« 上一頁繼續 »
But when th’ Olympian habitants came down
Heav'd from beneath th' immensity of earth, And shook the mountain tops. The roots of de And all its fountain-gushing summits reel'd; o city and the navy of the Greeks Rock'd as in earthquake. Deep beneath the
ground The Monarch of the dead in darkest hell Felt fear and leap'd affrighted from his throne, And shriek'd aloud, lest he that strikes the shores Should cleave earth's vault asunder, and the scene Of those drear mansions glare upon the sight Of Gods and men: a dismal wilderness, Hoary with desolation, which the blest Behold, and shuddering turn their eyes away. Such clang arose while Gods encountering strove. There is another topic connected with this subject, at which we can here only glance, but to which much consideration is due, from those who would form a just estimate of the Homeric poems. We refer to the relation which they hold to the various departments of Grecian literature, and the influence which they have had in deciding its character. Aside from those causes, which existed in the genius of the people, and in the peculiarities of the climate, country, &c. nothing, it is believed, has exerted so much power, in fixing upon it that peculiar impress which it bears, as the works of Homer. We find indeed this influence distinctly ascribed to them by Aristotle, as it respects the two great departments of dramatic poetry. “As in the serious kind,” says the great philosopher and critic, “Homer alone may be said to deserve the name of poet, not only on account of his other excellences, but also the dramatic spirit of his Vol. III. 29
imitations, so was he likewise the first who suggested the idea of comedy, by substituting ridicule for invective, and giving to that ridicule a dramatic cast. For his Margites bears the same analogy to comedy, as his Iliad and Odyssey to tragedy.” We stop not here to inquire, whether the drama be thus correctly ascribed to Homer in its origin. No reasonable doubt, however, can be entertained, that not only in dramatic literature, but in all the departments of Grecian letters, the influence of the great epic bard was very great. Compared with these departments, epic poetry was greatly prior in the time of its development. It was while as yet the Grecian mind was preparing for those achievements in poetry, in eloquence, in history, in philosophy, and the arts, which were afterwards made, that the poems of Homer were recited and admired throughout the Grecian states. That a people, so alive to beauty in every form, should have been charmed by their flowing numbers and glowing images, and that a new impulse in almost every direction of mental effort, should thus have been given to their energies, can not be deemed singular. The ways in which this influence was exerted were doubtless many. It is our purpose to notice three of the most important.
In the first place, the Homeric poems served to give a fixed and permanent form to the Greek language. They appear to have been composed at just that period in the progress of language, when its amazing powers of expression had become fully developed, but when its laws of construction and of idiom were still somewhat fluctuating and unsettled. The Iliad and Odyssey became permanent repositories, in which were stored its verbal forms, while the combinations into which they were wrought, by the transcendent genius of Homer, gave to them, as vehicles of thought and senti
ment, a perfection which they had never before assumed. At a very early period in the history of Grecian literature, these poems thus assumed the place and the authority of a decisive standard, and this too in a form fitted to give to them the highest possible influence. This influence indeed must have been great, even when the people were acquainted with them only through the medium of the early minstrels. But it must have become pre-eminently so, when, after the labors of Pisistratus, in collecting and arranging their scattered parts, they existed in such a form as enabled all who wished, to consult them at leisure, and examine their minutest features. The influence which they were thus made to exert upon the Greek language, was not unlike that which has so often been ascribed to the common English translation of the Scriptures upon our own. They fixed and made permanent its foundations. But, as storehouses in which were gathered the numberless creations of the Greek mythology, the Homeric poems have inconceivably enriched and adorned the various works of Grecian literature. Before the time of Homer, the Greek mythology was in a state not unlike the condition of the Greek language, already formed, but its various parts unsettled and widely scattered among the people. As disjointed fragments of a great and beautiful system, they were every where floating upon the surface of the public mind. It was by the author of the Iliad that they were gathered up and fixed in a settled and permanent form. The evidence of this may be found in the machinery of gods and goddesses, so constantly employed in the action of the Iliad and Odyssey, in the epithets so habitually used descriptive of their office, character and appearance, and in the tales of supernatural incident and adventure, with which,
in the form of episodes, the poet has so often adorned his pages. Thus embodied, and in a form so captivating, the Greek mythology became the grand source from which the Greek as well as the Roman poets of subsequent times borrowed their materials. Its elements have been wrought into innumerable forms of poetic beauty and enchantment. Its fictions of celestial romance have, in some shape, been transferred to almost every department of ancient poetry. In this way it is, that almost every department bears evidence of the influence which has been exerted by the Homeric poems in shaping the poetic mind of ancient times. But the works of Homer also presented to all subsequent poets true models of poetic genius and taste. In the earliest times of Grecian recorded literature, they fixed in the Grecian mind a correct standard, not only of speech, but of composition. They exemplified, in the most pleasing and captivating form, the wonderful powers of expression and versification possessed by the Grecian tongue. In the Homeric poems, subsequent authors recognized productions which were not merely finished and beautiful in their separate parts, but which, as whole and complete works, were deserving the most profound study. To the poets of Greece, of all later times, they became what the Apollo Belridere and the Venus de Medici are now to the sculptor, and what the most finished productions of Raphael's pencil are to the painter. With such models before them, the Grecian writers could not fail of aspiring after high degrees of excellence, both in the conception and in the execution of their works. Without approaching, in some degree, to the standard which these models had created in the public mind, they could not hope to prove successful as authors. They must forego that meed of glory, in the approbation
