페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

bulous.' Chelia seems to derive its name either from Xestos or X9an, 2. point running into the sea ;-such in effect is the nature of the place. 1 is evident that there is a good port on the left of the cape, and there is also an inlet at the isthmus, which joins Chelia. Same on the right. These are amply sufficient for the purposes of the suitors, and no place could have been so well chosen for the interception of a vessel returning from Pylos..

• It is not absolutely impossible that some physical change may have joined Chelia to the shore of Same, either by an accumulation of sand, or by the shock of earthquakes : yet this is carrying conjecture rather too far. It is united to Cephallonia, by low land ; but it would be absurd to imagine that a city ever stood on that isthmus, as it would have been close to Same. The point of Chelia stretches from Same about half way across the channel, towards Ithaca, and the ordinary passage to Ce. phallonia is from Aito to that promontory. Homer seems to allude to this situation of Asteris, in the speech of Minerva to Telemachus, where that goddess informs the prince, that the suitors lie in ambush at the ferry between Ithaca and the rugged Same. Now the situation of Same and Ithaca being known, the position of Asteris might be more easily determined : while the examination of the present opearance of the country will enable the reader to form an opinion on the subject.' pp. 83–85. - This, then, is the plain statement, which is doubtless sufficiently discouraging. Homer declares Ithaca to be the most western of the Ionian isles, and affirms that Asteris, a small island with a good port, lies between it and Same. Now the Modern Ithaca is east of Same, and Asteris is not to be found. In spite of these inconsistences, Mr. Gell persists in believing Theaki to be the Ithaca of Homer; and goes on to particularize and depict its scenery, as the certain archetypes of the poet's description.

The general and characteristic appearance of Theaki agrees with the expressions of the Odyssey respecting Ithaca. It is rocky, barren, and mountainous, abounding in trees and shrubs, and unfavourable to the growth, and use of horses. But this coincidence loses its effect, because it is not the only island in this part of the world distinguished by a similar appearance. Aotaco is of the same rocky irregular aspect; and Sir Geo. Wheeler, for this reason, and because it is of inferior size, contends that it is the Ithaca of the poet. We may therefore dispatch this part of the cause with the brief mention already made.

If, then, po argument can be educed from the general apa pearance of the island, and if there be an irreconcilable difference between the relative situation of the poetic Ithaca, and the real Theaki; is it not useless and nugatory to enter into a minute examination of the smaller parts, and discria , minative scenery of the latter? or can a multitude of incia. dental resemblances, in the face of the country, overbalance

presemblanced striking Modern

the objection, that Theaki is not west of Same, and that there is no Asteris between the two islands ?.

The incidental resemblances which Mr. G. saw, or thought hę saw, were so numerous and striking, that no doubt is left in his own mind of the identity of the Modern and Ancient Ithaca. In his opinion it seems more probable that the difficult passages should be corrupted, than that Theaki should not be the island of Ulysses, when its scenery 'SO closely corresponds to the descriptions in the Odyssey. It 'would be a very grievous fault indeed, if Mr. G. had conspired with the learned Bryant to purloin a part of the consecrated text of the Father of Poetry, without some cogent reason for the sacrilege; or to incrust his precious metal with their allos, without some powerful plea for the pro. • fanation. Whether such coincidences are pointed out and substantiated, as will justify the supposition that the passages in question are corrupted, will be seen as we proceed. The 'classical reader, we hope, will not be unwilling to see the description of the poet brought into comparison with Mr. Gell's survey of some of the sceries of Theaki. We wishi the author had arranged the parts of his performance from the journey of Ulysses, rather than his own tour of the island. So convinced are we of the superiority of this method, for placing the present question in the most luminous view, that we have transposed the different scenes described in the present work, and thrown them into the order suggested by the poem.

