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stands before us in the full breadth and depth of his inner being; and it would not be easy to match the moral purity and integrity of the picture presented to us. It is no mere hard and featureless stoicism we contemplate, no mere Pagan rectitude ; but the lines of the portrait are stamped with the deep and pervasive energy of Righteousness, and softened and graced by the gentle touch of Charity. If his intellect may have halted in the acknowledgment of the whole truth, there is evidence that his heart and temper had bowed to that divine might which can alone remould'in " the beauty of holiness” the degraded vessel of our fallen humanity. From the depths of his soul, we believe, did he feel the import and the value of the prayer to which he gives utterance in the same letter written from Rome. “O that men strove in simplicity of heart, and in union with those likeminded to themselves, to attain true fruit-bearing faith, piety, and love."
If we now venture to express, in conclusion, our brief estimate of Niebuhr's position and work as an Historian, it is with no pretensions to decide with any authority on either. We are too conscious of the difficulty of the task. Only in a review of his life, some remarks on its chief labour would seem to be necessary.
We have already sufficiently indicated our conception of Niebuhr's historical work as in the highest degree constructive, and not in any sense merely of a negative and sceptical character. He did indeed overthrow, but it was ever only with the view of reaching to the basis of truth beneath. He had no love for the process of destruction in itself. If necessarily so much engaged in clearing away, it was only that he might penetrate to the actual shape of the fabric, concealed and encumbered by the parasitic growth of centuries. The task to which Niebuhr set himself, was beyond all question the positive one of reconstructing the history of Rome from the legendary narrative with which it had become so mixed up and identified. This was his aim, whatever may be thought of his success.
And to this great work it cannot be doubted he brought consummate powers. It was not merely the vastness of his learning: it was above all, the depth and range of his historical vision. His implements of investigation were not merely of the highest power and the keenest edge, but he had that gift of sight into antiquity, which no mere amount of learned accoutrements can ever impart. He had the eye to see and understand the Past as no one before him had done. And this natural power of insight he had trained with the most assiduous culture, For years his gaze had dwelt with “ever renewed, undeviating steadfastness" on the confused and blended picture, till, as he himself finely says, he had seen “the history of mistaken, His Position and Ofice as an Historian. 457 misrepresented, and forgotten events, rise out of mists and darkness, and assume substance and shape, as the scarcely visible aerial form of the nymph in the Sclavonian tale, takes the body of an earthly maiden beneath the yearning gaze of love." *' It was this genuine love of the old classical Life not
" only in its outward and more accidental aspects, its circumstantial history-which was all really that had as yet engaged the attention of the modern historian; but in its inward organic development, its essentially characteristic features, which especially distinguished Niebuhr. He comprehended for the first time adequately the varied interest and import of that Life -its full depth and consistency; and sought to develop and explain the different forms in which it expressed itself. Many had before brought ample learning and ability to the task of writing ancient history, but none had as yet entered as he did into the Life of the ancient people, or endeavoured to trace as he did, the rise and development of those institutions in which it was at once exhibited and restrained. No one had as yet aimed to reproduce the Past in its deeper national significancein all the variety of its social and political phases; and no higher praise can well be bestowed upon Niebuhr, than that he was the first clearly to grasp this conception of history, however imperfectly he may have realized it.
Of his realization of the work which he had so well conceived, there cannot well, we think, be any difference of opinion. It is undoubtedly in a great degree imperfect. With so rich and vivid an historical intuition, he was yet greatly deficient in the artistic skill of representation. He could see for himself, but he had not the craft to work out his vision in an efficient and interesting form for others. There is not a reader we are sure out of a hundred, who does not find with all his best endeavours, that it is a hard task to read Niebuhr's history. He has so accumulated on his pages the materials of his investigations—he at once buries the reader with himself in such a mass of circumstantialities, that it requires a vision similar to his own-a similar familiarity with antiquity—to thread one's way among them, and catch the line of his exposition or narrative. In so far there can be no doubt that Niebuhr mistook the function of the Historian. All throughout his work, including his third volume, for which Arnold claimed more of the character of genuine history, it is rather as the dissertator upon history, than the actual Historian, that he appears. And we have seen that he himself was not insensible to this predominantly expository and critical character of his labours. His style, too, is, as a whole, laboriously Teutonic in its structure, abounding often to very weariness with exceptive clauses, although often, also, it must be admitted, rich and solid in the compass and vigour of its expressions. He sets at times, by a few ripe and felicitous touches, a full and rich picture before the reader; but his general narrative is wholly wanting in pictorial skill and animation. It is always the heavy and didactic march of the essayist, rather than the rapid and flexible movement of the narrator. Much of all this was, no doubt, owing to the nature of the subject, where he had not only to describe the course of facts according to his own conception, but ever to clear away before him the misrepresentations with which it had been encumbered. But then it is just because this process of clearance is constantly so obvious on his pages,-because he gives us not only the results, but also the details of his investigations, and often in so minute and crowded a manner, that we must pronounce Niebuhr deficient in historical art, and that his great work must be regarded more as a rich quarry from which others may build the finished structure, than in any sense such a structure itself.
* History, vol. ii. p. 14.
