« PreviousContinue »
writers and the structure of the plays themselves. The controversy is by no means concluded. Dörpfeld has replied in the Philologische Wochenschrift' to the strictures of Haigh, somewhat unsuccessfully, and Haigh has again answered in the Classical Review,' and doubtless there is more to come on both sides. Very possibly new excavations may destroy a view based on the evidence of excavation. The excavations now being carried on at Megalopolis by the British School of Athens have laid bare the orchestra of an ancient theatre, very complete in its details, and we wait with deep interest to hear whether any new evidence bearing on the controversy has been discovered.
We must not, however, imitate the modern Athenians by ignoring the Athens of the times which succeeded Pericles, but must recount, however briefly, the existing monuments of the Acropolis dating from later and less splendid ages.
Of the brief revival of Athenian power in the fourth century there are extant traces in the basis which once supported the statues of Conon and Timotheus mentioned by Pausanias, and in a number of interesting tablets which record the alliances and the decrees of the restored Athenian empire. Of the Alexandrine age are the choragic monuments of Nicias and of Thrasyllus, the latter of which was still surmounted in the time of the traveller Stuart by the seated statue of Dionysus, since removed to the British Museum. The kings of Pergamon have bequeathed to us enduring memorials of their love for Athens in the great stoa, of which remains still exist in the rear of the stage-buildings of the theatre, and in the figures of overthrown Giants and Amazons and Persians, executed in the Pergamene style, now preserved in several of the Museums of Europe. The basis of the statue erected to Agrippa in the earliest days of the Roman Empire may still be seen outside the Propylæa, and recent researches have revealed the foundations of the temple of Rome and Cæsar, the emblem of the incorporation of the city of Athena in the world-wide dominion of the Romans. Several existing buildings at Athens date also from the time of Hadrian, and bear testimony to the philhellenic propensities of an emperor who sought to restore animation to the Greek nation, and only succeeded in galvanizing the corpse of the race.
Thereafter every century took something from the glory of Athens, and added nothing to it. The main blame for the wanton destruction of the memorials of their own greatness rests on the Greeks, though doubtless Turks and Venetians have done their part in the work of ruin. The share of England deserves rather praise than blame. There is still in some quarters a mistaken notion, fostered by the poems of Byron, and
encouraged encouraged by Greek Chauvinists, that one of the worst spoilers of later ages was Lord Elgin. But the facts of history not only justify the action of Elgin, but prove that he must be classed among public benefactors
. He knew that in all probability, if the sculptures of the Parthenon were left where they were, they would shortly perish. And in fact, had they been left, they would bave suffered severely in the troubled days of the Greek revolt. The west end of the Parthenon which he had stripped of its sculptures was exposed for a year in 1826 to the repeated blows of Turkish cannon-balls. The so-called Caryatid of the Erechtheum which Elgin carried off has been preserved intact; the five which he left in situ suffered severely in the revolutionary war. The reliefs of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates which he spared have since been so much defaced, that the cast taken in Elgin's time preserves many details which they have lost. And in addition the art of Europe received the impulse imparted by the exquisite Pheidian sculptures many years earlier than would have been the case had they remained at Athens. The visitor at Athens cannot help a moment's regret when he looks at the blank spaces in the pediments and on the cella walls of the Parthenon, and in imagination fills them with the sculptures which represent the birth of Athena and the Panathenaic Procession. But a little reflection shows him that it was a wise prudence which removed the jewels from a casket exposed to a hundred risks, and not then guarded by any strong national feeling. Probably had Elgin left the sculptures on the temple, the Greeks themselves would before now, in justifiable zeal for their better preservation, have transferred them to the galleries of their new and spacious museums.
The Greeks have the future in their own hands. must expect that year by year the harvest of sculpture in the Athenian and provincial museums will grow richer and richer, until the country recovers something of the position which it held in the days of Pausanias as the most glorious storehouse in the world of the sculpture of the only nation which ever really understood sculpture. The voyage to Athens, already exercising every year a stronger attraction on the cultivated classes, will become more and more an essential part of education. And those who still believe that classical training is the best means of developing the humane side of men will be unwise, if they fail to appreciate this growing advantage which has fallen in their way, or to use it as a means of giving actuality to Greek literature and history, and enthusiasm to those occupied with them.
ART. VI.-1. Spring-Heeled Jack, or the Terror of London.
Nos. 1 and 2. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Cheeky Charlie, or What a Boy can do. Green as
Grass. Turnpike Dick. The Poor Boys of London. 2. The Bad Boys' Paper. The Boys of London and New York,
8c. 3. The London Journal. The Family Herald. The Princess
Novelettes. Ladies' Own Novelette, fc. 4. The Leisure Hour. Penny Stories. Religious Tract Society. 5. The Penny Library of Fiction. Society for the Promotion
of Christian Knowledge.
