of his pictures is “ frequently heightened by the most energetic conciseness. « On the whole " the Ancient History of Prussia” is a very " interesting work; instructive in itself, and written in an at“ tractive manner. What gives to this publication a high va
lue, even for those who might judge the author more se
verely than we do, is the collection of notes and documents “ appended to each volume. We have already spoken of the “ immense and precious materials which Kotzebue had at “his disposal: his notes contain extracts from them; he has
quoted verbatim various acts and treaties, which shed quite a new light on the history, the spirit, and the manners of the “ middle age, the cradle of our own ideas, of our institutions, “and of our political being;-an era which is but too little “ studied, but which should be thoroughly investigated and “ understood by those, who would wish to write the history " of modern times, in a manner solidly instructive, and truly
A work entitled “ An historical essay upon the causes which “ produced the fall of the three first dynasties of France, by “ A. Dampmartin,” has been published recently in Paris, and received with great favour. In a critique of this historical essay contained in the Mercure, and written by M. Boufflers, a well known member of the Institute, we remark the following striking passage. “ The object of our author is to prove, by " the chain of events, which even as far back as fourteen “ centuries ago, may be said to have brought about the pre
sent state of things among us, in consequence of the alterna“tion of strength and weakness which France experienced “ under her monarchies; his object, we say, is to prove, that a “sovereign of France should never forget, that he is the chief “ of a nation essentially warlike; that if he be not a warrior, “ he becomes an alien among his own subjects;--that if he
persists in governing them, his authority must be every day
more and more weakened; that in fine, to use the language “ of this author, a king of France resigns his sceptre, on the “ day that he lays aside his sword. This maxim acquires ad“ ditional strength every hour. If it had been well understood " and strictly adhered to, it would have been at all times, "what it should always be, the palladium of the monarchy. It “ is desirable, that every individual should be fully persuaded, " that the sword of the monarch, is the tutelary instrument of “the national tranquillity, and the most efficacious preservative “ against internal commotion,—that it is the true agent of pa“cification, &c. Every page of history sanctions this doctrine.”
We have in our hands another French work published about the same time, entitled “ A political and civil history “ of the three first dynasties of France," the professed object of which, is to prove likewise, from a review of that period of the French history, that it is the highest interest, and should be the wish, of the nation, to be governed by the sword. The work is dedicated to Cambaceres, and consists of three octavo volumes. The author, who appears to be a person of some ability, states in his preface, that, in the composition of his history, he had particularly laboured, to display the disorders and inconveniences of the old system of Government, in order “ that his countrymen might, by contrasting them with the " advantages and blessings of the present state of things, ac“quire a stronger relish for the felicity and the stable liberty “ which they now enjoy, under the regenerating auspices of “the greatest of monarchs,” &c.
We observe that the first part of the long expected national work on Egypt, has at length made its appearance in Paris. It is announced as “ The description of Egypt, or a collection “ of the observations and researches made in Egypt during “the Expedition of the French Army; published by order of “his Majesty Napoleon the Great." The price of the first livraison only, consisting of one hundred and seventy pages of the atlas size, is stated to be eight hundred francs, or about one hundred and fifty dollars. A copy of the whole work on vellum cannot be sold for less than two thousand. It will be one of the most splendid specimens of typography ever exhibited. The profiles of Egyptian architecture, and the illustrations of Egyptian zoology, which we had an opportunity of inspecting some years ago in Paris, are extremely magnificent. The cost incurred by the French Government in preparing and printing the work, must amount to fifty thousand dollars. For the last seven years the survivors of the savans who accompanied Bonaparte to Egypt, have been indefatigably employed upon it, and the details which they will be enabled to furnish to the world respecting that country, cannot fail to be of great interest, and of the highest importance. We anticipate much valuable instruction from the parts of this work which relate to the ancient history, the architecture, and the geography of Egypt, but expect to find very little truth in the narrative, which those who publish" by order of Napoleon the Great," may give of his celebrated expedition thither.
Another very splendid monument of typography has been recently consecrated to “ Napoleon the Great.” It is an edi. tion of Homer, in three volumes great folio, each consisting of three hundred and seventy pages, with the text only, from the most magnificent press in the universe, that of Bodoni of Parma. The artist employed six years in his preparations, and the printing occupied eighteen months. One hundred and forty copies only were struck off. That presented to his Imperial Majesty was upon vellum, of a size and brilliancy altogether unparalleled. The edition is said, moreover, to possess great intrinsic excellence, having been diligently superintended by the most accomplished hellenists in Italy, and corrected by a comparison of all the most approved readings of the text.
We copy the following article from a late number of the Mercure. “Many of our gazettes announce that Mde. de Stael " is preparing to set out for the United States in order to take “possession of a considerable property which she has there. “This information must be incorrect. It is certain that this “ lady is now at Blois, superintending the publication of her new work on Germany, which is to have the same character,
that which she wrote upon Italy, under the title of Corinne. “ The impression is far advanced, and our literature will soon
be enriched with this production."