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Scott—because it does not bring us into contact with so agreeable a character. We instance Scott, here and above, for the reason that every reader ought to know •tnd love him; many other names among 5ur best novelists would equally suffice for the comparison. With Scott we feel in the society of a gentleman, a man of courage ind uprightness, a pleasant travelling companion; it is, in fact, a certain remedy for lervous depression to run through one of lis familiar stories—improving to bodily lealth as well as conducive to mental serenity. The effect of his letters is yet nore invigorating. He seems to have lived, rith all his troubles, in a region of per)etual sunrise, and, as we read him, there breathes upon us the air of morning.
The author of Wuthering Heights is lot so happily compounded. He has a ieculiar obtrusive conceit about him which nakes one nervous lest he commit some icw gauckerie. So many of his fine passages are marred by affectation that there s an uncomfortable struggle in the mind thether to yield a too easy confidence, or >e altogether disgusted. Yet the strength if his will prevails; though we would, we annot shake him off. He is like a friend rho continually annoys you with a want of act, which is so obvious you are never ure it is not pure affectation. If you acompany this friend, for example, down iroadway, he will be suddenly smitten rith the beauty of some child, and will top and enter into conversation with it, itterly regardless of the natural astonishment of its mamma; thus forcing you to ilush for him and drag him away. If you '»!k with him in the fields, on Staten sland, or elsewhere, he will find some huge errapin, or boaconstrictor, and insist on 'ringing it home on bis arm, leaving you iposed to the jeers of the populace,
while he marches on sublimely insensible. He does not remember the prices of the commonest articles of purchase. But most of all he makes himself disagreeable in a book-store; he appears to consider the clerks who officiate there to be so many Admirable Crichtons, and opens 'his recondite reading to them, while they stare at you grinningly, as who should say, " Art thou also green as he is?"
Moreover, this friend to whom the author of Wuthering Heights must be likened is continually "embroiling himself with women." He dissects to you their characters and finds out motives for them which they never dreamed of. He fancies he understands them perfectly, all the while you are quite sure he is mistaken. In his intercourse with them he sets out with a firm belief in his own infallibility, and makes all after developments conform to that hypothesis. The consequence is, he has met with some rebuffs that have soured his temper and thrown a shadow over him; yet he has lost none of his ori; ginal faith in himself. Why he should have been so unsuccessful is a mystery, for his figure was well enough, and his conversation, though by no means that of one accustomed to the best society, was yet fresh and fascinating. But he looks upon women as a refined sort of men, and they therefore are unable to give him their confidence.
Suppose such an impracticable man of talent to give the world a novel; he would make one very much resembling in spirit this which lies before us. We might conclude a review of such a novel, with heartily thanking him for all that was good in it and expressing the hope that his next production might be less marred by serious faults and errors. G. W. P.
Early in the evening of the appointed day, her auditors were assembled, when Diotima entered the banquet room, followed by Euripides the tragic poet, and Meton the parasite. Meton placed himself opposite to Cymon on the left; Socrates and Euripides on the right and left, in the middle places ; and Lysis below Euripides, on the left. Thus it happened, that Socrates and Cymon were together on the right of Diotima, as on the former occasions.
When the guests had fully answered the first call of hunger and the wine was brought in, which they drank not raw, but diluted, and in moderate cups, the entertainer, when a silence was made, continued her story, as follows:
"The city of Babylon lies on both sides the Euphrates. The river, bending like a serpent, creeps under the mountainous wall on the northern side, and escapes through it at the south. Within the inclosures of the walls,—which are banks of sun-baked clay, piled to the height of the Acropolis, and inclosing the region of Babylon like a belt of barren hills,—gardens watered by canals, orchards bearing apples of Persia, whose seed is like a stone, fields rich with the third harvest of the year, and a population, frugal, peaceable and full of ingenious industry, are at once presented to your eyes ; as if the scattered villages of a well-governed kingdom had been swept together in a mass.