CE must educate our masters,' said Lord Sherbrooke (then
Mr. Lowe), in the course of the debates on the Reform Bill of 1867. The remark fell upon fertile soil, and Mr. Forster's Education Bill of 1870 sprang directly out of it. class, who but a few years before had detected in the demand for education nothing but the greedy clamour of the clergy of the hated • Establishment' for more influence than was rightly theirs, and who under the influence of the happily extinct Manchester School of politicians had been most vehement in their protest against State interference between parents and children, now demanded .free, compulsory, and secular education,' always at the cost of the State, and always to be directed by the bitterest enemies of that State Church,' to which the working classes were indebted for all the education they had received for half a century. It is useless to resuscitate the miserable controversy. The Birmingham Education League is dead, and the quarrels which it stirred up are, we may hope, dead with it. We have been educating our masters' in the three R.'s for nearly twenty years, and some of us are beginning to ask, to what use they have put that painful training in the rudiments which has cost the country so much solid money. The natural inquiry is, what do they read ? Not indeed that they read much. The modern system of education, with the pressure of impending examinations for ever weighing upon teachers and children, is admirably adapted to prevent the youth of the period from troubling itself greatly about literature in any form. The son of the working man, who leaves school as soon after he has passed the age of thirteen as possible, has no love for books, and, having passed his standard,' not unnaturally thinks he has practically done with the whole apparatus of learning for the rest of his life. By and by he will perhaps take some small interest in public affairs, or the concerns of his trades' union may become important to him, and in that case he will spend his Sunday morning over a newspaper.
trades * See Quarterly Review,' vol. 150, p. 521.]
With the Sunday newspaper, however, we have in this place nothing to do. Éxcept for one trumpery addition, their number and character remain pretty much what they were when the subject was dealt with in these pages more than ten years ago.* Before the time for the Sunday paper arrives, however, the working lad finds that the enterprising publishers of Shoe Lane and the purlieus thereof have provided him with a certain store of amusement. A walk during the dinner hour-say from twelve to one-through the courts and alleys in the irregular space which is, roughly speaking, bounded on the north by Holborn, on the south by the Thames, on the west by St. Martin's Lane, and on the east by St. Paul's and its precincts, will afford the observant passenger sufficient food for reflection. He will find that while a certain proportion of the lads from the various offices and factories in that region are beguiling their leisure with various minor games, or indulging in the rough horse-play in which the London' larrikin' delights, many of the remainder are occupied in reading. In the same way the lads employed in City offices and warehouses, who in many cases have a great deal of leisure, naturally spend it in the same way.
It will, of course, be said that this is a laudable occupation. There are not a few good people in whose eyes a book is species of fetish, and who look upon printed paper with as much reverence as do the Mahometans. To all such the boy, who, in their own phrase, “never has a book out of his hands, is worthy of respect and even of admiration. Unfortunately, however, the lad of this type revels in a literature which is not precisely of the kind for which Cobbett and Franklin hoarded their pence. No small proportion of it comes under the category of Penny Dreadfuls.' It had been hoped that books of this class had become extinct. A somewhat sanguine writer on the subject a few years ago expressed a lively satisfaction at the fact that he had inquired in vain for the catchpenny romances that were popular in the days of his youth. “The Mysteries of the Court, The Mysteries of London,' • The Haunted House, or Love and Crime,' Maria Martin, or the Murder in the Red Barn,' “The Haunted Cellar, a tale of Fleet Ditch,' and 'Joskin the Body Snatcher,' were, he found out of print.' It would seem, however, that they are out of print' only in the serial form. A walk through Holywell Street will show that they are still to be bought in sixpenny volumes-price fourpence halfpenny at the discount booksellers—and that they dispute the favour of the poorer class of readers with translations of the improving romances of MM, Zola and Paul de Kock.
But this is not all. In a lane not far from Fleet Street there is a complete factory of the literature of rascaldom-a literature which has done much to people our prisons, our reformatories, and our Colonies, with scapegraces and ne'er-dowells. At the present time no fewer than fifteen of these mischievous publications are in course of issue from this one place. They are not, it is true, very new, but they have a steady and considerable sale in the back streets, and are constantly advertised as in course of re-issue. First on the list comes •Spring-Heeled Jack, or the Terror of London,’ No. 2 given away with No. 1, with a splendid coloured plate gratis.' The • plate,' a coarse woodcut printed on tinted paper, represents a stage-coach crowded with affrighted passengers, over whose heads springs the devil with horns, hoofs, tail, and bat-like wings complete. The story is what might be expected—a tale of highwaymen, murderers, burglars, wicked noblemen, and lovely and persecuted damsels, whose physical charms and voluptuous embraces are dilated upon with exceeding unction. It is almost needless to say that the highwaymen of the romance are not the sorry and sordid rogues we know them to have been in real life, but always dashing,' high-spirited,' and bold.' As a matter of course, they all carry pistols, which they use with unerring skill, which never miss fire, and apparently never require re-loading. It is equally a matter of course that the enemies of these gallant fellows—the constables, who at the time of the story, which is left in uncertainty but is presumably about the middle of the eighteenth century, are under the orders of a Commissioner'-are ugly, stupid, ill-conditioned, and cowardly; that it is a 'paternal government' under which things have reached such a pitch that a man may be fined, perhaps imprisoned, for carrying a pistol to protect himself;' and that, in one word, all the officers of the law are tyrants and oppressors, whom it is the duty of spirited lads' to resist to the uttermost. No. 2 on our list bears the promising title of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,' and is a delectable story of a barber under whose shop is a cellar into which his customers are precipitated through a trap door, to be robbed and murdered at leisure. By way of adding to the ludicrous ghastliness of the story, the corpses of the victims, who appear to average about one per diem, are made into meat pies by a fascinating woman who keeps a shop in Bell Yard. There is the usual apparatus of a gang of desperate criminals