Imagens das páginas

his severe but friendly monitor,—not that we hope, what we have, and what we dread; the sound-minded comedian succeeded, in a word, between the actual and the ideal, where the philosopher had failed, in discove the imperfect and the perfect,-is not more ering the true remedy for the religious and characterized by proving all things, (ever a moral, the political and intellectual evils of work of danger) than by a conscientious his times, and that we must resort to the and reverential and pious determination to pages of Aristophanes for lessons on reli- hold fast that which is good. It is from gion and morality, politics and education, this sound philosophy, and not from the

to no such estimate of the comedian and principles or practices of the professing • the philosopher will the clever and enter- sceptic, that any sound lessons, religious,

taining writings of Mr. Mitchell persuade moral or political, can be drawn. For us, unless we are content to sacrifice truth amongst the unprincipal sceptics, sophists and justice, a sound understanding of the and rhetoricians, whorn Socrates and Xenpast, a sound application of the lesson to ophon, Plato and Aristotle, effectually exthe present, and all sound hopes for the fu- posed, there was no false teacher more ture. It is this that we shall understand dangerous than the insincere professor, from the pages of Aristophanes, which Mr. whose affected zeal will not separate what Mitchell has so agreeably laid open to is true from what is false, what is good from the English reader, to wit, that foremost what is evil, but clings with a fierce obsti. amongst the fearful dangers of the times of nacy to that which is unsound, and by so Aristophanes was the spirit of insincere doing brings that which is sound into unprofession, reckless scepticism and fierce deserved discredit. Such was not the rebigotry, of all which he has exhibited per. ligion of Socrates which Aristophanes so fect specimens in the very work in which attacks, and Mr. Mitchell so defends the he attacks Socrates; whilst, on the other chattering philosopher, of whom Bacon and hand, the sincerest piety, the heartiest be. his reviewer, Bentham and his editor, speak nevolence and the deepest convictions of so slightingly ;-the blinded heathen phi. truth are the great characteristics of the losopher, whom we have often heard sneered philosophy he attacks. And we contend at by well-meaning religionists ;-the phi. further, that it is in the philosophy of Soc. losopher, of whom the Aristotelians of Oxrates that we must seek remedies, mutatis ford and the Dramatists of Cambridge say mutandis, for the dangers of insincerity, so little. Yet is Socrates a philosopher, scepticism and bigotry, in one word, of that who, if any man will strive earnestly and anarchy, religious and political, intellectual sincerely to live up to his principles, will and moral, of which the writings of Aris- teach him to be holy, just and good. tophanes pretend to be the censor, but are We will now proceed from an examinareally the example.

tion of his Religion to consider whether the Fearful was the period in which the wit, Morals he taught were worthy of the founimpiety and profligacy of Aristophanes may dations on which he rested them ; whether be said, in the language of mysticism, to his Morality was worthy of bis religion; or have returned to take a leading part in a whether, as we have been told, there were drama of more extended interests. It mat- indeed fair leaves and blossoms, but little ters little that what was insincere profesor no fruit. sions in Athens became open scepticism in To doubt the morality of Socrates is as France, that what had been oligarchic be. unjust as to doubt his piety; and Xenophon came democratical, and the enemy of Cleon brings this question at once to a clear issue becaine the herald of Danton. When mo- by referring to his bold and keen censure tives and consequences are fairly consider of the profigacy of Critias, and to the haped, these are found to be superficial influence he exercised on the earlier ences, especially when they are compared years of Alcibiades. It was indeed imposwith the great characteristics, in which the sible that any lessons of virtue could long men and their times, Aristophanes and Vol. resist the wild passions, fierce temptations, taire, were all but identified. Miserable and unprincipled levity of the young and periods ! unhappy people! given up to fierce wealthy patrician, urged on by a base popand selfish contests between an innovation ulace and baser parasites. It is not possi. which respects nothing, and a bigotry which ble to resist the earthquake and the deluge; reverences every thing. How unlike the nor was Socrates answerable for the vices philosophy of Socrates both in motive, in and crimes of Alcibiades. The wonder is object and in consequence! that sound phi-that he ever acquired over this person the losophy, which mediating between the past, beneficial influence he at one time exer. the present and the future; between what cised, not that he found it impossible to retain it, when innumerable temptations as- delicacies which might allure them to eat when sailed the passions of his wild youth and they were not hungry.”Ibid., book i. chap. 3. dark manhood.

