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transmitted to posterity before writing was invented, which I will leave to your ingenuity to discover.”
“I think it must be because poetry is so much more easily remembered than prose, papa," said Clara. “I have often found that it does not require half the time to commit a poem to memory that it does a piece of prose.
“ Am I right?”. .
“ Yes," replied her father. “ By the help of numbers, by the melody of song, the ear gave assistance to the memory. Parents repeated the tales of other times or sung them to their children, and thus, by the oral tradition of national ballads, all the historical knowledge of the earlier ages was transmitted to posterity.
“ Herodotus was the first historian among the Greeks; he lived about four hundred years before the Christian era ; and down to his time history had appeared in no other form than that of poetical tales in Greece. In the first ages of Persia and Arabia also, as well as of all other nations, priests, philosophers, orators, and statesmen, delivered their instructions and harangues in poetry.”
- You tell me that Homer was one of the first of Grecian poets, papa, and I have been calculating that he lived nearly eighteen hundred years before the time of our good and learned King Alfred,” said Clara.
6 Well, and what of that?"
“ Why, as I have heard you say that England only emerged from a state of barbarism about the time of his reign, I suppose there were few poets of eminence, if any, in this country before that period, but still that there must have been some of note, as well as Homer, in other countries during the intermediate space. Were there not?”
“ Yes," said Mr. C. ; “ Homer, the great Grecian epic poet, was followed by Pindar and Anacreon in lyric poetry; and by Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, and Eschylus in dramatic poetry. Virgil, who is called the prince of Latin poets, flourished about nine hundred years after Homer, and commemorated his name in the celebrated Æneid. The Romans had likewise their Ovid and Tibullus ; Plautus and Terence ; Lucretius and Horace, &c.: all these were eminent for talent and genius, and their works stand as lasting mementos of the excellence they each attained in their respective species of composition.
“ Greece and Rome, however, are no le longer pre-eminent in letters and philosophy, learning, and science. After a long night of barbarism and superstition, England, as you justly observe, emerged
from the darkness in which she had been enveloped—a new era commenced in literary taste the sphere of intellectual pleasures became enlarged and England-highly-favoured England ! by gradual but sure steps, reached that summit of excellence in every branch of literature which she now occupies, and in which she is little inferior to ancient Greece. The works of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Thomson, and Cowper, would vie with those of any age or country: some excel in one branch of composition, and some in another; for, as I have already told you, poetry is classed under different heads. But we will have a little conversation respecting poetical classification another day. For the present, you may rest assured, that the poetry of your native country is unequalled in any existing nation."
* A few weeks after the preceding con versation had taken place, Mr. C. and his family, according to their usual custom every summer, formed a party on an agreeable excursion to the sea-side. The coast of Wales was fixed upon for this season; and after having visited many of the sublime and beautiful spots, and explored most of the magnificent scenery with which that country abounds, our travellers crossed the narrow Straits of Menai, which separate Carnarvonshire from the isle of Anglesea, intending to wait at Beaumaris for the arrival of a steam-vessel, in which they might take their passage to Liverpool. As none of the children had ever been in a steam-vessel, the prospect of a sea voyage afforded them great amusement, and gave rise to much animated conversation as they wandered about the pier at Beaumaris, waiting its arrival