Niebuhr's great merit, however, remains as in some sense the author of that new conception of history which regards the whole Life of a people in its social and constitutional development. This conception was no doubt one rising upon the age, and making itself therefore more or less consciously intelligible to many minds; but there were none who as yet had so clearly grasped and applied it as Niebuhr did in relation to the Roman people. That he was not able to realize with artistic effect his own conception, is perhaps not to be wondered at. It is not always given to the same minds at once to divine and to execute. Others rise to carry out in the most successful practical form, the teeming idea which its own author so vividly felt, but did not adequately realize. But the man to whom it is given first clearly to express or render intelligible such an Idea, is a master man in his time, and even by those who may least acknowledge his teaching, his influence must be felt through many generations. It is in this way, we believe, that the greatness of Niebuhr's historical labours is most attested. It is not the actual amount of historical truth that they have added to our knowledge, but it is the impulse they communicated to historical criticism, on a penetrative and comprehensive principle hitherto unknown, which makes them mark an era. The special worth of many of his conclusions in Roman history may be disputed, but the searching character of his historical method, and the deeper and more exhaustive range he vindicated for historical inquiry, will bear fruit, as it has already amply done, in the more picturesque and life-like pages of many future historians.
Primeval Archæology of Britain.
Art. VI.-1. The Archæology and Prehistoric Annals of Scot
land. By DANIEL Wilson, Honorary Secretary of the So
ciety of Antiquaries of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1851.* 2. The Primeval Antiquities of Denmark. By J. J. A. WORSAAE,
&c., &c. Translated and applied to the illustration of similar
Remains in England, by W. T. Thoms, F.S.A. Oxford, 1849. 3. Vestiges of the Gael in Gwynedd. By the Rev. W. B. JONES,
M.A., Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford. London, 1851. 4. Remains of Pagan Saxondom, principally from Tumuli in
England. By John YONGE AKERMAN, Fellow and Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Part I.
The study of antiquities has frequently, and in many cases by no means unjustly, served as a laughing-stock to not a few who would willingly acknowledge that, when treated as it is in the works whose titles we have just transcribed, it can afford no just matter for ridicule, except to those by whom any pursuit not directly subservient to present wealth and comfort is at once dismissed with scorn. It is indeed but very recently that antiquarian research has assumed a character which could fairly put it out of the reach of well-merited contempt. Just now, indeed, the present race of archæologians possibly treat their predecessors with too little reverence; certain it is that, to a genuine disciple of the new school, few sorts of reading afford such unalloyed amusement as the great bulk of works bequeathed to him by his precursors even of the last generation. From dull plodding on the one hand, and wild speculation on the other, Archæology has assumed the character of a science; results are combined, and inferences deduced, according to the rules of logic and the laws of evidence; and the new science holds out her hand to those which have been recognised before her, though we hear some not unreasonable complaints that she has been sometimes a little scurvily treated by her elder sisters.
Such at least is the opinion of the learned author of the first work on our list, which, as having more direct claims upon a North British Review, we mean more fully to review in a stricter sense, employing the others chiefly in drawing out a connected statement of the most important results of primæval archæological study up to the present time. The reputation of Mr. Worsaae's work is already made, and it has taken its place as a text-book on the subject. Mr. Jones' treatise has a more
* Since this work was published the author has worthily received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of St. Andrews.
VOL. XVII. NO. XXXIV.
limited sphere, and is perhaps hardly archæological in the tery strictest sense; his inquiry is immediately confined to the population of a small corner of our island, but his view, if found correct, is in close connexion with a most important fact in the general ethnology of the three kingdoms.
Of Dr. Wilson's volume, which we owe an apology to our readers for not noticing sooner, our opinion in brief would be, that he has shown himself thoroughly master of his subject, but that he has hardly shown himself equally master of the art of writing a book about it. No one can study his work without recognising the results of most unwearied research, combined with a good acquaintance with the general laws of historical evidence, and skill in applying some of the principles of inductive argument to the materials before him. A remarkably strong vein of common sense runs through the whole composition,
. His style of writing is, with a few exceptions, pure and unaffected, and an occasional stroke of sly satire is, for the most part, very skilfully managed. On the whole, the work is a very valuable contribution to English literature in the department to which it relates.
One great object of Dr. Wilson's book is to connect simple archæology, meaning hereby the study of man's artificial works, from bone fish-hooks to Gothic cathedrals, with what are really its kindred studies; with geology on the one hand, with social and political history on the other. The connexion of archæology and geology he has treated in an exceedingly able manner; we have seldom read anything more striking than the chapters in which he depicts the intrusion of the earliest Allophylian race upon the domain of wild beasts, some species of which now exist only in a fossil state. With the other side of his task Dr. Wilson is, we think, less successful. It has struck us more than once, that he fails in that broad grasp of general history which is so desirable in a work of this kind, and that he has no very deep acquaintance with classical antiquity. When he gets on this last field he sometimes commits mistakes, and never seems quite at home.*
* Thus in quoting Festus Avienus (p. 195,) he misdates that author eight centuries, placing him B.C. 400, instead of A.D. In p. 198 we are told that the Phie. nicians colonized Marseilles, which we may charitably conclude is a misprint for Phocæans. In p. 547—to turn to a piece of Teutonic antiquity—we find the famous ode on Athelstan's victory so translated as to represent the "grey deer" as among the animals to whom the carcases of Scot and Northman were assigned as a prey. Here the philological difficulty vanishes before the zoological: has Dr. Wilson any ground for believing that so important a change in the diet of the Ruminantia has taken place within so comparatively recent a period ! Hardly less difficulty should we have in believing that “some small fint-flakes and arrowheads, gathered on the elevated mound of the tomb of the Platæans ac Marathon," were “ weapons used by the Greek patriots in repelling the Persian invader."