Two reasons induced us to obtain and read this volume. Its author is Dr. Stone. Its subject is Bishop Griswold. We have read one work from the pen of Dr. Stone, and are confident that whatever he publishes is worth reading. We are confident also, that those who have read the work to which we refer, or our account of it in the New Englander, will desire to hear further from the author. We have long heard of Bishop Griswold as one of the most evangelical among the bishops of the Episcopal church. We used to hear in childhood—from one who knew him well—of his faithful and self-denying labors as rector of a small parish, and of the acceptableness of his preaching to members of other churches than the Episcopal. We knew that he had an important influence while Bishop, in forming the character of the Episcopal denomination in the states east and north of Connecticut. And we thought that his memoir could not fail to interest us. We have not been disappointed in our high expectations respecting the execution of the work by Dr.
* Memoir of the Life of the Rt. Rev. Alexander Viets Griswold, D. D., Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Eastern Diocese. By John S. Stone, D. D., Rector of Christ Church, Brooklyn, N. Y. With an §. to which are added a Sermon, Charge, and Pastoral Letter of the late Bishop. Philadelphia, Stavely & McCalla, 1844.
Stone. We knew that he was qualified for it by long and intimate acquaintance with Bishop Griswold, and a knowledge of his labors and their results. He was, when a youth, a member of one of the churches under his episcopal charge, and received the rite of confirmation at his hands. He was for some time rector of a parish in the immediate vicinity of three contiguous parishes, which, for nearly ten years, were the scene of Bishop Griswold's early ministry. He was also for several years rector of St. Paul's church in Boston, one of the most important churches under Bishop Griswold's episcopal supervision ; in which position he had abundant opportunities of intimate and thorough acquaintance with him. Dr. Stone has moreover the not less essential qualification of sympathy with the Bishop in his evangelical opinions and religious feelings. In the execution of the work, the author has evidently drawn largely on the impressions made by his familiar acquaintance with the man and his life, but more largely, he assures us, on the impressions made by the writings which Bishop Griswold left behind him, and on the remembrances of his most intimate friends. As the result, the author has given us a living, and we doubt not a faithful portrait of the man and of his life. The volume is very large—620 octavo pages. Our first impression was, that it is unwisely large—too large to be read. But that impression passed away when we found, on examination, that a large part of it is a history of the Eastern diocese of the Episcopal church. It might be entitled not inappropriately, “A Memoir of Bishop Griswold and a History of his Diocese.” Nor have our expectations concerning Bishop Griswold been disappointed. They have been more than realized. Our estimate of his character, especially of its intellectual features, has been greatly and legitimately raised. The early life of Bishop Griswold is interesting and important; since it exhibits the influences which formed his character. He was born April 22, 1766, in Simsbury, Hartford County, Conn.—the son of a respectable farmer, a member of the Episcopal church ; so that it can not be said of him as it has been in some quarters, of bishops not fully Oxfordized, that he had “Puritanism in his bones.” He had early a great thirst for knowledge, and improved every opportunity for gratifying it which his circumstances afforded. His parents designed to educate him at Yale College. But the storms of the revolutionary war and the embarrassments and fines to which his parents, who, in common with the great majority of Episcopalians, were opposed to that war, were subjected, prevented the accomplishment of that design. He acquired, however, an education which he considered equivalent, under the instruction and in the good library of his maternal uncle, who was rector of the Episcopal church in Simsbury. His religious impressions and hopeful religious character, may be traced to an early period in his life. In his brief autobiography he says, “I had an early experience of the comforts of religious hope; how well founded it is not necessary now to enquire. At the age of about ten years, I was reduced
by distressing sickness to the verge of the grave, and for several hours was supposed
to be dying. Never can I forget with what lively hope and joy unspeakable, amidst great bodily sufferings, I looked forward to the blessedness of the heavenly state. Should it please the Lord at the time, now near at hand, when I shall be at the point to die, to vouchsafe me the like peace and joy in believing, how could I worthily magnify his name.”— p. 39. His early piety, and the early for. mation of his habits of industry and regularity, which were remarkable, are in a great degree attributable to the influence of an excellent mother. The following is another of the numerous and noble records of the beneficent influence of maternal piety and faithfulness, and will be interesting to those who remember with gratitude and tears, the same beneficent influence beaming on their early years. “My case so far resembled that of Timothy that my mother's name was Eunice, and my grandmother's, Lois ; and that from both of them I received much early religious instruction. By their teaching, ‘from a child l have known the Hol Scriptures, which were able (had I rightly used the knowledge) to make me wise unto salvation.’ To the care of my mother, especially, instilling into my tender mind sentiments of piety, with the knowledge of Christ and the duty of prayer, I was much indebted. Through life, I have sinned much, and in every thing have come short of what should have been my improvement from such advantages; yet, through the Lord's merciful goodness, the fear of God, the love of his name and a faith in Christ have never been wholly lost.”—p. 27.