"It should seem your opinion, Antipho, that Turning then from religion to morals, whereas, in truth, I consider it a perfection in the

happiness consisted in luxury and profusion: what a noble temperance-how free from gods that they want nothing; and consequently all asceticism and pride, fanaticism and he cometh nearest to the divine nature who vanity, was the temperance of Socrates ! standeth in want of the fewest things." - Ivid., On this point Xenophon is an unquestiona- book i. chap. 6. ble authority, as well able to exhibit a clear * Nor do my votaries (says Virtue, in Socraand full conception of the temperance

tes' version of the Choice of Hercules) ever sail

of Socrates, as to follow with firm and steady cost is wanted to furnish out their table; for hun

to find pleasure in their repasts, though small tread in his master's steps. For well did Soc- ger, not art, prepares it for them; while their rates know, and well also could he prac sleep, which follows the labor of the day, is far tise, and well could he teach, that temper. more sweet than whatever expense can procure ance, continence, or self-command, the for idleness; yet sweet as it is, they quit it uncommand over our rebellious passions, is reluctantly when called by their duty. The as surely the corner-stone of all good prac

young enjoy the applause of the aged, ihe aged

are reverenced by the young. Equally delighttice, as religion, piety, or reverence for ed with reflecting on the past

, or contemplating God, is the corner-stone of all sound prin the present their attachment to me renders them ciple. Well did Socrates teach his follow- favored of the gods, dear to their friends, ers that self-command is the virtue to be and honored by their country."-Ibid., book ii. learnt the first, and to be practised to the chap. 1. last; that it is the foundation of the other

“Furthermore," continued Socrates, “it is this virtues, and the bond that holds them all mind in their utmost degree of perfection ; quali

virtue alone which places both the body and the together, for that without self.command, fying the man for the study, the knowledge, virtue can neither become nor be, neither and the practice of his duty"- Ibid., book iv. begin nor continue.

chap. 5. “Hence, therefore,” says Socrates, “ we may in his duty) must yield perpetual complacency

6'The consciousness of being thus employed see how necessary it is to make temperance our and satisfaction; but it is complacency and satischief study, since without this, as its basis, what other virtue can we attain? How can we learn faction which belongeth not to the voluptuous; what is profitable, or practise what is praise. indeed, whom do we find at a greater distance worthy ? Neither can we conceive a state more

from these, than the man whose every faculty is pitiable, whether in respect to body or mind, so entirely engaged in the pursuit of present ihan that of the voluptuary given up to all the pleasure as to leave no liberty for the performdrudgery of intemperance.—Memorabilia, book

ance of what is commendable ?"- Ibid. i. chap. 5.

" It is the temperate alone who are able to inthat is not diligently and duly exercised, and and experience can select what is good, reject “I am persuaded that no virtue can subsist quire into the nature of things, and find out their

difference; and carefully consulting both reason temperance more especially ; because our sensual desires, being seated with our minds in the what is evil, and become by that means both wise same body, are continually soliciting us to a

and happy.”—- Ibid. compliance with the appetites which Nature hath

“ With regard to love, his counsel always was implanted, though at the expense of virtue and to keep at a distance from beautiful persons, sayall things virtuous."Ibid., book i. chap. 2.

ing it was difficult to approach any such and not

be ensnared. As for himself, his great contiThese are Xenophon's own remarks, but nence was known to every one, and it was more as they were probably not borrowed from easy for him to avoid the most beautiful objects, the younger Cyrus, we will venture to set than for others those who were the most disgustthem down to the account, not of Cyrus,

ing."-Ibid., book i. chap. 3.

# When he succeeded not in his private rebut of Socrates.

monstrances, Critias still persisting in his unwar. “Such was his moderation, that I question rantable designs, Socrates, it is said, reproached whether there ever was any man, is able to work him in the presence of many, resembling him to at all, but might have earned sufficient to have a swine, the most filthy and disgusting of all ansupported Socrates. His custom was to eat as imals. For this cause Critias hated him ever long as it gave him pleasure ; and a good appe- after.”Ibid., book i. chap. 2. tite was to him what delicious fare is to another : “Could he be a corrupter of youth, whose and as he only drank when thirst compelled him, only employment was to root out of the mind of whatever served to allay it could not fail of be- man every vicious inclination, and plant in their ing grateful. So that it was easy for him when stead a love of that vislue which is so amiable present at their feasts to refrain from excess, in itself, and so becoming us as men, and which which other men find so much difficulty in doing alone hath the power to make, whether cities or And as to such persons as gave proof' how very private families, flourishing and happy."— Ibid. little they could command themselves, to these " When death draweth nigh, and no thought he would counsel even the not tasting of those remaineth but for the welfare of your children,

