peace and war; in which Themis- these great men, and why should ! tocles, Aristides, and Thucydides, not be allowed to express my sentiwho are here named as patterns of ments? I should say, that virtue, of virtue, excelled. The word again, whatever kind it be, has some elevirtue, in the largest sense, means ments in human nature; in which any power by which a person is na- there are not only powers that fit turally fitted for any particular exer- men for virtue, but certain biases tion or pursuit for which nature dis- and inclinations which, from the first poses him. Virtue," Aristotle ob- use of reason, determine them to serves," is any power, which qualifies some particular kind of life. But a person to perform any thing ably, since we have nothing from ourselves, or successfully to accomplish a de- we owe not only the faculties which sign." So we ascribe virtue to the we possess in common with other eye, the power by which we see, men, but our particular propensities, when it performs its office with that qualify us for particular pursuits quickness and correctness. So the to fax page, a divine destiny, as virtue of a horse consists in its fitness Socrates says; which, for the purpose for the course, for to carry its rider, of uniting men more closely in society, or to meet the enemy in the field. has furnished them with various enIf this be the case in other matters, dowments. Men adorned with pecuso virtue, in man, is the habit by liar gifts, either without an instructor, which he becomes good and rightly or certainly without a tutor appropriate performs his duty.-Nicomach, L. 2. to each, attain to distinguishing exc. 5. On these grounds, I am con- cellencies, and perform great things, vinced that the Greek word an, especially when assisted by art and is derived from the verb aw, to fit experience, On the other hand, they and suit; for human virtue is the who are naturally destitute of such quality that fits him to perform the talents, though they engage eminent duties for which he was designed by masters, make little or no proficiency; nature. The same remark, as we nor reach to any remarkable improvehave seen, applies to all other things. ment even by long labour and practice. This appears more clear, as, after- In this sense, virtue is not taught: and wards, the abilities of the cook, or of to this points all the reasoning of Sothe carpenter, are called virtues. crates. For as to the common offices The word agan, was originally an of life, which lie upon every one, adjective of the feminine gender, like there are none who are not furnished gaμm, and the word is, disposition, pensities necessary for the discharge by God with the faculties and proor duvaus, power, was understood; of them; when, from experience or or some term which expressed the masters of any sort, they begin to dispositions of mind that fit men for learn those offices. In this view, the duties of society. If more ex- virtue is taught. No man is naturally amples of this be wanted, I would so destitute of powers, but he my refer to the notes of Dionysius Lam- become a good man, a good father, binus on the preceding passage in and a good citizen. On this ground, Aristotle. They are, therefore, very we can make Plato and Socrates agree wide of the mark, who derive the with Plutarch: for this philosopher of word again from Agns, Mars, the name Charonea, wrote a treatise to shew of the god of war; as if it signified that virtue is taught. He is to be military virtue, and was thence trans- understood of that common vine ferred to other subjects. which is necessary in every walk of life; whereas, Socrates speaks of these singular and eminent attainments, which are not within the reach ot every man. This bias of nature to particular virtues and to excellent deeds, was called fria, as Ansteue says; Nichom. L.iii. c. 7. that is, a ta tural, good disposition, born with me, to judge well and according to truth.

The question discussed in the foregoing conversation, has been also treated by Plato, in his Menon and Protagoras, and by Maximus Tyrius; Dissert. xvii. and xxxii. M. Ant. Muretus, also, has collected together some opinions on it, on ch. i. b. ii. of Ethicor. Nichomach. If I may be permitted to offer any thing, after

"This," he observes, " is a most excellent and valuable gift, which cannot be received from others, nor learnt, but is what is born with us. To be so happily and well disposed from birth, is to bring into the world with us a pure and excelleut temperament." Those dispositions of mind, by which any are inclined and fitted, without a master, for any particular virtues, Aristotle calls" natural virtues. Cicero, Tuscul. Quæst. L. iii. c. 1. calls them" instinctive sparks of nature; seeds of the virtues innate in our minds, which, if a man attains to mature age,will lead, by nature, to a happy life."

