Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, January 15, 1884, Page 4, Image 7

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    THE HESPERIAN STUDENT.
cal orator, had no hesitation in pointing his periods so as
to tell against the pnrty ho felt himself bound to depre
ciate. Keltic shows us in this matter whcroln Green has been
unjustly criticised. An historian, we have recently been
told, has no business to have any stylo at all; if ever he
dares to broak out into criticism, or attempts any dra
matic or picturesque reproduction of tho past, ho is at
once to bo distrusted. His sacred duty, it has boon main
ained, is to bo uniformly dull, to bo the moro recorder of
bald facts and dates, to rigidly suppress every tendency
to go beyond the role of tho chronicler and annalist. In
tho science of geology itself one of the most useful of
the haud-maids of history had the legitimate oxoicise
of the imagination, tho reconstructive faculty, been for
bidden, and the researches? of its devotees been confined
to the more tabulation of minerals and fossils, all pro
gress beyond a mere catalogue would have been impossi
ble. On (lie other hand by tiie aid of one of tho most
wonderful of human faculties, what stupendous advances
have been i cached as to tho past history of our globe,
even when all allowance is made for tho flights of un
fettered fancy. In the case of tho historian it may take
, he form ol the splendid panarama of Gibbon,;thc teeming
style of Maculcy, the exhaustive analysis and graphic
portraiture of Carlylc, or the intensely sympathetlcjreali
zation of Green.
To work he held always to bo his duly. Indeed he
never ceased working. Tears before, lie had truly,
though half lightly forecast his own epitaph, "Ho died
learning."
DllAMA-GHEEK AND ENQEISII.
It is a noteworthy fact that the Greek drama attained
its highest degreo of excellence in the half-century fol
lowing the battle of Sal nmis. Tho war that had called
into being all the energies of Athens ended in her proud
triumph, leaving a country no longer oppresed by do
mestic tyrants or devastated by barbarians. Her vast
and varied powers Intellectual and spiritual as well as
physical, awakened in this struggle for life, arc at its
closo concentrated into one great force and directed to a
single end the perfection of tho fine arts. Within this
period sculpture passed through its several phases of
austerity, of finished grace and had already taken upon
itself elegance, the effeminate beauty of decay. ' Thus
also had the Greek drama, this combination of all arts,
exhibited in rapid succession tho colossal grandeur of
.Eschylus, the perfection in form, the spotless purity of
Sophocles and finally the refinement, tho scepticism, the
Immorality of Euripides.
The English drama lias its source on the forces set free
by tho Protistant Reformation. In a period of thirty six
years extending from Marlowe to Ford, doubtless the
most active age in modern times, tills drama had ex
hausted all available rosources, having passed through
tho diiferent stages .of growth aualogous to thosoof tho
Greek. Tho fact that the English drama has a religious
origin points to no principal upon which an explanation
of it may be grouuded. So far from being religious it
has not oven amoral purpose. Shakespeare has been
called tho great teacher of morality. He teaches how
ever, by laying bare the whole being of man in its vilest
as well as noblest forms. Nay, more, ho doll ghts In vill
any as in virtue and his scliso of justlco is oxtromoly
vague. That the object of tragedy is to mako men
wiser and better was never conceived by Shakespearo
and perhaps by none of his contemporios. Tho Grook
drama is rollglous In Its origin and its essential object is
tho inculcation of moral principles. Tho prevailing
idea is that the fate whoso decrees are irrevocable against
which even the gods may struggle In vain. This idea
is more prominact in iEschylus and Sophocles than In
the later tragedians1 The man who is ''hateful to tho
gods' may bo unconscious of iguilt and upright In inten
tion, yet, as in the case of Edipus, he is driven uniutcn
tionally to tho commission of horrid crime.
The religion of the Greeks was moro Intimately con
nected with tho aflairs of life than that of the moderns;
yet It was a religion that fctterod not a single faculty of
their being. To tho Greeks tills Is a world of joy
Human nature is in harmony with llio divino order of
things not yet mobile, discordant, fallen from grace.
Justice is meted out to each man In life. Tliero is no
need of reward or punnishment beyond tho tomb licnco
tl c efforts to mako this life enjoyable by adorning it
with all that is elevating and ennobling in tho arti,
hence also that quiet contentment whoso spirit is the re
pose of sculptur. Christianity, on tlte contrary, exhibits
this world as a scarely possible desert with a beautiful
home nt the end. Life is a constant struggto with nisi
erablc enemies as the still moro powerful demons, invisi
ble, omnipresent hence the tumult of modern life.
The soul of the Greek is an ever tranquil lake with its
bosom open to tho sunny sky, while that of tho Christian
is visited by tempests that rage ficrcoly over its surface
and wreck all earthly hopes upon tho rocky shore. But
the spirit of tho storm Is tho atmosphoreof painting, and
of tho English drama.
DcQuincy has explained tho differonco be'wcen tho
ancient and modern drama by the statement in a novel
form of the principle of art as a species of imitation.
Mechanic art may bo distinguished by the expression
"idem jn codevi" and fine art by "idem in ulio." Tho
first aims at convoying tho same Impression as tho tiling
imitated thought sitnilar means; the second effects tho
same thought a different medium. For example, if wo
represent a particular battle by wax-work, making move
ments to correspond mechanically with the original we
have simply mechanic art; but fine art, if wc produco
the same effect through music, painting or acting. Art
becomes less real, tho more It differs fiom the thing im
itated. Tlio most natural form of tragedy is prose; but
as the iambic mensure is tho natural languago of pas
sion, only the tragic parts must ho metrical. Even tho
English play, however, is idealized to a certain extent;
hence the iambic Is regularly used. To idealize still
further, as in the climax of passion or in representing a
play within a play, rhyme is employed.
Idealization in the Greek drama is perfect; hence it is
removed tojaninfinite distance. This is accomplished by
the use of complex metres, especially in the lyric parts,
dancing and singing of the chorus and perhaps also of
the actors, tho mask and cothwrnus, decoration, tho re
ligious spirit, participations of gods, and finally the
great size of tho stage.
Tims it appears that while tho English tragedy is kin
dred to the art of painting, that of the Greeks corresponds
S.