Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/37

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Lord Beaconsfield, treating Hellenic things with the scornful negligence natural to a Hebrew, said in a well-known book that our aristocratic class, the polite flower of the nation, were truly Hellenic in this respect among others,—that they cared nothing for letters and never read. Now, there seems to be here some inaccuracy, if we take our standard of what is Hellenic from Hellas at its highest pitch of development. For the latest historian of Greece, Dr. Curtius, tells us that in the Athens of Pericles 'reading was universally diffused;' and again, that 'what more than anything distinguishes the Greeks from the Barbarians of ancient and modern times, is the idea of a culture comprehending body and soul in an equal measure.' And I have myself called our aristocratic class Barbarians, which is the contrary of Hellenes, from this very reason: because, with all their fine, fresh appearance, their open-air life, and their love of field-sports, for reading and thinking they have in general no great turn. But no doubt Lord Beaconsfield was thinking of the primitive Hellenes of north-western Greece, from among whom the Dorians of Peloponnesus originally came, but who themselves remained in their old seats and did not migrate and develop like their