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ART. I.-The Public Economy of Athens, in four Books; to which is added a dissertation on the Silver- Mines of Laurion. Translated from the German of AUGUSTUS BoeckH. London. 1828.

In his preface to this work, (which was first published at Berlin in 1817,) Professor Boeckh, as we are informed by the translator, pronounced the knowledge of the ancient history of Greece to be still in its infancy. The observation, we have no doubt at all, is perfectly just. It is but of late years, and first and principally in the universities of Germany, that the researches of scholars have been directed by the spirit of a distinguishing and comprehensive philosophy. They have made discoveries in fields of inquiry which one would have thought exhausted long ago. They have poured out a flood of light upon every controverted point, and on the other hand, have shaken many an established dogma, and exposed many a consecrated error. They were not content to learn their lessons by rote, with implicit acquiescence, as was the fashion even with very erudite men, a century ago. They took it for granted, or to speak more properly, they reasonably concluded from what the genius and judgment of the ancients had done in every variety of intellectual achievement, that what appears incongruous and absurd in their institutions, or their conduct and opinions, is not so in reality, that the presumption against our knowledge is stronger than against their sense, and that we ought to have a care how we indulge our supercilious fancies with regard to such men, lest we incur the old censure of the damnat quod non VOL. VIII.-No. 16


intelligit. It is quite inconceivable to those who have not looked narrowly into such matters, what a revolution this school of philosophical erudition has brought about in them. Examples might easily be cited in every department of literature—but we will confine ourselves to one about which we are now principally concerned that of historical criticism. Their inquiries in this branch of learning have united two things that were very rarely found together before, immense erudition, with acute scepticism and discriminating judgment. It is very clear, that in the hands of such men, classical studies afford scope even now for the highest order of minds. Far from being worn out, the soil has not been well enough cultivated to bear its best fruits, and mines of unexplored wealth lie hidden beneath the surface, which has been for centuries together (so to express it) the great highway and thoroughfare of scholars.

Much that has been said in disparagement of this branch of study has been provoked and in some measure warranted, by this singular fact. But the objection, however plausible, was obviously not well founded. The complaint was, that too much time had been bestowed upon the remains of antiquity—that scholars knew too much of the remote past, and too little of present interests and existing institutions. The truth is, however, that they never have known enough of that past-their fault has been not an excess, but a deficiency of solid learning. So far, indeed, as taste and style were objects of their discipline, they were eminently successful, for nothing can surpass the elegance of such writers as Lambinus and Muretus, or Addison and Atterbury. So, too, in the mere accumulation of facts or figments and data-the gross amount of acquirement, if we may so express it-the erudite men of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Scaligers, the Casaubons, the Salmasius', the Gronovius', have not been surpassed, if they have been equalled by their successors. But they were not philosophers and that is saying every thing-they were not even critics, in the highest sense of the word-they were, in most essential matters, as ignorant and prejudiced as their vulgar contemporaries, who spoke no language but their mother tongue, and had little knowledge of any thing beyond the legends of the nursery. Men of shining abilities many of them were, but the whole discipline of their schools, as the temper of the times was unfavourable to those inquiries, which enable us to distinguish what is true or probable, from what is merely mythical and fictitious in the traditions of the past-to look through the sign to the thing signified, through accidental forms to the enduring substance of things, through bizarre and arbitrary customs to the true genius

and spirit of laws and institutions. They looked upon the vast mass-owing to the loss of so many libraries and other monu ments, a mutilated, undigested and shapeless mass--of antiquities that lay before them, with the eyes of verbal grammarians, or slavish compilers, or at best, of mere laborious archæologists. But the view they presented of the history and society and evén literature of the Greeks, was altogether unsatisfactory in theory, because not agreeable to the experience of mankind in other times and countries. Still less was it safe to rely upon it in practice, because practice calls for precise information, and it is in practical matters especially, that a "little knowledge" and still more erroneous and perverted, or even superficial views are a "dangerous thing." Thus, they could repeat Livy's history, it may be, by heart, and let out a deluge of learning, pertinent or otherwise, upon each disputed reading; but did they think of asking how far the whole story was credible, and what reliance was to be had upon it as a record of man's experience? So, they wrote diatribes upon the democratical and oligarchical parties, upon the influence and contests of Athens or of Lacedæmon, and yet we venture to say, in our author's language, that their knowledge of the polity and social state of those nations was still in its infancy. Even in mere literary researches there is the same want of a philosophical spirit. Their learned dissertations, for instance, upon the Athenian theatre, were satisfactory enough as to mere externals, the mask and the mummery, the costume and the chorus, but what have they written of the drama of Sophocles or Aristophanes that is at all worthy of the subject, or even to be compared with the more recent speculations of Schlegel?

