Слике страница
PDF
ePub

He was

sive. “I was," said she,“ his wife-I believe myself still obliged by duty and friendship to solicit your favour towards him." And when she heard that he was to be sent to Elba, she exclaimed, “If Bonaparte is abandoned by those who were the most dear to him, I, at least, will not be among them. I hate the ungrateful, and do not participate in their panic. I will rejoin him in bis island, and there, in the midst of a few friends, we shall perhaps still enjoy a last ray of happiness.”

The crowd that visited the beautiful Malmaison was immense, and among them, what was Josephine's surprise to see William de K-, ber first lover. He had buried his wife in India, where he has acquired a large fortune. At the siege of Paris he had been wounded, and now bore his arm in a sling. She concealed the emotion she could not help feeling, and William regarded this act of prudence as a manifestation of coolness. deeply chagrined, and fell sick. As soon as she heard of it she sent a person to assure him that she offered up her vows for bis preservation. It was in vain-his wound had become aggravated, amputation was resorted to, and, in three days after the dissolution of Josephine, he resigned his life.

The Emperor Alexander visited Josephine almost daily. He admired her charming retreat. He used to say to her, “ Eugene, Hortense and you, Madame, are under my protection. You are mine, and may, without restraint, receive here your former friends. I will be your friend, both in France and in Russia; and should you desire to reside within my dominions, it will be delightful for me to place you there."

Upon the arrival of the Bourbons, the brother of the King complimented Josephine. He rendered her this homage for the eminent services she had rendered the illustrious friends of the family, who had been proscribed. She had, too, the maternal delight of pressing once inore to her bosom, her son, who had been compelled to relinquish the vice-royalty of Italy, and return to France. Her correspondence with Bonaparte in Elba, continued till within a short period of his return; but this, together with the agitation she had experienced from su many revolutions in the state, in which those she best loved were the victims, at lengih affected her nei ves. From the period of the first reverse of Bonaparte, she began to experience violent spasms, which were succeeded by protracted weakness. She told her chiidren that "she felt herself growing weaker every hour-that although she was honoured by the visits of the conquerors of her husband, and admired their noble and generous conduct towards France, yet she wished to partake of the exile of Bonaparte, and try at least to soothe, by her presence, the

days of grief that were left him." But the day before she was to have set out, her illness increased, and when she consulted her physicians, they became alarmed at her situation. She could no longer rise from her bed--a violent fever raged in her veins, which her uneasiness of mind increased. She called her children around her, and after addressing them affectionately, she apostrophized the absent object of her love. “Ah, Napoleon, I cannot survive your misfortunes! The absolute abandonment of you by those ungrateful wretches who owe you every thing, and the treason of many whom you called your friendsthese are the causes of my destruction-these have hastened my descent to the tomb!” Her illness increased. She took her son, and then her daughter in her arms, and, tenderly embracing thein, recommended them to serve their sovereign and his subjects. She then asked for the portrait of Bonaparte, which was carried to her. She gazed at it, and took a vivid retrospect of what he had been. The Emperor Alexander being informed of her danger, desired to see her, and was admitted. She seemed to revive at his presence. “At least," she said in a dying voice, “my heart is untorn-no remorse follows me to the tomb, nor troubles my ashes. I have wished well to the French; I have done all I could to contribute to it; and I can say with truth to you, who witness my last moments, that never, never has the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte been the cause of tears."

These were her last words, and thus died Josephine, on the 29th May, 1814, in her fiftieth year; an interesting victim to an attachment to a husband wbom she had never ceased to love. Her children were penetrated with grief. The Emperor Alexander shed tears, and repeated that "she had been an angel of goodness." All France was afflicted; and from the universal regrets that her loss inspired, “it might,” says Miss Le Normand, "be said, to the praise of both the friends and enemies of Bonaparte, that they united in strewing her tomb with flowers." Her remains were deposited in the parochial church of Ruel near Malmaison.

[blocks in formation]

ART. IV.-Histoire de la Literature Grecque profane depuis son

origine jusq'à la prise de Constantinople par les Turcs. 2me edition. Par M. SCHOELL. Paris. 1823-25. 8 vols.

From the reign of Alexander the Great until the death of the Emperor Augustus, (336 Ante Christum to 14 A. D.) a period rich in events of utmost consequence, literature experienced such striking alterations both in its matter and form, and assumed a character so distinct, that much of the literary culture, even of our own days, in so far as it is dependent upou ancient learning, is only to be explained from this remarkable

æra.

By the Macedonian conquests, Greek literature was diffused among the greater part of the Asiatic nations, with the exception of the Chinese and Mogolian. Alexandria, in Egypt, became, during the reign of the three Ptolemies, the seat of Grecian literature, and continued so, with various limitations, until the end of the fourth century after Christ.

The Romans, who extended their arms over Greece, (A.C. 167) appropriated Grecian science and literature as a booty of war, and became more delighted with their spoils, the more their simple and martial patriotism yielded to vanity and the desire of enjoyment. By the success of their wars, literary culture was secured, at least for a time, to the three quarters of the then known earth, though often in violation of the national peculiarities of their conquered provinces.