do you then inquire for the debauched unto forward the modern Captain Macheath as whom to intrust them? Is it he who must direct the hero of a tragedy. It has been left to the virtuous education of your sons, and guard christian scholars to argue that a religious the chastity of your daughters, or secure to them and moral purification could result to Athens their inheritance from the hand of the oppress from those passages of Aristophanes in sor? Do you ever intrust your flocks or your herds to the conduct of him who is overcharged which the mirth is fast and furious; and it with drunkenness?

or expect from such an one was left for christian teachers to prove that despatch to your affairs ? - Ibid., book i. chap. 5. they approve such scholarship, by venturing

Did this preacher of continence, tempe. the practical commentary of setting their rance, or self-command, as the very corner- pupils (quibus maxima debetur reverentia) to . stone of all sound practice, appear in a pri. enact the prurient scenes of the Eunuchus. mitive age of spare diet, and so become Would it not be more edifying and more merely a recorder of the austere virtues of decent to enact (if acting there must be) his time ?-Not so. We need only name

the nobler dramas of Euripides, the friend Pericles and Aspasia, Alcibiades, Aristo- and pupil of Socrates, the woman-hater, as phanes and Aristippus; and refer our rea- he is represented by Aristophanes,* but, ders to Plato's splendid dialogue the ‘Ban- next to Homer, the champion of all that is quet,'* in order to recall ideas of Asiatic lovely and noble in the female character, luxury, vice and crime. If Europe owes a the author of the Bacchæ, the Ion and the debt of gratitude to Pausanias and Themis- Alcestis,-the only classic author who has tocles for having defended her institutions conceived the passion of Love as at once from a deluge of Asiatic tyranny, it is just intense and pure, and who can speak of the as certainly to Socrates and his followers beauty of woman with the admiration and that Europe is indebted for defending her the delicacy of our own Shakspeare, of morals against Eastern vice,-fædum in- Milton and of Scott? Let mothers, wives ceptu, fædum exitu. It was an ever-memo- and sisters bless the philosophy of Socrates rable contest which Socrates commenced, and his school. If it be said that Socrates and which his pupils carried on, with the has not given us remarks on the duties of darkest vice and the lowest debasement.- women, we answer—in the deep depravity The very gods of Greece were in league and wild licentiousness of Greece, so nearly against them, and Jupiter with his Gany- bordering on Asiatic vices, the philosopher mede led the van. The fearful picture had enough to do in building up manly which St. Paul draws of the vices of Rome virtue. But we cannot doubt that he moved at a later period was then realised in Greece; Euripides to undertake that important serbut with a wild wit, and an intoxicating vice, which he discharged so ably, so unbeauty, which Rome could only attempt to successfully, and with such danger to bimimitate. No one conversant with the

self. dies of Aristophanes will accuse us of ex

As the religion of Socrates was distinct aggerating the picture of Athenian profi. from superstition, and his temperance from gacy in order to amplify the claims of So- asceticism, they did not end in a monkish crates as a moral reformer. Nor does it rule, but became the solid and firm foundarequire serious arguments to prove that tions on which he built up a well-proporearnest principle, not reckless humor, was tioned and beautiful edifice of domestic, needed for such a service. Even the folly social and political usefulness. Indeed it of our own times has stopped short of mak. is a most strange and unaccountable mistake ing a comedy of “ The Reformed House in the reviewer of Bacon and the editor of breaker,” and has despaired of putting Bentham that they refuse to admit usefulthe subject in so ridiculous a light, that bolts ness, private and public usefulness, to have and bars will be entirely useless by the end been the very characteristic of the philosoof the season,"—even our Newgate-Calen- phy of Socrates ; for, if it were not that he dar novelists have had the wisdom to bring founded his usefulness on a higher and a

nobler principle, but which in no way inter• Putting together Socrates' sharp censure of feres with the matter-of-fact utility of every Critias, which, had it been possible would certain duty he enjoins, we should have said that ly have provoked a retort (Memorabilia, b. i. c. 2), usefulness, real downright useputs into the mouth of Alcibiades, which,

had there sulness, is the most striking and all-pervabeen no foundation for it, would not have been ventured (see the · Banquet' of Plato), adding also * " A most splenetic hatred of Euripides (says to these many others of the like kind, and the pas. Mr. Mitchell), derived (he continnes, on the other sages in which Socrates is exhibited as an ipaotis lack) from deeper views than people have generally will require no other explanation than that which given the comedian credit for.” (See Preliminary is given in the Memorabilia, book iv. chap. 1. Dissertation, p. 29.)


