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Lectures and Essays   By: (1823-1910)

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LECTURES AND ESSAYS

BY

GOLDWIN SMITH

PREFATORY NOTE.

These papers have been reprinted for friends who sometimes ask for the back numbers of periodicals in which they appeared. The great public is sick of reprints, and with good reason.

The volume might almost have been called Contributions to Canadian Literature, for of the papers not originally published in Canada several were reproduced in Canadian journals. Political subjects have been excluded both to keep a volume intended for friends free from anything of a party character and because the writer looks forward to putting the thoughts scattered over his political essays and reviews into a more connected form.

The papers on 'The Early Years of the Conqueror of Quebec,' 'A Wirepuller of Kings,' 'A True Captain of Industry' and 'Early Years of Abraham Lincoln' can hardly pretend to be more than accounts of books to which they relate, but they interested some of their readers at the time and there are probably not many copies of the books in Canada. All the papers have been revised, so that they do not appear here exactly as they were in the periodicals from which they are reprinted.

TORONTO, Feb. 16, 1881

CONTENTS.

THE GREATNESS OF THE ROMANS ( Contemporary Review )

THE GREATNESS OF ENGLAND ( Contemporary Review. )

THE GREAT DUEL OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ( Canadian Monthly )

THE LAMPS OF FICTION ( A Speech on the Centenary of the Birth of Sir Walter Scott )

AN ADDRESS TO THE OXFORD SCHOOL OF SCIENCE AND ART

THE ASCENT OF MAN ( Macmillan's Magazine. )

THE PROPOSED SUBSTITUTES FOR RELIGION ( Macmillan's Magazine. )

THE LABOUR MOVEMENT ( Canadian Monthly. )

WHAT IS CULPABLE LUXURY? ( Canadian Monthly. )

A TRUE CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY ( Canadian Monthly. )

A WIREPULLER OF KINGS ( Canadian Monthly. )

THE EARLY YEARS OF THE CONQUEROR OF QUEBEC ( Toronto Nation. )

FALKLAND AND THE PURITANS ( Contemporary Review. )

THE EARLY YEARS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN ( Toronto Mail )

ALFREDUS REX FUNDATOR ( Canadian Monthly )

THE LAST REPUBLICANS OF ROME ( MacMillan's Magazine )

AUSTEN LEIGH'S MEMOIR OF JANE AUSTEN ( New York Nation )

PATTISON'S MILTON ( New York Nation )

CLERIDGE'S LIFE OF KEBLE ( New York Nation )

THE GREATNESS OF THE ROMANS

Rome was great in arms, in government, in law. This combination was the talisman of her august fortunes. But the three things, though blended in her, are distinct from each other, and the political analyst is called upon to give a separate account of each. By what agency was this State, out of all the States of Italy, out of all the States of the world, elected to a triple pre eminence, and to the imperial supremacy of which, it was the foundation? By what agency was Rome chosen as the foundress of an empire which we regard almost as a necessary step in human development, and which formed the material, and to no small extent the political matrix of modern Europe, though the spiritual life of our civilization is derived from another source? We are not aware that this question has ever been distinctly answered, or even distinctly propounded. The writer once put it to a very eminent Roman antiquarian, and the answer was a quotation from Virgil

"Hoc nemus, hunc, inquit, frondoso vertice clivum Quis deus incertum est, habitat Deus; Arcades ipsum Credunt se vidisae Jovem cum saepe nigrantem AEgida concuteret dextra nimbosque cieret."

This perhaps was the best answer that Roman patriotism, ancient or modern, could give; and it certainly was given in the best form. The political passages of Virgil, like some in Lucan and Juvenal, had a grandeur entirely Roman with which neither Homer nor any other Greek has anything to do. But historical criticism, without doing injustice to the poetical aspect of the mystery, is bound to seek a rational solution. Perhaps in seeking the solution we may in some measure supply, or at least suggest the mode of supplying, a deficiency which we venture to think is generally found in the first chapters of histories... Continue reading book >>




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