Imagens da página

I see before me the Gladiator lie:

He leans upon his hand j his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony,

And his droop'd head sinks gradually low; And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow

From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder shower. And now

The arena7 swims around him—he is gone, [won.

Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail'd the wretch who

He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away;

He reoked not of the life he lost, nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube8 lay,

There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he, their sire,

Butcher'd to make a Boman holiday.
All this rush'd with his blood. Shall he expire,
And unavenged! Arise, ye Goths !• and glut your ire.

But here, where murder breathed her bloody steam;

And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways,10 And roar'd or murmur'd, like a mountain stream

Dashing or winding, as its torrent strays—
Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise

Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd,
My voice sounds much,11— and fall the stars' faint rays

On the arena void12—seats crush'd, walls bow'd,

And galleries where my steps seem echoes strangely loud11

A ruin! yet what ruin! from its mass

Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been rear'd ;14 Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,

And marvel where the spoil'5 could have appear'd. Hath it indeed been plunder'd, or but clear'd?

Alas! developed,'" opens the decay. When the colossal fabric's form is near'd

It will not bear the brightness of the day,

Which streams too much on all, years, man, have reft away.

But when the rising moon begins to climb

Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there— When the stars twinkle through the loops of time,"

And the low night-breeze waves along the air

The garland forest which the grey walls wear,
Like laurels on the bald first CasarV9 head—

When the light shines serene, but doth not glare—
Then, in this magic circle, raise the dead:
Heroes have trod this spot—'tis on their dust yc tread.

"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;

When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls—the world." From our own land

Thus spake the pilgrims, o'er this mighty wall,
In Saxon times,19 which we are wont to call

Ancient; and these three mortal things are still
On their foundations, and unalter'd all:

Rome and her Ruin,20 past redemption's skill—

The World, the same wide den of thieves—or what ye will.

1 Tho genius of Poetry.

2 He has just spoken of its outliving timo.

3 Tho Forum was the market place of

Ancient Borne. It was the open space in which the courts were held, the popular assemblies met, and public business, generally, was transacted. Forum, literally means an open place beforo any building. This picture of the Boman Forum is introduced here to show the utter decay of tho ancient grandeur of the Great City which once ruled tho world.

4 genial, kindly.

6 imperial, here, the emperor's.

6 listed spot, spot enclosed for a tour

nament; /tere, for the arena.

7 arena, the wide floor of the amphi

theatre; so called from the sand strewn over it. (Leit., arena—sand.) • Danube, the great river bounding the South of Dacia.

0 Goths, a groat Germanic race who invaded Dacia, first, A.D. 222—225, and Anally shook the Roman empire.

10 Where tho vast multitudes of various

nations crowded tho entrances.

11 much, here, an adverb, loudly.

12 void, empty.

13 Because of their desolation.

14 Several great palaces of tho later Boman

nobility were built of stones taken from it. It covers a space of nearly six acres.

w spoil, the stones taken away.

Ifi developed, here, seen close at hand.

17 loops of time, gaps made by time.

1« Julius Cesar.

19 Saxon times, the period in our his

tory from the invasion of tho old English races to that of the Normans, A.D. 449—1006.

20 The Coliseum.

omnipotent, all-powerfnl.

applause', praise.

slaughtered, murdered, slain.

gladiator, one who fought with a sword, &c.,


in tho Roman amuse-

recked, cared.

toarba'rian, a name
given by tho Romans to
all but themselves—a

enor'mous, huge.
. G

developed, opened.

ooloa'sal, huge.

unavenged', unrovenged.

Colise'um, a great Roman amphitheatre.

founda'tions, supports.

unaltered, unchanged. THE ART OF PRINTING.

1. It is wonderful to think how near men have been to finding out the great art of printing, even in remote ages of the world, without making the last step or two which would have brought practical results. The Babylonians1 stamped all the names and characters we see on their bricks with some kind of engraved seals, and there is a Roman ring in the British Museum which has the owner's name and some other letters cut on it, just as

[graphic][merged small]

types are cut now, so that when inked it prints them off. The ring was, doubtless, used to print the name at the end of documents of all kinds; and how easily might the hint have been taken, to extend such a means of rapid multiplication of writing.