At the conclusion of the war, his uncle, with whom he had lived, and by whose tuition and library he had been educated, removed to the British dominions. Young Griswold was invited and urged by him to accompany him, and share his fortunes. This offer he desired to accept. But there was a difficulty in the way. He was betrothed and too young for prudent marriage; being only nineteen. It was concluded, however, that he should marry and remove. But his wife's parents, having subsequently heard an unfavorable account of the cli
mate of the country, whither he was about to remove, were unwilling that their daughter should go thither. Thus his plans of life were frustrated, and the cares of a family very early devolved upon him. During the next ten years, he labored on a farm, diligently employing the intervals of labor in legal and theological studies, though without any definite purpose to enter on a profession. He was at length persuaded that he ought to enter the ministry, and to use his own expression, “yielded with diffidence and fear, to what was, by many, believed to be his duty.” The difficulties with which he struggled in the acquisition of knowledge, before and after his decision to preach the gospel, may be inferred from a single sentence, quoted from his son in law, (Rev. Dr. Tyng.) “The events of his life, had been a discipline in very narrow circumstances, and the influence of this, he carried through the whole of his succeeding years. His early marriage and his condition as a working farmer, rendered his education a series of difficulties. He has told us that when he was attempting to prepare himself for the ministry, he was obliged to labor all the day on his farm ; and, not being able to afford himself adequate lights, he was in the habit of stretching himself on the hearth, with his books before him, and by the light of pine knots, as they blazed in the chimney corner, pursuing his studies for hours after his wife and children were asleep 1"—pp. 59, 60. He was admitted a candidate for orders in June, 1794, and soon after began to preach in Northfield, Plymouth, and Harwinton, three parishes forming an equilateral triangle, each being about eight miles from the others. His salary was $300, or $100 from each parish. This inadequate means of support he increased by teaching school and by the labor of his hands. The following testimony on this subject, was given by one of his parishioners.
“The parson and myself, have often worked out together as hired men, in
harvest time, at seventy-five cents per day. He was a hard worker; among the best day-laborers in town; and one of his day's-works was worth as much as that of two common men.”—p. 83.
In an indenture mutually signed by Mr. Griswold and the committee of the Episcopal church at Harwinton, there is this condition: “it being understood, however, that said Griswold have liberty to attend conventions and convocations of the Clergy, and to obey the directions of his Diocesan.” Dr. Stone remarks:
“The instrument is also interesting as showing the change, which has since been inj taking place in the relative positions of clergy and laity in our church. t would hardly be deemed necessary, or even in place, now, for a clergyman to stipulate, in a contract with his parish, for “liberty to attend conventions and convocations of the clergy, and to obey the directions of his Bishop.” It is beginning to be rather necessary for the laity to see to it, in their contracts with the clergy, that the latter do not spend too much of their time in conventions, and that the authority of their bishops over them does not become virtually despotic.”
After ten years of faithful, acceptable and successful labor in these three parishes, he removed in 1804 to Bristol, in Rhode Island, where he was offered a better support, ampler opportunity of study, and a wider field of usefulness. The gentleman sent from Bristol to assist him in moving his family, found him “an ecclesiastical Cincinnatus at his plough ; a farmer in the field under a broad-brimmed hat, and in patched short-clothes, coarse stockings and heavy shoes.”
By the convention which com
* We can not forbear to quote an illustration of the mingled hospitality and humanity of Bishop Griswold in the days of
'. Kir. G , “I have seen our minister, when a negro asked charity, af. ter ordering the table set with such cheer as was at command, though it was not his usual meal hour, sit down and partake with him, lest the poor African should feel himself slighted.”—p. 83.