"Our caravan entered the city through a defile or breach in the wall, defended by gates of brass thirty cubits in height. From the place of entrance to our caravanserai near the southern wall was a day's journey ; and had it not been for the regularity of the roads, the splendor and frequency of the mansions of Persian nobles, and the crowds of horsemen, foot
passengers and chariots, moving in all the ways, we should have fancied oursel*^ traversing an open region, and not withb the walls of a city. For here the housewere not crowded together as in Athens, bo: stood each apart, in the midst of a park: and about them the huts of weavers mi handicraftsmen were scattered numerous!; everywhere among the gardens.
"While we passed slowly over the ro»& and spaces of the city, wondering at the multitude of the people,—for if we had counted them it must have been by thousands at once,—I gathered many particulars from my master touching the historyd the city and of the builders of its waDs Some say, and these are the Magi, that thu first Babylonians came from Bactria, and began to build the great tower of Beta which rises like a ruinous hill in the southwest angle of the city. They wished to raise it in honor of the Sun and of thai ancestors. This was at a period inremc* antiquity, when the stars held not th< places they now hold, and the race of rod were long-lived and of gigantic sUtufi When the first Babylonians came to th< Euphrates, they found the land withoul inhabitants; but when they began to di| canals and plant gardens, and gre' wealthy, and their numbers increased, tl* barbarians of the north came down upa them, and robbed and spoiled them, their prince made a decree, that a should be built about the whole and that every man should contribute the work : and in a few years they finish* the inner wall. But, as it happened i Egypt, the custom of building for thfl kings and princes once established in th memory of the Babylonians, care was taltf that it should not fall into desuetude. T»> outer wall, a work of four years of maal life, the hanging gardens of Semiramo »nd the great temples, beside a multitude of palaces, comparable only with those of Egypt, for extent and magnificence, were thus gradually builded in the course of nany centuries; but the true periods of :heir beginning and completion, are known »nl_v to the Magi who keep the records of :he tower of Belus. When the Chaldeans, i people of the north, descended upon Mesopotamia and took Babylon, they :aused the outer wall to be restored and teightened; but since the Persians have lie empire, the princes oppress the people, ind neglect their walls.
* For the second Banquet, are number of this journal for November, 1846;—and for the first, ttt i number for February, of the present year.
"Imagine a nation of weavers and landicraftsmen employed in every species if manufacture, living under a tyranny drich forbids the possibility of honest iches, and you have pictured to yourselves he population of Babylon. Their manuactures are taken down the Euphrates and arried by Phoenician mariners to all parts if the world. By caravans the stuffs and iroducts of Babylon are distributed over Uia, Bactria, and the north. By these neans a perpetual stream of every kind of iches is poured back by commerce into he city, enriching the masters who govrn it, but not the multitude who are their laves. In Babylon, as in Egypt, tho eople are slaves."
When Diotima came to this point in her tory, Euripides, who leaned upon his left ide with his eyes declined, and listening ttentively, looked up at the narrator with smile, and made a movement to speak, 'iotima perceiving it, paused instantly, nd waited for what he would say.
"I think," said he, " you would write a pod history if you chose to undertake it."
"I think so too," echoed Lysis: "Difoma's narrative is very agreeable."
"I will venture to contradict you "Hh," said Socrates. "I do not think it ** in Diotima's power to make a good istory."
Euripides, a polite man, and ambitious rithal, who would rather flatter than ofsnd, though he knew Socrates well, could »t conceal his surprise at the seeming adetiess of his remark. "Your reason, nend." said he; "your profound reason,"
"She gives us pictures, descriptions, OQversations, and no history ; your histown. to my understanding, is he who bears rou strongly along on a stream of events;
he is neither a story-teller, a moralizer, nor an epigrammatist; a sophist nor a maker of pathetic pictures. Much less is he a dramatist, like Euripides, or a master of social opinions, like Diotima. He may smack of all these, but the business of a historian, I think, is with events, and the acts of cities, as they are moved by their common desires, fears and aspirations."
"You are over nice with distinctions, Socrates," replied the other; "and here seems to be one made without a difference: nor did I ever hear you so positive about a trifle. If I describe a city, why not as well the acts of the city: if the deeds of one man, why not the deeds of many men?"
