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The gladiators* are not considered as having exhibited a commendable degree of spirit and skill, unless they have so crushed and beaten into an uniform mass the different features of the face, that all appearance of a human countenance is as thoroughly extirpated, as all vestiges of human feeling are, from the hearts of the joyous spectators, whose delight is in exact proportion to the number of ribs broken, the amount of the disfigurement or destruction of the features, and the degree of exhaustion and sickness of the actors in this amusing drama. The spectators are rarely so fortunate as to witness the dealing of the death blow. This circumstance takes place much less frequently upon the English arena, than formerly upon the Roman. In this particular, the ancients seem to have had the advantage of the moderns; but by way of compensation a fashion has lately come out in England of exhibiting gladiators of the softer sex. Very interesting accounts of a battle lately fought in England between two women, in which both parties were most scientifically and thoroughly mangled, have lately appeared in some English papers. Should this custom become fairly established, a gladiatorial combat in England will be as abhorrent to all the vulgar, common-place feelings of painful pity, which are usually excited by the sight of a fellow being in agony, as ever was or could have been a similar work of destruction upon a Roman stage.
Our next and last quotation shall be descriptive of the Roman fashion of behavior during that very important period of human life-the dinner hour.
'The construction of their houses and furniture accorded in plainness with their frugality of diet. But the pristine simplicity of Roman manners yielded gradually to the foreign habits introduced by the conquests of the republic; Greece furnished models of taste in the fine arts, and Asia all the refinements of sensual indulgence; while the vast increase of wealth, the consequent progress of civilization, and the prodigious population of Rome itself, all contributed to the innovation; and luxury, at length, reached a pitch of lavish magnificence, which, although it excites our wonder, yet conveys an idea rather of barbarous splendor and profligate profusion, than of the refined enjoyments of polished society."
*This word meant originally, as most of our readers will know, persons who contended with swords; but it was gradually applied to all who fought in public for the entertainment of others, whatever were their weapons; it is thus we use it.
Small figures of Mercury, Hercules, and the penates were placed upon the table-of which they were deemed the presiding genii, and a small quantity of wine was poured upon the board at the commencement and at the end of the repast, as a libation in honor of them, accompanied by a prayer; it was a custom derived from the remotest antiquity, and was ever scrupulously adhered to with pious reverence. The salt was placed beside them, and was looked upon as a thing sacred; if forgotten or spilled, the table was considered as profaned, and it was supposed to portend some dire misfortune. This superstition was derived from the Greeks, as well as that of viewing it as a bad omen to be thirteen in company; they have indeed descended to more modern times, and are not even yet entirely exploded. The table itself was held in veneration, as being sanctified by the presence of their gods, and devoted to the rites of hospitality and the cultivation of friendship; were a solemn asseveration made, they touched it with the same reverence, as if it were an altar, and an act of violence committed there would have been punished as a sacrilege.'
'The supper, if a meal taken before four o'clock in the afternoon may be so called consistently with modern ideas, was usually composed of two courses and a dessert. The first consisted of eggs stained of various colors, shell-fish, vegetables, and such trifles as compose the entremêts at our tables; the second comprised the ragoûts, roast meat, and fish; the latter, particularly, was a luxury in such request, that without it no Roman of fashion could be persuaded that he had supped. The dessert contained the usual proportion of fruit and confectionary, much in the modern style; but it was customary to serve it on a separate table, and even the more substantial parts of the supper were occasionally brought in on portable tables, or placed before the guests on frames.
'Some of their greatest dainties would be apt to startle a modern epicure; snails, and a species of white maggot found in old timber, were fattened with peculiar care, and served only at the best tables; stewed sows' teats, fricaseed sucking puppies,* and water-rats were in great request; and according to Horace,
'A lamb's fat paunch was a delicious treat.'
Francis, b. i. ep. 15.
*""Sows' teats and sucking puppies." Pliny says that the latter were worthy of being served at a supper for the gods.-Hist. Nat. 1. xxix. c. 4. And Martial celebrates a cook who prepared the paps of a sow with so much art, that they appeared as if still full of milk.—l. xiii. epig. 43. Whoever wishes to taste them superlatively well dressed will find the most approved receipt in Apicius de Art. Coquin. 1, vii. c. 2.
Poultry of every kind known at present, except the turkey,* were abundant, and in common use; but the favorite fowl was a goose, of which incredible numbers were annually consumed. Whether this partiality arose from veneration for the memorable service rendered to the state by this bird, or from other qualities more easily appreciated and more generally acknowledged, or whether its destruction may not rather be considered as a trait of ingratitude, has already been made the subject of grave discussion among learned commentators, and still remains an unsettled point.'