Mental activity, passing from a people to whom it was indebted for existence, culture, prosperity and perfection, became almost the exclusive property of those who were blessed by social culture, riches and power. Courts, like the Syracusan, Alexandrian, Pergamenian, and the houses of the Roman grandees, were the nurses of arts and scieace. Experience and knowledge increasing by the facilitated intercourse of many nations, first separated science into its respective branches, then regulated and combined it into one methodical system. The principle of utility became more conspicuous, and the bright play of fancy was restrained and limited. Philology became a new study of great extent and important influence. The knowledge of nations, countries and nature was enriched with a variety of experience, and cultivated as scientifically and systematically as philosophy and mathematics. Poetry still lingered where once had flowed its richest streams, but confined

to dramatic amusements and epigrammatic trifles. In Egypt it included real erudition, and was more distinguished by external regularity and beauty of language than by internal energy; among the Romans was seen the imitation of the Greek models, intermingled with the artificialness of the early Alexandrian school.

By institutions for education, and libraries, the extent of literary knowledge was promoted and facilitated, and these existed in the greatest perfection at Alexandria until the Romans had accumulated in their capital the treasures of literature and art, Athens maintained itself as the seat of philosophy, even under Roman domination, until the age of Justinian. The Greek language was extended to Asia and Africa, and became the language of the court and of business; but, thereby, lost much of its natural beauty, and adopted many terms from the languages of those nations among whom it was introduced. The Doric Macedonian dialect was transferred to Egypt, was enriched by foreigners, was corrupted and became an Alexandrian dialect for literature, endeavouring, possibly, to approach to the Attic, but becoming gradually varied by Jews, Romans and Christians.

Among the Asiatic nations who fell under the Grecian domination, many deserve notice for their literary activity. The Syrians, who made a literary epocba under Hadrian, were fond of poetry, cultivated astronomy, and first introduced scientific astrology and mystical philosophy. The kings of Pergamus honoured the arts and literature, and established an excellent library; but Alexandria,* above all, became the centre of universal commerce, industry, luxury, arts and sciences, and reared institutions for the support and encouragement of literary activity, in such variety and perfection as no ancient or modern state ever equalled. The museum founded by Ptolemy Soter, enriched by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and continued until the time of Aurelianus, (275 Anno Domini) was designed for the support of the learned, in which they could devote their time to literary pursuits without interruption from the necessary wants and events of life, being liberally furnished with all possible conveniences from the royal treasury. Near to it was established by Ptolemy Soter, a very rich Jibrary, which Cleopatra united with the Pergamenian. The introduction of the cursive-writing (200 ?) and the manufacture of the papyrus facilitated the multiplication of copies of books—the literary

* Ch. G. Heyne de genio sæculi Ptolemæorum in Opusc, vol. i. p. 75.

contention between the Alexandrian and Pergamenian kings, also produced much literary acquirement.

Extensive knowledge was the distinguishing trait of the learned men of the Alexandrian school. As their taste was neither pure nor original, and their views and purposes not independent, their works were full of literary prejudices, superstitions and fanciful imaginings. Their poetry betrays artificial study, and is distinguished from the ancient Greek by bold and learned elegance in representation and language. Nothing was done in that school for eloquence. Philosophy was also neglected. Their bistorical compositions were not remarkable, at least, for style and manner. Philology and mathematics alone made great advances.

Philology* arose out of the consciousness of a past excellence of national literature, which was no longer to be attained, and from the desire which was excited to preserve the general admiration for the master-pieces of their ancestors, and at the same time, critically to explain the reasons which gave such excellence to those classical works. Philology embraces historical, antiquarian, grainmatical and critical researches. Aristophanes and Aristarchus agreed to fix a canon of classics in their respective branches, in which they themselves served as models, and took in about sixty others. Many were occupied with critical reviews and correction of the texts in existing copies, others with explanations, by means of dictionaries, others again with the discovery, examination and composition of grammatical rules. Aristotle had, in many respects, prepared and markeıl out the roads which were afterwards to be pursued. The number of the philologists, whose merits in the preservation and explanation of the great classics cannot be mistaken, is very great ; many of their works are lost, or preserved by later authors in fragments; many have been discovered and published only in our day. The philological activity of Philetas, Lycophron, Callimachus, Aratus, Cleanthes, Eratosthenes, Apollonius Rhodius, Rhianus, and many others, we only know from the quotations of later authors. Zenodotus of Ephesus, (278) pupil of Philetas, opened a grammar school at Alexandria, and was the first who arranged the text of the Homeric poenis according to critical principles.* His scholars, Aristophanes of Byzantium, (250?) contemporary of Zoilus Homeromastix of Amphipolis, submitted not only the text of the Homeric poems, but of many other

* Fabr. Bib. gr. C, 271. Stephanus de criticis Vet. gr: et lat. + F. A. Wolf; Prolegomena ad Homerum. Fabr. Bib. gr. 1, p. 362.

« ПретходнаНастави »