"When you," replied Socrates, "excite our pity with the griefs of Alcestis, consigning herself to death for love's sake, you move us with a private sorrow, and we are mingled in sympathy with the affection of a wife and husband ; beyond this you look for no effect. Homer also shows us Achilles in his tent, mourning for Patroclus, or pictures the tender parting of Hector with his wife and child ; but these are only the ornaments of the work, the foliage of the column. The individuals are swept along in the torrent of destiny; one by one they rise, triumph for an instant, and are lost forever; but still the action moves on and the war is never at an end. But when Orestes enters upon the stage, it is Orestes and not a nation, or a history, that interests us. Therefore, I argue, Diotima is not a historian by nature; her descriptions are of individuals, of passions, of entertainments, and always of the quiet and the easily representable; but to me Homer seems to be the inventor of history, because he first subordinated the persons to the action. To describe the virtue of a hero, or of an entire city contending and bearing up against a common calamity, be it of war, of the inroads of the ocean, or of pestilence, or violence from abroad, or of vice and injury in the city,—in short, of all those sorrows which the gods inflict upon nations and races of men,—this seems to me history; and if it be done as Homer does it, from the heart, tempering all with love, with heroic courage, the interest of the event, and the hope of fame, it is epical, as I think, and needs to be written in verse. For, as the whispers of lovers are always musical if they be true, and the curses of enemies harsh if they be meant; descriptive imitation of them must be a mixture of these, a melody."
"What will you say then," said Euripides, "of that eloquent narrative which we heard read by Herodotus at the games? Was it a history, or was it not?"
"I did not hear it," replied Socrates; "but if you found yourself drawn by it into a sympathy with the nations and the persons which it describes; and perceived always, that no private loves and wills operated to move them, but certain moral and universal causes, able to move whole nations at once—such as a contest for a territory, an inherited feud, the glory of a race, the power of one over many, of many over one; I say, if you found these in the books of Herodotus, and withal saw them picture-like, his narrative might be called a history. To prevent Diotima no longer, I will add but this word, that if any one should relate a history of a war of his own city against another, from the heart, as it was carried on in anger and in honor, and should so depict for us the action by holding up the chief actors to our view, as to give a continuity and wholeness to it, through the continuance of the anger that began it, producing a series of actions, purposed alike by that anger, he would have given us an epical or Homerical history. And now, Euripides, we owe a penalty for the breaking of our vow, to what power I know not, unless to Diotima."
"Let us interrupt her no more," said Euripides.
"Pardon me, friends," said she, "if I add a word to Socrates' definition of an epical history, in favor of those who contend that the essence of poetry is in passion and not in meditation; confirming Socrates' opinion against me, that I am no historian. I will give you Pythagoras's opinion of the matter. When he had asked me to write a history of the Egyptians, and I said I did not love or hate them enough to do it, he replied that I had the right idea of what a history ought to be, but that none such had ever been written excepting Homer's, and that his was a fiction: he said he would have true histories written by good patriots, who loved their country and hated its enemies; that he would compare several of these to
gether, and compose a history of the world that should be a true one. When I rtplied that there would be no love or hiw in it, he said he had no fear of that, f<* that each nation would play its part lie a hero in an epic, and that if the whole were skillfully composed in a gTand style, it would be the work of works. I told bin I did not believe the time could ever com*1, or the writer be found for such a wort He replied that the time might come far it when all men were under one law and one religion; and a writer should be fouwl who was a philanthropist or lover of men."
"I beseech you, Diotima," said Cymes, with an air of impatience, " do not let th« discursive gentlemen cheat us of our entertainment."
Meton the jester, who had thus long remained silent, rather from want of opportunity than inclination, observing CynW? impatience with a half sneer, remarked that Diotima did himself and his friend Crm*. a great injustice in allowing this discursi'* talk, for it was a part of civility to adapt our conversation to the understandings rf our guests, and not to insult them by soaring above their abilities." This remark occasioned a laugh, which was all thai Meton looked for.