The truth is, that considering the state in which the remains of antiquity are come down to us, to acquire the kind of knowledge which every enlightened man ought to aim at in such things, requires much more than industry. A wary judgment— a penetrating sagacity-an enlarged understanding-a fertile and even inventive genius must be exercised, and all the results of modern science be brought to bear, upon the materials of an erudition at once exact and immense. The scholar must be able to turn every hint to account-to gather the most scattered fragments that relate to each other and put them together, like a dissected map. The science and skill of the comparative anatomist, who can sketch the form of the whole animal from a single bone, must be his. His business is to re-construct

* Macchiavellis' incomparable Discourses would seem to refute what is here said. But they do not. The Cyropædia or any other figment would have answered his purpose as well. He wanted only a canvass.

the fabric of Greek society-to give the body of those times its very form and pressure-to enable us clearly to perceive how far their institutions and opinions agreed with our own, or differed from them-to reveal to us the secrets of their thoughts, to translate the very language of their affections into our modern tongues, to make them objects of sympathy, and examples for conduct to us-in short, to bring their little world before us, not as an empty pageant, or a wild phantasmagoria, having neither relation nor resemblance to the things about us, but with all the force and impressiveness of a sober and ascertained, yet vivid and living reality. Unfortunately the men who had the minds best fitted for such investigations, have, in general, been destitute of the necessary erudition. Bayle is the only exception that occurs to us; but even he was too much absorbed in metaphysics and theology, to do much as a historical critic. Hume's essay on the "Populousness of Ancient Nations," is a very promising performance, but it only shews what that great writer might have done, had the fashion of the times-hostile to all learning-or his own indolent disposition, permitted him to inform himself sufficiently on any subject requiring much research. As for the rest of the philosophers of the eighteenth century, with all their unquestionable talents, and their enlarged, and in the main, just views of society and human nature, they were universally as ill qualified for such inquiries as Hume. Nothing can be more ridiculously superficial and absurd than Voltaire's notions about Greek literature, and nothing but his inimitable wit could have saved them from the contempt they deserve.

But a knowledge of the whole body of Greek history can only be attained by fully investigating some subordinate departments of it; and the work now under review is offered by Mr. Boeckh as a compilation of that sort. The subject treated of is a very important one, and hitherto but little understood, and we are glad that it has fallen into the hands of a master. On many difficult and disputable points the reader may see cause to differ with the author-even on such points, however, we are mistaken if he will not dissent with hesitation and deferencewhile there is not a subdivision of the inquiry which does not call forth a profusion of the most accurate learning, controlled and directed by the soundest criticism. The translator laments indeed, that his author is not sufficiently versed in political economy and that with some unimportant exceptions, there is scarcely any thing in the book which a well educated Grecian of the time of Aristotle might not have written. There is something in the objection undoubtedly, but it is too strongly put and too

much insisted on. We cannot perceive how "the value of the first book either considered by itself, or as a ground-work for his subsequent researches, has been thus diminished," though we admit that it would have given an additional interest and finish to his discussions on prices, profits, wages, &c. if his great diligence and accuracy in collecting the materials, had been helped by a more scientific arrangement and vocabulary. After all, however, this defect is one rather of form than substance; and although Mr. Boeckh may not be as much of a political economist, as it were desirable he should be, it is going too far to speak of him as wanting the lights of modern science. It would have been impossible for any one, who had not profoundly reflected upon the whole frame and constitution of society as it is treated of by modern publicists, to have conceived the plan of such a work. He has brought together (generally speaking) all the data necessary to form a complete idea of the Public Economy of Athens and he has discussed them with judgment and ability. A writer of a more speculative turn, might, out of such materials, have made a different book, or it may be, several different books (for such things present themselves in various aspects to various minds) but surely that does not diminish the value of the volumes before us.

The work is divided into four books. The first relates to prices, and property in Athens. It is, of course, very miscellaneous, treating of the precious metals-their quantity and value-of the population and extent of Attica-of agriculture and commerce-of the lands, mines, houses, slaves, cattle, corn and bread, wine, oil, salt, wood-of food, dress, furniture and implements of all kiuds-of the sum necessary for the maintenance of life and the proportion of the same to the national wealth of the wages of labour, the interest of money, money-changers and mortgages of land—of bottomry, rent, &c. The subject of the second is the public expenditure. The last two books are a most learned and elaborate exposition of the ways and means to meet that expenditure-the revenues, regular and extraordinary of the Athenian State, and of the peculiar financial measures of the Greeks. At the beginning of the third book, the author remarks, that in the inquiries involved in the latter half of his work he had been nearly unassisted by the labours of any predecessor, with the exception of what had been written on the subject of the Liturgies, and what Manso, (Sparta, vol. ii. pp. 493–5) had adduced in reference to the period of the Peloponnesian war. Yet, by this voyage of discovery into regions so entirely unexplored, he has accomplished the most important results, while he pursues his course in the midst

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