When Ulysses is brought by the Phæacians to the shores of Ithaca, he is landed in the port of Phorcys, which the poet describes at large. That we may not disfigure our pages, with long Greek citations, and protract the limits of our critique too far, we request the reader to give himself .the trouble to turn to Od. xiii. 96. Dogxuvos de TIS €50 asure, &c. Let him then compare with that description the following account of Dexia. : . To avoid the fatigues of a long walk, we took a boat to convey us from Bathi to the ruins of a citadel now called Aito, or Palaio Castro, supposed by the inhabitants to have been the residence of Ulysses. We passed the pretty islet of St. Pastocratera, and soon arrived at the pro. jecting promontories, which form the entrance of that division of the gulph called Bathi. On the right lay the little rock of Cazurbo, situated at the mouth of another julet, now distinguished by the name of Dexia, a word significant of its position on the right hand of those who enter the port of Bathi.

• The shore of Desia nearly resembles in shape the figure of a horse. shoc, its southern extremity terminating in a rock of conic form, which divides it from Bathi. The prejecting rock on the north of the entrance

[ocr errors]

. exhibits the vestiges of a cave of considerable magnitude, in the formation of which art has been called in to assist the ordinary operations of nature. From this cave the interior of the port of Dexia presents a beach consisting of sand and pebbles, and sloping so gradually into the sea that boats may be drawn upon the land without difficulty, a circumstance the more remarkable, as a sandy shore is rarely to be found in Ithaca. At the head of the port are a few cultivated terraces and vineyards, spotted with olive and almond trees. The cave has now lost its covering, the stones lying conveniently for the use of the masons employed in building the town, and I should have quitted the island without seeing it, as no one imagined we could wish to see its remains, if one of the persons who had been active in its demolition had not fortunately heard of our anxiety to discover a cavern near Bathi.

• The old people recollect the roof perfect, and many about the age of twenty-five remember it only half destroyed.

o The rubbish occasioned by the removal of the covering has over. spread and filled up the whole area of the cave to such a degree that its depth cannot be ascertained without digging; but the pavement must have been nearly on a level with the surface of the sea. Its length is at least sixty feet, and its breadth exceeds thirty. The sides have been hewn and rendered perpendicular with some labour. It is close to the

séa, being only separated by that portion of rock which served to support the roof when it was entire. On the left of the entrance from the south, at which commences the sandy beach, is a niche, which on being cleared from the soil and stones, presented a species of basin, resembling those which are usually found in the walls of old churches in England. The re is another of similar construction near the centre of the same side, a nd above both are certain small channels cut in the rock, which have serve d for the passage of water into the basins, and some are in consequence encrusted with stalactites, while others, where the water no longer trickles, are tenanted by bees. . The cave has been entered from the north as well as from the southern extremity; the former was, however, smaller than the lattet, . and must have afforded rather an inconvenient descent to the cavern. It is now called by the people of the island ons Affices to cunhanov, or the cave of Dexia. They are entirely unable to account for its formation, and the destruction of its roof by the Greeks, who entertain the most profound veneration even for the vestiges of a church, is a most decisive proof that it never served for the celebration of christian ceremonies.' pp. 40–43.

It is obvious that some objections to the identity of Dexia and the port of Phorcys will present themselves. Strabo denies that Ithaca contained any spot which exactly corresponded to Homer's description. It may also be asserted, that a port with a lofty precipice in the back ground, and an excavated thoroughfare through the rock to the upper surface, is a scene so cominon, that a poeț may describe it without designing a specific harbour. An English sailor will inform us of several similar spots round our owl shores; and some geographers affirin that there is such an one, near Cape Carthage, on the African coast. It is certain that the

port into which the ship of Æneas is driven after the storm
in the Tuscan sea, is the very counterpart of the port of
Phortys. Virgil's description is evidently an elegant version
of the passage in Homer. The Mantuan poet must therefore
have considered the description of the port of Phorcys of
a general nature, in which he might with propriety imitate
his master; or he kuew there was a similar harbour on the
African coast : of which suppositions the one goes to destroy
the evidence of Mr. Gell, and the other to invalidate it by
admitting a plurality of similar scenes, and rendering the
appropriation of the passage in question to a specific spot
proportionably difficult and uncertain.