"Come," said he, "if Diotima leavei us much longer at the gate of the canvanserai, I shall dismount from my caaei and go in by myself. There, now 1 an dismounted, and now I am gone in; poo what a crowd is here—Greeks, Scythians Egyptians, Persians, black slaves—sitting squatting, standing, eating, sleeping, fight ing, swearing, hustling. You yellow r» cal in the blue mantle and tiara, ho, then what woman have you under the veilcome, I will see her face. Do you jabbf —what, Greek! this wretch thinks h< i talking Greek—a woman slave> do you say1 Well, I knew that—I am a buyer—I mat see her face. By Zeus! a handsome conn tenance ! what do you call her name 1 W" what—0, Diotima, a very good namewill give six oboli for her, without the mow Here, you rascal—Kata, what—Zena—& bya—a thousand pounds! It's more twi I am worth altogether. Carry her to ti chief of the Magi—she looks bookbl learned, is she? So I thought. Know several languages; good, she's not for me one language is enough for any woman. row." Meton discharged himself of his lOQsense at a rate which put him out of ireath; and satisfied with the laugh which allowed, he remained quiet for a time, with ■nly now and then a grimace. Diotima, aking advantage of the silence which folowed, went on with her story.
"We entered the outer gates about sunise, and arrived at night before the gate of he caravanserai; but the merchant who had in.- in charge would not expose me to the uriosity of the crowds of buyers and idlers fho thronged at the gate, and turning side, conducted me instantly to the house if a Greek merchant, one Strato of Cointh, a man of great wealth and virtue, in rhose care I should be safe from the curi«ty of a class of persons who take upon bemselves to provide for the happiness of ;randees, by filling their houses with wonen of all kinds and qualities.
"Of all cities in the world Babylon is the east famous for the virtue of its people; ■nd I believe that a people naturally pure nd educated to virtue, would be instantly orrupted it' by any chance they should «upy a city like Babylon. Being a entre for the commerce of the world, it is Med with slaves, traders and sharpers of 11 nations, from Gades to the extreme east. "he mass of its people, living in extreme "jverty, because of the oppression of the ich, know of no enjoyment but in the worship of Adonai, who is the personication of every vice. The Persian lords, ring idly, and secure within their walls, ie with each other only in debauchery ind extravagance. Among the women urity is hated, and among the men sobrity suspected. In the luxury of their lives, be effeminacy of their manners, and the ;rossness of their worship, this wealthy •ople are without an equal among the Btions. I dare not disgust you with a ecital of what I saw and heard, even in be streets and at the doors of the temples, rhere riches strove with vice, which should * most conspicuous. Actions punishable mong ourselves with death, are here praciced as religious rites. Bestialities are tasted and recommended, which would fcre condemn the doer to infamy.
"For the modes of living in Babylon,— bey resemble those of Egypt, and differ lot greatly from our own. I am inclined o believe that all nations of the world
have their arts from Egypt; for I observed that the houses df the Babylonians resembled those of Ionia, of Jerusalem, of Phoenicia, and of Egypt; and many travellers have assured me that no nation on the earth, except the Northern and Eastern Scythians, are free of the traces of Egyptian art.
"Need I describe to you, what I saw only at a distance, the gardens of Semiramis,—an artificial mountain raised upon arches of brick, and covered with forest trees of immense size;—the tower of Belus, the first built and the loftiest of human works,—in which live the priests of a religion, so undivine in its form, and so ineffectual in its spirit, it should be named a delusion rather, and not a belief? We found Strato at the door of his house, engaged in conversation with an officer of the Royal Guards. My master lifted me from the dromedary, and embracing Strato, explained to him the purpose of his visit, and said something in my favor. After a moment's hesitation, he turned to the officer and dismissed him in the most respectful manner imaginable; then seizing Zadec and myself by the hand, he hurried us into the house, and turning to the door shut it and bolted it.
"' You are unlucky,' said he, 'to have come at this moment. The person whom you saw with me when you came up, is a provider of the palace, and he has orders to seize or purchase all the Greek women that are brought into Babylon. I wish a better fate for my countrywoman than to be buried for life in the palace, especially if she be such a person as you represent her.' While Strato talked with my master, I followed them through the court into an inner chamber, and being sufficiently terrified with what I heard him say, I conceived a hope of as good favor with him as I had found with Manes on a like occasion. Though I could not think to affect him with my face, from which forty years had taken the attraction of youth, I nevertheless removed my veil, and embracing his knees as a suppliant, I besought him with tears to yield me the protection of his house. Strato's countenanco glowed with satisfaction, when he saw me unveiled and addressing him in this fashion. 'I will buy this woman of you, friend,' said he to Zadec, 'whatever be her price.' My