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Ten Years' Exile ; or memoirs of that interesting period of the life of the baroness de Stael Holstein ; written by herself during the years 1810, 11, 12, and 13, and now first published from the original manuscript, by her son.

Journal of a Voyage for the discovery of a north west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean ; performed in the years 1819-20, in his majesty's ships Hecla and Griper, under the orders of William E. Parry R. N. F. R. S. and commander of the expedition ; with an appendix. To which is added the North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle.

Memoirs of the Rebellion in 1745 and 1746. By the Chevalier de Johnstone, aidecamp to lord George Murray, &c. Translated from a French manuscript.

Elements of Astronomy. By S. Freeby,
young sea officer's Sheet Anchor;

or a key to the leading of rigging, and to practical seamanship. By Darcy Lever Esq.

Reports of Cases determined at nisi prius, in the court of King's Bench, and Common Pleas. By John Campbell Esq. Vols. 3 & 4.

The Life of Mary, queen of Scots. By George Chalmers F. R. S. Laneham's Letter; describing the magnificent pageants presented before queen Elizabeth, at Kenilworth castle, in 1575.

Valerius, a Roman story.

Specimens of the Russian Poets; with preliminary remarks and biographical notices. Translated by John Bowring F. L. S. Boston.

Bible Rhymes; or the names of all the books of the Old and New Testament. By Hannah More.

Sermons by the Rev. Jolin Venn.

In the press.

OLIVER EVERETT has in the press, and will speedily publish, EUROPE ; or a general survey of the present situation of the principal powers, with conjectures on their future prospects. By a Citizen of the United States.

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APRIL 1822.

& Everett,
Art. XIV.The Comedies of Aristophanes. By T. Mitchell,

A. M. late fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
Vol. I. London, 1820.

It cannot, of course, have escaped the notice of our readers, that the character of Aristophanes and the remains of his comedies have of late attracted much attention abroad. The way was prepared for the volume, of which we have just named the title, by a very elaborate and able essay on the Grecian philosophy and the Clouds of Aristophanes, in the Quarterly Review for September 1819. ' The same topics or kindred discussions on the manners of the Athenians, to which the remains of the ancient comedians furnished abundant materials, have also been admirably treated, in subsequent numbers of the same journal. With this preparation, the first volume of Mitchell's Aristophanes came forth, and was, on its appearance, most ably noticed in the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews; and we venture to say, that through the medium of these popular vehicles of information, more knowledge of the Greek comedy and of its literary remains has been diffused throughout the reading community, both in England and in this country, than was ever before accessible to


professed scholars, and those of laborious research. Did we not think that some important errors had also been diffused through New Series, No. 10.


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these same vehicles, we should have esteemed it altogether a work of supererogation, to ask the attention of our readers anew to a subject made so familiar to them, by the journals just mentioned. But feeling ourselves wholly unprepared to go to the extreme of the new school on this topic, we have ventured to appeal to the attention of the American literary public, with not a little fear, however, that their curiosity is nearly exhausted.

What the commonly received opinion of Aristophanes is or was, we scarcely need say. So learned and elegant a scholar, as bishop Hurd, calls him, that buffoon.' Dr Gillies, who, if his own taste be entitled to no preeminent respect, may be considered as an adequate representative of the taste of his contemporaries, speaks of Aristophanes, as one of a class of men, who were the declared enemies, not only of Socrates and his disciples, but of all order and decency; adding in the course of the same chapter, that Aristophanes and bis associates, having previously ridiculed virtue and genius, in the persons of Socrates and Euripides, boldly proceeded to avail themselves of the natural malignity of the vulgar, and their envy against whatever is elevated and illustrious, to traduce and calumniate Pericles himself; and though his successors in the administration justly merited the severest lashes of their invective, yet, had their characters been more pure they would have been equally exposed to the unprovoked satire of those insolent buffoons, who gratified the gross appetites of the vulgar, by an undistinguished mass of ridicule, involving vice and virtue, things profane and sacred, men and gods.'* La Harpe, in his agreeable chapter on the Greek comedy, inclines to adopt the opinion of Plutarch against Aristophanes, expressed in his famous comparison between this master of the old comedy and Menander, to which comparison we shall revert, in the course of our observations. In obstinately adhering, however, to the epithet of satirist, applied to Aristophanes, and considering him in that character alone, La Harpe gives a striking instance of his own habitually superficial views. The conception which Barthelemi appears to have formed of the comedian, (though somewhat disguised by the oppressive fictions, with which he carries on the plot of his Anacharsis, to the irreparable injury of what would else have been so perfect a work,) is in the main rational, and appears to have been

* Gillies' History of Greece, chap. xiii.

formed from a fair examination of the contrasts in his character. From this opinion, Mr A. W. Schlegel dissents. Having remarked in the text, that'care must be had not to regard the old comedy as the rude beginning of the subsequently more improved comic representation,” he adds in a note, that the chapter in the Anacharsis is composed on this idea of the ancient comedy, and then pronounces this chapter one of the most unsatisfactory and unsuccessful in the work. This, however, we do not admit :-Barthelemi is a stranger to those penetrating views of antiquity, which have been taken by the new school in Germany, and by none more successfully than Mr Schlegel ; but we do not perceive any remarkable deficiency in the chapter in question. How far back the following judgment of professor Dalzel is to be dated, the nature of the work, from which it is taken, does not enable us to ascertain. It has excited our surprise, however, to find a judgment so extremely old-fashioned, not to say superficial, in a work published during the last year. His words are, we have a considerable number of the comedies of Aristophanes still remaining, but they are so full of ribaldry and buffoonery, that I can scarcely recommend them to your perusal, unless on account of the Attic Greek, in which they are written. I have already observed, that at Athens, there were people of every sort of character. Among the lower sort there were great numbers, remarkable for their vanity and inconstancy, their want of respect for religion, their insolence and vice of every sort, and readier to laugh at a coarse and immoral joke, than to be instructed by useful truth. It was to people of this stamp that Aristophanes chose to address himself. He was malignant and satirical, and, at the same time, had a gayety of wit, which recommended him to the mob. The comedies of Aristophanes then ought to be considered as abuses of this sort of composition.'* Whatever be thought of the justice of this, as far as the character of Aristophanes is concerned, we do not remember to have seen a more striking example of vagueness and feebleness, than these few lines betray ; and we are sorry to add, they afford but too faithful a sample of a work, from which we had promised ourselves instruction and pleasure.

We have gathered together these few judgments on the subject of Aristophanes, for the sake of reminding our readers more exactly of the prevailing tone of opinion, before it had

* Dalzel's Lectures, vol. ij. p. 146.


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