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freedom of appearing unveiled at the symposia of the wits. Tragedy and Comedy bave arrived at the bighest point of cultivation, and all the arts connected with them are elaborated till the band of genius can go no further. The courts of justice and the assemblies of the people are thronged by busy, inquisitive crowds, for whose entertainment, instruction, or corruption, the orators and demagogues are continually at work. Swarms of Sophists teach the young men the subtilties of their pernicious art, against which the keen dialectic weapons, forged in the Socratic workshop, can scarcely avail. Strangers throng to Athens from every part of the world, to gaze on her wondrous citadel, and the majestic forms of her gods. Ambassadors lay the pompous homage of dependent colonies and semibarbarous nations at her feet. Such is the splendid age, in which the scene of Mrs. Child's novel is laid. Such are the gorgeous but somewhat indefinite pictures which the
page of history unfolds to us; and so far the character of the age is sufficiently intelligible. But to go beneath this gay and glittering surface, and detect the elements at work there; to follow the statesman from the agora or the courts, to the scenes of domestic life ; to accompany the philosopher from his walk beneath the grove, to his private residence, or nightly revel; to detect beneath the plausible exterior of pompous religious rites, the lurking imposture, or the sneer of skepticism ; to unravel the threads of apologue, irony, playfulness, and symbolical expression in the discourses of the philosophers, and learn the almost hidden truth they would teach ; to judge truly and delineate strongly the influence of woman, both in the strict seclusion of the austere lovers of the olden times, and in the free circles of the Aspasias ; to unfold the secret of that amazingly rapid growth of art and letters, which has made Athens and the age
of Pericles for ever illustrious, - were a task for the mightiest genius, the profoundest knowledge, the most delicate taste. that Mrs. Child has not done all this, is far enough from calling in question either her ability or learning.
The main interest of the tale centres in the fortunes of Philothea, the heroine, and a subordinate interest is kept up by an underplot, in which are developed the character and adventures of Eudora, Philothea's friend and companion. The heroine is the granddaughter of the philosopher Anaxagoras, and is represented as having been educated by him with sedu
Eudora is a member of the family of Phidias, the sculptor, having been purchased by him in early childhood, and trained up in his own household. Paralus, the son of Pericles, bas been under the instruction of Anaxagoras, and an attachment has been formed between him and Philothea.
The young man is compelled to subdue his affections to the bidding of parental ambition, and resign all thoughts of marrying Pbilothea. An attachment has also sprung up' between Eudora and a wealthy young Athenian, Philemon, whose mother is a Corinthian by birth. Philæmon is summoned before the court of Cynosarges, and condemned to lose his estates and the privileges of an Athenian citizen, in consequence of a slight taint of foreign blood in his veins. The tale opens with a scene in which the two maidens are watching the return of Philamon and his friends from the court.
Meantime the witty and wicked Lothario of Athens, Alcibiades, has been struck with the beauty of Eudora, and determines to win her to his base purposes. The splendor of his name and rank, the grace of his person, and the captivating power of his eloquence, have already partially dazzled the imagination of the simple-hearted maiden, before her firmer friend, Philothea, is aware of the danger. This is the source of distress in the plot. To facilitate bis libertine designs, Alcibiades persuades Aspasia to have both Philothea and Eudora present at one of her symposia. The description of this réunion is one of the most striking portions of the book. The characters that figure in it are among the most illustrious of that period of Athenian history. Pericles and Aspasia, Plato, Anaxagoras, and Alcibiades, with numerous others ; an Ethiopian of distinction; the Persian ambassador; Phidias the sculptor, and the two maidens, are present and partake of the conversation and festivities of the night. Alcibiades persuades the credulous Eudora that he will repudiate his wife and marry her; and Philothea finds it impossible at first 10 dispel the delusion. She grants him an interview, which is interrupted accidentally by Philemon, her lover. The infatuated damsel is only aroused to a sense of her danger by overhearing a conversation at the house of Aspasia, between her and Alcibiades, in which her own name is coupled with that of Electra, a courtezan of Corinth. In the mean time, Philæmon, shocked at the discovery he has accidentally made, and disgusted with the unjust treatment to which he has been subVOL. XLIV. — NO. 94.
jected by the court of Cynosarges, prepares to leave his country and seek a refuge at the Persian court.