When Socrates speaks of men born good, or being so by the gift of nature; he applies the term good to any virtue, or faculty, on which the discourse turns, whether political or military; and the limits and province of which, especially as far as the manners are concerned, may be easily ascertained. Themistocles and Pericles were endowed with those virtues by which men, whose ambition aspired to the administration of government, might, in those times, attain glory. But it appears, from their lives, that neither of these men were

Conveying, inward as they purely roll, Strength to the mind, and vigour to the heart. Francis. friend, could name the masters under Though neither Socrates, nor his which Thucydides and the three other eminent Grecians were formed, yet they had instructors; for all bad been educated by parents, not, perhaps, indeed with greater care than others generally were; but they had been trained up under the same teachers as other Athenians, and had followed the same examples with them. But

as they were eager in the pursuit of power and honour. Aristides and Thucydides seem to have been, more worthy men.

so desirous of serving their country, as the latter, being destitute of a favourable natural disposition, made little or no proficiency; the former, by their most happy native bias, reached to the greatest virtues which the times allowed.

The word ayal, good, as applied in this conversation, means skilful.This sense of the term is adopted in other languages; as a man, who excels in any art, is called a good artist, and in the preceding passages occurs the phrase, a good cook.

ciple, moulded by an intimacy with So, also, though no name of a disthem, was transmitted down, it is not credible that such excellent examples should not have influenced any one. Nay, in after times, there rose up,

That the virtues, without which human society could not subsist, can be learnt, is evident from daily experience. For nature excites, and the examples and admonitions of the best men exhort us to acquire them. Without the leading of nature, or rather of the Being who is the author of nature, we could never attain to them: but instructi. greatly assists nature, both in what relates to the common duties of life, or if we have in contemplation the exercise, improvement, and perfection of any particnlar virtue. There is an intimate union between nature and cultivation:

they cannot be separated without a great injury. Just are the sentiments of Pindar: Olympiad ix. 152, &c.

"That is best, which comes from nature: many have obtained glory by virtues derived from instruction; but, without God, every endowment lies dormant, and is perfectly vain*.”

The Roman Pindar speaks to the same effect :

"The brave and good are copies of their kind:

We trace their sires, nor can the bird of Jove,
In steers laborious and in generous steeds
Intrepid, fierce, beget th' unwarlike dove.
Yet sage instructions, to refine the soul,

And raise the genius, wond'rous aid in-

* Το δε θα κρατιστον απαν
Πολλαι δε διδακίαις
Ανθρώπων αξείαις κλέος
δρυσαν ελεσθαι.
Ανευ δε Θεός, σεσιγά-

μεν ν γ' & σκηόξον χρη-
μ' ἕκαστον.

+ Fortes creant fortibus et bonis,
Est in Juvencis, est in equis patrum •
Virtus, nec imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquile columbam.
Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectique cultus pectora roborant
Hor. Ode L. iv. Od 4. 29.

among the Athenians, great men who does not bear the same meaning in could not have attained to the emi- both cases. Themistocles' fears tor nence in virtue they did, if they had himself arose from that goodness, not been stimulated by the examples which, like Aristides', consisted in of former ages. It is true, however, probity of character. He was willing that not one, who had the singular to instruct his son, or any other per advantage of being educated and form- son, in the arts of a great general, or ed by such examples, attained to the of political rule. These things wara virtue of his instructor. us how we receive, without exami nation, the praises bestowed by the ancients; for they not only judge of men and things according to the prin ciples of their own age, but they do not select, with all the care which they ought to have used, the charac ters they appland. We should bear this in mind, that we may not be mis

When Socrates asks, whether it would be to the interest of those good men, whom he names, to be surrounded with disciples like themselves? if, by good men, he meant those who excelled in moral goodness, it would have been to their advantage to have had very many imitators. But such as were good, in a particular led by their encomiums. sense, as Thucydides and Pericles, might not desire imitators; because such would have been their rivals, and they could not have monopolized the power and magistracies as they desired; and, therefore, could not easily bear those who sood in the way of their advancement. Aristides, to speak on the authority of Cornelius Nepos, contended with Themistocles for the government. In the case of those two men, it appeared how much eloquence could overcome integrity; for, although Aristides so eminently refrained from every thing injurious, that he alone, in the memory of man, was surnamed the Just, yet he was undermined by Themistocles and sent into banishment, for ten years, by the vote of the people. From the instance of Themistocles, and from innumerable others, it is clear, that the term good is often applied to those who are not distinguished by true goodness or probity. Socrates, therefore, improperly avails himself of the ambiguity of the word; for he could not but know that Aristides had been injured, and many other things had been done, by Themistocles, contrary to law and right. Such men as The mistocles would prefer commanding unprincipled men, who would be subservient to them, to any intercourse with virtuous rivals who would restrain their ambition and keep it within bounds.