2. It was not, however, the Romans but the Chinese who first carried out this germ of the printing art to any practical effect. As long ago as the tenth century2 an ingenious mind among that race hit on the idea of. writing a page of characters, and then pasting it with the face downwards on a block of wood prepared for the purpose. An impression of the characters in a reversed position was seen through the thin paper, and nothing more was needed than to cut away those parts of the block which were outside the writing, to produce a stamp which might be printed from. The ink could only blacken the characters, and thus marked the paper on which they were stamped with a repetition of them—that is, with a printed copy.

3. It docs not seem, however, that Europe learned this great art from the Chinese, for though the traveller, Marco Polo,3 returned from China about the end of the thirteenth century, and described in his published travels a kind of printing from a block covered with vermilion,4 by stamping a design on paper intended to serve as money, it was not till fully a century later that even this simplest kind of printing was practised in Europe.

4. The way had been prepared for its introduction by the previous invention of paper made from linen, which preceded the art of printing by more than 150 years, since linen paper is found to have been used for documents at least as early as 1242. But for its existence it would have been impossible to have found material on which to exercise the new art, when printing actually was discovered.

5. The flint things printed in Europe were playing cards, and manuals of devotion which, like the cards, consisted only of a single page, though a few of them extended to several pages. They were manufactured by hand from a single engraved block, like the Chinese paper money. The cards were, of course, only pictures, hat the manuals of devotion, besides pictures filling most of the page, had, at times, texts of Scripture and other engraved letters and words. Both the pictures and the letters, however, had in them the whole principle of the new art.

6. The use of single blocks for a page continued till after 1450, and necessarily limited the extent of production. The largest book printed in this way consists only of sixty-three leaves, which are printed only on one side. Among others, a small Latin grammar, the schoolbook of those days, consists entirely of letters cut out in the page blocks.

7. The art had been stationary in China from a curious cause— because the Chinese language has no alphabet, but consists of separate pictures or characters for each object, so that there are not fewer than eighty thousand in use.* European languages were fortunately more advanced, and instead of each character representing a whole word, used a few letters in different combinations to make up all words. From this naturally rose the art of printing from moveable letters instead of by large blocks for whole pages. The engraved wooden block was, in fact, only split into the different letters which it contained, so that these could be used again and again when needed.

8. Next came the invention of metal types instead of wooden ones, and that was followed by the use of hard punches of steel, which could form large numbers of types of the different kinds, without the trouble of cutting out each by itself. These inventions had all been made by the year 1450, so that as early as that date the essentials of the art of printing were as completely known as they arc to-day.

9. The influence of the new discovery on the progress of society was wonderful even from the first. The f9.ll of Constantinople, in 1453, when it was taken by the barbarian Turks,5 drove the learning of the day to Italy, and led to the revival of the study of the ancient languages of Greece and Rome, with their grand history and literature. From Italy the passion for these studies passed to every other Western country, and woke the human mind from the slumber of ages.

10. Nor was this all. The limits of the known world were being enlarged by adventurous travellers and sailors, beyond anything imagined in earlier ages. The sea-route to India by the Cape of Good Hope;c the exploration of Northern Russia;' and, above all, the discovery of America,8 filled men's minds with wonder, which the printing-press spread far and wide. Still greater enterprise was thus kindled, and commercial activity not only filled the treasuries of Europe, but expanded the thoughts and knowledge of mankind.

11. It was in the printing-press, also, that the religions and intellectual activity of that age found its spring and support. Men could communicate their thoughts, and reason began to assert its claims against mere blind authority, in every sphere of mental and spiritual interest. How great the influence of the press was in all these ways may be judged by the fact that not fewer than 20,000 publications had been spread over the Western world—that is, over Western Europe,

* Da Camp's Indo-China, p. 842,


« AnteriorContinuar »