ding characteristic of Socrates' philosophy. and Plato were talking nonsense, under pretence The reviewer of Bacon has some plausible of teaching wisdom. This morality of their's declamation against the abstract and un- consisted in words—this wisdom of their's was practical view which Plato takes of the the denial of matters known to every man's ex

perience, and the assertion of other matters opsciences, for example of figure and num-posed to every man's experience." etc. etc. ber;* but if this opinion were much more " While they were all of them chattering about sound than it is even as applied to the philo- the summum bonum, each was amusing himself sophy of Plato, it requires only a quotation with the gross enjoyments of sense." eic. etc.-from the Memorabilia' to show that it is Bowring's Deontology, vol. p. i. 40. not merely inapplicable to the philosophy, the "Deontology'). The ground of approbation

“A new ground is put forward here (i. e. in of Socrates, but that the very opposite of will be the tendency of an act to increase hapthe fault imputed (the opposite virtue, not piness." etc. etc.- Ibid. vol. i. p. 140. the opposite fault,) is one of the most striking characteristics of the philosophy of So


page 24 of the same work, Dr. Bow. crates.

ring says, “Socrates also recommended the study of -" That the public sanction will, in as far as arithmetic to his friends, and assisted them, as the subject is understood, be given to that line was bis custom, in tracing out the several parts of conduct which most promotes the public hapof it, as far as might be useful; but here, as else- piness, is a corollary requiring no arguments for where, fixed bounds to their inquiries, never suf its establishment.” fering them to run out into vain and trifling disquisitions which could be of no advantage either

We will say a little on this subject when to themselves or others.”— Memorabilia, book we examine the politics of Socrates; at iv. chap. 7.

present we will take leave to observe, that We have already seen temperance in- we are much more sure that the divine sancsisted on for its usefulness, and for no tion is given to every thing useful, than ascetic, fanatic, or stoic reasons.

And it is that the public sanction will be so given. in the same spirit that Socrates proceeds to We prefer to confine our attention to an develope the ibeory and practice of useful- other matter, and not to enter at present on ness, on its true principles and in its right) but we shall have much to say on that sub

a consideration of the politics of Socrates ; order. Beginning with the connection, yet insisting on the clear distinction, of useful. ject presently. ness and duty, he proceeds to point out

Our space reminds us that for the rewhat usefulness is, and what duty requires, mainder of our article we must be content in the case of parent and child (b. ii. c. 2); to use analysis and not quotation. brothers and sisters (b. ii. c. 3); friend and

The attentive reader of Memorabilia' friend (b. ii. c. 4,5,6). All these chapters will not fail to remark, that the virtues contain admirable remarks. Then he pro.

which are treated each by itself in the se. ceeds to develope the usefulness and duty cond and third books, (as submission to of a head of a family and its different mem- authority and obedience to parents, love of bers, under pressure of poverty (b. ii. c. 7); brothers and love of friends, useful employ . the usefulness and duty of the poor man to ment and preservation of property, etc. etc., the rich man (b. ii. c. 8), and of the rich all of which virtues come under the head man to the poor man (b. ii. c. 9). Then of private duty, and are treated of princihe points out the usefulness and duty of a pally in the second book--and in like mancommander and his soldiers (b. iii. c. 1,3, ner, the several virtues, military and civil

, 5,6, 7); of a statesman and the people (b? which together constitute public duty, and iii. c. 7). Each of these subjects is treated are treated of principally in the third book with a steady regard to usefulness and hap-/ ---all these separate virtues, private and piness, which might be characterized by public, being set forth as authorized by ex. terms exactly the reverse of those which pediency or usefulness to man, and sanc. Dr. Bowring has thought fit to use when tioned by religion or duty to God) are all speaking of the philosophy of Socrates. summed up in the third book, under the one