When Socrates concludes that The mistocles would not be envious of another man's goodness, because he was not jealous of his own son's, the word goodness, as we have observed,

We may wonder that Socrates should mention it as a proof of the good education which Themistocles gave his son, that he had him taught to sit a horse. What had this to do with genuine fortitude? when it indicated only a strength and dextergy of body, and might exist with the greatest baseness of mind. This was rather the excellence of a performer of feats, than of one who was ambitious to head an army. It should seem, from what Socrates says corcerning Cleophantus, that he did not excel in the same points with his father; that Themistocles took care to have him instructed by masters who taught the exercises of the body. but as to his mind, the formation of which he might have taken on himself, or committed to others, he neglected it. This might not be owing to any jealousy; but, because an anibitious man is occupied by other salcitudes, or because he wanted proper masters. So that virtue could bave been taught, although Cleophantus, through the fault of his parent, had not learnt it. He might, perhaps, be happily formed by nature for the exercises of the body, but not for the virtues of the politician or the general.

Socrates speaks in disparaging terms of Lysimachus. But Plutarch, in bs life of Aristides, after saying that the people of Athens gave a fortune si 3000 drachmas to his daughters, adds, that, at the motion of Alcibiades, 7 decreed to Lysimachus, his son, 100 mine of silver and as many acres of land, planted with trees, and an

me of four drachmas a day. This peculiar propriety to the judges of the te seems to have been in honour of Hebrew nation, who, it is plain from e father. the book of Judges, were formed, by As to the sons of Pericles, whom a divine influence, to be the benefaccrates mentions, Xanthippus died tors of the Hebrew republic. To the plague; and previously to his adopt the language of Seneca,-"The ath there had been an implacable qualities suited to every age of life sentment existing between the fa- and the seeds of all arts are planted in er and the young man. The ground us. God is the Master, who secretly forms the mind. Nature, a man says, performs this for me. You are not aware that, in speaking thus, you use the term nature for God: for what is nature, but God himself?"

it was, that Pericles not only resed to repay a sum of money which e son had borrowed in his father's ame, pretending it was by his order, it sued the person who demanded it. the father's behaviour was too harsh id rigorous; the son did not discover good disposition. The sons of Pecles were the disciples of Protagoras, who was a sophist rather than a phiosopher. They had not a turn of mind necessary for the administration of a state, or the direction of an ariny; hough they had, perhaps, talents for other pursuits. Plato says, that Pericies had, in those respects, neglected

[Continued from Vol. x111. p. 35s.]

YE mortals, who traverse the gloomy paths of life, fainting at every step beneath a load of grief, bend your ears to my instructions, and I will shew you where pleasure

the education of his sons: for though is to be found. Let each moment of your life be employed, but think not by study to gain amusement or delight; let health be your hope, and pleasure your object. Forsake the difficult and fatiguing paths where labour awaits you; shun that perpetual inquietude into which a state of doubt impels you, and follow the flowery ways which lead to joy and tranquillity. Abandon that which can instruct you, for that which can please you be prodigal of your gold, and obtain enjoyment: finally, let your reason be under the subjection of your senses.

Thus I communed with myself; I have tried what opulence can effect when employed by pride.

I wholly disregarded the affairs of the state; I yielded myself up to the influence of architects, and their plans; the weight of government was alleviated by the novelty of their designs. I have founded palaces, I have erected temples: they have glittered with the gold of Ophir, and the precious stones of the east. I have cultivated gardens; I have made the rose to bloom where the thistle only reared its head; I have decked each barren spot with pleasing verdure; where sterility once reigned, now the pomegranate and the blushing grape offer their nectarious juices. In the en

he chose for them proper masters of music and wrestling, &c. as to those other attainments, in which he hinself excelled, he neither instructed them himself, nor committed them, for tuition, to any other person.