A prosecution is now instituted against the most confidential friends of Pericles, by the enemies of the great statesman. Anaxagoras, Phidias, even Aspasia herself, are summoned before the people to answer to various charges, brought against them by the intrigues of a powerful faction, who aimed at the political destruction of Pericles. The issue of the prosecution is the banishment of Phidias, who retires to Elis, and of Anaxagoras, who takes up his abode in Lampsacus. Soon after, the plague breaks out in Athens, and rages through the city, sparing neither high nor low, neither age nor sex. Among other illustrious victims is Paralus, the son of Pericles, and lover of Philothea. He is left by the awful disease in a state of utter helplessness. He retains no recollection of the past, save the memory of his lost Philothea. He has no perception of the objects of sense around him, but is perpetually visited with delightful visions from the land of spirits. The haughty spirit of Pericles is subdued by these domestic calamities; and he forthwith sends Plato on an embassy, to express his earnest wish that Philothea will return to Athens and marry his now helpless son. She readily, nay joyfully consents, in the hope that she may assist in restoring his shattered intellect to a healthy tone. She arrives in Athens, and is united to Paralus with due solemnities. Pericles, with Paralus and Philothea, accompanied by Plato and others, journey to Olympia, hoping to benefit the health of the sufferer by the stirring scene of the games, and the old associations of which they may touch the chord. At Elis they encounter Eudora, living in seclusion after the death of Phidias her protector. The experiment is unsuccessful, and Paralus dies. . The mourning party return to Athens, where the funeral honors are completed, and the urn, containing the ashes of the best beloved son of Pericles, is deposited in his ancestral tomb. Philothea gradually wastes away, and soon dies. Eudora is again exposed to the persecution of Alcibiades, by whose birelings she is seized and carried forcibly to Salamis. She is rescued from this perilous prison by her faithful Geta, but is so swiftly pursued that she is compelled to take refuge in Creusa's grotto where she remains some time. Here she receives a supernatural visitation from Paralus and Philothea, and is warned by them to seek Artaphernes the Persian. She obeys the celes
tial intimation, and finds in Artaphernes her father. After this developement she returns with him to Persia, and is at length united to her lover, who is in high favor at the Persian court.
This very brief sketch will give some idea of the groundwork, on which Mrs. Child has raised the superstructure of her story. It is obvious that she has introduced upon her canvass the figures of mighty historical characters, who will task all the vigor of her pencil. How has she succeeded ? We have already spoken in general terms of her style. In this book it has all its characteristic beauty and force. It is musical and significant. The glories of Athens are described in language fresh and sparkling, like the radiant forms of art, which filled the proud city. The imagery she draws around her scenes, and the associations she awakens, are in strict keeping with the time, the character, and the place. She has mastered all the learning requisite to the preserving of the outward proprieties, and the allusions and scenery are fastidiously correct. Indeed, it may justly be said, that she is too laboriously classical in minute details ; in her Atticism, she is hyper-Attic, and might be known for a foreigner on classic ground, as Theophrastus was hailed “O Stranger” by a fishwoman of Athens, in consequence of the elaborate finish of his pronunciation. The general idea of each of her historical characters seems to us historically correct; but the details are not always so.
The picture of the age is in the main truly colored; yet there are many features, in the character of the times, which are not sufficiently brought out. Thus the plague, of which Thucydides has given so true and masterly a description, opens scenes and presents contrasts that might have been used with
effect; and the trial of the friends of Pericles might have been described at greater length, and with more fulness of detail. In the course of the story, we think that love, in the modern acceptation of the word, plays far too conspicuous a part. The gallantries of Alcibiades are too much like the intrigues of a modern rake; and the perils and rescue of Eudora, would be in place in a novel of the last century.
The two characters on which Mrs. Child has expended the most care and labor, are evidently those of Plato and Philo
So far as her portrait of the philosopher goes, it is unquestionably correct; but, led by some elective affinity, she has selected a few of Plato's philosophical doctrines, and represented his character only through their medium. The conse
quence is, that the Sage of the Academy appears but in one light. He is for ever the mystic and the moralizer, with a dash of sentiment that almost unmans him. Whether discoursing with the carousers at the Symposium, or with the young ladies, on a journey, or at Lampsacus, he perpetually arrays his barangues with fanciful analogies, and mystic intimations, and poetical rhapsodies. He drags in, seasonably and out of season, his strange notions about preexistence and the connexion between the spiritual and outer world ; but he never appears like a man engaged with the actual business of life, or capable of discussing the high themes of policy ; never as a master for statesmen, or teacher of science to vigorous-minded youth. But this is a partial view of Plato's character ; true as far as it goes, and false in its general effect. The themes he is made io touch upon exclusively, he did discuss occasionally; they formed a part, but not the whole of his philosophy: He indulged his imagination, it is true, with an occasional flight into an ideal world; but he was at times a severe logician, and a practical dealer with stubborn facts. In the exuberance of his genius, he would even run riot in beautiful visions, and fantastic theories ; but he could come down to the elaborate discussion of scientific principles, and many of the weightiest arguments, on the most solemo questions of the destiny of man, are wrought out by him with an amazing vigor of understanding. Now, as in his writings Plato is often full of plain practical common sense, it is a fair inference that bis common conversation partook largely of the same character; and in this respect we think that our author has not given a full and complete view, or even a justly proportioned view, of his intellectual constitution.
Philothea is a beautiful creation. A woman of great personal loveliness, educated in the midst of all the influences that can refine the imagination, deeply imbued with the more spiritual part of the Platonic philosophy, in daily communion with all of wit and genius that the best portion of Athenian society could offer, she rises before us, a being of such pure beauty, that we think of her not as of a daughter of this world, but as a child of the skies. The character is drawn with a delicate perception of the minutest proprieties and the finest shades. No discordant act breaks the barmony of her being ; no harsh or violent sentiment, no wild passion, mingles with the gentle tone of her daily thoughts. The supernatural incidents theo