"The summum bonum—the sovereign good common title Justice. Nor will he fail to what is it? The philosopher's stone, the balm remark that this great comprehensive vir. Hygeian that cures all manner of diseases. It tue, Justice, is placed in the fourth book of is this thing, and the other thing,—it is any thing the 'Memorabilia,' immediately after Relibut pleasure—it is the Irishman's apple-pie made gion, whereas the separate virtues which of nothing but quinces. “ While Xenophon was writing history, and second book immediately after Self-com

together make up Justice are placed in the Euclid giving instructions in geometry, Socrates mand. The meaning of this change will

* See the Edinburgh Review, No. 132, p. 74. be obvious to the intelligent reader of the

‘Memorabilia.' Self-command is placed in many make them; that knowledge of what the second book at the head of all the sepa is true must precede practice of what is rate virtues, because not one of them can right; that the first step towards a knowexist without the practice of that instru- ledge of justice is self-knowledge-knowmental virtue. Justice is placed in the ledge of ourselves, knowledge of human fourth book immediately after Religion, in nature, in order that we may understand order to intimate that Justice is the prac. what is good and useful and beautiful, for tice of religion, and that Religion without that these qualities are always relative and justice is theory without practice, not wis- proportionate to the nature of man; that dom but folly, not virtue but vice, not reli- the second step towards a knowledge of gion but hypocrisy. As we have seen Self- justice is to attend to the communis sensus command distinguished clearly from asce-hominum, for that when really ascertained ticism, here we see Religion distinguished it indicates to us the divine command that as clearly from fanaticism. In the former the third step towards a knowledge of juscase no value whatever was attached to tice is to attend to the consequences of accorporeal mortifications; in the latter notions, whether useful or mischievous, as

worth is ascribed to spiritual ecstasies. the former are just and the latter unjust ; * In both the mens sana in corpore sano is the that in order to obtain knowledge of justice right view of this sound-minded philosopher. and skill as a politician, there must be

It will also be observed that Socrates' learning from a master of this great sci. definition of Justice proceeds pari passu ence, and free discussion with him and in with his definition of Religion, which adds his presence, or that mere empirical dex. another proof of the correctness of our terity will be picked up at the expense of estimate of his opinions on the greater of the community by means of foolish and these two great questions. For Socrates mischievous and wicked experiments; that commences by identifying Justice with as justice is the means by which the real Law, seeing that there is no hope of jus politician produces happiness, so rulers are tice, but peril of anarchy, violence and appointed for the good of the community, wrong, if laws are not obeyed. Secondly, not to gratify their own passions and deSocrates identifies Human Law, in so far sires; that men who are fit for this high as it is communis sensus hominum, the gen- and noble service should undertake it, eral agreement of mankind (not for the few whilst those who are unfit for it should denor yet of the many, not of the selfish nor cline it, that not the vote of the many or yet of the violent, but the unanimous voice the few can confer just authority when the of all sound-minded men) with Divine law; party is incapable of using power for a so that what is useful, expedient and just good purpose. In a word, that politics are manward, is holy, pious and religious God. the carrying out on a large scale of the ward. In agreement with the above view, wisdom and virtue of private life, and that it was the practice of Socrates, whilst he he who is a foolish or bad man cannot be set an example of hearty and conscientious a wise and good citizen. obedience to human laws, to use his ut- The above analysis of Socrates' view of most endeavors to correct and perfect justice or usefulness, collected from the them; using for this purpose all rational " Memorabilia,” has been made with as arguments and constitutional powers, in conscientious an accuracy in comparing order that Human Law may be more and passage with passage as we could employ more identified with that usefulness which in such a service. It has left upon our is in itself an expression of Divine Law. ininds a conviction that Socrates' views of For Socrates argued that laws enacted by practical virtue, private and public, were king, nobles or people, when passed by as full and clear as bis views of religious force or fraud contrary to usefulness or principle, and that both are worthy of that expediency, want the highest characteristic noble Self-command which he insists on as of justice, God's approval, and usurp the the foundation of intellectual and moral second characteristic, man's approval; but and political excellence. that nevertheless they must be obeyed until Should any one affect to make no disthey are repealed, in order to avoid greater tinction between pleasure and happiness, evils—utter ruin of Law and utter hope- expediency and duty, he may see that the lessness of Justice.

facts which have been set forth somewhat Socrates held that Politics must be found. pompously as modern discoveries were ed on justice, and that it is easy mat- known long ago,* and that the nomenclater to decide what is just in every case, * “But although this was the manner, in which Politics are not the slight thing which Socrales lived, yet could be not be persuaded that

« AnteriorContinuar »