The Thucydides, mentioned by Socrates, was not the historian, but a leader of a faction, of whom Marcellinus speaks in his life of the historian; whom he calls the son of Melisins, not Milesias, as it is commonly written. Plutarch, in his life of Pericles, says, that he was a person of great credit, and one who for a long time bandied against Pericles in the government; and relates this anecdote of him: When Archidamus, the king of the Lacedæmonians, asked him whether he or Pericles were the better wrestler, he made this answer: when 1," saith he, have thrown him, and given him a fair fall, he, by Standing out in the denial, saying that he had no fall, gets the better of me, and persuades people into a belief of what he says, whether they will or no. though they saw the quité contrary." Plutarch's Lives, vol. p.111. 2 imo.


[ocr errors]

What Socrates observes, towards the close, of good men being raised up, when it is the will of Providence, to bless a nation, may be applied with



by the most perplexing thoughts:by day, they followed me to the deepest shades; by night, in horrid dreams they vexed my soul.

Ó my soul, adopt a different manner; to magnificence add the power of music: try if melody can assuage thy pains, and if harmonious sounds can give thee that pleasure of which thou art now bereft. Our poets and sages have often said that music can tame the most furious animal; that it can appease the ferocity of the tiger and the voraciousness of the wolf. The lion, attentive to the power of song, fawns on his keeper; and the lynx forgets its aversion for man.— Are we, alas! more savage than the animals? and shall music not be able to calm the inquietude of our soul?

My wishes were made known, and chosen choirs made my temples reecho with harmonious sounds. The lyre softened the clang of the tambourin; the shrillness of the trumpet joined in the modulations of the De rian flute. In the morning I wa roused from sleep by the most an mated airs; they announced the birth of day, and celebrated its beauties at night I was lulled to repose, by soft and soothing airs my senses were plunged in rapture and delight.Vaiu were all my projects: music created melancholy; the most ar mated airs ceased to make but a slight impression on my soul, and the grave: sounds inflicted a pain on my heart.

I commanded the youths of both sexes to appear before me, and, b dancing, to add to the power of music. Useless efforts: I despised their pantomines; for that which engages the heart ought to merit our esteem. R appeared to me that nature acted too low a part in submitting its motions to the rules of art; and I discovered. with chagrin, that the hand of the musician had too great a power over the mind of the dancer.

virons of my palace I have collected all the animals which people the earth. I can see the lion shake his mane with anger, and tremble not at his wrath: I can hear the tiger and the leopard roar, and feel delighted with the sound: I can watch the galled hyena gnawing at his chain, and smile at his useless rage. I can feast my eyes with the variegated plumage of the Indian bird, and my ears can be enraptured with the dulcet notes of the nightingale. The trees, transplanted by mycare,are invigorated and assume a fresh existence. The shades of Asia cover the land of Juda. -Where impenetrable forests once spread their disheartening gloom, now fertile meadows yield their precious fruits. The mountains levelled by the labour of my slaves, no more confine my prospect. The rivers, diverted from their courses by the force of art, rise in fountains in the air, or form an artificial cascade. The marble, conveyed from the extremity of Africa, form the spacious dome and the superb colonnade on which the groves and the hanging gardens delight the eye. The mechanics obey the voice of their master; they gild the towers and paint the walls, and elevate my thrones on steps of jasper. The cedars which have been felled more than an age, are carved by the most skilful artists, and adorn the roofs of my apartments. An infinite number of young women are employed in embroidering the purple bed which is destined to ornament the royal apartment. Tyre acknowledges that its magazines are exhausted, and that the murex is to be found no longer in its scas. The mountains of Paros and of Lybia regret the marble which has been extracted from them, and the forests of India complain that the race of elephants is extinct. My plans were executed at an enormous expense. I contemplated their completion, and was struck with admiration. Reflection at last arose, and I condemned my too great precipitation; for the work being completed, the pleasure had vanished. Melancholy penetrated into my the appetite was pampered, and the new abode, and ennui began to at- most luscious wines gratified the p tack me. In vain I sought repose on late, a restless sleep and harassing beds of purple; I arose from them dreams succeeded: and when, at break unrefreshed. My mind was harassed of day, my reason returned, and distt

In the pleasures of the table I sought for that satisfaction and delight which appeared to shun meIn wine I hoped to drown every rang care; but after every feast, in which

« VorigeDoorgaan »