'It was customary to drink toasts and healths; and sometimes, when any very animating sentiment was given, the company pledged it by throwing their chaplets into the wine, which was called, "drinking the crowns." During the preparations for the battle of Actium, Antony having suspected Cleopatra of a design to poison him, refused to partake of any thing at her table, until she had previously tasted it. Cleopatra laughed at his fears, and having dressed herself in a wreath of poisoned flowers, she proposed, after supper, "to drink the crowns." Antony, out of gallantry, immediately threw the one she wore into his cup, and had already carried it to his lips, when the queen, seizing his arm, informed him of his danger, and thus proved to him that his suspicions were as groundless as his precautions were unavailing.' p. 103.
Upon the whole, we are disposed to recommend this book very strongly to all who desire to be instructed in the manners and habits of ancient Rome; a desire, which all must feel, whose education has taught them any thing of the history or existence of that people, who bound the civilized world within
*" Turkeys." It has been generally supposed that the birds known to the ancients under the name of Meleagrides were the same as our turkeys; and that conjecture has given rise to much learned controversy. But professor Beckmann, who has summed up the proofs and arguments on both sides with great perspicuity, has clearly shown, that they were not known in Europe until after the discovery of America, in which country they are indigenous; and that the birds mentioned in ancient authors by the name of Gallinæ Africana-Guinea fowls-were, in fact, the same as the Meleagrides.
It appears that they were not introduced into England until late in the reign of Henry VIII. as they are not mentioned in the regulations of his household, (inserted in the Archæologia, vol. iii. p. 157,) in which all fowls used in the royal kitchen are named. But if we may judge from the following couplets, of the date of the year 1585, they must have then become plentiful.
⚫ Beefe, mutton, and porke, shred pies of the best,
See Beckmann's Hist. of Inven. vol. iii. art. Turkeys.
the chain of their dominion. It is praise enough to say that the author has fairly executed the plan he announced in the preface, from which we inserted an extract in the beginning of this article.
ART. X.-A New System of Modern Geography, or a view of the present state of the world, with an appendix containing statistical tables of the population, commerce, revenue, penditure, and various institutions of the United States; and general views of Europe and the world. By Sidney E. Morse, A. M. Accompanied with an atlas. 8vo, pp. 676. Boston and New Haven.
THIS is the best treatise of universal geography, which we have seen published in this country. Within a few years several small works have been published, of a much higher character than those previously in use, but they are much too brief to give any adequate description of the different countries of the globe. To the imperfection of the elementary books on this subject in the English language, we are to attribute the very great neglect of the study of geography as a part of the education, even of those who are the most assiduous in the pursuit of useful learning. It could not be expected that any adequate acquaintance with the various countries of the world should be derived from the study of a mere summary of geography, comprised within the compass of two or three hundred duodecimo pages. The present work, although but a compendium of universal geography, is much more extensive than those, to which we have alluded. It exhibits marks of extensive research, and of care and judgment in digesting and arranging the mass of materials, from which it is compiled. The part of it devoted to a description of the United States of America is perhaps executed in a more satisfactory manner, than any other part. The author has consulted in general the most recent documents, which have been published, for information relative to the country at large, and to the several states.
There are, however, some parts of the work, which we think susceptible of material improvement. The part, which we consider liable to the greatest objection, is the introduction, consisting principally of an imperfect treatise upon astronomy.
A great part of this treatise is not appropriate to its object. Such a general description of the solar system, as will serve to explain the different phenomena relating to the earth and which depend upon its being a part of that system, forms a proper and necessary part of a treatise upon geography. But every thing beyond this is superfluous, and belongs exclusively to a science which ought to be studied after that of geography. A description of the form, dimensions, and revolutions of the earth, and of the different circles of the sphere, is necessary to give a clear idea of what is meant by latitude and longitude, of the causes of the change of seasons, and of the variety of seasons in the different parts of the world, of the different degrees of heat and cold, and of the difference in the length of days. But a particular description of all the planets and their satellites, of the sun and its revolutions, and of the fixed stars, does not serve to illustrate any thing which belongs to the study of geography. We therefore consider the greater part of the view of astronomy, which is given in this introduction, as irrelevant to the purpose, and calculated to prevent the young student from acquiring a clear understanding of those few principles of astronomy, which we have described as necessary to be understood.
A work of this kind ought to give, either in the introduction or in the body of the work, a precise statement of the measures, weights, and monies of the different countries, or at least of those countries, whose books we read, or with which we have a frequent intercourse. This kind of information, which is often very important, is either not given at all, or given very imperfectly, in this work. The introduction contains a table of measures of distances, which is not very complete, and is quite inaccurate, and it is followed by a table of scripture measures, which appears to have nothing to do with the subject.
We have not observed that the work before us states the number of miles to a degree, or the length of the French metre or myriametre, or of the English geographical mile. The importance of such a table has induced us to subjoin the following, which we believe will be found accurate :