: (To be concluded in the next Number.)
Art. VIII. A concise View of the Constitution of England. By George

Custance. Dedicated by Permission to William Wilberforce, Esq.
M. P. for the County of York. 12mo. pp. 474. Price 68. bds. - Kidder.

minster, Gower ; Longman and Co. Hatchard. 1808. ...
JT were surely to be wished, that every man had a competent

acquaintance with the laws and constitution of the country to which he belongs. Patriotism is a blind and irrational im. pulse, unless it is founded on a knowledge of the blessings we are called to secure, and the privileges we propose to defend. In a tyrannical state, it is natural for the ruling power to cherish political ignorance, which can alone reconcile men -to the tame surrender of their natural rights. The diffusion of light and knowledge is very unfavourable to ill-founded pretensions of every sort, but to none more than the encroachments of arbitrary power and lawless violence. The more we explore the recesses of a dungeon, the less likely are we to be reconciled to take ap our residence in it. But the venerable fabric of the British constitution, our hereditary mansion, whether it be tried by the criterion of convenience or of beauty, of ancient prescription or of practical utility, will bear the most rigid examination ; and the more it is contemplated, will be the more admired.

The Romans were so conscious of the importance of inparting to the rising generation an early knowledge of their laws and constitution, that the contents of the two lve tables were committed to memory, and formed one of the first elements of public instruction. They were sensible that what lays hold of

the mind at so early a period, is not only likely to be long re· membered, but is alinost sure to command veneration and

respect. We are not aware that similar attempts have been made to render the British youth acquainted with the principle of our admirable constitution, not inferior surely to that of the Roman republic ; a defect in the system of education, which

the circumstances of the present crisis loudly call upon us to supply. When our existence as an independent nation is threatened, when unexampled sacrifices must be made, 'and perhaps the utmost efforts of patience and of persevering courage exerted for our preservation, an attachment, to that constitution, which is the basis of all our prosperity, cannot be too zealously promoted, or too deeply felt. It is a just and enlightened estimate of the invaluable blessings that constitution secures, which alone can make us sustain our present burdens without repining, as well as prepare us for greater privations and severer struggles. For this reason, we cannot but look upon the performance before us as a most seasonable publication. One cause of the attention of youth being so little directed to our national laws and constitution, in schools, is probably the want of suitable books. We have an abundance of learned and able writers on these subjects; but few, if any, that are quite adapted to the purpose we are now speaking of. Millar's is a very profound and original work ; but it supposes a great deal of previous knowledge, without which it can be scarcely understood, and is in every view better adapted to aid the researches of an antiquary, or the speculations of a philosopher, than to answer the end of an elementary treatise. De Lolme's performance may be deemed more suitable; yet, able and ingenious as it is, it labours-under some essential deficiencies, considered in the light of an elementary work. There is in it a spirit of refined speculation, an. eagerness to detect and display latent upthought of excellences, in the frame of government, which is very remote from the simplicity requisite in the lessons of youth. Of Blackstone's Commentaries it would be presumptuous in us to attempt an eulogium, after Sir Wm. Jones has pronounced it to be the most beautiful outline that was ever given of any science. :- Nothing can exceed the luminous arrangement, the vast comprehension, and we may venture to add from the best authorities, the legal accuracy of this wonderful performance, which, in style and composition, is distinguished by an unaffected grace, a majestic simplicity, which can only be eclipsed by the splendour of its higher qualities. Admirable, however, as these commen. 'taries are, it is obvious that they are much too voluminous and elaborate to answer the purpose of an introduction to the study of the English constitution. We do therefore most sincerely congratulate the public on the appearance of a work, which we can safely recommend as well fitted to supply a chasm in our system of public instruction. The book before us is, in every view, well adapted for the instruction of "youth; the clear and accurate information it

« 이전계속 »